Someone lets something slip that reveals plot-sensitive information to another character. Sometimes this is a pure accident, to move the plot along. Sometimes this is the result of the protagonist pulling an Exasperated Perp.
- Endangering News Broadcast
- I Can Explain
- I Never Said It Was Poison
- I Never Told You My Name
- Idiotic Partner Confession
- I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!
- Loose Lips
- Suspiciously Specific Denial
- Thought They Knew Already
Related to Spotting the Thread. May lead to a Conviction by Contradiction. Contrast Too Much Information, which is saying too much about other things, and That Came Out Wrong, when you meant to say something but it ended up sounding like something else. The person who's told too much might end up victim of He Knows Too Much.
See also Did I Just Say That Out Loud?.
- In Gotham Central, as a result of having been working long hours and being generally tired and depressed, Renee Montoya accidentally lets slip to Maggie Sawyer, captain of the Major Crimes Unit, that Romy Chandler had her weapon taken by Batman after she tried to shoot him.
Marcus Driver: What, you figure I should just shoot over to this Tailor's place, get myself a Batman costume? Dress up and try to make Dunning wet himself?
Josie Mac: Yeah, on second thought it's probably not such a good idea, Romy might try to bust a cap in your ass.
Renee Montoya: Yeah, well, he'd have to give her weapon back, first.
Maggie Sawyer: What was that?
Renee Montoya: Oh, Hell.
- Spider-Man: During Go Down Swinging, J. Jonah Jameson is being held captive by Green Goblin, who's long forgotten Spidey's true identity after regaining his sanity and purging his split personality. Jameson gets pushed into one of his usual rants, telling Goblin what a pathetic loser he is and how no matter what he does he can never beat Spider-Man. During it he absentmindedly mentions Gwen Stacy's death and how it didn't stop Spidey... which causes Goblin to put two and two together and remember why Spider-Man was so hurt by that event. Jameson is horrified when he realizes just how badly he messed up.
- In The Krypton Chronicles, a gang of crooks attempt to sabotage the building of a new city. When caught, the saboteurs claim they had nothing to do with it, but Pym-El — a Superman's ancestor — states he knows who their rich backer is, and his bluff have them to blurt his boss' name out.
Saboteur: We do not admit a thing! Why would we want to destroy your city?
Security Enforcer: We can always go to Kandor and ask your well-to-do [leader].
Saboteur: Eh? How could you know about Kly-Anth?
Security Enforcer: I did not — until now! But it stood to reason that you had been hired by someone rich — with much to lose from this project! And Kandor is the largest city in this area — and stands to suffer losses — the deduction was simple!
- In Superman vs. Shazam!, Supergirl cannot figure out how Karmang's machines work, but she notices two large buttons sticking out like a sore thumb, and deciding to use a bit of basic psychology, she leans over them as shouting she at last knows how to shut off the machine. Karmang turns around right away and shouts her to not push the black button:
Supergirl: (thinking) And it'll all be in vain unless I figure out these controls... But it's hopeless! I don't even understand the principles involved— still, these two buttons are the largest and most centrally-located! Maybe some psychology will tell me which to choose! (loudly) "Okay, Karmang! I've found the button to shut off your space-time engine! It's over, friend— you've lost!"
Karmang: Not the black button! That one will send us all into Limbo!
- In The Krypton Chronicles, a gang of crooks attempt to sabotage the building of a new city. When caught, the saboteurs claim they had nothing to do with it, but Pym-El — a Superman's ancestor — states he knows who their rich backer is, and his bluff have them to blurt his boss' name out.
- Calvin and Hobbes:
- Susie narrowly avoids getting hit by a snowball, and promptly goes to confront Calvin, who denies doing it, and that she could never prove that he did. He then adds, "Besides, I missed, didn't I?!" The last panel just shows Calvin having been pummeled in the ground as he groans, "The defendant petitions the court for a new trial on the grounds that his lawyer is incompetent."
- Several of Calvin's interactions with The Bully, Moe, have him insulting Moe, and then be immediately clobbered. For example, Calvin tells Moe he better get his kicks in while he can, because he won't be able to randomly beat people up as an adult. Moe agrees, turns around, and beats Calvin up (in most cases however, Moe was going to beat up Calvin either way, so Calvin decided he might as well make the best of it).
