Sometimes you get the feeling that a series creator is having a little too much fun messing with their audience's collective heads.
This is a creator who loves to mess around with their audience, keeping them hanging for as long as humanly possible. They'll hint, contradict themselves, be deliberately vague and occasionally outright mock the Epileptic Trees offered... only to prove said Epileptic Trees right at the very moment the majority of the fandom gives up on them. It only really counts as a meta-trope though - all stories aim to keep their audience guessing, but this creator does so outside the story itself, be it in interviews, on a blog or at conventions. Shrug of God is their language of choice.
There's a fine line to walk here. This tactic can create genuine suspense, since the creator is so unpredictable. Or it can annoy the fans, and make them feel like they're being unfairly toyed with by a superior being, perhaps leading to cries of Small Name, Big Ego. However, it can also be a reaction to Fan Dumb: if the creator makes a concrete statement which is then ignored in favour of speculation, they might decide "screw it" and play along. The creator's pedigree can make this trope more or less effective - if you've sunk the ship or eliminated main characters before now, there's every chance you'll do it again... but then, if you make a habit of it, people will stop finding it suspenseful and simply give up on caring for your characters, knowing you're likely to Kill 'Em All or stick them with a Downer Ending.
Tends to be most popular in webcomics, since they're one of the few remaining mediums that can genuinely be kept under wraps, spoiler-free.
Ship Tease is a specific variety of this trope, as is The Walrus Was Paul. Differs from Shrug of God since there is definitely a deliberate tactic being employed, and it isn't always in response to fans' questions - in fact, you get the feeling the fans are being provoked into asking questions. Compare Trolling Creator, when this gets outright malicious.
- An unofficial motto of the Bee Train fandom actually is "[Kouichi] Mashimo is a huge tease."
- Ken Akamatsu loves doing this, especially in Negima! Magister Negi Magi. It's still impossible to tell it's a Harem Series, a subversion thereof, a Double Subversion, a parody, or whatever. Then there's the massive amount of Ship Tease in the story, much of which seems to exist solely to mess with the heads of the readers. Especially Negi/Asuna. Naturally Asuna seems to be Negi's aunt.
- The best/worst example: In one interview during the Magic World arc, he stated that Zazie's true form would be revealed in the final arc. Soon after, Zazie shows up in Mundus Magicus, creating an enormous stir among the fans, who believed that the end of the manga was imminent. Then shortly after that it turns out that it's actually her sister. There's no way he didn't plan that.
- After Negima ended 100 chapters too early, Akamatsu began teasing us with a sequel PROBABLY being on the way.
- The writers of Lyrical Nanoha are memetic for their Ship Tease with Nanoha and Fate. Despite their relationship sliding to the bleeding edge between subtext and text, there still hasn't been an official Word of God or onscreen kiss to seal the deal, and the fan question on their relationship is inevitably answered with the Shrug of God.
- Hi, Hideaki Anno, we're looking at you! Not only in the original series, Rebuild of Evangelion is practically one huge fan-tease in itself.
- Oh, Hidekaz Himaruya. The whole Hetalia: Axis Powers Christmas 2010 Event was proof of how he likes interacting with the Hetalia fandom, both in Japan and the West.
- And he did it again, for April Fools' Day 2011. And he regularly takes requests on his website for things people want him to sketch, even if such things are completely nonsensical and could never be considered canon.
- And it reached epic levels for Hetaween 2011 with many people becoming convinced that he was secretly watching their posts about the event with how he suddenly introduced new characters without warning, brought back One-Scene Wonder characters, and still found time to mercilessly tease fans by deliberately avoiding showing the face of said new characters.
- Eiichiro Oda of One Piece fame certainly has some interesting answers when fans ask him questions, just to screw around with them. Given Oda's sense of humor and the generally odd nature of the One Piece world, it's sometimes hard to tell when his answers are serious and when they're just jokes.
- Kunihiko Ikuhara and Revolutionary Girl Utena - see especially the car girl incident and Miki's Goddamn stopwatch.
- When asked if a particular plot point had some deeper meaning, the writer of Star Driver was quoted as saying "Everything is double—no, triple marinated with meaning!"
- Kenjiro Hata, writer of Hayate the Combat Butler seems to like messing with the audience on occasion. He'll hang lampshades, he'll poke the fourth wall and he'll have characters react in oddly savvy ways, but no method was more direct than the chapter entitled "This Is The Kind of Manga You Are Reading" where a chapter that had been built up for some time as a big pivot point for the series is instead interrupted by a maid calling the main character and refusing to let them move the plot forward due to her own fairly minor concerns until they give up and simply decide to hold their conversation later. Clearly, subtlety is for sissies. And don't worry, nobody went to Kenjiro Hata's house, rang the bell many times and demanded him to rewrite the chapter and do it right this time. Totally.
