The camera is focused in — just enough so the viewers can't see the whole set. Then the camera pans out a bit, or cuts to a wider view. We now see something else, which significantly changes the situation, often for the worse.
This trope probably evolved from radio, where a standard gag was to slowly reveal what something looked like, with the last bit totally changing the situation.
Usually the preferred method of filming Innocent Innuendo.
Close-Up on Head, Bedmate Reveal, Not So Dire, Real Vehicle Reveal and On a Soundstage All Along are specific types of Reveal Shot, as is any Mortal Wound Reveal found in Film or Live-Action TV. Not to be confused with a revealing shot.
Contrast with Unreveal Angle when nothing gets revealed and the audience is left wanting to see more.
- This classic advertisement for The Guardian shows a black-and-white video of a man running. Another shot is shown, seemingly showing the man fighting with another one. The final shot shows us he was helping the other man escape from being hit by falling bricks.
- I'm on a horse.
- A commercial for WNBC radio in the 1980's had people talking about Howard Stern, and ended with Don Imus saying "Please don't listen to any of these people. Howard Stern is just as same as I am." - then the camera pulls back to show Imus wearing a straitjacket and standing in a padded room.
- This PIF for TV licensing shows a couple in the backyard seemingly getting a small pool ready and other gear. Then the camera pans up to show that—because they didn't pay their license—they are camped next to a nuclear plant.
- A classic PSA from the Partnership For A Drug-Free America shows a close-up of a man as he starts to talk to his son about the dangers of drugs. Then he starts to get emotional as he speaks, and the camera slowly pans out to show that he's standing alone in a cemetery, next to a small headstone.
"But I never thought... I'd have to be telling that to a thirteen-year-old..."
- In Astro City story "Pastoral", when Cammie follows the kitten into the barn, we get a shot of her fact, half in shadow, showing her shock; then we get her back in the house working on a new email that shows she's decided to become a Secret Keeper for Roustabout's Secret Identity. Only after her finishing it do we we get the Reveal Shot that shows Roustabout and her cousin kissing.
- Tintin: In The Broken Ear, Tintin and General Alcazar are apparently having an in-depth political discussion in his office. Tintin remarks seriously, "It's a difficult position," and there are several close-up panels of the two of them deep in thought. Then the panel pans out, and the General exclaims, "Checkmate!"
- Beetle Bailey: The first panel shows a close-up of someone asking Beetle whether Ms. Buxley had walked past in a bikini. The next panel shows the larger scene with Beetle having stepped in his can of paint and a general mayhem around them with soldiers still staring transfixed and having crashed their cars and whatnot. Yes, she had.
- Ubiquitous in Hägar the Horrible.
- Chicken Run has Rocky teaching the chickens to fly. One shot has him getting all the chickens to run off of the roof of a coop. When it gets to Ginger's turn, she runs, jumps... and stays in the air, flapping her arms. Then she looks down, and it turns out she's standing on the pile of chickens who had gone before her.
- The Incredibles: Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible has just lost his temper with his callous Mean Boss Mr. Huph and thrown him through a wall. Camera pans to the hole, revealing that Bob had thrown Huph through four walls.
- Shrek 4-D: Shrek and Donkey are grabbed by what first appears to the evil stone dragon they were running away from, until the camera pulls upwards to show that they were actually grabbed by Dragon.
- Used in The Blues Brothers: The Brothers speak with agent Maury Sline to get a gig for the following night in a sauna. After closing the deal, we see that the entire ten-person band has been there the whole time.
- Tomorrow Belongs To Me, from Cabaret. Starts out as a nice song, and then you start to see the swastikas...
- In A Fish Called Wanda, one scene begins with a shot of what looks like Archie standing against a building, beginning to deliver what sounds like a sincere apology to Otto. Then the camera flips upside down and pulls back, revealing that Otto is dangling Archie out of a window by his feet.
- An appropriately epic one is given to the title character in Godzilla (2014). There are several indicators that something massive is coming beyond the MUTO that has already been rampaging. Said MUTO already been shown causing mass chaos and destruction, dwarfing the planes, helicopters, and airport buildings that it's been smashing at Honolulu's airport. And then, after a massive seismic shock, the camera pans over from the MUTO's head over to a large reptile... and the camera then has to pan up to reveal Godzilla, who punctuates his first appearance with his trademark roar.
- The Hunt for Red October:
- The film first reveals the full size of the submarine this way. The "Typhoons" really are big submarines -- biggest ever built. Combined with glorious Awesome Music, this scene ranks as one of the best moments in the film.
