Stiles: That depends on how you define lying.
Sheriff Stilinski: Well, I define it as not telling the truth, how do you define it?
Stiles: Pff... reclining your body in a horizontal position.
This trope occurs when a statement is clearly false — at least according to the most obvious meaning of the words — but from a certain point of view it could be considered true.note The justification for calling it 'true' generally hinges on a shaky technicality which most people would not consider valid (e.g. the statement "Japan conquered the world" is clearly false in any literal sense, but Japanese culture is very popular worldwide, which you could say is a form of conquering). One way to make this trope work is to play with the Exact Words, but particularly bad cases may require a Personal Dictionary or outright Insane Troll Logic.
This is most commonly used by oracles who are trying to create a Prophecy Twist but haven't sufficiently mastered the art of double meanings. Instead of taking advantage of a non-obvious but genuine ambiguity of phrasing, or relying on elaborate symbolism, the oracle takes an unambiguous statement and tries to pretend that there was another valid meaning. It is also what separates a Literal Genie from a Jackass Genie, as the latter stretches the interpretation of the wish beyond the bounds of credibility just to screw the wisher over. Also often used by The Fair Folk and others who Cannot Tell a Lie. It can be a (questionable) way of Taking A Third Option when faced with To Be Lawful or Good in the form of whether to tell the truth if it causes harm.
Less commonly, it is used in the wake of a Retcon, in an effort to smooth over the inconsistencies introduced by said retcon. A particularly infamous example occurs in the Star Wars movies, where, "Darth Vader betrayed and murdered your father" was pronounced true "from a certain point of view" in the third film, even though in the first film the line clearly indicated that they were two different men. Nevertheless, George L insists that the metaphorically-true meaning was always what he intended.
Compare Distinction Without a Difference, Double Speak, False Reassurance, Loophole Abuse, Keeping Secrets Sucks, Both Sides Have a Point (or contrasting, depending on the circumstances), Stealth Pun, Visual Pun, Pragmatic Villainy, Blue and Orange Morality, Ignorance Is Bliss.
Contrast Prophecy Twist, in which the alternative interpretation is not anticipated by the characters (and hopefully the audience), but makes sense when revealed. Also contrast Motivational Lie, where a lie or partial truth is seen as justified because it spurred the hero on to success.
- There was a series of adverts for Carfax that showed cars in dire shape, and the sound of a description being typed that downplays the problem, getting erased, then a description being typed that made the car sound like it was great! It was an advert for shady car histories. The ads included...
- Recent body work / NEW PAINT!!!!! The car has had its side bashed in, and is being pulled onto a tow truck. One wheel isn't turning.
- Slight water damage / NEW UPHOLSTERY!!! The car's going through a flood (the footage is from Hurricane Katrina).
- Minor smoke damage / This car is HOT!!! The car's on fire.
- An ad for the Ford LTD said simply: "Ford LTD. 700% quieter." When the Federal Trade Commission asked Ford to justify this claim, they said that they meant that the Ford LTD was 700% quieter on the inside than the outside.
- One of the GEICO "Did you know..." ads is "Did you know genies can be really literal?" We cut to a man rubbing a magic lamp, summoning a genie. The man asks for "a million bucks". The genie waves his hand and a million bucks appear. A million male deer, that is.
- Occasionally, an ad agency will trademark a made up word that sounds vaguely scientific and then claim a product has it (e.g. breath mint Certs with "Retsyn"). Since they made up the word, they can say it applies to any of the ingredients in the product. Competitors can't use the word since its trademarked, even though they could be made of the exact same ingredients.
- In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, during the Future arc, Kazuo exclaims to Munakata that the traitor within the group is everyone cause despite their attempts to hold onto hope, they're still capable of falling into despair. With his death trigger being telling a lie, it later turns out the victims were brainwashed into commuting suicide unwillingly.
- Most things said by Xelloss in Slayers is technically true in manner in which he phrased it, though not always in the manner in which the listener chooses to hear it. For example, he introduces himself as "Xelloss, the mysterious priest!" After that statement, the "mysterious" part is in no way questioned. As to "priest", in the mazoku hierarchy Xelloss' rank is actually "priest". Mazoku Lords are typically served by a priest and a general. Xelloss claims the former title although he is the sole representative of his Lord. He is using Exact Words to tell people that he is one of the top ten mazoku in the entire world in terms of power. Played for laughs when it turns out Gourry actually got this, and thought it was so obvious he assumed that everyone did.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, what Kyubey tells to Kyoko when asked if Sayaka could be turned back into a human after having turned into a witch is technically not meant to say that it is possible... But the way he phrases it doesn't make it look impossible either. This gives Kyoko enough hope to try, and ultimately results in Kyoko having to sacrifice herself to put Witch!Sayaka out of her misery when it doesn't work. Later on, Kyubey acknowledges that he phrased his statement that way because he wanted Kyoko to die, so that Homura was left with no companions to fend off the ultimate witch, Walpurgis, when it appears, unless Madoka accepts a Puella Magi contract. In general, Kyubey is made of this; he never actually lies, he just withholds any relevant information unless specifically asked about it.
- Everything Ryuk says in Death Note is true. The problem is that he never gives you the entire context. Like his telling Light not to think a human who's used a Death Note is able to go to Heaven or Hell actually means there's no afterlife for anyone. Though Light already figured that to be the case on his own.
- Subverted in two alternate endings. In one Light ends up a Shinigami. In the other, he's sent to a place WORSE than Hell. The Shinigami realm, where he has to relive every death he caused, THEN cease to exist. He takes it in stride. It gives him enough time to kill the Shinigami King.
- Schneizel of Code Geass uses this to such great effect, it's scary.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Honda/Tristan enlists the help of Yugi and Jonouchi/Joey to confess his feelings to a classmate. Yugi helps to write a love letter and Jonouchi slips it into her desk. A Sadist Teacher discovers the love letter and gleefully humiliates the girl by reading the love letter out loud. When she tells the sender she will let them off easy if he shows himself, both Yugi and Jonouchi stand up, admitting to writing the letter and putting it in the desk respectively. Honda also stands up and says that his feelings were written in that letter. The teacher points out that only one of them could have done it and Jonouchi replies that none of them are lying.
- In a flashback, a very young Uryuu asks his father why he hates being a quincy so much. Ryuuken replies there's no money in it. When Uryuu asks Souken if Ryuuken's telling the truth, Souken mulls it over and then says that, if viewed from the angle that being a quincy doesn't put food on the table and Ryuuken has a son to look after, what Ryuuken said can indeed be viewed as the truth. Souken indicates that Ryuuken's actually lying through his teeth and when he realises Uryuu can't see that, goes on to tell Uryuu that one day he will understand Ryuuken's secret.
- The reason Byakuya gives for joining Muramasa in the Zanpakutou Tales Arc is that he's "protecting his pride". Turns out that, by "protecting his pride", he means "finding out where Muramasa's master is and killing him in the name of the Kuchiki Clan". If only Muramasa had asked him to explain before letting him tag along to the Real World...
- Kisuke Urahara likes resorting to this, because he's surprisingly horrible at lying. For example, when Ichigo was a powerless spirit who could barely breathe, Kisuke claimed that some gadget he called the "Headband of Justice" would help him. It did... in that its sheer pointlessness distracted Ichigo long enough for his survival instinct to up his energy enough to not have trouble breathing anymore.
- Fairy Tail
- When Mystogan is accosted by Council agents, Yajima explains that Mystogan resembles Jellal because he is the Edolas version of Jellal. While this is true, at the time "Mystogan" is actually Jellal in disguise.
- In the Key of the Starry Skies Arc, Michelle Lobster refers to Lucy as her "big sister", stating that they would always play together when they were just kids. Lucy however has trouble recalling any of this, and when "Michelle" is revealed to actually be a minion of the Neo Oracion Seis named Imitatia, it seems like it was all a big deception. However, Imitatia still refers to Lucy as her "big sis" even after revealing her true identity, and it's eventually revealed that she's a doll Midnight brought to life which Lucy used to play with and imagined as her "little sister" in her childhood fantasies before her grief at her mother's death led to her leaving the doll behind.
- Medaka Box: The Big Bad Ajimu tells Zenkichi that he's actually more heroic than Medaka, because in the past, she killed her father. Medaka later clarifies that she was the reward for something called the Jet Black Wedding Feast, which her father figure won, causing him to get killed.
- In Saiyuki, Sanzo tells Gojyo (apparently just to be difficult) that the murderer Cho Gonou is dead. What he means by this is That Man Is Dead; Cho Gonou has had a Meaningful Rename into his new identity of Cho Hakkai.
- At the beginning of Magic Knight Rayearth, Clef tells the girls that they are there to save Cephiro and fulfill Princess Emeraude's wish. This is very true. It just leaves out the significant fact that she wishes for them to kill her so that her emotional turmoil won't destroy the land.
- In The Irregular at Magic High School, someone asks Tatsuya if he's part of the Ten Master Clans. Tatsuya replies that he's not, which is 'true' because the Clans are both a political group and a biological one, and Tatsuya was essentially abandoned by his Clan a long time ago. So Tatsuya is, biologically, descended from the Clans (and he does mercenary work for them sometimes) but politically he has no part in their hierarchy.
- A bit into Re:CREATORS, Alisteria confronts Magane when she finds the latter with a dying Mamika. Magane does pass on everything Mamika begged her to say to Alice as she died... she just presented it out of order and didn't dissuade Alisteria when she came to the conclusion that Meteora did it, resulting in her going out for vengeance.
- In the first scene of Lucky Star, episode 12, Konata asks Miyuki if she wants to go to a certain festival with her. Kagami steps in and explains that the actual event is Comiket, a shopping event for otaku. Not only is the episode itself titled Let's Go to the Festival (although it also refers to another festival), but Konata responds with this line:
"I wasn't lying, though, I mean a festival's a festival, right? Besides going alone's no fun. It's a lot of work."
- Early in Death Note, Ryuk explains to Light that users of a Death Note can neither go to heaven nor hell. At the very end of the series, it's revealed that, really, nobody can go to heaven or hell, because they don't exist.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender The Rift, Toph runs into her father for the first time since she ran away from home two years ago, and while she addresses him as "Father", he tells his workers — who were under the impression he had no family — that she is not his daughter. When Toph confronts him for "lying" later, he notes that his daughter was a quiet, obedient girl, and not the ungrateful brat he feels she has become. His claim to have no family also fits when we find out he and Toph's mother separated due to the stress of her disappearance. Thankfully, their issues are resolved by the end of the story.
- The Daredevil story "Fall from Grace" was about the death of Matt Murdock. A doppelganger assumed the identity of Matt Murdock, and died. So from a certain point of view, Matt Murdock died. You see?
- Young Loki from Journey into Mystery, as part of his reform, tries to get through his schemes without lying. He mostly succeeds, through the use of this trope. ("I said I'd let you destroy Asgard. I didn't say which Asgard.")
- One recurring gag in Frank and Earnest is how Ernie explains that the ridiculous descriptions in his classified ads are correct: for example, he calls a boat with an engine that always overheats "the hottest thing on the lake".
- Child of the Storm has Doctor Strange, who never, ever lies... but as is repeatedly and irritably observed, never tells the whole truth, either. For instance, he is telling the literal truth when he says that the ring he's giving Carol in the finale of Book 1 is magical and will help protect her. He just omits to mention that it's Alan Scott's old Green Lantern Ring. Death of the Endless notes that he "always tells the truth and almost never tells the whole truth."
- Kyon: Big Damn Hero:
Nonoko: And it's going to turn me into a magical girl?
- Kyon tells a Yakuza that his PDA is custom note , and says that he got Akasaka's picture because if you do it right, people just look right through you. note
- Achakura invokes this in order to get Nonoko to bring Kyon his gear after he left it behind at home.
Achakura: For values of "turning you into a magical girl" equal to "you having a costume that protects you and operates on principles most people won't understand, and wielding equipment that few on Earth have ever seen, let alone held," yes, this will turn you into a magical girl!
- The protagonist of Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns somehow merges this with Honesty Is the Best Policy and Brutal Honesty seasonings, at times, even as he pulls of one plan after another. Other times, he just refuses to answer questions, like whether or not he killed Trian. He didn't, and neither did anyone else because that's what the second son wanted, and so it was.
- Death Note fanfictions:
- In A Cure for Love, after Light/Kira runs off to Take Over the World L tells everyone that Light was killed by Kira.
- In Kira Sweetheart Rem tells L that Misa and Light were possessed and corrupted by the notebook. Later L tells Light he's already caught and executed Kira.
- In Fever Dreams Light tells the investigators he is constantly being watched and guarded by two Shinigami — one keeps constant watch over him and threatens him every time he steps out of line and the other, a Shinigami that likes apples, drops in regularly to takes reports from the one guarding him and then let's them come to their own conclusions about his involvement in the Kira case.
- Harry Potter fanfictions:
Sirius: You are entirely too good at that lying-with-truths thing, you know.
- In Bad Love Harry puts on his invisibility cloak when he sees Hermione approaching the Hogwarts Express. When she enters his compartment and asks Luna if she's seen Harry, Luna replies that he vanished after she sat down and she hasn't seen him since.
- In A Conversation with Raptors Tom Riddle states to Minister Fudge that "the insanity which was Voldemort" died during the resurrection ritual.
- In From the Flame to the Spark Ginny, while making plans to apparate to Hogwarts and recover the diadem, tells Sirius that if Fred and George catch her she'll remind them how she keeps sneaking their brooms out at night and how much she's wanted to go to Hogwarts and let their imaginations do the rest.
Snape: Dumbledore said he was well cared for and treated like family. Although now that I think about it [Petunia Dursley] did treat Lily horribly, so what he said was true from a certain point of view.
- In Hunter after Snape finds out about Harry living with the Dursleys he as good as accuses Dumbledore of this.
Harry: I didn't say how many years of interest, now did I, eh?
- In Heirs of the Founders after Draco Malfoy insults Hermione and Ron on the Hogwarts Express their first year Harry irately says that he could buy three generations of Draco's family with vault interest, then clarifies his remark after Draco leaves in a huff.
Ron: Have any of you seen Lilly Potter?
- In Black Sky, Dumbledore uses Veritaserum to make Sirius confess where Rose Potter is, only for Sirius to answer that Rose Potter doesn't exist. Sure, "Rose Potter" was the name Lily's daughter would have kept if the Potters had lived, but since they're dead, there is no Rose Potter, only Dorea Black who is Sirius's daughter.
- In The Lady of Slytherin - Dark Beginnings Lilly introduces herself to Hermione as Lilith Black during their first meeting.
Hermione: I'm sorry I have not been introduced to anyone by that name.