- In nearly every Yu-Gi-Oh! series, each character has or gains a Superpowered Evil Side, which is seen by fans to be one of the best parts of a show, and actively and eagerly await for any new protagonist to have one.Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V delivers on the evil side, but takes a crack at the audience with Yuya's dark side: they were originally a normal entertainer who, in order to appeal to increasingly demanding and bloodthirsty fans, became more violent and cruel in his duels until he and his monsters went mad and turned against them. So the start of this character's downfall is because the audience wanted it - and since the real-life audience wants that sort of thing, they're also to blame.
- The editors of DC Comics (notably their boss, Dan Didio) purposely misled fans that the 2005 Crisis Crossover series, Infinite Crisis, would get rid of the Darker and Edgier approach the company had taken with its characters in recent years. Writer Mark Waid himself said that was the point (though he got censored later). The story itself directly hints at this since the main characters were in fact trying to change reality back to its previous, nicer state (altered during Crisis on Infinite Earths); but it was all a Bait-and-Switch, as those same characters, primarily Superboy-Prime, turn out to be responsible (both directly and indirectly) for all the tragic events, and the series ends in a bloody battle.
- Lying, trolling creator ThatPersonYouMightKnow is, naturally, fond of this in all of his works. Especially The Lion King Adventures.
- The author behind Renegade draws an inordinate amount of pleasure from toying with the readers, offering periodic bits of Word of God and copious amounts of shrugs. One of his favorite non-answers in the discussion thread on SpaceBattles.com is to respond to someone's question or comment with a picture of David Xanatos with a smug grin on his face. The deliberate vagueness of the picture (Am I on the right track? Am I completely wrong? Does he know something I don't? GAAAAAAAAH!) just makes it worse.
- Nimbus Llewelyn seems to consider this a primary form of entertainment, judging by his author's notes in Child of the Storm; they hint, with varying degrees of vagueness, about what is to come and occasionally outright trolling the audience, stating the difference between a hint and a red herring largely depended on his mood and occasionally letting people guess entirely the wrong thing. And then, of course, there's his mastery of Exact Words. A prime example is when he mentioned that he was going to bring back Peter Parker, one of his acknowledged favourite characters, and who hadn't appeared in the story aside from a brief scene way back towards the beginning of the first book, to get bitten and receive his powers. Cue Peter getting bitten by a vampire and becoming a Dhampyr, before getting cured and dropping out of the story again!
- The authors of Game Theory are outright gleeful about dropping tantalizing hints about future plot threads, and answering questions in such a manner as to be technically truthful and utterly deceptive.
- Pokemon Strangled Red has this in-universe. In the hacked game, Steven refuses to go into Pokémon Tower in the "regular" part of the game, saying "I have no reason to be here" if the player tries to move him inside. Lampshaded by the narrator:
"This was weird, I mean hell, there are a million places in Kanto that you really have no need to be, little random houses with nothing but children NPCs for example. Why was it here that Steven wouldn't enter?"
- This trope could apply to genre expectations as well as to fans of a series. If you look at the message board for any mystery, no matter how wild a twist it employs, there are always jaded fans who say "I saw the ending coming a mile away". A Perfect Getaway is written with great situational awareness regarding this tendency, and gives no indication as to which of three possible directions the film is going to go. Then it has multiple screenwriter characters, who lampshade the whole thing by discussing red herrings, while awash in them.
- For The Dark Knight Rises, promotional pictures showing Selina Kyle in costume with high-tech goggles, but without Catwoman's signature ears, caused some fan backlash. And then the film reveals that her goggles flip up to the headband and resemble cat ears.
- J. J. Abrams is infamous for this, though after backlash surrounding Star Trek Into Darkness, he admitted that he probably should have acknowledged that Khan was the film's villain from the start rather than make a mystery out of it.
- He seems to have pulled it off much better with Star Wars: The Force Awakens hiding so many things such as Kylo Ren being Han and Leia's son, Luke being missing, and even the fact that Rey would be the one to take up Luke's lightsaber when all the trailers showed Finn wielding it, that fans came into the film not knowing what would happen, averting the Trailers Always Spoil trope hard.
- In the initial announcement for Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the third Captain America was revealed on the Phase Three roadmap to be titled Captain America: Serpent Society (named after a group of snake-based supervillains in the Marvel Universe). Approximately fifteen minutes later, after the rest of the lineup was revealed, Kevin Feige comments about how embarrassed he is about that Serpent Society subtitle, saying "It feels like there must be a better title somewhere..." At this point, the theater lights suddenly dim, and the movie's true title is gradually revealed: Captain America: Civil War.
- Played for Laughs in the commentary track to Ant-Man and the Wasp, where between credits scenes director Peyton Reed says he has a script for the then-upcoming 4th Avengers, and when he attempts to tell what happens to Ant-Man it cuts to static. And when he attempts to talk about other characters or another Ant-Man movie, Reed says someone arrives saying he's not allowed to do so, so just yammers about random subjects.