- In The Book of Life, after La Muerte discovers that Xibalba cheated to win their wager, he puts himself in even deeper hot water when he accidentally reveals that he gave the Medal of Everlasting Life to Joaquin. Whoops.
- In Coraline, when Coraline finds herself unable to return home during her third trip to the Other Mother's house, she has an encounter with Other Father. He starts rambling, and nearly gives away the Other Mother's true intentions, forcing his self-playing piano to shut him up.
- The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: When Victor has the Were-Rabbit cornered and Lady Tottington begs him not to shoot it, with the former accidentally revealing that It's Personal.
Lady Tottington: No, no, Victor! Y-You don't understand! The hunt is off! We made a terrible mistake!
Victor Quartermaine: Oh, no. You commissioned me to rid you of [Anti-]Pesto, and that's just what I intend to do... Oop!
Lady Tottington: Pesto? Why, you... You knew it was Wallace all along!
Victor Quartermaine: Argh... Oh, alright! So what if it is that blithering idiot? No one will ever believe you!
- In The Lion King, Scar "accidentally" lets slip to Simba that the forbidden area beyond the Pride Lands has an Elephant Graveyard (which, of course, piques Simba's interest) and laments the fact that he said too much...but not really, as it's part of his Batman Gambit to get Simba killed.
- The Little Mermaid:
- Flounder tries explaining to King Triton why Ariel missed the concert and mentions their meeting with Scuttle, letting slip that she had been to the surface.
- Later, King Triton subjects Sebastian to a friendly interrogation about Ariel being in love. Sebastian is inwardly panicking about how much Triton actually knows, and when Sebastian begins groveling over the fact that he tried steering her away from humans, King Triton is suddenly furious. And Sebastian realizes too late that Triton didn't know that part.
- In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, when Psycho for Hire Dennis corners SpongeBob and Patrick, he tells them that Plankton ordered him to step on them so they would never find out that he was the one that stole Neptune's crown. Then Dennis realizes he probably said too much.
- In Annie (1999), while Miss Hannigan and Rooster are posing as Annies parents to collect the $50,000 reward, the orphans are left in the care of Lily St. Regis. She plays poker with them and ends up owing them $479.39.
Lily: What?! Where am I gonna get that kind of loot?! ...Hey, why am I worryin'? I'll be rollin' in it once Rooster and Hannigan get back from Warbucks.
Molly: That's where Annie is!
- In Annie (2014), Grace absolutely has friends and under no circumstances is in love with Mr. Stacks.
- Parodied in Casino Royale. Mata Bond is looking for information on Le Chiffre:
Frau Hoffner: Come along, child. The auction is about to begin.
Mata Bond: Auction?
Frau Hoffner: Tonight we are selling one of the finest art collections in Europe.
Mata Bond: Le Chiffre's collection?
Frau Hoffner: Who?
Mata Bond: Le Chiffre.
Frau Hoffner: Who is Le Chiffre?
Mata Bond: The man who owns the collection.
Frau Hoffner: What collection?
Mata Bond: The collection that's about to be auctioned.
Frau Hoffner: Who said anything about an auction?
Mata Bond: You did.
Frau Hoffner: Who am I?
Mata Bond: Frau Hoffner.
Frau Hoffner: Never heard of her. You are insane, my child, quite insane.
Mata Bond: I think she's right!
- At about the halfway point of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Percival Graves (who's actually Big Bad Grindelwald in disguise) slips up when he's interrogating Newt after arresting him for having an obscurius parasite. Once he realizes Newt has become suspicious, Graves sentences both him and Tina to death to cover his tracks.
Graves: So it's useless without the host?
Newt: Useless? Useless? That is a parasitical, magical force that killed a child. What on earth would you use it for?
- In The Godfather Part II Fredo inadvertently gives away that he's the one that betrayed Michael after he excitedly tells someone that Johnny Ola was the one who showed him the sex club they were in...after claiming he never met Johnny Ola before much earlier.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: In the film version only, the impostor gives himself away like this. In the book, he does it on purpose; his plan has already succeeded, and he's just tying up a loose end.
