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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"
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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.

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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, but some languages like German and Spanish demand that if the gender is known, then it must be used: the equivalent to "bounty huntress". Characters that do know about Samus's 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!", but "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.

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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. 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 not be.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    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.

    Advertising 
  • 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).
  • Julie-Su from the Sonic the Hedgehog comic.
  • 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.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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.

    Fanfiction 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Phantasm.
  • 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.

    Manhwa 
  • 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.

    Music 
  • 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.

    Pinball 
  • 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".

    Theatre 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • In League of Legends, a lot of players were initially surprised to find out Rek'Sai's gender on her reveal. Turns out being a rampaging monster imbued with interdimensional corruption isn't just for dudes anymore.
  • The mysterious scrambled voice in the marine campaign in Aliens vs. Predator 2, though she never actually does any fighting.
  • King in the first Art of Fighting game nearly pulls this off despite not wearing an actual disguise. By finishing her off with a special move in the last round, the player can blow her shirt open and expose her bra. In the second game and The King of Fighters series, King's true gender is an already known fact.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • The last target in Assassin's Creed I is not there when you go to kill him. The person disguised as him is revealed to be a woman after Altaïr defeats her in a swordfight. It's only somewhat given away in that when you hit her, her pained grunts are notably higher pitched than normal.
    • In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, we're treated to James Kidd, the supposed illegitimate son of the captain William Kidd, who reveals to Edward (and the player) her true identity as Mary Read, an assassin/pirate.
  • In the ending cutscene of Avenger for the PC Engine, the helicopter's pilot finally removes her helmet.
  • The video game series Guilty Gear is notorious for pulling off a reverse of SIAG (Bridget needs no introduction), but what many people don't know is that Word of God has stated that Justice, the final boss of the first game, the Commander Gear, a large, powerful robot-type person with a noticeable crotch spike, is really a female and was a dear friend of Sol Badguy's. In fact, Xrd -REVELATOR- openly reveals her to be, as implied throughout the previous games, his old lover from back when they were human.
  • Batman: The Telltale Series sees the Children of Arkham's leader turn out to be Vicki Vale.
  • Toby Masuyo in Baraduke predates Samus by about a year (although the fact that the game calls her "Kissy" is a bit of a giveaway). Her next appearances in the Mr. Driller series and Namco × Capcom do not play with this trope, opting to have her helmet-less (she's Mr. Driller's mom, after all). Ironically, Namco decided to officially name her "Toby Masuyo" — thus giving her a Gender-Blender Name long after The Reveal in her game of origin.
  • The Adventurer from Bravely Default. The mysterious red-cloaked figure serving as a Save Point, item store, and Bonus Boss throughout the franchise shows up in the sequel's finale to save the day, revealing herself to be a woman and a Celestial Being capable of traveling through time and space.
  • In the game by Tim Schafer, Brütal Legend, Eddie, the main character, fights many demonic druid enemies in robes, and then faces one of them head on. In the middle of the fight, that "evil druid" flips off her hood to reveal that this is, in fact, a female human. Eddie then remarks, "Oh no, don't tell me I've been slaying hot girls this whole time."
  • Syfa/Sypha from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Just to make sure the audience knows Sypha is a woman, in Castlevania: Judgment she has very large breasts, and her breasts are even a joke in Maria Renard's story. In addition, her ending confirms that she was deliberately posing as a man in Castlevania III.
  • Here is the sprite for the playable Old Axe Armor from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. Here is an official piece of artwork of the same character.
  • The sequel to Crystal Quest reveals your Flying Saucer — depicted in gameplay as a 16-pixel-wide circle — to be piloted by a six-legged Space Cow (who is, of course, a girl).
  • Monica from Dark Cloud 2 first appears disguised as a young child when you first meet her, and after she defeats the Monster Clown who was trying to seize Max's MacGuffin, removes her hood and reveals herself to be a woman.
  • The detective in Dark Parables has her gender confirmed by unlockable Bonus Material in the collector's edition of the first game. This makes sense, as there is almost no character interaction in this game which could have revealed the detective's gender. Later in the series, other characters refer to her using female pronouns.
  • Inverted in Dark Souls, where we have Gwyndolin, the youngest Child of Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight. Judging from his appearance and his title as "Goddess of the Darkmoon," you wouldn't think he was actually a guy. When he was young, he exhibited an affinity for moonlight magic, a trait considered feminine. Gwyn raised his son as a daughter, having him wear a beautiful moonlight dress and even forcing him to wear a ring that would magically make him compose himself as a woman. The only indication that Gwyndolin is actually male is in a few item descriptions. The androgynous voice and lack of real dialogue directly from him concerning his gender leaves him perfectly passable as female, and the trope only kicks in if you read the item descriptions or when Yorshka mentions that Gwyndolin was her elder brother if you ranked high enough in Blade of the Darkmoon.