- Later in the film, when the Red October a shot follows a torpedo as it is seconds away from striking the Red October, when we suddenly see The USS Dallas interceding herself between the torpedo and its prey to draw it off. The only warning the audience or characters get is the extra pinging sonar sound a few moments before.
- Used in I Love You Phillip Morris. Early in the movie it is suggested that Steven (the protagonist) is heterosexual and happily married. In a scene he is shown passionately kissing his wife, and the camera cuts into a scene of Steven having sex, his sexual partner being off-screen. One can't help but to assume he is having sex with his wife, until the camera pans out revealing his sexual partner to be a man... To top this off Steven narrates: "Oh, did I forget to mention I'm gay?"
- Note: this is not an example of Close-Up on Head as we see Steven's torso from the beginning of the scene.
- The opening credits occur over weird, shifting, oddly coloured shots which suggest a bizarre, alien world, in keeping with the film's plot. Then, the camera pulls back... to reveal we've been watching ice cubes swirling around a glass of whiskey.
- When we first see Martin Short's doctor's office, it's a close-up of some palm trees. But then the camera zooms out to reveal it's simply a poster.
- The Lord of the Rings: In Fellowship of the Ring — we open with a shot of a dark menacing tower in Mordor, apparently Barad-dûr, home of Sauron. Then the camera pulls back... and back... and back... until we are able to get a full view of the ungodly immense, dozens of times larger and infinitely more menacing tower that is the true Barad-dûr, revealing the initial tower we saw as one of the hundreds of (relatively) tiny lookout towers spaced around Barad-dûr's outer wall.
- The finale of Mystic Pizza does this with a woman and her fiancé, who were at odds throughout the movie. The camera pans out to reveal her wearing a wedding dress, showing that she decided to go through with the wedding despite everything.
- This is how Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl introduces us to Captain Jack Sparrow. Standing proudly atop his ship's mast, hero music blaring... and then widens to reveal that not only is his "ship" a dinghy, it's almost totally sunk, hitting the bottom as he jumps onto the dock.
- The short movie Powers of Ten (and imitators) is entirely based upon this trope.
- The opening scene from Safety Last! makes it look like an execution is about to unfold. We see the hero behind bars, the gallows waiting in the back, his sobbing relatives and a minister comes to shake his hand. Cut to a shot from a wider angle which reveals the setting to be a train station and the occasion to be a Train-Station Goodbye.
- Star Wars:
- The opening scene of A New Hope. First Leia's ship the Tantive IV, goes overhead, everything is normal. Then the Star Destroyer starts to slowly go overhead... and goes... and goes and you realize that the ship is HUGE. At this point, if you were first watching it in 1977 when it came out, you suddenly realized how awesome this movie was going to be. Differs from the others in that the Star Destroyer enters (and enters and enters!) as opposed to the camera zooming out. (Parodied, of course, in Spaceballs.)
- Used brilliantly again in The Empire Strikes Back when early in the movie, the Star Destoyers are shown again in their majestic glory when all of a sudden they start getting eclipsed by something. The audience is keenly aware that something massive is above these things we were so in awe of in the first movie. The camera switches to a lower angle pointing upwards as a Star Destroyer looks so small compared to the ship above where just a portion of it fills the scene. Then, the camera reveals in all its glory Vader's new flagship, the Executor, a Super Star Destroyer that makes every other ship look like an insect.
- The Force Awakens: While fleeing from the TIE-fighters' bombardment on Jakku, Rey dismisses the off-screen spaceship Finn is suggesting as "garbage", but the other ship they were heading to gets blown up. This leads to the decision that "the garbage will do", with the camera panning to reveal to the audience that the aforementioned piece of junk happens to be the Millennium Falcon.
- In Rogue One, there are a couple of Star Destroyers on screen, when the light changes and what looked to be the stars behind them is revealed to be the lights on the surface of the Death Star.
- In Tremors 2: Aftershocks, when Earl calls up the beloved Burt Gummer, the camera pulls back from Burt to comedically reveal a graboid head mounted on his basement wall.
- In The War of the Roses, the opening credits play over billowing folds of white fabric which appear to be a bedsheet but turn out to be a handkerchief once the camera pulls back.
- Wanda: At first Mr. Dennis seems to be the bar owner, who is agitated when Wanda entered through the unlocked door after closing time. Then the camera moves and reveals that the bar owner is Bound and Gagged on the floor behind the bar.
