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The Ending Changes Everything

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"Edgar Allan Poe argued that every story should be written for the last paragraph or perhaps for the last line; This requirement can be an exaggeration, but it is the exaggeration or simplification of an undoubted fact. It means that a predetermined outcome must order the vicissitudes of the fable. Since the reader of our time is also a critic, a man who knows, and anticipates, the literary devices, the story must consist of two arguments; a false one, which is vaguely indicated, and another, the authentic one, which will be kept secret until the end."
Jorge Luis Borges, Complete Works, Vol IV, 155..

The Gordian Knot of Twist Endings.

When the Ending Changes Everything, it calls into question exactly how much of what you've seen was actually real or how to interpret what you have seen so far. A charitable director (or one who wants to show off how clever the script is) might give you a Once More, with Clarity! montage to help you work it out. One thing that is for certain, it creates a very different experience when you revisit the story.

There are various associated tropes used in achieving this:

See also Commercial Switcheroo, where an advertisement presents itself as being for one product, then the ending subverts it and makes it an ad for something else. For when the very end of a work changes everything, see All There in the Stinger.

An associated term is "Paraprosdokian", where the ending of sentence or phrase changes causes the latener to reframe the meaning of the previous statement(s). The Other Wiki has more details and examples

Note: This is a Spoilered Rotten trope, that means that EVERY SINGLE EXAMPLE on this list is a spoiler by default and most of them will be unmarked. This is your last warning, only proceed if you really believe you can handle this list.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Seitokai no Ichizon: The introduction of the bullying victim Nakameguro lead to some interesting revelations on Sugisaki's side, shedding a completely new light on the relationship between him and the girls as well as his desire to create a harem.
  • Death Note: Another Note. Naomi Misora is conscripted by L to solve a series of murders in Los Angeles. She's joined in her investigation by a mysterious young man with messy hair, white skin and bags under his eyes using the pseudonym "Ryuzaki" - must be L, right? The ending reveals the man is actually the murderer, Beyond Birthday, who is obsessed with L and modeled his appearance on him. This leads to a lot of Fridge Horror considering Naomi's interactions with him throughout the book.
  • Paranoia Agent begins with Tsukiko Sagi being attacked by a mysterious, baseball-bat-wielding assailant. The attacker, Shonen Bat, then begins to strike various other victims. Turns out that the first attack was faked by Tsukiko herself in order to relieve some of the pressure she was put under on her job. Unfortunately, Shonen Bat spread like a particularly violent meme, and it has a life of its own now...
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: "I'm a demon." That's Stocking, Panty's sister. After she returned from Heaven. Who then promptly slices Panty up into 666 pieces. Also, the Big Bad wasn't slain by the duo's Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl: The last episode of the anime caps off with Yashiro (the little girl who runs around in an astronaut suit and insists she is an ESPer) saving Makoto's life by having him move back the EXACT number of steps required to not die from a meteorite and disappearing right after. Immediately prior to this, she had said she would prove her abilities. Incredibly convenient coincidence or she was telling the truth about her abilities? Since the whole show up 'til that point had broken down the existence of the supernatural as nothing but figments of people's imaginations it threw the whole message in a different direction, becoming more along the lines of "keep an open mind, because you never know" and not actually answering the question of whether or not the supernatural exists.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: Up until the end you might view the series as a random collection of slapstick humor, social critique and a few horror elements, without any overall connection. But the last chapter of the manga (not included in the anime) reveals that the girl named Kafuka Fuura (Pen name) died before the start of the series. Everyone in class has an organ transplant of her, through which she is able to possess anyone at will, take over their body and convince everyone else through some kind of mass hypnosis that she is the girl she once was. That is also the reason why we never see all the girls of the class at once because either the missing girl is Kafuka, because she is not real anymore, or it is the girl Kafuka is possessing at the moment. This seems like an asspull but interestingly there are hints about this throughout the whole series, which you can pick up while watching but you would never be able to deduce this twist. For example watch/read the bit about Meru-Meru's character again, from the very beginning of the series. Watch Kafuka closely. She is possessing Abiru in that scene, indicated by the bandage on her arm that would otherwise be there for no reason, and the zoom in on her left eye spelling DEATH, which is the eye Abiru has always covered.
  • Initially, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion seems to be the story of how Homura freed her friends from a Lotus-Eater Machine. But in the ending- right when the main conflict of that story is about to be resolved- Homura seizes her Love Interest and traps her in a false universe, transforming into a demon in the process. It's at that point the movie's true plot is revealed: to explore the reasons and process by which Homura became a villain. That plot is foreshadowed often in symbolism (and certain seemingly innocuous conversations), but first-time watchers won't anticipate it unless they know exactly what to look for and/or interpret Homura's character a specific way.
  • In the final episode of Your Lie in April, Kaori's goodbye letter reveals that she was inspired to become a musician by Kousei during his Child Prodigy days, that she had wanted to play music with him ever since she was a little girl, and that she lied about liking Watari in order to get close to Kousei.
  • The short manga Mama Mama by Amano Shunita seems to be a fluffy Yuri Genre manga about two women and their children. The very last page reveals that they're actually married neighbors who are cheating on their husbands. It really changes the line "Is this what 'happiness' really feels like?" from being cute to depressing, especially since the woman was crying while saying it.
  • In one chapter of the Ace Attorney Case Files manga, Phoenix gets interviewed by a female reporter, who asks for his help in clearing the name of a woman who had been convicted of killing her boyfriend, and committed suicide after a year in prison. After Phoenix does so, he gets a picture of the girlfriend... who looks exactly like the reporter he spoke with.
  • Fairy Tail
    • In Fairy Tail Zero, toward the end, it's revealed that Zera, Mavis' friend and the only other survivor of Red Lizard, is, in fact, a special illusion that she created, which is only visible to her, since the real Zera died of her wounds on the day Blue Skull attacked. Its also revealed that the other Fairy Tail founders knew that Zera wasn't real, but kept it secret for Mavis' sake.
    • A similar twist to the above occurs in the Welcome to Fairy Hills side story. With an unpaid request that many dismissed as a prank, the eponymous dormitory's crotchety and abrasive old landlady, Hilda, hires Lucy to do a treasure hunt, insisting that she keep it secret from the tenants. Once Lucy finds the treasure, she calls out to Hilda, but Erza comes over. After Lucy finally tells Erza about the treasure hunt and the person who sent her on it, Erza tells Lucy that Hilda has been dead for six years, which means that Lucy was interacting with a ghost all along.
    • In the Natsu and Asuka side story, Natsu has to do everything Asuka tells him to after losing a sharpshooting challenge against her. In the climax, when Natsu defeats the thieves trying to steal Asuka's snow globe by shooting down their gliders (pushing Asuka's hat down to make her think she made the shot with her popgun), it's made clear that he lost on purpose, and thus went through everything willingly.
  • Jaco the Galactic Patrolman reveals in the final chapter that the entire story was a Stealth Prequel to Dragon Ball, and that the alien pod Jaco came down to Earth to stop contained Goku, meaning the whole mission was Doomed by Canon.
  • The credit sequence and post-credit scene of Episode 10 of Yuri!!! on Ice was this. In one fell swoop, it drastically changed every preconception the viewers had about the show's main trio.
    • Victor isn't malicious, out to ruin Yuri's career, or dying. He became Yuri's coach because Yuri asked him to.
    • Yuri can be seductive in the persona of Eros, yes. But he's...a fun drunk, it turns out. And capable of great feats like executing pole dancing moves perfectly and winning a dance off while having a lot of champagne in his system. He ended the scene cozying up to Victor, basically grinding on him, while an entire ballroom - complete with a half-naked Chris and a fuming Yurio - was staring. A far cry from the skittishly frightened and awed Nikiforov fanboy we met earlier.
    • Yurio claimed to have been dragged into the danceoff. He was very clearly enjoying himself, from what the photos show. And his fuming while Yuri was, uh, getting closely acquainted with Victor, can be taken as a sign of the Episode 12 reveal that he actually admired Yuri all along.
  • In the yuri oneshot Unfaithful, the protagonist, Tashiron, is in an abusive relationship with her girlfriend, who belittles her for forgetting to buy beer, which the girlfriend won't even let Tashiron drink because she's not the breadwinner. While going out to buy the beer, Tashiron meets up with Ootsuki, her coworker from her part-time job (which she got for some semblance of independence), and they end up drinking together. Tashiron drunkenly admits that she has feelings for Ootsuki even though she has a girlfriend, and she and Ootsuki offer to go out again. On the final page, Ootsuki replays a clip from the evening, and reveals that she had taken advantage of Tashiron's situation, having learned of Tashiron's unhappy relationship by eavesdropping on her and "playing the cool senior card" to win her over.
  • The oneshot Akuryou is about a girl named Mayu, whose best friend, Nami, claims to be able to see ghosts. In the end, it's revealed that Nami is actually a ghost, or at least an Imaginary Friend only Mayu can see, which causes everything to come off differently. Not only does Mayu's refusal to believe in ghosts come off as a refusal to accept that her best friend is one, but when the bullies write hateful messages in "Nami's" notebook, said messages are presumably intended for Mayu.
  • The plot of the Laid-Back Camp spinoff, "Room Camp," a series of three-minute shorts, involves Nadeshiko going on the Yamanashi Kids' Stamp Rally with Aoi and Aki, filling out a stamp book with stamps from various local landmarks to win a year's worth of Minobu steamed buns. At the end of the series, it turns out that the stamp rally was something the other two girls had made up. Nadeshiko, despite being new to town, actually suspected this for some time.
  • Hello World: Immediately before the credits, we are shown another synchronisation meter filling up and the thought-deleted older Naomi waking up from a coma to be greeted by an older Ruri. The film then shows this is happening on the moon. Immediately, all the allegedly historical events depicted as captured and replicated by ALLTALE, even before the alterations caused by both Naomis, become suspect in their veracity.
  • The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious: The eponymous Hero is very funny, Level Grinding like mad and taking everything overthetop seriously. Then you find out that He had been summoned before, fell in love with a heroine, was going to have a child with her, and they were all killed because he wasn't cautious or leveled enough. Despite his memory being erased, his behavior is clearly PTSD and ALL of this stops being funny.
  • In Kino's Journey, this happens with some stories.
    • In "Country of Liars," Kino meets a man at the gates who is desperately waiting for his lover to return from her journey. His friend reveals that he was a revolutionary who helped overthrow the country by throwing a grenade at the car carrying the royal family, but it turns out that his lover had been a princess in disguise. But then the man's housekeeper reveals that she's the princess the man loved, who survived due to the body doubles sacificing themselves, and posed as the man's housekeeper to stay with him despite him not knowing her identity. And then the man reveals that he actually knows that his housekeeper is the princess and the woman he loves, and keeps that a secret for everyone's sake.
    • In "A Kind Country," Kino stays in a country that is exceptionally welcoming of travelers like her despite its bad reputation, but insists that she leave at the end of her three-day stay. Hours after Kino departs, a volcanic eruption destroys the town, and it's revealed that the people of country had accepted their fate and wanted to welcome travelers in their final days to make a better legacy. This explains why they forced Kino to leave, why Sakura's parents tried to convince Kino to take her along and why an unusually young couple got married the day before the eruption.

    Comic Books 
  • The final volume of Scott Pilgrim forces the reader to question the validity of the story the previous five told. Gideon Graves revealed to Scott that he has tampered with his memories as Scott's real ones were "boring" and the result is that it forces the reader to re-examine Scott as a character. The earlier volumes have him generally come off as an eccentric, pathetic hipster geek, but this image starts to crack and we get a better idea of why Scott's friends dislike him so much. It all builds up to the aforementioned final volume, where we see the innocent way Scott views himself is partially the result of Gideon tampering with his memories; it turns out, in reality, he was a major Jerkass to his friends and past girlfriends, and his breakup with Envy was apparently nowhere near as one-sided as it was made out to be. A recurring theme is Scott learning from his past mistakes instead of (literally) running away from them.
  • The final issue of Ex Machina shows Hundred is a ruthless man who did indeed fix the mayoral election. Thus, the entire series shows a man who was not a noble figure but rather manipulative and conniving for power.
  • The very first issue of Thunderbolts had readers shown what appeared to be a team of noble heroes making their big debut. On the final page, they were revealed to be the Masters of Evil in disguise, thus transforming the entire thrust of the comic.
  • All-New Ultimates: O'Reilly's group had orders to avoid the gangs, despite being a unit specifically made for fighting gangs. You could easily think that Police Are Useless, and that it was just an excuse to send the Ultimates to the action. Things are more complicated than that. Ecstasy has several cops under her influence, including O'Reilly's commanding officer, and she works for Hydra. SHIELD was working on it, but then the Galactus event and the break of SHIELD left the case hanging.
  • The main character in Cinema Purgatorio is in Hell/Purgatory - that much is obvious. She reveals she killed "Geraldine" for stealing "Richard" away from her. The last issue reveals that Geraldine is her daughter, whom she blamed for driving her husband away.
  • Old Man Quill is a spin-off series of Old Man Logan, starred by Peter Quill, of the Guardians of the Galaxy. In this Bad Future, Quill must retrive the Ultimate Nullifier to stop the Universal Church of Truth, but keeps whining about the loss of Spartax, until the other Guardians take him out of his stupor and force him to go to Earth to find it. Many issues afterwards, they face the Imperial Guard, who tell him that he can't expect to defeat them all alone. He turns to his fellow Guardians, but they are not there. Instead, he remembers a video of them asking for help, and then dying. Mind tricks? Reality warping? No. If the older comics are read again, it can be noticed that Quill is the only character who ever talks or interacts with anyone else (barring interactions between the Guardians themselves), and other characters reporting the events only talk about him and not about a band of aliens.

  • A nervous man goes to a corner grocery and fumblingly grabs several boxes of cereal as he glances around. When he gets to the front counter, he gives them to the lady, who glances at the boxes, one of which is a box of Trix cereal, and, laughing to herself, says, "Trix? Trix are for kids!" while a scare chord plays. The man leaves his money on the counter and takes off while she's ringing him up. Getting home, he throws away the boxes of Wheaties and Cheerios, going over to his table and pouring the cereal into a bowl before unzipping his head, revealing he's the Trix Rabbit. He grabs a quart of milk, pours it onto the cereal... only for the container to be empty. "Got Milk?"
  • "I AM BORED" Really cute the first time... the second time, not so much.
    • To elaborate: This PSA shows a young high school student trying to build up the courage to talk to a girl he's crushing on. We see him leave her a cute note, her friends whisper to her about him, and a generally sweet love story which ends with the boy finally approaching her in the school gym...and that's when the doors open and a student with a gun comes in, ready to open fire. Watching the PSA a second time reveals that the young man was in the background of all of the previous shots, with clues indicating that he was miserable: he's bullied in the hallway and, as a teacher passes by, he mimes "shooting" her with a finger gun. The idea is that people often miss "warning signs" of dangerous behavior, and given that many viewers were surprised by the ending, it certainly proved its point.

