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Unreliable Expositor

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"How amusing... You say that what I'm saying now is a lie — yet what I said in the past is not?"
Sosuke Aizen, Bleach

Sometimes, exposition is put into the mouth of an unreliable figure. The result is an Unreliable Expositor. Frequently invokes Metaphorically True, or in-character research failure.

This includes exposition that is later proven to be flat out wrong, exposition from somebody later proven to be a lying liar who lies or is much less knowledgeable than they claim to be, or badly researched science in the mouth of somebody who either is willfully simplifying or is a liar, fanatic, or otherwise fundamentally unreliable.

Compare Unreliable Narrator, where the unreliable party is the storyteller instead of merely providing exposition. Related to Mission Control Is Off Its Meds, which concerns unreliable advice rather than unreliable exposition. May overlap with Motivational Lie.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan has Reiner Braun. Many of his statements and actions are questionable at best, as a result of Metaphorically True and The Reveal that he suffers from delusional episodes. As such, it really isn't clear when he's telling the truth and when he's spouting nonsense.
    • Almost anyone who spouts exposition falls under this, as nobody really knows what's going on in the world. At least not inside the walls of Paradis Island. Eren Kruger implies that he may be one when Grisha Yeager asks him what the truth behind the Titans actually is. So far, the only case of Mr. Exposition who may be somewhat reliable is Willy Tybur, and even then we don't know if he's entirely telling the truth. And he's killed off before we find out.
    • Zeke Yeager does this on purpose, as he twists his exposition depending on who he's talking to. What actual exposition he's given so far also doesn't exactly line up with what we were told via his father Grisha's memories. It's unknown if Grisha was wrong and had a biased view of Zeke, or if Zeke is making things up.
  • Bleach:
    • Half the things Sosuke Aizen says are lies. The other half are half-truths and A God Am I BS. Everything he doesn't say is a lie. His power even has the ability to alter people's perceptions, or, lie. This is a problem, considering that almost everything that gets revealed about the plot comes from him. When Ichigo finally calls him out and accuses him of lying, Aizen lampshades the problem: if Ichigo believes Aizen is lying now, then he must believe Aizen told the truth in the past; but, if he believes Aizen is a liar, how can he believe anything Aizen's ever said? Yet, if that's true... that must mean that sometimes Aizen doesn't lie. Aizen himself believes he's transcended both truth and lies.
    • Hitsugaya has a tendency to share information that aren't true, although he's oblivious of that. At the beginning of the Arrancar arc, he described Vasto Lorde as even more powerful than Captain-level Shinigami, but the databook UNMASKED that most of the Espada were Vasto Lorde, yet in the story, the Espada were defeated by the Captains. Although, the current Captains at that time are far stronger than the average Captain-level Shinigami, and most of said Espada came close to winning their fights and/or required multiple Captain-level fighters to defeat, so Hitsugaya's point isn't necessarily untrue. What is untrue though is when Hitsugaya told us Ginjou's criminal backstory. Later in Can't Fear Your Own World, most of the stuff Ginjou told what was perceived as fabricated was actually true, and it's the Shinigami's version of the story that's actually fabricated.
    • Yamamoto-Genryuusai thinks to have figured out why the Wandenreich couldn't steal his or Ichigo's Bankais, and for a few chapters, the readers were led to believe his theory. But later, Yhwach tells him that they could have stolen his Bankai at anytime, but he told his soldiers not to because it's only Yhwach who can actually control the power of Genryuusai's Bankai. The reason why Ichigo's Bankai couldn't be stolen was later explained by Urahara, and it was for completely different reasons than what Genryuusai presumed.
  • Darker than Black provides a healthy dose of Expo Speak early on, from a scientist who studies things that are under the Masquerade, no less. The next thing we see? Our expo-speaker did not even know who she herself is and presumably was not allowed to have any really sensitive information at all. So, have a happy dish of common oversimplifications and tampered memories. You're on your own. Hell, 90% of everything anyone says in the first two episodes is misleading at best, and Blatant Lies at worst. We're looking at you, Hei.
  • This is the nature of the Arbiters from Death Parade. While judging the souls of the deceased, they are extremely unclear about their circumstances and their outcomes. The guests don’t know that they’re dead, so they convince them that they need to play bar games on which their lives are at stake. The games are completely rigged but the guests are never privy to this. They tell them that they will go either to “Heaven or Hell” - but this turns out to only be Metaphorically True; in actuality they will go to Reincarnation or The Void.
    • As their manager, Nona stands out even amongst the rest of the cast. The Myth Arc was kicked into gear because of her actions, but she claimed that it was just a random mistake. She also claims that she gave Decim human emotions, but reveals at the end that she “just made him work alongside a human.” It is implied or outright depicted that she is pulling a lot of strings to further her own plans, which she also admits is an impossibility.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In the anime for the original Dragon Ball, a backstory for the origins of the Dragon Balls was devised by the anime staff way before the canon backstory was featured in the manga. Even then, the anime-only backstory was never referred to again at any point after it had been told.
    • Also Played With in the Dragon Ball Z anime regarding the Saiyan race and their homeworld. When Goku first meets Kaio, he reveals the history of the Saiyans, saying that a God of their homeworld got fed up with the Saiyans' evil and destroyed Planet Vegeta with a meteor shower, of which only Vegeta, Nappa, and Raditz survived. Of course, as we all know, it was actually Freeza who was the one responsible for Planet Vegeta's destruction, and it's later revealed that that planet wasn't even their homeworld (the Saiyans massacred that planet's native species, apparently including its God if it ever existed).
    • Then, Dragon Ball Super reveals that the God of Destruction, Beerus, gave Frieza permission to destroy Planet Vegeta (technically making King Kai's anime-only story half-right). Later, it's revealed that the true homeworld of the Saiyans, Sadala, was indeed destroyed by internal conflict (possibly involving its Guardian), once again making Kaio's story correct even if missing a lot of important details.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Before his Start of Darkness is properly depicted, virtually everything we learn about Zeref's character and history comes from third parties, and almost all of them are Entertainingly Wrong, mainly due to gaps in public knowledge being filled by rumors surrounding his horrifically evil actions. To start, the general public believes he was killed 400 years ago, with cults attempting to bring him Back from the Dead; this gets disproven when he not only shows up alive and well (being immortal and all), but is a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold who spreads death against his will. Grimoire Heart explains that his true magic and evil were simply sealed away in the past and must be "awakened", but this too is disproven by Zeref, who simply struggles with a curse that he can only control when he sees no value in life, something he's all too keen on doing after centuries of being unfairly labeled as the ultimate evil.
    • A variation happens with the pentagon graphs for the participants in the Grand Magic Games, which measure character's offense, defense, speed, intelligence and one other statistic. Rather than being objective statistics, they're the observations recorded by Jason, a reporter character. Jason has no information on characters who haven't shown off their abilities, such as Yukino, who is representing Saber Tooth for the first time, as well as all five members of Raven Tail.note  His biases also creep in, such as how he actually likes Gajeel's music, and gives him a high rating on that. Considering that those competing for Fairy Tail (with the exception of Jellal, who is impersonating Mystogan) had disappeared for seven years and recently Took a Level in Badass, their scores may not be completely accurate.
