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Prosthetic Limb Reveal

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This trope refers to any situation where a character who, at the first glance, looks perfectly fine and you wouldn't expect them to be handicapped in any way, but then they suddenly reveal that they have an Artificial Limb — much to the audience and other characters' surprise.

One of the common ways in which this occurs is when another character asks the disabled character why are they so serious about something; the latter responds by showing their artificial limb, emphasizing that the thing in question is not a laughing matter, and also providing some backstory for themselves.

A subtrope of Artificial Limbs. Compare Robotic Reveal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 7 volumes into the sequel of Brave10, it's revealed that one of Jinpachi's hands is a prosthesis.
  • Fairy Tail. When Gildarts is introduced, he walks naturally and can use both of his arms. However, later that day he shows Natsu his prosthetic left arm and leg, which he got to replace the limbs he lost (among other injuries) fighting a dragon on his most recent trip.
  • At the beginning of Fullmetal Alchemist, Cornello has his chimeras try to bite off Edward Elric's right arm, only for him to rip off his shirt and reveal that it is made of metal.
  • In the very first chapter of The Garden of Sinners, Shiki first appears to have two functional arms — right until a ghost manages to possess one of them, which is revealed to be a magically-animated prosthetic, forcing Shiki to cut it off and "kill" it. The circumstances under which she lost her own arm are shown in chapter three.
  • In Black Bullet, the fact that Rentaro has a cybernetic arm, leg, and eye isn't revealed until his second fight with Kagetane a few episodes in, when they serve as a helpful trump card.
  • In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, someone asks Kushana why she's so eager to make war against the Ohmu, to which she responds by revealing that one of her limbs is prosthetic, having been ripped off in an Ohmu attack.
  • One Piece:
    • In Water-7, when Luffy and Franky fight, Franky starts by breathing fire which causes the Straw Hats to assume he has a Devil Fruit power. Then Franky hits Luffy with his Rocket Punch and reveals that he's actually a cyborg.
    • After the Time Skip, former Admiral Kuzan seems normal at first, but then during a trip to an onsen (seen in Film Z), he revealed that he has lost one leg that he replaces with a leg made of ice. It was after he fought a fellow Admiral, Sakazuki, during the timeskip, and lost.
  • Many people who read Berserk know that Guts has a prosthetic arm from the outset, but for those watching the very first anime adaptation, the reveal that he has one comes when he is on the ropes against the Snake Lord, and he unloads the cannon built into the arm right into the demon's face. It isn't until the end of the Golden Age Arc when the Eclipse goes down that we learn just how Guts lost that arm.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Bommer's assassination attempt on Goodwin is thwarted by Yusei, but not before one of the wheel spikes of his chariot-type D-Wheel gets broken off and sent flying towards the Security director. Goodwin is able to save himself by catching the spike with his left hand, but the spike shreds his glove and reveals said hand to be made of metal. Jack, the only one close enough to see Goodwin's robot arm, is shocked, and Goodwin's metal arm proves important to his past as well as to the Signers.
  • Armitage III. Ross Sylibus has his exposed while he's fighting the villain who, aware of Ross's anti-robot prejudice, gleefully mocks him over the irony.
  • In chapter 10 of Shy, Pilse Dunant (secretly the superheroine Lady Black) reveals that both her lower legs are prosthetics after having just climbed a small mountain.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury: In the prologue, Elnora's right arm is revealed to the viewer to be a sophisticated prosthesis after it runs out of battery while she's putting a candle on her daughter's birthday cake.
  • Cross Ange: In Episode 2, Ange slaps Zola when the latter tries coming on her to rape her, accidentally knocking off her artificial eye. She seems amused and nonchalatly places it back on the socket.

