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Samus Is a Girl

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Samus's gender: a Late-Arrival Spoiler since 1986!

Kid Icarus: Gosh-a-cus, Princess Lana! Samus is super-duper-a-cus!
Lana: Well...Samus is a veteran of many impossible missions! Samus is a super-powered cyborg! Samus is the greatest space hunter in the Galactic Federation! [Samus removes her helmet] Samus is a...woman?!?!
Kevin: Whew! You sure are!
Captain N: The Game Master comic story "Money Changes Everything"

Samus Is a Girl is when an Action Girl is well established as heroic, or otherwise badass, before the first hint that she's female. Whether the initial lack of discernible sex is caused by bulky armor, baggy robes, subtler deliberate deceptions, shapeshifting, or even just the camera refusing to give a clear shot of any distinctly female parts of her, it's still Samus Is a Girl. Heck, a tank with a chick inside would count. Having a Tomboyish Name or Gender-Blender Name helps as well. In fact, you can expect this trope to happen pretty much every time you hear a gender-neutral name like "Alex" and it's not the name of an already established male character.

Oftentimes, she will only wear the form-concealing outfit during her introduction. Afterwards, it may end up getting lost or destroyed, and thereafter she wears something a little less ambiguous. Sometimes, she just stops on her own.


This is notably harder to pull off in some languages — those that don't use gender-neutral descriptors that much. It's one thing to say Samus is a bounty hunter in English, but in some languages — like German, or all latinate languages — all words are inherently masculine or feminine, and Samus would have to be explicitly described as a "bounty huntress"; likewise, a male character would have to be talked about using clearly masculine word endings. Characters that do know about Samus' gender and just don't care to elaborate to the listener couldn't just call her a bounty hunter without stretching suspension of disbelief. It's one thing to trick the viewers by clever terminology, but when you completely break your language to do it, the effect becomes not so much "Hey, that's right, the gender was never actually mentioned!" as "Um, why have you been calling her a man this whole time?" But in other langues like Japanese and English, it is becoming more common to use the "masculine" or "gender-neutral" term when referring to women. For example, female comedians are almost never referred to as comediennes these days, and waiters and waitresses are often known as just servers.


Perhaps nobody mentioned her gender because You Didn't Ask. Or because she's just one among a whole Badass Army, so nobody paid attention specifically to her. Or because she's a complete stranger that nobody had seen before. Maybe she is a Voice with an Internet Connection, and no one has ever seen her in person.

See The Faceless and the Hackette, a Sub-Trope that relies on the myth that There Are No Girls on the Internet (The Cracker in question being not only contradicting evidence, but better at it than they'd expect her gender to be). Contrast Unsettling Gender Reveal (where characters/some audience members are physically/romantically attracted to this person in their mistaken gender), Sweet Polly Oliver (Samus Is a Girl from a viewpoint that already knows she's female), Viewer Gender Confusion (where the audience, not the characters, don't know what gender Pat is) and Supernaturally Validated Trans Person (where the story reenforces a character's gender rather than using it as a twist). See also Geeky Turn-On, which is sometimes related to this. Female Monster Surprise is a similar trope, but with a monster. May involve Gender Misdirection. Not Always Female, but usually, due to the typical gender roles where everyone assumes the action hero is a dude; the cast being composed of Amazons is one example where this may be reversed.

Please, don't bother with the spoiler tags here. The name of this trope is a pretty good reason why this should be.


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    Trope Namer 
  • Named for Samus Aran from Metroid. In the first game, the player doesn't learn she's female until after guiding her through an army of alien baddies. Most games since have followed in the tradition of showing her out of armor only if you beat the game and fulfill certain conditions, but they still do play with the trope in a number of different ways.
Canon Examples
  • American Metroid commercials avoided referring to Samus by pronouns for years. It wasn't until Zero Mission that Samus' gender was alluded to in an ad.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy, however, gives her a rather feminine figure considering she's in armor, shows her eyes through her visor, and has the Space Pirates describe her as a female in their log entries. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption even shows her as a woman at the start of the game.
  • Metroid: Other M completely throws this away, because you see Samus without her suit in the opening sequence, in many cutscenes (sometimes this is just a shot of her face through her visor), and in the death sequence.
  • The death sequences in Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, Metroid: Zero Mission, and Metroid: Samus Returns also have her armor shattering and reveal her form underneath.
  • In the original game, even the manual refers to Samus as male. The developers only came to the decision to make her female about midway through the production process, when one of them casually remarked that it would be really funny to get to the end and discover she was a girl all along. Possibly one of the greatest Throw It In! moments in video game history.
  • In Zero Mission, you get a visor shot right before the game begins, but if you're not paying attention, you'll miss it. Hilarious, given that Zero Mission is a redone and updated version of the original game.
  • When Metroid first came out in the '80s, Nintendo of America ran a Metroid art contest in their magazine "the Nintendo Fun Club News" (a precursor to Nintendo Power). All the winners who had Samus unmasked in their art depicted her as a man. (It's possible the judges deliberately chose entries with a male Samus in order to keep the twist a secret.)
Spinoff and Crossover Examples Fan Work Examples
  • In Monty Oum's Haloid (a crossover with Halo), this applies to both halves of the crossover. The character assumed to be Master Chief is actually Nicole-458, a female Spartan who appeared in the Dead or Alive games. She ends up pulling this trope on Samus herself, making Haloid a double whammy.
  • In the Metroid/Worm roleplay quest Hatchling Quest, PRT's Head of Image brings this up when he remarks that Samus could easily pass for a boy while wearing her Power Armor. This trope (befittingly) becomes something of a Running Gag throughout the story. Samus keeps a Secret Identity, and even though it's been publicly stated she is a girl from another universe, there are people who think she's a boy (or a robot). Even those who accept the official explanation are still surprised to find there's a blond girl under the power armor.
  • Due to a combination of this trope and Protagonist Title Fallacy, there is a meme about the Metroid series where people refer to Samus in and out of her armour as two different people: the male hero Metroid and his girlfriend Samus.
  • In this Brawl in the Family strip parodying the controversial authorization system from Metroid: Other M, Samus repeatedly gets into difficult situations which could easily be solved with her heavy equipment, but Adam refuses to authorize their use. Finally, an enraged Samus snaps and removes her helmet to reveal that Adam has been in the armor the entire time, and Samus has been on the comms, inverting the trope.
  • Parodied in the Starbomb song "Regretroid", where Samus gets increasingly pissed that all her enemies go from treating her like an adversary to asking her out once they learn the truth.

