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To Unmasque the World

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The Masquerade is in place. Maybe even an Extra-Strength Masquerade. But not everyone agrees with it, and want to expose the secret to the world.

Maybe they're an Intrepid Reporter who believes Information Wants to Be Free. Maybe they're a Hunter of Monsters who believes that monsters won't be able to hide once they are known. Or maybe they just want to be able to use some magic or alien technology to help people. No matter what, their goal remains simple: Make sure everyone knows the secret.

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This is usually more complicated than it sounds. There are government organizations, if not worse, dedicated to keeping the masquerade, and who aren't above taking drastic measures to deal with people who learn too much about the secret world. It usually takes more than just a few werewolves on YouTube to get people to believe. Poking the problem too much can easily get you killed. And that's assuming the person is one of the good guys. Many plots revolve around trying to keep the villain from murdering people as part of their plan to unmasque the world.

See also The Unmasqued World, the logical conclusion to this. Or Status Quo Is God, when it fails. Compare Broken Masquerade.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Hokuto decides to pull this in an effort to convince Moka that his nihilism is justified and that humans and monsters could never peacefully co-exist.
  • In Sluagh, the Masquerade is already seriously cracking in Ireland, where wizards are openly working for the militias. And this is the ultimate goal of Diabhal Dubh, who wants to take over Ireland by building up a united muggle and magical army.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dog Soldiers: It's a bit of a blink-and-you'll-miss it, but a reason why Sarge tells Cooper that at least someone has to make it out alive at dawn is to make the world aware of what happened to the rest of the squad rather than let the entire incident and the story of their deaths disappear into obscurity, and he gives Cooper a roll of the film from the camera that was used as a flash-stun makeshift weapon against the werewolves to prove it. The end credits suggest that only a tabloid even pretended to take Cooper's story seriously.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Grindelwald believes that muggles should live under the rule of wizards, and attempts to force wizards into the spotlight so that their only way to survive will be through conquest.
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    Literature 
  • The ultimate goal for the protagonists in the Deryni works. People know Deryni exist, but they're so feared (and consequently persecuted) that they must conceal themselves. Not that everyone agrees upon methods and timing. Very, very gradually, through a combination of heroic examples and royal fiat, the masks come off.
  • In Methuselah's Children the long-lived Howard families vote to break their masquerade. This quickly proves to be a mistake as the short-lived masses refuse to believe that their longevity is hereditary and start imprisoning Howards to try and force them to reveal their "secret".
  • Rivers of London: Getting magic out in the open and setting up a proper official system of regulating it and magical creatures is Lady Tyburn's goal. With her at the head of that system naturally. She is rather miffed when Peter starts proving an obstacle to that goal, setting up new covert arrangements and shoring up the faltering Masquerade. Ironically Peter believes in preparing for the end of the masquerade too, he just doesn't think someone as authoritarian and autocratic as Tyburn ought to be in charge of it; especially since their first interaction was Tyburn trying to mind-rape him into being her servant.
  • Tuck Everlasting: The Man in the Yellow Coat is one of the very few people aware that the Tucks became immortal after drinking from a hidden spring. He is almost more interested in marketing the water than in immortality for himself.
  • This is Haruri Borzak's wish for the Snowfield Holy Grail in Fate/strange fake. To take revenge upon the magical society that took everything from her people, she wants to use the Grail to render all forms of concealing magecraft useless.
  • A villainous example from The Dresden Files. Ethniu the Last Titan, the Big Bad of the Peace Talks/Battle Ground Two-Part Episode wants to wage war on humanity on such a large scale that The Masquerade will be utterly ruined so that the supernatural races can dominate the humans openly as they did in ancient times. Since the other supernatural races fear that humanity's greater numbers and technological superiority would allow them to win in the long run, they're all scared shitless by this plan and unite against her. In the end it is stopped, barely, if only because the US Government chose to do so after the dust is settled by blaming large scale terrorist attack. The supernatural denizens are quite worried that government intervention, at least covertly, is likely in the future, and that, without official support, the people of Chicago will take the matters into their own hands.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Grimm: The survival of the wesen depends on humans not knowing of their existence. This is so critical that showing your Game Face in public is punishable by death. Across the series, two separate groups try to break the masquerade unsuccessfully.
    • In season 4, the wesenreing, a wesen purity group that opposes wesen-human or inter-wesen species relationships, starts to woge in public and murders "impure" wesens leaving their shifted corpses in public for the "normals" to find. This forces the wesen council to approach Nick, the grimm (an enhanced human tasked with policing and, if necessary, executing rogue wesen) to put down the hate group which has infiltrated the local police departments in order to target "undesirable" wesen. Nick and his gang of friends are able to wipe out the Portland chapter of the wesenrein.
    • Season 6 feature Black Claw, a wesen supremacy group that wanted to wipe out humans and reclaim the earth for wesen kind. The plot got convoluted as the writers raced to wrap up the series-long arc after the show failed to be renewed for another season, but ended up with both Black Claw and its opposition, human-friendly Hadrian's Wall completely wiped out and the normal world none the wiser.
  • Primeval:
    • In Season 1, Conspiracy Theorists Tom and Duncan attempt this when they think there's a Government Conspiracy involving bio-engineered Mind Control parasites. Realistically, even with a live dodo it wouldn't be hard for the government to hush them up even if Tom hadn't gotten infected with an ultimately-deadly parasite.
    • The Hidden Villain of Season 2, Episode 3 says they intend to do this once The Team discovers who they are, believing not unlike the above two that there's a malevolent Government Conspiracy (although their motivations for doing so are considerably more personal and tragic than Tom and Duncan's were).
    • Mick Harper actively tries the Intrepid Reporter variety, as does his boss once she sees the Broken Masquerade herself; mainly for the money.
  • Supernatural: For the most part, the Winchester brothers think people are better off not knowing about the things that go bump in the night and the people they save agree. But in the season 2 episode "Nightshifter", bank security guard Ronald Resnick is convinced that the people committing crimes around town are half-man, half-robot mandroids and the public deserves to know the truth. The brothers are split with one arguing they should tell Ronald he's right and the other arguing that knowing the truth will get him killed. In the end, the truth does get him killed but it's because he holds up a bank in order to attract the attention of the FBI and demand an investigation. However, the FBI just sees a crazy man with guns and hostages and kills him in order to save the hostages. The episode ends with the masquerade still firmly in place and the FBI now determined to arrest the Winchester brothers for their part in the bank robbery.
  • Highlander had an organization of Watchers whose purpose was to document the otherwise secret lives of immortals. One third-season storyline involved a Watcher who was discovered and murdered by an immortal. The Watcher's widow decided to exact revenge on both immortals and Watchers for their role in her husband's death by attempting to expose their secret world to the media.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In The Matrix Online, the Machines nominally honour their agreement from The Matrix Revolutions to allow people to enter the real world, but most humans remain ignorant or disbelieving of the simulated reality of the Matrix. An increasingly frustrated Morpheus becomes known as a terrorist for planting "code bombs" that temporarily reveal the Matrix code, forcing the Awful Truth on people who aren't ready to accept it.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: General Ironwood plots to do this as of Volume 7. With Ozpin no longer around to guide them, Ironwood feels a new plan is needed: rather than continue a Secret War, he's going to out Salem's existence to all of Remnant and unite the world against her. Although the heroes were very angry with Ozpin's secrecy, their response to Ironwood's plan is to display similar misgivings to Ozpin himself over the potential chaos and panic revealing the truth to the world might cause. There's also an additional problem the heroes discovered in that Salem has Complete Immortality, which means they can't kill her, and that Ozpin was well aware of this fact but kept it hidden from all of his allies, which ultimately led Ozpin to hide himself deep in the mind of his most recent reincarnated life. The heroes were understandably reluctant to inform Ironwood about these revelations and kept it hidden from him when he shared his own plans.