- A special case with Zack Snyder's Justice League. Since about early 2018, Zack Snyder teased his version of the film with screenshots, behind-the-scenes photos and storyboards on the only social media he uses, Vero. All the screenshots were in black and white until the announcement, where he shifted to colors. Whatever his goal was (likely using the fandom to make enough noise to convince Warner Bros. or its parent company to give it a chance), it eventually paid off. Snyder also point blank said he had fears of being sued by the studio for doing this all this time (WB was very unwilling to release it since the Executive Meddling-riddled theatrical cut's Box Office Bomb).
- Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files, is this. It's like crack for wizar... er, authors.
- After the ending of Changes, where Harry apparently died at the end he very promptly stated on his website that the next book will be called Ghost Story. Yeah, while his many fans are consumed with debate over whether Harry is dead or not. Not to mention whether or not he'll be back in some form or another.
- Of course, he also said that Harry is D-E-D Dead, so it isn't that much of a tease.
- Turns out he's Only Mostly Dead, and now back in the land of the living.
- Christopher Paolini regularly drops hints and "spoilers" regarding his future books. For example, before Brisingr came out, he stated that Eragon would meet a god, a terrifying new enemy that laughs will appear, and a character will become pregnant. He's currently doing similar things while working on Book IV, including dropping random details like, "I just wrote about a duel to the death," or "Eragon is chained up, bloody, with his shirt off, and in a dungeon."
- Vicky Holmes of the Warrior Cats series. She likes being particularly vague.
Fan: Can you tell us anything about Yellowfang's Secret?
Vicky: Yellowfang will be in it. She will have a secret. Bad things will happen.
- Bryan Davis absolutely loves to interact with his fans, and is almost the patron saint of Exact Words. This results in a LOT of teasing of the fans. The thing is, most of the fans love it.
- Similarly, J. K. Rowling had quite a bit of fun in her interviews over Harry Potter, dropping teases such as tantalizing paragraphs and details from the long-awaited fifth book. These interview details were picked over as cleanly as any line in the books themselves when it came to plotting out the events of book seven. She was also quick to stamp out erroneous rumors (Mark Evans? Harry Potter and the Green Flame Torch, anyone?)
- Eoin "Trollfer" Colfer. Don't take anything he says in his interviews about a future book as final word. His hints are worth more than straight answers.
- Considering Cassandra Clare's posts on Tumblr, she is most certainly this. She deliberately gives out little snippets from her unreleased books that she knows will mess with her fans' heads.
- Like the above example, Maggie Stiefvater has been known to release out of context snippets from upcoming books. She has also been known to taunt fans with the fact that she is indeed killing off the main male character of The Raven Cycle, something she has been quite open about from book one, as it's part of the series premise. When fans go into denial, talk about him having a future, or ask her not to kill him, she borders on Trolling Creator with her little reminders that boil down to, "Hahaha, that boy is going down."
- Neal Shusterman, when announcing the movie deal for Unwind, spent several minutes on Facebook posting things like "ATTENTION!" "DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION?" "THIS IS BIG..." before finally announcing it.
- David Weber has an official forum. His primary use for this forum is, naturally, to set the treecat among the Sphinxian chipmunks with various teases, out-of-context excerpts, and suspiciously well-timed "tum te tum te tum"s, then vanish to parts unknown to watch the fur fly. One can only assume popcorn is involved.
- Daredevil (2015): Charlie Cox has become smart enough to realize that if he mentions a particular Daredevil rogue or character he hopes to interact with as Matt Murdock, that clickbait sites will make articles out of it. To the point that at one panel, he outright said he wouldn't answer such a question from a fan because of what the clickbait sites would do, only to then turn and name-drop Stilt-Man.
- Doctor Who: This almost seems to be a job requirement for New Series showrunners.
- Russell T Davies traditionally dropped random words from upcoming stories in his Doctor Who Magazine column, some of which could (he knows) spur on Epileptic Trees-type theories. (This apart from his outright lying about future stories)
- Most notably, "The Next Doctor". The title was revealed around the time David Tennant was confirmed to be leaving the show, and fandom began guessing who the next Doctor would be, with the production team treating it as if the episode would be introducing the new actor. As it turned out, the eponymous character wasn't the Doctor's next incarnation at all, the ruse being explained away halfway through the episode.
- The cliffhangers at the end of "Last of the Time Lords" (the Titanic crashes through the wall of the TARDIS) and "The Stolen Earth" (the Doctor begins regenerating) were both easily and effortlessly resolved within the first minute of the following episode, seemingly designed specifically to whip the audience into a frenzy in the meantime.
- Absolutely everything about "The Doctor's Daughter", beginning with the title and ending with the... ending.
- Steven Moffat outright says he routinely lies about things, encourages people to give out fake spoilers, and is generally good at trolling the fandom.
- In late 2013, Paul McGann started making tweets about rumours he was going to be in the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who. He followed this up by suggesting, in the same way, that "Dame Tennant" wasn't. It may depend which anniversary special he's talking about.
- It turned out to be this one.