  • The infamous "TheLegend27" from Game of War: Fire Age ads.[1]
  • Used in a Finnish ad for the army, where paratroopers are making a training landing in a forest and It's Raining Men plays. The song cuts when the troopers remove their helmets, revealing that they are all women.
  • Commercial for a high-grade beer shows the hands of the brewmaster at work, as the narrator praises the skill of those hands. At the end, the narrator says that they're focusing on the brewmaster's hands because she's not a particularly-attractive woman.
  • In a 2016 Campbell's Soup ad, a child is playing around a house in a Spider-Man costume. Before taking a sip of the soup, the child takes off the mask to reveal that she's a girl.
  • In this Red Bull ad, the biker is a woman. And deaf.
  • There's an ad for an airline company with a couple walking through the airport with their child, who is wearing a full spacesuit. When they get to boarding, one of the attendants comments on the little astronaut wannabe, who takes off her helmet. The final scene shows her playing with her toy rocketship on the beach, wearing the helmet again with a bathing suit.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the regular supporting heroes in Paul Grist's Jack Staff is Tom Tom the Robot Man, a towering, super-strong robot with the power of flight. It's a genuinely bizarre and unexpected moment when it's discovered that "he" is effectively a suit of powered armour being piloted by a disabled girl genius to fight crime.
  • In the one-shot crossover Spider-Man vs. Wolverine, both heroes are on the trail of Wolverine's former partner, named "Charlie", which is given as being short for: "Charlemagne". When Wolverine finally catches up with Charlie, the rogue agent is revealed to be a "she". Wolverine naturally knew all along, but Spidey, as well as the READER were kept in the dark by clever avoidance of gender-specific pronouns (not to mention a flashback where "Charlie" is deliberately shown in gender-neutral disguise). It's implied that Charlemagne uses the ambiguous nature of her name as an additional cover to her identity.
  • In X-Men, Professor X's primary love interest Lilandra is introduced in a running subplot in which he is having ominous visions of space battles and a menacing armored figure. When the figure finally shows up and takes off its helmet, it isn't quite what he is expecting.
  • The original Ronin in New Avengers turned out to be Daredevil's love interest Echo (after a minor Red Herring that it was DD himself).
  • An early arc of Wolverine's comic involved an up-an-coming crime boss in Madripoor called Tyger-Tiger challenging Roche's hold on the nation's underworld. Roche had no idea who Tyger-Tiger was, and in one part, believed it was a male rival. In truth, Tyger-Tiger was Jessan Hoan, and as a result, her final assault on him came as complete surprise.
  • Empowered:
    • Mindf**k is a dramatic example, as eventually revealed to Emp; Mindf**k and Sistah Spooky are ex-lovers, whose first meeting (without a Samus Is A Girl scene) was shown in flashback the following volume.
    • The supervillain Deathmonger was eventually revealed to be a woman under her mask.
  • Junior, who is assumed to be Ragdoll's brother or father in Secret Six, turns out to be his sister.
  • Sasquatch from Alpha Flight is usually male in the main continuity, but in the Ultimate Universe, when the team returns to base after fighting the X-Men, Sasquatch resumes human form and turns out to be the very female Rahne Sinclair, who in the main Marvel Universe is the werewolf Wolfsbane. There were some hints to this beforehand though; readers may have wondered why "he" had ribbons in "his" hair in Sasquatch form.
    • Sasquatch from The Exiles as well. First going into human form: "What surprises you more, that I'm a woman or that I'm black?"
    • This happened even in the main continuity. When Sasquatch came back from the dead by using the body of the shapeshifting Snowbird, he first appeared in his Sasquatch form but, when he tries to resume his human form, he discovers that he's trapped in a feminine body, since Snowbird was a woman.
  • Shining Knight, from Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory, is revealed to be a girl at the end of her portion of the series.
    • Ystin being female is taken as a given when she appears in Demon Knights, though most people are polite enough not to point this out.
  • Colonel Randall in Dark Horse's early Terminator comics is introduced as a gritty soldier in combat fatigues and a face-obscuring helmet, and only referred to as 'the Colonel'. This is really only to build up to the money shot, where, after having stripped down to go through Skynet's time machine, Colonel Mary Randall blows away a terminator and is shown to be... a hot nekkid babe! Needless to say, on arriving in the 20th century she starts wearing tight minidresses.
  • In The Sandman, Death's name is mentioned well before we see her. Gaiman intended for most readers to assume Death of the Endless would be male and menacing ... until we saw her.
  • The Surrogates features a setting where normal people no longer interact with each other in person, but instead use a humanoid robot as a proxy. As a result, cross-gender surrogates are common. One of the first surrogates we see is a cross-gender surrogate, and the male Corrupt Corporate Executive is revealed to actually be a woman. Both of them masqueraded as a person of the opposite gender to get ahead in their respective fields.
  • In Camelot 3000, Merlin sends Tom to a wedding to awaken the memories of a reincarnated Round Table knight. The homing-amulet he's carrying leads him to the couple at the altar. Tom assumes it's the groom he's looking for, but it's actually the bride whom Sir Tristan has been reborn as. Of course, the now awoken Tristan fully identifies as a man and draws a great deal of angst from it.
    Tristan: My name is Tristan. Sir Tristan.
  • Taz in the Atari Force second series was referred to as being male up until Morphea discovered Taz not only was actually female, she was pregnant.
  • In Scud the Disposable Assassin, Sussudio is introduced this way. Naturally, she later becomes Scud's love interest.
  • In DC's 1980s comics series Arak Son Of Thunder, the character of Valda is introduced in full plate armor. Arak doesn't find out her sex until he removes her helmet. Unfortunately, the cover spoils the surprise by showing her wearing her standard mail byrnie and no helmet.
  • "The Trouble With Air", the cover story of an issue of DC's horror anthology series Unexpected, has an astronaut saved from a lonely death on Pluto by the, well, unexpected action of some friendly native blobs. In the very last panel, after returning to the lander, the astronaut removes their helmet - allowing her curly hair to fall to the shoulders of her spacesuit.
  • Johnathan Hickman's Avengers run introduced Iron Man 3030, a futuristic Legacy Character. The bulk of the character's debut issue deliberately leaves their gender ambiguous, only for the final few pages to reveal that Iron Man 3030 is actually Tony Stark's mixed-race granddaughter, Rhodey.
  • The Belgian comic Lament of the Lost Moors takes this even further with the Guinea Lord, a terrifyingly badass Black Knight, by making him (well, her) the crippled daughter of a powerful sorceress, the armor itself giving hellish strength and endurance to the wearer.
  • Batman:
    • The Hangman from the miniseries Dark Victory turned out to be Carmine Falcone's daughter, Sofia Falcone, Obfuscating Disability and seeking revenge against Two-Face and everyone who helped pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent's rise as District Attorney (as Dent's first act as Two-Face is to kill her father).
    • Detective Comics #1000 sees the debut of a version of the Arkham Knight and Word of God already confirmed it wouldn't be the same person from the game. Three issues later, this version of the Knight turned out to be Jeremiah Arkham's daughter, Astrid.
    • Grant Morrison's Batman had the Absence, which gets lampshaded by Dick!Bats.
      "If this were the old days I'd raise an eyebrow and say 'It's a woman!' As it stands—I'm just amazed she could fool me about that even for a minute."
    • In the newspaper comic strip "The Joker Vs the Sparrow", the Joker declares war on a mysterious crime boss named the Sparrow. While escaping from Batman, he's assisted by a beautiful blonde woman - who happens to be the Sparrow.
  • The Avengers #145 (from 1976) introduces a hired killer known only as The Assassin, who wears a bulky armored costume with a full hood. In issue #146, the Assassin's hood gets knocked off to reveal that she's a woman. She then proceeds to lecture Hawkeye for being surprised by her gender, considering the number of Action Girls on his own team.
  • The nameless rope-walker in Brandoli and Queirolo's Alias. Nobody catches on until she comes on to the hero at the very end.
  • In The Halo Graphic Novel story Armor Testing, Spartan-II Maria-062 isn't revealed to be female until the very end, after she takes off her helmet and her commanding officer finally refers to her by name.
  • Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?. In Selina Kyle's story of how she first met Batman, she's wearing a fullface cat mask and flowing cape instead of the familiar slinky catsuit. So Batman gets a surprise when her mask comes off during their struggle.
    Batman: But you're...beautif-- (gets slashed by Femme Fatalons) OW!
  • The 1953 EC Comics story "Judgment Day", although the example is racial rather than sexual. The planet the story takes place on is populated by orange and blue robots. They are identical but for outer casings and programming, but the blue robots sit at the back of the bus, recharge in different stations, live in their own sector in town. The human evaluating the robot society does not let them progress to space until they can get over that, noting that Earth was like this once, and only owned the universe after humans learned to live together. In the last panel of the story he takes off his helmet, revealing that he is black.
  • Thunderstrike: Eric battles the villain Bloodaxe, and then finds out it's really his girlfriend, Jackie.
  • In Big Bang Comics #10, Galahad is hunting an assassin named Headhunter. Having learned that Headhunter will be in a certain hotel room, he crashes in through the window and surprises a couple in bed. He tells the woman to flee and gets in a fight with the man. When the man doesn't recognise the name of one of his victims, Galahad realises he has made a mistake and that Headhunter isn't the man, but rather the woman. Just as he comes to this realisation, the now-clothed Headhunter re-enters the room and fires an arrow at him. The man is actually a local crimeboss who was to be her next target.
  • In The Great Phantom Peril, Superman assumes the strange and super-powerful spectral figure unleashing chaos all over Metropolis is a male being until the mists surrounding the "ghost" vanish and Superman discovers said "ghost" is a woman.

