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Self-Proclaimed Liar

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Casanunda: I'm a world-famous liar.
Nanny Ogg: Is that true?
Casanunda: No.

Whether the story they tell is a complete whopper or a bending of the truth, your average liar usually has one goal in mind: Tell the lie undetected. Their attempts to deceive you are rooted in the fact that they don't want you to know they're lying. A Self-Proclaimed Liar, however, is the complete opposite: They will openly proclaim that they are lying to your face as they tell you whatever tale they're deciding to weave that day.

Paradoxically, by taking Refuge in Audacity in this way, the outright lie sometimes manages to become more effective than trying to hide it. It may be because a person simply doesn't believe that someone trying to lie to them would tell them they're lying. Or perhaps the open lie is actually a way of hiding a second lie. Or it could be that their M.O. is to flood the zone with so much bullshit that no one can sort out fact from fiction. Regardless, a typical reaction to this scenario can be for the victim to go through the circular logic of "If he was lying, then that statement was a lie, so he was telling the truth..." and so on. This also lays the ideal groundwork for running a Kansas City Shuffle - a scam in which the victim knows they're being conned, but is deceived into guessing wrong about how they're being conned.

In any case, despite making everyone around them aware of the fact they are not to be trusted, they somehow still manage to get away with the deception. Compare Sarcastic Confession, in which a character bluffs by telling the exact, if unbelievable, truth.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Motoharu Tsuchimikado calls himself a liar in A Certain Magical Index right before faking a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Ghost in the Shell, one of the Tachikomas says this to one of the basic androids and causes it to malfunction, then mocks it for being disabled by such a simple Logic Bomb.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • During the Heaven's Arena arc, Hisoka gives a lot exposition about how natural Nen affinities reflect the user's personality and he caps this speech by saying that all transmuters are liars, right after saying that he himself is a transmuter type.
    • During the Greed Island arc, Biscuit tells Gon and Killua that Hisoka was lying to them about his purpose in the game. The only proof she has of this is a hunch based on her 50 years of experience lying to others.
  • Utsuho, the protagonist of Itsuwaribito, will openly declare himself a liar and/or will proclaim that living honestly is not the way to live. He even incorporates it into his fighting, his battle in the first chapter alone has him openly admitting to lying so much it's impossible to keep track of which statements, if any, are actually true.
  • Usopp in One Piece uses this as a battle tactic. Usually it's not blatantly obvious that he's lying, but then he continues in his fight against his captain. However, the lies are always used as a distraction. The "Uso" in Usopp's name is Japanese for "lie.", so an early joke soon after he joined the crew was for his introducing himself to sound as if he was saying "I am a liar."

    Comic Books 
  • The Jackal from The Clone Saga in the Spider-Man comics. He shamelessly piles lies on top of lies in the clone saga, at various times leading Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider and Spidercide each to believe they are the real Peter Parker. In the end even he didn't know the truth.
  • The Mighty Thor:
    • Loki is the self proclaimed god of Mischief and Lies. Loki admits he's an untrustworthy jerk, everyone knows he's an untrustworthy jerk, and he is still able to play them like a fiddle.
    • In Loki: Agent of Asgard they redefine themselves as God of Mischief and Stories. They acknowledge that this is just a nicer and more important sounding way of saying say lies though.
    • From Vote Loki while telling politicians to Do Wrong, Right:
      America, if I were your president, I'd have the guts to lie right to your face. And you'd love it.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Allison from The Breakfast Club, who admits she's a liar, and is in Saturday detention because she "had nothing better to do." Allsion is portrayed as a Cloud Cuckoolander, however, so it's hard to tell what she's making up.
  • In Bedazzled (1967) (at least the original version) Peter Cook's Mr Spigot (the Devil) tells Dudley Moore's character "I'm a terrible liar, believe me."
  • The Invention of Lying revolves around the protagonist being the first person in the world to come up with the very concept of deliberately deceiving others. This is presented as an Outside-Context Problem that nobody else can wrap their heads around, and is treated as though he's developed a superpower, to the point that people start worshipping him.
  • A famous quote of Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies:
    "Me, I'm dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest."
  • It's not really called attention to, but one of many reasons why it wasn't the best idea for Lt. Kujan to trust Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects is the fact that Verbal is an admitted con artist. More importantly, there are several scenes where Kujan is able to challenge something Verbal claims and accuses Verbal of lying. In these instances, Verbal "confesses" and then tells the "truth" (i.e. exactly what Kujan wants to hear).