  • In Dead Secret, the person behind the Malevolent Masked Man is Josie Herrera as revealed in the Best and Good Ending.
  • This is the main twist in the ending of the iOS edition of Dead Space. Vandal reveals her true identity to be Karrie Norton as she lies wounded on the floor near the defeated final boss.
  • The first Destroy All Humans! revealed that Majestic-12 leader Sillouette is a female at the end, though you can learn this earlier on if you read the thoughts of a Magestic agent, which you might just ignore.
  • In Disgaea 2, everybody assumed Overlord Zenon is a male, but turns out Rozalin was the reincarnated Zenon, though the game's "reincarnation" mechanic allows non plot characters to reincarnate into any class, even opposite sex ones. And technically, we don't actually know what Zenon's original gender was. Note that Rozalin is very clearly female, so this is more of a case of The Girl is Samus.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Shale from Dragon Age: Origins is a amnesiac golem who has a masculine personality and build. However, if you have Shale in your party during the "A Paragon of Her Kind" quest, it is revealed that Shale was once a dwarven woman named Shayle. Even Shale herself is stunned by this revelation. Her voice is obviously female, she has an obsession with "pretty pretty gemstones," and if you keep them both in the party she flirts with Sten constantly.
    • In the universe backstory, there is a tale of an Orlesian woman named Aveline, who dared to compete in a knight's tournament, hiding her identity behind a helmet even when it was ill-suited to a particular game. She matched a rather arrogant knight favored by the emperor, fighting to a standstill in a duel when a chance blow sent her to the ground and knocked her helmet off. The haughty knight tried to have the match declared invalid because of her womanhood, to which the crowd responded with a hefty amount of jeering. The knight responded by killing her as she lay helpless. The at-the-time emperor's son, who also was bested by the very same woman in the tournament, was taken aback, and he abolished the laws prohibiting women to become knights in Orlais when he ascended to the throne and posthumously knighted her. Aveline Vallen in the second game was named in honor of this knight.
    • Also in the backstory, the ancient Tevinter Imperium worshipped seven Old Gods in the form of dragons. All seven were assumed to be male, but in the Jaws of Hakkon DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, the player finds a temple devoted to the Old God Razikale, the Dragon of Mystery. Inscriptions found in the temple refer to Razikale with female pronouns.
  • DragonFable has Vilmor. She was assumed to been a male not only by the PC, but also by a majority of the players, despite obvious hints early on into her storyline. Was even referred to as male in a Newsletter.
  • Junon from Dragon Force pulls this one on everyone in her world until her helmet gets knocked off during an encounter. She's the one in the badass black armor. She's also #139.
  • At the end of Dragon Quest Monsters, the masked monster master at the Starry Night tournament is revealed to be Milayou, the protagonist's younger sister.
  • The Power Armor in the Fallout series has always been gender neutral, but hearing a female voice from the Power Armor speakers in Fallout 3 caused players spit-takes.
  • In Faria, the player character is only called by a player-given name and represented by an androgynous Super-Deformed sprite, and the gender is not revealed until the king explains that he can't give her the Standard Hero Reward for having saved the princess (the fake one, that is). However, it turns out he's really a handsome prince under a curse.
  • Faris of Final Fantasy V. Although she seems to pass for male strictly because she says so, as she's pretty enough for Bartz and Galuf (dueling Bobs) to swoon over her sleeping form, still thinking she's a he. This, of course, leads to Gilgamesh's classic line in the GBA Remake: "And now we will fight like men. And ladies. And ladies who dress like men."
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 plays with this in reverse. One of the recurring enemy characters is the Night Dancer, a Bangaa that looks, acts and is referred to as being a girl, but the fight against her has a Law in place forbidding harming the opposite sex, setting up a potential hazard for the player who does not understand the difference between gender and sex. Lampshaded by an NPC who is confused on what gender the Night Dancer is and another NPC refers to the character as an old man.
  • In the Fire Emblem series:
    • In Fire Emblem Awakening, there's a masked swordsman with a rather high voice who shows up early in the game, claiming to be the legendary Hero-King Marth. While Marth is somewhat androgynous, he has always definitely been male... but it turns out this "Marth" is a woman. Specifically, she is actually Lucina, Chrom's time-traveling daughter.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, a mysterious masked individual calling themselves the Flame Emperor is conspiring to bring down the Church of Seiros. Naturally, she eventually turns out to be a woman, and in fact her mask is hiding none other than Edelgard von Hresvelg, who depending on your Big First Choice may be one of the main protagonists.