  • In FLCL some of what Amarao says is true while other parts are suspect. They may be deliberate lies or just out-of-date information.
  • Kengan Ashura has Chiba Takayuki, who pulls an Explaining Your Power to the Enemy when he engages his opponent, proudly describing his ability to copy another person's fighting style after just seeing them once, and demonstrating a few choice moves while gloating that it's only a matter of time before he'll have All Your Powers Combined. However, the explanation he gives is mostly a lie — he can't copy biological functions or mutations, his strength and athleticism don't change, and most importantly, he can't perfectly copy a move after only seeing it once; he has to spend a good while practicing with a recording. The choice moves he demonstrates were the only ones his opponent had seen that he had time to copy perfectly. Naturally, the reason for inflating his skills so much is to try to intimidate the opponent and give the impression that he's vastly more powerful than he really is.
  • Naruto:
    • Applied in layers, where Itachi provides exposition about himself and Tobi, who in turn offers conflicting exposition about both of them. Later events reveal the latter tells the truth about other people but generally lies about himself and any event he was personally involved with. Whatever he says is aimed at driving others to help him achieve his end goals. His teacher, Madara, does the same thing and is exceedingly malicious about it.
    • The late plot of the series is driven by the stories left to the Uchiha clan by their ancestors on a stone tablet. As a narrator the tablet is proved unreliable when Black Zetsu admits to having modified it and other histories to ensure Kaguya's resurrection.
  • One Piece:
    • When Nico Robin's backstory is first touched upon, it's a Navy sailor recounting a report he heard about Robin, as a child, destroying several battleships. When we see her flashback, it turns out that the battleships were actually destroyed by a giant navy deserter. The World Government made Robin the scapegoat to justify her bounty, and to cover-up the true reason, which was that she could decipher the ancient writings that could locate ancient superweapons.
    • When Leo of the Tonta Corps. describes the Tontatta princess Mansherry, he calls her a selfish brat. As it turns out, she's actually quite sweet, but is a total Tsundere for Leo. Another dwarf notes that Leo is just Oblivious to Love.
    • The World Government claims that the Marines managed to capture the Pirate King Gold Roger, when in reality, Roger turned himself in because he had a terminal illness and didn't have long to live anyway. It ultimately turned into a Pyrrhic Victory anyway, because Roger used the attention of his execution to put out a Final Speech and rally the hearts of citizens around the world, starting the Golden Age of Piracy.
    • In the Wano arc, we see Sarahebi of the Beast Pirates teaching a classroom of children that Kozuiki Oden and his retainers the Akazaya Nine were evil and how Orochi was the brave hero that defeated them; since these events happened twenty years ago, no child in the present day would remember the actual truth.
  • PandoraHearts gives us Jack Vessalius along with the biggest Wham Episode of the series (Retrace LXV) when it's revealed that the aforementioned character is this trope. Everything he once attributed to Oswald/Glen Baskerville turns out to actually apply to himself.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2007), Robin Wolfe invites Phoenix to his house, saying that he's a suspect for killing his employee Eddie Johnson because he had a talk with him about his disrespectful attitude before he committed suicide, and was the last person to speak with him before his death. It then comes to light that he had taken Eddie to the Den of Spiders and restrained him in a chair for three hours, but while Robin claims that he was unaware of Eddie's arachnophobia, his wife Theridia testifies to his knowing about it. Robin's other lies include the claim that Eddie tried to get into a relationship with his daughter Lira but failed (Lira loved Eddie and hates her father for driving him to his death), and that his brother Bobby is "a servant" (not only do the Wolfes not have servants, but Robin keeps Bobby out of sight of guests, thinking him an embarrassment to the family name).
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, Homura tries to judge whether Madoka's Heroic Sacrifice was voluntary by telling an alternate version of Madoka about it, and asking her opinion. However, Homura either forgets or intentionally omits several parts of the story, including the part where Madoka's Heroic Sacrifice saved a lot of people from a Fate Worse than Death. This renders Madoka's opinion logically invalid because she doesn't know all the pertinent facts. Unfortunately, Homura doesn't realize that, or doesn't care. Cue her well-intentioned but ultimately disastrous attempt to 'free' Madoka from godhood.
    • The franchise in general suffers a lot of this thanks to Kyubey being the main source of exposition. He never gets caught in a direct lie, but he exploits You Didn't Ask, Exact Words, and giving just enough information to deliberately lead someone to the wrong conclusion as a way of life. A classic example being what happened with Kyouko, where he was asked whether it was possible to turn someone back from being a Witch—he answered that he'd never heard of it happening, but when dealing with magic, who knows what's possible, when magic defies possibility? The actual answer, as it turns out, was "no", at least as far as a solution that Kyouko herself could implement for Sayaka. As shown in the various other spin-offs, the only real chance would be to have another girl outright use her wish to bring Sayaka back.
  • A recurring flashback in Revolutionary Girl Utena is Utena's own backstory: she claims she met the prince Dios, received a ring from him that he called an engagement ring, and was so impressed at him that she resolved to become a prince herself to become worthy of him. Very late into the series, we get a proper flashback to the incident Utena is talking about, and it is nothing like what she's claimed. The largest omission is likely that Utena didn't choose to become a prince to win Dios's heart; she chose it because she wanted to save the Rose Bride, which her usual telling of the story omits entirely. Also, Utena wasn't particularly interested in Dios and cared more about the Rose Bride, and the ring was never meant as an engagement ring. It's somewhat uncertain if the muddiness of the story is the result of aging childhood memories fading away, Laser-Guided Amnesia, Fake Memories, or some combination of the above.
  • In Umi Monogatari, the Elder Turtle is completely wrong about a lot of things.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! deconstructs the Knights and Knaves puzzle by pointing out the logical problem inherent in the Knight and Knave being the ones to explain the rules in the first place. It turns out both can lie or tell the truth as they see fit, and both doors lead to the same place anyway.

    Comic Books 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #1 opens up with Peter recapping his origin story from Amazing Fantasy #15 for those readers who hadn't read it yet. However, his narration implies that Uncle Ben was killed because Peter was out showing off as Spider-Man instead of being at home to protect him and Aunt May, leaving out the important detail that he'd let the burglar who would go on to murder his uncle get away with an earlier robbery at a TV studio where he was performing as Spidey.
  • Beast Wars: Uprising: The epilogue story "Lio Convoy: Unity Through Tyranny" is part of an in-universe academic dispute over whether Lio Convoy was a saint or literally the Devil (his actual characterization being rather more complex than either), with the author, aptly named Hatchet, coming down hard in the latter camp. However, one of his main sources is "Pontiff General Rampage", a historian with a particular interest in the time period under discussion...and who, for some reason, shares a name with a major character in the stories, who 1) was able to regenerate From a Single Cell and 2) hated Lio Convoy from the word go along much the same lines as Hatchet's piece. It's never explicitly said that his source is the original Rampage, but it is worth noting that when it comes to Transformer names, BWU goes out of its way to avoid giving two characters the same name...