- Chris Chibnall has developed a habit of making Exact Words statements to avoid spoilers without technically lying:
- He first got into the act before even officially starting the job: when asked if his run of the show would include a female Doctor, he replied, "Nothing is ruled out but I dont want the casting to be a gimmick and thats all I can say," which was widely interpreted as a "no". Come July 2017, and Jodie Whittaker was officially announced as the Thirteenth Doctor. Indeed, it was later revealed that not only had Chibnall intended to cast a female Doctor in the first place, being allowed to do so was a condition he insisted on before he would take the job of showrunner at all.
- At SDCC 2018, when he was asked about there being a Christmas special that year, he said they seemed to be making an 11th episode, even thought they only had a series of 10, notably without actually saying the word "Christmas". Come November, it was officially confirmed that the holiday special had been moved to New Year's Day.
- He also said there would be no old villains appearing in Series 11. The aforementioned New Year's special, "Resolution", isn't technically part of the season, resulting in this Christmas teaser, revealing a certain well-known member of the Doctor's Rogues Gallery to be in the episode.
- Russell T Davies traditionally dropped random words from upcoming stories in his Doctor Who Magazine column, some of which could (he knows) spur on Epileptic Trees-type theories. (This apart from his outright lying about future stories)
- While Lost was on the air, "Darlton" made infuriatingly hilarious podcasts regarding answering what happened and teasing whatever would appear.
- The Mandalorian executive producer Kathleen Kennedy announced at the 2020 Disney Investor Day that "the next chapter" would begin in December 2021, seemingly confirming the timeframe for the third season's release. However, the Season 2 finale would end by instead confirming a Spin-Off, The Book of Boba Fett, for that timeframe. Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau later clarified that Kennedy's announcement cryptically referred to The Book of Boba Fett, and that The Mandalorian Season 3 wouldn't begin filming until after production on Boba Fett wraps up.
- Shane Brennan, the current showrunner over at NCIS, only seems to talk to the media if he wants to stir up shipping drama in the fandom.
- Dan Schneider became this when he joined the internet fandom a season into the airing of iCarly. He's heavily pushed his 2 current shows iCarly and Victorious online and they have some of the best tie-in websites of any media, television or otherwise. He become aware of fandom and the almost exclusive Shipping focus. He then turned what was a relatively non-explosive online community into a Sam/Freddie vs Carly/Freddie Ship War that rivalled anything Nick had ever seen including Kaatang/Zutara. The usual method was inserting lines into his blogs referencing whatever pairing was not the focus of the episode. Caused something of a backlash when the fans figured out what was happening.
- Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat (also mentioned above in the Doctor Who section) revels in this.
- From his Twitter: "Apparently I "confirmed" a romantic relationship between Sherlock and Irene Adler. Despite my 140 character limit can I be very clear that I"
- On the subject of the Sherlock series 2 cliffhanger: "We're going to be complete bastards about it."
- The creator of Wizards of Waverly Place, Todd J. Greenwald, is known to joke about the Justin/Alex pairing, once stating that if he ever runs out of ideas, he'll do a whole season of Jalex-filled episodes.
- Orbital's second album, Orbital 2, opens with a quote sampled from Star Trek—the same quote that opened their first album, Orbital. This was done to make folks listening to the second album think, briefly, that they had somehow bought a mispressing of the first album. The intro on the very next track is muffled, scratchy, and repetitive—so that people listening to the album on vinyl would think that their brand-new copy is already damaged.
- Sound Horizon's Revo has gone on record saying that he sometimes puts something in a song simply because he knows that the fans will drive themselves crazy trying to figure out what it means.
Revo: Im even plotting to make you all suspicious and go Maybe theres something more to this?.
- Type O Negative played similar tricks to Orbital with the openings of their albums October Rust and World Coming Down: The first track of October Rust is "Bad Ground", 38 seconds of buzzing designed to make the listener think their speakers aren't plugged in properly. Meanwhile, the first track of World Coming Down is "Skip It", 11 seconds of a skipping CD, followed by guitarist Kenny Hickey shouting "Sucker!". The cassette version of World Coming Down even changes the intro to the sounds of a tape being eaten instead.
- The writers for Exalted enjoy posting spoilers with all the interesting parts redacted just a little too much.
- Greg Farshtey, the main writer for BIONICLE, is technically not a Lying Creator, but he exploits Exact Words at every opportunity he can, and then turns around and points out that "I never said that". This has eventually led to a highly suspicious fandom that picks apart everything he says for even the slightest hint of ambiguity.
- Oh Bungie, you've teased us with a reveal just made a few days ago. You teased us SINCE 2000! Actually, a whole bunch of them. And never trust a thing they say. They are not working on Halo 3. They are not working on another Halo game after Halo 3. Halo: Reach is definitely the last Halo game ever. Right.
- That last one was actually true (not including the Halo: CE Updated Re-release). There will be more Halo games, but they aren't made by Bungie.
- They've at least stopped teasing for the time being by announcing at E3 2011 that they planned on making a total of 10 Halo games, with the tenth being the Updated Re-release of Halo: CE.
- Hideo Kojima not only teases the audience, he openly mocks their pain. See the Metal Gear Solid entry in Fan Disservice for details.
- ZUN, creator of Touhou Project, is known by the fanbase as its biggest troll.