  • Forza Motorsport 7 reveals that M. Rossi, the series' top AI driver, is female and her first name is Maria.
  • In Fossil Fighters Frontier, it's revealed that T-rex, the Mascot Mook of the franchise, is female... or at least, the iconic version of her is. The classic red-and-black Fire-type T-rex seen in previous installments of the franchise is the female version, called T-rex Sue. The game introduces a male version named T-rex Stan, who is Air-type instead.
  • This happens to Apollonia Vaar of Granblue Fantasy, under her occupation as the fully-armored Black Knight. While it's quite blatant from her voice and the in-game journal makes no attempt to hide her gender, the characters are a bit taken back when they see her without the armor. With the exception of Eugen, who knew her identity, because she is his daughter.
  • Lampshaded in Grandia where one of the protagonists is initially introduced while she is off-screen as simply the best adventurer in the adventurers' society. Cue Justin imagining him as a large burly man with many scars before meeting her and realizing she is in fact female.
  • Julian from Growlanser. Her portrait is a giveaway when you first meet her as an Imperial Knight (you can see she has cleavage if you closely examine the portrait where she holds her sword). It was stated that Imperial Knights does not allow females to join, thus she hid her gender (though her two fellow companions Oscar and Lyell already found out and choose to ignore it).
  • In Hot Tin Roof The Cat That Wore A Fedora, we are served a double dose of this trope. Private Inspector Jones is respected and well-established in the police force, and depending on your dialog choices, you can go quite a long way before someone call her by full name, "Emma Jones." Her figure being little more than a blocky badass fedora over a blocky trenchcoat doesn't exactly help in identifying her gender, especially if you have met her girlfriend before the reveal. Special mention for weasely dialog writing as her girlfriend calls her "Em," which can look like she's simply hesitating when speaking. The second serving of this trope is delivered shortly after, when talking with your sidekick, the cat Frankie. While you had previously the chance to learn that Frankie is the only cat to have made it into the police force ever, you probably did not suspect that "Frankie" was short for "Francine."
  • Subverted in Hydorah. Throughout the game, the player character is conspicuously helmeted, but is revealed in official artwork to be male.
  • In Jay's Journey, Shade. Not only did everyone think Shade (aka Tanya) was male, Atolla believed Shade was Tanya's brother Tezla, and a series of flashbacks implied the same conclusion until the last one.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, it turns out Dark Lord Gaol is one. It's been speculated that this was a deliberate nod to the Trope Namer herself.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, the "Black Monster" who murders Moon Children and any innocents in their way every 108 years is referred to either with masculine or neuter pronouns. Later in the game this "Monster" is revealed to be a female party member who you first met not even ten minutes into the game (and becomes your fourth recruited party member). This is further amplified in the Phantom Ship where the Monster is referred to with masculine pronouns a lot by Dart (the protagonist) and the ghosts onboard, while the Black Monster herself tags along the entire time.
  • The Legend of Heroes - Trails:
    • In Trails from Zero, the assassin Yin from the Heiyue Corp. turns out to be female, her identity being Rixia Mao. Though the Updated Re-release would instantly give away the reveal.
    • Arianrhod, though in this case is subverted since she was addressed as female prior to appearing.
    • The Grandmaster of Ouroboros is revealed to be a woman. The reveal was hinted during Cold Steel II when McBurn drops a comment saying he'll hope the plan goes the way "she wants". With said character making her appearance in Cold Steel IV.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Zelda's disguise as the male Sheik in Ocarina of Time, who was designed with a male character model to keep the disguise more convincing; the Water Sage Ruto actually referred to Sheik as male in the game. Programmers admitted she didn't get a more realistic design until Super Smash Bros. Brawl. For some time, there was a very popular fan theory which stated that Sheik is male, and that Zelda not only changes appearance but also physical sex when she transforms. Word of God has since stated that this is not so; Zelda can't change her entire body like that, just a few surface details.
    • In Skyward Sword, the Master Sword is revealed to be female (Fi). Technically the Goddess Sword, but eventually our old friend.
  • The NES game Mach Rider had an arcade port where the eponymous character is seemingly revealed to be female after playing through enough levels. It might not be the case, as it could simply be Fanservice to the player, but if it were really the case it would mean that she predates Samus herself as Nintendo's first heroine.