    Fan Works 
  • The Star Trek: New Voyages episode "To Serve All My Days", which involves Chekov undergoing Rapid Aging to the point where he may have died, has a final scene at the end of the closing credits that may suggest that most of the episode was All Just a Dream.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics use this trope on occasion:
    • The Many Secret Origins of Scootaloo has Twilight Sparkle trying to find out who Scootaloo really is, but everyone she asks has their own wild take (such as being a secret agent, a vampire hunter, several variations of time traveler, the last survivor of planet Colton, and the Mysterious Mare Do Well) until she gets the truth straight from the filly's mouth when Scootaloo herself shows up. ...until the Stinger, when it turns out that Twilight is just a foal having a bad dream, and Scootaloo is her beloved stuffed doll. Also, Discord and Nightmare moon are her parents.
    • Trust has Trixie brought before Celestia and chewed out for her antics in attempting to impress everyone with her prowess, resulting in everyone relying on her. Celestia explains how it can trap you in a cage, and when you let ponies down, it can have horrific consequences once they have begun depending on you. She loses her temper with Trixie, despite the unicorn's cowering, and eventually banishes her from her sight, before summoning Shining Armor to ask him if he has begun training others in his spell, only to find he has been slacking off because he trusts that Celestia will keep everyone safe. She reiterates the need for him to train another in his magic before she heads outside for the daily sun lowering ceremony.
      She took a deep breath, screwed up her face in a look of intense concentration, and once again pretended to lower the sun.
    • The Writing on the Wall: When the eponymous writing is deciphered at the end of the story, it is revealed that the Ancient Tomb that Adventurer Archaeologist Daring Do had been exploring wasn't a tomb at all, but a nuclear waste storage facility built by humans. Daring Do and the sick workers weren't suffering from any sort of pathogenic disease, but from radiation sickness. This turns the story into a Horror story as Reality Ensues.
      This is not a place of honor. No great deed is commemorated here. Nothing of value is here.
    • Ruin Value features Celestia scavenging through the ruins of a city After the End. The ending reveals that the city in question was Seattle, Washington, and that the whole story was a Stealth Prequel to the entire series, set in Humanity's Wake, and that Luna, Celestia, and Discord are all products of human genetic engineering.
    • Wonderful is about a day Ditzy Doo will have. It'll be a pretty nice day, on balance, even if there are things that seem odd about it. And then one word hits you in the feelings with the help of all those helping verbs.
  • From Rest by janwithawhy, we have what appears to a genuinely sweet story of sisterly interactions between Satsuki and Ryuuko as they cuddle and tussle in bed, however, it's not, as the ending implies that Ryuuko was Dead All Along, leaving behind her ghost and a memory.
    • Another fic, titled One Day by janwithawhy is done the same way. At first it seems like Mako is spending the day and reminiscing with Ryuuko but then it's revealed that Ryuuko had passed away some years prior.
  • Mercy mostly seems to be Circe’s latest sadistic attack on Wonder Woman, using a Black Mercy to trap Diana in an illusionary world where she’s married to Bruce Wayne in a reality where his parents never died. However, at the end of the fic, after Diana has been released from the Mercy’s influence, she and Bruce realise that the ‘illusion’ contained too many details about Thomas and Martha that Diana couldn’t have known for it to ‘just’ be a product of her mind, such as Thomas always beating Bruce at chess or Martha’s favourite perfume, with Bruce reflecting that his parents even sound the same when he’s projected into the illusion by J’onn. As Bruce and Diana come together over the Waynes’ graves, an epilogue reveals that Persephone worked with the Waynes’ spirits to send them into the illusion and give them a chance to meet Diana and encourage Bruce to open himself up emotionally.
  • The Dexter fic "Break Me Every Time" is basically an alternate version of the show's last few episodes, which includes the revelation that Dexter and Debra's father Harry was killed by Doctor Vogel rather than committing suicide. This immediately throws the Morgans' views of their relationships with Harry into new focus, as it helps them realise that Harry did love them, rather than dismissing Dexter as a monster and deciding that Debra wasn't enough.
  • The fanfic “The Oldest Trick in the Book” is essentially an ‘post-credits scene’ for Mission: Impossible which sees Ethan Hunt being visited by Cinnamon Carter at the funerals for Jim and Claire Phelps, where Carter reveals to Ethan that ‘Jim Phelps’ in the film was not the same person as the one from the original series. In reality, the ‘original’ Jim had a serious stroke in 1989 that made it too dangerous for him to continue acting as an agent even as a safely-removed observer, and so the Phelps of the film was officially given his name so that the IMF could continue to use Jim’s reputation, exploiting the fact that most of the people who knew the original Phelps were either retired or dead. Not only does this redeem the memory of the original Jim Phelps, but it also makes the fate of the Phelps in the film even harsher, as he lived his life and even died under the name of another man.
  • Of a similar disposition starts as a heartwarming recorded memoir by Falsworth to be kept confined to the highest levels of SHIELD's security, in which he discusses his experiences as part of a version of the Howling Commandoes where Everyone Is Gay and Steve and Bucky were a couple. Then comes the Wham Line: the interviewer is Alexander Pierce, and he's going to use this information in 'managing [his] current operations'...
  • The Girl Meets World story Ten First Meetings is ten scenes of Riley and Maya meeting each other for the first time in various standard AUs (coffee shop, hospital, etc.). The final scene reveals that it's been the same Riley and Maya every time, engaged in a series of roleplays where they're pretending not to know each other in order to act out their own Meet Cutes.
  • Citadel of the Heart has quietly referred to Digimon Re: Tamers as taking place in the same Shared Universe as its fellow fics Reflection Code and Sword Art Online: Special Edition, specifically taking place almost a whole 20 years prior. A major plot hole existed for quite some time which seemed like it wasn't treated as such; Grandis was still in containment at the same facility Mirror M currently still is up until Reflection Code and especially during the entirety of Digimon Re: Tamers, and yet somehow Grandis is taking part in the events of the latter fic, but at the same time acting much differently from himself as seen in Sword Art Online: Special Edition. Then Chapter 16 of Digimon Re: Tamers reveals that the alleged plot hole was completely intentional because there are in fact more than one Grandis; Grandis in Digimon Re: Tamers is subsequently Killed Off for Real in Chapter 16, which flat out confirms that the Grandis who would go on to appear in Reflection Code and Sword Art Online: Special Edition is not in fact the same Grandis who appears in Digimon Re: Tamers. Not only does this explain the drastically different characterization between the two versions of the character, but Grandis' Rage Against the Heavens rant in Sword Art Online: Special Edition takes on a whole new layer of meaning now that we know he's also referring to his alternate, deceased self from Digimon Re: Tamers and not just Ultima and Dragora Galaxia like what was initially assumed.
  • The Professor Layton fic Tower of Hanoi becomes a very different story once you reach the end. The story follows Layton, Luke, and Flora through an unusual day, with a strange character observing them, but it's not until the end that it's revealed who this person is and why he's done the odd things he's done... which save their lives.
  • The climax of Witness sets the stage for the rest of the Good Neighbors AU by revealing, in essence, that this is a world where Midoriya Izuku and his team helps provide Leverage to those who need it most.
  • The Victorious fanfic Power Play centers around Jade West searching for her friend Sally Easterbrook, who mysteriously disappeared one day, and tracking her down to the Diamond Club, a BDSM club. She spends the whole story infiltrating it, pretending to be a sub, to discover what happened to Sally, and tells Tori of her memories with Sally. Chapter 55, aptly titled Sally Gone Home, finally reveals where she is and what happened to her- she is nowhere, because she never existed except in the mind of Jade herself. Jade used the name as an alias during her first visit to the Diamond Club, then went nuts and got injected with a drug that made her forget and dream of a girl called Sally.