- In Evacuation of the Flumpawumps, Seamus and Parvati accidentally walk in on Luna and Harry during an intimate moment. Parvati laments that she could've been in Luna's place until Seamus remarks that he taught Harry everything he knows, causing her to drag him off somewhere private. Really, all Seamus did was share a tip he read in a dirty magazine, having never done it himself.
- Mercury from the A dance of Shadow and Light series of Inheritance Cycle fanfictions is definitely this trope to a T. Examples include turning an unbreakable oath of fealty and protection of Galbatorix into a (in his mind) oath to kill the king at the earliest possible convienience. By the second story, he is so infamous for doing this that Loivissa's father (Eragon) warns her that no matter what Mercury says, she is to take it with a grain of salt.
- Maledict pulls this on Tsali in the climax of Sonic X: Dark Chaos. He manipulated both Tsali and the Metarex to fight each other — but they were the ones who destroyed the galaxy and did all the killing, not him.
- From a11p1 of Ask King Sombra:
Sombra: Wanna explain why you LIED TO ME?
Thranduelk: I never lied. I simply omitted some of the facts.
- In the Supernatural fic Down to Agincourt, Castiel never actually lies, applying instead a judicious mixture of misdirection, Exact Words, Loophole Abuse, and blatant disregard for the Conversational Maxims to get the job done.
- In the Miraculous Ladybug fic Obsession, Marinette talks to her classmates about her developing secret relationship with Chat Noir by claiming that she's been looking after a stray cat that's been hanging around her roof and occasionally comes inside for pats. Adrien (Chat Noir himself) is listening in on the conversation, and both he and Marinette have rather hilarious reactions to Juleka suggesting that she get him neutered.
- In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, Lelouch (as Zero) claims on live TV that he killed Prince Clovis, when it was actually C.C. However, it was only thanks to him that she was able to get her revenge, so he considers it to be at least partially true.
- In Sean Bean Saves Westeros, everyone who spots that Ned Stark isn't quite what he was before he "died", assumes that his replacement is a highly skilled lookalike actor. Considering that his replacement is Sean Bean, they aren't so much wrong as right in the completely wrong way.
- Death Is Forced To Take A Vacation: Fall Harvest tells Apple Bloom that he works in an office and his job involves analysis of the lifespans of certain species. This is accurate; he just doesn't tell her he's talking about the lifespans of sapient beings and not plants like it would seem from his previous comments.
- When Elsa questions her friend Kyra in the Frozen fic The Alphabet Story on whether she's in love or not, Kyra says that there's no man. While that is true, it doesn't mean she isn't in love with anyone. Elsa asks her if Kyra'd tell her if she was in love with someone, to which Kyra replies that Elsa would be the first if she decided to reveal her feelings or someone. This is also half-true as is Elsa the object of her affections.
- In If I Only Had A Heart, Izuku tries to ease his mom's worries about his new spinal implants by telling half-truths and leaving out certain details. He also outright lies about how painful it was. It wasn't painless, it was excruciating.
- When his mother finally confronts him about his self-experimentation, he agrees to talk to her about it before doing any more to reassure her, conveniently leaving out the fact that he's already installed everything he's wanted to already.
- In Cuckoo Bird, Izuku has to do this by necessity, as the fae are physically unable to lie without getting a slashing and burning feeling in their throats.
- In The Final Battle, N isn't technically lying when he tells Delia he hasn't seen Ash face-to-face since saving him in Sinnoh two years ago. Ash is standing next to him, but has a specially made hood that hides his face.
- In Hero Class Civil Warfare Izuku tells his classmates that Shishou helped him stay in character as a villain through Mind Control. Izuku leaves out that he asked Shishou to do so and had acted as a villain of his own free will.
- In Crimson And Emerald Hawks hides that Iida deliberately sought out Stain despite revealing most of the truth to the public.
- In My Huntsman Academia, Katsuki presses Izuku on his new Aura after spending his entire life Broken. Izuku meekly replies that he just needed help, leaving out Toshinori's and One For All's role in his sudden empowerment.
- Disney's Aladdin used this in the direct-to-video conclusion of the series, Aladdin and the King of Thieves. An oracle tells Aladdin that his father, Cassim, is trapped within the world of the Forty Thieves. Well, he is. It's just that Cassim is not only there voluntarily, he's their leader, and what he's trapped by is his own greed.
- In yet another Disney example, The Jungle Book sees Kaa telling Mowgli that he can help him: "I can see to it that you never have to leave this jungle." Considering that Kaa's "help" would be eating Mowgli, the snake technically isn't lying — once the boy is devoured, he can't leave the jungle. Or do anything else, for that matter.
- In The Lion King, after the infamous stampede scene that kills King Mufasa, Scar tells Simba, "if it weren't for you, [Mufasa would] still be alive." This is not technically untrue, as Mufasa was killed trying to save his son from the stampede (though he would have survived if Scar himself had not thrown him off a cliff into the raging herd), but Scar's words make poor Simba think that he was somehow responsible for his father's death, which, Scar being the Manipulative Bastard that he his, is precisely what he desires.
- In The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facilier tells Naveen that he sees the "green" in his future to enable him to "hop from place to place." While the good doctor had strongly implied he foresaw the money Naveen wanted in order to do as he pleases, he actually intended to pull the Jackass Genie card and turn him into a frog (and does). Disney sure does use a lot of these!
- In Rango, the leader of the mariachi band says that Rango will die. The movie's plot progresses and he's still alive and well to see the end credits. When one of the band members questions the narrator on this, he says that Rango will still die — someday, because everyone does. Looking at it metaphorically, it's even more applicable. When he's shamed and had his lies exposed the Rango persona dies as a character; when he comes back to fight, the nameless lizard he was dies and is subsumed by Rango.
- In Tangled, Flynn Rider's opening narration includes the phrase "This is the story of how I died. But don't worry, this is actually a fun story and the truth is it isn't even mine," thus leading you to understand that he was pulling your leg. Except he wasn't. He does die, in point of fact. He just doesn't stay dead. like the Rango example above it could be taken metaphorically. Flynn Rider dies. But Eugene lives on.
- Captain Marvel reveals how the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Nick Fury lost his eye. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury tells Captain America that he lost his eye to someone he trusted, but he actually lost it to an alien cat that he adored, making his earlier statement this.
- In The Dark Knight Rises it's revealed that the cover story of the events at the end of the previous film has it that Batman killed Harvey Dent. This is actually true, Harvey Dent died from a fall after Batman shoved him off a roof, but it leaves out the important part: he did so because Harvey/Two-Face was about to kill Commissioner Gordon's son.
- In the non-canon Detective Conan movie Shinichi Kudo Returns! Showdown with the Black Organization, Ran sees Ai Haibara hugging Shinichi (both temporarily at their normal ages) and becomes suspicious and jealous. To calm her down, Ai gives a fake name and claims that she'd hired Shinichi to help her with some dangerous men who were trying to get revenge on her for something, and that she was hugging him out of fear. Technically that's true - she was being pursued by Gin and Vodka, both of them wanted revenge on her for escaping them, Shinichi was helping save her from them, and she really had been hugging him out of fear.
- Kinsey: He was filming animals to make a visual record of mammalian behavior. He never said which mammal species he was focusing on (Homo sapiens, as it turned out).
- The protagonist of Liar Liar is cursed to always tell the truth (while being the defending lawyer in a case he can't win without lying). He tries to get around this and postpone the trial by beating himself up in the bathroom, and then being as vague as possible (without lying) when asked who did it.
The Judge: Who did this?
Fletcher: A madman, your honor! A desperate fool at the end of his pitiful rope!
Judge: What did he look like?
Fletcher: About 6'2", 180lbs. big teeth, kinda gangly.
- In The Matrix, Morpheus nearly loses his faith in the Oracle because she is unable to help him see past what he believes will end the Man/Machine war by the concluding movie, The Matrix Revolutions. It is only for The One to know what must be done in the matter of prophecy through a bit of Prophecy Twist and some Fridge Brilliance by the audience, later.
- In Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (1974), everything Princess Natalia Dragomiroff says to Hercule Poirot. They had to lie to throw him off the trail, but honor dictated they couldn't do it outright so they "merely" gave the nearest equivalent answer. For example; Mr. Whitehead became Mr. Snowpeak.
- In The North and the South, when Orry and George are in a tavern having a beer, the bartender suggests they sit back-to-back so if someone asks the if they'd seen one another drinking, they could say they had not.
- In the first film, Lawrence says that the Jigsaw Killer is, technically speaking, "not a murderer" because he never kills anyone directly; he just puts them in situations where death is very likely. The point is really moot, as almost any jurisdiction would consider putting somebody in such a situation to be murder. Saw II does at least have the Jerkass detective hero calls Jigsaw out on this defense: "putting a gun to someone's head and forcing him to pull the trigger is still murder." Plus, that ignores the very first movie, in which Jigsaw lures Detective Sing into a hallway and into a shotgun trap, resulting in his death, which was preceded by a very straightforward attempt to murder Detective Tapp by cutting his throat.
- Without the murder charge, his actions usually qualify as assault, kidnapping, and torture, often with lasting damage even for the survivors — possibly a Fate Worse than Death in some cases. Several of Jigsaw's disciples actually do commit straight-up murder in their games. But by the 6th movie even the real Jigsaw seems to be having a hard time coming up with new "games" that actually leave his victims with a chance to survive. For example, half his games are of the "decide which one of these people will live or die" variety. Well, if one person is guaranteed to die, then you are committing murder because your trap is specifically designed to kill people without any hope of escape.
- A number of his traps are also designed to kill anyone who attempts to pursue/capture him, so these would be also be considered him murdering people.
- In most jurisdictions of the US, any felony leading to a person's death can be charged as felony murder regardless of this.
- Used in several of the Star Trek films, mostly by Spock.
- The later instances are call-backs to the first, from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where Spock informs Captain Kirk by communicator that "going by the book, like Lieutenant Saavik, hours would seem like days" before reporting that the Enterprise would need two days to have secondary power restored... "By the book, Admiral." After Kirk's away team gets stranded on Regula I by Khan:
Kirk: [opening communicator] Kirk to Spock, it's two hours, are you ready?
Spock: Right on schedule, Admiral.
[soon, on the Enterprise]
Saavik: I don't understand. We were immobilized. Captain Spock said it would be two days.
Kirk: Come, come, Lieutenant. You of all people go by the book: "If communications are being monitored during battle..."
Saavik: "...no uncoded messages on an open channel." [turns to Spock, astonished] You lied.
Spock: I exaggerated.
- Lampshaded repeatedly in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, for example:
Spock: Mr. Scott, I understand you are having difficulties with the warp drive? How much time do you require for repair?
Scotty: There's nothing wrong with the bloody th—
Spock: Mr. Scott, if we return to spacedock, then the assassins will surely find a way to dispose of their incriminating footwear, and we will never see the Captain, or Dr. McCoy, alive again.
Scotty: Could take weeks, sir.
Spock: Thank you, Mr. Scott.
Valeris: A lie?
Spock: An error.
- This one, though, eventually comes back to bite Spock in the hinder:
Kirk: I want the names of the conspirators.
Valeris: I do not... remember.
Spock: A lie?
Valeris: ...A choice.
- Played with in Star Trek (2009), when Spock Prime meets his young counterpart, after telling the young Kirk not to mention him because of Never the Selves Shall Meet.
Spock: You lied.
Spock Prime: I implied.
- Given a further nod in Star Trek Into Darkness, when Spock and Kirk are being dressed down by Admiral Pike. When Spock cites his Loophole Abuse, Pike angrily dismisses it as a technicality. Spock counters that, as a Vulcan, he is quite familiar with technicalities.
- From the same film, Harrison/Khan demands that Spock hand over the prototype torpedoes doubling as cryogenic storage pods for his fellow Augments. Spock gives his word that Vulcans do not lie and beams the torpedoes aboard the other ship fully armed and seconds away from detonating, but with the Augments safely removed.
- Needless to say, playing poker against a Vulcan is only slightly smarter than picking a fight with one.
- The later instances are call-backs to the first, from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where Spock informs Captain Kirk by communicator that "going by the book, like Lieutenant Saavik, hours would seem like days" before reporting that the Enterprise would need two days to have secondary power restored... "By the book, Admiral." After Kirk's away team gets stranded on Regula I by Khan:
- Star Wars:
Sidious: 'And now for the final touch. The words that will forever bind him to the dark side. They won't even be a lie. Not really.'
- The former Trope Namer is Return of the Jedi, wherein Obi-Wan tells Luke that the statement "Darth Vader betrayed and murdered your father" is, indeed, true "from a certain point of view." This is a Retcon, but it's a pretty good Retcon. It's true Vader killed loads of Jedi, including very young children; it's true Obi-Wan feels betrayed and horrified and hates what he became for it; and it's believable that the old man would put off telling Luke his daddy is actually an evil Sith Lord as long as possible (for Luke's sake, if for no other reason). It was originally intended that Obi-Wan was telling the whole truth — in the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back, written by Leigh Brackett, Luke's father even appears as a Force ghost. George Lucas introduced the twist in the second draft, which he wrote after Brackett's death, as a way of improving character motivations. In a clear case of Fridge Brilliance upon rewatching A New Hope, before Alec Guinness delivers the original line he fractionally hesitates with a considering look. You can practically see him considering what would be the best thing to tell Luke. That hesitation is amazingly lucky for the Retcon.
- Incidentally, Luke learns to use this metaphorical truth later on to guilt trip Vader in Return of the Jedi when the former allows himself to be captured. During their confrontation, it's clear Luke is getting under Vader's skin and the latter admits Luke essentially has points but says he doesn't have much of a choice in following Palpatine. As a sort of last low blow before he's taken away, Luke is clearly disappointed in him and tells him "then my father is truly dead". It's not clear whether this means Luke came around to Obi-Wan's perspective of it, at least for that moment, or that it was just to burn Vader one more time. Either way, it works, and Vader is clearly shaken and hurt that his son would tell him his "father" — not just "Anakin" — is truly dead.
- While this looks weaselly, it does fit later hints that the Jedi see the Sith as something like the walking dead, former people who've been turned into monsters by the Dark Side. Mace Windu says "which was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?" — not, say, slain. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon referred to Darth Maul as "it", while Yoda later warns Obi-Wan that Anakin is "gone" and has been "consumed" by Darth Vader — a line probably written for the purpose of bolstering the point-of-view of Obi-Wan's original statement to Luke. Even more so, throughout the final fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin, you can see Obi-Wan constantly trying to reach his friend and former apprentice and bring him back to his senses. It's only by the end of the fight where he seems to come to the conclusion that his friend is no more. It's likely the same train of thought Luke had in the above capture scene later on.
- The Force Awakens further supports this idea, with Kylo Ren saying that he destroyed his former identity.note
Vader: Anakin Skywalker was weak. I destroyed him.