    Comic Books 
  • Preacher: When facing off against his former boss, the boss's badass bodyguard, and the man's Angry Guard Dog, Starr appears to try to attack the bodyguard with a kick. The bodyguard contemptuously grabs the "kick" in mid-air, and is caught by surprise when Starr's leg suddenly pops off in his hand, (Starr had only recently lost the leg under secret circumstances, so the bodyguard had no idea it was a prosthetic) causing him to stop and stare long enough that Starr is able to dispatch him and Starr's former boss. Unfortunately for Starr, the dog is still able to get him.
    Starr: My cock is in the bitch's mouth. And not in a good way.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Drago reveals to Hiccup that he lost his entire arm in a dragon attack, not to mention his whole family and his village. The arm was replaced with a metal one, which he detaches right before Hiccup's eyes. It all serves as his Freudian Excuse to try dominating everyone so that he never has to fear anyone again.
  • DC Showcase: The Losers. Captain Storm gets his leg bitten off by a dinosaur, revealing this trope to the audience when the dinosaur casts aside the inedible limb. His teammates of course already know.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Forrest Gump: When formerly wheelchair-bound Lt. Dan shows up, walking, to Forrest and Jenny's wedding, Forrest is astonished. Dan lifts his pants leg to reveal one of his prosthetic legs, saying they're made of a titanium-steel alloy, like is used on the space shuttle.
  • After Happy Gilmore tries hustling golfers at a driving range, Chubbs comes up to him and proposes to coach him at golf. He explains that he was poised for the PGA tour, but he never got a chance to play. Happy thinks it's because he's black, but Chubbs reveals it was because an alligator bit his hand off. He reveals this by showing him his large, wooden prosthetic hand.
  • Played for Laughs in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Jack Spade meets a beautiful woman named Cherry in a bar and goes back to her place to have sex with her. Once there she reveals that most of her is artificial, including her hair, breasts, behind and lower left leg.
  • I, Robot: Detective Spooner was involved in a car crash some years back, but seems to have come out of it relatively unscathed until an NS-5 robot tries to bludgeon him to death, which he wards off with his left arm, which does not break and is revealed to be mechanical with a flesh-colored covering. Dr. Calvin doesn't even realize he has it until she sees him without his shirt. It's also how Spooner came to know the late Dr. Lanning, the leading mind in robotics since Lanning had created the arm.
  • In The Majestic, Bob Leffert is introduced facing away from the camera. He then turns to reveal his hook for a hand, symbolizing his trauma as a war veteran and the way it has made him cynical and mistrustful.
  • Return of the Jedi: Near the end of the sarlacc pit rescue, one of Jabba's goons manages to shoot Luke's lightsaber hand, which makes him flinch but otherwise doesn't slow him down. After the rescue, a closeup reveals that the hand has wires and metal under the skin that got shot off, a reminder of how he lost his real hand at the end of The Empire Strikes Back and had to get a replacement.
  • Played with in RoboCop (2014). We know he's a cyborg, but there's a horrifying scene where Murphy is shown just how much of him is actually robot components.
  • In Total Recall (1990), Benny seems like a perfectly normal taxi driver, until he helps Quaid/Hauser get into the resistance base by taking off his prosthetic hand, opening his sleeve, and showing his mutated lower arm, revealing himself to be a mutant.
  • The Viral Factor sees the Man siblings, Man Jon and Man Yeung, arguing halfway into the film, culminating into a fight which their father tries to stop. They end up hitting their elderly father by accident, tripping him over and revealing - to the audience, but also to Man Jon who never saw his dad since he's a child - that the father's left leg is a detachable prosthetic appendage.
  • In You Only Live Twice, James Bond meets with another operative in Japan who walks up to him with a limp. Bond borrows the man's cane and hits him in the leg with it to make sure he isn't faking. The man's only comment is to say he's glad Bond picked the correct leg.

  • Gray Lensman: After Port Admiral Haynes undergoes an experimental regeneration treatment (and needs assistance because his prosthetics don't fit anymore) Nurse Clarissa MacDougall is shocked to discover just how many prosthetic parts Haynes had.
    MacDougall: I had no idea, Admiral Hynes, that you... that there...
    Haynes: That I was so much of a rebuild?
  • Inverted in Railsea, in which Captain Naphi's supposedly artificial arm is damaged and starts bleeding, revealing that she was Obfuscating Disability.
  • The titular Violet Evergarden hides her artificial arms under long-sleeved clothing and a pair of gloves, but she removes the gloves to type. Given that it is her job to type letters and other documents for various clients, the nature of her arms is revealed time and time again (in the anime adaptation, it's done almost once per episode). However, others are almost always supportive and understanding once they see Violet's situation, and not much is made of them after the fact.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used in-story in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Coulson and Hunter are captured by Rosalind and ATCU agents. Coulson is handcuffed to the seat in the subway and when he decides it's time to leave, he pops off his artificial hand to get out of the handcuff, catching his captors by surprise.
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show: Elsa Mars, the seemingly only non-freak in the titular show, is revealed several episodes in to have two prosthetic legs that she hides. They were hacked off in a snuff film she was "cast" in and the amputation was intended to kill her.
  • On Friends, Joey learns his girlfriend has a prosthetic leg in the worst possible way - by accidentally throwing it in the fireplace. When Chandler goes out with the same woman he learns about her leg when he sees that she's been standing with that foot in an icy puddle and hasn't noticed.
  • Get Smart: In "Little Black Book Part 2" Max uses the old false hands in the chain trick to make his captors think that he has been chained to a wall, and then when they leave he gets out easily.
  • M*A*S*H: In the episode "Dreams", Hawkeye dreams that he's taking a test and the proctor tells Winchester to remove Hawkeye's arms, which are then tossed onto a pile. Then Hawkeye is supposed to operate on an injured Korean boy, but can't because he doesn't have arms. In the context of the dream, Hawkeye doesn't have real arms, which is revealed when Winchester removes them. It symbolizes Hawkeye's frustration at his inability to make any real changes to the war.
  • My Name Is Earl: In the backstory, Earl once slept with a woman who only had one leg. He didn't know she only had one leg until the next morning when she got out of bed. It freaked him out and he ran away, leading to #86 on the list: "Stole a car from a one-legged girl."
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Woodshop teacher Mr. Chopsaw introduces every new class to his prosthetic hand by slamming a hammer on it full-force. This scene was even made part of the show's Season 1 intro!
  • In the Broad City episode "Burning Bridges," Abbi sees a man who's seemingly hogging two chairs in the park by resting his leg on one of them. Abbi tries to take the second chair for herself, only for his prosthetic leg to come off when she pulls on it.
  • In the first episode of Best Foot Forward a bully trips Josh causing his artificial leg to detach in a crowded school hallway between classes, by the end of the next period the whole school knew he was "the kid with the leg" which he'd been trying to avoid (The audience already knew).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE: This was Zach Gowen's introduction. He's planted in the audience, Roddy Piper drags him into the ring, and gives him a step over toe hold - only for his leg to pop off.