  • In Footnotes In Gaza, Joe Sacco sets out to interview surviving witnesses of the Rafah and Khan Younis massacres of 1956. Most of those witnesses are very old, and their memories aren't as reliable as they used to be, so he finds himself having to sift through conflicting accounts.
  • In Gotham Central #14, The Joker alludes to his hostage being hidden somewhere with a Time Bomb. The GCPD note this, but know they shouldn't discount leads to the contrary since Joker is the "least reliable person on the planet".
  • Pathfinder: Origins: Amiri recounts how she was driven from her tribe for being a better fighter than any of its men and embarrassing them, and took her BFS from a frost giant she slew. Her speech bubbles are overlaid on a panel showing the real story, that the giant was long dead and she took the sword from its frozen cadaver.
  • Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker has Alan as Mr. Exposition to his brother, Jonas, who later proves Alan wrong when he says that dreamers can't voluntarily wake themselves up.
  • A big centerpiece of Strange Adventures (2020) is the memoir of the now-retired Adam Strange, with the public at large questioning whether his battles on Rann in the war against the Pykkt empire was as morally cut-and-dry as he made it out to be. One of the biggest themes of the entire series is the narratives people share about each other, juxtaposed to the harsh reality that others will eventually share about them.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye:
    • While several characters are telling a story about pre-War Cybertron in the hope of it restoring Rung's brain, there are a few points where the speaker's objectivity is called into question...most notably when Drift decides to troll Ratchet by describing Ratchet praying for divine assistance in his work. Ratchet, a devoted atheist who would eventually try to disprove the afterlife while apparently standing in it, promptly claps his hand across Drift's mouth with a cry of "Unreliable narrator alert!"
    • At one point, Getaway lists the signs of "Matrix compatibility", the things that make it possible to bond to the Matrix of Leadership and become a Prime, including things like bright blue eyes, feeling giddy in a hot spot (a field where Transformer souls are born) and making photonic crystals "snap" when placed against their chest. It's clear, at least, that Getaway believes in the signs...but Getaway is also wracked by an Inferiority Superiority Complex backed up by delusions of grandeur and the in-universe mental illness Primus apotheosis, and would cling to anything that would make him special. Nor does it help that the "Signs of Affinity" had a tendency to be conveniently shown by whoever was next going to take the fake Matrix that was being used from Nova Prime's departure to Optimus Prime finding the real one, which was missing for several million years, and nothing in the entire continuity shows Optimus Prime "snapping" a photonic crystal or shows Rodimus to be more giddy than usual in hot spots...and even the one about blue eyes is called into question by red-eyed Parody Sue Thunderclash, who once looked after the Matrix and was such an Ideal Hero that getting it off him so Optimus could have it back required surgery (a thing Getaway is very salty about).
  • In The Umbrella Academy, Kraken yells at Vanya that she "left", the implication being that she's a heartless bitch who abandoned the family. A later short story shows his statement to have been so selective that it might as well be a lie. For one thing, both Kraken and Vanya had good reasons for doing what they did back then—and for another, there's a strong argument to be made that Kraken left her first.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Osira claims to have been worshiped as a god by the ancient Egyptians and be responsible for their great building feats; however, the only verifiable interactions between the self-absorbed alien and the Ancient Egyptians are their failed attempts to kill her and success in making her inert and sealing her away for thousands of years.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: One strip featuring a G.R.O.S.S. meeting has Hobbes writing down the events of the meeting as it happens, but his account of the event is far more grandiose than what's actually happening (note that Calvin and Hobbes are the only two members of the club).
    Calvin: Gentlemen, the purpose of today's meeting is to devise another brilliant plan to annoy our enemy!
    Hobbes: "Dictator-for-life Calvin's bold proposal is greeted with huzzahs from membership."
    Calvin: We have tolerated the enemy's presence too long, I say!
    Hobbes: "Shouts of assent. Much pounding on tables. Three cheers erupt for club ideals. Membership reduced to tears. More huzzahs. Pandemonium ensues."

    Fan Works 
  • Blackened Skies: While investigating the first murder, the victim's journal is discovered in their room, revealing critical information about their murderer - namely, that the victim saw them as a trusted friend. Problem is that only covers their perspective - whomever they meant may not have seen their relationship the same way.
  • Boldores And Boomsticks has Mew provide exposition on how Arceus' meeting with the Brothers who created Remnant went. Mew being Mew, her recounting of events is... less than 100% faithful.
    • On one occasion, the Gastly Shade recounts his solo adventure from the previous chapter in an exaggerated, over the top fashion... but his audience knows that, and that he's just hamming it up to make it more entertaining.
  • In the Metal Gear Solid 3 Fan Web Comic The Cobra Days, the Fear lies about pretty much everything, including his Back Story. Considering he starts out as the main expositor for the Sorrow, he really messes with the Sorrow's perception of the unit.
  • Digital Harmony has Fluttershy being told by Dragomon that he was a program created by Twilight for her computer ENEIGHAC that gained self-awareness and created the Digital World as a simulation.
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis utilises this frequently as part of the Gambit Pileup. Nothing Yukari, Eirin or Yuuka says can be trusted without outside confirmation, and plenty of other characters occasionally get in on the act.
  • In another Metal Gear fanfiction, Mark Astrus in The Joy Of Battle lies to the Cobra Unit from the beginning in order to turn a mission from the American Philosophers into his own mission. He's not the only one. Actually, any exposition or explanation given by ANY character has a 90% chance of being a lie.
  • In the Girls und Panzer and Saki crossover, Necessary to Win (found here), in the Interludes, it is implied that anything a character says to others in the present day about what happened in the past is not necessarily true. This particularly applies to a large hole in Saki's story about the time her family broke apart, as well as people having differing opinions on why Black Forest lost the last tournament.
  • Phoenix's Tear: Reignition: When Hare explains to the others where the titular Tear came from, Tiger notes that he's intentionally glossing over the finer details, avoiding elaboration wherever he can.
  • The books Twilight reads in The Son of the Emperor tend to be biased or simply incorrect about a number of topics. Mostly those concerning Equestria.
  • In Where Talent Goes on Vacation, the Tachibana sisters have conflicting accounts as to how talented Taiga, the younger twin and the Ultimate Songwriter, is with the guitar in their Free Time Events. Tatsuki, the elder twin and the Ultimate Guitarist, claims Taiga was just as good of a guitarist as Tatsuki was, but suffered Performance Anxiety when trying out for a talent show. The more self-deprecating Taiga, however, claims that she simply isn't nearly as good as her sister. Likewise, Tatsuki claims that her managers eagerly accepted Taiga as her songwriter, but Taiga claims that they only accepted her after Tatsuki insisted on it.