  • Word of God states that this was to have been the big reveal at the end of the fifth game in the old ZX Spectrum Magic Knight series (Finders Keepers, Spellbound, Knight Tyme, Stormbringer and...). Possibly Older Than The Nes, possibly not (the first two games both came out in 1985, and the first game definitely refers to Magic Knight as 'he', so it may not have been planned at that point).
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, "The Convict" is known only as "Jack," a psychotic mass-murderer with extremely intense biotic powers. Throughout the recruitment mission, Jack is referenced as a terrifying individual, but never referred to with male or female pronouns. Shepard is surprised, upon releasing Jack, to discover that Jack is a woman. This reveal was spoiled both in the advertising and the demo for the game.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda invokes this. The salarian ark Parcherro is captured by or rather, sold out to, the kett. Captain Hayjer theorizes correctly that their pathfinder, the female Zevin Raeka, would be in serious danger if caught, so he engineers a Faking the Dead plot. He uses the body of a male salarian who died when the kett took the ship and puts his body in Raeka's pod. The plan operates on the belief that, since the kett have no experience with salarians, they would be fooled by this trick, but any rescuers from the Milky Way would know the difference between male and female salarians, and easily see through the trick.
  • Metal Gear Solid does this with Meryl, who "disguises" herself as a male soldier, though it's really only because all the uniforms look more or less exactly alike.
  • The Cyborg Ninja in Metal Gear Solid 2 is not Gray Fox as in the first game, but instead Olga Gurlukovich.
  • During Mighty No. 9's Kickstarter campaign, when discussing Mighty No. 8, the developers revealed that they initially planned to have Two Girls to a Team regarding the Mighty Numbers themselves, so director Koji Imaeda requested No. 8 to be a girl. The resulting preliminary sketch the lead character designer Kimo Kimo created for No. 8 was of a man, since he felt it matched the character's theme (radar and optical camouflage) better. The project leader, Keiji Inafune, liked the design, so it appeared that Mighty No. 3 was subjected to The Smurfette Principle... until a later update long after the Kickstarer campaign revealed that Kimo Kimo made Mighty No. 2 a girl as well, since he found No. 2's theme (water and ice) a better fit for the gender. Of course, the finalized version of No. 2's character design was one of the first things presented in the Kickstarter campaign, and since it was essentially a baby in an old-fashioned diving suit, it was impossible to determine her gender from appearances alone.
  • In Mirror's Edge, Faith spends part of the game chasing after an assassin - who is also a runner like herself - who Faith assumes to be male. Much later, when Faith gets into combat with the assassin, it is revealed that it is none other than her treacherous best friend, Celeste.
  • The otherwise featureless detective in the PC Hidden Object Game series Mystery Case Files is revealed to be this. Her very feminine voice is heard on the telephone at the end of the second game of the Ravenhearst arc. However, later in the series a new dev team made it more ambiguous, giving the player the choice of whether to have a male or female character. Later still, when Eipix Entertainment took over the series, the Master Detective went back to female.
  • Ōkami had this happen with Amaterasu, as some referred to Ammy as a male while others referred to Ammy as a female, leading to fans to argue among themselves over it. A known fact, however, is that Deities can have whatever gender they please, and the Amaterasu of Shinto was originally female... But this one is the reincarnated Shiranui, who was male... What's the truth? It was never known until...
  • Ōkamiden revealed Amaterasu's true gender! Ammy is female, Shiranui is male and they are related family-wise! Shiranui is Amaterasu's father and Chibiterasu's grandfather, where Chibiterasu is Amaterasu's son and they say Ammy is his MOTHER. Until this reveal happened, the arguments in favor of Ammy being male boiled down to Ammy leg lifting up their leg when using Golden Fury. Except dog owners would contradict that by knowing both male AND female dogs lift their leg when marking territories, so it was often deemed flawed evidence.
  • Hooktail, the boss of the first level in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, is assumed to be male by all characters (and described with male pronouns in Goombella's Tattle), until the final chapter, when you meet Gloomtail in the Palace of Shadow. When your partner asks what Hooktail is doing here when you've already beaten him (as Gloomtail is essentially a palette swap of Hooktail), Gloomtail becomes furious upon learning what you did to his precious baby sister. Tattling on Gloomtail elicits a hilariously shocked reaction to this revelation from Goombella.
  • Naoto Shirogane in Persona 4. With the twist that the party finds out when they show up to rescue her, rather than her rescuing them. Unfortunately this was completely spoilered by the dub—in the Japanese version her being voiced by a woman was hardly unusual (a lot of young men and boys are voiced by women in anime and games), but in English her gender is completely unmistakable, ruining the surprise.