    Literature 
  • Cat's Cradle: When Bokonon writes the books detailing his self-created religion, the very first line is "All of the true facts I am about to tell you are shameless lies."
  • Chime has Briony Larkin, a self-proclaimed witch who openly admits that she's deceptive. She's also the protagonist, and an Unreliable Narrator.
    Briony: Don't let my face fool you; it tells the worst lies. A girl can have the face of an angel but have a horrid sort of heart.
  • Discworld uses this a few times.
    • One of the best known is the dwarf Casanunda. He even has "Outrageous Liar" on his business cards.
    • Also, Reacher Gilt, the Big Bad of Going Postal, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who advertises the fact by going around resembling a pirate, complete with a bird on his shoulder screaming "Twelve and a half percent."
    • Moist Von Lipwig notes in Making Money that if you tell the masses you want to take their money, you'll just gain a reputation as an honest man.
    • The Thieves Guild Diary mentions a student wizard who performed an interesting psychology experiment by setting up a Find-the-Lady game in Sator Square and outridght telling the crowd that it was rigged and they couldn't possibly win. The queue stretched around the block and many people went for a second go.
  • Adding to the Dragaera series' use of Mind Screw via Unreliable Narrator, Orca is narrated by Vlad's friend Kiera as a conversation with Vlad's wife, Cawti. Kiera starts out by telling Cawti explicitly that she can't tell the whole truth, and will be altering some things for her own purposes. Then at another point in the story, Kiera describes Vlad, the narrator of most of the other books, as pretty much a pathological liar but also essentially implies the same about herself.
  • Thomas Raith in The Dresden Files tells Harry in Grave Peril that he's a liar and can't be trusted. Nevertheless, he nearly always tells him the truth. His sister Lara, on the other hand...
  • In Illuminatus!, one of Hagbard Celine's advices to Geroge Dorn was "Never trust anyone who has the initials H. C." He's a Trickster Mentor to George, as well as the crew of his submarine.
  • Cadrach of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a self-admitted liar, cheat, and Dirty Coward. Unlike most examples, though, he's not trying to pull a con on anyone; he really is sunk so deep into self-loathing that he cares nothing of what people think of him. Beneath the Shell-Shocked Veteran exterior is a man who knows he betrayed the world to its ultimate doom, and would do so again, out of sheer terror. Miriamele tries to befriend him anyway, which ultimately leads to his redemption.
  • Fireflyer, the fairy stand-in for Tinkerbell in the book Peter Pan in Scarlet, is a notorious liar to whom being called a liar is the greatest compliment of all. He openly and proudly claims that he never tells the truth — though this is revealed to be a lie.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Vergere, with one of the earliest lessons she imparts being "Everything I tell you is a lie." Including, apparently, not being a Sith.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blackadder II's title character refers to himself as a Consummate Liar in the episode "Money", managing to convince Percy that a giant hummingbird is eating his hat and cloak.
  • In the pilot episode of The Blacklist, Liz asks Red if she's supposed to believe his story. He laughs and says, "No, of course not. I'm a criminal. Criminals are notorious liars. Everything about me is a lie."
  • From Doctor Who, we have "Rule One: The Doctor lies." Initially said by River Song in the series 5 finale, we later see that she heard it from the Doctor himself.
  • From Game of Thrones, in the middle of his "game" with Theon, Ramsay makes Theon think that he's correctly answered the question that Ramsay wanted, meaning that the torture ends for the moment, giving Theon relief. After a few seconds of silence, Ramsay abruptly stands up and says this:
    Ramsay: Of course, you forgot to ask one question. You forgot to ask if I'm a liar! I'm afraid I am.
  • Jen from The IT Crowd will sometimes admit to it, usually after she lied her way into a job that she is hopelessly unqualified to hold.
  • Urataros from Kamen Rider Den-O boasts about his ability to lie, primarily to charm cute girls. He even says his main goal in sticking with the good guys is teaching Ryotaro to be a better liar.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: Played with in the episode "I, Mudd". When Kirk convinces Norman that everything Harry Mudd says is a lie, Harry drops a Logic Bomb on him by simply saying "I'm lying".
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Elim Garak is probably this show's most triumphant example, to such a degree that on one occasion Odo realizes that Garak is telling the truth precisely because his response to a question is a simple "I don't know" rather than a convoluted and eloquent tale of extravagance. His reputation for obfuscation is legend not just in the fandom, but in-universe as well.
        Bashir: Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?
        Garak: My dear doctor, they're all true.
        Bashir: Even the lies?
        Garak: Especially the lies.
      • When Bashir tells him of the fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, what Garak takes away from it is: Never Tell the Same Lie Twice.