- In Kiss the Girls, this is intentionally done on part of the Serial Killer. Kate first starts to suspect that she's Alone with the Psycho when he knows where her colander is without being told. He then proceeds to discuss in detail what kind of information a bad guy could get by going through her trash, before finally dropping pretense altogether to tell her exactly what he discovered when he went through her trash.
- It ends up being a crucial plot point in L.A. Confidential - Capt. Dudley Smith reveals that he's the one who killed Jack Vincennes by asking Ed Exley to investigate a name Vincennes dropped as his last words - "Rollo Tomasi". Except that "Rollo Tomasi" happens to be a name made up by Exley for his father's unknown murderer; he'd told the story to Vincennes on the previous day. Vincennes does the same thing in his death scene when he tells Smith that he hasnt yet told Exley what he's found out, whereupon Smith deems it safe to kill Vincennes.
- Moulin Rouge! first has a heavily sarcastic version:
Nini: [to the Duke] I don't like this ending. Why on earth would she go with the penniless writer? Oops! I mean sitar player.
- The second one comes as a response to this:
The Duke: Why shouldn't the courtesan marry the maharajah?
Christian: Because she doesn't love you! ...him. She—she doesn't love him.
- The first example is a deliberate leak, while the second is accidental.
- The second one comes as a response to this:
- Several instances in Mystery Team:
"I wish they'd all disappear like The Lost Colony of Roanoke. But they'd probably go, 'What's Roanoke?' And I'd go, 'Shut up, Caleb.'"
"Following your dreams is never stupid, unless you dream about water and then you pee the bed last Thursday."
"Forensic pathologists study the dead. Goths dress like the dead and date closeted gay guys named Ember."
"We won't tell the police." "Oh man, now you sound like Dad."
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Ego the Living Planet has been looking for Peter for decades, takes Peter to the planet, gains his trust by playing the part of long-lost dad perfectly. He's got Peter eating out of his hand, and almost ready to join up with the cosmos-spanning big plan. But then Ego blows it by admitting he gave Peter's mom cancer to dispose of her. Cue Peter going from entranced and willing to Guns Akimbo and unloading them on Ego.
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: The Alternate Universe Mr. Fantastic ends up getting the entire Illuminati killed when he impulsively mentions how Black Bolt's powers work to Scarlet Witch in a misguided attempt to talk her down, giving Wanda the idea to seal poor Black Bolt's mouth shut so the sonic scream he was just about to unleash on his previously-unsuspecting enemy recoils and blows up his own head. Everything just goes downhill from there.
- Panic Room: While discussing splitting the money, Junior casually notes that he'll be walking away with $800,000-900,000 from the inheritance anyway if he simply gives up and goes home. The others realize that, with almost a dozen other grandchildren also standing to inherit and Junior's likely being a black sheep of the family, there's way more in the panic room safe than he initially let on (about 3 million).
- In Reindeer Games, after the wild robbery, Rudy is about to be killed by Ashley and Gabriel. Rudy fires off on Ashley on how Nick (who he'd been impersonating) had truly loved her before dying in prison. Ashley snaps on how dumb Rudy is for doing this as "a guy takes a shiv and you just step up?" Rudy instantly asks how she knew that as Gabriel also realizes Rudy never said how Nick died. After a pause, Ashley pulls a gun to shoot Gabriel. Out comes a very much alive Nick to reveal he'd faked his death and he and Ashley were together on this the whole time.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Chekov unintentionally informs Khan that the Reliant wasn't looking for him, and they had in fact assumed they were on a different planet. It takes several minutes for Khan to realize this, but when he does, things rapidly go downhill for Chekov and his captain.
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi: Palpatine, Magnificent Bastard, mastermind of two sides of a galactic war, commander of The Empire
and can't resist gloating like a third-rate comic book villain when Luke is about to finish off Vader, which causes Luke to realize just how close to The Dark Side he's going and stop himself.
- Palpatine does this AGAIN in The Rise of Skywalker. He explains to Rey that if she kills him, he'll possess her and rule as Emperor again in her body. Rey was there to kill him anyway, so had he just said nothing his plan would've succeeded. Instead, Rey ends up reflecting his Force Lightning back at him, which means he technically killed himself and his plan fails.
- In 2 Days in the Valley, Teri Hatcher has hired killers to murder her husband. One of the police detectives notices that she says, "They killed my husband," implying that there were multiple murderers when the police hadn't established this fact yet. His partner brushes it off as a figure of speech.