  • In the main series Pokémon games, the assignment of genders for Pokémon have been a part of the series' gameplay mechanics starting with Generation II's Gold and Silver. Since then, members of certain species can be either gender, designated to be only one gender, or genderless. Transferring a Pokémon that could be either gender from Gen I to Gen II would finally reveal whether it's male or female. Players can experience these reveals again, because the Gen I games have been released on the 3DS Virtual Console. Later on, they can transfer Pokémon with unknown genders from those games to Sun and Moon.
  • Portal plays with this, in that the main character is female, but there's no indication of this until you happen to get a good look at yourself through a portal. While you can clearly see yourself in the very first portal you step through, it's hard to tell that it's you right away. Averted in Portal 2, in which Wheatley refers to you as female from the very start. However, Portal 2 has an in-universe example where Wheatley passively assumes that whoever beat GLaDOS was a guy, and is taken aback when he finds out that it was you.
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • One puzzle is a riddle about a king who has been attacked, and you must find the culprit from one of five people in the room using their testimony. The prince will say he heard a woman's voice, but he arrived before the princess and villager, the only two characters that are visibly female. This means that the culprit was the knight, who is actually a woman under the armor.
    • The no-nonsense, intelligent, and to-the-point Jean Greyerl is actually a girl, masquerading as a boy to avoid accusations of being a witch.
  • Played with in Queen at Arms. The player is perfectly aware almost from the beginning that Marcus Cordale is secretly a woman, hiding her identity. But everyone else in the game, except for her brother Nick, believes her to be a man. Depending on which story path is followed, The Reveal is presented to various other characters in very different ways. For the player, and Marcus herself, the twist is not her true gender but the reason why she has to hide it.
  • Ghost from Raze 3 sounds like a boy at first; later, after saving the main protagonist from the Alien Leader, she's revealed to be a girl after taking the mask off.
  • Several documents in Resident Evil 5 reference Alex Wesker, which fans deduced from the unisex name and total lack of gender-specific pronouns that the new character was most likely going to be a woman. The Japanese version did use masculine pronouns to refer to Alex, making it seem like this was just an accidental quirk in the English translation and Alex Wesker was really a dude. As of Revelations 2, it turns out the fans were right all along; Alex Wesker is female!
  • In the relatively new Flash, in-browser game RPG Shooter: Starwish, Mare is a character who is shown and (repeatedly) told of being a much better pilot and shooter than the protagonist of the game as while as having "a very deep, modulated voice". Late in the game Mare takes off her robot-like suit to reveal that she is one of the three remaining survivors of Lucerna.
  • Around half-way through Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, the thief you have been pursuing is unmasked to reveal that she is female, to Ratchet's surprise. This also marks the point at which she stops being an enemy, but more because they were betrayed by the real villain.
  • In Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, Charlie/Claude is the inspector's son and basically a thorn in Phantom R's side... but as it turns out, that person is the inspector's daughter named Charlotte.
  • Black Widow from Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II, is a somewhat effeminate wrestler who is taller than most of the other wrestlers in the game and whose spider-themed costume covers his whole body. If you beat the game with him, Widow reveals herself to be a tall and muscled female wrestler.
  • This is the twist in Akira's ending in Rival Schools: United By Fate. The introduction of the story mode introduces her as the younger brother of gang leader Daigo Kazama and refers to her as male. The masquerade is carried on throughout the story, and even in her "bad" ending — only when you achieve the "good" ending is Akira's true identity is revealed.
    • Akira is also playable without her helmet, as a secret character which you unlock after beating the game with the good ending (notably, in the usual slide show during the credits, she is seen helmetless with her Gedo schoolmates, but if the player didn't get the good ending, they'll probably be left clueless, as in "who's that girl? where's Akira?"). Which is interestingly inverted in Project Justice: she starts off helmetless (due to It Was His Sled), and her helmeted costume (labeled "Powered Akira") is the unlockable one.
  • Invoked in Saints Row: The Third and IV: in the prologue mission, you play as the Boss with an outfit that covers them head-to-toe, with something to conceal their real voice (a voice changer in the former, a busted communicator in the latter), and no clear gender indication (even though you are in costume as a cartoon Johnny Gat in The Third), and only after this mission do you customize your character, gender included.
  • In Shenmue, Master Chen refers to Lishao Tao as one of Hong Kong's elder martial art masters. When Ryo does finally meet the character in Shenmue II, "he" turns out to be a beautiful young woman in her mid-twenties.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves gives us the Black Baron, an ace fighter pilot whose face is entirely covered by his huge mustache. Only after you beat him do you learn that he's actually Gadgeteer Genius Penelope, who created the disguise to get around the dogfighting league's age restrictions. Happens again in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, where the Black Knight is revealed to be Penelope again, this time signifying her Face–Heel Turn.