- Darth Vader himself says the same thing to his former apprentice in the Star Wars Rebels episode "Twilight of the Apprentice, Part II".
Ahsoka: Then I will avenge his death!
- In Revenge of the Sith, after Anakin stands up in the Vader suit for the first time, his first question to Sidious is "Where's Padmé?", having last seen her unconscious after force-choking her. Sidious replies that in his anger Anakin had killed her. This has the desired effect of driving Anakin to despair so that he will embrace the Dark Side more closely. It is however technically true, insofar as Anakin's betrayal ultimately causes Padmé to lose the will to live, to say nothing of the aforementioned force choke — something that Sidious was probably aware of.
- According to the novelization it's literally true, and she died from internal damage caused by the choke; the robots that gave the "lost the will to live" explanation are just terrible doctors.
- The junior novel even has Sidious internally reflecting on this, taking pleasure in the fact that he won't need to lie in order to break Vader's spirit.
- In one of the first lines in the entire saga, Raymus Antilles tells Vader that the Tantive IV did not intercept any transmissions of the stolen Death Star plans. Forty years later, we learn this to be technically true; in the final scene of Rogue One (2016), Leia receives the plans in a physical format. It also makes Vader's phrasing odd, since he was present at the time.
- However, Vader may have simply viewed it as a Distinction Without a Difference.
- When Yoda is dying, he tells Luke that "the last of the Jedi, you will be." However, in Legends there was plenty of other surviving Jedi. Some had fallen to the Dark side, such as Jerec, so they arguably are no longer count as Jedi. However, other Jedi were merely in hiding. Some came out of hiding to help Luke reestablish the Jedi order. In Canon, the statement currently closer to the truth, as the only other known survivor of Order 66 alive at the time of Return of the Jedi, namely Asoka, directly stated that she is not a Jedi.
- Near the end of What's Love Got to Do with It, Tina Turner is shown as reduced to a lounge act, implying this is what she's reduced to make ends meet and showing how far she fell before her big come back with the eponymous album. The film neglects to mention a Real Life detail: When this happened to the real Turner, it was her idea, to make sure people knew she hadn't retired or vanished since her infamously nasty split with Ike Turner.
- Wonder Woman (2017): Hippolyta's story about Ares is misleading but technically true if not taken at face value. He does act as The Corrupter to humanity, but the way the story was told to Diana made her think that he used supernatural means to influence them, when actually his methods are closer to giving people fire and watching them burn themselves and everything around them.
- Garry King from The World's End almost entirely speaks in this and Insane Troll Logic. He often makes plans in the loosest and most roundabout way, so that he never technically breaks them, and it's a Running Gag that he's "never wrong". Not "always right", "never wrong". It's futile to argue with the man sober, let alone drunk.
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Logan goes to Charles' school to find him, but he is greeted by Hank, who says that there are no professors in the place. Logan believes correctly that he is lying, as Charles eventually appears there. However, he is so broken and enraged that he doesn't resemble his usual self anymore. Hank reaffirms that there are no professors in the school.
- In Inside Man, Dalton Russel's opening monologue is phrased so that it sounds like his bank robbery failed and he is in jail. However, he warns the listener, "Pay strict attention to what I say because I choose my words carefully and I never repeat myself." And at the very end of the movie, we find out that Dalton has actually spent the last three days imprisoned inside the bank's inner walls as part of his scheme, and the scheme itself comes off perfectly.
- Common in Christian novels such as Left Behind, where the Moral Guardians and The Fundamentalist are the target audience, and lying, even to the minions of Satan and/or to save lives, is forbidden by God, and woe to any book with a protagonist or "hero" who lies. But God only has a problem with complete lies. Deliberately deceiving someone is fine, as long the liar can explain to himself why the statement is technically true. Suffice it to say that there's plenty of debate over when/if it's always wrong to lie, especially considering that the verse often quoted as "Thou shalt not lie" actually says "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor", which is a lot more ambiguous.
- Brenish lives here in Below, and especially loves lies of omission. He repeatedly questions the authenticity of the treasure map he knows is fake, even well after it's fooled both Gareth and the Expert and the quest is underway. Whenever he finds a cache of items, he leaves something out but gives up the rest. (In one case he says the item he pocketed could have been destroyed and its pieces lost among the floor debris.) And his trade offer to Lila, while sincere and a fair deal, is embellished to stratospheric heights.
Brenish: The late spellbinder Dexter the Unctuous, a man of wide renown, bestowed upon me two talismans of great power.
- The lofty-sounding but insulting title is one the man would not have chosen for himself, but others would; his truly wide renown was for being a slimeball; the meanings of "talismans" and "great power" are stretched paper-thin; the binder didn't make them; and Brenish got them from his corpse. He's also saying this to a mind reader.
- In one of Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers stories, "Truth To Tell", a man who is suspected of stealing money and bonds from his company denies his culpability several times using the same phrase: "I did not take the cash or the bonds." He swears he is telling the truth. The club's incomparable waiter Henry solves the case by asking "Did you, by any chance, take the cash and the bonds?" The man doesn't answer, but he doesn't have to.
- The Camp Half-Blood Series:
- In every Percy Jackson and the Olympians novel, there is a prophecy for the quests the heroes undergo. All of them have double meanings, leading the heroes to believe one thing, but then for the plot to turn out completely differently, but in hindsight, still true to the prophecy, just in a entirely different way.
- In The Heroes of Olympus, Mars pretends to have never met Percy by using this trope.
- Chrestomanci: Christopher from The Lives of Christopher Chant is very fond of these, and his friend the Goddess isn't above half truths either.
- Agatha Christie liked to use this trope in her works. The most famous example might be And Then There Were None, which features ten individuals who have all had a hand in killing someone. Technically speaking, they're not guilty of actual murder — they didn't shoot or poison their victims — but their actions did lead to their eventual deaths, which leads a mysterious murderer to administer a twisted form of law on them:
- Anthony Marston, a young, carefree, attractive man, ran over two children with his car. He's the only member of the group who actually directly killed an individual, though he did so unknowingly; the murderer kills him first because Marston himself isn't haunted by guilt, and the killer wants the victims to squirm.
- Thomas and Ethel Rogers were the caretakers of an elderly woman and just so happened to be out of the house one night when she badly needed medicine; she died because they didn't reach her in time.
- General MacArthur discovered that his wife was having an affair with a soldier under his command; he sent the young man on a suicide mission, knowing there was virtually no chance of his surviving.
- Emily Brent, a strictly Christian woman, kicked her young maid Beatrice out of the house when she discovered that the girl had become pregnant; the desperate Beatrice drowned herself.
- Justice Wargrave sentenced a man to death without getting as full a picture of the evidence as possible.
- Dr. Armstrong operated a patient while drunk, knowing full well that he wasn't able to perform surgery properly but doing so anyway.
- Blore, a police officer, gave false testimony in exchange for a promotion; the innocent man he sent to prison died not long after being incarcerated.
- Philip Lombard abandoned a tribe of natives he was traveling with while working in Africa; like Marston, he admits his culpability, but he technically didn't kill anyone.
- Vera Claythorne, originally a governess to the half-brother of the man she loved, allowed the child to swim out to a rock in the ocean, knowing full well that he wasn't strong enough to resist the undertow.
- The real tenth death turns out to be Isaac Morris, an Amoral Attorney who was used by the killer to make the necessary arrangements for the murder plot. Morris introduced a young woman to drugs, which led to addiction and eventual suicide.
- Additionally, the killer follows an Ironic Nursery Tune in the methods they use to off the others, but some of their methods only very loosely correspond to the poem's lines: for example, to fulfill the "a bumblebee stung one" line, they used a cyanide-filled syringe to "sting" someone to death.
- Circleverse: In The Will of the Empress, when Briar Moss is asked how he managed to locate his foster sister, his answer is "I forgot. I have a terrible memory for secrets I don't wish to tell."
- In Vivian Vande Velde's The Conjurer Princess, the morally questionable wizard whose talent is seeing the future tells one of the adventurers that if they go on a quest, he had better be prepared to die. Said character walks out of the party but later returns for a Big Damn Heroes moment — and is captured, put on his knees in front of an executioner... and ducks away at the last second. Prepared to die, indeed. Extra half-truth bonus points because it was the other adventurer who died on the quest.
- In a novel by Albert E Cowdrey, a megalomaniacal criminal wants revenge on the human race for his imprisonment. Before he's allowed out of prison, he's asked a few questions, and there's a machine that can tell whether he's telling the truth or not. When asked if he regrets his behavior, he says yes (meaning he regrets that his mistakes got him caught). When asked if he wants to harm anyone, or something like that, he says "I do not wish to harm any human individual."
- In Kylie Chan's Dark Heavens series, Mr. Chen is a wealthy Hong Kong businessman. When asked the source of his wealth, he prefers to reply that he does some martial arts training and various circumstances for the government, as well as some fieldwork before his daughter is born. If he's asked whether he means the Hong Kong or continental Chinese government, he says "above either," generally taken to mean he's with the UN. Inevitably, people assume he's a spy, and to THAT question he says he can't discuss it. In fact, he's a god in the Celestial Bureaucracy and being, amongst other things, god of martial arts, he spends a lot of time teaching it to other gods.
- In Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen: Distant Thunders, several Lemurian marines take their traitorous former king ashore. When they return, the marine in charge of the group swears to Jim Ellis that they left the king all their spears and provisions, claiming that he should survive for some time. He also swears that the king will not die by their hands. What he omits is that the spears were used to pin the king's arms and legs to a tree, and his belly was sliced to allow his entrails to be pulled out and hung on the branches to attract predators. The food was also left for this purpose. To be fair, the king deserved this.
- In Small Gods, Vorbis explains to Brutha that the claim that the Omnian priest sent to convert the Ephebians was killed by these ungodly savages represents a "deeper truth". According to Vorbis, this is much truer than the mundane truth, that the Ephebians listened, threw vegetables, then sent him away, and he was killed by the Quisition as an excuse to start a holy war. Of course, Vorbis is a practitioner of Double Think, so this trope is nothing to him.
- In A Hat Full of Sky, "never lie, but don't always tell the truth" is among the pieces of advice Miss Tick gives Tiffany.
- Monstrous Regiment: "Upon my oath, I am not a dishonest/violent man." Kind of hard to be a violent or dishonest man when you're actually a woman.
- Thief of Time: "No monk here knows deja-fu! I'd soon hear about it if they did." This is true. None of the Time Monks know how to use time itself as a weapon in martial arts. The smiling old man who's always sweeping in odd corners, however, is not a Time Monk...
- Carrot does this surprisingly frequently when negotiating with hostile characters. However, he has never (as far as anyone can prove) told a direct lie. In fact, he has a tendency to use the truth as a weapon. Both he and Angua have told someone impeding their progress that unless the person stands down, they'll be forced to carry out the orders they were given regarding resistance, and that they'll regret it terribly if they do, but they won't have any choice. In the circumstances an implied threat is very clear — Shame If Something Happened. However, the orders on both occasions were "leave the offending party alone, and see if you can find a workaround in this morass." The people they're sort-of threatening never notice.
Sergeant Colon was lost in admiration. He'd seen people bluff on a bad hand, but he'd never seen anyone bluff with no cards.
- The witches at the end of Wyrd Sisters are quite clear in their own minds that they've told everyone the truth; Tomjon and the Fool are half-brothers, and Verence is the older. If people want to assume that Verence is therefore the illegitimate son of the King and Mrs Fool, and entitled to claim the throne if Tomjon doesn't want it, rather than Tomjon being the illegitimate son of the elder Fool and the Queen, that's their problem.
- "If the Hogfather does not return, then the sun will not rise tomorrow." No, instead a sphere of burning gas would. Although while Susan thinks this trope is in effect Death reveals that something much worse would happen.
- Vimes uses this in Feet of Clay when some arsenic is planted in his desk along with whiskey; he has the presence of mind to pour out the whiskey instead of drinking it, give the arsenic to the Watch alchemist, and swap it for some sugar when he does the Fingertip Drug Analysis in front of Lord Downey, then say that it's a dangerous substance. When it's revealed to be sugar, Lord Downey yells "You said it was dangerous!" Vimes says "Right. Eat too much of it and see what it does to your teeth!"
- One damned soul in The Divine Comedy asks Dante if he will clear the ice from his eyes after he tells his story. Dante responds that if he doesn't, may he "go to the bottom of the ice". As it turns out, the entrance to Purgatory is reached by traveling below the ice...
- In the Dragaera series, Anti-Hero Vlad Taltos is a mob boss required to testify "under the orb" (that is, under magical lie detection) when a neighboring boss disappears. Among other applications of this trope, Vlad tells the prosecutors, "As far as I'm concerned, he committed suicide." Treating Vlad the way he did, he brought his murder on himself.
- The Dresden Files:
- No faeries can lie. Dresden notes, and tells one to its face, that the fact that they can't lie in no way has hampered their ability to deceive.
- Colin Murphy has a field day with this trope in Ghost Story, luring Dresden into doing a job for him by claiming that three of his close friends and associates will die if he doesn't, and they are in great danger. It turns out that all mortals tend to die sooner or later, no matter what wizards do (and his friends with their Chronic Hero Syndrome are in danger anyway), and that Murphy's boss (who is an Archangel and can extinguish galaxies with an errant thought) is less than pleased at being drawn into the deception by proxy, though he's also somewhat reluctantly impressed.
- In Frank Herbert's Dune, Baron Harkonnen suborned the Suk doctor Yueh by taking his wife, Wanna, hostage and torturing her. If Yueh betrayed Duke Leto, the Baron promised him that "I'd free her from the agony and permit you to join her." Subverted in that, as the Baron reveals that he's already killed Wanna and has Yueh killed as well, the doctor tells him "You think I did not know what I bought for my Wanna." Yueh had already taken the opportunity to implant a poison gas pellet in Leto's tooth and instructed Leto to use it to assassinate the Baron. The Baron survives, but his Mentat isn't so lucky.
- In the Flashman novel Royal Flash Flashman swears that he will let a mook who has tried to kill him go, if he tells him what he wants to know. The mook tells and Flashman lets him go ... over a cliff and into a chasm. He said he would let him go!
- Forgotten Realms:
- In The Hunter's Blades Trilogy, the Orc King Obould Many-Arrows convinces his race's patron god Gruumsh, Chaotic Evil god of destruction and slaughter, to make him into a Chosen by promising he will use that divine power to lead orcs to a position of unparalleled power and respect. Gruumsh eagerly complies... only to find out afterwards that Obould is a Visionary Villain. That position of unparalleled power and respect is real, but it's not the all-conquering horde that Gruumsh had envisioned; it's founding the first ever legitimate orc kingdom, forcing the other races to respect orcs as having their own sovereign rights, rather than being vermin to burn out whenever they grow too annoying.