    Films — Animated 
  • Pooh's Grand Adventure ends with the revelation that not only did the Skullasaurus not exist, but much of the movie was actually Through the Eyes of Madness, not a trope you would associate with Winnie-the-Pooh. After Christopher Robin finds them, they panic when they hear the unearthly sound of the Skullasaurus which had been stalking them throughout the movie. Christopher Robin just laughs and reveals that the only thing that makes a sound like that is Pooh's stomach. After they exit the skull shaped cavern, they notice that the cave looks entirely different than it did when they entered it. Christopher Robin explains that things can seem bigger and scarier when you're alone, or afraid, or someone's hurt. In the following song, we get to see what several of the scary locations they had been through really look like. There is also the revelation that Christopher Robin had just gone to school for viewers who are not literate enough know what S C H O O L actually spells.
  • The 2011 Winnie the Pooh film inverts Grand Adventure, as The Stinger after the credits reveals that the Backson DOES exist... and he's actually a perfectly nice guy.
  • The world of The LEGO Movie is revealed to be a playset controlled by live-action humans.
  • The Buzz Lightyear of Star Command pilot movie begins with Buzz's partner Warp Darkmatter being killed in action, causing Buzz to suffer a severe case of Survivor Guilt. Near the end, it is revealed that Agent Z was Warp in disguise, he had faked his death on purpose, and had always been evil and working for Zurg. This reveal turns Buzz's Survivor Guilt and refusal to take a new partner into major Dramatic Irony. It also explains a lot of Warp's behavior in the beginning of the movie, how Zurg found out about the Uni-mind even though the prisoners he was torturing about it didn't talk, and why Agent Z was so good at fighting Buzz.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars examples:
    Aunt Beru: "Luke's just not a farmer. He has too much of his father in him."
    Uncle Owen: "That's what I'm afraid of."
  • Popularized by the film The Usual Suspects. A police prisoner, Verbal Kint, is being interrogated about a ship explosion the previous night. His interrogator Agent Kujan believes that the explosion was caused by Dean Keaton, a crooked cop, but Kint tells how a diabolical mastermind called Keyser Soze was behind it all. Eventually, Kint relents under Kujan's pressure and admits that Keaton was Keyser Soze all along. Just after Kint is released from custody, however, Kujan realizes that Kint has been spinning a gigantic lie using objects around the office as inspiration. It's suggested that it was Kint himself who is Keyser Soze and Kint was simply playing a role the whole time. This is all foreshadowed in the beginning, when Kujan states that cops almost always find what they expect to find. Kujan expected Kint to be a weak patsy protecting Keaton, so that's the role Kint played.
  • Matchstick Men. Obviously, most of the film is a con. But when did it start? How much of it was planned, how much improvised? And just how much affection do Frank and "Angela" have for Roy? The film suggests answers for some of those questions, but some of them we just have to guess about.
  • Fight Club: The guy he met on the plane who seemed to be the brains behind everything that happened turned out to be the main character's split personality, putting into question everything that happened during the whole movie.
  • Memento ends this way, when it's revealed that Leonard killed his wife's rapist before any of the events of the movie, and not remembering this, has been killing criminals with similar names. The man he kills at the start of the film (actually the end of the timeline) is the Dirty Cop inducing him to do this, toward whom he himself had planted hints. Raising even more questions, the dirty cop claims that the actual rapist did not kill Leonard's wife, but she committed suicide because she couldn't deal with Leonard's amnesia. His memory of "Sammy Jankis" is actually a twisted version of his own story that he conditioned himself to remember. However, since he is a dirty cop, it's unclear whether he's actually telling the truth or just trying to keep Leonard busy until he loses his memory again.
  • The Jet Li movie Hero uses this trope by taking place almost entirely during an audience with the emperor during which the main character tells his story to the emperor in long flashbacks, after which the emperor points out a flaw in the claims. Based on the lies he discovered, the emperor tells the story again with some changes of what he thinks really happened. And with his lie exposed, the nameless hero then confesses the actual events and retelling the story a third time. And then everything changes again when he reveals that he never actually intended to kill the emperor since he realized the folly of the insurrection on his way to the palace and only wanted to explain his reasons before accepting his punishment for participating in a conspiracy. He also demonstrates that he could have killed the emperor at any point, after getting within 10 paces of him, even using his technique but turning his blade at the last moment.
  • Likewise the movie House of Flying Daggers. In its final half hour, each individual character reveals each other individual character, all of them in roles they hadn't seemed to fill for most of the movie. The only character, amusingly, who's been somewhat honest the whole way through, is the one who's supposed to be the one conning others.
  • The 2006 film Irresistible: You don't know if Mara (Emily Blunt) was in fact Sophie's (Susan Sarandon) prodigal daughter, or if she just stole the identity of her best friend Kate (who bears a closer resemblance to Sophie and her other daughters).
  • The 2003 French/American horror film High Tension (known as Switchblade Romance in the UK) uses this to disturbing Mind Screw effect. Marie is a severely unreliable narrator, and a Psycho Lesbian, and the killer. This WAS somewhat foreshadowed in the beginning (the dream about Marie chasing herself, with footage from later in the movie; Marie being mentioned as never having a boyfriend) but this is in the realm of Fridge Brilliance; to most people it seems like a totally random and jarring Ass Pull bordering on Gainax Ending, due to several scenes that make no sense if she and the killer are the same person.
  • The Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters featured both an Unreliable Narrator and Real After All, leaving the viewer to wonder how much was truly supernatural, and how much was merely the delusions of the insane protagonist.
  • Another Korean film, Bloody Reunion, ends when we find out that the narrator is the murderer, and she made up the entire story, and all the bad things in the flashbacks actually happened to her, not the other guests.
  • Korean horror Dead Friend (also known as The Ghost) is played out as a generic horror flick, until the final scene where it is revealed the ghost who has been killing off Ji-won's (the main character's) friends IS in fact Ji-won. In a flashback it is shown that Ji-won had inadvertently caused the death of a girl before the movie began. The audience is led to believe this girl is the ghost and that she wants revenge. However, it is later revealed that she and Ji-won switched bodies just before the girl died, so the girl is actually the protagonist we have been following throughout the movie and Ji-won is the ghost.
  • Wild Things: Pretty much all the characters are revealed in a series of twists to be allied with one another, then revealed in another series of twists to be secretly betraying one another. Even when the movie is over, the writers throw in several more twists during the closing credits just for fun.
  • David Mamet is well known for his big twists, which call into question large chunks of the previous plot:
    • In House of Games, the heroine realizes that none of the cons in which she participated were real. They were all one giant con on her.
    • In State and Main, the main character perjures himself in court and instantly regrets it. It turns out that the whole court scene was just a play designed by the local love interest to give him a chance to rethink his choice before the real court case begins. The Simpsons parodied this scene, and Lisa admits that it's almost insultingly far-fetched.
    • In The Spanish Prisoner, Mamet returned to the topic of conmen. It turns out that most of what happened in the first half of the movie was an elaborate con, but even after the hero thinks the con is over, it's still going.
    • Redbelt tries this, though not as well as previous films. After suddenly being snubbed and ripped off by some Hollywood types, the main character desperately tries to figure out what's going on. He finally discovers that it's all about a laughably impossible scheme to fix Mixed Martial Arts matches.
  • Primer: The second act of the film involves the use of very limited Time Travel; in the third act Abe learns that his friend Aaron has already used the time machine to change the past. So during the entire aforementioned second act, Aaron had actually been Aaron-from-a-week-in-the-future, manipulating current events for his own ends.
  • The remake Total Recall (2012) drops the ambiguity and sticks with a happy ending, but the Extended Cut of the remake puts some of the ambiguity back in. The message that Quaid finds in Hauser's apartment shows Quaid/Hauser portrayed by Ethan Hawke instead of Colin Farrell, and the tattoo he received at Rekall is missing at the end.
  • Lucky Number Slevin, in which it's revealed that the eponymous apparent patsy has planned out all the film's events thus far, working with the hitman who'd apparently been using him to play both ends against the middle.
  • In After.Life, Liam Neeson plays a mortician named Elliot who claims to have the ability to speak to the dead. Throughout the movie, he talks to the main character (who is dead) in hopes of getting her to move on with her life. It turns out in the end that he was lying the whole time and that the main character was alive the whole time. However, there have been foreshadowing for both options on whether he was lying or not. With lots of those moments pointing towards the former. And one large hint that he has been doing it for a long time.
  • In Shutter Island, we learn at the end that the protagonist isn't a cop anymore; just a delusional mental patient. Everyone he's met, including his partner, has been playing along with this delusion in the hope that it'll let him get over his trauma and the apparent conspiracy was all in his mind. Not only that, but he killed his wife after she killed their children; it was this incident that caused his psychotic break and he's been blocking it out.
  • In Unknown (2011), Liam Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, a scientist who came to Berlin with his wife for a biotechnology conference. He gets in a car accident, wakes up in the hospital after a four-day coma and finds that another man has completely taken over his life. Harris' wife believes the other man, who seems to know everything Harris knows, is her husband. The Reveal is that Harris is a deep-cover assassin who was on a mission to kill someone at the conference, but now believes his own cover story as a result of the brain damage he suffered in the car accident: Harris' "wife" is actually his partner, and the other man was a backup assassin who took over the role of "Dr. Harris" when the protagonist disappeared.
  • In Unknown (2006), the film's conclusion reveals that James Caviezel's character is actually an undercover cop, who had infiltrated the kidnapping ring and was about to bust them when a toxic gas rendered both kidnappers and kidnappees unconscious and amnesiac. And then the very last scene twists the twist, by revealing that he'd also been sleeping with the wife of the kidnapped millionaire, and had incited the rest of the criminal gang to abduct the man so he could murder him and set the gang up to take the fall.
  • In Psycho Beach Party it turns out it was all a dream in the main character's mind, that later got turned into a film where the main character then goes to kill some of the audience... so arguably you have to wonder when she got put away, who actually died, who was the actual murderer... and it raises so many questions.
  • Used to creative effect in Lovefield, a short film by Mathieu Ratthe. In the middle of a secluded cornfield, a man appears to be finishing killing a woman offscreen. Hurrying back to his truck, he grabs a towel and the audience presumes he's trying to cover up the body and perhaps dispose it in some way. Then just at the end, the man says "It's a boy," and a newborn baby appears in view. The woman who sounded like she was dying was in fact in the midst of delivering a child and the blood was just the afterbirth.
  • Near the end of Identity, it's revealed that none of the people at the motel are real. They are only the figments of Malcolm Rivers's imagination, each of them a separate personality of his mind.
  • Excessively used in the American remake of the horror movie Silent House, after being chased around the house by a mysterious burly man, and her father and uncle get attacked by the man and taken away, she finds out from a woman who claims to be her child hood friend that her father and uncle used her and the main character in child pornography and that the mysterious woman was the killer the whole time. Then it turns out the woman doesn't exist and that the main character was the killer. THEN, after killing her unrepentant father and sparing her repentant uncle, it turns out neither of them exist. Maybe?
  • The 2003 version of Willard. The finale goes from the title character screaming while killing his turncoat rat to him screaming in an insane asylum. He has bite marks on his face, but it's not clear if anything else in the movie actually happened or if he simply has an obsession with rats, and his damaged mind created a fictional history for his wounds.
  • In Sleepaway Camp, it's obvious early in the story that Angela is the killer. The real twist is that "Angela" isn't Angela. The real Angela died in the boat accident at the start of the film. "Angela" is actually Peter, Angela's brother, who was taken in by their insane aunt and raised as "the daughter [she] always wanted." Although this is actually hinted a few times during the movie (starting with the fact that we're never actually shown which sibling survived), most viewers would've blown off a lot of the clues as simply part of Angela's odd nature.
  • Primal Fear ends with The Reveal that the seemingly innocent altar boy who appears to have a violent split personality - and who has just been found not guilty of murder - is nothing of the kind; he's only been pretending to have a Split Personality, and the innocent personality, not the violent one, is fake.
  • The Prestige ends with a reveal that Christian Bale's character is actually a pair of twins, concealing this in order to perform magic tricks. Specifically, this calls into question which of the twins actually killed the wife in the beginning scene, whether it was truly an accident (and the possibility that he was telling the truth when he said he didn't know), and which one is dying for the crime, rightly or wrongly. It does, however, explain his odd behavior towards his wife. Fridge Brilliance and watching the dialogue again seems to imply that the twin who killed the wife is also the one who dies at the end. However, it's the other twin who said he didn't know, and while this is likely true, it raises even more questions.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is presented with the Framing Story of a man telling a story of how his fiancée went tragically insane and how his best friend was assassinated by the mad Dr. Caligari. The Twist Ending reveals that both the storyteller and his companion are inmates in an insane asylum, and the whole story has been a mad justification fantasy that presents its teller as the blameless hero and his doctor as a diabolical, motiveless tormentor.
  • The Skeleton Key builds everything up to make it look like Violet is planning to sacrifice Ben and Caroline in a ritual to give her immortality. It turns out that this is only half right. The ritual is a transfer, not a sacrifice, and "Violet" and her husband are actually two former slaves named Mama Cecil and Papa Justify, who have been using the ritual to swap bodies with younger people. "Ben"'s fear of "his" wife is because he's actually the family's young lawyer - Papa Justify moved from the Ben body to the lawyer's before the movie began, and the lawyer in the Ben body is understandably traumatized and trying to warn Caroline. The ending also changes the way a lot of seemingly trivial comments come across, such as Violet complaining that the nurse sent to look after Ben is not black (Mama Cecil comments at the end of the movie that she'd wanted to move into the body of a black girl) and asking if Caroline had any tattoos to see if her body was acceptable. It also adds a sinister layer to the romance between the lawyer and Caroline, since it's revealed that Papa Justify was only doing it so that he and Mama Cecil could continue to live as a married couple in their new bodies, without anyone suspecting something is off.
  • Everything single horrible thing that happens to Michael Douglas's character in The Game - losing all his money, getting drugged and sent to Mexico, snapping and shooting his brother - is part of his surprise birthday party. Seriously. Or you could argue that the party at the end is a dying hallucination as he commits suicide for actually killing his brother. Either way, nearly everything in the movie is proven to be a staged incident.
  • The Uninvited (2009) appears to be a typical horror film with the protagonist Anna seeing the ghost of her dead mother seemingly accusing her new stepmother (who was the mother's nurse before marrying Anna's father) of killing her. There's even a moment where her boyfriend comes into her room in the dead of night after failing to show up at the designated meeting spot earlier. She tries to hug him and realizes that his spine is broken. He then, with his body twisted, tries to walk to her, as she runs away screaming. Finally, her stepmother, whom she and her sister Alex think is a Black Widow, appears to drug Anna and threaten to put her back into the mental hospital. Anna wakes to to find the stepmother's body in the dumpster with Alex holding the knife. Their father arrives, and, horrified, reveals that Alex died along with their mother before the start of the film. Anna is the one who accidentally caused the explosion that killed them (after seeing her father cheat with the nurse) and went insane, imagining Alex to be alive and her mother and boyfriend's ghosts haunting her. She was also the one who pushed her boyfriend off the cliff but blocked it out. The only thing no one can figure out is why Anna thought that the stepmother was a black widow. The final scene reveals that one of her friends in the mental hospital was the real black widow.
    • Anna thinks she is a black widow because the stepmother wasn't using her real name. This was only because she was on the run from an abusive boyfriend and had to change her name to elude him, something tragically common in many cases of Domestic Abuse.
  • The endings to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and its remake. When exactly was Nancy awake and when was she sleeping?
  • The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh. There's room for interpretation, but it's strongly implied at the end of the film that Leon never returned home, and the events of the film are simply Rosalind's lonely ghost imagining what might have happened had her estranged son come to settle the estate.
  • Cry_Wolf does this at the end when it reveals that Dodger was the Big Bad all along. She was in an affair with Mr. Walker, and was furious after finding out that he was seeing Becky on the side, and so she plotted to kill the two of them. She was the one who killed Becky in the opening, and the rest of the film, including the fake Serial Killer story, the prank, the staged "killing spree", and Owen shooting Mr. Walker, was part of her plan to kill Mr. Walker as well, getting Owen to think that he was the killer.
  • Each of the Saw movies ends on a twist that is at least somewhat like this:
    • Saw I: The man lying "dead" in the middle of the room was John Kramer, the Jigsaw killer who had orchestrated the traps. He was alive the whole time.
    • Saw II: The "live" feed of the traps that the detectives are watching was actually pre-recorded, and Daniel, Eric's son, was in a safe in that room the whole time. Also, Amanda was working for John Kramer, acting as his disciple to continue the Jigsaw legacy after he dies, with the events of the film having been a trap she designed for Eric that he failed.
    • Saw III: The entire film was a Secret Test of Character that John Kramer had designed for Amanda, feeling that she had lost sight of his ideals and was just murdering people out of hatred by creating inescapable traps.
    • Saw IV: Hoffman was another of John Kramer's accomplices, and continues his legacy after John and Amanda are dead.
    • Saw V: Hoffman frames Strahm for the Jigsaw murders he committed before killing him, getting away scot-free.
    • Saw VI: In his will, John Kramer gave his wife Jill five envelopes containing pictures of five people to be "tested", which she gives to Hoffman. The ending reveals that Jill held onto a sixth envelope that contained a picture of Hoffman himself. Jill locks him into a reverse bear trap and leaves him to die; he survives, but gets half a Glasgow Grin in the process.
    • Saw 3D: Dr. Gordon, one of the victims from the first film, has since become yet another of John Kramer's accomplices. He finishes what Jill started by kidnapping Hoffman and leaving him to die in the same basement Gordon was locked up in in the first film.
    • Jigsaw: The main series of traps is actually a flashback to events ten years prior, and all of the people in it died... save for one. That survivor was Logan, the ostensible protagonist for most of the film, who is revealed to have become an apprentice of Jigsaw's (and now, the man carrying on his legacy) after surviving the trap.
  • Rabid Dogs: The three robbers die but so does Maria. The protagonist then steals their getaway car and money and drives away with his sick child in it. Then it turns out the child is someone he kidnapped and he ends up calling the mother for ransom!
  • M. Night Shyamalan is famous for his Mandatory Twist Ending, many of which are designed with this in mind.
    • The Sixth Sense: Crowe is a renowned child psychologist who is shot by a deranged former patient in the opening scene. A Time Skip has him meet with Cole who reveals that he can see dead people. It's revealed in the end that Crowe was Dead All Along, killed in the opening scene, and only Cole can see and talk to him. This redefines his entire role in the movie as you realize plot points, like his attempts to communicate with his distant wife, are not as they seem.
    • Unbreakable: Elijah mentions part way through the film that he has been researching various local disasters hoping to find someone who survives miraculously unharmed, which included the main character David in a train crash. At the end it's revealed that many of those disasters were orchestrated by him in the hope of finding a superhero, including the original train crash.
    • The Village: A gravestone suggests the film takes place in the late 1800's, it's revealed to actually be the modern day and the isolated village was an attempt to live peacefully away from the rest of society.
    • Split: The movie plays its main story relatively straight, although features some relatively unexpected supernatural elements with the character who has a Split Personality. The ending shows David from Unbreakable watching a news report on the events of the film, which changes the movie as it is also following the rules established by the earlier movie.
  • The Lazarus Effect: The ending shows the villain's Redemption Equals Death was all a Dying Dream by the Final Girl. The villain is alive, and the Final Girl is dead. This works well with the film's theme of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane, as a magical explanation would make a great deal of what we saw accurate anyway, while a mundane explanation would call it into question.
  • Reincarnation: Nagisa, the Final Girl, is straightjacketed in a sanitarium and being taunted by a creepy old lady about being possessed by the murderous Professor Omori; she screams and cries and thrashes...then begins laughing, proving that she is possessed. Roll credits.
  • In Ex Machina, Ava betrays Caleb and leaves him locked in Nathan's underground lab, presumably until he dies of dehydration. For all of his morally questionable actions, Nathan was actually telling the truth about Ava: she actually was faking her attraction to Caleb in order to escape.
  • In Witness for the Prosecution, after Leonard is acquitted for murder, Christine reveals that she engineered the critical surprise evidence which is she presented in a perfect disguise and accent to Leonard off for the murder he really did commit. Then Leonard returns all Smug Snake to gloat at bamboozling Sir Wilford with Double Jeopardy shielding him from justice. Fortunately, he immediately overplays his hand and pays the price.
  • The Indian thriller film Kahaani follows a pregnant woman named Vidya trying to locate her missing husband, and getting caught up in a plot to find Milan, a terrorist that attacked a Metro 2 years earlier and looks exactly like her husband. The ending, however, reveals that she was lying the entire time: her real husband, who did not look like Milan, died in the Metro attack, she lost the baby back then as a result, and she was working with an ex-intelligence agent to find and kill Milan.
  • In the 1980 sci-fi musical The Apple: In the very end, Mr. Topps - never mentioned until minutes before he arrives - appears in a Rolls Royce and takes all hippies to heaven or a new planet (or both). This means: 1.) Up to this point, you could interpret this film as an anti-commerce message when Bibi is corrupted by Bugalow's business, but is not necessarily a stand-in for hippy culture. With this ending, the movie completely takes sides in favor of the hippies and portrays them and their love/peace-cause as unambiguously good. 2.) All of Alphie's visions are to be taken literally (Bugalow is not metaphorically the devil but literally, Bibi does not take the forbidden fruit metaphorically but literally, etc.) 3.) Alphie and Bibi are no longer the main characters of the movie but the hippies - not introduced until very late in the film and receiving about zero character development or being spotlighted on their culture - are and get an eschatological meaning. A sequence where Mr. Topps creates the world and Bugalow falls from grace in the beginning of the movie was planned but never filmed.
  • Nightlight seems like just another in a long line of low-budget Found Footage Films, and very derivative of The Blair Witch Project: a camera's-eye view of teens getting stalked through spooky woods by some faceless, malignant force. It's only the closing shot that reveals there was no camera: we've been seeing everything from the POV of the possessed flashlight one of the teens brought along, which is haunted by the vengeful ghost of her jilted friend who'd committed suicide. So what seemed like In-Universe Camera was actually Impending Doom P.O.V., a doom she's been hauling along with her.
  • The Nature Of The Beast stars Lance Henriksen as an uptight office drone and Eric Roberts as a charming drifter. It's established that one of them is a white collar criminal with a stash of cash and one of them is a serial killer. Roberts' character insists on accompanying Henriksen, using the fact that he "knows what's in his briefcase" as leverage. Every time Roberts sets his sights on a passerby, against Henriksen's pleas, that person winds up dead. In the end, it's revealed that Henriksen is actually the serial killer (with a briefcase full of knives) and Roberts the white collar criminal. Roberts has a death wish and is toying with a killer the whole time, driving him to indulge his murderous impulses against his will.
  • The Wailing ends with Il-Gwang, the shaman who had been helping Jong-Goo, was somehow on the same side as the evil spirit/devil that was tormenting his daughter.
  • Counter Investigation: The 9 year old daughter of police chief Malinowski is raped and murdered, and after a hasty police investigation with little evidence, Daniel Eckman is arrested and convicted. Eckman proclaims his innocence, and Malinowski begins a counter-investigation to find the real killer, the main focus on the movie. Eventually, it is proven that another known child murderer was in the area at the time and Eckman is let out of jail. Then it is revealed that Eckman actually was guilty. Then it is revealed that Malinowski knew Eckman was guilty the whole time and deliberately did the investigation to get Eckman released so that he could kill him with his own hands in revenge.
  • The 2008 Chilean film Solos (English title Descendants) looks like a conventional Zombie Apocalypse movie, albeit told from the novel perspective of a young girl left alone to wander the desolated city. Curiously, the zombies themselves don't seem to pay her or the other roaming children she meets any attention, but the human military seems determined to experiment on or kill them. It's only when you see freakin' Cthulhu arise from the ocean to defend the children from their pursuers that you realize it's a Cosmic Horror Apocalypse, not a Zombie one, and the few adults not rendered undead by emergent unnatural forces want to study or kill the kids because they're turning into Deep Ones: adapting to the new Eldritch Abomination-ruled world.
  • Anti Matter: A woman named Ana begins to have difficulty forming new memories, no longer feels hunger, and has other bizarre symptoms after a teleportation experiment. Her research partners who were working on the teleportation machine with her seem strangely unconcerned when her room is broken into by a person wearing a chimpanzee mask who steals her work, and they later seem to be gaslighting her. She becomes convinced that she lost her soul when she was teleported. It turns out she was accidentally duplicated during a teleportation test, and we have been seeing things from the point of view of the duplicate. She cannot form new memories and feels no hunger because she isn't a real person, she is just an echo of the real Ana made of light. The real Ana and her partners were hiding this from her because she kept forgetting she was a duplicate and getting distressed by the revelation.
  • Den of Thieves: The ending shows that Donnie was the real master mind behind the heist. He recruited Merrimen and his crew intending the set them up to take the fall, while he and his crew made it off with the 30 million.
  • Near the end of the Giallo film Spasmo it is revealed that most of the strange events of the film were an elaborate attempt to trick the main character Christian into believing himself to be insane and commit himself to a mental hospital, which was all set up by his brother Fritz, although the plan got out of control when one of his minions decided to simply kill Christian instead. The twist turns into a double twist when at the very end it turns out that that Christian really is insane and has been killing women and not remembering it. Christian has a heredity mental illness and Fritz was trying to trick him into thinking he was insane before he went insane for real to stop him from hurting anyone but was already too late. Christian commits Suicide by Cop by letting the boyfriend of one of his victims shoot him when he realizes what is going on. The one thing that isn't explained until the very last scene is the mutilated manikins that keep showing up throughout the film. It turns out Fritz has the same mental illness and deals with it by pretending to kill manikins.
  • The ending of Destroyer reveals that Erin arriving at the crime scene was in fact the final scene, not the first. Everything that followed has in fact been a flashback. The body is actually Silas and Erin is the one who shot him. Once More, with Clarity! allows the viewer to assemble everything in the proper order.
  • The ending of Upgrade reveals that the hyper-intelligent AI computer chip implanted in Grey Trace, which gave him movement back after thugs killed his wife and paralyzed him, actually planned the whole thing in a plot to take over his body and become human.
  • The ending of Pizza reveals that the haunting was entirely a hoax by Kunal and Nikita to explain the missing diamonds.