- Valve is infamous for trolling their fans, particularly when there's a Team Fortress 2 update on the way.
- Going to ask Valve on whether or not episode 3 for Half-Life 2 (or Half-Life 3) will ever be produced? Expect answers of every kind that does not include a yes or no.
- Subverted/justified with the Pyro; they only teased us with details about his/her gender, nationality, and origin because they don't know either.
- Scott Cawthon, of Five Nights at Freddy's has gotten increasingly better with this, as might be evidenced by one of his Steam posts:
Scott: Five Nights at Freddy's 3 had it's first round of beta-testing the other night. I have two faithful beta-testers who always help me out (mmost of yyou probably know who they are). The game still nneeds aa lot of work of course; it's still very bare bones at the mmomeent, but the game succeeded iin making my testerss jump out of their sseats. One of the features I didn't warn them about were the *** *** *** *** **, which they found very effective. ;) PPlus "he" was much more aggrressiive than I'd annticipated and prevented my testers from ggetting past nightt 2. All in all, however, everrything went very well aand I'm on track to release the game as pplanned. :)
- Note that the repeating letters spell "My Name Is Springtrap" (animatronic from the third game) and that he still hasn't said what the 14-letter word is, despite the game having came out already.
- Ryukishi07, author of the When They Cry mystery series, reportedly monitors online forums for popular fan theories so he can brutally smash them or set them up as gigantic red herrings in the next installment.
- Square Enix and the much anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake. SE loves to tease the idea of the remake only to debunk again and again. With E3 2015, seems like it's finally happening.
- Final Fantasy Versus XIII was notorious for this. About 7 years of hush-hush ensued until the announcement of its change to Final Fantasy XV. Imposing questions about the game would elicit a response completely unrelated to Versus XIII.
- When the "Shadowbringers" expansion was announced for at a Final Fantasy XIV fan festival, Naoki Yoshida appeared to discuss the expansion while wearing a Bugs Bunny shirt, teasing a new playable race which was later revealed to be the heavily fan-requested viera.
- Ed Boon, co-creator and current executive producer of the Mortal Kombat series, seems to be this if one checks his Twitter updates. For example, several fans wondered why the 2011 installment didn't include the purple ninja Rain, as the game almost exclusively features the characters from the original trilogy. One fan proclaimed "RAIN!!!!" on Boon's Twitter, requesting Rain to be added as DLC. Boon's reply? This. Klassic. (That being said, Rain did eventually make it onto the roster and then reappeared in the following entry as a fairly important NPC.)
- For a specific in-game example, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance introduced the Krypt and had purchasable koffins ranging from AA to ZZ. Koffin FU, unsurprisingly, is empty.
- Street Fighter IV producer Yoshinori Ono has been accused of trolling the fans. He personally declares it part of his job to troll.
- Suda51's old game The Silver Case has been in development for a remake for the DS for several years. Early 2010 he showed off the DS port on an internet livestream, proving that it works... but there's no release date. It eventually got a PS4 version in 2018, since the initial plans fell through.
- BioWare seems to be milking the fan reaction to the Gainax Ending of Mass Effect 3.
- Overkill Software enjoyed teasing their fans when they dropped subtle and vague hints leading towards a secret in PAYDAY: The Heist. Every time a question was asked, the creators replied with answers that were basically "No except yes" or "It is quite possible."
- Overkill continued the trend for the sequel, PAYDAY 2. Producer Almir Listo has a habit of dismissing questions with a ";)" if he doesn't want them answered.
- Ever since Mojang found out about Minecraft's Urban Legend of Zelda Herobrine, every single update changelog has included a line stating "Removed Herobrine." Word of God on the topic consists mostly of flat out stating that there's no Herobrine and that the entries were deliberately put there to toy with the community but also includes a good bit of Suspiciously Specific Denial, refusal to comment, and declaration that everything you've heard is true (depending on who at Mojang you ask, what day it is, the current status of the tide, and wither or not Herobrine is currently behind them).
- The trailer reveal for Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U and 3DS starts off showing what appears to be a Animal Crossing game until the letter the Villager drops is revealed to have the Smash Bros logo on the seal. The trailer then shows off the actual game.
- The reveal of the Wii Fit Trainer as a playable character was planned right from the start to be a big "WTF?" for the fans. Masahiro Sakurai has even stated, for the record, that they chose her to be in the game because no-one would expect or predict her to be in the game.
- Other notable teases include unveiling a Rayman trophy on the day Robin and Lucina would be announced, and a screenshot of a Mii Fighter wearing Meta Knight's mask the day before Meta Knight was confirmed.
- The Switch incarnation pulls a trailer out at the tail-end of the Splatoon 2 portion of a Direct, disguising itself as a revamped trailer for the first game while implying it would be remade for the system. Then the big flaming Smash symbol shows up behind the Inklings, revealing the silhouettes of several mainstays (and freaking out the Inkling Girl immensely).