- In The Knights of Samular by Elaine Cunningham, Renwick Caradoon used such tricks to twist the Abyss out of his contract with an incubus lord and — after this bright idea gone bad anyway and he needed help — fool already suspicious Blackstaff (which may be more impressive).
"A prideful wizard, a summoning gone awry," Renwick said, genuine sorrow and regret painting his tones. "But before her death, my niece gave me the means to banish the demon."
Khelben gave him a searching look, and Renwick felt the subtle tug of truth-test magic. It slid off him easily; few spells recognized a lie fashioned by placing two truths next to each other. Let Khelben think Nimra was the prideful wizard who had summoned the demon.
- Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. In Order of the Phoenix this is justified, since he fears Voldemort may be able to listen in on Harry's thoughts.
- Sirius Black has his moment as well. When he finally gets a chance to talk to Harry, instead of telling him straight away that he's innocent, he says he killed Harry's parents, for no other reason than that he feels guilty for their deaths. Actually, all he did was insist on making Peter the Secret Keeper. This backfires.
- Lord Voldemort tells Harry that his Muggle father abandoned his witch mother because he found out she was magical. While this is technically true, Voldemort neglects to mention (or is unaware of the fact) that the only reason his father was attracted to his mother was because she used a Love Potion to brainwash into marrying her and rape him. He ran off after she stopped drugging him with it in hopes that he would actually fall in love with her or at least stay for the child.
- The Inheritance Cycle has the elves, who, as Brom says, are masters of saying one thing but meaning another. They are able to do this because speaking in the ancient language prohibits one from lying, though they can still say something that they believe to be true. Eragon uses this technique at one point in an attempt to conceal his actual feelings regarding Arya.
- Journey to Chaos: After snatching his Spell Book away from his muggle apartment mate and needing a mundane explanation, Eric says, After high school, I had the acting role of a mage in a mercantile company. My roommate sent me this when I lost it. This sentence is absolutely true, but it implies that he went directly to this company after high school instead of years afterward and only joined at a high school age due to a Fountain of Youth effect, as well implying that it was an acting/theater company that had a mercantile attitude instead of being a literal mercenary company with a mercantile attitude.
- Schmendrick the Magician in The Last Unicorn. As the narrator puts it, he's not lying, just arranging events in a more logical way.
- In the Lensman stories, it is a vital plot point that humanity (and the other allied races of civilisation) be Locked Out of the Loop, because of the consequences of realizing the truth. Even so, Mentor of Arisia goes to extraordinary lengths to keep Kim Kinnison from learning the truth without openly lying to him, right up to and including altering Kinnison's perception of what species Fossten is. Causing endless problems in fandom, as Smith admits to in his essay The Epic of Space.
- The Lord of the Rings:
- This comes up several times, mostly to do with how the Men of Rohan and Gondor have muddled ideas about Lothlórien and Fangorn from the fact that their legend describe them as "perilous" and "dangerous". As Gandalf explains, both those things are true, but that doesn't make them malevolent.
- The Silmarillion contains a summary of the events of The Lord of the Rings at the end, and states that Frodo destroyed the One Ring. This is not exactly accurate, as the Ring is destroyed more or less by accident after Frodo succumbs to the Ring and fails to destroy it. That being said, Frodo still deserves credit for getting the Ring to the spot where it can be destroyed, and Word of God has stated that no one has enough willpower to willingly destroy the Ring regardless.
- In the Mageworld novel The Price of the Stars, the enigmatic old man that answered to 'Professor' pretty much lived on the trope. For example when the Adept Llannatt Hyfid asked him if he knew the hidden asteroid base he operated out of was Magebuilt he responded "I did, Mistress. But that was long ago... five centuries and more," leaving those present who were not aware that he was himself a renegade Magelord and far older than he looked to draw their own conclusions.
- The Mahabharata:
- Drona is convinced to lay down his weapons after hearing that his son, Ashwatama, is dead. Before doing so, he asks Yudhishtara, who notably cannot tell a lie, if this is true. Yudhishtara replies, "Yes, Ashwatama the elephant is dead" — with the key words muttered under his breath. You see, the son was still alive, but the Pandavas had killed an elephant with the same name. Before the start of the battle, the Pandavas proposed a number of rules, on which both armies agreed, that would ensure that everyone fought honorably. About every single rule is broken within the first days of battle by the heroes of both sides.
- In the Menon translation, Prince Bhima utilizes this trope when going undercover. Someone remarks suspiciously that Bhima doesn't look like a cook, and Bhima replies that he can cook many dishes. Which is true, but there's a great difference between being able to cook and being a cook.
- Middle School Blues
- This young adult novel contains a lampshaded example of this trope. The set-up is this: Cindy's friend Jeff has run away from home, Cindy thinks she knows where he is, but she doesn't want to tell anyone because she doesn't want to raise his parents' hopes if she's wrong. She decides that she has to check it out for herself. Cindy goes to investigate, after telling her parents that another friend, Becca, asked Cindy to spend the day at her house. When she's caught, her parents accuse her of lying about going to Becca's house. Cindy insists that she didn't lie, she had been asked to spend the day at Becca's, and she never said that she was going there. Her parents are distinctly not amused by this, and explain that being deliberately misleading is no different from lying.
- Cindy herself is on the receiving end of this when she goes back to school the next day to find the Alpha Bitch telling everyone that Cindy ran away to be with Jeff...
- In Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tales, pixie Kaye invokes this to fulfill a quest to find a faerie who could lie, which is impossible. She succeeds by claiming SHE can lie. She can lie... on the ground.
- In Nineteen Eighty-Four the names of the Ministries (Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Love, Ministry of Plenty, Ministry of Peace) can be perfectly true from The Party's point of view, rather than ironic. Minitru doesn't falsify or lie, it corrects the past to show the new truth, which having been corrected has now always been the truth; Minipax maintains internal peace by continually waging external war; the goal of Miniluv is for everyone to love Big Brother and The Party via Happiness Is Mandatory; and Miniplenty is in control of Oceania's economy, which appears to actually be very strong but is directed almost solely towards creating weapons and large public gestures which do not actually improve the lives of the population but keep their minds occupied.
- The John Dickson Carr novel The Nine Wrong Answers has authorial footnotes that use this trope to an almost gleeful extent, to the point that the final one points out that at no time did previous footnotes technically lie about niceties like whether a man who was poisoned actually died, and whether a man really was who he was claiming he was. (Although some critics maintain that Carr slipped in a few places and really did make the "incorrect" claims.)
- In Pact, Padraic, an ancient Faerie, specializes in this due to not being able to lie, telling vague truths out of context when he cannot rely upon Exact Words.
Padraic: An accomplished liar remembers his lies. I cannot, of course, lie, but I do tell half truths, and a half truth could be said to be half a lie.
- In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Penny's mother is a Living Lie Detector with analysis abilities that make Sherlock Holmes look like a chump. Penny hides stuff from her either by letting her make her own assumptions, telling her things that are completely true but missing some key details ("I was out with my friends," not "I was out with my friends robbing a bank"), and pretending to hide embarrassing things so she won't ask more questions (during the climax, her plan if she gets caught sneaking out is to "admit" she was on a date).
- A character in Sherwood Smith's A Posse of Princesses defends himself with this after revealing a major deception, but the protagonist will have none of it:
Rhis: He can explain all he wants about how everything he said was strictly true, but it only works if you know the real truth.
- The Principia Discordia either plays this straight or subverts it depending on your own point of view, in this exchange in an interview with Discordianism's founder, Malaclypse the Younger (Mal-2):
Interviewer: Is Eris true?
Mal-2: Everything is true.
Interviewer: Even false things?
Mal-2: Even false things are true.
Interviewer: How can that be?
Mal-2: I don't know man, I didn't do it.
- In The Legend of Luke from the Redwall series, Vilu Daskar (evil pirate captain) promises to let some of the prisoners free if they tell him where treasure is, neglecting to mention that the last time he made this promise, he set them free by tying weights to them and throwing them overboard. Fortunately, the heroes don't fall for it, and the whole treasure story was just a plan to trick Vilu Daskar anyway.
- In The Riftwar Cycle novel Prince of the Blood, Nakor pulls this after being threatened with a death sentence for possessing a red-and-gold speckled falcon. Said falcon is the symbol of the royal family of the land of Kesh, nearly extinct and held with the same regard as a Sacred Cow. Nakor explains himself by claiming that he was the falcon's transport/bodyguard and he was merely aiding the bird's quest to visit the Empress on her birthday and repopulate the royal mewes, which at that point had been reduced to three female falcons.
- Safehold: Merlin uses these quite a lot to maintain The Masquerade without actually lying (since he will need to tell everyone the truth eventually). For example, he frequently says that he lived in the Mountains of Light for many years, neglecting to mention that he was a robot powered down in a hidden cave under the mountains for that period. Another one is when introducing the concept of Arabic numerals, he says that they were taught to him by "a wise woman" (presumably Nimue's elementary school teacher).
- The Druids are well known for only telling the heroes they recruit exactly as much as they think the heroes need to know and no more. Allanon, the Druid who started this tradition, justified it with the fact that his father gave a full briefing about the Sword of Shannara to Jerle Shannara, who then failed to properly wield it to defeat the Warlock Lord. The incomplete briefing he gave to Shea 500 years later allowed Shea to win.
- Also done in the second book of the series, Elfstones of Shannara, in a very sympathetic way. The dying King Eventine Elessidil asks his son about Amberle, his beloved granddaughter, who he has learned has just returned from her quest with Wil Ohmsford to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. His son hesitates, then tells his father, "She's safe. Resting." While this isn't exactly a lie, she's actually been turned into a tree. The old king, relieved, is able to die peacefully.
- In The Silence of the Lambs Clarice Starling tells Dr. Hannibal Lecter that her father was a marshal. Later on, when she is recounting to him how the man died, Lecter catches enough clues to easily deduce that the man had actually been a night watchman. Starling's defense is that the official job description had read "night marshal".
- Star Wars Legends:
- In Karen Traviss' Republic Commando series, Walon Vau exploits this trope to lie convincingly to a Jedi, telling him that Kal Skirata was not working for "the enemy"... but referring to a different enemy than the one the Jedi was asking about.
- Deliberately played with in Shatterpoint; Mace keeps coming up with crazy plans, and is generally direct and honest with everyone. The standardized response to his plans is "Are you crazy?" However, it turns out that the mysterious tape his former apprentice and daughter-figure sent him pretending to be going mad and/or at risk of joining the Dark Side was deliberately intended to lure him to the planet. Ironically, she does actually fall.
- Twilight author Stephanie Meyer (in)famously claimed that vampires are unable to reproduce. When Bella later got knocked up, she went back and used Weasel Words to try and claim she actually meant that only female vampires can't have kids all along (evidently by claiming an obscure definition of "have").
- In David Weber's War Gods series, Lady Leeana asks her mother for permission to go riding. Mother wants to make sure that Leeana is planning on taking her guards along, and Leeana assures her mother that she knows that she won't be able to go riding unless her bodyguard goes riding too. She's planning to run away from home, and she knows that unless she gets rid of her bodyguard by sending him out riding on a long errand, he'll try to stop her.
- In Warrior Cats:
- Fireheart and Graystripe are caught coming back onto ThunderClan territory after sneaking away to check on RiverClan (who are suffering because the river is flooded). When asked to explain themselves, they claim that they wanted to see how far the floods went, which was true, but not the whole truth.
- The Ultimate Guide, which was written by an author particularly sympathetic to Ashfur, omits his betrayal and attempted murder of Firestar (attempting to frame Brambleclaw in the process) by saying that he "was not a friend of Firestar".
- In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time the Aes Sedai tried to get people to trust them by swearing an unbreakable oath to "Speak no word that is not true." It prevents them from directly lying, but because they think they have Omniscient Morality License, they become Literal Genies prone to False Reassurance. People have long grown wary of their games and warn each other, "The truth they speak may not be the truth you think you hear." At least one character notes that their honesty oath has ultimately given them a reputation for dishonesty. However, when an Aes Sedai speaks very plainly, you can usually depend on it being the truth, at least as far as she understands it.
- Inverted in the Ann Leckie story "Marsh Gods". Physical Gods Cannot Tell a Lie, but one god can manipulate people into adopting a secret system of slang, so that when it's put to a God Test by outsiders, it can fail by making putatively untrue statements like "I eat 'gravel' for breakfast!"
- Discussed on The Amazing Race 19 by Marcus when talking about keeping that he had been a professional football player a secret. Technically, as a tight end, it was his job to protect the quarterback, so it was not lying to say he was in "protection", and as he was retired at that point, if asked if he was a football player, it was technically correct if he said no.
- Aquila has a scene where an archaeologist explains, referencing the ancient African proverb about truth being an elephant surrounded by three blind men, that he simply gave the boys a point of view not involving copious amounts of money.
- Babylon 5:
- The Minbari claim that they never lie, and a mere accusation of doing so warrants "a lethal response". While the humans initially take this at face value, Mollari, having been told otherwise by Lennier, explains that the Minbari are allowed to tell white lies to save someone from embarrassment or dishonor. Even other Minbari are irritated at the Grey Council following this trope. Kalain says at one point that the Grey Council "never tells you the whole truth."
- A good example of Minbari half-truths comes with Delenn early in Season 3. She is shown footage of a Shadow vessel and is asked if she had ever seen a ship like it before. Delenn says no. When she is later questioned about this by she replies that whilst she was well aware of what the ship was, that was the first time she had actually seen one.
- Similarly, she and Kosh claimed to that the Shadows had killed his wife and her fellow crew, and even showed him a video to that effect. Later, when she shows up, Delenn claims that she wasn't lying because she assumed that's what they would have done. When presses her on why she didn't tell him she didn't actually know for sure, she admits that would have tried to stage a rescue and she couldn't allow that to happen. And then it is revealed that while her body is alive, John's wife was forced into being a Wetware CPU for a Shadow vessel. Because of this, the woman she was, the woman John loved, is gone forever. Note that Delenn did not, in fact, know that last bit.
- The Blacklist: Liz and the team are told by others (and suspect themselves) that Raymond Reddington is Lizs real father. And that is true. Its just that James Spaders character isnt Raymond Reddington; the real Reddington actually did die in that house fire and the one weve been following is an imposter.
- In Blake's 7, the crew gets captured by an enemy that can keep them from lying, so they resort to evasions to prevent them from finding out that Orac is a computer.
Tarrant: If he's not on the ship, I don't know where he is.
Caliph: How tall is he?
Tarrant: (gestures to waist level, Orac's "height" when on a table)
Caliph: A dwarf?
Tarrant: We never think of him as one.
Caliph: What is the color of his hair?
Tarrant: He hasn't got any. A bald dwarf shouldn't be too hard to find.