  • With Strings Attached has the Fans, who out-and-out lie to the four on many occasions when they're imparting information — and Jeft lies quite frequently to Shag and Varx as well. While Jeft's expository lies are apologetically detailed by the other two after he leaves, their own lies never get exposed (though Shag does feel shame about them at the very end of the book, after the four have been returned home). The biggest lie is why the four are on C'hou in the first place; they were actually part of an undergraduate science experiment to gauge their reactions to being sent to another planet, but they're told they were sent there to break the curse on Ketafa.
    • Also, the story of C'hou's history concerning the Vasyn and the gods gets told several times by different people, until Shag and Varx find out the real story and reveal it to George and Ringo. Even Jeft didn't know the truth.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Miguel O'Hara seems to be a mistaken expositor. He claims that disrupting a world's canon by interfering in events that happen in every Spider's story (such as the deaths of Uncle Ben- and Captain George Stacy-analogues) will cause the structural breakdown and eventual annihilation of that reality, and in fact implies that this has happened on multiple occasions. However, by the end of the movie there are at least two realities which have had severely altered canonsnote  for at least a year but have shown no signs of damage, as well as a third universe that seems to have broken its own canonnote . Though with the movie being a two-parter, by the end of the film it's not fully clear what the truth actually is, leaving it to be seen exactly how much of this trope is in play.
  • In Turning Red, this might be intentional, or it might be that Wu is misinformed, but either way, what Wu tells Mei about the red panda turns out to be incorrect. She says that the more Mei transforms into the red panda, the more tightly it will be bonded to her; if the bond becomes too strong, the ritual will fail. She might be exaggerating or even outright lying for any of several reasons—but she could also be telling the exact truth as she knows it. In any case, it's clear that she believes "seal it away" and "repress it forever" are the only options; she has no idea that it's possible to embrace the panda and thereby gain complete control over it, as Mei eventually does.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Possibly implied with Ant-Man of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The creator of technology, doctor Hank Pym, states that it allows the user to change his size while maintaining the original mass, which goes very much against how shrunk or embiggened objects actually behave on-screen. While these can be chalked to the creators blatantly disregarding their own rules for the Rule of Cool, it could still be explained in-universe by Pym, explicitly shown to be very much paranoid about someone replicating or reverse-engineering his life's work (and for a good reason), simply lying about how the Pym Particles work, feeding his audience just a somewhat plausible-sounding Techno Babble instead.
  • In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Hank Pym meets with Bill Foster, a disgruntled ex-associate, and while describing their previous partnership, they end up arguing over who was at fault and whether Bill quit or was fired. Somewhat later on, Bill claims that Hank's petty decision to cut Elihas Starr loose resulted in the accident that resulted in Elihas and his wife dying and Ava becoming afflicted with her intangibility, while Hank later tells Scott and Hope that Elihas was "a traitor," thus framing his firing as being more justified. It's never conclusively determined which of the men is right. Deleted scenes do show that Elihas did in fact work with enemy powers, hinting that Hank's version of events is the more accurate one.
  • Blind Chance has several indications that Witek's memories are actually what he wishes had happened, rather than actual events.
  • Isabel in Bliss (2021) claims that the whole world is just a simulation that can be manipulated or even exited by ingesting special crystals. However, the movie leans heavily towards the "mundane" side of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane, and it seems a lot like she's just a crazy homeless person and that the crystals are just hallucinagenic drugs that amplify her powers of suggestion to make the protagonist think she's showing him proof of her claims about the "true" reality.
  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka with regards to how the Oompa-Loompas seem to know so much about the members of the tour group and the trouble they get into.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Walter Donovan:
    "Didn't I tell you not to trust anyone, Dr. Jones?"
  • In Miracle Mile, Harry receives a phone call from a stranger frantically exclaiming that World War III is beginning. When Harry tries to confirm what he just heard, the caller plays the whole thing off as a prank.
  • In Room in Rome, both main characters are often lying to each other.
  • The opening narration of Serenity is delivered as a voiceover, which is then revealed to be a teacher giving a heavily whitewashed, Written by the Winners version of the Alliance's history and the Unification War to River and her elementary school class. River sees right through it. It's a clever use of the trope in that it establishes the film's setting for those who haven't seen the series, while also showing how the Alliance indoctrinates its citizens. See the film's Quotes page for the whole narration.
  • Star Wars:
    • Obi Wan Kenobi's original statement to Luke about the fate of his father is extremely misleading, and was the former Trope Namer for Metaphorically True. Obi-Wan is a (retroactive) master of those.
    • An Alternative Character Interpretation of Han Solo's claim the Millennium Falcon "made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs." The claim being dubious was intended as far back as the original script, where Obi-Wan visibly winces at this line, although muddied in that later materials back up his boast.
    • Kylo Ren's account of his Start of Darkness makes it look like Luke tried to murder him in cold blood. In reality, Luke considered killing him for a moment when he sensed darkness inside him, but ultimately relented; whether or not Kylo ever realized that part is unclear.
  • The Usual Suspects: Detective Kujan suspects that Verbal Kint knows more than he told the grand jury. Boy, is he right.
    Verbal: "Back when I was in that barbershop quartet in Skokie, IL, the baritone was this guy named Kip Diskin. Big fat guy. I mean like, Orca fat..."
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: According to Erik, who was convicted for killing JFK, he curved the bullet in an attempt to save JFK, since the President was actually a mutant, but he failed when he was apprehended by Secret Service agents. We don't know for sure either way.
    • The Wolverine: There's definitely a whiff of this with regards to how Logan over-romanticizes his relationship with Jean Grey when she appears in his dreams/visions. In the first two X-Men movies, their interactions didn't really go beyond some flirting and a Forceful Kissnote  (we're excluding his make-out session with the Phoenix).

  • An entire prologue in one of the Belgariad books is written by Torak, who plays up his role in creating the world, and tries to paint Aldur and the Orb as evil and his theft of the Orb as a noble sacrifice to try to save his brother.
  • Ciaphas Cain has both an Unreliable Narrator and an Unreliable Expositor. The Framing Device of the series is that they're Cain's personal records, compiled and edited by Inquisitor Vail, and because Cain is very egocentric any details that don't directly involve him aren't present, leaving Vail to "fill in the blanks" concerning events and interpretations. Except that not only is Vail far from impartial regarding Cain, but much of the material she uses is even less reliable than Cain, such as the hilariously paranoid writings of a historian who blames everything on Rogue Traders.
  • The Death Mage Who Doesn't Want a Fourth Time: Darcia is Van's main source of information very early on in the story, but she didn't grow up particularly well educated and her village was in an area highly influenced by the Alda religion on top of that. As such she gets several things wrong about the setting — none of Vida's races are descended from monsters, the Orbaume Kingdom is just as corrupt and racist as Alda, and relations between elves and dark elves are significantly better than she believes, to name a few. After Van realizes this, he stops asking his mother for information.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld this is a key trait of many of the characters, usually because they do not wish people to know how little they know about a subject (either for reasons of pride or the hope that the person they are talking to will purposely draw the wrong conclusions), or that they feel the truth is just too boring; the latter a particular favourite of Nanny Ogg, who lists one of her hobbies as recreational lying.