    Comic Strips 
  • In an old 1933 story arc in Thimble Theaternote , Popeye the Sailor must battle The Sea Hag and her gigantic minion known as a "Goon" note . Popeye is utterly besides himself when the minion is revealed, mid-brawl as a woman named "Alice" and that she's both a mother and that she (and her people) are also enslaved by the Sea Hag. "Alice The Goon" would eventually don a dress and become one of Popeyes best friends and allies and even join The U.S. Army with Olive Oyl in a 1980s Saturday Morning cartoon show.
  • In Funky Winkerbean, The Eliminator was a Enfant Terrible arcade gamer of such skill, he could make a Defender machine tilt like a pinball game. His face was always covered by a visored helmet (a Shout-Out to Darth Vader, as The Empire Strikes Back was THE hot movie at the time of his debut). Midway through the first Time Skip, the grown-up Eliminator was reintroduced... as Donna, a hot blond woman. She eventually ended up dating and marrying Crazy Harry, who'd considered The Eliminator his nemesis back in high school.
  • In Mother Goose and Grimm, Grimm was shocked to learn that his hero, the star of the TV show Karl the Wonder Poodle, was a female poodle named Karla.
  • Bloom County had a whole arc devoted to this. It started when Budweiser mascot Spuds MacKenzie visited Opus and told him that most animals who appeared in the media who were "billed" as male were actually females - including Spuds. He - or rather she - then claimed this was also true for one of the animal characters in Bloom County, but then fell into a drunken slumber, which Opus predicted she wouldn't wake up from until "that last comment has caused total pandemonium around here". Indeed, the animal characters launched their own investigations (Portnoy quickly finding out that "cartoon characters aren't anatomically correct") even going so far as to use a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on Bill the Cat, until Opus finally discovered it was Rosebud the Bassalope. From that point on, she was referred to by her true gender.