  • I Am the Cheese: We find out the protagonist is insane and his escape on his bicycle is something he's done several times, with the Big Bad's people waiting for him at the end of every journey.
  • The Fight Club, The Prestige, Shutter Island, and American Psycho examples from above all carry over from their original books' endings.
  • The revelations at the end of The Player of Games, revealing just how thoroughly Special Circumstances has been manipulating the situation. And then you find out that Gurgeh's drone companion and the drone who blackmailed him into accepting the assignment in the first place are the same drone.
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan is an odd example, in that Briony, the story's narrator, directly addresses the reader and says she had to give the story a Happy Ending to instead of letting them simply die, as happened in real life. This is actually the point of her book, since she hopes to atone for her actions that kept them apart by reuniting them in fiction.
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel tells the story of a boy on a lifeboat after a shipwreck along with a fully-grown tiger and includes other bizarre occurrences. At the end he gives an alternate, more horrifying but less fantastic version of events to the people he's telling the story too, leaving it to them (and us) to decide which to believe. The in-story listeners believe the story with the tiger.
  • The Thirteenth Tale is narrated by one of the characters. Near the end, she reveals that she's been combining two different people into one.
  • William Gibson's and Bruce Sterling's The Difference Engine has a fairly interesting twist of this kind, although it doesn't really call into question previous events so much as how the reader was perceiving them. The reader's point-of-view was the perspective of an AI in the Alternate History's future analyzing past events to learn how it came about. Everything - the titles of the chapters, the structure of the writing (which seems stilted, almost bureaucratic at times), the descriptions of the world - it all plays into it.
  • In Chesterton's poem Lepanto, Don Juan de Austria Historical Hero Upgrade seems to be played straight, until the last verses were Chesterton talks about the other famous guy who was at the battle and the kind of book he wrote seems to subvert the trope. You can also visit Battle of Lepanto and see the entry under Dude, Where's My Reward?:
    Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
    (Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
    And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
    And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
    (But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)
  • In Ian R. MacLeod's short story "The Camping Wainwrights," the father of the titular family is established as a sociopathic subtle abuser who does bizarre things like breaking the family's possessions for no reason, keeping his wife and children miserable and terrified. At the end, he gets what he deserves. Then it is revealed that the narrator's sister performed at least one of the mysterious acts of cruelty that were blamed on the father, raising the possibility that he may have been an innocent scapegoat of the family's general dysfunction.
  • In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, the narrator himself is the murderer and he has been hiding that the entire time. He also points out how clever and careful he acted and wrote this all down which serves as a Once More, with Clarity! moment. What's notable about this is that he never actually lies, he just leaves out some important parts in his written account of the events. Of course, Hercule Poirot noticed those, but the reader probably didn't.
  • Odd Thomas throws a twist in the last few pages that negates the previous few chapters, or at least our interpretations of them. His girlfriend Stormy was actually a ghost, having died in an explosion, and the interactions he'd had with her were wishful thinking on his part.
  • Randall Garrett's short story "Despoilers of the Golden Empire" appears to be Science Fiction set in the far future, being about an imperialistic invasion force using vastly advanced technology to overpower and subjugate an empire native to a Death World to take the natural resource they possess in great quantities. The last sentence reveals that while heavy on SF tropes, it is something else entirely: it's not so much sci-fi as a narrative of the conquest of the Incan empire thanks to a lot of Exact Words.
  • In Bad Monkeys, Jane is being interviewed by a psychiatrist after being arrested, and she claims that she is part of the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, or "Bad Monkeys". At the end, it is revealed at the end that Jane is The Mole for the Nebulous Evil Organization known as The Troop and that her psychiatrist is her brother Phil, previously thought to be dead, and he is The Mole.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events concludes its thirteen book run by twisting how you view the very reason why the books were even written in the first place with the final word of the entire series: Beatrice. A few chapters before then, A Series of Unfortunate Events turns out to exist within A Series of Unfortunate Events. Confused? Let's explain: Beatrice turns out to have been the Baudelaires' mother, and she had dated Lemony before marrying the kids' father. Lemony is recording the kids' misadventures partly out of curiosity about his lover's children and also to add their stories to the ASoUE book that records all the lives of those who washed up on the island, including himself.
  • Real Quick Flash Fic has a short story where a girl is being hunted ruthlessly down... then it turns out it was just a game of hide and seek.
  • Ava Paige's epilogue in The Death Cure shows that she is still devoted to WICKED's cause, even after having turned on most of them. She altered WICKED's mission objectives in a way that put her on the protagonists' side, though, and she was genuinely sorry for some of the things she did. The same epilogue also implies that Brenda and Jorge were following her orders to the end.
  • The last word of Mickey Spillane's Deep. Deep goes back to his old neighborhood to settle some score. Then the authorities show up and someone says, "Good job, Lieutenant."
  • In Moriarty we follow the story of Detective Chase on the search to find an American crime-boss that is attempting to take over the role of the titular character who has recently been killed by Holmes. Only it turns out Moriarty isn't dead and is in-fact Chase himself; he's be forced into hiding and is using the police in a last ditch attempt to take out the crime-bosses making a play.
  • Done many times in Goosebumps. A recurring one is that the focus character wasn't human or the setting wasn't Earth, which everyone but the reader already knew.
  • Clifford Simak loved writing novels with an important reveal on the last page:
    • All Flesh Is Grass: Flowers try very hard to help humans. They don't want any recompense, or so they claim. The Reveal: they simply enjoy being loved for what they look like — beautiful flowers. No alien race has ever done this before.
    • Time and Again: The hero's life's work won't be liked by many humans. Instead they would publish a "revised edition" that insists on Humanity's superiority. Exactly how popular is the original edition? The Reveal: none of the hero's friends are real humans. He's doing what's right, rather than what humans would like, and if he knew that, he may abandon the work. (Note that this novel was published under several names with different endings.)
    • Werewolf Principle: There's no place for the hero on the future Earth. He's going to leave it forever to study new worlds. This entails losing his newly-found love and lonely immortality. The Reveal: she is a similar android who has to leave Earth for the same reason, making Downer Ending a Bittersweet Ending. Then her uplifting speech about the importance of their work arguably turns it into a Happy Ending.
    • Space Engineers: Less drastic change, making the happy ending even better. Our universe is populated by Starfish Aliens who can hardly communicate with Engineers and cannot help. The similarities between humans and Engineers are too many to be coincidental. The Reveal: Engineers were created as servants by the same race that created life on Earth and programmed the evolution of mankind. Everything they've created so far should and will belong to humans — when humans become mature enough.
    • Ring Around the Sun: The hero's arch-nemesis and the only man capable of thwarting the good guys' plans is his clone.note  To stop the upcoming war the hero just has to tell him everything and invite his brother to join.
    • Out of Their Minds: The Devil seems to represent the unanimous opinion of imaginary creatures. The Reveal (not on the last page, though): he does not. Others will force him to leave humans alone.
  • In Big Brother by Lionel Shriver, the narrator admits at the end that the second half the of the story never happened. She concocted a story for herself and the reader, where she went to great lengths to rescue her obese brother and help him lose hundreds of pounds that he inevitably regains, showing her efforts and sacrifice to have been futile. In fact, she put him on the plane back to New York and only saw him one more time before he died of obesity-related complications a couple of years later. The story she has told the reader is a desperate attempt to cope with her own guilt and determine if there was anything she could have done to help her brother.
  • American Gods: The "war" between the old gods and the new that drives most of the plot turns out to have been arranged by Wednesday and Loki, ostensibly on opposite sides, to draw power from the battle.
  • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive):
    • The last Shallan flashback puts the rest of them in a completely new perspective. Her entire backstory is about her family being crushed by her insane, abusive father, starting with when he murdered his wife. Then in her last flashback we find out that Shallan killed her mother when her mother tried to kill her for being a Surgebinder. Her father took the blame, Shallan retreated into herself, and her father started going insane with stress and paranoia.
    • In a more minor example, the revelation that Shen / Rlain was not an ordinary parshman but a Parshendi spy in dullform may lead the reader to reassess some of their assumptions about parshmen, given that he was the main example we have seen in detail up to now.
  • Everything, Everything: Madeline doesn't really have SCID. Once you know that, previous events suddenly seem much, much worse. It's especially hard not to question everything Dr. Whittier has said or done up until that point once you realize she was lying about basically everything.
  • The final chapter of The Stone Sky reveals the reason the entire Broken Earth trilogy has been narrated in the second person: because Hoa is narrating the events of the trilogy to the stone eater he made from Essun in the hopes that it will help that stone eater to become Essun. It changes the meaning of a lot of the narration from throughout the trilogy.
  • Someone Like Me: Tas is blind.
  • The Dale Brown novel Starfire is centred on the efforts of Bradley McLanahan and his team to invent the eponymous orbital solar power collector that transmits energy to an earthbound receiver via microwaves, which the Russians take physically violent objection to partly out of the concern that it can be weaponised. The US does eventually end up militarising it in self-defense against the Russians' attack on the space station it's mounted on. The epilogue has the people who gave Bradley the idea reveal that, contrary to what both the inventors and the audience thought, the orbital microwave laser was the primary purpose after all, with the peaceful power transmission just being a secondary benefit.
  • During a break in the Final Battle of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, our hero witnesses a Pensieve Flashback provided by the recently murdered Severus Snape. What he sees in one chapter sheds a whole new light on everything that Snape did over the course of the series, especially his killing of Albus Dumbledore.
  • Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor has this in the side story "Heavens, the Lonesome Witch". It initially seems like a standard story in which an Ineffectual Loner (Celica) meets up with a kid (named Glenn Radars) that will help her out of her shell and make her more social. The reader expects that Celica will adopt Glenn and raise him to become the protagonist of the main series, who has the same name. But towards the end, it's revealed that Glenn was an undead thrall of a Lich, sent to lure Celica into a trap. Celica kills the Lich and her thralls, then discovers an amnesiac boy in the basement. It is this boy that Celica adopts and names Glenn.
  • The novella Borges and the Eternal Orangutans, about a Locked Room Mystery, a murder similar to the one described in Murders On The Rue Morgue, taking place during an Edgar Allan Poe fan convention. The killer turns out to be the narrator, who made up literary clues to drive suspicion away from himself. The first chapter mentions his first short story featured an Unreliable Narrator.
  • ''Are You Too Late Or Am I Too Early", a short story by John Collier. Together with the narrator (who's also the protagonist) we're trying to figure out who the mysterious woman in his house is... only to find out that the said narrator is actually a ghost haunting that very house. The amazing thing is how blatantly obvious it becomes on re-reading.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The ending of 30 Rock parodies the St. Elsewhere ending twist by revealing that the entire series had just been part of a pitch for a TV show based on Liz Lemon's life, put together decades later by Liz's great-granddaughter and approved by the immortal Kenneth Parcell. To recap, 30 Rock is about people in a Show Within a Show putting on a show.
  • The 100th Episode of The Big Bang Theory plays this way. The episode starts off with an homage to the pilot with Leonard seeing Penny across the hallway and instinctively asks her out, being almost two years since they broke up. Most of the episode was then about the various pitfalls reinforcing why they had such a hard time dating in the first place, with Leonard admitting every scenario for them inside his head ends badly and Penny telling him he overthinks things. The story then jumps back to the first scene in the hallway, most of the episode being a mental debate on if he should ask her out again. Despite the "bad ending" he imagined he decided to do it anyway and the episode ends by contrasting real life with his imagination, proving that his imagined scenario may not be the end outcome.
  • Black Mirror:
    • Season 2's "White Bear" has us follow around an amnesiac named Victoria who starts the episode tied to a chair, but escapes and finds out humanity went crazy after a weird signal of an upside-down Y was broadcast. As weird costumed people start chasing her, others just watch, recording with their phones instead of helping. She meets up with more battle-ready survivors on a quest to stop the signal and gets flashbacks of her past. She sees a fiancé, a daughter, a white teddy bear, and fire for some reason. The group gets to the broadcast headquarters of the signal and fight off some henchmen, climaxing in Victoria shooting a shotgun at one of them. The gun just has confetti. Then the truth is revealed as the "headquarters" turn out to be a stage with an audience behind it. Victoria is chained down to a chair and breaks down crying as her past is played back on a projector: the little girl isn't her daughter; she and her fiancé kidnapped her. The fiance tortured and burned the little girl to death while Victoria recorded things on her phone. The white bear was the girl's, and a vigil-like symbol of the hunt to find her while she was missing. The weird brainwash symbol was the husband's tattoo. He hung himself in prison, but people decided Victoria should be punished to the extent he wasn't. The entire experience was that punishment. The brainwashed people with their phones out were willing tourists seeing a sideshow attraction. At the end, Victoria is taken back to the house where she woke up at the start and has her memory wiped away with a head collar device that has her in screaming pain as it does its work. It's shown that the people in charge of this punishment repeat this whole process every day.
    • In Season 3's "Shut Up and Dance", Kenny, a teenager who downloads a sketchy "malware remover" to reverse some damage his sister did to his laptop, is blackmailed when hackers record him masturbating. He's forced to pair up with Hector, a man being blackmailed for an affair, for a bank robbery. This later escalates to him having to fight a fellow blackmailed person to the death to see who gets the "prize money". In their conversation before the fight, it's revealed that Kenny was masturbating to child porn (as was the man he is to fight). This explains why he had to play along all the way through. Kenny wins the fight, but the hackers still leak everything they have on everyone, and Kenny is taken away by police at the end.
    • In Season 4's "Black Museum" as the curator Rolo Haynes is suffering a stroke, Nish's accent changes to American, showcasing she lied about who she was. The 'exhibit', Clayton Leigh is actually Nish's father who was revealed to be wrongfully executed. His wife committed suicide after seeing what happened to his digital consciousness, due to which Nish took it on herself to avenge her parents. It also turns out she poisoned Haynes due to making the deal which ended up with Clayton's And I Must Scream situation. She then transfers Haynes's consciousness unto her father's as she kills both of them, and downloads Haynes's perpetually tormented pendant as a souvenir, and burns down the eponymous Museum to hide the evidence.
  • In the Season 4 finale "Face Off" of Breaking Bad, the episode changes everything Walt said to Jesse in the previous episode regarding Gus getting Brock poisoned by ricin being a carefully crafted lie to bring Jesse back to his side, as the Lily of the Valley plant in Walt's house is marked such, proving it was Walt who poisoned him.
    • Similarly in the next season's mid-season finale "Gliding Over All", Walt finally makes enough money to retire comfortably and spend the rest of his life in relative peace, and then Hank goes to Walt's bathroom while passing time to read "Leaves of Grass". He sees 'G.B.' dedicating the book to 'W.W.' and has a flashback to when going through Gale's stuff in the previous season, finally deducing Walt is Heisenberg.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Normal Again", The Trio tries to convince Buffy that her life as a vampire slayer is delusional, and she is really a patient in a mental hospital. The episode ends on Buffy in the Mental Institution going catatonic. (Joss Whedon claimed this episode was ambiguous, and the show snaps back in the next episode.)
  • The 100th episode of Castle, "The Lives of Others", has Castle stuck in his apartment with a broken leg, increasingly bored to the point where he ends up spying on the apartment across the street from his loft, and ends up thinking that one of the tenants committed a murder there. Beckett insists that he's only letting his writer's imagination get away with him, and finally decides to visit the apartment to prove Castle wrong, only to be suddenly held at knifepoint by the tenant. Castle, Esposito and Ryan rush to the apartment, knock down the door... and then the lights turn on and everyone shouts "Surprise!" Turns out Beckett organized the whole thing as an elaborate birthday surprise for Castle. Notably this helped explain some seemingly inexplicable moments, such as Alexis giving her dad a pair of binoculars for his birthday and Beckett's rather hamfisted attempt to insert the word "fridge" into a conversation to trigger a Eureka Moment.
  • Crossroads: This revival of an old ITV soap, which replaced the old motel setting with a modern hotel, had flopped, and got relaunched only to fail even harder. So in the final episode, it was revealed to be all in the imagination of a supermarket sales assistant! In other words, everything that happened in the revived series was All Just a Dream, while leaving the continuity of the original series intact.
  • CSI:
    • "Got Murder?". After finding that a dismembered body belongs to the estranged ex-wife of a man who had been accused of her murder, the investigators discover that that man's daughter is pregnant, and find evidence that he was molesting her. Just as their case starts to look watertight — that he killed his wife when she returned to find him in bed with their daughter — the truth comes out: it's just a hysterical pregnancy. The daughter killed her mom for threatening her fantasy life as the housewife. Dad had no idea what the heck was going on.
    • "Anatomy of a Lye" rips off the Gregory Biggs case from the headlines, with a drunk driver hitting a man with his car, then driving to his garage with the victim stuck alive and unable to move in the windshield, where he dies hours later. Meanwhile, the perp continues with his life in order to not raise suspicions, buries the body in a park the night after and doses the car and garage with lye to erase any evidence. Unlike in Biggs' case, the episode ends with the discovery of a suicide note from the victim: he walked in front of the car intending to kill himself. The ending thus makes the whole elaborate scheme of the perp to avoid prosecution pointless and counter-productive, since if he had just taken the man to a hospital, he would have been charged with nothing - not even drunk driving, as it was unrelated to the 'accident'. His Smug Snake behavior was what made him a murderer.
  • One episode of Empty Nest has Harry seeing a series of patients all named Billy. They get progressively older as the episode goes on. The final patient is a young man about to leave for college who's come for his records. Harry and the college bound man have a brief conversation which includes a mention of past drug use (which another of the patients had issues with). Then the man gives him a book on sexual education (which Harry had given to a pre-teen patient who asked about it) and a Pez dispenser (which Harry had given to a diabetic patient). It's then revealed that all of the patients were the same boy at different points of his life. The last shot is all of the patients leaving Harry's office in single file.
  • The Good Place: Eleanor is a terrible person who dies and is taken to "The Good Place". She quickly realizes that there has been a mistake, and tries to hide the fact that she isn't supposed to be there. Eventually, she discovers someone else, Jason, who was also put in The Good Place by mistake. As the series goes on, it focuses on both Eleanor and Jason, living with their respective 'soul mates', Chidi and Tahani. The four of them proceed to get into ridiculous situations and make each others lives miserable, as one would expect from a typical sitcom... Except the season finale reveals that all four of them have been in The Bad Place the entire time, explicitly chosen to torture each other for a thousand years. And Michael, the well-meaning but kinda goofy Architect? He was behind the entire thing. He was getting tired of "classic" tortures like burning in lava pits or swarmed by angry bees and decided to build a fake Good Place so the "prisoners" and their clashing personalities could torture themselves! Hell is other people, indeed...
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • The episode "Time Travelers" has a surreal story of Ted and Barney dealing with duplicates of themselves in multiple time periods, a girl Ted met years ago showing up along with several potential future versions of how their relationship will turn out, along with a subplot of a Marshall and Robin conflict regarding the name of a new cocktail. It is then revealed that the entire episode was an Imagine Spot. The duplicates thing never happened and the Marshall and Robin conflict occurred five years ago. Ted was actually sitting in the bar all by himself because his friends were too busy to hang out with him. Future!Ted then talks about how that was such a depressing moment in his life that he says the only thing that he would have wanted to do was run to "The Mother" and be with her 45 days earlier than what really happened.
    • In the Grand Finale it's revealed that the Mother died in 2024 from an unspecified illness after being with Ted for 11 years, having two kids, and loved each other deeply the entire time. In addition we learn that Robin and Barney's marriage lasted only three years and that Barney regressed to his womanizing ways only to get one pregnant and become the father of a little girl, while Robin fell off the radar because of how much it hurt to see Ted and Tracy (the Mother) together, only returning when they got married in 2020. In 2030 as Ted wraps up the story, his kids don't buy his reason for telling the story and believe he wants to pursue "Aunt" Robin again (which they can see every time she comes over to visit). They give their blessing and the last shot of the series is a 52 year old Ted offering Robin a Blue French Horn.
    • In another episode, Ted and Barney go out to a bar and decide to live like there's no tomorrow. No matter what Ted does, it seems that the Universe approves and the night goes incredibly well for him. The next morning, he finds out that he had been butt-dialing Marshall all night, and much of his night had been captured on Marshall's voicemail. Listening to it again with a clearer head makes Ted realize what a complete and utter jerk he had been.
  • Almost every episode of Hustle ends with the revelation that the main characters were in complete control of the situation, even though it seemed that they were completely doomed. The best example was the episode in which they were being conned, which revealed at the end that not only were they aware they were being conned, they had been aware before the episode had even started. Being a show about conmen, very, very occasionally, the exact opposite would happen, and the team would never even realise they were the ones who'd been played.
  • An episode of Los misterios de Laura tells the story of a guy who wakes up after an operation with a girl he's never seen claiming to be his wife. She conveniently needs him to sign some papers to access a very shady security vault at a bank, the girl he claimed to be his real wife is murdered, then the "new" wife tries to get him incapacitated, which would give her automatic access to all those shady accounts... He was behind everything, he was truly married to the "unknown" wife and wanted to get her arrested by making it all look like she had been the one pulling off an elaborate rouse.
  • The crime drama Motive tells the audience at the start who the killer is. The episode then shows flashbacks to the events leading up to the murder. The final flashback will often have a twist that reveals the death was different than expected, the motive was not what it was believed and quite often the "victim" was no innocent.
    • A limo driver appears to have killed a cop for his girlfriend. It turns out the cop was corrupt and he and the woman were scamming the poor guy.
    • One episode makes it appear that a pilot is cheating on his fiancee with another woman and killed her to keep the affair quiet. When he's arrested, he reveals that the victim was someone he sat next to on a flight and began stalking him, inventing their entire "relationship" in her mind. When he confronted her, she attacked him and the killing was self-defense.
    • It looks like a woman killed a call girl for an affair with her husband. Instead, the call girl had realized the woman was running a ponzi scheme and killed to hush it up.
    • An episode appears to be a man murdered by a guy who then kidnaps his daughter. It turns out the killer is the girl's real father and the "victim" is the guy who kidnapped her years before.
  • Mr. Robot has two of these:
    • The ending of season 1 reveals that Mr. Robot is actually a split personality of Elliot, putting everything that has happened thus far in the season in a new light.
    • It is revealed in the series finale that the Elliot we've been watching isn't the real Elliot - he's just another alter, like Mr. Robot, created to protect Elliot's psyche - and the real Elliot has been trapped in a fantasy world inside his mind since before the start of the series.
  • Nowhere Man, an early UPN drama, was about a man who was UnPersoned over a compromising photograph of U.S. Soldiers executing Third World peasants. He traveled the country trying to unravel the conspiracy that was behind his erasure and reclaim his old life. After twenty-odd episodes of Mind Screw and conflicting explanations about why the photo was important, the finale closed with The Reveal that his old life never existed. He was really a government agent that had been captured by the conspiracy and implanted with false memories, and his entire cross-country odyssey had been a test of how much of the lie he would believe. This may have been intended to lead into a second season, but it was never produced.
  • An overseas example from Japan: the tv show Papadoru!, or Papa wa Idol (meaning "Papa is an Idol"), where Kanjani8's Nishikido Ryo plays Nishikido Ryo, a member of Kanjani8 who falls in love with a convenience store worker with three children and marries her in secrecy but soon they are outed by the media. The show basically goes between getting to know his wife's children and him dealing with the backlash of his fans and the group members' reactions to him not telling them about his marriage. In the last episode, everyone gets a happy ending and then it's shown that the rooms are actually sets and it was all a fucking tv show within a tv show.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Give & Take", Lister is kidnapped by an insane medical droid, Asclepius. When Rimmer and Kryten rescue him they accidentally destroy a specimen jar containing two kidneys, then discover that Lister is missing his kidneys, and presume the kidneys they destroyed were Lister's, which had been removed by Asclepius. However, the plot is resolved when they travel back in time to remove the kidneys from a past version of Lister and implant them in the present-day Lister, meaning that his kidneys had already been removed before he even met Asclepius - the implication being that the droid was actually perfectly sane, and was trying to give Lister a life-saving operation, and if Rimmer and Kryten had not waded in the events of the episode would never have happened.
  • The final episode of the original run of Roseanne, in which it's revealed that all of the show's characters are simply altered versions of the real people in Roseanne's life. Further that, a number of key events and facts were altered... including that the 'real' Roseanne's husband died of the heart attack Dan survived.
  • Parodied on Saturday Night Live with Kevin Spacey as host (in an obvious reference to the end of The Usual Suspects). Andy Samberg was late to rehearsals and Spacey starts to give him a verbal beating, only for Samberg to relate a long and complicated story that explains his tardiness including meeting up with Radiohead and having to confront one of those human statues who wore gold paint. Spacey forgives him and lets him go, only to turn around and see elements of the story on his back wall. Radiohead came from a mannequin head on top of a radio and the gold painted human statue was a picture of Spacey with his Oscar. It then went a step further, showing an entire line of items and symbols that spells out an entire sentence Pictionary-style.
  • The Scrubs episode "My Screw Up" has Dr. Cox dealing with guilt over a patient dying while talking with his best friend and brother-in-law Ben. The dialogue implied it was a one episode patient who died while under J.D.'s care while Dr. Cox ran trivial errands but it was actually Ben, whose cancer had returned and was a hallucination of sorts to cope with the shock. This explains why Dr. Cox was so angry at JD, it was not just any patient like the audience would assume. Earlier in the episode when someone made a comment about him always carrying around his camera, he replied with, "'til the day I die." The rest of the episode he doesn't have his camera with him and no other character acknowledges his presence despite some goofy antics. This is similar to the episode Ben first appeared in, where JD day-dreamed the entire second half because he didn't want to believe the test results that said Ben had cancer in the first place.
  • Derren Brown's The Séance is about a séance with twelve medical students who volunteer to try and contact the spirit of a person who died as part of a suicide pact. The volunteers "make contact" with a young woman named Jane, complete with video and evidence confirming the things stated by the volunteer's selected medium. At the end, Derren explains some of what happened, asks the volunteers to wait, and walks outside. He reaches "Jane" in the van, perfectly alive, and calls her inside to meet the volunteers. The only thing missing is a rimshot. A good deal of Brown's specials have something like this.
  • The final scene of the final episode of St. Elsewhere showed such a radically different interpretation of the major characters it opens the possibility that the entire series was an in-story delusion. One series writer deduced through Canon Welding that "90% of all television" is a subplot of a St. Elsewhere episode.
  • "The Invaders", a classic episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), features a lone woman (Agnes Moorehead) living alone in a rustic cabin in the middle of a windswept prairie. As she goes about her chores, she hears a strange noise on the roof and discovers an alien spaceship sitting on it, with two tiny aliens emerging in space suits. The rest of the episode, which is filmed almost completely dialogue-free beyond the unnamed woman's grunts and screams, sees her terrified of the titular invaders, which repeatedly come after her and attack with laser weapons and a knife. After she finally succeeds in killing the aliens, we hear one of them beaming a desperate message saying to avoid this planet and its "race of giants". A case of Aliens Speaking English? No—the camera then pans to reveal that the spaceship the woman is destroying reads "U.S. AIR FORCE". Suddenly, we realize that the "human" woman we were rooting for is actually a sixty-foot tall alien, and the "invaders" were humans from Earth.
  • Season one of Westworld: The scenes with William and Logan actually happened thirty years prior to the events of the rest of the series — and William, the goody-two-shoes who was reluctant to engage in the debauchery that Logan brought him there for, grew up to become the depraved Man in Black from the present-day sequences, the flashback serving as his Start of Darkness.
  • In all places, the family sitcom Yes, Dear. An episode revolves around the lead character Greg's reluctant attendance at a therapy session. The episode consists of flashbacks to elements of his life that have scarred him in the present day. At the end of the session, right after he leaves, the psychologist (played by Michael Boatman) comes to a realization that the whole thing was a trick. The ending features an Affectionate Parody of The Usual Suspects as he drops his cup of coffee in shock, and the camera cuts to a limping Greg gradually walking normally (his leg had fallen asleep).