- The Daily Show: Jon Stewart lampshaded this in his criticism of RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
Fox Reporter: (archive footage) How much did you have when you took the reins?
Michael Steele: (archive footage) About $20 or so million.
Fox Reporter: (archive footage) And now you're down to three? So I realize you spent a lot of money for the campaign...
Michael Steele: (archive footage) Yeah, we spent a lot of money, but I mean, Greta, you can't look at it in terms of what you begin and what you end.
Jon Stewart: (amused) "...you can't look at it in terms of where you begin and where—" That is some Jedi bullshit right there, Michael Steele. "Yes, Greta; if you want to look at the budget in a linear, arithmetic way where we started with a high number and ended with a very low number, but what you're forgetting is children's dreams and rainbows, you can't put a price on that — is that a quarter behind your ear? Wait, a dove, SMOKE BOMB, Steele out."
- Daredevil (2015):
- Usually, when Matt Murdock has to lie to cover up an injury that he sustained as Daredevil, he'll typically lie by omission. For instance, in the third episode of season 1, he shows up at the office sporting a visible bruise over his right eye from his fight with the Russians the night before, prompting obvious remarks of concern from Foggy and Karen, but he brushes off the injury saying "I just, uh, wasnt paying attention last night. Its my fault," which is technically the truth (the Russians had lured him into a trap) but just enough of a lie that Karen and Foggy are led to think Matt walked into a door.
- Wilson Fisk kills Anatoly in brutal fashion for interrupting his date with Vanessa. Days later, when he meets up with Madame Gao, Nobu and Leland Owlsley, they demand an explanation for why he killed Anatoly. Fisk contemplates for a few seconds as he tries to come up with an explanation that allows him to save face, and then says, "It was a...a personal matter..." without much more detail.
- Doctor Who:
- A straight in-story example in the old series. The Black Guardian tells Turlough that the Doctor is evil and must be stopped. When called out on it he claims he was not actually lying because "the Doctor's good is my evil".
- Russell T. Davies was accused of this during his time in charge of the show, particularly with respect to foreshadowing the season finales:
- Series 2 continually said that Rose was going to die, and Rose (narrating) introduces the final two-parter as "the story of how I died". She doesn't die. She is taken to a parallel world and is presumed dead by the authorities.
- In the Series 4 finale, we are repeatedly told "One will still die." Nobody dies. Donna suffers a metaphorical death, erasing all of her Character Development and her relevance to the show.
- From "The Pandorica Opens": The Pandorica is a prison that was thought to be mythical, containing some terrible monster. The Doctor described it thus: "There was a goblin, or a... trickster. Or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or... reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world." It opens, and it's empty. It turns out that the Doctor IS the monster. The description of it is how the Doctor is viewed by his enemies. To a Dalek, that's an accurate description of him.
- A Meta-Example with show-runner Steven Moffat. In the lead up to Series 8, Moffat said there were no plans to bring back the Master. And that was because the Master had switched genders and was now going by the Mistress, or "Missy" for short. In fact, Moffat, being a Trolling Creator, loves to do this with his audience.
- In Farscape, Crichton hits on this trope as a way of fooling the Scarran heat probe, which forces people to tell the truth. For example, while disguised as a Peacekeeper defector, he tries to get access to his captive Sebacean girlfriend by propositioning a Sebacean nurse, and he gets caught by a Scarran:
Scarran: Why the deception?
Crichton: Cos — horny! Looking for a Sebacean woman.
Nurse: You attacked me and attempted to release one of the patients.
Crichton: No offense, but she's sexier than you are.
Scarran: What would you have done had you gotten her?
Crichton: Taken her back to my ship. Frelled her. Made babies.
- Firefly: In the pilot, Simon asks Mal what Jayne's job is. Mal answers, "Public relations." Jayne's usual method of relating to the public involves a very large gun named Vera.
- Then again, the majority of the public they relate with are thieves, scoundrels, and murderers...
- The Flash (2014): Season 1, Episode 3 has Iris ask how Barry doesn't gain weight, despite his Big Eater tendencies (necessary to keep him from passing out due to his Super Speed enhancing his metabolism). As she doesn't know he's the Flash at this point, he merely replies that he's been jogging.
- Game of Thrones:
- Viserys Targaryen spends most of the first season complaining about how Khal Drogo promised to make him king of the Seven Kingdoms again. After Viserys finally confronts Drogo in a violent way, Drogo assures him that he will give him "a golden crown that men will tremble to behold." Then Drogo dumps a pot of molten gold over his head, which kills him horribly.
- Again in Season 1 Ned Stark before parting ways with Jon Snow says that serving the Night's Watch has been for centuries a noble cause for the Starks, pointing out to Jon that "You may not have my name, but you have my blood", which makes sense since Jon is his illegitimate son. But makes even more sense since Jon has indeed Stark's blood...on his mother's side.
- Used rather cruelly in the season finale. After Ned Stark is arrested attempting to overthrow King Joffrey, his daughter Sansa, Joffrey's fiancee, pleads with the king to spare his life. Joffrey agrees to "show mercy" if Ned confesses to treason. Ned publicly confesses, and Joffrey has him beheaded. In response to Sansa calling him out on this, Joffrey says he did show mercy... by giving Ned a clean death instead of having him drawn and quartered.
- A real life case with everyone's statements about whether Jon Snow was really killed at the end of Season 5. Several cast and crew members stated that Jon really was killed, but left out that this didn't mean he was permanently dead. They also tried to play off Kit Harrington and Carice van Houten being spotted together when Season 6 started filming by saying they just happened to be working on separate projects in the same area...in addition to the scene where Mellisandre resurrects Jon. Finally Kit Harrington just went rogue and spilled that Jon would be coming back.
- Deconstructed in The Wedding Bride, a fake movie from How I Met Your Mother about Stella's failed relationship with Ted from her ex-boyfriend's perspective, making him the good guy getting The Woobie Stella out of a loveless marriage, when in reality, it was nothing like that. We see the real reaction of said guy who was left at the altar, Ted.
- The Season 9 DVD set for the show claims the finale as one of the most talked about in TV history. While true, it does leave out that the discussion was caused by the significant Broken Base that said finale brought about.
- JAG: In "Dungaree Justice", the article 32 hearing of Macs dubious actions in "People v. Mac" takes place and it is discussed to what extent she had lied in the earlier episode.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: Major Sarah Mackenzie, having taken a lawful oath in a trial by court-martial that she would testify truly, did wilfully, corruptly and contrary to such oath, testify falsely regarding the killing of her husband, Christopher Ragle.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: Sir, Major Mackenzie did testify that she shot and killed her husband. There was no lie there.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: But she omitted certain details, including the fact that Lieutenant Colonel Farrow was present at the time.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: She took the blame, sir, to protect an innocent man.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: A lie of omission, no matter how noble the intention, is still a lie.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: Yes. But for it to be perjury, it must be material to the case. Murder charges against Major Mackenzie and Lieutenant Colonel Farrow were subsequently dismissed. Therefore, I submit: the detail of Colonel Farrow's presence was not material, and the omission of said detail should not be considered perjury.
- In one of the most well-known twists, John Locke, at the conclusion of his first flashback episode, is revealed to have been a cripple in a wheelchair prior to crashing on the island and miraculously regaining his ability to walk:
Tour Guide: You misrepresented yourself.
Locke: I never lied.
Tour Guide: By omission, Mr. Locke. You neglected to tell us about your condition.
- Another example is the cover story told by the survivors who escape the island. They claim that Boone died of internal injuries from the plane crash, Charlie drowned, and Libby did not survive long either, all of which are technically true, but leave out massively important context details: Boone died because he was inside a smaller plane when it fell from some trees while he was trying to use its radio, Charlie drowned saving Desmond by sealing the door, preventing the Looking Glass station being flooded, and Libby did not survive for long... as a result of injuries from an accidental gunshot wound from Michael (who had just killed Ana Lucia in cold blood).
- When Jin and Sun learn Ana Lucia and Libby are dead, they ask Michael, the killer, how they died. He tells them, "They were murdered."
- Benjamin Linus is distrusted by every character on the show for his pathological penchant for this trope. "John Locke is dead" is somewhat different than "John Locke is dead because I killed him." Similarly, when Jack asks him, "Did you know Locke killed himself?", Ben can honestly answer, "No." Though sometimes Ben just straight out lies.
- Sayid was a Communications Officer in the Iraqi military. He encouraged people to communicate.
- In one of the most well-known twists, John Locke, at the conclusion of his first flashback episode, is revealed to have been a cripple in a wheelchair prior to crashing on the island and miraculously regaining his ability to walk:
- Adam and Jimmie of The Man Show got dozens of women to sign a petition to end Women's Suffrage (the right to vote) by phrasing it to sound like they meant "suffering". Things like, "Women have been suffraging in this country for decades, and nobody's done anything to stop it!"
- Masters of Horror: In the episode "Family": When the Fullers confront Harold about his murder of their daughter, he recalls that they told him she died of cancer. Their reply: "You ARE a cancer."
- Million Yen Women: The main household consists of Shin and five women who have been invited to live with him by an unknown person. One night, Minami, one of the women, decides to take Shin to her workplace. Once there, one of Minami's employees asks her who Shin is, prompting her to answer that Shin is her husband and that she lives with him, four girls and a cat. Aside from the fact that the household adopted a cat in the first episode of the series, it is true that all four of the other women are technically younger (26-17) than both Shin (31) and Minami (30), making them the "parents" of the household.
- On Misfits, a show about a bunch of "problem teens" on community service (who develop superpowers), the inevitable conversation soon arises — "what did you do to end up here?" While most of them admit to plausible-sounding crimes (drunk-driving, arson, drug possession etc.) Nathan constantly insists — to the point where it becomes a Running Gag — that all he did was steal some "pick'n'mix". As we later find out, the incident actually did start with him stealing some sweets. He neglected to mention, however, that (in a Funny Moment) he subsequently ran riot in the bowling alley, trying to hurl himself down the back of one of the bowling lanes and causing a fair bit of criminal damage. When he was finally restrained he refused to pay for the damages (or co-operate in the slightest), persistently mocked the security guard and eventually attacked the guy with a stapler. However, it's entirely possible that Nathan really doesn't think he did anything wrong beyond eating the pick'n'mix.
- Very well done in Nikita, where Alex is hooked up to a brainwave-reading lie detector that can't be fooled. She gets around it by stringing together several statements that are each individually true, but together paint a very different picture than what actually happened, and gets herself free from suspicion.
- Once Upon a Time:
- When Granny tells her granddaughter Red that her red cloak keeps the Big Bad Wolf away/protects Red from the Wolf, she was speaking the truth. After all, the cloak is enchanted to prevent Red from turning into the Big Bad Wolf.
- Mr. Gold told Regina that "something tragic" would happen to Kathryn. When Kathryn shows up alive and Regina asks Mr. Gold why she isn't dead, he reminds her of what he said and points out that her abduction was tragic.
- Rumplestiltskin telling Regina that magic cannot revive her lost love. It's "technically" true, considering that both magic AND science are needed to revive the dead, even if they Came Back Wrong.
- Inspired by a real life hoax originating in the 80s, on Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, the duo use this trope to get environmental activists to sign a petition to ban water. They sent someone to a gathering of them to get names for a petition to abolish the use of "dihydrogen monoxide" — which means water. They went around saying all kinds of technically true things about water (things like "its a chemical solvent", which is true, and "over six thousand people are killed by this stuff in the US every year", which is also true) while making it sound like a toxin. They got lots of names. The point of the exercise was to demonstrate how many people would sign a petition without bothering to check any of the facts first.
- Stargate SG-1: In the episode "Threads", pretty much everything "Jim" says to Daniel before his true identity as Anubis is revealed. H never actually lies, but words the truth in an incredibly misleading way to get to Daniel to trust him.
Daniel: Why are you talking to me?
"Jim": Oh, you mean because these other snobs won't even look at you? I'm different, like Oma.
Daniel: Really? 'Cause I kinda got the impression that you two don't quite see eye-to-eye.
"Jim": What, that little...? [laughs] Oh, that was nothing. We both operate somewhat outside the normal rules and regulations. Sometimes we disagree on how far outside we should go, that's all.
- Star Trek:
- The Ferengi have this trope as a point in their "Rules of Acquisition".
126. A lie isn't a lie, it's just the truth seen from a different point of view.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The First Duty" Wesley and his squad are facing an inquiry about the death of one of their members. Seeing that Wesley is obviously feeling conflicted, the leader tells him that he doesn't have to lie, he can simply not volunteer the actual important information. Yes, the accident did occur after the loop. It's just that between the loop and the crash there was the dangerous banned technique they tried. Picard is not satisfied with Wesley's claim that he told the truth and gives him an ultimatum: Tell the whole truth, or Picard will do it.
- A possible interpretation of the end of "The Most Toys" where Data apparently outright lies to Riker about whether or not he attempted to shoot Kivas Fajo: when Riker asks him about the transporter picking up a weapons discharge (Data was beamed away just as he was about to shoot Fajo), Data replies "Perhaps something happened during transport". Something did happen, namely Data pulling the trigger. Riker's expression indicates he's not entirely buying this, however.
- In a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, Garak was dying because an Obsidian Order anti-torture device in his brain was breaking down, and as Bashir struggled to remove or replace it, Garak gave several wildly varying accounts of the event that had gotten him kicked out of the Order and left on Deep Space Nine. At the end of the episode, Bashir demanded to know which version was true.
Garak: My dear doctor, they were all true.
Bashir: Even the lies?
Garak: Especially the lies.
- As it turns out in the relaunch novel A Stitch in Time, they actually were almost all true. Kinda. The book is written by Andrew J. Robinson, the actor who played Garak, and thus from a certain point of view it's Garak's autobiography
- The original trope name could just has easily been called Vulcan Truth instead of Jedi Truth. Vulcans are always honest, except when they're deceiving, misleading, or flat out lying.
- In the original series episode "The Enterprise Incident", Spock explains to the Romulan Commander that the Vulcan reputation for being truthful is overblown. They'll lie just like anyone else if they have a [logical] reason to.
- In one early episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Tuvok tells Chakotay that he is always honest, to which Chakotay points out that he wasn't being honest when he pretended to be a Maquis in order to infiltrate Chakotay's ship. Tuvok then counters that he was being honest to his principles and within the defined parameters of his mission. Chakotay recognizes this as a load of crap.
- In another episode, he flat out lies to intimidate a prisoner. Janeway bluffs that she is gonna send the prisoner off to some people she's scammed (the prisoner, not Janeway). She asks Tuvok to tell her about the conditions of that world's prisons, and Tuvok wildly invents a tale of deplorable conditions where most prisoners don't survive long enough to be put on trial. The prisoner knows just enough about Vulcans to believe the story that they never lie, so she caves in.