  • A Crown of Stars: In a late chapter Shinji, Asuka and the rest of the cast seize an enemy fleet. Misato was wearing a Powered Armor during the battle, and the admiral of the fleet got shocked when she removed her helmet’s faceplate and revealed that she was a woman:
    He blinked in surprise to see the smiling woman revealed by the now transparent helmet.
  • Batman Beyond Revisited: Poetic license at its finest; not only does Payback turn out to be a girl, she’s also Jake’s mother.
  • Saved for the end and exaggerated in "Frostbite", with the entire rest of the fic having used male pronouns for Breen Dalsh Ruul. When Dul'krah removes Ruul's helmet, it turns out she's not only female, but human.
  • In the Judge Dredd short fan film Judge Minty, Minty kills a masked gang member in the Cursed Earth, only to find out to his dismay that it was a girl of about 20.
  • Happens in the Pony POV Series during the Wedding Arc when a trio of guards that helped Misfit Actual named Weaver, Diver, and Bombardier are revealed to be Changelings. As it turns out, Bombardier is a female Changeling assuming a male form because of Changeling Blue-and-Orange Morality. Changelings simply have a different concept of sex and gender than ponies and she simply preferred having a male alternate form. She mentions this made finding a lover a bit difficult.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: Fluttershy reveals that Volvagia the lava dragon is female, much to Vaati's shock.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, Bell is initially unsure of the Radiance's gender, as aside from the blue skirt-like cloth near the bottom, her figure and face were obscured by her armor and helmet. It takes Kojiro splitting that helmet in two to reveal her true gender as well as her identity as Artoria Pendragon.
  • Fairy Without Wings: Dark Blade the Knight of Seven of the Edolas Knights of the Round is a true and tried Black Knight and the epitome of Dark Is Evil. Claims that the person they are is dead inside and only so many people know this swordsman's identity. Totally, Edolas Lelouch, right? Wrong! It's Nunnally.
  • In ''Meeting Someone New'', a The Hobbit fanfic on Archive of Our Own, new settlers come to Erebor, and Kíli hates one of them, a brave warrior, at first sight, because he's everything Kíli is not. When the stranger starts to court Kíli, hate turns to love. When the other dwarf reveals that she is a woman, Kíli is surprised, but not shocked. As all dwarves have beards, no helmet is required for the misunderstanding to happen.
  • In Ashes of the Past, Ash's Pidgeot turns out to be female and does not like being mistaken for male.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, directly inspired by the above: Ash has this reaction with his Pidgeotto, and later with Roggenrola. The latter was a notable case given that he was certain of the gender of all of his Unovan mons.
  • In Wonderful!, no one knew that Wonder Red was a girl until she revealed herself.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Beware the Equalizer, the titular character wearing Powered Armor and a Cool Helmet and wielding a Magic Staff is revealed to be none other than Starlight Glimmer.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls fanfic Ladder, the Serial Killer known as "the Harvester" is out killing criminals. She's referred to as male however eventually she is revealed to be female. She is Bubbles.
  • Part of Profesor Layton Vs Jack The Raper's big reveal is that Jack The Raper is a female.
  • Averted and later invoked in Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations. After subsequent encounters with different Riders, most Kamen Rider characters are fully aware of Samus's existence.
  • In The Elements of Friendship, both Celestia's bodyguard Paper Mache and Pinkie's sister Maud are mistaken for stallions when first introduced.
  • In chapter 2 of Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations Vol. 2 -- Ex-Aid Era feat. Cross Ange, the second season to the aforementioned Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations; Ange learns the hard way that Samus and the mysterious armored man who saved Tusk and Momoka are actually one and the same person. The fact after Samus sheds her armor in front of Ange, Tusk, and Momoka left them utterly speechless.
  • In Robb Returns, a short lived version appears when the man Brynden Tully meets on his way south ends up revealing himself as Brienne of Tarth a few moments later.
  • When Pikachu first pops up to rescue some gijinka in Rocket Member, she's wearing her hoodie up. Everyone mistakes her for a boy until her hoodie pops off while she's charging up her electricity, showing off her Tomboyish Ponytail.
  • The player character of the Half-Life mod Half-Life: Residual Life, Sora Kim, doesn't have her gender confirmed until the level 'Alter of Sacrifice' when the level boss refers to her as 'fresh female'.
  • In The More Things Change, Ryoga believes the person whom he is fighting is a man until he cuts Tanya Noori's vest and spots her bra.
    He clearly saw that he'd managed to tag him with his belt/sword twice, once across the arm, and once across the chest....
    <Why's he wearing a... A BRA?>
    "YOU'RE A GIRL!!!"
  • In the Temeraire and Assassin's Creed crossover fanfic Trade Winds, Desmond meets 11-year-old Emily Roland, Laurence's runner, for the first time and is surprised to find, after watching her for a little while, that she's a girl under her little jacket and trousers. When he tries asking her for her name, she just says, "Roland."
  • The MCU fic Dial introduces the Winter Guard, with the bulky power-armored Crimson Dynamo as part of the lineup. However, it's revealed later that this version of Crimson Dynamo is Galina Nemirovsky.
  • A Man of Iron:
    • Speculated in-universe as one of the theories about Iron Man's secret identity. A few people, Arya included, are convinced that he's really an Action Girl hiding her gender.
    • Syrio is revealed in the back half of Book 1 to actually be Mystique in disguise.
    • The first chapter of Book 3 reveals that the first Vulture King was in fact a Not Quite Dead Rhaenys Targaryen.
  • Catra immediately concludes that the General is a woman in She-Ra: In The Wake.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Phantasm is presumed to be a member of the Gotham mafia, possibly affiliated with the Gotham mayor, killing old mobsters to clear their name. They're later revealed to be Andrea, the daughter of one of the mafia's old victims (and Bruce Wayne's Love Interest).
  • While the audience obviously knows Mulan is a girl, she manages to effectively hide herself by wearing bulky armour, strapping her torso down, wearing her hair up and speaking in a deep voice (or trying to at least). In-Universe this reaction happens when “Ping” is discovered, and almost executed.
  • From Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, before the soldiers take off their helmets:
    Hear that, Jane? She thinks you're a man.
    I think she's an idiot.
  • Heavy Metal: The title character of the last story, Taarna, is summoned by the city's elders to fight the horde of evil invaders. The elders don't use any gender-specific words when speaking of the last of the Taarakians whom they're summoning, and when Taarna does arrive, she flies into the city on a pterodactyl-like steed wearing a hooded robe. Only when she lands in the city and dismounts her steed does Taarna reveal her gender by removing her hood (and shortly thereafter, everything else to keep up the film's quota).
  • Technically, the stitchpunks of 9 are sexless constructs. This trope is still invoked with 7, whose female voice isn't heard until after "she" has demonstrated "her" combat prowess.
  • Goblin minion Stuff in Strange Magic thought it was obvious that she was female. Her male coworker might just be that dumb.
  • One of the main villains of The Condor, Taipan, is revealed to be Tony's girlfriend Valeria who wanted to have "some fun" with him before she kills him. Helped by the voice distorter and masculine nature of her costume.
  • Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2. Even though Action Girls are perfectly common and accepted in the film's culture, the mask and armor conceal the figure's shape and size completely, making it a surprise when it turns out to be a woman, helped by the fact that Hiccup and the viewer have been given reason to suspect it was the man Drago he's just heard about.
  • In Kubo and the Two Strings, Kubo's mother uses the last of her magic to bring to life his wooden monkey charm. Kubo had though of the charm as male, but Monkey turns out to be female due to being inhabited by his mother's soul.
    Kubo: I called that charm Mr. Monkey.
    Monkey: And if I were alive at that point I might've found that insulting.
  • In The Flight of Dragons, the band of heroes is saved from a pack of thieves by a Robin Hood wannabe. When the knight in the group goes to thank the mysterious archer, "he" takes off "his" cap, and the audience is treated to a slow-motion shot of long, glistening red hair as it flows down below her waist. The knight is speechless.
  • In Incredibles 2, the Screenslaver, the primary antagonist of the film, is revealed to be tech genius Evelyn Deavor.
  • In Up have Kevin the Snipe in this. Russell's reaction to finding out Kevin is not a Kevin at all. Not only Kevin is a girl. But also, a mother.
    Russell: (almost casually) Kevin's a girl?