  • The music video for "Molly" by Rites of Ash seems to be telling the story of a guy who goes to a strip club, starts fixating on one of the strippers, follows her when she leaves and abducts her, though she manages to break free and flee through a forest. Until the ending, when the video shows the guy being chased and the stripper standing over him with a knife in her hand. We then get a flashback that shows us that everyone who works at the club is working together to abduct chosen victims from the people who go there, and the video ends with the real victim, either dead or unconscious, being dragged off.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic uses this in the song "Since You've Been Gone." The song humorously describes how miserable he has been since somebody left him (presumably a lover) using a lot of over-the-top similes to illustrate the pain he is. But the final line of the song is "I feel almost as bad as I did, when you were still here!"
  • The music video to Alt-J's "Breezeblocks" is done in a Back to Front format. It seems to be about a Villain Protagonist who murdered a woman. As it goes on though it turns out he killed her in self-defense. She tied up his wife and attempted to kill him.
  • In the music video to The Pierce's "Secret" a woman killed her friend for telling her secret. The video has her dressing up the body, and possibility trying to make it look like she wasn't murdered, however in the final seconds it turns out her 'dead' friend was pretending. She goes up behind the singer and strangles her.
  • Sia's "Butterflies" seems like a cute Silly Love Song, but the final line comes off as surprising and affects the songs meaning: "'Cause we came from the same cocoon".
  • "The Troublemaker" is a song written by Bruce Belland and Dave Somerville and recorded by Willie Nelson about a long-haired unemployed troublemaker who refuses to join the army, instead wandering the country with his motley group of friends, stirring up the young people and turning them against the establishment. By the end he's arrested by the authorities and sentenced to death... by crucifixion.
  • The video for "Smack My Bitch Up" by The Prodigy, filmed in an Unbroken First-Person Perspective as the unnamed protagonist enjoys a night of drunken, violent, drug-fueled debauchery in the city, ends with a shot of a mirror revealing that it was a woman doing all of this the whole time.
  • "Harper Valley P.T.A." is about a small town widow calling out the other women of her town on their hypocrisy: Sending her an anonymous letter complaining about her "inappropriate" dress and behavior (given that she had a teenage daughter to be an example for), while many of them had habits just as bad or worse. The last line of the song ("The day my Mama socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A.") reveals that the narrator was the aforementioned daughter; flipping the song from "relating the events of a minor scandal" to "Daughter bragging about her mom's Moment of Awesome." Now that last line is so well known (arguably the best known line of the song), many don't even realize it was a twist.
  • A well-known example is Brotherhood of Man's "Save All Your Kisses For Me", the winner of the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest. It sounds like it's addressed to a loving housewife, but the final line - "Won't you save them for me, even though you're only three?" - reveals it's actually addressed to the singer's young child.
    • Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Claire" uses exactly the same twist. Some years after the song's release, Alexei Sayle snarkily joked, "does he still wanna shag his three-year-old niece?"
  • The song Královna z Dundrum Bay ("Queen of Dundrum Bay", Czech version of Star of the County Down) has the audience believe that it is about a man who has fallen in love with the farmer's daughter, who then tragically fell ill and died. Near the end of the song it's revealed that "the Queen" was a mare rather than a woman.
  • After listing all of his attributes, The Bonzo Dog Band's eponymous "I'm The Urban Spaceman" announces at the end of the song that he doesn't exist.
  • "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" by the Ames Brothers makes it sound as if a lady of ill repute has moved into a previously calm neighborhood. Everybody is talking about her. She makes a lot of noise and will let just anybody pick her up. But the things they're trying to pin on her won't hold much water. She only needs someone to change her, and then she'll be as nice as can be. The last line reveals that the lady in question is in fact a nine-day-old baby. Now read those words again, and they take on an entirely different meaning.
  • Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" seems to be about a guy spiralling into madness because his girlfriend left him, but the last line reveals it's actually about his dog running away.
    ...Well, you just wait, they'll find you yet, and when they do, they'll put you in the ASPCA, you mangy mutt!

