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Shocking Voice Identity Reveal

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Alice is talking to a stranger on the bus, when she realizes that she's heard his voice before, somewhere. Moments later, Alice realizes she's talking to Bob, her Mentor whom she hasn't seen in 15 years. Bob may or may not realize who Alice is.

In short, this is when a familiar voice reveals the identity of a character in a moment that is shocking to the audience and/or other character(s).

See also Spoiled by the Cast List, where this trope happens because two allegedly different characters share the same actor. Not to be confused with Voice Change Surprise.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The reveal of the final villain in Digimon Adventure 02 Myotismon has this effect in the English dub; his laugh for Gatomon and his voice for audiences who saw the first season and would recognize it.
  • Late in Monster: Eva Heinemann realizes that her lawyer's partner is in fact "Roberto", a former hit man working for Johann who'd been her lover before trying to kill her. She'd spoken to him over the phone once or twice, but when she heard his voice in person, it hit her like a ton of bricks.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who does this rather a lot, especially for Tomato Surprise reasons:
    • In "Jubilee", a pair of interrogators are torturing a creature in the Tower of London, and it refuses to talk. The torturers beg it to "speak", but it doesn't make a sound (only, eventually, a scream). We only hear it talking when the Doctor goes in to communicate with it and it suddenly shouts, "The Doctor is an enemy of the Daleks. He must be exterminated."
    • "The Holy Terror" concerns a child god with a face that the one-shot companion, Eugene, claims to have seen before. In order to determine who the child is, the Doctor asks it to talk in a lower voice "like adults do". As its voice decreases in pitch and ages we realise it's the voice of Eugene.
  • Two of the lead characters in The Dolls of New Albion have a moment like this when John O'Brien recognizes Constance as his daughter and sings to her an old lullaby he had sang when she was a child, thus jogging her memory.

    Comic Books 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Crow, Brandon Lee's rock artist Eric was good friends with a young girl before his murder. Upon returning as a super-powered revenant based on vengeance, he winds up meeting the girl again. He speaks to her a bit then quotes one of his songs, at which point he escapes into the night and she loses sight of him. The girl calls out, "Eric?"
  • Death and the Maiden: When Paulina Escobar hears Doctor Miranda speak and laugh, she recognizes his voice as that of the man who was in charge of her torture and rape by government thugs years earlier.
  • Tom realizes that Shaker was his son's kidnapper in Ransom when he sees his son Sean's reaction to his voice.
  • Serial Mom: Dottie realizes Beverly is the one who's been harassing her with obscene phone calls when Beverly says "pussy willows".
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "Remember ME EDDIE? When I killed your brother, I TALKED JUST LIKE THIS!!!"

  • In Discworld, many people die and don't realize that they're dead until they hear the distinctive voice of fan-favorite Death, who always talks like this.
    • Works on the readers, too. Sometimes, Death will just show up and say a line or two without ever being explicitly identified to anyone but the reader via the dialogue.
    • In The Truth, William discovers the identity of the mastermind (his father) not by his voice but by his favorite quote which he gives out ad nauseam captured on a recording device.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On an episode of Burn Notice, Season 2 ("Bad Breaks"), Michael is unexpectedly stuck in a bank in the middle of a robbery. He pretends to be a doctor, which gives him various opportunities to cause trouble for the bad guys. After many fun shenanigans, Sam ends up calling the head bank robber on his cell phone, pretending to be a powerful, scary guy who "really owns the bank". Michael confirms that he "recognizes the voice", and relates a story about what a powerful, scary guy Sam is, which causes dissension in the ranks of the remaining robbers.
  • Averted in Cracker. A woman who was blindfolded and raped is later picked up at her house by a taxi driver who's actually the rapist. She recognises his voice, but thinks it's just a traumatic response causing her to see her rapist in every man she meets.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Variation: In "The Macra Terror", Ben seems to have been Brainwashed, but we don't realise for sure until his usual Cockney accent suddenly changes mid-sentence to the RP one used by the Compelling Voice.
    • "Dalek", an adaptation of the audio play "Jubilee" (listed above), steals the introduction of the titular monster. It works even better on camera due to the way that Daleks emote.
    • An in-universe one happens in "Utopia" when Martha recognizes the voice of the newly-regenerated Master as politician Harold Saxon.
    • "The Stolen Earth" reveals its iconic monster in the same way as "Jubilee" and "Dalek". For the same reason. In this case, the message is broadcast worldwide, with a who's-who of previous companions reacting in horror. Later on in the episode, another character appears, revealing themselves by their own distinctive voice.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": The Doctor is babbling to himself about how he could curate an art gallery, and he could retire and do that. Then someone interrupts him by saying "You know, I really think you might", in the unusual, distinctive voice of the Fourth Doctor, immediately leaving him dumbstruck.
    • "World Enough and Time": Missy talks with the odd Mr. Razor, who keeps asking whether she recognises him. Then he asks if she likes disguises. Halfway through his question, Mr. Razor starts speaking in the unmistakable sound of John Simm's voice, as he removes his mask, revealing the Master.
    • While an attempt is made to hide it with audio distortion, many viewers were able to recognize Jack Harkness's voice in "Fugitive of the Judoon".
  • Happens in Elementary when Kitty Winter hears the voice of Del Gruner, Watson's new boss — and realizes that he's the Serial Killer and rapist who victimized her (and many other women, none of whom survived).
  • Likewise in the The Equalizer, a blind woman steps into an elevator holding several other people and recognizes the voice of the man who raped and blinded her years before. She hires McCall to establish who else was in the elevator at the time.
  • An episode of Married... with Children has the NO MA'AM men horrified beyond belief when Peggy's horrifically obese mother demonstrates that she is the voice behind "Butter", the phone sex girl they'd been talking to.
  • Twice on The Muppet Show a mysterious character appears with a mask - a black knight in one episode, a Darth Vader parody on another. But when the character speaks, it is clear by his distinctive voice that it's Gonzo. That and the nose.
  • In the penultimate episode of Power Rangers: Beast Morphers, when Evox reveals himself to be a reborn Venjix, his voice changes into that of Venjix's.
  • On Smallville, Clark occasionally phoned Lois as "The Red and Blue Blur" using a voice modulator to disguise his voice. One time (when we discover that Chloe has a tap on his phone, and on all the other phones in the world) some Meddling Kids mess with Chloe's setup, rendering Clark's modulation ineffective, and she heard his real voice.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventure "Night of the Vampire": When Lady Constantina is impersonated by her maid, the players can recognize this by the difference in their voices on the audio CD track.