  • Witch Hunter pulls this card with Halloween, Tasha's pumpkin-headed marionette who is initially thought to be genderless due to being a marionette and all that, but when Tasha breaks Halloween's first seal, its true form is revealed to be this. Tasha is, naturally, shocked.

  • The music video for The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up". The reveal is at the end when the camera (from a first-person perspective) looks at a mirror. Before this she went to a bar, got drunk, beat up patrons and groped hot girls before returning home and passing out in front of a mirror.
    • A similar "woman doing manly things only revealed to be a woman at the end" music video is Bush's "Machinehead".
  • Turkey actually used this in their performance in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010, "We Could Be the Same" by maNga. Watch it here.
    • They must not have been trying that hard, because one good look at the figure makes it really obvious what her gender is.
  • The trance artist formerly known as Hybrid Factor was originally pictured as Steve Bailey, but later revealed to be Aimee, his sister. She now goes by the artist name Aimee B.
  • Many promotional videos of the British Invasion band The Honeycombs attempted to hide the fact that their drummer, Honey Lantree, was female until some point later in the film clip (most notable is their performance of "Have I The Right?" in the 1965 concert film Pop Gear. They then do the same damn thing the next time they appear in the film, performing "Eyes")
  • The music video for the Within Temptation / Tarja song "Paradise" features a pair of survivors in a post-apocalyptic wasteland trying to restore life to the planet. In the end it's revealed they are both women.
  • "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" By Sophia B. Hawkins. The song is about a friend who is stuck in an abusive relationship, and how she both has feelings for them and wishes she could help them, making it seem like it's about a guy with a Bastard Girlfriend.. until near the end where she mentions she had a dream about them where she "Sat on a mountainside with peace of mind, And I lay by the ocean making love to her with visions clear". Apparently the song is based on real events as well, as Sophia is bisexual and had a female friend this was happening to. Whether they ever got together is unknown.

  • In Cirqus Voltaire, when you unmask Voltaire, not only is Voltaire revealed to be a woman, she is also the game's announcer.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Shantelle Malawaski, best known for her work in various independents as Shantelle Taylor and in TNA as Taylor Wilde, wrestled two house show (non-televised events) and one dark match (non-televised matches held before televised events/TV tapings) for WWE in January 2007 in a male disguise as a masked Japanese wrestler named Sensai, defeating male wrestler Jamie Noble each time. However, because these were non-televised events, thus they were not part of any kind of continuity, and because Malawaski was released before ever appearing on WWE TV under any name, it qualifies as an aversion.
  • In TNA, the Latin American Xchange was often helped in their matches against the Rock 'n' Rave Infection by a mysterious Latino in baggy gangsta attire with a bandanna covering "his" face whom the LAX only referred to as "a member of the Latino nation". This mystery "man" often attacked the Infection's valet, Christy Hemme, prompting her to repeatedly complain to on-air authority figure Jim Cornette about the "man-on-woman violence" going on. Of course, the mystery member of LAX later revealed herself as a Latina named Salinas, thus trouncing the Rock 'n' Rave Infection's claims.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ravenloft:
    • There's a series of supplements called the Gazetteers, which featured a scholar known as S who traveled around the major domains of the setting and chronicled their cultures. Everyone assumed S was a man until Gazetteer III, which featured a throwaway line about S's struggles to manage the layers of corsets, skirts, and petticoats that one domain expected its citizens to wear. Even then, some fans continued to insist that S was a man (apparently more willing to believe the character to be a drag queen than a woman), and it wasn't until an actual illustration of her appeared in Gazetteer IV that the argument was put to rest.
    • The Midnight Slasher (an insane Expy of sorts of Jack the Ripper) is assumed to be male, but is secretly a woman, driven insane after the murder of her parents at the hands of the domain lord of Invidia, Gabrielle Aderre. Most residents of Invidia assume the killer to be a man, never suspecting the disheveled beggar they see on the streets by day to be a cold-blooded killer by night; in fact, that's how she keeps the façade alive.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, there's Gravekeeper's Assailant. There was never anything to suggest that the monster on the card was female until she appeared on Yu-Gi-Oh! GX as a Duel Spirit, at which point it was obvious (even while still wearing the mask and cloak). The anime even gave her the name Sara (Yasmine in the dub version). (Of course, whether "Gravekeeper's Assailant" is a title that is unique to her is hard to tell.)
  • In one of the vignettes in GURPS Steam-Tech, describing a new fad at Oxbridge for chivalric duelling with blunt swords (the relevant "tech" being applying 19th century metalsmithing to armour), a masked combatant who wins two out of three fights removes their helm to reveal "the well-known feminist agitator Miss Viola Dalrymple".