  • The second-lowest part of Purgatory in The Divine Comedy is reserved for the envious. The most talkative of the envious is Sapia, who prayed for her enemies to be attacked and rejoiced when they lost everything and were chased from their homes. As penance, her eyes are blinded as she hears the cautionary tales of Cain and Aglauros, both of whom were jealous of their siblings for their closeness to the divine.
  • An in-universe example in Good Omens, where Agnes Nutter, who predicts the future, turns out to be wrong. She acted as an expositor for generations of witches. It's implied that this was intentional; "There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path," and all that. The ending reveals that although her book ends with the supposed end of the world, there's a whole second volume of what happens after. (Complicated by that predicting the future for her was "like seeing through a straw", so she didn't get the full picture on things.)
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Yuki, Mikuru, and Koizumi all have different explanations for what's going on, and it's never confirmed which one is right. To wit, Koizumi is Kyon's primary source of exposition, but in addition to just throwing out theories and then pretending it was all just a joke, much of what he actually believes was just placed in his brain by Haruhi's subconscious and thus suspect; Mikuru is from the future, but while she at least knows the world will survive to her time, she's literally unable to say anything of importance thanks being brainwashed; and while Yuki is arguably the most reliable source of information by way of being an alien interface created by a nearly omniscient data entity, she outright notes tells Kyon that not only are all their theories incompatible, but could very well entirely wrong. Plus, she doesn't talk much anyway.
  • Lampshaded in-universe with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy. While the titular Guide is marketed as the ultimate handbook to the Universe, in truth, it's little more than a glorified travelogue filled with sections bought off by business companies to serve as thinly veiled ads, entries that haven't been upgraded for decades, and things that sounded good at the time. When you have folks like Ford Prefect as your roving researchers, it's to be expected.
  • Every member of the Discordians in The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Then, once you get used to not believing a damn thing they say, the narration starts proving unreliable. It Culminates in a scene where Joe Malik shoots Hagbard Celine dead. And then they are having a friendly conversation a little while later, implying but never actually stating that the shooting only happened in Joe's imagination.
  • The Last Wish: In "The Lesser Evil" Geralt doesn't really believe either Renfri or the wizard is telling the whole story. The one claims she was driven to evil by the abuse she suffered at various hands, the other says Renfri is a mutant who was born Ax-Crazy.
  • The entire plot of R.A. Wilson's The Masks of the Illuminati is based on the unreliability of second and third hand exposition.
  • In The Princess And The Queen novella by George R. R. Martin (as part of the A Song of Ice and Fire canon), Maester Gyldayn says that a mysterious man only known as The Shepherd led the common folk of King's Landing to revolt against Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen; he expressly states that they were armed with rudimentary weapons (whatever they could find) and later says that the sheer number of people overwhelmed the guards at the Dragonpit where the queen's dragons were kept; the men that slew the dragons knew how to kill them, they were well armored and were appropriately armed to slay them. Meanwhile, through the rest of Gyldayn's coverage of the Dance of the Dragons, Gyldayn's sources are either biased for the forces of Aegon II or Rhaenrya, making anything they tend to say about either side suspect. Not helping is Gyldayn also uses the testimony of Rhaenrya's jester, who slanders anyone and everyone he can (inbetween other, lewder claims), and while Mushroom's testimonies are suspect, sometimes there's not exactly a lot of evidence to prove them wrong either.
  • In The Roman Mysteries, a number of characters state scientific, medical or geographic facts that are inaccurate but correspond to what characters in 1st century AD Rome actually believed.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The franchise makes abundantly clear that anything we hear regarding the Force, how it functions, and how it is divided is merely a particular person's opinion — a handy dodge, given that no two sources can agree on even basic things like the effects of The Dark Side, how one succumbs to it (or is freed by it, if you ask certain Sith), or even if there is a Dark Side at all.
    • In-Universe, the Killiks are a race of Insectoid Aliens. Due to possessing a Hive Mind, they can pass down memories over several generations, with the oldest hives having memories over a million years old. The problem is that the Killiks have no concept of fiction; anything they see or hear about, including folk tales, myths, and holo-vids, becomes part of their recollection of "history", so any time someone has to look to them for historical information, they're usually left wondering just how much of what the Killiks tell them is really the truth. This is exacerbated by the fact that non-Killiks can "join" a Killik hive mind, and afterward the hive will believe that everything those people had done in their lives before joining the hive was actually done by the hive itself.
  • In Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, Goshi "M" Asougi is the one who tells the story about how he met Pitohui in real life. While Goshi's honest enough to admit that he was stalking Pito when he first met her, he lies about Pito's occupation- he says that she was a waitress taking night courses in business school, when in reality, she's the famous singer Elza Kanzaki- in order to prevent Karen "LLENN" Kohiruimaki from guessing Pito's real identity. As such, it's unclear how much else he deliberately changed to keep Pito's true identity secret.
  • Practically every book by Tom Holt has at least one of these, often several, outrageously contradicting each other. Falling Sideways is probably the worst about this: fortunately it's all sorted out when one character points at the sky causing giant fiery words to appear: Yes, this is the real world, it's all true. Regards, God.
  • Tomorrow War subverts a Sci-Fi cliché of the infallible Mr. Exposition — it's narrated by a Space Fighter pilot who thinks the range of some missiles is limited because their warheads freeze (What? He's a good pilot). Fanon explanation is that while we can be reasonably sure that an engineer making a rather "hard" setting knows better than that, this unties the authors' hands in more slippery cases: now they always can write off a few details as mistakes of one Space Cadet who slept through half of his lectures.
  • The Cosmere:
    • Done by various people in Warbreaker to the point where it's difficult, even in the end, to tell who's been telling the truth about the origins of the God Kings, the nature of the religious turmoil between Idris and Hallendren, or much concerning biochromatic breath.
    • The main sources of information regarding the setting’s ancient history and cosmology are the writings of Worldhopping explorers and Odium. The former are mortals trying to make sense of what they’re seeing and get plenty of details wrong. The latter is the Big Bad of the entire setting and has an extremely Self-Serving Memory. Over twenty stories in, it’s still very unclear who’s correct or truthful about what.
  • Most important characters in The Wheel of Time fit this trait to a greater or lesser extent, as cultural and personal biases greatly alter their perception both of the world's events and the probability of various hypotheses regarding the past and the prophecies of the future. Verin, The Forsaken, Rand, and Moiraine are the strongest examples.
  • For the first parts of Quicksand House, the best source of information we have about the bizarre setting is Nanny... so it's a shame that roughly half of what she says is simply incorrect, sometimes because she has herself been misinformed and sometimes because she thinks the children under her care are not ready for the truth yet.