- The Djinn in the first Wishmaster film disguises himself as a friend of Alexandra, and comments that Alex's boss would really like her apartment. Alex notes that she never mentioned who she worked for. The Djinn manages to talk his way out of it.
- America (The Book) has a footnote listing countries where the U.S. has carried out secret/illegal military operations, ending with "Cana-... we've said too much."
- In Douglas Hulick's first novel, Among Thieves, the main character Drothe has been tracking down a powerful book that there are rumors about, but which nobody has much information on, for his boss, Kells. Eventually he finds it, but when Kells asks what he's found, he tells his boss that he's not going to give him any information about "that damned journal" until Kells tells him what's going on. Kells realizes he's found the book, as everyone else has just been calling it "the book": nobody else knew it was a journal specifically.
- In the Commonwealth Saga short story "The Demon Trap", Paula Myo is investigating a terrorist who has not only had his memories wiped, but a completely different set of memories implanted, but still proves his involvement because of a DNA match at the scene, and a mismatch where the person whose memories he has was sick. The head of the political party with the same aims as the terrorist group denies any involvement, but decries punishing a man for a crime his current personality didn't commit. In the process he describes the stewardess in sufficient detail to convince Myo that he provided the fake memories. It eventually transpires the entire movement consists of genetically-altered clones with a Hive Mind.
- In The Diamond Age, Inspector Chang returns Hackworth's top hat, saying that he got it from a suspect. Hackworth thanks Chang for having "arrested him" despite Chang not having mentioned anyone being arrested, inadvertently admitting that the hat was stolen from him. He had wanted to keep the theft a secret, because the thieves had also stolen from him an illegal copy of the Primer that he had made.
- Discworld: Moist von Lipwig fell into this trope in Making Money when he was attempting to talk his way around Captain Carrot's Exasperated Perp tactic by telling Carrot that he knows what he's trying to do to him. Carrot then promptly thanked him... for informing him that he's quite familiar with that tactic and thus implying his rather shady criminal past. Whoops!
- In almost every Encyclopedia Brown story involving Bugs Meanie, this sort of thing gave Bugs away; he usually had to defend a lie with another lie that made what he said earlier contradictory.
- Error Of Judgment: Dr/ Prince, while talking to his mistress about his wife, and how she supported him during the last malpractice scandal, he lets slip that's why he'll never leave her. This utterly disillusions his msitress, who suddenly has some damaging evidence to use against him.
- In Isaac Asimov's story Galley Slave a professor sues US Robotics, accusing a proofreading robot of altering his work. When the professor is interrogated at the trial, the robot begins to speak up, and the professor blurts out "Damn you, you were instructed to keep your mouth shut about..." Oops. He had made the changes himself, then brought the case to make a point against automation. The real twist is that the robot wasn't going to tell the truth anyway, since the First Law (manifested as a desire to protect the professor's reputation) trumped the fact that it would be scrapped if it didn't speak out (Third Law), as well as the order to be quiet (Second Law). The only reason for US Robotics' lawyer to bring the robot to the trial was in order to trick the professor, who distrusted robots and was deliberately ignorant of how they worked, into making that slip, by providing the robot with a higher-level First Law trigger that trumped the initial one.
- Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi:
- Xue Yang unintentionally gives himself away to Wei Wuxian by being too knowledgeable in demonic cultivation when disguised as Xiao Xingchen. He also slips when he corrects A-Qing on the difference between hunting and night-hunting, letting her know he is a cultivator.
- In one of their first exchanges, A-Qing almost reveals to Xue Yang that she isn't actually blind when she got carried away in complimenting Xiao Xingchen and describing how fast his attacks are, when Xue Yang points out that a blind person wouldn't know if someone is fast or slow with a sword. She manages to bluff her way out by claiming she was talking about the feel of the wind/air from the sword swings.
- Harry Potter:
- Poor Hagrid is prone to this, especially when he's distraught or talking to the Power Trio. In the first book alone, he lets slip the means to calm Fluffy the Terrible and the name of a warlock who helps immensely with a search he doesn't want them to succeed in. He often lampshades it in the film version: 'I shouldn't have said that.'