  • The title character in Ben Jonson's Epicene is revealed at the end to be a boy disguised as a girl. In this case, the twist is only possible because all female roles were played by boys at the time the play was written. (It isn't staged much today.)
  • Into the Woods: "The Giant's a woman!"
  • Mrs. Hawking: The mysterious "Kingmaker", the most feared criminal mastermind in all of London, is actually the thrice-married Mrs. Frost. She also happens to be Mrs. Hawking's teacher in the art of crimefighting and former companion.

    Visual Novels 
  • Inverted in Fate/stay night. Lady of War Saber is obviously a female knight, but it isn't until later on that we learn she is actually the legendary King Arthur, who used magic to disguise herself as a man because she felt that the British probably wouldn't obey a Queen.
    • Fate/Nuovo Guerra follows tradition and chocks one up with a certain Lancer from The Trojan War, though it wasn't so much a disguise as it was "sexist historians" who didn't like how a girl was getting all that booty and kicking all that ass.
    • The Fate series tend to do this quite a bit with some of the historical/mythical figures, most likely due the overwhelming success of Saber. Ironically, Nasu initially cringed at the idea of turning Saber female.
    • The spinoff novel Fate/Apocrypha also reveals Mordred to be female.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Justice for All: Phoenix doesn't learn Manfred von Karma's child's gender until facing her in court. Later on in the same game, Shelley de Killer incorrectly guesses that Adrian Andrews is a man, thus proving that he's never met her in person. Strangely, Phoenix refers to Adrian correctly as a "she" during the initial interview, despite having no information on her besides the fact that she was Matt Engarde's manager. This was most likely due to her name being very gender ambiguous, which plays a key role in the case and was something the writers intended.
    • In Spirit of Justice, Armie Buff is a shut-in who could only communicate with an armed drone. She acts as a war general and talks in a scruffy masculine voice thanks to a voice filter. Naturally, when Armie revealed herself everyone in the courtroom is surprised to see the witness was a 12-year-old girl in a wheelchair. It's also inverted with the vigilante rebel hunter styling themselves after the legendary Khura'inese female warrior Lady Kee'ra, who turns out to be a man.
  • Danganronpa:
  • Fleuret Blanc has Augustine Hatch Jr., FOIL's mechanic and electrician. She is initially referred to as "Junior", and she only interacts with Florentine through a remote speaker for most of the story. Both the name and profession are coded male so Florentine assumes Junior is a man, leading to shock when Augustine shows up in person. This is also deconstructed a little: her father wanted a son, not a daughter, and named her "Junior" before she was even born in the hopes she would continue the family line. When he discovered his offspring was a girl, he was livid. The resulting neglect and disappointment likely skewed her psychological development and perception of gender roles in an unhealthy way, and may have influenced her decision to enter such a male-coded field in the first place. However, this is also Reconstruction in that her father learned to love her anyway.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: For about most of the story, the enigmatic Big Bad deity Oyashiro-sama is considered to be male by just about everyone in the village- until the seventh arc reveals that she is, in fact, Cute Ghost Girl Hanyuu Furude. No one in Hinamizawa barring Rika knew the the god they worshipped was actually a goddess, most likely due to Oyashiro's legend becoming distorted over hundreds of years. And it was foreshadowed as early as the 1st novel with Keiichi deducing that the breath on him was coming from a girl. In addition, the actual villain, who used Hanyuu as a scapegoat/smokescreen, is herself a woman- local nurse Miyo Takano.
  • Code:Realize does this verbally. During Cardia's second confrontation with the Assailant in heavy armor, she's shocked to hear a woman's voice come underneath the armor. Her profile in the glossary notes that her name is Guinevere (yes, that Guinevere) and she is very beautiful. When we see her face later, we learn that her profile wasn't kidding.
  • Chris from Princess Waltz is taken to be a man by the main character. Even despite many hints and on multiple occasions fusing together to become a woman, the main character doesn't realize that Chris is actually a girl until... well... Either way even the main character feels stupid for not getting the hint before.
  • Sunrider has a villainous example with Veniczar Arcadius. Most of the galaxy assumes her to be male, between her androgynous figure, masculine clothing, and wearing a face-concealing mask that also alters her voice. It isn’t until the very end of the second part that she’s unmasked as a woman, though her gender ends up being the least surprising aspect of that revelation. As for why she does this, the sequel reveals that the original Arcadius was a man, and the current Arcadius has been impersonating him ever since his death.
  • Zero Escape has one per game:
    • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors sets up the possibility of a villainous example. The characters are kidnapped and forced to participate in a Deadly Game by a mysterious masked person called Zero. Throughout most of the game, everyone refers to Zero as male, but eventually Clover brings up the possibility that Zero could be one of them- and since there are three females in the party, this could apply if Zero is one of the three. And she is- it’s Akane, Junpei’s Love Interest.
    • In Virtue's Last Reward, Akane pulls this off again in the routes that she disguises herself as K. In other routes, K is Sigma’s clone.
    • In Zero Time Dilemma, Team Q brings up the Heart Ripper, a Serial Killer that rips out people’s hearts. The Ripper is referred to with male pronouns before The Reveal that it’s Mira, who was right there with the others discussing herself.

    Web Animation 
  • Word of God states that Flaky from Happy Tree Friends is, in fact, a girl.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Agent Texas is a bit of a subversion of the usual way this trope is carried out. She's outed as female a few episodes after her debut when her helmet's voice modulator shorts out, but since everyone in the series is always wearing Powered Armor (because it's a Halo-based machinima), Tex is otherwise indistinguishable from the rest of the cast.
    • Zigzagged with the former Agent Connecticut. When first encountered in Season 7, CT appears male in all respects, which confuses the hell out of the other Freelancers - flashback episodes in Season 9 show that the CT they knew was a woman. Then Season 10 reveals that the original CT was killed, and her boyfriend took up her armor to honor her.
  • Spriggs in the Halo machinima series Spriggs.