- The trick is that in both these cases, Tuvok had a perfectly logical reason to lie. We might reasonably assume that most Vulcans would not lie, for example, to spare a friend's feelings (from the Vulcan perspective, allowing emotions to influence a decision is illogical), or get out of a tedious duty (the duty needs to be done, so procrastination would be illogical), and other species would remember those instances of honesty as unusual, even extreme.
- The Ferengi have this trope as a point in their "Rules of Acquisition".
- A lot of the lies and half-truths that Scott and Stiles of Teen Wolf have been using to hide the werewolves would fall into this category. Stiles even gets caught in an Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap! moment by his father when the alibis start blending together.
Sheriff Stilinski: So you lied to me?
Stiles: That depends on how you define lying.
Sheriff Stilinski: Well, I define it as not telling the truth, how do you define it?
Stiles: Pff... reclining your body in a horizontal position.
- In the British documentary, X-Rated Ambition: The Traci Lords Story, the narration mentions Lords' 1984 Penthouse issue was the magazine's biggest seller ever. It neglects to mention why: It was the infamous Vanessa Williams issue.note
- In John 4:15-18 (King James Version), when the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well in Sychar asks Jesus for the living water which He offers:
"The woman saith unto him, 'Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.' Jesus saith unto her, 'Go call thy husband, and come hither.' The woman answered and said, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said unto her, 'Thou hast well said, "I have no husband" '. For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thine husband; in that saidst thou truly.' "
- Defied in The Talmud, which states that deceiving someone by using this is as bad as flat-out lying.
- Most undefeated streaks in pro wrestling are eventually handled this way. This is due to several bits of logic. For one, long undefeated streaks don't just happen in a vacuum: they're either created with the intent to build a wrestler up as a juggernaut of some sort or they're eventually noticed by the bookers and used in such a way. The idea is that fans, for one reason or another, should be wondering when and by whom he/she will finally get beaten, as well as come to accept him/her as a championship threat whether the plan is to ever put a title on the wrestler or not. However, in kayfabe, any wrestler that goes undefeated for a long period of time would have to be put in championship title picture situations; there's no logical justification for an authority figure not to do this. In fact, by logical extreme, if someone does nothing but wrestle and win on a regular basis for a long period of time, there's no way they shouldn't hold at least one championship in hand.
So wrestling companies have created an alternate logic, where if you lose a match that involves retrieving an object, or you lose a tag team match or a match with three or more participants and you're not the one to eat the pin or get forced to submit, or even if you get yourself disqualified in a match (especially if you're a heel), you're still technically undefeated. This allows a wrestler to avoid swallowing up everyone else's momentum, to lose title matches, or even to win and lose championships outright, without losing the allure of the question as to who will finally take them down.
- Meta example: it's not uncommon for new books to retcon or reinterpret statements made earlier in the series; for instance, "Fair Folk don't have Charms" became "Fair Folk don't have Charms as such, but they do have special powers that we're just going to call Charms." Freelancer Michael Goodwin explicitly said that "There are levels of Obi-Wan truth operating here." In fairness, nearly everything about the Fair Folk is a lie on some level, up to and including their physical appearance.
- In another rather similar case — "Infernals don't have Charms." What was really meant was, "Their patrons, the Yozi, have Charms, which the Infernals use by extension to exert their malefic will upon Creation." Not true anymore, either. Now Infernals can make their own personal Charms... by turning themselves into Neo-Yozi. So they still don't have Solar-style Charms, so to speak.
- This is one of the ways that Games Workshop explain differences in the millenia-old backstories that occur in Warhammer 40,000 materials over multiple editions. It usually boils down to "The old stories were mistranslated, corrupted by years of oral tradition, or outright lies planted by seditious agents of Chaos." Which sounds suspiciously like the way "out of character" explanations of Imperial dogma and propaganda sound, and most of the fluff is written from the viewpoint of Imperial scholars.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, devils, being lawful evil, see it as a point of pride to corrupt souls and spread wickedness without, technically, lying.
- In a line in Infernum, a succubus says, "I don't lie. I don't have to, you do it to yourselves."
- The apparition of the bloody child's prophecy when Macbeth visits the three witches:
Second Apparition: Be bloody, bold and resolute. Laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall ever harm Macbeth.
- Later in Act V, Scene 8 when Macduff confronts Macbeth:
Macbeth: Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests. I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.
Macduff: Despair thy charm, and let the angel whom thou still hast served tell thee: Macduff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped.
Macbeth: Accursed be the tongue that tells me so, for it hath cowed my better part of man! And be these juggling fiends no more believed, that palter with us in a double sense, that keep the word of promise to our ear, and break it to our hope.
- The apparition of the bloody child's prophecy when Macbeth visits the three witches:
- Othello: Instead of telling a flat-out lie, Iago often simply plays up everyone else's insecurities, creatively spotlights and phrases certain information, and lets them draw their own conclusions.
- There's a double example in Richard III. Richard is secretly behind the imprisonment of his brother George. Firstly because he has played up a wizardly prophecy that King Edward's sons would be disinherited by "G" (apparently George, Duke of Clarence; but really Richard, duke of Gloucester). And secondly in his promise of comfort to George: "I will deliver you, or else lie for you." The obvious meaning is that he will lie in prison in George's place; but the true meaning is that he will lie in wait for George's life.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street:
Mrs. Lovett: No, I never lied. Said she took a poison — she did. Never said she died.
- H.M.S. Pinafore: In "Carefully On Tip-Toe Stealing", the strange noise was the cat. More specifically, the cat-o'-nine-tails the Captain can't stop himself from waving, in spite of knowing he has to stay hidden.
- The Mikado: The officials of the town assure the Mikado that a man has been executed, which is somewhat more than the truth. (Fortunately, for all concerned.) As one later explains:
Ko-Ko: It's like this: When your Majesty says, "Let a thing be done," it's as good as done practically, it is done because your Majesty's will is law. Your Majesty says, "Kill a gentleman," and a gentleman is told off to be killed. Consequently, that gentleman is as good as dead practically, he is dead and if he is dead, why not say so?
- Unintentional example: the slogans for the infamous Action Park can be seen as this.
"There's nothing in the world like Action Park!" (Nothing so poorly designed and regulated, that is.)
"The action never stops... at Action Park!" (If you consider "serious, perhaps lethal injury" to be "action", then yeah.)
- In the first series of BIONICLE, BIONICLE Chronicles, each book opens with a backstory discussing the mythological lore of the series: the Great Spirit Mata Nui, essentially the god of the Matoran, created the Matoran on the island named in his honor and was then placed into eternal slumber by his vengeful brother Makuta. The series gives us no reason to assume the story is less than literally true...until the prequel series BIONICLE Adventures, in which it's revealed that the myth was, at least in part, a lie created by the Turaga to protect the Matoran from the painful truth about their lost homeland of Metru Nui. Later series go even further with this, revealing that even the Turaga didn't know the full story: while Mata Nui was put to sleep by Makuta, the myths neglected to mention that Mata Nui was actually the AI of a Humongous Mecha whose colossal body formed the entire Matoran universe, and that "Makuta" (actually a single member of a greater organization) put him to sleep not by sorcery, but by introducing a virus into his operating system.
- In Touhou canon, Cute Witch Marisa Kirisame notoriously steals books from the Scarlet Devil Mansion's library. She claims it's not stealing because all the inhabitants of the Scarlet Devil Mansion are youkai, who will live many times longer than her, and they can simply take the books back when she dies. She calls it "borrowing without permission". Luckily, the Youkai don't mind; or at least; don't mind beyond mind-boggling Bullet Hell duels; but that's standard operating procedure. It's also worth pointing out that while Marisa claims the youkai can have their books back when her human life ends, in some games' backstories it's mentioned that she's working on an Elixer of Life, to prolong her life without losing her humanity. Trust Marisa to pair a Metaphorically True with Loophole Abuse.
- In the Rogue Like game Ragnarok, an Amulet of Eternal Life turns you to stone. That makes a certain kind of mythic sense, but it's not "life" as we'd recognize it.
- Ancient Domains of Mystery, another Rogue Like, has the gauntlets of peace — and their artifact counterpart, the Gauntlets of Eternal Peace —, which make it almost impossible to hit anything while you're wearing them. The "peace" either means you can't kill anything, or you will die quickly and be at peace since (duh) Everything Is Trying To Kill You and you won't be able to fight back. Even better, the gauntlets are autocursing. At least they give you a moderate defense and armor boost while you search desperately for that scroll of uncursing.
- If you haven't played Knights of the Old Republic it wouldn't be much of a spoiler to say that you shouldn't fully trust anything that any Jedi has to say to you. Indeed, their self-serving tendencies of filtering truth through "certain points of view" is significantly responsible for their eventual downfall.
- In the first game, on the other hand, the only real example of this trope is Jolee's claim that "the Jedi left me" (and he doesn't consider himself a Jedi any more at this point). The other Jedi certainly do tell some outright lies, but don't continue to defend them as 'true' once they're exposed as lies.
- While the Jedi Truth is an important plot point in the first game, the second game takes it to the point of deconstruction with Kreia and the rest of the Council; almost everything a player may think they know about the background of this game has to pass the litmus test of "but did I hear that from Kreia?". Similarly, Atton is often used as the writer's mouthpiece on that particular topic, but his word shouldn't be taken too seriously either as he was once used to be a Sith torturer who willingly and enjoyed torturing Jedi to turn to the Dark Side.
- HK-47 gets in on it too, if you ask him about how many Jedi he's killed during the Jedi Civil War:
HK-47: I have found many Jedi to be arrogant practitioners of pacifism when it is convenient for them. Also, their tendency to never directly answer a question is rather annoying.
- Further twisted with Kreia, in that she only claims to always speak the truth. You can call her out on the fact that she could be lying about not lying, and she is proud that you noticed without really discussing the point further. Most fan interpretations are built on which parts of Kreia's speeches are true, half-true, and outright false.
- The World Ends with You:
- Uzuki offers Neku a way out of the game if he kills his partner Shiki. However, before Neku can deliver the killing blow, he's stopped by Mr. H, who says that since his life is tied to his partner's, he'll die too...
Neku: All that about letting me out of the game — that was all a lie!
Uzuki: Like, that is so rude! I do not lie. If I erased you, that's still letting you out of the Game!
- Unfortunately, there's no similar way to weasel out of her claim that Shiki was a spy for the Reapers. No-one calls her on this.
- At one point, Game Master Konishi tells Neku and Beat that she's going to hide in the same place for seven days, while they try to find her. However, she's able to move all over the city, because the "one place" she chose was Beat's shadow.
- Uzuki offers Neku a way out of the game if he kills his partner Shiki. However, before Neku can deliver the killing blow, he's stopped by Mr. H, who says that since his life is tied to his partner's, he'll die too...
- A rare positive version courtesy of Another Century's Episode: When it was announced that the PlayStation 3 installment would be limited to three mecha per series, fans were upset - until the game's director posted on his blog, revealing that Mid-Season Upgrades and Mecha Expansion Packs would fall under the heading of their base machine and therefore only count as one, meaning they can fit in more playables while still maintaining the whole "three per series" idea.
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has Death's Ring, which massively increases your stats and whose description is "One hit kills instantly." It is indeed true. Take one hit and you will instantly die.
- The Elder Scrolls
- Long ago, the continent of Akavir had its own race of Men little different from those in Tamriel. However, it is said that these men were "devoured" by the Tsaesci, an Akaviri race of "snake vampires". One theory states that this means the men were literally eaten by the Tsaesci. However, another source regarding the Tsaesci uses "devour" and "enslave" interchangeably when it comes to what the Tsaesci did to the red dragons of Akavir. "Devour" is likely just a colorful metaphor for enslavement and/or cultural absorption.
- In Morrowind, one of Vivec's stories of his involvement in the death of Nerevar indicates that the official Temple stance of it not being his fault is a literal Half Truth: Vehk the God was not to blame, but Vehk the Mortal is. Since Vivec ("V'vehk") is both of those...
- In Skies of Arcadia, Belleza befriends the protagonists, who take her with them to Temple of Pyrynn to find the Red Moon Crystal. She gains their trust by telling them a sad story about herself: that her father was a sailor who was killed in the Valua-Nasr war, and she was left orphaned and with a hatred of war. This much is true. What she did not mention at that point is that her father was a Valuan sailor, not Nasrean, and she is in fact an admiral of the Valuan Armada. Her hatred of war was also not a lie; she believes that Valuan hegemony will bring stability and end war.
- In The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush is told that Blood Island is the place where he will die. After drinking alcohol mixed with medicine, he goes into a coma-like state for a few hours. It doesn't actually kill him, but it is enough for the island to document him as legally dead (at least twice). The official explanation is that he does die, but because it's a family-friendly LucasArts adventure game, he recovers.
- Angels in Might and Magic: Heroes VI are incapable of lying, but they are capable of deception by not telling you all of the truth. Kiril learns this the hard way when he agrees to accompany the angel Sarah on her pilgrimage through hell as her protecter, and ends up imprisoned in hell as a result; Sarah decided that the best way for Kiril to protect her is by her selling his soul, without his consent, to the demon sovereign Kha-Beleth in exchange for safe passage through his realm.
Sarah: I never lied to you, but certain truths had to be ignored to set Elrath's will in motion. Forgive me.
- Hilariously subverted in Might and Magic X, which takes place in the aftermath of Heroes VI: the intro highlights this aspect (as well as certain related tropes) of angels, and then at the end of the expansion (which acts as an additional chapter to the game) you meet a scheming angel responsible for a fair chunk of your troubles... who turns out to be quite bad at this, flubbing her attempts and making it obvious to everyone around her what's really going on. Her schemes only worked because she was working with a human who, being human, could straight-up lie.
- The bulk of Niko's phony resume for Goldberg, Ligner, and Shyster in Grand Theft Auto IV — although there are several outright lies to puff up his credentials, most of it is composed of statements that are technically true, but either worded so vaguely that they're meaningless or deliberately framed in a misleading matter.
- Fallout: New Vegas:
- Fantastic convinced the NCR to give him a job fixing an advanced power plant through this trope:
Fantastic: They were going door to door asking if anyone knew any scientists. I said look no further. They asked me if I knew anything about power plants. I said as much as anyone I'd ever met. They asked me how well I understood theoretical physics. I said I had a theoretical degree in physics. They said welcome aboard.
- Dr. Borous in Old World Blues claims his genetically engineered Nightstalkers and Cazadores are as "docile as they are sterile". This is entirely true, though not in the context he intended (Borous believed the answer was "completely", whereas the Player Character at this point knows the answer to be "not at all").
- The King, who believes the School of Elvis Impersonation was in fact a temple. The reasoning behind it is... surprisingly coherent.