- In Shadow of the Conqueror, Daylen frequently says and does things that don't make sense for someone so young or with his limited life experiences, which he constantly has to make up explanations to cover. These mistakes eventually lead to Ahrek figuring out that he's actually Dayless.
- Tortall Universe: In the Trickster's Duet, Aly is keenly aware of this trope and tries very hard not to fall into it, which is difficult when Dove and Sarai are specifically asking for stories about legendary Tortallan figures who are part of Aly's family, like her mom and Daine the Wildmage. She also has to work hard to avoid sounding as well-educated and astute as she really is, but Dove still notices every time Aly slips up.
- In the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel Serpent Among the Ruins, the Klingon diplomat (and Azetbur loyalist) Kage suspects his aide Ditagh is working for one of the warhawks on the High Council, and confronts him about this, repeatedly referring to the man's true master as "the general" as if he knows exactly who he's talking about. Eventually he goads Ditagh enough to counter that General Gorak is a great man, who will return honour to the Empire. Except Ditagh says this deliberately. His actual sponsor is the supposed moderate General Kaarg, and the obviously antagonistic Gorak is their fall guy.
- The Witchlands: This is what happens when The Quiet One is also terrible at lying.
- In Truthwitch, a pain-addled Aeduan admits to Iseult that he can't sense or control her with his magic. He regrets saying that as soon as he regains control of his wits, but the damage has already been done. In a twist, the knowledge that he can't harm her with his magic is one of the reasons Iseult is willing to work with Aeduan to track down Safi in Windwitch.
- Early in Windwitch, Corlant ropes Aeduan into tracking down a Threadwitch named Iseult det Midenzi for him. Aeduan asks him what he wants with "this girl" even though Corlant hasn't specified Iseult's age. Thankfully, Corlant doesn't notice that Aeduan seems to already be acquainted with Iseult.
- In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Sebastian calls out David for attempting to shift blame of his attempted murder to a supposed voice in his head. In the process, however, Sebastian accidentally lets slip about the voice in his own head, belonging to the symbiotically possessive Fesxis.
- In Nan Quest, Henry winds up accidentally outing themselves as the Pilgrim by reassuring Nan that if she gets attacked by the Pilgrim again, she can just escape out the window like she did the last time he attacked. Problem: the other person wasn't there at the time, only Nan and the Pilgrim were, and Nan had never explained how she had escaped to anyone. /tg/ was quick to call them on this:
- Amnesia: Memories: In Heart World, the heroine is injured from an accident and has several wounds covered by bandages, most noticeably on her neck, arms, and legs. She and Shin head to the café and meet Toma, who asks if her head hurts. Shin points out this exact comment when confronting Toma about being the one that caused her injuries. Most people would be staring at her bandaged neck and ask her about that and not her head, which was specifically mentioned to have not been injured during the accident. This means that Toma must have been the one to find the heroine first after the accident, caused her harm in a way that included hitting her head, and then running away. Depending on the ending the player is obtaining, Toma will either admit everything or deny anything.
- In Demonbane, Ennea at first appears to be an ordinary girl, but accidentally outs herself as a sorceress with this exchange:
- In RWBY, Blake and Weiss spend an entire episode arguing about the White Fang; when Weiss openly declares them to be nothing but a group of liars, thieves, and murderers, Blake snaps and shouts, "Well, maybe we were just tired of being pushed around!", inadvertently revealing to the rest of the group that she's both a Faunus and connected to the White Fang. Cue Oh, Crap! when she realizes that she let it slip and subsequently flees the room.
- In Between Failures, to get Nina off her badgering about starting a relationship with Thomas, Carol tries to change the subject to Nina's Harry Potter Fan Fic. However, Carol forgot that Nina had only sent it to Thomas - Nina quickly figures out that this means that the two already started going out. In a way, this works out, as Nina moves on from trying to get Carol to start dating Thomas to begging for info about their relationship.
- Played for laughs in a Bruno the Bandit flashback story, when King Orenthal of Rothland murders his wife due to his growing lust for Eunyce, Warrior Hottie.
Unnamed court official: Your majesty, th-the queen! She
King Orenthal: Was poisoned by three drops of skull-spider venom placed in her wine?? NOOOOO!!
Unnamed court official: I was going to say she had a heart attack...
King Orenthal: I'll find the scapeg real killers if it's the last thing I do!!