    Web Comics 
  • Miko Miyazaki from The Order of the Stick does this. For about eighty or so strips, she appears only as a blue-hooded figure, until she takes on the Order of the Stick, at which point she drops her hood and we see that yes, she is in fact female (and, judging from Roy's reaction, fairly attractive). Roy plays her Bob for a while, until he gets put off by her personality. This wasn't that drastic, as she seemed more ambiguous than masculine prior to this — insofar as she even seemed human at all.
  • Also initially appearing as a hooded figure was the previous Wotch, Miranda West of The Wotch. Her initial appearance was in the very first story arc. Her reveal was at the end of the fifteenth.
  • Ashido from Inhuman is shown to be an example of this when another character walks in on her changing.
  • Peregrine Mendicant of Homestuck. The author never intended her to actually have a gender at all, but gave in to fan speculation.
  • Jix:
    • Pratos the Bounty ends up being both a female Ambis named Aranis and Jix's cousin. A possible nod to Samus Aran.
    • Jix was thought to be male until her brother Romulos revealed her true identity (it's hard to tell what gender a small furry alien is unless you are able to see anything).
  • A Modest Destiny:
    • Shadow spends a good amount of time in the comics as this until an incident where Maxim grabbed her breast, and it's not shown who she is until much later.
    • When the previously killed Crimson Blade shows up at the Vampire Lord Fluffy's castle, Fluffy's bat familiar flies of with the helmet, revealing that the new Crimson Blade is a girl. Expecting this trope, Fluffy immediately tries to hit on her, but actually fails miserably.
  • This Interrobang Studios comic where Luigi complains to Link about some gay Bounty Hunter in Orange armor who asked him out.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: The interim comic City Face 2 introduces a magpie named Bobeyes. In a bit of Painting the Medium, the Shout Box below the comic features commentary by in-universe characters—one of whom is a magpie going by the username "magpie55". He thinks Bobeyes is a pretty cool, tough guy, and is as surprised as anyone to learn that Bobeyes is a girl. From his commentary on the final comic page, it's obvious that he's smitten.
  • Inverted in Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name's opening strips, as Zombie naturally assumed that "Hanna Cross" would be a woman. Played straight a short time later when bat!Adelaide is introduced.
  • Count Repugsive in Nodwick. The reason she gives for the deception is that "female villains only get respect if they're hot". Which she certainly isn't, being an undead Black Knight.
  • This is explicitly referenced in Girl Genius, when one of the protagonists puts on a very Samus-like suit. This follows:
    Agatha: No, I can't even tell you're girl.
  • Played with in Pacificators. On one side, Taffe Torbern doesn't actively dresses in a manner that would cause confusion about her gender, but she is flat-chested, and a tomboy. There have had been multiple instances in which she gets mistaken for a boy, especially by the Too Dumb to Live pirate Ferdinand. In fact, when she was first introduced, the readers weren't sure whether she was a girl or a boy. It wasn't until the first encounter with the pirate Ferdinand that her gender is cleared up.
  • When She Was Bad has a highly feared mob enforcer who goes by the name Coyote. Most people assume the Coyote is male, but she is actually a Perky Female Minion named Rosie. Her employers are pretty much the only ones who know her true identity, since she never leaves witnesses alive.
  • Visseria has Alchione, who until pointed out by a child, was unapparent to the reader as being female for the first couple of pages that she appeared. This was caused in large part by her armor, but also by her abnormal height and musculature.
  • Darths & Droids has the revelation "No, Luke, I am your mother" — coming, of course, from Darth Vader, the Magic Black Knight IN SPACE!, who was up to that point assumed to be Luke's father like in the movies. Palpatine had figured the traditionalist military wouldn't want to follow an openly female leader. Of course, Vader's armour made him taller and gave him a lower voice in the original as well.
  • In Princess Princess, Sadie initially thinks that Amira is yet another prince come to rescue her. Amira tells her that she is no prince, she is a princess! And she has a grappling hook!
  • In Does Not Play Well With Others, only the reader finds out that the arch-nemesis of the superhero Falchion is actually a woman. She ends up becoming Falchion's girlfriend.
    Janis: If someone catches you in the hideout without the armor on, pretend to be the evil villain's confused daughter who just needs some lawful hot dickings to set her on the path to straight and narrow. Yeah, totally the best plan I ever made!
  • Younger Days: the character Sam is easily mistaken for a boy, both in-universe and by readers, due to her having a gender neutral name, boyish short hair, and hardly ever dressing in typical girl clothes.
  • According to It Sucks to Be Weegie!, Luigi is oblivious to the Trope Namer. When Samus, the only girl who is into him, tried to pick Luigi up at a bar. Luigi, naturally, assumed she was a guy and said that he "doesn't swing that way". Cue Link giving a Face Palm and immediately offering Luigi afterwards to cry on his couch to sleep over "nothing".
  • Dante of CharCole is a female Cubone, but since Cubones are a Pokémon species without visible sexual dimorphism, her trainer, Brian, did not realize this until he was informed of Dante's sex by Pokémon Center staff weeks after first catching her. Until Dante's gender was revealed, Brian's entire Pokemon Team (who were just as clueless as their trainer) considered her a boy, something that Dante is quite offended about once she learns it.
  • A major reveal in Looking for Group is that Richard isn't Lord Ashendale's son, Richard but rather Regyna, the boy's older sister. Richard didn't know either as being transformed into the warlock scrambled her memories.
    • A more minor reveal is that Cale's panther Sooba is also female.