The King: Near as I can tell, [this building] was some sort of religious institution. Oh, I know it says "school" out front, but everything in here seems to be related to the worship of some guy from back in the day. People used to come here to learn about him, to dress like him, to move like him. To BE him. If that's not worship, I don't know what is.
- Fantastic convinced the NCR to give him a job fixing an advanced power plant through this trope:
- Coming up to the reveal, Capcom had said that the 5th character for Ultra Street Fighter IV had never appeared in a Street Fighter game before. Decapre had actually appeared in a cutscene for Street Fighter Alpha 3, and looks and plays similarly to Cammy, but otherwise she's never been playable before, meaning that Capcom wasn't lying for the most part.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Fi tells you that the environment in which the final boss is faced disables your Skyward Strike. Which is correct; a different, lightning-charged projectile attack that can be performed in that environment, though activated and utilized in much the same manner, is distinct from a Skyward Strike.
- Mass Effect 3: The developer claims that its conclusion "has provoked a bigger fan reaction than any other video games' conclusion in history." It's true. They fail to mention, however, that it was a hugely negative reaction.
- At the beginning of Jurassic Park: The Game, when Nima Cruz and Miles Chadwick need to trek further into Isla Nublar to make contact with Denis Nedry and suddenly come across a huge electric fence, Nima, unaware of what InGen has been doing lately, expresses surprise at such a structure having been built on the island. Miles tells Nima that the place is "kind of like a zoo" with "all sorts of animals". Of course, if they had just looked a few meters to the right, they would have seen that the zoo pen they have just come across belongs to Dilophosaurus.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Mephiles tells Silver that Sonic is the Iblis trigger, and therefore the cause of Silver's current Bad Future. After being warped back in time by Mephiles, Silver tries to kill Sonic to prevent his Bad Future from ever occurring. However, it is Sonic's death that is the event that causes Iblis' awakening in the first place.
- Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy has Sphinx be given a magic Gem of Invisibility. He's then immediately warned by his mentor that the gem is a trap. It will technically turn him invisible...and then kill him right afterwards. Fortunately, the Mummy is already dead, and can get around this little problem.
- In Sonic Chronicles, the role of Emerl the Gizoid in the destruction of the Nocturnus Clan (as the person who was previously accepted to have caused the event in question) is called into question with the revelation that the Nocturnus Clan was pulled into the Twilight Cage. Nestor the Wise theorises in-game that it was with the creation of Gizoids as powerful as Emerl that the Nocturnus Clan became sufficiently dangerous to justify what was done to them - so Emerl inadvertently caused the Clan's destruction, rather than the conventional meaning.
- In RuneScape quest "Death to the Dorgeshuun", Zanik initially earns the sympathy of the Human Against Monsters group by telling them that the city she's from is full of goblins. Zanik is a cave goblin in disguise, and the city she's referring to is Dorgesh-Kaan.
- The Check text for the final boss of the Genocide run in Undertale, Sans, describes him as "the easiest enemy" who can only deal 1 point of damage and has 1 HP. While this is literally true, it greatly understates the problems his boss fight entails. For the former, Sans' attacks hit every frame, thereby bypassing Mercy Invincibility, meaning that he hits for 1 damage thirty times per second and also applies a stacking Damage Over Time effect with every hit. For the latter, Sans is the only foe in the game who dodges your attacks. All things combined, he is the single hardest boss in the game by a wide margin.
- Nintendo did this with their trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which showed Zelda crying into Link's arms in the middle of a rainstorm. Many fans believed that they were going to witness why Zelda was crying over how everything she did was a failure and some fans hoped Link would do something to comfort her. In actuality, it's a flashback showing Link and Zelda fleeing from the Guardians corrupted by Calamity Ganon, followed by Zelda breaking down over how she couldn't awaken her powers in time to save the champions, her father, and the entire Hyrule kingdom. By the time Link holds Zelda in his arms, the flashback ends and the player doesn't get to see what happens after. While Nintendo wasn't exactly lying in the trailer, the scene was just presented out of context for the sake of hype.
- In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Master Xehanort warns Terra that his mentor Master Eraqus plans to kill his friend Ventus, sending Terra off on a rescue mission. And it's true, Master Eraqus was about to murder the young man before Terra intervened. What Xehanort left out was the motive. Master Xehanort planned to use Ventus in a ritual of sorts to obtain the X-Blade and Kingdom Hearts. Master Eraqus, grief-stricken, felt he had to kill Ven to thwart Xehanort's plans. Terra's battle with Eraqus due to their refusal to explain themselves in the heat of the moment weakened the master enough for Xehanort to finish him off.
- Golden Sun has you go on a quest to save the world by preventing the seal on alchemy from being broken, less the world be destroyed by its sheer power. When a priest asks you if you will accept the responsibility of saving the world, choosing no has the game state that the world slowly drifted towards its fated destruction. The sequel reveals that not saving the world would destroy it, but it would be from the world crumbling into nothingness because alchemy was sealed. In other words, alchemy is the world's life force and without it, the world starts to wither and break apart piece by piece. You're also told that releasing alchemy could destroy the world as well, which leaves the party with a big catch-22; do nothing and let the world wither away or release alchemy and risk destroying the world anyway. Thankfully, the sequel after shows that everything worked out once alchemy came back, though The Lost Age's ending shows it required divine intervention.
- For the teaser of patch 4.3 in Final Fantasy XIV, the developers were insistent that they would not show the patch's new trial because it contains massive spoilers. The trailer shows the player character fighting a pair of elderly civilians, a familiar antagonistic person, and then it's followed by a supporting character appearing to fend off a major villain. All the above is a part of the new trial, but the spoiler itself is still hidden since the trailer never shows who you would be actually fighting. The trial is against Yotsuyu who has transformed into a primal. The second phase of the fight has her memories of people that antagonized her materializing and attacking her, which is what the trailer showed while keeping her off screen.
- Monokuma from the Danganronpa series uses these types of comments along with using Exact Words. Some notable examples include:
- In the first game, him stating that the sixteen students were the only people to be inside Hope's Peak Academy since the start of the killing game and nobody else ended up entering it. However, one of those said students was hiding throughout the killing game and the surviving students only met her by the end of the killing game.
- He ended up stating that the Funhouse from Super Danganronpa 2 ended up having the memories of the students inside there. However, it was actually inside a room there in which in order to get inside it, one must go the Final Dead Room.
- Another one concerning the Funhouse - Monokuma lured the students inside by promising to provide ship parts which might allow the students to escape the island. The parts in question are for a toy ship... despite the deception, Gundham is thrilled. Everyone else, not so much.
- From both games, he went on to state that there is a Mole in the group. However, the first Mole was blackmailed into being The Mole and the second Mole was actually a spy for the good guys and working on the same side as the students.
- By the end of the first game though, he actually starts lying by trying to get either Naegi or Kyoko into getting one of them executed for the murder of Mukuro Ikusaba. After Kyoko survived that trial, she uses it against him.
- Here's a good one from Danganronpa V 3: In order to try and goad the participants into killing each other, Monokuma sets a time limit, at the end of which "every student forced to participate in this killing game will die" if no murders occur before then. Ultimate Detective Shuichi Saihara cottons on to a possible hidden meaning behind Monokuma's wording - if every student "forced to participate" will die, then any who volunteered to participate will be spared. As for how right Shuichi is, well... Everyone volunteered to participate, so perhaps the time limit was a bluff all along.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, Phoenix is told by Matt Engarde that "I never killed anyone" without triggering Phoenix's Magatama. It later turns out that Matt hired hitman Shelly DeKiller to do the deed instead, making this a Suspiciously Specific Denial as well. If Phoenix had asked if Matt is responsible for the victim's death then most likely it would've triggered the Magatama.
- In Umineko: When They Cry, the Red Truth can be twisted in this manner. Like how in EP 2 Kanon was confirmed to have died in a locked room, despite his body not being there. The truth is that, Kanon as a real person never existed and was instead just a character and role that Yasu played. Kanon could therefore be "killed" without leaving a body just like an author killing of one of his characters. In other words, since Yasu was still alive no body was left behind in the room while his/her role Kanon was "killed" and therefore allowing the that red truth to be used.
- Might as well be named "Kirei Truth" after the I-tell-no-direct-lies priest from Fate/stay night. Spending 3 routes while only telling one direct lie (which is a joke, and he's instantly called out on it) while still manipulating the protagonist and turning out to be the Big Bad in two routes and The Dragon in a third? Yeah, he's very good at this.
- A particularly remarkable example happens late into the Fate route. Shirou discovers the existence of an eighth Servant participating in the war and reports this to Kirei. Kirei is surprised to learn this and promises that he'll do something about it. He's genuinely surprised, but it's because the Servant is his and he wasn't supposed to show up yet, and the thing he did about it was send that Servant to kill Shirou and Saber before they learn too much.
- Yandere Chan has the main character (slowly dying from poison; all his friends have already succumbed to its effects) try to make Mia give away her motivation with the condition that if he can prove she lied, she'll tell all. She reveals that she never lied. All of her lines had been half-truths which led him to make conclusions, so technically, she was entirely truthful.
- The major theme of Prison of Lies turns out to be this. Four prisoners are outfitted with lie detectors and have an hour to decide which one of them will be executed. One of the prisoners, after screwing up and getting executed by overthinking her answers, learns in the next playthrough that she can outwit the lie detectors by half-truths that are deliberately worded to mislead the listeners: for example, she can say "I cared for someone disabled" and not set off her lie detector even though the "someone" she referred to was a cat who was "disabled" by declawing. In fact, all the prisoners constantly tell half-truths throughout the game: the prisoner who's actually an undercover cop manages to make it sound like she committed robbery and attempted murder (when she was only at the robbery as part of the police force and the person she tried to shoot was the robber) and the one prisoner who's actually guilty of her crime makes it sound like she's innocent (when she's only "innocent" in the sense that she was cleared of charges for that crime).
- In an episode of GEOWeasel, Weas says that burying dead bodies in a landfill is helping out the environment, immediately adding "...in a way."
- Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy has this trope as Felix's main trait, having only admitted to lying once in the seriesnote . It just goes to show how dark a villain who never lies can be. For instance, upon being picked up in a supposedly derelict dropship, he tells the crew that they won't find anyone else aboard. Of course, it doesn't mean they aren't there
- He won't kill you. His partner will.
- For those who don't wish to join his cause, he'll let them off the ship. Right through the airlock straight into the deep, dark, unforgiving vacuum of space.
- Similarly, Ozpin of RWBY also falls back on this, though he's a little more benevolent in his actions. Of course, this has lead to a lot of people getting hurt or killed because he refuses to reveal the entire truth. For instance, he warns the team of how powerful and dangerous the Relic of Knowledge is. He just never bothered to reveal it attracts Grimm like a moth to a flame until a group attack a train Team RWBY and the remains of JNPR are on and they end up killing a hunter.
- The Order of the Stick:
- After Roy, Haley, Elan and V attempt to escape from Azure City's prison, Durkon — torn because he's being relied upon as the truthful one by a Knight Templar who would act unreasonably if told the truth, but he doesn't want to lie either — fools Miko with two examples of this trope back-to-back. One by saying that the five of them had never left their cells (because Durkon had stayed behind), then claiming that the cell door wasn't secure because of a mechanical defect (if you count "being able to be picked by a rogue" as a mechanical defect).
- O-Chul pulls one too. When asked by Hinjo if he made the decision to destroy Soon's gate, he answers he did make that decision, and it was his blade that did the deed, and he will say no more lest he speak ill of the dead. After making said decision, the tide of the battle turned and it was no longer required. Miko ended up with his sword and destroyed the gate anyway — the resulting explosion killed her.
- There's a later subversion with the Oracle. Belkar's asked if he would get to cause the death of one of the following: Roy, Miko, Miko's horse, Vaarsuvius or the Oracle himself. The Oracle simply responds "Yes" without ever saying which. On Belkar's return visit, the Oracle claims this prophecy has already been fulfilled. He argues, using increasingly dubious logic, that Belkar caused the death of Roy, (a somewhat plausible argument) then also that he indirectly caused Miko's death, (really reaching for that one) and that he killed Miko's horse (which is complete BS). Belkar finally loses patience and fulfills the prophecy then and there — by stabbing the Oracle to death. The dying Oracle then reveals that he didn't actually believe any of the stuff he was spouting, he was just trying to weasel out of being stabbed (though fortunately Death Is a Slap on the Wrist).
Oracle: Yeah... I wasn't really buying those theories either... Worth a shot though...
- Redcloak does this, too, explaining why he killed Tsukiko without admitting that the major part of his reason was that she had figured out he's been deceiving Xykon for the entire duration of their partnership and had decided to reveal this to Xykon, but without actually lying about anything either.
- Irregular Webcomic!:
- Darths & Droids: "That's Jedi for "I lied my butt off," isn't it?" Later used in reference to the original... because the DM's opening exposition was what the people believed rather than the truth.
- Parodied on a page of The B-Movie Comic.
- In Sluggy Freelance a pair of Mafiya henchmen leave Riff and Torg "free to go." If being tied to railroad tracks fits into your definition of "free."
- Seen in an exchange from Between Failures. Nina thought Thomas was getting chewed out by their manager, but what he actually got was... more pleasant.
- Collar 6: Laura discovers Sixx's wealth and says "I thought you said you worked in a hotel?" Sixx replies. "I said I worked in the hotel business. By which I meant I own a few... hundred."
- Doc Scratch, constantly. As he puts it:
Doc Scratch: Lies of omission do not exist. The concept is a very human one. It is the product of your story writing again. You have written a story about the truth, making emotional demands of it, and in particular, of those in possession of it. Your demands are based on a feeling of entitlement to the facts, which is very childish. You can never know all of the facts. Only I can. And since it's impossible for me to reveal all facts to you, it is my discretion alone that decides which facts will be revealed in the finite time we have. If I do not volunteer information you deem critical to your fate, it possibly means that I am a scoundrel, but it does not mean that I am a liar. And it certainly means you did not ask the right questions. One can make either true statements or false statements about reality. All of the statements I make are true.
- Most notably, he tells Rose that The Tumor has sufficient power to destroy the Green Sun (the main villain's power source), that setting it off at the site of the Green Sun would lead to his death, and that destroying the Green Sun would kill him. Then she and Dave go to the site of the Green Sun and find it empty, and the Tumor opens to reveal it channels exactly the amount of mass-energy the Green Sun contains...
- Aradia, who admits she's taking a page from Doc Scratch's book, likewise never lies "but thr0ugh 0missi0n." She tells the other trolls that playing Sgrub is their only hope of surviving the end of the world; she doesn't tell them it's causing the same, and never did say they would win.