- Another teaser for Ultimate shows Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong lounging around when their house starts rumbling. They look outside and see the silhouette of a crocodile wearing a crown - which turns out to be King Dedede in a disguise. Dedede looks into the camera and laughs uproariously before being knocked aside by the real King K. Roolnote .
- The gag is repeated in a DLC trailer, with the Duck Hunt dog appearing as another misleading silhouette and doing his trademark laugh at the viewer, then getting KO'd by Banjo and Kazooie.
- Nintendo would tease another Animal Crossing game by showing Isabelle managing the town hall while the Villager was away; naturally it turned out to be the announcement for Isabelle in Ultimate. For the sake of Animal Crossing fans who were once again used as a joke in a Smash Bros. announcement, the trailer was immediately followed by Tom Nook confirming that a real Animal Crossing game was coming in 2019.
- SuperBot Entertainment, the team behind PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale became (in)famous for this across the reveals leading up to the game's release, particularly lead game designer Omar "Stay Tuned" Kendall.
- Undertale: On the official soundtrack, Toby Fox included a Boss Remix of Sans' theme that isn't in the game. The title is actually "Song That Might Play When You Fight Sans." You only fight Sans in a "Genocide Run," and when you do, the track played is Fox's Signature Song, "MEGALOVANIA."
- Before every Stellaris dev diary outlining a new feature or bugfix, whether it be an expansion pack or simply one of Paradox's expansive patches, Martin "Wiz" Anward will tweet teasers. He will also answer questions on Twitter, sometimes delighting in the glorious non-answers he gives when someone asks a question he isn't ready to reveal the answer to.
- In January 2018, Nintendo fans were anxiously awaiting the announcement of a rumored January 11th Nintendo Direct.note Yes, not the video itself, but the announcement that there would be one. The fanbase threw themselves into an absolute fervor, with cries of "Reset the clock!" occurring every hour for days in anticipation. Eventually, Nintendo of America acknowledged this on January 10th... by posting a picture of Chibi-Robo! on fire. That other video game PR accounts soon responded to with pictures their own characters being immolated. This caused the fanbase to go even more insane. Video game forum ResetEra in particular had amused mods changing the site's logo and relaxing thread restrictions to further encourage the chaos of members screaming about cleaning robots, hot dog men, and anime characters. See this video for a little taste. A Nintendo Direct would end up being quietly dropped the following morning.
- Every new character in Marvel Puzzle Quest gets a clue in each the release notes and the monthly preview. For instance, Spider-Man 2099 had "A Star Is Reborn" (Legacy Character) and MAXimum Time (he got powers through a spider created by AlcheMAX). And at times it's obtuse - "Under the Pale Moonlight" was Yelena Belova because she was the "Pale Little Spider" and acted mostly at night - or misdirecting - "Waves piling on" had people considering water characters, but it was Iron Fist, given the phrase is an anagram for "Living weapons".
- The devs of Katawa Shoujo have said that at this point, they don't even know when they're teasing and when they're not. (For instance, their remark that the never-seen principal is a masked wrestler is both a joke, and canon, and it will continue to be canon until and unless he appears in the finished game and turns out not to be a masked wrestler - which he didn't, so he can be assumed to be a masked wrestler.)
- One thread on the KS forums discussed which, if any or all, of the five main girls were virgins before meeting Hisao (KS is an eroge, after all). After several people asked the devs about it, one of them logged onto the forum and posted a hilariously NSFW "answer" involving all five girls having lost their virginity to "gigantic space horse demons with twelve penises". Definitely trolling there. Another, possibly saner, dev has said that their Word of God means nothing, and that the only things to be confirmed as canon are in the VN itself; and just for the record, Lily was not a virgin and indeed says this to Hisao.
- Friendly Hostility fans have been kept on tenterhooks as the comic approaches its finale, since the status of Fox and Collin's relationship, which has, until now, been unshakable is far from certain. Reading the commentary may result in seasickness as Fuhr keeps the audience swinging from one conclusion to another. A good example of creator pedigree comes into play here - Fuhr previously sunk the ship of Cy and Skids in Boy Meets Boy, and has issued firm statments that certain members of the cast specifically Skids and Tybalt will never see the others again.
- While F.H. was resolved in its Bittersweet Ending, sequel Other People's Business looks set to remove the "sweet" part of "bittersweet" entirely, as Fuhr strongly implies that Collin ended up married to the comic's resident hitman. Is there any concrete statement confirming this? Watching the fans working themselves into a frenzy as everyone tries to suss it out, the answer remains "Hell, no."
- Confirmed. Leon/Collin shippers rejoiced, Fox/Collin advocates wept and followed the author's advice to declare "Alternate Universe".
- Tom Siddell, of Gunnerkrigg Court, is very good at this, and can be rather acerbic with it as well. The recent City Face short demonstrates this rather nicely.
- Fred Gallagher of Megatokyo does this from time to time. Miho in particular was a figure of mystery for a long time.
- Randy K. Milholland of Something*Positive is known to do this. An example is his admittance that the continual Ship Tease between characters Davan and Pee Jee would never actually lead to anything, the result of an early promise he made to the woman that Pee Jee was based on, but he decided to "play with" the readership concerning the pairing.