  • In South Park: The Stick of Truth, the player can only play as a boy, but in The Fractured but Whole, which is explicitly a direct sequel starring the same character, the player can choose their gender. This is done via Mr. Mackey giving you The Talk and asking for your gender. If the player identifies as anything other than a cis male, he's utterly baffled and calls up your parents to confirm that you were in-fact not a boy the whole time while lampshading this as explicit retconning. This is explained as your parents wanting to keep your identity a secret from the government and Wendy reveals that she knew that you were not a boy since the first game, but kept it secret out of respect for what she believes to be your desire to be mysterious.
  • Though not explicitly stated in-game, the player character from the Protoss segment of StarCraft: Brood War was revealed to be Selendis, a female Protoss executor.
  • Alexis of Valkyria Chronicles II. Her voice kinda gives her away, quite a few players were still confused by the fact the game's encyclopedia classifies her as male, and that she has a male character model in game.
  • Jayle from Valkyrie Profile. A noblewoman Jeanne d'Archétype who disguises herself as a man in order to join Gerabellum's order of knights. Only her commanding officer knows of her disguise but says nothing about it, as he's fallen for her.
  • Captain Syrup from the first Wario Land is a villainous example; the game's instruction manual even refers to her with masculine terms to avoid ruining the surprise.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has Giott, a dwarf that you assist in the healer role quests in Shadowbringers. Giott's name sounds masculine, they're a heavy drinker of ale, uses a hammer for a weapon, and they liberally use colorful insults towards you and your foes. In the final quest, they take off their helm and reveal that they're actually female. The game's quest journal even goes out of its way to avoid using pronouns when it comes to talking about Giott until the final quest where it will use female pronouns then on.

    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 Engarde's manager correctly as a "she" during the initial interview, despite having no information on his manager beyond her existence. This was most likely due to the manager's 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 reconstructed 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.

    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.

    Western Animation 
  • A Treasure In My Garden: The child in "Scuttlebutt, What A Nut" could easily be assumed to be a boy, because of the bowler hat upon said child's head. The child removes the hat, and is revealed to be a girl with Girlish Pigtails.
  • In the Archer episode "Coyote Lovely", Archer, Lana, and Cyril are sent to the Texas/Mexico border to apprehend notorious human trafficker Moreno. Everything is fine until Moreno is revealed to be an incredibly attractive woman, and Archer immediately decides that cozying up to her is more important than his mission.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Smellerbee who was dressed like a boy and, despite having a girl-like voice, made it hard to tell which gender she was. It wasn't until "The Serpent's Pass" episode when Jet's group meet Iroh and Zuko that her gender is revealed after Iroh mistakenly classifies her as a boy and she angrily corrects him.
    • In the episode "Warriors of Kyoshi", Sokka is surprised (to say the least) to find out that it wasn't men who ambushed them but a pack of teenaged girls.
    • For the viewers, a good chunk of the Fire Nation army, if Zhao's speech in "The Blue Spirit" is anything to go by ("We are the sons and daughters of fire, the superior element!")
  • Red Claw, a villain created exclusively for Batman: The Animated Series. A terrorist leader whose name was notorious internationally, almost no-one knew that she was a woman at first. Even Batman was a little surprised when they first met:
    Batman: Red Claw is a woman?
    Red Claw: Is that a problem?
    Batman: Not at all. I'm an equal-opportunity crime-fighter.
  • A variation of this occurs in the Batman Beyond episode "Payback", in which Batman (Terry) faces a dangerous Knight Templar vigilante named Payback who is willing to harm and kill people for perceived injustices. Because of Payback's deep voice and large, imposing physique, Terry initially suspects him of being either a doctor at a local community center or his bulky henchman. Payback later turns out to be the doctor's young son wearing an armored suit.
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse, Kevin is the first person to notice that Khyber's pet, whom he adopts after Khyber abandoned it, is a female.