- The narrator gets in on it, too. As Gamzee watches Jade's second prototyping from the CRITICAL MOMENT, the caption reads "The most important character in Homestuck fondly regards the miracle of a new beginning." [S] Cascade reveals that he has Li'l Cal (used to make Doc Scratch) in his lap, and is also watching Doc Scratch's body, which soon after rises as Lord English.
- Doc Scratch, constantly. As he puts it:
- The Repository of Dangerous Things have Davis trying to write a resume.
- Leftover Soup has Jamie saying "The last guy who pointed a gun at me and asked for my wallet wound up in two different body bags." That did happen, but the guy actually killed himself in drugged stupor while celebrating how he turned the police against Jamie.
- Also, Jamie is unaware of it at the time but the real truth turns out to be that the guy who actually mugged Jamie gave police a false ID and then killed the guy who's ID it was, staging it to look like that guy killed himself by accident while high.
- Pumpkin Cake from Slice of Life is fond of using these.
Carrot Cake: Did you send this to the Princess?
(Displays letter from Pumpkin offering free cupcakes for life in exchange for magic lessons.)
Pumpkin Cake: Technically, Spike sent it....
- Stand Still, Stay Silent:
- This is Sigrun's go-to method for covering herself and others. Between the run-down state of their equipment and the even more run-down state of everything the Ghost City locations they are visiting, the phrase "it was already broken when we got here" has become associated with her.
- Reynir did this when he first met Onni in the mage-exclusive dreamspace. Due to not knowing what the members of the crew other than Tuuri and Lalli look like, hearing Tuuri's name from Reynir's mouth made Onni assume he was one of them. Reynir answered "yes" to this, when in reality he was on his second day as a stowaway to the crew. And literally in the middle of becoming aware of the mage powers that would make him a more active member later on.
- In Champions of Faraus, when Skye asks her father what happened to his shop when Dorawn was attacked, Arthur replied: "I didn't get a lot of trouble". The Imagine Spot flashback shows him not having "a lot of trouble" giving the cultists trying to attack his smithy a beat down.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Coyote has never, in all his time as the foreign tyrant leader of the Gilette forest, told a direct lie. He lives up to his reputation as a trickster, as he uses all sorts of underhanded schemes up to and including mind control to keep his critics from asking the wrong questions.
- This is typically how Simon Lane attempts to cover up being a traitor in Trouble in Terrorist Town. It rarely works due to Implausible Deniability.
Simon: SOMEONE KILLED WILL! OH GOD IT WAS AWFUL! *gets shot*
- An urban legend has a politician's horse-thief ancestor being described with this sort of language on Snopes' "family" section.
- In the episode "Night of the Ninja" of Batman: The Animated Series, Bruce explains to fellow prisoner Summer that they escaped because Batman arrived and took down the bad guy. Hey, his voice changed so it was mostly true...
- In 1980 when CBS first aired the special Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over, TV listings and promos stated that in a separate segment after a thirty-year chase, the Coyote finally catches the Road Runner. In that segment (since billed as the short subject "Soup or Sonic", the Coyote chases the Road Runner through a series of pipes that progressively gets smaller that both come out small. They retreat the other way, and the Road Runner regains his size while the Coyote is still tiny. The Coyote doubles back and, yes, he does grab the Road Runner's leg. However, when he sees the Road Runner giant size in contrast to himself, he holds up the following signs:
"Okay, wise guys, you always wanted me to catch him..."
"Now what do I do?"
- As the above Amulet of Eternal Life, Xanatos, from Gargoyles, discovered a cauldron which allowed a person to live "as long as the mountain stone". He was smart enough to test it first. Yup, stone.
- Justice League Unlimited: When the team in "Task Force X" argues they have no chance against the League, Clock King declares they are going to infiltrate the Watch Tower at its weakest roll call of supers. When Captain Boomerang ask him to define "weakest", Clock King plays a Photo Montage of Captain Atom, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter with ominous music. Nobody feels better about it. Technically, Clock King is correct, as only three League members would be their weakest point from a personnel standpoint. Apparently them being three of the strongest individual members of the League doesn't change that assessment (the infiltrators really need to avoid confronting any of the League members, so numbers are more important than individual power).
- Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama: Eric tells Kim that his "mission" is to take her to the prom. Well, it is.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "The Last Roundup", Applejack, who prides herself on her commitment to honesty, is faced with an insoluble dilemma when she's forced to promise to tell her friends why she refused to come back home but finds the reason so shameful she doesn't want to tell anyone. The best she can do is to promise she'll tell them at breakfast the next morning — and then never show up for breakfast, claiming that makes the promise she had no intention of fulfilling not false.
- Like Xelloss above, Discord has never lied in any of his appearances, save one little "I'm innocent." He's never told the entirety of the truth, however, such as when he says he "can't claim responsibility" for something that ultimately turns out to be a plan of his that went off thousands of years later than planned or, in his first appearance, told Applejack that their quest would split the group up, which is something he caused himself.
- Rick and Morty has an example in the pilot episode. To get Morty to open fire on some alien armed guards, Rick tells him that the guards are just robots. However, the one Morty hits screams in agony and bleeds out, leading to this exchange:
Morty: They're not robots, Rick!
Rick: It's a figure of speech, Morty. They're bureaucrats; I don't respect them.
- Robot Chicken turned it into a full blown musical for their Star Wars special.
Luke: Could you be a little bit more specific because [Leia and I] kinda made out.
- Steven Universe, "We Need to Talk". Garnet tells Greg she believes he can fuse with Rose Quartz if he does it in his own way. He fails to actually physically fuse — but the attempt leads to a moment of new openness and trust and connection between the pair, which is one of the most important aspects of fusion. Both Garnet and Amethyst recognize the result as a "fusion", even though nothing happened physically. This is lost on Pearl, however.
Pearl: Why are they still dancing? It didn't work!
Garnet: [quietly] Yes it did...
Pearl: [incredulous] What?
Garnet: It worked.
- The parable about the blind men and the elephant, where each man touches a different part of the elephant and declares that he knows its true form, explores the multifaceted nature of truth: one's subjective experience can be unassailably true, yet fail to account for the full picture (and thus, in the spirit of this trope, is only true in an esoteric sense).
- During the Battle of Copenhagen, in order to ignore a recall signal from his senior officer, Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson held a spyglass to his near-blind eye, and reported, "I really do not see the signal." This is suspected to be where the saying "To turn a blind eye" comes from.
- It is true that Fanta was invented in Nazi Germany. However, it is not true that Fanta was invented by Nazi Germany, as in following some order or plan envisioned by the Nazi government, as it is often reported.
- "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." — Bill Clinton (See Technical Virgin)
- "The government does not torture people" — George W. Bush (See Enhanced Interrogation Techniques)
- A large number of proposition bets used by grifters can be solved by looking very carefully at the wording. For example, "I bet you that I can take a brand new deck of cards, make the ace jump out of the pack and fly across the room, then write your name on your forehead." If you hear this said aloud, most people assume that the ace will do all of the actions listed. Looking more carefully at the syntax of the sentence reveals that the actions can be done by the person making the bet rather than by the ace. (Incidentally, the usual way to win the bet is to flick the ace up from the bottom of the pack — where it usually is in most new, unshuffled decks — catch it, throw it across the room, and then take a pen to write the person's name on their forehead.)
- Politics as a whole can rest on this; for example, take this example of a British MP claiming that his party had not broken an election promise, as the law would not take effect until after the next election (but was voted on comfortably three years into Parliament).
- There's a free picture that comes on some iPod Touches that says "I didn't slap you, I high-fived your face." Technically true, since in a high-five only one hand needs to be involved.
- A billboard for Rebecca Black touted that her Friday video had over 100 million views on YouTube, trying to make it look like she was popular. While the part about the views is true, most of the people who watched it clicked the dislike button. In fact, this is a truism for any kind of measure based solely on views, including Nielsen ratings and box-office receipts. Just because people watch something doesn't mean they like it.
- A senior producer at EA-Maxis commented on the rocky launch of the 2013 SimCity, stating "What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn't want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join." While it may have been technically true that players that got in were indeed playing the game that they just bought (whod've thunk?), it glossed over the fact that the major source of complaints was the need to log onto a cloud server in order to play what was, ostensibly, a single-player game in the first place; let alone having set up servers with a population cap (either due to hardware limitations or software issues) that was estimated to be between as much as twenty to as little as five percent of even the number of users that preordered, let alone day-one purchases on top of that.
- An old, possibly apocryphal story about underage soldiers in the The American Civil War says that when they went to join up, many of them would write "18" on a piece of paper and stick it in their shoe. When the recruiter asked how old they were, they could join without having lied, as they were "over 18." The same story is told in most of Europe in regards to soldiers signing up in WWI and WWII.
- The Other Wiki has an article on this sort of deception, mostly on the history of those who, for religious reasons, employed it as the result of being technically unwilling to lie.
- In campaign speech in 1988, George H. W. Bush pledged that if Congress wanted to raise taxes, he would tell them: "Read my lips: no new taxes". He was elected and true to his word, there were no new taxes... but the population of the US got very irate over the fact that he raised all of the existing taxes.
- An old standby for people making a journey — "We're not lost; I know exactly where we are..." This is related to Insistent Terminology.
- The trick, of course, is in knowing where "where we are" is in relation to anywhere else.
- Before being revealed as Watergate scandal source Deep Throat, W. Mark Felt stated "I never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or anyone else!" This is actually logically true; since he met only with Bob Woodward, he could not have met with Woodward AND anyone.
- When feature development for MechWarrior Living Legends, a Crysis Wars mod was forcibly shut down after the release of update 0.7.0, the newer, competing Mechwarrior Online developers almost immediately stated "They agreed to shut down by mutual agreement!"
- Pete Best, annoyed at the royalties his former bandmates and their imitators were getting, once released an album called "Best of The Beatles". When people complained (it was all original music) and talked about lawsuits, he pointed out the technical truth of the name: "[Pete] Best [formerly] of The Beatles".
- This is how the DHMO (dihydrogen monoxide, more commonly known as water) hoax works: water's 'harmful' effects are mentioned, but neglecting to say the effects only happen if you drink too much of it or that there's no cause-and-effect between the two.
- In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously in Bronston v. United States that sworn testimony that is "literally truthful but technically misleading" cannot be prosecuted as perjury. The prescribed remedy, instead, is more adroit and specific followup questions by the examining lawyer. In their defense, the Court was somewhat dubious of sustaining a perjury prosecution on the basis of a possible misunderstanding. To provide further context, Bronston's testimony was only technically incomplete, but on its face only answered a specific part of the question, and the lawyer in question failed to ask an obvious followup question.
"Q. Do you have any bank accounts in Swiss banks, Mr. Bronston?" "A. No, sir." "Q. Have you ever?" "A. The company had an account there for about six months, in Zurich." (Bronston had had a personal Swiss account as well previously, but note that the subject at hand was the company's bankruptcy.)
- Cryptic crossword puzzles have clues that only make sense when read in a highly constrained manner, typically involving wordplay, anagrams, and the like. The Other Wiki has the details.
- When Mila Kunis was asked how old she was when auditioning for That '70s Show, she replied that she'd turn eighteen on her birthday. Which of course, was true, but it wasn't her next birthday. They felt the response was in character and cast her even though they were looking for someone older to play a high-schooler.
- Back before railroads had crossing gates, they had actual flagmen who would stand at an intersection and swing a lantern to warn approaching traffic of the train. In a lawsuit over damage and injuries due to a collision at night the flagman, who might have been intoxicated at the time, testified that he did swing his lamp to try and warn the approaching motorist. This may or may not have been true, but he failed to mention that his lamp was not lit.
- In the Middle Ages to early modern period, there was much debate over what, on a Catholic perspective, counted as lying. For instance, there was the story of a bishop of Alexandria fleeing persecution by the Romans, who didn't know his appearance. Coming upon him with his students, they asked where he had gone. The man told them back the way he had just come. Some defended this, since it was technically true.
- James Garfield was shot in 1881, but the bullet was barely a flesh wound — he died of a raging infection, caused by Worst Aid because We Have to Get the Bullet Out. Naturally, his assassin decided to use this as a defense in court, admitting to the shooting but arguing that it was the doctors who really committed the murder. He was convicted anyway, because it was his shooting that prompted the doctors to do anything at all.
- Frankie Laine, the man who sung the title song for Blazing Saddles, was told the film was a "Western about a black sheriff dealing with racism". What he didn't know was that the film was a comedy and he wound up giving a heartfelt, sincere performance. Mel Brooks didn't have the heart to tell him after hearing the song and Laine didn't find out the truth until he actually saw the movie.
- In addition, Brooks's casting call was for "a Frankie Laine-type singer", so he was very much surprised (and happy) when the real Frankie Laine auditioned.
- A common line often mentioned regarding a well known employee/manager/cast member/etc in any business suddenly disappearing from work and not showing up from that day forward is to issue a statement along the lines that the "staff member has left the company to pursue other business interests/jobs" and leave it at that. Often times, this is because the staff member in question was offered the option to resign with dignity or be fired and escorted off the premises over some screw up on their part. Alternatively, the staff member in question may have just issued the heads of management a spontaneous notice of resignation, who rather not reveal any potential parting words that was issued by the employee.
- SpacePOP was advertised as having 15 million channel views, 50,000+ subscribers and approximately 300,000 hours of viewed programming. While this is technically true if you add up the numbers, viewership averages at 100,000 to only 10,000 views per episode, decreasing sharply over time. Each episode is only 3 minutes long not counting compilations, for a total of only 375 minutes, or 6 hours and 15 minutes.
- It was also stated in a press kit to be outperforming Monster High and My Little Pony: Equestria Girls at the same stage in the brand life cycle. The former was on DVD, YouTube, and Netflix and the dolls sold very well, which indicates they didn't add together the numbers as they did for their own show, while the latter's YouTube videos weren't official uploads so no accurate data could be found.
- Skewed comparisons◊ to competing brands were also listed that downplay or ignore qualities the other shows do have, and the team page doesn't mention that Genius Brands' credentials seem solely based on the executive producer/CEO, Andy Heyward, who worked at DiC before it got liquidated. Similarly, while Steve Banks was a writer for season 4 of Spongebob, Paul Tibbitt was the showrunner then, and nothing is mentioned of Erin Downing, who wrote the tie-in books the first 78 episodes of the cartoon were largely based on, at all.
- "The theory of natural selection doesn't explain the origin of life." This is actually true, but it's also completely irrelevant. Natural selection applies only to living systems, not nonliving matter. Even people who should know better (such as Sir Anthony Kenny, in his history of Western Philosophy) have used this line as an equivocation.
- "The theory of evolution [by natural selection] is "just" a theory". It is a scientific theory, which requires a standard of procedure and backing evidence, not an opinion or undemonstrable speculation (i.e. what the people who say this sentence want to imply). And nope, scientific theories don't get "upgraded" to laws when they are "proven".