  • The early chapters of Timeline include pages upon pages of explanation of how the time travel technology works, along with an explanation that it's technically not time travel at all. Almost every word of it turns out to be wrong, thanks to a combination of engineers trying to simplify for non-engineers and even the creators having no idea how half of it works. A particularly attentive reader will realize it immediately, since if the explanation were true the events that started the story would be impossible.
  • The Traveler's Gate: Kai, of the "incompetent" variant. It certainly doesn't help that he never wanted to be a teacher in the first place, and constantly grumbles that it should have been Indirial's job.
    Kai: We have real work to do. What have I told you about the Incarnations?
    Simon: Practically nothing.
    Kai: Yes, that sounds like me.
  • Isaac Asimov's "First Law": Donovan is telling a story about a robot that broke the First Law of Robotics. Aside from the fact that robots never break the laws or give birth, Donovan is also the more... excitable of the Donovan-Powell duo. His narration is also suspicious because he names the MA series and "vibro-detectors" as devices that were quickly taken off the market, making it hard-to-impossible to verify his story. Some of his internal first-person thoughts slip into the narration, which normally never happens.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad:
    • When Hank goes over the events leading up to him kill Tuco in a shootout in the episode prior as part of police protocol, he massages the details of the shooting to make himself look both more unflappable and more blameless, such as claiming that he identified himself upon seeing Tuco (in reality, he was too shocked to do so before the shooting began). In his defense, those details were minor enough, and the situation kinetic enough, that he may be honestly misremembering. On the other hand, having just killed a man in self-defense, it's not at all implausible that he'd want to leave no doubt that he'd done things by the book.
    • Spooge states to Jesse that stealing the ATM was a "victimless crime" and that nobody even saw the ATM being stolen. This is voiced over footage showing that the bodega owner caught Spooge in the act and was shot to death in response. Of course, the idea that it was a victimless crime proves doubly false when Spooge himself is crushed to death underneath the ATM trying to get it open.
    • When Todd is recounting the train heist from the previous episode to his uncle Jack, he conveniently leaves out the part where he shot an innocent child to death because he interpreted Jesse and Walt wanting no witnesses to their crime to mean "kill anyone who sees them on sight". It's a moot point though, because when Jack and his Neo-Nazi gang find out about it later, they don't really care.
  • In Cobra Kai, when Johnny tells Miguel about his past association with Daniel LaRusso from the first Karate Kid movie. Johnny doesn't actually lie, but he tells a highly biased version, leaving out some pretty important details, minimizing his own culpability, and exaggerating Danny's fault in their conflicts. He's presumably relating events as he remembers them, but doesn't give an especially accurate version of what happened.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Nothing the Doctor says can be trusted, either because he's being deliberately deceptive or because he genuinely doesn't know as much as he thinks he does. The Seventh Doctor's defining trait is keeping everyone but himself ignorant so that they would be more easily manipulated, and one of the Arc Words around the Eleventh is "the Doctor lies". Of particular note is his age; Romana called him out on claiming to be younger than he was, and the Tenth Doctor claims to be fifty years younger than the Seventh Doctor once claimed to be. Word of God is that he has no idea how old he really is, and claims an approximate century per incarnation because it's a nice round number.
      The Doctor: [upon being asked how old he is] 1200-and-something, I think, unless I'm lying. I can't remember if I'm lying about my age; that's how old I am.
      • "Listen", a Twelfth Doctor episode, takes this and runs with it. The episode opens with the Doctor expositing to camera about a mysterious creature, which lurks under people's beds and evolved to be able to hide perfectly from anyone and anything, and he spends the rest of the episode trying to hunt it down, risking his own life in the process. At the end of the episode, however, it's heavily implied that there is no such creature, and that the whole thing stems from a traumatic experience the Doctor had when he was a kid.
    • River Song, the time-traveling criminal from the Doctor's future, is an even more prolific liar than the Doctor and almost as prone to providing false information, primarily to avoid the Temporal Paradox that "spoilers" would cause. This is important because she and the Doctor run into each other many times, but in a roughly reversed order.
  • Because Lost was all about how meaning and truth are shaped by unconscious psychological baggage, severe daddy issues, and the need to play on those issues to get others to do what you want, anytime anyone provides exposition on the show it's a guarantee you're going to be hearing a very biased account at least, and an all-out crockpot of lies at the worst. Ben, one of the people who knows the most about the Island, is probably the most consummate lying liar on the cast.
  • In MythBusters, Adam has called this on himself. It seems the assorted wild stories he's made up about Jamie, the ones he assumed everyone knew were fake, were being taken seriously. (Adam's first-season claim that Jamie was former-Special Forces note  caused some serious issues with actual Special Forces personnel.) Though still making up stories, he later started announcing immediately afterwards that what he just said is a complete lie.
  • Supernatural: Just about any demon, since most things they say are calculated to mess with their interlocutor's head. Sometimes, as with Alastair's statement that Dean broke the first seal or an unnamed crossroads demon telling Dean that John was in Hell, it'll turn out that the really horrible things they're saying are true, but just as often, we'll never find out, as with Azazel's claim that Sam Came Back Wrong in "All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two" or Meg's telling Jo in "Born Under A Bad Sign" that John Winchester performed a Mercy Kill on her father.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Moiraine says there's 4 ta'veren in Two Rivers. Padan Fain says there's 5.


    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech plays with this with most sourcebooks, often blaming it on ComStar meddling with information, but the Interstellar Players books dive headfirst into this, giving information that is dubious at best to flat out lying at worst. The veracity of said information is usually meant to be assessed by the GM.
  • The Unchained of Demon: The Descent are perfect liars. Because their true self is completely sealed by their Cover, the 'truth' or 'falsity' of their statement has nothing said statements' connection to objective reality. A demon could make "2+2= five" read as true or "the sky is blue" read as false, even to magical means of lie detection. This means that basically nothing that anyone, in-universe or out, knows can be completely trusted as there is no way to verify it outside of a non-demonic source finding outside evidence... and demons tend not to like outsiders meddling in their business.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Dark Sun has this with the Wanderer, "author" of The Wanderer's Journal in the original boxed set. He's a self-confessed Unreliable Expositor, as he notes that what he has written is the product of sifting a little truth out of quite a lot of lies, especially since official histories are little more than works of self-aggrandizing propaganda spread by the sorcerer-kings to make themselves look powerful, wise, and impossible to depose. Obviously done so the potential Game Master wouldn't feel too constrained by what was in the Journal if they wanted to change something.
      • Incidentally, the original writers of Dark Sun didn't even know what was true or propaganda. As such, the original campaign setting's lore was superseded by the Prism Petad books by Troy Denning, which revealed the truth about the Sorcerer-Kings, the history of Athas, and why halflings have a lot in common with shadow giants.