- Sisko in D&DS9 informs the DM that he (the DM) didn't realize he rolled a Critical Hit, unaware that the DM plans to railroad him into a Dark backstory.
- In General Protection Fault, after being shown the diary detailing her plans, Trudy launches into a rant about how Ki shouldn't have been able to find it, before stopping herself and asking if she had been "saying something incriminating." The damage has been done, though, and Nick no longer trusts her.
- Girl Genius: Both Zeetha and Oggie have a tendency to blurt out information at inappropriate times.
- El Goonish Shive:
- Mr. Verres once revealed to Tedd, with absolutely no prompting that Grace cannot get pregnant in her hybrid form. Seeing as Tedd and Grace had shown quite a bit of interest in each other already, this new information didn't exactly slow them down.
- When Susan starts Pulling the Thread of Tom's web of lies, she eventually gets him to the point where he yells out "I am a FANTASTIC liar!"
- Catalina is absolutely terrible at keeping her mouth shut. Her relationship with Rhoda is supposed to be a secret, but she continually spills more and more information to Susan until she gives up and covers her mouth. Only the fact that Susan has no clue who Rhoda is saves the secret from getting out.
- In Joe vs. Elan School, Joe — who at this point has No Social Skills after spending three years in the hellish Elan School — goes to a freshman mixer after going off to college. He's approached by a nice-looking girl who initiates small talk; without thinking Joe eventually spirals into a conversation about his time at Elan, including the forced fights in "the Ring." The girl is horrified by Joe, backs away carefully, and very pointedly rushes away from him whenever she sees him on campus afterward.
- In Kid Radd, Captain QB, after meeting with Crystal in a room they think is soundproof to discuss killing Radd, sees Sheena on the way out and asks if she heard any of it. Sheena responds that "like your friend said," the room is soundproof. Thankfully, since QB isn't too bright, he never suspects anything, enabling Sheena to leave without incident and help save Radd.
- Ménage à 3:
- When Zii breaks one of Gary's most prized Transformers and learns that it was a highly rare Overlord, she tries to pin it on a cleaning woman she made up: "Tragic, I know. Poor Overlord... never knew what hit him!" Gary than asks how did she know it was an Overlord.
- Later, Kiley's attempts to reassure Gary about his sexual performance soon have her telling herself to shut up. She does tend to turn into a Motor Mouth when under stress.
- The second variation was seen in Narbonic, when Helen was preparing to tell Dave that he's a latent mad genius.
Helen: There's something I have to discuss with you... Artie made me promise.
Dave: Uh-oh... is this about the sentient meme that took over the net in Blue Sector and keeps threatening to vaporize us via spy satellite?
Helen: No, this isn't about the sentient meme! I didn't even know there was a sentient meme!
Dave: Oh. Good.
Helen: On second thought, let's make this about the sentient meme.
- Sticky Dilly Buns: Ruby doesn't want to admit that she has a libido (and the stress of the denial is pretty clearly getting to her), but Dillon manages to draw her into discussion of the book of yaoi manga which she recently gave him. She soon lets slip enough to show that she has been reading it.
- In Yokoka's Quest, Yin, mostly talking to herself, speculates out loud on inconsistencies relating to Yokoka's name, Yokoka's mother, Betelgeuse, and Betel's Village. The trope is mostly subverted, as while Yfa picks up on bits of it note , Yokoka seems oblivious to what was said or any of its implications.
- O.J. Simpson made this mistake while discussing his polygraph test with a reporter. When asked whether he had ever taken a polygraph test, Simpson replies with an emphatic "No." He then goes on to explain how he did go to the police station, did get hooked up to the machine, and watched the needles jump whenever his victims were mentioned.
Reporter: It sounds like you took a polygraph.
Simpson: YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT POLYGRAPHS!
- Simpson then goes on to discuss in great detail how he took a polygraph, and why he doesn't believe it "counts" as a "real" polygraph.
- A classic riddle has you as a detective trying to determine which of three people pistol-whipped a man to death. They all know the gun used is in custody. Inevitably, the one who did it is the one who says, "You don't think I beat him, did you?"