  • The end of The Natural History of Fear has the Censor tell the Doctor that the Doctor, Charley and C'rizz only stayed in Light City for one day and the Doctor gave his memories in exchange for them being set free. The character who thinks himself the Doctor has only been given the Doctor's memories to cause a social revolution.

  • The opera The Golden Cockerel has a Downer Ending followed by an epilogue which suggests that only a couple of the characters were real.
  • During the Finale of Pippin, the Lead Player encourages the audience to take Pippin's place and says "Why, we're right inside your heads," implying that the players are Pippin's mental constructs, the personifications of his self-destructiveness. Even before that, the previously "helpful" players, including those that played Pippin's father and grandmother, encourage Pippin to find fulfillment in suicide.
  • The majority of Ebenezer shows how Jacob Marley was a toxic influence in Ebenezer Scrooge's life, and how that plus the various crimes he committed changed him into a cold-hearted, selfish man—Marley impregnated and murdered his sister, taught him to only love money, convinced him his fiancee Emily was cheating on him, and foreclosed her orphanage on Christmas Eve, killing her and everyone else. The reveal that Scrooge knew what he was doing all along and didn't care, feeling there was no goodness in the world, changes the content of the entire play and Scrooge's entire character.

    Video Games 
  • Afraid of Monsters reveals that the protagonist, David Leatherhoff, been supposedly killing innocents during your trip into the drug-induced nightmare Dark World. Or not, as it revealed that the endings might've been part of the comatose dream David suffers and the whole time David just fell into coma and successfully resuscitated in the true ending.
  • For most of Calendula, the narrative is incredibly vague. All that is known is that you are someone traveling in a strange Womb Level with corridors and disturbing visions. The ending reveals that Calendula is the name of the protagonist, who is a baby going through the process of birth.
  • Captive (RPG Maker): The premise of the game is the amnesiac protagonist trying to escape the basement she is trapped in while discovering how she got there, who put her there, and what is the meaning of the place. Meanwhile, she discovers various bloody corpses and bloody tools. The endings ultimately reveal that the captor is none other than the protagonist herself, and the Remember end heavily implies that her motive is to help her father, a famous doctor who contacted an unknown illness, by finding a cure, by any means necessary.
  • Dinosaur Forest reveals the adventures of the Space Opera protagonist had been a hallucination from a prison inmate undergoing severe mental health treatments.
  • The Starship Damrey: the player discovers that they are controlling an alien who was imprisoned aboard the titular ship, rather than one of the crew as most players would assume.
  • After finishing Spy Fiction as both player characters you learn that fellow agent Nicklaus is actually Dietrich, a high ranking member of the evil organization Enigma, and the main antagonist. You also learn that thanks to Latex Perfection the Nicklaus that you saw get murdered was actually another guy.
  • Braid's story is allegorical and, while open to interpretation, is seemingly about a man trying to salvage the relationship with the love of his life. The last level features Tim and the Princess running from a knight who is out to steal her from him. At the end of the level you then rewind time - revealing that you were actually seeing the events in reverse, and that the knight was trying to save her from the obsessed Tim. The books in the area after the level and the extremely well-hidden secret ending offer a few more clues about the plot: while still open to interpretation, the game is seemingly an allegory for the development of nuclear weapons. Tim is a scientist, and the Princess is the split atom. Word of God says that it is up to the reader to decide what the story is really about.
  • The ending of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: After having defeated the Big Bad Colonel Volgin, killed his traitorous mentor, averted World War 3, recovered the secret microchip, and retreating to a remote hut with the triple agent love interest, Snake wakes up the next morning to only find a tape record explaining that said love interest was a quadruple agent who was supposed to murder him and would have done so, but being unable to refuse the last wish of his mentor he killed who wasn't really a traitor but was chosen as the Fall Girl to give her life to cover up an even greater government conspiracy. And she also stole the microchip while he was asleep. Not that the last part would make a difference, since another quadruple agent had switched the real chip for a fake one. What's even more surprising? The Boss, who was the aforementioned mentor, never actually defected to the Soviet Union. Her supposed Face–Heel Turn was actually a Fake Defection, and she would have used that in order to kill Volgin and stop the construction of the Shagohod. But then, Volgin decided to nuke a building to test out the capabilities of a small-yield nuclear missile she brought along to convince Volgin to let her in. At that point, the original covert operation that Snake took part in was unveiled to the Kremlin, making America and the Soviet Union ready to nuke each other out of orbit unless someone could go in and kill both Volgin and The Boss. In short? She died to save face for both countries (especially her own), and to be known in history as a traitor, and she was completely fine with that. "Loyalty to the end" indeed.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has two endings in-sequence. The first ending reveals that The Boss wasn't REALLY loyal to America, but to the Philosophers; extra in-game content explains that her ultimate plan was to slowly gain power and influence from her deeds on the battlefield, manipulating wars to slow the development of weapons technology and recruiting hordes of elite followers through sheer charisma, until she had enough power to force the world into a united peace. note . Big Boss realizes that his goals differed from his teacher, she was using him as a tool that she personally reviled, and finally gets the closure he needs to walk his own path - as a morally-bankrupt mercenary leader. And then it gets worse: Paz, that 16-year old schoolgirl who drove 20% of the entire plot, is revealed to be Cipher's quadruple agent whose reveal and destructively-psychotic agendanote  make Big Boss snap. Which sparks MSF to evolve into Outer Heaven, the extremist zealots who wish for endless warfare so they will always have a place in the world. Except Big Boss misinterpreted everything. The Boss never hated him. She just didn't like how he had mistaken her motives, to unite the world in the hopes of establishing a lasting peace and ensuring long-term cooperation between nations and people.
  • Defied in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: the reveal is that Venom Snake (the player character) is not Naked Snake (the original Big Boss); the player has been controlling a body double the whole time! However, this means that Venom Snake is the final boss of the first Metal Gear and NOT Naked Snake, meaning that technically he is even MORE important to the Metal Gear franchise than Big Boss himself! As for Big Boss, he claims that they are two halves of the same legend.
  • The worst ending of Silent Hill reveals that the entire game is a dying dream of Harry's, who died in the car crash at the beginning of the introduction.
  • At the end of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories it's revealed that the player has been controlling a fantasy version of protagonist Harry Mason, created by his daughter Cheryl to cope with his sudden death years before. This would seem to imply that the entire game is taking place in her head, but several throw-away events scattered throughout could be taken to imply that Cheryl's fantasy is somehow interacting with the real world. Ultimately the player is left unsure as to how much, if any, of the game's previous events really took place, or whether any of the people Harry meets on his journey actually existed.
  • Silent Hill: Downpour:
    • The endings reveal whether or not Murphy killed his mentor, and the worst ending revealed that he killed his son as well. This dramatically changes the entire game, during which you believe that the child molester Murphy hunted down was responsible.
    • One of the bad endings shows Anne Cunningham, a police officer who's been chasing you throughout, waking up in prison the same way Murphy did at the start of the game. Murphy is, effectively, in Sewell's position.
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge also ends in a massive confusing Gainax Ending. The game is a pirate story set in the Caribbean. When it seems that protagonist Guybrush Threepwood has found the treasure Big Whoop, which allegedly can help him escape to another world from zombie pirate LeChuck, he falls down a massive rift. After switching on an electric light in a modern-looking tunnel system, he is confronted by LeChuck, who seemingly was inside the now smashed treasure chest. LeChuck reveals that they are brothers and tries to send him to a dimension of infinite pain with a special voodoo doll, but it just sends him in the next room instead. Guybrush explores the tunnels and finds the skeletons of his dead parents and a ticket with an "E" on it in the remains of the treasure chest. When Guybrush manages to defeat LeChuck, he pulls his face (now claimed to be a mask) off and recognizes him as Chuckie, his long-lost brother. Chuckie explains that he was sent by their mother to look for Guybrush, and they find themselves as children at an amusement park with their angry parents. The park closely resembles an area earlier in the game, and there is a big sign saying "Big Whoop". When the reunited family walks off, Chuckie looks at the camera with a demonic gaze, and the credits roll. In The Stinger, Guybrush's love interest Elaine Marley looks down at the chasm, wondering if LeChuck put some spell on Guybrush. What was real, what was not?
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake: The climax reveals that the entire game is not simply a "remake" of the original game, but a sort-of sequel set in an Alternate Timeline. At various points throughout the story up until this point, the actions of certain characters had been thwarted by the appearance of what are dubbed "whispers"—Time Police whose objective is to ensure that the plot of Remake plays out as in more or less the same way that it did in the original game. The 'Sephiroth' whom the party encounters and eventually fights during the climax is suggested (but not explicitly clarified) to be the same Sephiroth from after the events of Advent Children, having somehow gained the ability to time-travel back into the past in an attempt to change the course of history and thereby avert his defeat as seen at the end of the original game. Throughout the story, the protagonists are frequently shown glimpses of their future "destiny" without any context, such as Midgar nearly being destroyed by Meteor. This finally comes to a head in the climax, in which the heroes mistakenly conclude that they must defeat the whispers in order to save the planet and defeat Sephiroth, unaware that doing so could in fact end up averting Sephiroth's original fated defeat. They eventually manage to destroy the whispers, thereby "freeing" the timeline and also enabling the remainder of the story to go Off the Rails.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2. It turns out that, actually, You Can't Fight Fate. Everything you did during the game just furthered the villain's plans, in the end he succeeds in his plan to destroy time itself, and there's literally nothing you can do about it. In fact, for 100% Completion, you get a scene from the villain, mocking the player for trying to find a way out of the trap. As he points out, every timeline ends with Etro dying, time itself collapsing in a Time Crash, and his plans coming to fruition — only the fine details change. And since he can see the entirety of the timeline, he knew this the whole time. There are some Sequel Hooks (for planned DLC expansions)... but for the first time in the series' history, The Bad Guy Wins and stays victorious to the end of the game. What makes this even more aggravating is that the characters are told several times before the end of the game that, if they continue, Etro will likely end up dead. They are easy to miss or overlook, but are sprinkled throughout the entire game. The mini-boss before the final boss rush even has Yuel's voice telling them multiple times to stop and turn back. They, and the player, think it's just a trick. It's not.
    • A fairly significant one in Final Fantasy Type-0. At the end of the game, one nation gains control of the four crystals. As a result, Tempus Fini (a.k.a the end of the world) is triggered and huge seemingly-unkillable monsters descend from the sky and murder everyone. Our heroes fight their way through the final dungeon and defeat the final boss at the cost of their own lives... But surprise! This was just the latest in the 600,104,972 cycles the world had already been through, each time ending in one nation gaining control of all four crystals and bringing about the end of the world. This is all an experiment being performed by Class 0's mother-figure Arecia Al-Rashia (actually a deity in disguise) and her unseen counterpart. Admittedly, Class 0's final venture is a bit different from the rest and Arecia does in fact break the spiral in the best ending by doing away with the crystals and allowing Class 0 to live normal, warless lives. Regardless of that fact, finding out your journey has been one of over six hundred million failed ventures engineered by a seemingly disinterested deity who could've snapped her fingers and stopped all the death gives that second play-through a far bleaker feeling.
  • Kingdom Hearts III, the Grand Finale of the "Xehanort Saga" that includes the entirety of the series up to this point, spends the entire game building up to the grand conflict with Xehanort. At the climax of the story, the Guardians of Light clash with the Seekers of Darkness; Xehanort is ultimately defeated, and the forces of light successfully triumph (albeit at a cost). And then comes the epilogue, where it's revealed that Xigbar, one of Xehanort's lieutenants since Kingdom Hearts II, is not only still alive, but has been the true mastermind of the game's events. Not only that, but his true identity is actually Luxu, one of the Foretellers, and everything he's manipulated Xehanort into doing has actually been part of his plan to bring back the other Foretellers...a plan which has now gone off without a hitch. Looks like the heroes have their work cut out for them...
  • The World Ends with You ends with Neku realizing that by competing in the Reaper's Game for the chance to return to life, as well as saving his friends and preventing an Assimilation Plot from consuming Shibuya, he's actually helped Joshua, his former partner and the Composer, win a bet with Kitaniji, thereby allowing Joshua to destroy Shibuya, although Joshua seems to reconsider after his final duel with Neku. Similarly, when you find the last of Hanekoma's Secret Reports (discussing the game's events, including the influence of a figure known as the Fallen Angel), you find a secret that paints all the others in a new light- Hanekoma is the Fallen Angel, and his actions drive much of the game's plot.
  • Spec Ops: The Line's ending reveals that the apparent Big Bad was Dead All Along, and much of what the player sees in regards of the mission to save Dubai was hallucinated/distorted by the Knight Templar protagonist. In fact, the Big Bad's audio transmissions and the "Final Boss" were both the manifestation of the protagonist's guilt over the Freak Out at the middle of the game, along with everything else that happened before and after it.
  • In The Witch's House you play as Viola, a girl who must find her way out of the house of Ellen, a witch who kidnaps children and is able to trade bodies with people. The True Ending reveals that you were playing as the witch all along. As it turns out, Ellen traded her dying body with her unsuspecting friend Viola's (supposedly "just for a day") and left said friend in the house to die in terrible agony. Viola managed to use the witch's own magic against her, but you personally helped Ellen get past all the traps, and Ellen successfully assumes Viola's identity while the real Viola is shot by her own father.
  • In Furi, you play as a mysterious, incredibly powerful warrior who has been imprisoned in the farthest reaches of the planet's orbit via a network of "jail worlds" specifically designed to keep you locked up, and you need to hack and slash your way through the various Jailers who rule the jail worlds to earn your freedom. The ending (which takes place after the credits) reveals that there's a very good reason they went through all that trouble to shut you up: you're actually one of many humanoid Supersoldier scouts sent to the planet by an alien world to see if the planet is worth sucking dry for resources; the Jailers were in your way to protect the world from the devastation you could possibly bring. Depending on how you respond to your superior in the ending, it's possible to either destroy the planet like you were sent to do or turn on your superior and save the world.
  • In Ghost Trick, the ending reveals that Sissel was actually a cat who was the pet of Yomiel, thus explaining Sissel's lack of knowledge of certain human things, inability to read, and his complete amnesia. It's also revealed that Ray was Missile from another timeline, and he manipulated Sissel into thinking certain things (namely, that his soul would vanish at daybreak) to trick him into saving Lynne and Kamila.
  • River City Girls leads the player to believe that Misako and Kyoko are dating Kunio and Riki, and run off to rescue them after they were kidnapped. Along the way Mami and Hasebe constantly belittle them. The normal ending reveals that Kunio and Riki are actually dating those girls, while Misako and Kyoko are crazy stalkers that the boys are actively avoiding. The plot twist seems like an Ass Pull until you actually pay attention to the conversations the two pairs of girls have with each other, mainly, Misako and Kyoko constantly claiming they "Don't deserve" the boys while Mami and Hasebe imply being on much friendlier terms with them and straight-up calling the protagonists insane, as they are never able to disprove either of those claims. The Golden Ending (added in a later patch) however changes Riki and Kunio's reaction to them to instead just asking them out and ends on a much happier note for the girls.
  • The ending to BioShock Infinite turns the story from a rescue mission to save a young girl from a bunch of amazing flying racists, into a multi-dimensional hopping Mind Screw that ends with the player character being killed off after The Reveal that he is both the protagonist (as the player character), and the Big Bad (as an NPC), and that the girl he was rescuing is his biological daughter. In particular, the phrase "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt", rather than being an ultimatum by his creditors, was actually proof that he sold his daughter to the Luteces in the first place.