    • Forgotten Realms:
      • The "best" case, of course, is Volothamp Geddarm and his "guides" that canonically combine dangerously clever investigations and silly hearsay. Mintiper's Chapbook is a Realmslore textbook on Unreliable Exposition: it consists of short excerpts from verses or tales by Mintiper Moonsilver, long comments by knowledgeable Keeper of the Vault about events in which Mintiper's "or his source's" alias participated and... even longer Chronicler’s Footnotes that explain how some or other Keeper's notion above is flawed due to his bias toward Silverymoon history and realities and unwarranted skepticism regarding the breadth of Mintiper's adventures.
      • The history of High Moor. The resident pissed-off druid in Elminster's Ecologies II, Bara, assumes it to be the result of typical human deforestation. It's the result of a Killing Storm. She just assumed based on what she saw and knows, and probably never saw a single elf capable or willing to do so, nor would know, since elves aren't eager to tell anyone else about less glamorous moments of their past. The fact she's a self-professed misanthrope who figures Humans Are Bastards probably didn't help her.
  • Most background material about how things work in Paranoia is inaccurate, while the real truths are mentioned in the Ultraviolet-security chapters. Of course, anyone revealing this information without being of appropriate security clearance (and good luck reaching Ultraviolet as a Troubleshooter) is guilty of treason.
  • Unknown Armies: The main problem with learning about the afterlife is that the only way to find out anything about said afterlife is to ask a demon. Demons are Always Chaotic Evil, compulsive liars, and just don't like talking about the topic to begin with.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay does this interestingly with its Old World Bestiary. The monster entries only contain a paragraph or two of neutral information, the rest are Flavor Text quotes representing the "Common View" (peasants, merchants, soldiers, camp followers, etc.), "The Scholar's Eye" (wizards, priests, witch hunters, a skaven assassin...), and the monsters in "Our Own Words" (which is sometimes just "RAAAARGH!!"). As such, a lot of the information in the quotes is contradictory or just dangerously wrong. In fact, one of the recurring sources, the Imperial professor Albrecht Kinear, seems to have been doing this on purpose, downplaying the threat posed by Chaos cults and dismissing the skaven as a hoax - another quote is from a witch hunter accusing him of being a cultist and ordering Kliner to immediately be burned at the stake.
  • Basically everything in Warhammer 40,000. Most codices are written from the perspective of the featured army, and all other sources are likewise written from an in-universe perspective (generally Imperial). Imperial scholars tend to be pompous, self-assured, and despise all forms of aliens, heretics, mutants, traitors, etc., etc., so you can imagine how reliable they are. One common saying about the setting is that "everything is canon, but not everything is true."

  • Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The news about Sweeney's wife's rape and his daughter's adoption by Judge Turpin were most definitely true, but the same cannot be said about Lucy's ultimate fate — Mrs. Lovett only mentioned that she poisoned herself after what went down at the ball, but the way she tells him this implies strongly that she died as a result of it. In truth, Lucy was left half-mad as a result of the trauma and the poisoning and wound up in Bedlam House, and would ultimately wind up as the crazy Beggar Woman. Mrs. Lovett didn't want Sweeney to know this because she wanted Sweeney for herself. Sweeney only learns the truth after he takes vengeance upon Judge Turpin immediately after killing the Beggar Woman, and needless to say, he is not happy.

    Video Games 
  • Dark Souls: The big problem with learning the lore of Dark Souls is that basically everyone who tells you things is either almost as clueless as you are, or is trying to deceive you in some way. The two Primordial Serpents give you the most lore info, but Kingseeker Frampt is lying to you in an attempt to trick you into sacrificing yourself, and Darkstalker Kaathe has a habit of downplaying information about the dangers of the Age of Dark.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • On the unknown planet near the end of the game, one can find two tribes of Rakata who have retained the history of their race to some extent. But while one of these tribes kept their history stored in databases, the other is essentially a primitive tribe with only vague and legendary stories about their history, handed down orally over the course of 25,000+ years. Needless to say, the history they keep is somewhat less than reliable.
    • If the right choices are made you can hear the Sand People history, another oral history going back about as far. Although it turns out to be closer to the truth than the previous example, it also heavily implies that Tattooine is the original human homeworld and states that the ancestors of the Sand People were the ones who overthrew the entire galaxy-spanning Infinite Empire in a slave revolt.
    • The sequel has Kreia, who lies. She lies a lot. Considering she is also your main source of exposition, this poses something of a problem.
  • Mass Effect:
    • While The Codex has a wealth of information that provides good background information on The 'Verse, certain details sometimes contradict what the player has seen or done. The best example of this may be in Mass Effect 2 where the entry for "Reapers" claims they are nothing more than a superstitious myth. The players know better.
    • Javik, your DLC Prothean squadmate in 3, pontificates a lot about what happened in his "cycle", which given that it ended 50,000 years ago makes him the only source. It's possible he's entirely serious about nearly everything he says, but he's supremely jaded and bitter and not above deliberately screwing with people for kicks, so who knows.
    • From Mass Effect: Andromeda, the exact circumstances of the Uprising (a set of riots that occurred a few months before the player character shows up) are given by three sources; Director Tann, Sloan Kelley, and SAM. Two of them are untrustworthy - Tann likes to smooth over anything that shows him in an unfavourable light for propaganda reasons, Sloan is a crime lord who paint herself in a favourable light, while SAM can only tell Ryder what they know via Nexus records, which have been edited. As a result, the exact circumstances of what went down (and most importantly, Sloan's actual role in events) are murky. Sloan protests she'd been trying to end everything peacefully, but e-mails found earlier in the game hints she'd been planning something before then. Sloan's testimony also completely leaves out the involvement of William Spender, who turns out to have been manipulating all sides for his own benefit, putting the Uprising's brutal resolution entirely on Tann.
    • Meanwhile, the Codex in Andromeda is made and edited by SAM, who is limited to information they (and by extension, Ryder and the player) are aware of. SAM strives to be accurate, but with some things, everything's limited to guesswork and extrapolation.
  • Dragon Age:
    • As in Mass Effect, the codex has entries on a myriad of topics written by people in-universe. How true the entries are... varies. In the first game, you can get different entries on the same subject based on which Origin story your character is. For many things, it isn't certain whether what you read or what you hear is the truth. DLC quests from Inquisition reveal that the Chantry, Dwarven, and Elven accounts of ancient history are massively inaccurate and incomplete... and occasionally, completely true where nobody really wants them to be.
    • According to Iron Bull, the reason that most Qunari refuse to talk about their culture (which causes many, many problems) is an attempt to avert this trope. The vast majority of the ones you meet are soldiers and have no training in evangelism; if they tried to explain, they would get things wrong, give people the wrong impression, and screw everything up. The Qun values perfection paired with Crippling Overspecialization, so only members of the priest caste will ever try. Bull is a member of the priest caste, but he admits much of what he tells you is simplified to make it easier for you to understand. There's also the fact that his real name / job title literally means "liar" to consider.
      Bull: It's not a secret. It's just too big for a quick chat. "Tell me about the Qun," is like saying "Tell me about economics." Most Qunari know just enough to get by. It's like blind dwarves trying to figure out a dragon by touch. Only the priests really have the whole picture, and they spend their whole lives figuring that crap out.