- That trope happened in reality when a man in Florida vanished shortly after winning millions in the state lottery. The prime suspect was a woman whom he hired to manage his funds but was apparently embezzling them. After the man's body was found, she was again questioned by the police. Afterwards, she called a press conference and tearfully proclaimed her innocence, declaring that she "had been falsely accused of shooting another human being." However, the police had not revealed to anyone exactly how the man was killed.
- The case of "Balloon Boy" and his family being interviewed on the news. "Falcon, why didn't you come when you heard us calling you?" "You guys said that, um, we did this for the show." " Man." The next day the poor kid was brought onto The Today Show to be further questioned about this, and he got so nervous about getting his parents in trouble that he vomited.
- The Japanese organization PRIDE FC used to sell DVDs of their fights months after they'd happened with English commentary dubbed in. The commentators would pretend to be watching the fights live. This came apart during an infamous incident in which the play-by-play man forgot what was going on and began telling his partner an amusing anecdote...about the fight they were calling. Written about here by Seanbaby (#4 in the list).
- A similar incident happened on American Idol. While commenting on one of the performances, Paula Abdul accidentally gave her critique of a song which hasn't been performed yet, revealing that the judges sometimes write their critiques beforehand, based on the contestants' dress rehearsals.
- A British farmer and his son were murdered early in the reign of Queen Victoria. His daughter and a servant girl, who were wounded but survived, recognized the masked attacker as another neighbor and farmer who owed a mortgage to the victims, James Blomfield Rush, because of his portly constitution and characteristic gait. At the trial Rush declined a court-appointed lawyer and opted to defend himself, calling five "witnesses" that claimed they saw the attacker the night of the murder but did not identify him as Rush. When one said that she passed "within a few feet" of the masked attacker, Rush absent-mindedly asked "Did you pass me quickly?" The jury returned a guilty verdict in ten minutes.
- The 1962 US case Nance v. United States involved a defendant accused of robbery, who chose to ask his own questions at the preliminary hearing. On cross-examination of the key witness, he asked "How do you know it was me when I had a handkerchief over my face?"
- In September 2015, Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy announced his intentions to become Speaker of the House. But in one interview, while explaining why he'd be qualified, he inadvertently explained that the numerous hearings on the 2012 attack at the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya were primarily a preemptive attack against Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, causing much outrage on both sides of the aisle: Democrats* , who already had suspicions in that direction, were outraged that the Republicans actually were using the deaths of four Americans as a cheap political stunt, and Republicans were outraged because nobody from their side was supposed to admit what they were doing. McCarthy dropped his bid in October.
- During his presidency, Donald Trump had an unfortunate habit of bragging about information that should be top secret (e.g. the "Super Duper Missile", which may very well be an existing prototype), much to the consternation of his aides and Generals.
- The original suspect in the 2011 murder of Topeka, Kansas resident Sheila Hachmeister was a mysterious internet boyfriend she had who had been pressuring her to send nudes and partake in BDSM, but could not be found, and likely used a fake profile to chat with her. However, Sheila's son, Jason, made himself the new suspect when he bizarrely insisted that he had never touched the rope used to kill his mother, even though 1) he found the body, told emergency services that Sheila had a rope around her neck, and the dispatcher told him to remove the rope; and 2), his DNA was found on the rope. When pressed about the evidence, he said he was "not a cruel murderer". Then it surfaced that the night after the murder, he had gone to a strip club, asked for a private dance, and asked the stripper how it felt to dance for "a cruel murderer".
- An amusing (for fuzzy values of amusing) incident happened when Stauber/Rampton wrote their book about spin doctors, "Toxic Sludge Is Good For You!". They were pondering about a tacky title and came up with this one. About ten seconds later (spin doctors know more than the NSA) the PR guys from the Toxic Sludge Dept. stormed their office to convince them that toxic sludge is indeed good for you, alerting them there was even more of a stink going on than they already knew.
- When the Hodges family were murdered in Vinton, Virginia, in 1994, police suspected that the killer had set it up to look like a murder-suicide before setting the house on fire. When their neighbour Earl Bramblett was questioned, he aroused suspicion by exclaiming "sonuvabitch offed his family and killed himself" before he was informed that foul play was involved (police had only told him they had died in a fire), showing he had prior knowledge.
- 19th-century poisoner William Palmer first came under suspicion for poisoning John Cook immediately after Cook fell ill and Palmer's first response was to deny he had tampered with his drink.