- Used as a fakeout and then straight-up within one scene in the Alias episode "Phase One", which ends with Sloane telling Sark to 'check in on [their] new asset'. The sound of a ringing phone transitions to the next scene, where it is revealed Sark is calling...Francie! However, the camera then pans around to another angle to show the real Francie's corpse with a bullet wound in the forehead.
- Arrested Development was a big fan of this trope. One particular example from the episode Bringing Up Buster: George Sr. is detailing to Michael all the ways Buster has failed him as a son. We hear a prolonged, familiar yawn and the camera pulls out to reveal Buster sitting between them; he then states simply, "We're just blowin' through nap time, aren't we?"
- Band of Brothers. In "Crossroads", there's a flashback scene where Captain Winters apparently shoots a lone, unarmed, and surrendering soldier. Later in the episode we get more details; turns out he's opening fire on a whole company.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- "I Was Made To Love You" opens with Buffy pounding away at what appears to be a punching bag, but a wide shot reveals it's Xander in a huge padded sumo suit.
- Willow is shown apparently casting a love spell when she calls on the Goddess Hecate to "send me the heart that I desire." Turns out she's playing a poker game.
- Andrew is apparently being talked into doing a Human Sacrifice by the First Evil. Then we see it's actually a pig he's about to slaughter.
- In Coupling, Jeff is trapped in a photocopier (It's a Long Story), and in order that his colleagues shouldn't know that it was him trapped, refuses to come out until they've all gone home. He walks into work the next morning, secure in the knowledge that no-one knew he'd made a prat of himself the previous day. He sits down at his desk. And the camera pans up to reveal... 500 A4 photocopies of his head, pasted to the wall behind him.
- Doctor Who:
- "School Reunion": After Sarah Jane, stunned, backs out of the storage room where the TARDIS has been stashed back into the gym, there's a well-done panning shot revealing the Doctor standing there waiting for her.
- "The Pilot": Bill is flustered on stepping out of the TARDIS to realize she's no longer in a university basement, but a city in broad daylight, and the Doctor's clearly enjoying it then he steps aside so she can see the excellent view of the Sydney Opera House.
- Father Ted:
- "Think Fast, Father Ted". Jack crashes a car into two lorries. When Ted and Dougal inspect the car, the front (all we can see) looks okay, and Dougal hopes the car isn't damaged. Cue the Reveal Shot, and we see that the back of the car has been scrunched like an accordion.
- "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse". It's the end of a long "Fawlty Towers" Plot, and Ted is performing the last bit of fast-talk he needs. It looks like Brennan is about to be fooled. Then comes the Reveal Shot, and we see that Ted is (without realizing it) standing next to an incriminating photo that has been blown up to the size of a house.
- In the pilot episode of Frasier, Frasier reacts with horror to the news that the mysterious Eddie will be moving in to his apartment, along with with his Dad. Cut to Frasier and Martin watching TV — and then we get our introduction to Eddie, himself.
- In the last episode of Game of Thrones Season 6, the camera focuses on Lyanna Stark's newborn son and then switches to Jon Snow, revealing they're the same person.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia had one episode where Charlie and Mac got a mail room gig to qualify for the company's health benefits. Mac dumps all the responsibilties on Charlie, who then does... this
- In season 1, used for comedy. Michael and Jack appear to be having an intense discussion about a dire problem, but they turn out to be debating a golf shot. In season 4, this is repeated with Sawyer, Hurley, and Risk.
- Of course, it's also used for drama, such as the end of "The Economist", where a pan reveals Sayid's associate to be Ben.
- In Monty Python's Flying Circus, what looks like a sheer mountain slope that climbers are arduously inching along is revealed to be a Dutch Angle of the pavement of the Uxbridge Road.
- The Sketch Show: In one sketch it looks like a haggard Tim is being tortured by Ronni during a hard interrogation. The shot then reveals that she's dragged him along to go shopping.
- Stargate Atlantis does such a shot when Shepard has to climb a few stories to shut down a self-destruct because of a malfunctioning quarantine system, revealing it's a long way down.
- On Top Gear: The caravan holiday. James May, standing next to what looks like a Lotus Exige, explains they've got something very special as the tow car for their caravan. Perspective flip and pan out to reveal... the inauspicious-looking Kia Cerao.
- Married... with Children: One episode begins with Al telling someone he's tired of seeing that someone lazing at the couch. While long-time viewers of the series would at first assume he's talking to Peggy, it's revealed that he's talking to his neighbor Jefferson, who complains that his wife won't allow him back home until he gets a job.