  • 9:05 is a very brief Interactive Fiction game by Adam Cadre that opens with what appears to be an exceptionally mundane situation — you're woken by an alarm clock and have to scramble to get to work on time. If you actually show up to work, however (you're given the option to just keep driving), the game ends abruptly with the revelation that you're actually a home invader who murdered the man whose bed you were sleeping in, and whose job you're going to. If you replay the game you can find the body under the bed, and the option to keep driving allows you to make a clean getaway.
  • In the online game Strip 'Em All, the fifth puzzle/comic strip initially appears to be about a fat blond girl and her dark-haired Poisonous Friend who secretly loathes her and callously goads her into overdosing on her medication for no conceivable reason other than her sheer disgust of the blond girl. Then the final set of panels reveals that this "friend" existed only in the mind of the blonde girl, which adds a whole new dimension to their interactions.
  • The end of Broken Age Part 1 reveals that the "ship" Shay has been stuck in for his whole life is actually a Mog (not that kind of Mog kupo), namely the Mog that Vella has been trying to kill throughout her story. Also the creatures you rescue in Shay's story are actually the sacrifices of the other.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Once you find out that Alvis is actually the true God of the universe]], it's interesting to look back and consider just where Meyneth and Zanza stand in the game's cosmology, since technically they aren't really gods, but rather just siphoning off some of Alvis's power.
    • And then Xenoblade Chronicles 2 reveals itself to be a Stealth Sequel (surprising nobody), but re-contextualizes the ending of the first game again. Zanza could never be anything but evil, as he's only half of a complete being; the benevolent half of Professor Klaus was left behind in the original universe his experiment took place in(XC 2's). Revelations about just what role Monado-holders play in the cosmology also provide more consistent rules to some of the first game's more unexpected events.
    • In its Spiritual Successor Xenoblade Chronicles X, the ending reveals that the Lifehold Core's quantum computer, that was supposed to house the consciousnesses of everyone in New LA, has been destroyed since the moment the White Whale made planetfall on Mira. This renders everything you've been told about the nature of mimeosome operation invalid, and opens up a far bigger mystery of just how in the world any humans in NLA can still be alive in the first place.
  • Elemental Gearbolt pits two Elementals against a Well-Intentioned Extremist prince plotting to make the world a better place — through any means necessary. All are destroyed in the end. Close attention to the credits reveals the twist — it was all a set-up. Both parties were used as unwitting proxies by external forces. The prince got the technology from an extra-dimensional Arms Dealer that stood to gain from his plan to awaken an Eldritch Abomination. The Elementals were created by an opposing inter-world traveler to keep the sealed evil in its can.
  • Eternal Darkness manages to incorporate the New Game+ feature into the story. Upon beating all three routes (each one requiring the player to destroy one of the Ancients by summoning another Ancient,) it's revealed that the entire thing was a plot by Mantorok, the fourth Ancient, who manipulated events across three different timelines before combining them all into a new timeline where all three Ancients are dead.
  • The Wolf Among Us: Naturally, as a Murder Mystery. The final conversation with Nerissa in Episode 5 does this tenfold, with her revealing she gave false testimony to catch the Crooked Man, before giving the biggest Wham Line of the series, implying very heavily that either she was posing as Faith at the start of Episode 1, or that she is actually Faith, and has been impersonating Nerissa throughout the season, and the first victim was actually the real Nerissa.
  • The first playthrough of NieR ends with a colossal twist: the Shades, the main enemies that you have been fighting the entire time, were not in fact mindless cruel monsters, but sentient beings, and what's more, they are the original, true humans of the world. Everyone you thought had been human this whole time was actually a bio-magical clone, to be merged together with the original corresponding Shade later on when a specific protocol (Grimoire Weiss and Grimoire Noir merging together). Although it might not be entirely clear by the end, the game has a New Game+ that adds many additional scenes, which basically confirm that you were a mass murderer who slaughtered countless innocent people (even children) who were just trying to defend themselves, and your actions basically doomed the entire human race to extinction.
  • The sequel NieR: Automata also features this in a huge twist in a conversation right before the final battle: the reveal that 2B was actually 2E, an Executioner-class android tasked with observing and murdering 9S if he ever learned too much, and that she has murdered him many, many times prior to the game beginning, but at the same time was horribly conflicted over it due to having grown close to him over the 3 year period they were assigned together as partners. An even bigger twist is the fact that 9S knew this all along yet still willingly chose to stay with his murderer through thick and thin. This one conversation completely changes everything about how the player perceives the 2B/9S relationship, and re-contextualizes every single scene and line of dialogue they have together throughout the entire game.
    • Ending B may count as well, depending on whether or not you consider it a proper ending (the next three endings are effectively the final half of the game, after all.) 9S discovers that humans were extinct long before the aliens showed up, meaning that the androids' millennia-long war against the machine lifeforms has been utterly pointless. The endgame of route C/D also has some pretty game-changing twists, such as the revelation that YoRHa black boxes are made from machine lifeform cores, making the protagonists and their enemies Not So Different, and the revelation that both sides of the conflict have been conspiring to perpetuate a Forever War, to the point that YoRHa, which was supposed to be the secret weapon against the machine lifeforms, was created with countermeasures to destroy them should they ever gain too much of a foothold. Try playing through the whole game again knowing that all the main characters' actions, and even their very existence is all utterly pointless. No wonder 9S became an utterly distraught Straw Nihilist by the end of the game.
  • The "spare Pagan" and "secret" endings of Far Cry 4 reveal that, though an eccentric at best and a psychopath at worst, Pagan Min actually didn't have any ill intentions for Ajay and had told the truth from minute one. Ajay's father killed his wife's and Min's daughter (who had gotten pregnant because he sent her to seduce Min) Lakshima, and Ajay is the true heir to the Kyrat region. Min fully intended to take Ajay to the place his mother wanted her ashes to be put to rest and then give him Kyrat, but him jumping the gun on hearing the sounds of torture (with the exception of the secret ending) made him leave and empower a group of blatant terrorists. And then, whichever Golden Path leader you've supported through the civil war turns out to have done a long-jump over the Moral Event Horizon, either causing a brutal purging of the Golden Path, or enslaving citizens, the adults as slave laborers on drug plantations and the kids to be warped into Child Soldiers, leaving you with the choice of killing them for crossing the line.
  • The Yharnam Sunrise ending of Bloodborne reveals that everything you had experienced and everyone/thing you met/killed was All Just a Dream set up by the Great Ones/The Moon Presence as a means of using humans to propagate themselves, and Gehrman chopping your head off is what was able to wrench you out of it. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of every other Yharnamite still being trapped in the nightmare with no conceivable way out, and there is no closure given for what happens to the Hunter upon leaving it.
  • The game Ether One has the player in the role of a "restorer" who, through revolutionary technology is projecting into the mind of a patient who is afflicted with dementia in the hopes of putting the patient's fragmented memories back together. Along the way, the player is harassed by the doctor who is heading the project, who seems more interested in retaining funding than actually helping the patient. As the end approaches, the player learns the truth about the patient and the patient's memories: the person whose mind the player thinks that they were exploring has been dead for years. You are her surviving husband, and the actual patient, and the fragmented memories are his own. The "restorer" technology does not exist. The entire premise is the patient's afflicted mind attempting to make some sense of the conventional therapy that he is receiving. The callous attitude of the head doctor is the patient's mental reinterpretation of the patient's actual doctor and, as the therapy continues, the interpretation of the doctor becomes more and more sympathetic as the patient begins to trust her.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 is set at a new and improved "modern" version of the titular pizzeria from the first game, which had closed down some time ago, with brand new high-tech animatronics put in place while the original ones are placed in storage and used for parts. The original guard now works the day shift too. However, Phone Guy is still around, despite being seemingly killed years ago at the old location, and several Retraux minigames seen after dying hint at something sinister happening at the new location, similar to the backstory hidden in the first game. It isn't until the completion of Night 5 that it all makes sense - Jeremy's paycheck is dated 1987, and therefore the events of the game happen before those of the first game, and during said game's bloody past.
  • Dear Mariko makes you think that you're playing Mariko, a young woman whose relationship is falling apart because of a Stalker with a Crush. However, the True End reveals that the character you're playing as is the stalker. You're given several hints throughout the game about who your character really is.
  • It's not the main plot of Tales of Berseria that does this, but the bonus dungeon. Inside, it's revealed that the malevolence humans produce just by existing and having negative emotions is poisonous to Seraphim, who wanted to destroy the human world because of this. Some Seraphim objected, and made a bet that if they could prove coexistence was possible, the worlds would be open to each other instead. The Seraphim accepted the bet, but heavily loaded the dice, by cursing humans and Seraphim (known to the humans as Malakhim) such that malevolence would warp them into Daemons and Dragons respectively, thus driving the two races apart; should Malevolence ever cloud the entire world, the original Seraphim will go through with the plan to destroy the human world. The ramifications are extensive; the original Seraphim become Greater-Scope Villain, the game's Final Boss is revealed to be Necessarily Evil, and with that cycle broken Maotelus has much bigger responsibilities placed on him. That last one carries over to distant sequel Tales of Zestiria, as it means if Maotelus hasn't been completely purified and freed at the end of the game (and it's not clear if he was), then the game's good ending leaves the world in an unstoppable death spiral.
  • The central conceit of Second Sight is that each level alternates between the present and the past, showing you how your protagonist got to where he is. It's only near the end of the game that you discover the game has actually been alternating between a possible future and the present; the levels that were ostensibly the "present" before were actually precognitive flash-forwards, and the "past" has always been the present.
  • The Beginner's Guide. The game is ostensibly about Davey Wreden, creator of The Stanley Parable, wanting to show off some old short games made by an old friend of his who inspired him to become a games creator. Davey invites the player to play them in chronological order while he narrates his thoughts on them. The later games begin straining against this premise until the last game in the collection reveals that the 'Davey Wreden' who's been narrating is not the Real Life Davey Wreden, and narrator!Davey is an Unreliable Narrator whose motivations are very different from what the premise made them out to be. Going back through the earlier chapters of the game with this knowledge in hand changes virtually everything.
  • The Stanley Parable takes it Up to Eleven as multiple endings may or may not change everything you know about what the game is. You could be playing an ordinary game with a simple storyline, a fight of control between the Player and the Narrator, a story about the daydreams of an ordinary man being taken too far, a meta game criticizing the illusion of choice, or something even more sinister that you must escape from...
  • To the Moon and its sequel, Finding Paradise, both use this - a revelation near the end recontextualizes much of what went before.
    • In To the Moon, you learn about Johnny's suppressed childhood memories - including his dead twin brother (explaining his mother calling him by the wrong name earlier), and meeting his future wife... explaining her odd behavior when he meets her again as a teenager, and the way she reacted when she found out his reasons for asking her out in the first place. (She remembered their original meeting, and he didn't.) It also explained WHY he had that inexplicable desire to go to the moon in the first place...
    • In Finding Paradise, the main revelation is that Colin's best friend, Faye, never existed - she was literally an imaginary friend, but so vivid that she appeared as a true person in his memory. Going back to all the scenes she appeared in with this knowledge gives you that classic feeling from The Sixth Sense - the sudden realization that nobody EXCEPT Colin ever actually interact with or respond to her. She didn't disappear from his later memories because she died in some tragic accident, as was speculated earlier - she just faded away when Colin met his future wife, and stopped being so lonely. Doesn't make her final goodbye any less of a Tear Jerker, though...
  • God of War (PS4) begins with a tattooed stranger showing up at Kratos' house and picking a fight, saying "I know who you are", suggesting that he's aware of Kratos' violent past. This attack makes Kratos decide that he and his son Atreus have to scatter his late wife Faye's ashes right away, instead of waiting as he had originally intended. At the end of the game, Kratos and Atreus end up in Jotunheim and discover that Faye was the last of the Giants, after Odin and the Norse gods decided to exterminate them. Suddenly it becomes clear that the stranger (AKA Baldur) wasn't looking for the "Ghost of Sparta", but for the last Giant, which he assumed was Kratos. Which explains a moment partway through the game where he abruptly "realizes" that the person he was looking for was actually Atreus... otherwise known as Loki.
  • Grand Theft Auto III has a brief example on the radio. A caller on Chatterbox tells Lazlow he had a nanny as a child who spanked him when he was bad and now he's looking for a nanny because "Freddie's been a very naughty boy". After a brief exchange about the end results of spanking, Lazlow asks the caller how old his son is. It turns out the caller is Freddie and he's looking for a nanny out of some sexual perversion.
  • Drawn to Life 2: The Next Chapter is a cute kid's game where you have to help a village fight an evil shadow. The ending has foreshadowing but it isn't obvious until later. The original ending reveals that it's All Just a Dream of a dying little boy in a coma after his family got into a car crash, killing both his parents and damaging the right side of his sister's face. The boy ends up waking up to embrace his sister, but the ending was considered too dark and frightening so it was later censored. In Drawn to Life Compilation the ending uses a much cuter art-style and is about a boy passes out after falling out of a tree. It's still darker than expected but it's not as dark as the original.
  • Half-Life: Alyx might have been an unexpected return to the Half-Life series, but most were expecting it to be a self-contained interquel. Then, during the ending, The G-Man brings Alyx 5 years into the future, to the moment where Eli is killed at the end of Episode 2. He allows her to save her father, changing the cliffhanger that the story has been stuck on for the past 13 years. As a consequence, however, he takes Alyx into his employment, putting her into stasis. During The Stinger, the player takes control of Gordon Freeman, right after the events that just transpired, with Eli threatening to kill The G-Man to get his daughter back and telling Gordon "We've got work to do." Not only is this the first time the story has progressed in years, it leaves off on a new cliffhanger, all but confirming that Half-Life 3 will finally be released.
  • The ending of killer7 completely upends what little the player actually knows about the already confusing shapeshifting multiple-personality team of assassins. For most of the game, the player is lead to believe that Harman is the core personality of the team, calling all the shots, and that Garcian, the one who leads the others members out in the field, is merely another one of his personalities and a Supporting Protagonist. In reality, it's Garcian who's the core personality, his real identity being Emir Parkreiner, a mentally-unstable Tyke Bomb groomed from childhood to be an assassin. The other personalities are the true members of the killer7, who Emir killed as one of his assignments, culminating in a What Have I Done moment that resulted in him manifesting an extremely unusual and reality-bending case of multiple-personality disorder with his other personalities being his former targets. Harman Smith, meanwhile, is actually some kind of enigmatic deity with multiple avatars, one of which was another one of Emir's victims (thus becoming another one of his personalities) and may be responsible for Garcian's current state in the first place. Yes, it's all just as confusing as it sounds.
  • The main plot of Knights of the Old Republic involves traveling the galaxy in order to find information on the Star Forge, an automated shipyard that could create limitless amounts of ships, droids and other war materials that Darth Revan used in his war against the Republic. At least until he was usurped and killed by his apprentice Darth Malak. Pretty straight forward story... until you remember that this is a Star Wars game, and that a Plot Twist was practically inevitable. Darth Revan isn't dead, he was taken prisoner by the Jedi Council, who proceeded to tamper with Revan's memory and create a new identity for him: The Player Character. This was done with the hope that Revan could subconsciously lead the Republic to the Star Forge. Replay the game again and you'll realize just how much Foreshadowing there really was in regards to The Reveal.