    Video Games 
  • At the end of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Ocelot had been taken over by the transplanted arm of Liquid Snake the last we saw him. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, their personalities had (supposedly) merged. Come the climax of that game, Ocelot throws off his coat, to reveal said arm is now robotic. This hints that the merged persona was an act all along.
  • A mild case of this in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. During Shinobu's boss battle against New Destroyman, she gets grappled in her long, gloved arm, only for her to slip away by breaking it off — revealing it to be a robotic replacement — before landing the final blow. Up until that point in the game, no attention was called to Shinobu's arm being robotic in any way, but it makes a lot more sense if you didn't forget her boss battle in the previous No More Heroes, where Travis cut off the real thing.
  • Implied with The Engineer in Team Fortress 2. He normally wears a glove on his right hand at all times, but equipping the Gunslinger replaces it with a robotic prosthetic and allows building Mini-Sentry guns, and equipping the Short Circuit allows the glove to transform into a Lightning Gun for destroying projectiles (and dealing mild damage). It's not been canonically stated whether or not his hand is always a prosthetic under the glove, and either option is possible thanks to The Medic's Medigun.
  • Touhou Project: Kasen Ibaraki has one arm wrapped entirely in bandages... which it turns out is holding nothing but black smoke.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Mercury Black was revealed to have prosthetic legs via flashback an episode after he performed a Deliberate Injury Gambit on Yang.
    • James Ironwood is hinted during his early appearances to have some sort of issue concerning his right arm, possibly a prosthetic. During the Volume 3 finale, a crash leaves him with Clothing Damage and reveals the entire right half of his body is cybernetic.

  • Cyanide and Happiness parodies this in a skit about an old sailor who tells a tale about how he wasted his life hunting for the elusive buttshark. He claims that the buttshark took his butt, among other things. When the listener mockingly questions this, the sailor turns around to reveal... peg legs in place of his buttcheeks.
  • In Grrl Power, Sydney is taking a tour of the Arc-SWAT superhero facility, given mostly by Peggy the sniper. They are already friends at that point, and Sydney has reached the stage of being fitted for her uniform by the time she spots a couple spares of Peggy's prosthetic leg in a corner of the workroom. It isn't treated as a big deal in the story, although Sydney winds up having a panic attack because she can't stop accidentally making one-leg jokes.
    Peggy: Oh, that. Lost it in Afghanistan. *raps on leg*
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Antimony's father Anthony finally appears in person after years of absence, Annie is shocked to discover he now has a prosthetic right hand, he shuts down her attempts to question him about it. It's revealed a malevolent entity tricked him into cutting it off as part of a ritual to bring Annie's mother back, which is what caused Annie to fall sick several chapters ago (as Annie inherited her essence). The guilt's what's caused him to stay emotionally distant from her.
  • High Class Homos: Princess Sapphia is revealed to have an artificial limb. Her parents lament this as it makes finding suitors hard for her. Others look down on them for having one due to viewing them as ‘spoiled goods’.


    Western Animation 
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum: Chum Chum is revealed to have a prosthetic leg in "Battle of the Stands".
  • Gravity Falls: In "The Deep End" Dipper asks Mr. Poolchek if he can be hired as the assistant lifeguard. Poolchek says that he likes him, but emphasizes that it's not an easy job, Chewing the Scenery with his claim that "it's anarchy out there". When Dipper looks at the pool and sees nothing unusual going on, he skeptically reassures Poolchek that he can handle this. Poolchek then responds by showing his artificial hand, claiming that he lost the real one to a pool filter.
  • The Simpsons: In "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 2" we learn that Jasper Beardly has a wooden leg when Smithers confesses to shooting him. Jasper didn't even know he'd been shot. "You shot who in the what now?"
  • Steven Universe: Peridot has a rather geometric design, with free-floating fingers, triangular hair, and numerous devices that seem integrated into her body. This left viewers wondering if she was some kind of robot or cyborg. The answer? The arms and legs are robotic. She is not (nor is her hair). Peridot's has fully-functional arms and legs underneath the prosthetics, they're just a way to store equipment while compensating for her very short height, hence why she calls them "limb enhancers".
  • In Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus Professor Membrane is shown to have two prosthetic arms. They have lasers.
    "As a child, I believed sharks were my friends." (Tears off glove) "I know better now!"