  • Played with in Castlevania, the Elder Speaker tells Trevor to go rescue his “grandchild” from under the city and Trevor finds a finds a hooded statue of a mage. After he kills the Cyclops the stone spell wears off and Trevor discovers the mage is actually a woman called Sypha, Trevor is annoyed that Elder didn’t specify that it was his granddaughter. The Reveal can also be seen as a gentle mocking of Sypha’s Sweet Polly Oliver status in the original game since Trevor immediately knows Sypha is a girl the moment she isn’t Taken for Granite.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: C.A.R.A.M.E.L.", we learn that Heinrich Von Marizpan is actually a girl, originally Henrietta von Marizpan. A cursed set of caramels deprived her of her beauty, making her into a him.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Danny sicced a Silver Purple-Backed gorilla named Sampson on Skulker. Danny soon finds out Sampson's real gender when he got an accidental eyeful, and was renamed "Delilah" when he submitted his findings to a magazine.
    • One episode that involved a video game which Danny and Tucker are wrapped up in, but they can't defeat a gamer who constantly outwits them at every turn. Near the end of the episode they find out the gamer is Sam, which is humiliating—earlier in the episode, they mocked Sam thinking that because she's a girl, she wasn't good at gaming. So her smugness in the reveal is justified. It also didn't help that they flat out stated their strategies right in front of her which is why she could easily kick their butts every time.
  • Quackor (The Foul), the Evil Counterpart of (Dial "M" For) Monkey in Dexter's Laboratory. It wasn't until she laid an egg. Monkey is shocked, but they are seen cuddling it at the end of the episode.
  • In one episode of Doug, auditions are held for Bluffington's baseball team, and one kid who always wore a catcher's mask during the audition exhibits sheer excellence in hitting the ball, catching the ball, and throwing the ball. Coach Spitz recruits the star to the team and asks his name, and at that point the star player removes the mask and reveals herself as Patti Mayonnaise. After this revelation, Coach Spitz rejects her just because she's a girl.
  • In Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, the criminal Ironface is revealed to be the Serpent Lady.
  • Family Guy:
    • Chris is conflicted over kissing a friend named Sam... Until he finds out she's a girl. Then inverted when he gets too nervous to speak to her now that he knows she is a girl, until she states to him to keep thinking that she is a guy. Which he accepts.
      Sam: Do you want to go to the creek and make out?
      Chris: Yes sir! (walks off with her while holding hands)
    • Peter ends up on house arrest when he gets angry at someone who he assumes is a man, and punches "him" out. Not only was "he" a woman (a very masculine-looking woman) but she was pregnant.
    • An episode features a talk show where it's revealed that a girl's boyfriend... is a woman. Actually, a horse. Actually, a broom.
  • Inverted in F is for Family where Sue goes to apply for a job at Plast-a-ware and expects her employer Tracy to be a woman, only for the latter to turn out to be a man.
  • Futurama: Leela did this, but with a Paper-Thin Disguise, so only other characters were surprised.
  • In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "In The Presence of Mine Enemies", Slipstream has a dogfight with a Cobra pilot, taunting each other over the radio. When they both crash, Slipstream is shocked to discover his opponent is a woman, which is strange because her voice over the radio was clearly that of a female.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Mandy does a classic by pretending to be a boy on Billy's baseball team, Billy believing girls can't play baseball even though Mindy has a team of her own (which she uses to beat them silly twice).
  • A variation in Kim Possible, during "A Sitch in Time", Rufus 3000 warns Kim that one of her enemies would become The Supreme One and take over the world in the future. When Kim captures Dr. Drakken, Monkey Fist and Duff Killigan, she announces, "We captured the Supreme One!" Rufus 3000 answers, "But I don't see her!" Rufus 3000 then reveals the true Supreme One; Shego. Lampshaded of course:
    Rufus 3000: Wasn't it obvious that Shego was the only villain intelligent enough to conquer the world?
    Kim: I just thought that taking over the world was such a 'guy' thing.
  • An old Looney Tunes cartoon features Daffy forming a rivalry with a small duckling. He realizes he can't bring himself to hurt someone that small, so he uses Phlebotinum-powered growth pills to force the duckling to grow to his size... only he can't bring himself to hurt her after that, either. There are other things he can bring himself to do with her, though...
  • The Loud House:
    • Sam Sharp, Luna Loud's crush. Throughout "L is for Love", her gender is kept a secret until the end, revealing that Luna is bisexual.
    • Ronnie Anne was referred only as a bully in "Heavy Meddle". It was only so Lincoln's sisters and viewers would assume she was actually a boy.
  • Yanit from The Mummy: The Animated Series turns out to be Sweet Polly Oliver. Ardeth finds out and decides to let her stay.
  • In Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, a mysterious samurai in a mech suit shows up to rescue/show up/help the ninja on multiple occasions. Everyone assumes the samurai to be a man, and the scary-sounding voice changer didn't help. Turns out, not only is the samurai a girl, but she's Kai's sister Nya. Needless to say, everyone was utterly shocked.