- In Vikings, when King Aella of Northumbria hears that a "Great Heathen Army" has landed in England with the intent of conquering the English kingdoms, he arrogantly believes that since the pagans cannot possibly have God's favor he can defeat them with only his own forces and without calling for aid from the other English kingdoms. Aella first encounters a small advance force of the army, and snarks about how the Viking army isn't so great. Then the rest of the army comes into view, showing that it is many times larger than Aella's forces, (an episode or two later an English character will be asked how many men were in the army, and will respond "How many blades of grass are in a field?") and since Aella killed the father of the army's leaders, they are intent on bloody, vicious vengeance.
- The video for Godzilla by Double Experience teases the titular creature throughout the song, only to reveal that it's actually a bulldog who is wrecking havoc on the city.
- The video to Stripsearch by Faith No More features a seemingly normal guy leaving his apartment in what seems to be a police state, and having officials turn on him. At the end it revisits the opening scene with a wider shot... revealing a submachine gun on a coffee table, hand grenades near the door and a body tied to a chair lying on the floor.
- "Woah, free boat ride for three! Now who should I take? Keef! And....T-pain."
- In Ruiner Pinball, the "Ruiner" table consists of two pinball playfields placed side-by-side. Starting multiball causes the camera to zoom to show both playfields at the same time.
- The Jack Benny Program used the audio equivalent a lot. In one episode, the cast is traveling by train, and Phil is complaining about having to share a bunk with Jack due to Jack's cheapskate nature. They begin to argue... and then Dennis pipes up, "Shut up, I'm trying to sleep!"
- Then there was The Goon Show.
Knock knock knock
Seagoon: Come in.
Knock knock knock
Seagoon: Come in!
Bloodnok: It's you that's knocking!
Seagoon: Oh! Then I'll come in!
- "Reveal Shots" were a regular fixture of ensemble comedy shows on BBC radio. In The Burkiss Way you might get an elaborate setup like:
Midwife Mr Smoth? Your wife's had her baby... errr... you might want to prepare yourself for a shock.
Smoth: Is it a boy?
Smoth:Oh, it must be a girl!
Midwife well... no.
Smoth:(perplexed) Then what is it?
Midwife I'm afraid it's an...
(Eric Pode voice cuts in) Eric Pode of Croydon!"
- John Finnemore, writer of Cabin Pressure and his Souvenir Programme sketch show, has cited this as a reason he prefers writing for radio over TV; jokes like this (which he really likes) are much easier when the characters are by default inhabiting a Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue.
- Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
- It's announced over the school's PA system that one of the teachers has been replaced for the final exam. It then cuts to the classroom and reveals that the replacement is Sarah Travers, a government agent that's been tracking the superpowered protagonists. Cue Oh, Crap! from the characters in her class.
- Hyeon gets one of these when he sees Daigo talking with Harriet in the corridor. He gets a little closer, and realises with shock that he isn't talking to her- he's strangling her.
- This is how Ruby Quest first revealed what genre it was. Ruby looks through a slat in a door, and sees only Stitches's eyes. When she finally gets the door open, she sees his face... then sees that his head is the only part of him that's fully intact.
- The original Doom ends this way: After defeating the final boss, the player character is teleported back to Earth, where we see an idyllic grassy field. Then the camera pans left, the music gets Darker and Edgier, and we see a city. In flames. Followed by a bunny head impaled on a pike (which is later implied to be the head of the Space Marine's pet rabbit).
- Fallout 3: The intro cinematic begins with a shot of a radio playing "I Don't Want To Set the World on Fire", then zooms out to reveal a wrecked bus and the nuclear war-torn ruins of Washington, DC. Fallout: New Vegas handles this the opposite way: the game opens with a shot of the ruined Lucky 38 casino, set to "Blue Moon," only to pan out further, showing the Strip itself, which is a thriving community, and further, that society in the Mojave is actually functional.
- Quake IV: A Marine is facing away from the camera, which then pans around to show that he is gorily dismembered and floating in space amongst the wreckage of a ship and the mutilated remains of its other crew members.
- In Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, the game beings with the exact same "Welcome to the World of Pokémon" sequence as the original Ruby and Sapphire, down to the GBA graphics and music. Then the camera pans out to reveal that it's playing in-universe on the player's PokéNav before displaying the land of Hoenn in the same glorious 3D graphics introduced in X and Y.
- Kingdom Hearts III references the use of this trope in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl during the arrival at The Caribbean. After the expository cover of A Pirate's Life for Me, we cut to Sora humming the tune against a mast in a night sky. Camera angles and Donald and Goofy looking up at him serve to hide the fact that they're rowing a raft until Sora bemoans their not having a better ship. And then they go over the falls to the Locker...