- Rich Burlew, of The Order of the Stick quite frequently sets the forums ablaze with cryptic comments and reveals, especially regarding the Monster in the Darkness, and ever since he announced that in his opinion, it is guessable what the Monster is, there have been at least one, mostly more threads at any one time discussing it.
- Brian Clevinger, creator of 8-Bit Theater and Atomic Robo is one of those few Teasing Creators who actually are unfairly toying with their readership, but is still pretty beloved because he makes it funny. In this case, it's less Ship Teasing and more 'changing the plot if you even try to guess what's going on, and hell why not have an Anti-Climax instead of an awesome fight'. His most common quote is this:
"My favourite joke is the one played on the reader."
- Once, he attempted what was perhaps his biggest joke on the readers at the time, when he appeared to end the entire comic on a horrible anticlimax, expecting to get a ton of hate mail and rile up his fans. This backfired when he got a ton of mail sincerely thanking him for the years of great comics, and assuring him that the anticlamix was horrible, and thus, the perfect ending for the particular comic. He appreciated the irony; his favorite joke, a joke on the reader, whipped right back around and became a joke on HIM.
- Aeire, author of Queen of Wands, was notorious for this. Mostly avoiding regular boyfriends for Kestrel (the main character), the strip introduced many handsome, charming or interesting male characters for the sole purpose of getting the fanbase to Ship them with her.
- When told of an Epileptic Tree, the author of Keychain of Creation will state that it is true, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, even if it contradicts established fact.
- He probably delegates fitting these Epileptic Trees in the weave of Creation to Pattern Spiders. He has been known to employ them at least on one account to retroactively vanish an Essence Cannon from the character, so
- Andrew Hussie has something of a widespread reputation with this, especially the farther things get in Homestuck.
"I think I ruined a solid year's worth of perfectly good shipping with recent revelations. WHOOPSEE DAISEE"
- When he posted a panel that he didn't want spoiled, he made a fake panel and asked the readers that if they had to post an image on their blogs, post the fake.
- He also likes to lampshade his enjoyment in keeping the readers guessing, especially when he's feeling particularly sarcastic, such as here (major spoilers through the link):
Suddenly it becomes painfully clear that we aren't going to get a look at this thing. At least not for a while. How typical.Why don't we stop wasting everyone's time, shut the lid on this lousy MacGuffin, and get on with it.
- Dan Shive of El Goonish Shive, likes to mess with shippers' heads. Some times, in the rant, he blames this behaviour on bizarre things that he alleges is out of his control. Like contractually binding things written by his past self on napkins:
Well, here's the thing: I found another bar napkin, and this one says I'm contractually obligated to discourage shipping just as often as I encourage it in order to more efficiently mess with people's heads. I'd be opposed to such horrible behavior, but, you know, napkin. My hands are tied.
- The creators of morphE are very aware that there are fans who look through their Tumblr/Deviantart (not to mention the World of Darkness source books) to find out more about plot before it is revealed. One of the four in particular loves diving into the comments to encourage such behavior and warn that it is ultimately futile because they are changing the plot to such spoilers.
- Savannah, author of Amya, took an Image Macro made by a commenter of a Les Yay bit on page 5.29, and modified it further to make it even more Les Yay as a joke.
- Red vs. Blue fans often suspect Rooster Teeth (the producing company) of doing this. Fortunately, thus far annoyance has never outweighed addiction, and the balance of humor remains excellent.
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Mr. Rochester ,who has been anxiously anticipated since the beginning of the series, appeared in episode 10. Viewers were teased by one shot of his body with Jitter Cam from a long distance. His clothes (striped green and pink socks! skinny jeans!) were showed in detail, as well as his injured leg. In episode 11, viewers got torsoed and loose-shirted, plus there was a lot of focus on his hands. It was revealed that he has a tattoo and that he reads geeky books. No such luck as seeing but half his face, though. In episode 12, Adele set up the camera to record their dinner, but alas, she pointed it at her father's back, and it recorded his head from the back and some half-profile shots. Episode 13 looked like the gentle trolling might continue, but Jane made him sit in front of her camera and his face was finally revealed. Also, they credited his actor on their web-page which has pictures of cast and characters, but instead of Mr. Wright's photo, there were several pictures with aluminium products (Mr. Rochester owns a company specializing in aluminium).
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Viewers kept telling Lizzie and other characters, as well as the creative team, that they really wanted to see Darcy. They begged at least to have a peek at his photo, because most characters had Twitters and Facebook pages and posted lots of stuff from their parties and gatherings. However, he was first shown very late in the story — in episode 59 (out of 100) and to boot, only his body was seen while his head was outside the camera angle. The credits in the video description listed Darcy's actor as "?". At that point it was almost unbearable to some fans, but luckily, in the next episode, Darcy was revealed.