  • On an episode of a Saturday morning cartoon based on Raggedy Ann and Andy, Ann and Andy get rescued by a helmeted, laser toting space warrior. Warrior turns out not only to be a girl but a princess.
  • Parodied as is everything else in Robot Chicken in a skit called "The Truth Behind Catfish", where it turns out Inspector Gadget's enemy Dr. Claw is actually a very overweight woman and has been doing all this because she is in love with Gadget, then in Charlie's Angels that Charlie is actually a teenaged boy who gets off on hearing them recall their adventures in erotic detail (they seem to find it makes a lot of sense after this), and that God from Noah's Ark was just a guy with a loudspeaker that wanted Noah to build him a boat. And lastly, it is revealed that the host himself is actually a catfish.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • In "Princess Mira and the Bounty Hunters", there is a masked bounty hunter who everyone assumes to be a man. They are all shocked when she takes the mask off, revealing her identity as Princess Mira.
    • In "Jack and Farting Dragon", the dragon seems male at first, talking to Jack in a masculine voice. When Jack decides to help it by crawling inside its stomach to find out what's making it sick, he eventually learns otherwise: the reason is a baby dragon that is partially hatched, lodged in the obviously female dragon's womb.
  • Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo: In "I Left My Neck In San Fransisco", Lefty Callahan, who is mentioned offhand earlier in the episode, is revealed to be a woman. Other Scooby-Doo shows and movies have played this trope straight, while others have inverted it such as the first version of the titular antagonist in Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost and at least two villains in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
  • In The Secret Show, a villain called Dr. Hypno was eventually revealed as a woman, which shocked even former rival and retired secret agent Zach Meadows. And then they got married.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Discussed on South Park: Cartman is obsessed with finding out Mysterion's secret identity and begins grilling all the guys at school. Wendy passes by and casually wonders why he assumes Mysterion is a boy at all. Cartman immediately looks shocked and suspicious of Wendy. (Subverted, however, in that Mysterion ultimately turns out to be male.)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants parodied this trope, when Sandy Cheeks took off her diving suit in one episode. Patrick exclaimed in shock "Sandy is a girl?!" even though everyone in Bikini Bottom was already aware (hell, Patrick himself already knew; it was the entire point of her debut episode).
  • Star Wars Rebels: In the first season, mysterious informant Fulcrum speaks through a gender-neutral voice filter, and Sabine actually assumes her to be male, using male pronouns. Hera, the only member of the Ghost crew who has met Fulcrum in person, is careful not to use any pronouns when talking about her. It's revealed in the season finale that not only is Fulcrum female, she's Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
  • In Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, Riya looks rather masculine when wearing her Blindstrike armor (designed by her late parents), to the extent that several of her enemies, including the Flex Fighters themselves, mistake Blindstrike for a man.
  • The Super Mario Bros Super Show! had a Zorro-themed episode, where the Zorro Expy turned out to be the waitress from the local cafe, who's exposed at the end of the episode when she forgets to take off the mask and fake mustache.
  • In the Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! episode "The Hills Have Five", one of the members of the Wild Five is a hair monster. Much to the surprise of everyone (including the viewers), not only is the monster a girl, but is also the biker leader's main squeeze.
  • In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, the turtles meet a lithe blue mutant called Quarry, leader of a pack of formerly human test subjects of Shredder's weird genetics experiments. When the turtles are able to find a (range-limited, at first) cure, it is revealed to their surprise that Quarry is a woman (in a much later episode, she remembers that her name is "Sydney"). Helped along even more, is the fact that they watched a video where they see a man strapped to a table and turned into something that looked like Quarry.
  • Sarasim in the Teen Titans episode "Cyborg the Barbarian", after Cyborg called her "dude." She was wearing armor that makes her look like a man, but when she unmasks herself, he backpedals when she asks him "What is this 'dude'."
  • In the second season of Wakfu, the Masked Boufbowler ends up as this.
  • Lord Dominator from Wander over Yonder disguises herself as a dead serious intimidating male, but beneath her armor she is a dorky, but still evil, woman.
  • The X-Men: Evolution version of X-23 isn't revealed to be a girl or a young teenager initially, though she did look awfully small for a ninja/secret agent/whatever she was supposed to be disguised as.

    Other 
  • 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. To further confuse everyone, she was married with a young son during her time with the magazine.
  • A chain email circulated around the internet with the joke of showing an except from the letter of a new Army recruit sent back home to the farm from 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 eventually signs the letter with "Your loving daughter" with no prior implication she was female, showing that even farm girls are tougher than city slickers!


 
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