    Web Original 
  • Dino Attack RPG:
    • Played with; Agent Pyro spent the majority of the RPG wearing a gas mask, balaclava, and baggy pants, leading to some joking about his true gender. When it came time for the mask to come off, it turned out to be a woman to the shock of everyone. It's actually a subversion. Later on a psychotic, disheveled, and all-around unpleasant man started shouting in the comms only to be repeatedly told to shut up- this was actually the real agent Pyro, and the girl who had been unmasked and assumed to be Pyro was actually his daughter impersonating him to protect him from The Mole.
    • Played straight in the case of Pterisa. Since she wore samurai armor and a cloth veil over her face to hide her identity, no one knew that she was female until she spoke. This actually happened on two separate occasions: when she was first introduced in LEGO City, and when she met up with the rest of the cast in the Maelstrom Temple.
  • The main character's gender in Fighting Monsters isn't revealed until several chapters in, when it becomes a twist that she, the first superhero, is a woman.
  • In the fifth season of The Guild, Zaboo's two Master Chief lackees are revealed as hot girls.
  • Cordell the dark elf from Gaia Online was not particularly concealed, just androgynous, having been introduced as a champion of the dark elves willing to compete in the (non-canon) Reject Olympics on behalf of Durem. She was found to be female when an aggressive Yaoi Fangirl invaded the track and felt her up. "Hay UR not a bishie!"
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon has Air the Lapras. For the entirety of the stream, it was assumed to be a male. However, transferring it to Generation II shows it to be a female. By analyzing her stats, it was also found that Flareon the False Prophet/Martyr was also female.
  • We Are Our Avatars: When Michelle took Proto Man's helmet in order to repair him, it turns out that Roll was impersonating Proto Man the whole time.
  • It's not unusual for some of the kittens fostered in The Critter Room to be given a name under the assumption they were one gender before it is discovered they are actually of the other. Sometimes this means the name has to be changed, but if the name or a nickname is gender neutral, it can stay the same.
  • In the parody article "A Day In the Life of an Empowered Female Heroine", the character in question is so tough she somehow does the reveal as the first thing when she wakes up.
    She woke up like she did every day: slowly pulling her motorcycle helmet off, then shaking her head slowly back and forth to reveal a long, blonde ponytail. Everyone gasped. “That’s right,” she said, kicking the winning football goal before sliding into a sheer, sexy camisole under a blazer and playing as hard as she worked, “I’ve been a girl this whole time.” One of the guys, the real sexy one, shook his head in slow motion, as if to say “wh-wh-wh-whaaat?” You know the kind. His mouth was kind of open while he did it. He was totally blown away.

  • Chevalier d'Eon, 18th Century French spy and diplomat, who presented as male for most of his life, until his political enemies began to circulate rumors that he was secretly a woman. Rather than dispute the rumor, d'Eon inexplicably elected instead to live openly as a woman for the remainder of their life. A post-mortem examination revealed that d'Eon was biologically male (albeit with some mildly feminine characteristics). Theories that they may have been transgender or intersex still abound.
  • There was a stagecoach driver in the American West named Charley Parkhurst. One-eyed Charley was known for his toughness and could handle anything, up to and including armed bandits. After his death (at age 67), the person who laid him out discovered "Charlie" was biologically female, and his birth name turned out to be Charlotte.
    • A tribute of sorts is given in the second and fourth Blackadder series, where a girl named Kate pretends to be a young man named Bob Parkhurst.
    • A similar discovery was made about jazz musician Billy Tipton (nee Dorothy Lucille Tipton), following Tipton's death. Even Tipton's adopted sons and at least one sexual partner didn't know Tipton's true sex.
  • Lots of people tend to call unfamiliar dogs "boy" on first sight, assuming they're male until proven otherwise. This used to be inverted in some parts of Israel (particularly in Jerusalem), where every unfamiliar cat was referred to as female until proven otherwise. In the past couple of decades this has reversed, so that now the trope is played straight.
    • Some languages such as Spanish or French have every nouns gendered, including animals name. Therefore an unknown animal might be given the gender associated with his species' pronouns until it's actually confirmed.
    • Insects and spiders are often assumed to be female. justified because this is the most active gender of these species while male are less common outside of the nest.
  • A non-human example is Cher Ami, a pigeon who saved many lives in World War I. She was thought to be male, and her gender wasn't discovered until after her death. She's still referred to as male sometimes, however.
  • My God! It's a Woman, the biography of Australian aviatrix Nancy Bird.
  • The Science Fiction author James Tiptree Jr. was discovered, after much controversy and one prominent author penning an essay on how it was impossible and inconceivable that James could be a woman, to be a lady named Alice Bradley Sheldon. The fact that she wrote many stories where gender took a major role did not help. George Sand, birth name Lucile Dupin, also qualifies.
  • J. K. Rowling. Apparently, some people were surprised to learn the real name. This was deliberately invoked by the publisher because their initial target audience was young boys who they felt might be put off by a female author.
  • In the olden days, women who ran businesses would often take advantage of this or run the business through their husband, the legal owner.
  • Inverted after Equal Rites, where many assumed Terry Pratchett to be a woman based on the book's feminist themes.
  • Jack Prelutsky's children's poem "The New Kid on the Block" describes the titular new kid as a terrible bully who "likes to fight and picks on all the guys"; and ends with the line, "I don't care for her at all".
  • A beautiful real-life example, except for the fact that it says "Samantha" on the side of the cockpit.
  • Gender Flip: The video "It's Time", shot from the perspective of someone who falls in love with a man and builds a relationship with him. The video ends with the man proposing marriage, and the camera pulls back to reveal that the point-of-view character was another man this whole time. The video was heavily promoted by gay marriage advocates, causing many people to not even realize that the POV character's gender was supposed to be a Twist Ending.
  • In the 2012 Orange Bowl, a West Virginia player celebrated by tackling the Orange Bowl mascot. This is his reaction upon learning that the mascot was played by a woman.
  • The first trailer for The White Queen has this three times over.
  • In Chinese, the words for he and she are pronounced exactly alike (but are written differently). In spoken Chinese, this can lead to SIAG moments if the subject has a Gender-Blender Name or the listener does not have enough context from the sentence to get gender.
  • V. C. Andrews, AKA Virginia Andrews, said in an interview for Faces of Fear that many of her readers were unaware that she was a woman. This resulted in fan mail referring to her as 'Sir' and even female readers sending photos with little or nothing on! Inverted after Andrews' death with her ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman. While long time fans have known the truth, some newer readers are unaware that the books written after 1986 are written by a man.
  • M. Brundage, cover illustrator for Weird Tales, and one of the Trope Makers for the association of Monster Misogyny, Go-Go Enslavement, and several other forms of Contemptible Cover with fantasy and science fiction. Like many people today, both contemporary fans and Moral Guardians were surprised to learn that the "M" stood for Margaret.
  • A chain email circulated around the internet with the joke of showing a letter sent back home to the farm, from a new Army recruit at boot camp. The farmer exults in the joys of "sleeping in until 5 am" and only having to run around and do push-ups instead of hard work. The farmer signs the letter with "Your loving daughter ..." with no prior implication she was female, showing that even farm girls are tougher than city slickers!


Video Example(s):


Alma's True Form

Alma Jinnai, introduced as a boy, is actually a girl.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / SamusIsAGirl

Media sources:

Main / SamusIsAGirl