    Music 
  • A hilarious real-life example with Dir en grey's lead singer, Kyo. He prides himself on being this and repeatedly admits to lying about everything he's saying during interviews. He's gone so far as to purposely sign his name as a Japanese AV director's name, causing all international fans that didn't understand it was a joke to believe his birth name is Tooru Niimura or Nishimura. He's done nothing to clarify it, either.
  • In Voltaire's When You're Evil, the singer seems to break his evil persona to reveal that all along, he really just wanted to be loved... before admitting,
    I'm lying through my teeth
    Your tears are all the company I need.

    Radio 
  • Douglas Richardson in Cabin Pressure enjoys boasting about his skill at deception. For example, this exchange occurs in the episode "Fitton":
    Carolyn: Douglas. Have you been drinking?
    Douglas: I cannot tell a lie. What am I saying? I'm terrific at telling lies. I mean I'm not going to tell a lie. Yes.
    • This is, of course, a lie.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Scorpion Clan in Legend of the Five Rings all wear masks, so that the other clans know not to trust them. This works on many, many different levels. One level is that if someone falls for one of their schemes, other people are more likely to blame the victim than the Scorpion perpetrator, because duh, you trusted a shifty-looking guy in a mask!

    Video Games 
  • Deacon of Fallout 4 comes up with all sorts of contradictory lies about his backstory, some of them more blatantly false than others. He's also a Master of Disguise who frequently changes his appearance. This need to constantly reinvent himself is due to his profound shame over the kind of person he used to be.
    Deacon: I'm a liar. Everyone knows it. I make no secret of it.
  • On the fourth night of Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location Circus Baby tells you that she has learned a very important skill: She can pretend. This comes to fruition if you obey her directions on the fifth night and go into the Scooping Room where the animatronic Ennard, speaking in Baby's voice, explains that they need you to escape the facility. Specifically, they need your body as a disguise and needed the Scooper to get rid of all the stuff already in there.
  • In Nancy Drew Danger By Design Jing-Jing "JJ" Ling is this. She has managed to convince several people she's won the lottery despite blatantly saying she lies.
  • Kreia of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. She encourages the Exile to distrust people, even herself, you even gain influence with her (that oddly works as "trust" for everyone else) if you say you don't trust her.
  • Marisa Kirisame of Touhou seems to take pride in telling the most outrageous lies she can as often as possible, but nothing can top the one in Phantasmagoria of Flower View where, confronted by the local Judge of the Dead (who, mind you, has a mirror that allows her to see the whole life of any person that she wants) about all the lies she's told, plainly states that she has never told a single lie in her life.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kokichi Oma from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony invokes this trope from the word go, making it nearly impossible for the other Deadly Game contestants to tell whether anything he says is true. When suspicion occasionally falls on Kokichi, he'll immediately "confess" to being the culprit, even arguing against his own innocence a few times. His trickery quickly reaches a point where the game's protagonist considers him the Anthropomorphic Personification of lying itself. He even inverts it in Chapter 4, where Kokichi gets fed up and announces that he's going to be brutally honest about the Awful Truth behind the current case. As he lays things out, the other students are desperate to believe that he's lying again, leaving Shuichi to convince everyone that the evidence irrefutably proves that Kokichi is, for once, being completely honest.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry Beatrice doesn't care whether or not Battler thinks she's lying because he can't prove it. And because he can't find an alternate reality with which to fight with her own, she wins by default, telling fantastical stories about wild magic battles.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Sylvester of Twig is happily this in order to fool his enemies into thinking that that's the real threat. In fact, as The Social Expert, his real goal is to confound and distract them with his lies so that they react predictably.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, Stan frequently admits to his family that he lies to them a lot, most of the time without regret.
    Steve: Dad, I can't believe you'd lie to me.
    Stan: Really? Huh, that's... that's kind of my whole bit.
  • One episode of Garfield and Friends has Roy state, in no uncertain terms, that he is about to lie to Wade. He even asks Wade if he understands this fact. Then he tells Wade "The bull is loose." Cue panic by Wade.
  • Angelica from Rugrats, especially in the All Grown Up sequel series. She even describes lying as an art.
  • In an episode of Sushi Pack, the Pack face down a villain known as the Prevaricator, who can only lie. He gets away with this because most people don't know what "prevaricate" means. However, since his method of lying is just to say the opposite of what he means, Tako is able to easily get him to surrender by asking him to tell a lie.

Alternative Title(s): Liar By Admission

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