    Webcomics 
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • This is Pandora's long-term goal, which she starts by appearing on the evening news in her Creepy Child form. She then proceeds to empower random people with magic, so as to cause as much chaos as possible in a way the Masquerade cannot cover up. While the former only brings weirdness hunters to town, the latter proves effective, especially when the superheroes started showing up to save people. In fact, it was so effective that the head of the local MIB office essentially gave up, admitting on live television that it was all real. Pandora's reasons for doing all this are simple: Her son, Raven, is an elf, a half-immortal who is not allowed to interfere in situations that do not directly involve magic. Therefore, she is creating a world where everything directly involves magic. That, and she's bored.
    • Tedd also wants to unmasque the world, but he's doing it in a far more responsible way. The reason the masquerade is in place is that most people have little to no magic resistance. Unveiling magic would be like handing out guns to random people when most people can't use either guns or bulletproof vests. Tedd, as a Magitek Mad Scientist, decides to create technology that will allow the average person to use magic to an extent that it is safe to remove the masquerade.
    • It turns out that neither of these have any chance of working. Magic itself is intelligent and wants to be used—but not by everyone. If too many people learn how to obtain magic, magic will change the way that it works for humans to render all that moot. Pandora's plan got close enough to working that magic came within a hair's breadth of changing things but did send an avatar to inform Pandora (in the most convoluted way possible) of what was going on. Pandora agreed to fix things, but not before yelling about "no good cheating magic" and insisting that Tedd had the right idea.
    • The comic is a weird case; according to the MIB head (after he revealed the existence of magic on live television), the big secret was never that magic existed. The secret that everyone is taking so much trouble to conceal is that magic is easy. EGS has a very forgiving and intuitive magic system, with spells reflecting the person that acquires them under most circumstances... meaning that the real monsters usually get the most destructive and powerful spells.
    • Ultimately, though Pandora gave up on her goal, she succeeded in hijacking her own reincarnation to force every Immortal onto the physical plane to cast an Aberration destroying spell. That spell manifested as a wave of light that was visible for miles around, and since every Immortal was forced to cast it, well, the masquerade on magic's existence was completely and utterly shattered. The Will of Magic outright states that this one event was enough to do it on its own even without previous incidents. And when the Will of Magic consulted Tedd, Arthur, and Van on what to do, Tedd successfully convinces it that it is impossible to remain secret with modern technology, so it decided that it will go along with its reveal.
  • In Sam & Fuzzy, Sam attempted to do this as part of his campaign to get some good out of his current position as an underworld (literal underworld) kingpin. He successfully unmasqued the vampires all on his own before his other enemies stopped him from making further attempts.

    Web Original 

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