    Visual Novels 
  • It's standard practice for a Danganronpa game to save some earth-shattering revelations about both the game itself and the state of the world for the very last chapter and trial.
    • The first game reveals that the game takes place After the End, where the Big Bad caused The World's Most Despair-Inducing Event, which reduced the entire world into a violent, anarchic hellhole, and the School Life Of Mutual Killing that the cast was forced into is meant to crush any last traces of hope left in the world. While the cast had assumed that they'd been imprisoned inside of the school for much of the game, Hope's Peak turns out to be a shelter from the ruined world, and they'd agreed to stay in there.
    • The second game reveals that not only has everything in the game taken place in a Lotus-Eater Machine VR simulation program, but the cast are actually The Remnants of Despair, brainwashed followers of the Big Bad from the previous game, who the survivors from the first game were trying to rehabilitate before the Superpowered Evil Side of the main character of the second game snuck a virus modeled after the Big Bad into the program, whereupon she hijacked it to fulfill her own goals.
    • The third game reveals that this killing game is a "Truman Show" Plot that's been going on for 53 seasons, the characters willingly signed up for it, and their memories and personalities have been rewritten to fill the role of standard Dangan Ronpa characters. The "Flashback Lights" ostensibly meant to unlock the cast's missing memories were actually intended to brainwash them further and provide exposition on the in-universe storyline, and The Reveal that they were the last remnants of humanity was just another lie.
    • The light novel Danganronpa Zero: the reveal that Ryoko Otonashi is actually amnesiac Junko Enoshima drastically changes the way the novels come off on a re-read.
  • Ever17: The Kid you can play as is not the same Kid you see when you're playing as Takeshi, and vice versa. The differences between each team isn't because they take place in alternate universes, but because they take place at different points in time with the future team imitating the past team as best as they can to set in motion an elaborate plan to save lives.
  • For most of Liar Liar, we're meant to believe Yukari was spurned into murdering her cheating ex-boyfriend by jealousy and that it was her Start of Darkness. The very end to the sequel reveals this is normal for her, as she's killed every boyfriend and girlfriend of hers since elementary.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has several revelations near the end that completely change how you see the game. Throughout the game, the narration is from a third-person perspective. But then the ending reveals it's not: it's a first-person perspective from another character's point of view. The character you were REALLY playing as. The top screen doesn't show the present or the events that are happening to your player character. It shows the future. You're playing as a character who's seeing the future on the top screen, while simultaneously experiencing near-identical events on the bottom screen; the touch screen where the gameplay happens, in the past. The two screens actually show exactly what the REAL player character is seeing during the Nonary Game: The world split into two, where she can see what's happening to her, and what's happening to Junpei in the future at the same time. The only exception to this is the game's final puzzle where you finally play as Junpei for the first proper time. You have to turn your DS upside down so that the future is now on the touch screen, to reflect the fact that this is the first real-time you're actually playing as Junpei, who you thought you were playing as the entire time.
  • In Virtue's Last Reward pretty much everything is changed thanks to revelations in the ending, that makes a second playthrough of the game feel completely different, as well as changing how you view all the interactions in the game. Included twists are:
    • The fact you were playing as an old man the entire game, not a 22-year-old college student (more specifically, it was an old man with a 22-year-old consciousness residing in them).
    • That Luna is actually a robot.
    • That Sigma, the player character, was actually Zero himself.
    • That K is two different people depending on what path you pick to go down thanks to the effects of Schrödinger's Cat. One is Sigma’s clone, and the other is Akane.
    • That the game takes place on the moon.
    • Time is actually going in fast forward due to the effects of everyone having the virus Radical-6. The effects of the difference in gravity due to them being on the moon through, balances it out and makes everything seem like it's going at a normal speed.
    • Tenmyouji is Junpei, the protagonist from the previous Zero Escape game.
    • The old woman is Akane, the Zero from the previous game and the one who helped set up this game too.
    • The purpose of the AB game is to save the world from Radical-6 and the cult that set the virus loose. And Dio is a leader in the cult.
  • Zero Time Dilemma has a few as well.
    • Phi’s background was never clear in the previous game. In here, we learn that she’s Sigma and Diana’s Kid from the Future. And so is the series Big Bad, Zero II/Delta.
    • Delta himself was present throughout the whole game, simply offscreen. The character that Team Q referred to as “Q” was actually him, while the little boy who appeared to be Q was Sean. And Sean is a robot.
    • SHIFTing through timelines switches one consciousness with the other, meaning if someone about to die SHIFTs, the other them will die in their place. The characters are a bit more hesitant to SHIFT after learning this.
    • Perhaps the biggest reveal, however, is when the characters finally beat Delta’s game and earn a Golden Ending where Everybody Lives- only for Delta to reveal this was what he intended all along. Literally, everything Akane and everyone else did went all according to his plan- and now he’s created a timeline where nobody has to die. He even offers to let Carlos shoot him dead as an apology of sorts for all the evil he’s done in pursuit of this goal.
  • In War: 13th Day, the True End reveals that the entire story is through Wildfire's biased perception, as well as her wishes, hopes, and dreams, fantasy and reality mixed together- and that the story is essentially her life flashing beforehand her eyes, as she was Dying All Along- and the Player Character, of all people, is her killer. In the post-credits scene, Ambrosia even makes this clear.
    Ambrosia: Her perspective is biased and, to tell you the truth, terribly inaccurate. Do we seem unrealistic? Over-the-top? Annoying, even? That is simply how Lady Wildfire sees us. You could say she sees a satire of us in her mind.
  • When They Cry:
    • In Higurashi: When They Cry, we find out in Tsumihoroboshi-hen that the conspiratorial events of Onikakushi-hen (the first arc) were all in Keiichi's head, horribly twisted by the Hate Plague he was infected with. And then later arcs come along and cheerfully informs us that, while we have never been LIED to, we've just seen the action through the eyes of several different unreliable narrators.
    • Umineko: When They Cry:
      • Several murders are shown to be committed via crazy, insane magical means, like demon robot bunny girls shooting seeking arrows of energy through keyholes to kill people in locked rooms. One major plot point is the main character trying to disprove those supernatural justifications and find a human culprit.
      • Umineko Episodes 4 and 6, in particular, reveal that certain completely mundane-seeming scenes we've been shown in previous Episodes were in fact complete lies.
      • With Episode 8, most of what came before (specifically Episodes 3 through 6) is revealed to be the result of amnesiac Battler trying to figure out what really happened.
  • At the start of Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, you meet the various characters and get some idea of their relationships. For example, Momoko and Hiro are in love (even if their relationship isn't completely happy), Kamen is best friends with Momoko but hates Raiko and Hiro, and Runa claims to be over her crush on Hiro but doesn't seem to like Momoko. The ending reveals that Hiro had never loved Momoko, and had been trying to cheat on her with Kamen, who was in love with Momoko. Momoko refused to believe Kamen, but when she found Hiro's messages on Kamen's cell phone, she snapped and plotted a Murder-Suicide, killing Hiro, leaving Kotoba to die and hanging herself so that Kamen would be blamed for the deaths. As for Raiko, it turns out that Kamen actually is grateful to her for saving her from being accused of shoplifting, and her hostility was due to Raiko's having drastically changed as a result of losing her sister.

  • Never Mind the Gap goes out with Mary, one of the central characters and half of the Official Couple, being revealed in the penultimate strip, to be a Ridiculously Human Robot. This changes the context of much of her interactions with other characters, many of whom are also sentient A.I.s (but not as completely human-looking as Mary).
  • The final strip of It's All Been Done reveals that the main character's Living Toys weren't actually alive, his talking tiger kitten was a regular housecat, and his best friend was actually his late wife. After she died, he had retreated into a dream world.
  • Countless Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comics have a final frame or text under the comic that provides completely new context.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has a mild version of this in Matilda's prequel story. Matilda as an Unreliable Voiceover tells the story of how she was banished from her tribe for killing her abusive brother, but the comic shows that her brother wasn't abusive at all and his death was actually suicide and she was so angry with him for committing suicide that she lied to her tribe that she killed him for being weak. It seems at first that she is either lying or misremembering because she still hates her brother for killing himself, but the ending reveals that the voiceover is actually her telling her story on a talk show where she was pressured into changing her story to make herself sound better, which she now deeply regrets doing because it made everyone unsympathetic to her tribe and she now understands that her brother suffered from depression.

    Web Original 
  • In season two of Carmilla the Series, our heroes seem to run into trouble at every turn, even now that the Big Bad the Dean is ostensibly out of the way. Then one of the heroes has the camera to herself in the season finale...and the Dean gloatingly reveals that she possessed Perry all the way back at the end of season one, and has been running the show this whole time.
  • Not Always Right:
    • The Not Always Legal section includes this story, which chronicles a tale from the submitter's childhood, where a bully steals things from other neighborhood kids. The submitter gives him a minor injury in the process of preventing the bully from stealing her bike, and the bully's mother calls the police on her for it, at which point the submitter's dad gives them security footage of the bully's misdeeds. The submitter ends the story by saying that they later found out that his mother had been forcing him to steal to fund her drug addiction. The submitter admits that as a kid, they were just mad that the bully was sent to live with his aunt instead of being punished, but looking back on the situation they hoped that he was able to reform when removed from his abusive home.
    • The Not Always Working section has a couple:
      • This story has a manager start disciplining an employee in front of the company director for not delivering their reports on time. When the employee reveals three months' worth of reports stacked up on the manager's messy desk, the director turns the meeting around and disciplines the manager for ignoring them. In the last paragraph, the manager quits, whereupon the employee is offered his job... and discovers the manager was actually having a breakdown from overwork-induced stress for which the director was abusing him.
      • This story in a recording studio focuses on the studio manager having locked the submitter and their friends into the studio at night, despite having been told to not start locking up because they were still there. The studio owner and his wife aren't very happy about the locked-in people and the resulting fire brigade appearance, including being reprimanded by them. They also aren't happy that this has resulted in them not being able to take a flight they had planned for that day. The last line reveals that the flight in question was Pan Am 103, which crashed after a bomb on board exploded.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in the Clone High episode "Sleep of Faith: La Rue D'Awakening," in which Gandhi realizes that the mysterious trucker who has been mentoring him all episode is a ghost or hallucination. He has a Once More, with Clarity! flashback montage of events from the episode... which, among other things, reveals him floating down the highway four feet above the pavement because the truck he was riding in never existed.
  • The Arthur episode "The Boy Who Cried Comet" ended with the characters turning out to be aliens and the show was being filmed on another planet.
  • The Adventure Time episode "In Your Footsteps" features a strange bear that imitates everything that Finn does in a very uncanny way. Although Jake is suspicious of the bear throughout most of the episode, Finn doesn't mind, until towards the end, when he believes that the bear was using him to get with Princess Bubblegum. When Finn calls him out on this, the bear leaves the party, feeling crushed. Then Finn realizes that the bear was just trying to be like Finn so he could be a hero as well. In a heartwarming moment, Finn gives the bear a copy of the Enchiridion (a hero handbook), telling him that one day, he'll become a great hero. In the last few seconds of the episode, the bear climbs the mountain, where the snail, who is possessed by the Lich, asks him if he got the book. Turns out, the entire episode was all part of the Lich's Evil Plan.
  • Closed Mondays features an alcoholic carrying a bottle who stumbles around an art exhibition, watching the works of art come to life in various odd and disturbing ways. At the end, he climbs up on a plinth and turns into a sculpture; he is revealed to be one of the works of art as well.
  • Family Guy:
    • "Forget-Me-Not" has Peter, Brian, Quagmire and Joe, after a drunken night at the Clam, end up in a car accident. They awaken in hospital with no memory of who they are, in a Quahog where they are the only inhabitants. They use small clues to try and remember small details of their lives, but a misunderstanding leads Brian, Joe and Quagmire to believe that Peter is an alien who caused the "Apocalypse" that wiped everyone else out. Brian, after bonding with Peter, tries to save him, and ends up taking a bullet for Peter. He then wakes up in a machine that Stewie has hooked the four up to, revealing that the post-apocalytpic events were actually a simulation designed to test whether Brian and Peter would ever be friends if Brian wasn't Peter's dog.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the "Stewie Kills Lois/Lois Kills Stewie" two-parter, where Stewie apparently succeeds in killing Lois by knocking her overboard on a cruise ship. However, she survives, albeit with amnesia, before she remembers what happened and returns home, taking on Stewie in a fight that leaves Stewie dead. Turns out that both episodes were another simulation, this one based around what would be likely to happen if Stewie tried to legitimately kill his mother.
  • Rick and Morty:
    • In the episode "Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind", Rick C-137 (the story's main Rick) is accused of killing numerous other Ricks in different timelines and kidnapping their Mortys. When he and Morty investigate to find the real killer, they discover that it's an "Evil Rick" who's apparently behind it all. Evil Rick is killed near the end of the episode by dozens of his escaped Morty prisoners; however, when the Rick-police are investigating his body, they discover that a receiver was planted in Evil Rick's brain and he was being controlled remotely by someone else the whole time. The person controlling him? His Morty "sidekick" (dubbed "Evil Morty" by the fandom), who had but two short lines throughout the whole episode, and was hiding the transmitter behind his eyepatch. What's more, he completely gets away with it (to an extent), removing his eyepatch so he can easily blend in with the crowd of other Mortys with no one even knowing that he was the true mastermind.
    • In "The Ricklantis Mix-up", the Citadel of Ricks is just beginning to rebuild after Rick C-137 killed the entire Council of Ricks back in the Season 3 premiere "The Rickshank Redemption". They decide to democratically elect a president as their new leader, and while most of the candidates are Ricks, there is one Morty candidate, who manages to easily be the most inspiring and likable of the candidates. At the end of the episode, he's narrowly won the election and is now President Morty. Pretty awesome, right? But then he shows his true colors by having a bunch of his dissenters murdered on the spot, and then The Reveal right before the episode's Fade to Black is that President Morty is actually none other than Evil Morty from the above example, leading the audience to realize just whom they've been rooting for the entire episode.
  • The Grand Finale of Samurai Jack does this to the first episode, where the battle concluded with Aku flinging the hero through a time portal into a Bad Future "where my evil is law." Aku said, at the end of that episode, "We will meet again, Samurai, but next time you will not be so fortunate". Well, he was only too right on that first claim, but dead wrong on the second. The events of the Finale cause Jack to return only seconds later with Ashi (Aku's own daughter from said bad future) by his side, and Aku can only shout that, "you're back already??" and with Jack having fifty years more experience under his belt due to the difference in time, the villain is quickly crushed, thus finally ending his reign of terror.
  • Over the Garden Wall's penultimate episode reveals that Wirt and Greg are not inhabitants of the fantasy land they've been traveling through, but two ordinary kids from our world currently drowning in a pond. The strange clothes they're wearing are their Halloween costumes.
  • Adventures in Odyssey: One episode begins with Dylan using the imagination station which starts malfunctioning. After the imagination station is shut down, Dylan goes back in to retrieve his backpack at the same time that Eugene turns the station back on due to mishearing a command from Mr. Whittaker. Dylan goes through a series of adventures in the imagination station but there are signs it is still malfunctioning. All three adventures he goes through strangely feature the same villain who wants to capture him and the same mysterious man who wants to protect him. After the mysterious protector sacrifices himself to defeat the villain, he suddenly reappears alive and reveals that Dylan never reentered in the imagination station, he is actually having a Near-Death Experience after falling off the ladder when the imagination station was turned back on and severely injuring his head. The recurring villain was actually the Grim Reaper, and the guardian implies himself to be an angel. A similar plot also happens in the radio episode this episode was adapted from.
  • A little more than half way though the last season of Steven Universe it is revealed that Rose Quartz was actually Pink Diamond in disguise all along and Pearl knew this the whole time but couldn't say anything. Pink had faked her death by having Pearl disguised as Rose pretend to assassinate her. This moment completely changes everything viewers thought they knew about Rose and Pearl's characters and their relationship with each other. There were many subtle hints about this though the whole show even as far back as the first episode.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Usual Suspects Ending


Usual Suspects Ending

Agent Kujan has a revelation that calls into question everything we've learned.

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Main / TheEndingChangesEverything

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Main / TheEndingChangesEverything