- Played for laughs in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device:
- Magnus's speedy run to the palace is halted:
Magnus: There's still time to warn him! I could save everyone... [zoom out] If there wasn't a f***ing WALL IN THE WAY!
- After Lucius explains the concept of Slaaneshmas, Ahriman has his doubts:
Ahriman: I don't think this sounds like a good idea at all. I mean... [zoom out, showing dead bodies all around them] If your goal is spreading happiness to people, you're clearly not very good at it...
- Magnus's speedy run to the palace is halted:
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks Shorts: In "Guitar Centered", we see a pair of blue hands closing on the two necks of the guitar Rainbow Dash has chosen... only for the view to zoom out and show that one of those hands belongs to Trixie. Cue tug-o-war for the guitar.
- Lots of them to be found in Loading Artist:
- In The Bird Feeder #49, "Earthquakes," which mainly works because of the grayscale backgrounds of the previous strips, what seems at first to be Floyd and Darryl standing on grass is revealed to be the two of them standing on a shaggy dog.
- A Scotsman in Egypt does this to hide the victor of the duel between the Scot king Edward and the Mongol Khan. The duel ends, and everyone looks at the snarling head of the Khan... currently being held up in Edward's hand. It later does the same with a picture to show the massive Timurid army outnumbered by the Scots.
- Used in Episode 1 of World's Greatest Adventures to reveal that the springs Talltales has 'discovered' are actually a tourist resort.
- 6teen: After Jonesy says that things might actually work out after all (by which he means that he can cope with Nikki's departure), the last scene in the finale zooms out to show the other characters going about their business; what this, of course, means is that her leaving only really affects the five main characters.
- On an episode of Adventure Time, after a scene transition, a shot of the main characters' house is shown. Then the camera zooms out to reveal that the shot was just a framed picture of the characters' house. A definite Rewatch Bonus.
- Futurama used this when Bender's worried that a bureaucrat he insulted is standing behind him. Cue the Reveal Shot and that bureaucrat saying that she is in fact, in front of him, less than a foot away.
- Works for villains as well as heroes: The 1980s cartoon Jem did this. Eric is about to tell the small crowd that he has that "The Misfits" are the winners of the first annual Starlight "Battle of the Bands" — but before he can, new music is heard — and the crowd goes off in that direction. The camera pans out to show "Jem and the Holograms" performing for the first time.
- Korgoth of Barbaria: When Korgoth and Gogmagog's mooks climb down to the pigeons, it's only obvious that the birds are giant-sized (they looked small from a higher vantage point) with a sudden camera reveal.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Dragonshy", there's a scene where Fluttershy (whose wings have locked in fright) makes a big deal about not daring to jump over a chasm after the others. From all the shots so far, it looks like the chasm is pretty wide, though the other ponies clear it easily. When Fluttershy finally gets enough courage to try, Twilight Sparkle says a Don't Look Down right in the middle, which somehow seemingly causes Fluttershy's jump to terminate in the middle because she gets frightened. She falls — and the camera pans out to show both sides of the chasm at once for the first time, showing that the chasm is narrow enough that she's just left with with her back hooves on one edge of it and front hooves on the other. It's still not a short jump to make, she has to stretch her legs to do that, but the perspective earlier made it seem much longer.
- The Simpsons:
- Homer crashes his car in snowy conditions. He gets out to inspect the damage and says "well, at least I got him as well as he got me". Then he turns his head to see his family standing at the doorstep of his home, looking shocked. Cue pan-out, revealing that he'd made it to his driveway and the car he hit was in fact Marge's car.
- In another episode, Lisa seeks to reassure Homer that Smithers, who was fired because of Homer's actions, "can get a great job at any corporation he wants." The next shot is a close-up of AT&T's wordmark. Panning out, we see that Smithers has gotten a job at "NEAT & TIDY Piano Movers."
- SpongeBob SquarePants: At the end of "Shanghaied", the group is supposedly sent home from the grasp of the Flying Dutchman after Spongebob wishes he was a vegetarian. The camera pans out from SpongeBob's pineapple house only to reveal that it's a real pineapple, and they've all been turned into fruit and stuck inside a giant blender.
- Justice League Unlimited Similar to the Tintin example, two heroes are in conversation:
- The Flash: Tell me the truth, Ralph: Do I seem immature to you?Elongated Man: Not in the least.[Pull back to show they're playing "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots"]The Flash: Hah! I bopped your bot!"