  • A theatrical adaptation of the book Coram Boy did a chilling version of this; Meshak's father, a man with a distinct Cockney accent, was introduced in the first act as a man who extorted money from poverty-stricken mothers in exchange for taking their children to the Coram Hospital, only to murder and bury them with the unwilling help of his mentally-disabled son Meshak, for which he is apparently hanged. The second act introduces a man who speaks with an upper-class accent involved in selling educated and virginal Coram girls into sexual slavery. Eventually, Meshak meets the second man face-to-face, and hearing his sudden shift into the first man's voice is genuinely shocking, especially given his activities. It works particularly well as a play, since the audience's distance from the actors allows the man's face to go unrecognised more effectively than could be easily accomplished on film.

    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake has a scene where this is part of how Alan identifies a man who had called him earlier. The kidnapper's voice was pretty distinct, but there were other clues Alan noticed as well.
  • In Batman: Arkham Origins we think that all that is going on is because of Black Mask, that is until we see the man who is supposed to be Black Mask on the ground being slapped and beaten by the guy posing as him.
    Joker: Can't... You... Just... Play... ALONG?
  • Dawn of War II: In Chaos Rising, the team intercepts several scrambled vox messages from a traitor in the Chapter. At one point you're able to decipher them, and they go from comprehensible but unidentifiable to crystal-clear (and showing a portrait of the traitorous squad member, who it is depending on your gameplay choices).
  • The big reveal of Chaptain Schwann's identity in Tales of Vesperia comes when you hear him speak for the first time, and his voice is unmistakably that of Raven, one of your party members. As stated on the Wham Line page, the line is a Wham not for the line itself, but the voice it's said in.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 has an interesting inversion. One of the main reasons the protagonist, Ludger, is a Heroic Mime is to avoid giving away that he shares a voice with Victor, one of the game's major antagonists. Victor turns out to be his alternate-universe counterpart.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Manfred von Karma is ultimately confirmed as the killer of the DL-6 Incident this way. After Phoenix reveals that he can prove that the bullet in von Karma's shoulder comes from the same gun that killed Gregory Edgeworth, von Karma lets out a scream — that Miles Edgeworth recognizes as the same one he heard when his father was shot.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Barbie Spy Squad, Barbie and Teresa are flabbergasted when the apparently American Auntie Zoe reveals herself to be a British secret agent.
  • A Running Gag on Rocky and Bullwinkle is that whenever they meet Boris in disguise, Rocky always asks "That voice! Where have I heard it before?" In one episode, Bullwinkle answers, "In about 365 other episodes, but I don't know who it is either."
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Bad Batch", Rex and the titular squad infiltrate a Separatist computer centre to find out how the enemy has managed to get their hands on an algorithm for Rex's own strategies to use against the Republic. Tech cracks the computers to find that the algorithm is in fact being broadcast from another planet entirely, and eventually discovers a transmission that sounds like a human voice. When Rex asks him to query the voice as to their identity, the voice responds with "CT-1409", a clone identification number, as the vocal distortion falls away to reveal that the voice is very clearly that of a clone trooper.
  • Totally Spies! episode "Miss Spirit Fingers (Jazz Hands' Return - Part 2)": While Alex and Clover are eavesdropping on a conversation between the villain Jazz Hands and Miss Spirit Fingers, they notice that Miss Fingers has the same voice as Sam. They realize that Sam is masquerading as Miss Spirit Fingers and (wrongly) conclude that Sam has defected and joined Jazz Hands.
  • Steven Universe avoids letting us hear Pink Diamond speak even though she's important to the plot. When she finally speaks, we hear Rose Quartz's voice, revealing that she's one and the same.

    Real Life 
  • Notorious spy Robert Hanssen was finally caught when the FBI, which had focused in on a different person as the suspect, obtained a voice recording of the spy and the agent who listened to the tape recognized Hanssen's voice (granted that his voice was only recognized after someone recognized a racial slur he had made).