- Wildbow, writer of Worm, isn't above playing with his readers:
- The comments to Interlude 26b demonstrate.
endgame: Out of curiosity, wildbow, can Gray Boy deactivate the time loops around people he has frozen? Or are they just stuck there forever?
- On another occasion, he posted a rather grim and cynical "Word of God" statement on what happened in Worm's ending... which he then immediately followed up with "Just kidding. Or am I?" written in tiny print.
- The comments to Interlude 26b demonstrate.
- Jeff Williams, composer for RWBY, put two songs on the official soundtrack for Volume 4 that almost certainly supported contradictory ships; "Bmblb" for Bumblebee (Blake-Yang), the most popular ship in the show, and "Like Morning Follows Night" for Black Sun (Blake-Sun), the main rival ship for Blake and the one largely supported by events in Vol. 4. It's pretty obvious that he's stirring the pot in the Ship-to-Ship Combat.
- The Venture Bros. writers Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick love to mess with the fans. They have claimed that third season Scrappies, The Murderous Moppets, will be getting more screentime in the next season just to spite the fans who don't like them (which is the exact opposite of what happens in season 4, as so far one of their few roles is The Monarch telling them to quit bothering everyone). They also throw in Brick Joke references to episodes that nobody (including themselves) likes all that much and threaten (hilariously) to kill off popular characters. Oh, and the episode commentary for the first episode of season three spoils all of the twists in the season finale because, according to them, nobody should listen to the commentary before watching the episodes. Doc Hammer actually made it his personal mission to spoil the end of season 3 in every episode commentary for said season. In the first episode, he did it accidentally, then he decided that if you listen to the commentaries before finishing the season you deserve what you get.
- It's hard to decide if the people working on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are Teasing or Trolling Creator.
Meghan McCarthy: You do want these, right? I get so confused.
- The fans worked themselves into an absolute tizzy over the second season. The creators' response? A picture of a single scene with Twilight reading a book labeled "SPOILERZ GUIS!" Then, just for extra Trolliness, when the fandom exploded over that picture, they posted another picture. What can you see in the background of the second picture? The post of the first picture.
- Before Season 3, people who worked on the show posted spoilers on their Twitter accounts. These spoilers were the fact that the new season would be cute and would contain ponies.
- Shortly after Saberspark uploaded a Youtube video in which one fan of the show told another (both portrayed by Saberspark) he was leaving the fandom because the show's creators were, among other things, "throwing pandas at us"note , showrunner Meghan McCarthy tweeted a photo of a panda munching on bamboo.
- In response to a TV listing for the non-existent episode "Friendship Is Magic Part 1, Strawberry Elves", Meghan McCarthy tweeted that the elves were actually blueberry, and that "Pinkie Pie kills them all and bakes them into cupcakes".note
- Prior to animatics of Season 4 being released at San Diego ComicCon 2013, showrunner Meghan McCarthy put out a list of 26 episode titles, none of which could reasonably be seen as anything other than her and the writers teasing the fans. They were posted on April Fools' Day, after all. (A couple of them did turn out to be real, though.)
- M.A. Larson is the absolute king of this, going far enough to even pop up in fan videos to make fun of the show and himself. He loves to poke fun at things like Shipping, the fan reaction to Alicorn Twilight, and the bad taste Flash Sentry left in most fans' mouths. He's also quite popular for it, since he's a hell of a nice guy in real life as well as a very good writer.
- The producers of ThunderCats (2011) love getting in touch with their fans and screwing with their heads. The set up the Crew of Omens blog to field questions, showcase fanart, and share cosplays with their viewers and answer almost every question with a sly "maybe" and a wink. To be fair they also feature previews of the newest episodes and behind-the-scenes stuff fans normally would only get to see on a DVD box set.
- Francisco Angones, the co-producer and story editor for DuckTales (2017) , loves being this trope:
- Whenever he was directly asked about Darkwing Duck's chances of showing up, would quote his Mad Libs Catchphrase, and then say "Never heard of him." He was later confirmed to be showing up at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con.
- He also revealed that Duckworth appears in the intro sequence, but not any more details. Fan speculation has gone wild. "McMystery at McDuck McManor!" finally reveals the truth: he is the skull-headed ghost that scares the children.
- Darkwing Duck is introduced as a character in an in-universe tv show, played by an in-universe actor named Jim Starling. In real life, a fan asked if that meant a Goslyn also existed. His response was "Darkwing without Gosalyn is not Darkwing." Fans thought that meant Goslyn would be appearing eventually. As it turned out, there was no Goslyn in the in-universe tv show, and therefore that Darkwing was never the real Darkwing. In fact, Jim Starling becomes Negaduck.
- In the weeks leading up to the second season finale, he teased that a character would be killed off before the season was over, and that said character was on the Season 3 poster from that year's San Diego Comic Con. Epileptic Trees ensued, with Penumbra being seen as the most likely candidate. The "death" was that of a Mickey Mouse-shaped (and voiced) Companion Cube watermelon, which was unceremoniously eaten by Gladstone and Fethry, as well as two of Gyro's clones, one of whom may or not have been the real Gyro.