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Plot-Driving Secret

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This is when the entire Plot of a work depends on someone being left out of the loop. It may be that the person or group keeping the secret is holding the Idiot Ball, or is Properly Paranoid, or maybe they simply Cannot Spit It Out. Whatever the reason, they have kept a key player from knowing something crucial, and it is that lack of knowledge that enables the plot to happen. Otherwise, they could simply Just Eat Gilligan.

May result in Poor Communication Kills.

Compare Idiot Plot, Mistaken for Index and Just Eat Gilligan. Also compare Driving Question.

If an Internal Reveal exposes the secret, expect it to be a Game Changer, or even to mean that Nothing Is the Same Anymore. If it's the audience who is the one left out of the loop, then that's a Tomato Surprise.

See also:


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Fan Works 
  • The plot in Nosflutteratu kicks off when Twilight learns what everypony else in Ponyville already knows-that Fluttershy is a vampire.

    Film 
  • In The Way, Way Back, a lot of things would've been easier if Duncan had just told his mom he'd gotten a job. But then the plot would've had to be quite different...

    Literature 
  • A minor plot point in Akata Witch was that Sunny was the only one in the group whose parents weren't magical and didn't know that she was taking lessons to improve her magic.
  • In the Fearless books, the plot was frequently driven by the fact that Gaia was either keeping a secret from someone or having one kept from her.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Forever: Why can't Henry die? Who is the mysterious caller? What happened to Abigail? Who were Abe's birth parents? (Only about half are resolved by the last episode.)
  • Subverted in The Good Place. Each season involves a character hiding something from their superiors (such as Eleanor being sent to The Good Place by mistake, or Michael secretly betraying Shawn), only to have that secret unexpectedly revealed as a Mid-Season Twist that ends one arc and creates another.
  • In Lucifer (2016), the Deuteragonist Chloe always disregards Lucifer's Cassandra Truth that he's the Lucifer Morningstar, first among angels, Prince of Hell, and not just a quirky, delusional nightclub owner. She realizes the truth in the Season 3 finale.
  • In Pretty Little Liars, "A"'s identity is the main mystery of the entire show.
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack would likely have been a much different show if Alex had told her parents about the accident.

    Video Games 
  • Octopath Traveler:
    • Olberic's path centers around finding Erhardt and discovering why he betrayed them.
    • Cyrus' path centers around solving the mystery of the ancient tome missing from the academy's archives.

    Visual Novels 
  • Two different ones in Daughter for Dessert:
    • How the protagonist got the money to start his diner.
    • Eventually, the sexual nature of the protagonist's relationship with Amanda.
  • Two in Double Homework:
    • Not only did the protagonist and Tamara cause the avalanche on Barbarossa, but they were forewarned that their actions could cause it.
    • Also, Dr. Moselyís identity as the enigmatic scientist Zeta, and by extension, the sex experiment on the protagonistís summer school class. Lampshaded with the stipulation that the protagonist not know that he is meant to sleep with all the girls in his class save Johanna.


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