  • In Planescape: Torment you awake in mortuary without any memories of your past, with your only clues coming from a long set of instructions tattooed on your back, read to you by a friendly floating skull who becomes your first companion and main guide through the first sections of the game. Later in the game you can discover a secret room in which the very same text is written on a wall, but ending with the additional line "Don't trust the skull!"
  • In line with The Elder Scrolls series' invoking of Unreliable Canon, pretty much all sources of in-universe lore should be treated this way. To note:
    • Due to the sheer depth of the series' lore and backstory, the detailed nature of the game world, and the number of different overlapping cultures and mythologies, it is very difficult to take anything that any in-universe character says or writes as truly "reliable".
    • Even historical in-universe statements and texts need to be treated this way for a variety of, often justified, reasons (just like in real life). To note:
      • The expositor in question is drawing from incomplete sources. There are some 5000+ years of history in Nirn that have passed before the main series even takes place. Before that, there was the Dawn Era, very much a Time of Myths before linear time even applied. Historical details have been lost, along with entire cultures and races, in that time. In many cases, something you find or do in-game turns up new and contradictory information than what is recorded in the "official" histories.
      • The expositor in question is drawing from biased sources and widespread propaganda, telling only one side of a story and/or omitting certain details while anything to the contrary is heavily censored. Historical accounts Written by the Winners and containing Historical Hero Upgrades provide plentiful examples.
      • The expositor is deliberately lying, telling half-truths, and/or is telling Metaphorical Truths. The Dunmeri Physical God Vivec positively embodies this, but there are plenty of other examples as well.
    • At one point in Oblivion, Mankar Camoran gives you a Hannibal Lecture about how Nirn is really a realm of Oblivion and belongs to the Daedra, but in the same speech he makes some very obvious errors about Oblivion, such as attributing the wrong realms to various Daedric Princes, which calls the entire speech into question.
    • One major exception are the Elder Scrolls themselves, which are completely irrefutable recordings (due to their connections to reality itself) of the past, present, and future. If attuned to a specific point in history (assuming it wasn't during a Time Crash), they can tell you exactly what happened. At least, if a trained reader (such as a Moth Priest) is the one doing the reading. (An amateur reader is more likely to leave with no real information, as well as a nasty case of blindness and madness...) And since even Moth Priests, with their lifetimes of training, are only able to read the Scrolls a finite number of times before becoming blind, those in power prefer they use the Scrolls to predict the future rather than looking into the past. (And in some cases, those in power may have good reason to want to keep the past buried...)
    • Another complicating factor is the prevalence of Time Crash events (during which Reality Is Out to Lunch) in the setting, as well as numerous groups and individuals with Reality Warper abilities. means that it is entirely possible that a piece of exposition is only reliable at the moment.
  • Psychonauts, being a game that takes place mostly inside people's minds, brings this up at times, though a little digging makes the real stories clear. Notable are Gloria's biographical "plays" (a bit warped by her own point of view of her childhood), Edgar's lost love (a deliberate romanticization), and Coach Oleander's memories of the military (completely fake).
    • The game's sequel expands on this idea significantly, with almost every character's mind having information skewed by their own biases in some way or another. Some of them are rather humorous, such as Gristol Malik, who spent his whole life inundated with pro-Grulovia propoganda and thus has a mind which blatantly regurgitates it, but others are very much Played for Drama - for instance, Bob Zanotto's mind represents his memory of being fired from the Psychonauts in a very self-serving way, with Truman being much more malicious and the danger Bob's alchoholism put his co-workers in being downplayed. A memory vault deeper in his mind represents the experience as it really happened, indicating that he knows he was wrong on some level but is repressing it as a self-defense mechanism. Furthermore, nearly every member of the Psychic Six have some sort of represention of the other members in their head, leading to a lot of Alternate Character Interpretation.
  • In Portal GLaDOS is basically lying most of the time. Or "enhancing the truth", as she puts it. She's the only source of information in the entire game, leading to much confusion about everything.
    • Portal 2 meanwhile turns this trope into an art form with three different examples, all of them unreliable for different reasons: (GLaDOS again, who retains her lying ways, a literal Idiot Ball, and a narcissistic maniac who's been dead for decades).
  • This is par for the course in all Metal Gear games. The person who gives you your first bit of exposition is more than likely trying to manipulate you into doing something you'll regret by the end of the game. The Colonel Campbell AI in Metal Gear Solid 2 is an example of an unreliable expositor where, in the end, you still don't know what the truth was.
  • Early on in Last Scenario, most of the exposition about the overall plot comes from Zawu, a mysterious woman who shows up out of nowhere one day to tell the main character he has a great destiny. As the story continues, her motives start getting called into doubt; ultimately it's revealed that everything she said was a lie. Even the things she thought were true, which were rather few and far between, were lies told to her by Ortas and Castor.
  • The Legend of Zelda. As it is, really, a legend, the events of each game have faded into myth by the time of chronologically later games, so in any given game the exposition about what happened previously is as heavily corrupted and confused as any real-world legend, and every game will inevitably delve heavily into the in-universe legends about what happened last time in the chronic Vicious Cycle. This can lead to massive player confusion when they make a prequel about those previous events, and they turn out to be not very much like what legend remembers them as at all.
  • The loading screens in Divine Divinity contains various helpful tips similar to those in Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Except a lot of them are wrong, sometimes dangerously so. (One claims that Othar will gladly let you kill his pigs, when he actually responds violently if you do so.) Fittingly, one tip is "Don't trust everything you hear!"
  • In Tales of Symphonia, for the first section, you're supposed to go on a journey to regenerate the world's mana supply, and are sent an angelic messenger who first describes the mission for you, then meets you at each checkpoint and gives you directions to the next one. However, he leaves out some key details, like that restoring the mana of your world will doom its parallel counterpart, and that completing the journey will claim the life of The Chosen One, and he blatantly lies about a few other things (being Colette's true father comes to mind)...because his boss, the leader of the angels, is actually the Big Bad. Discovering all of this kicks off the true plot of the game, which is of course a quest to Save Both Worlds. Combining this with Unreliable Narrator, even the opening narration turns out to be a lie; which is probably why the voice actor of one of the characters responsible for perpetuating said lie is the one who delivers it, and also why that narration can later be found as an in-universe book.
  • Baten Kaitos deals with a God of Evil who, according to the stories passed down for generations, rebelled against the virtuous rest of the gods, and the ensuing battle more or less destroyed the world; the evil god was then divided into five pieces which were sealed away. The prequel, Baten Kaitos Origins, reveals that this was Written by the Winners, and that the so called "gods of good" were actually a single Eldritch Abomination named Wiseman who was also evil, and that the "evil god" from the first game was actually a group of five separate heroic individuals that made a Deal with the Devil for the power to defeat Wiseman at the cost of sanity, gaining the ability to fuse into one temporarily in the process.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Kairoz, a bronze dragon working with the Keepers of Time on the Timeless Isle, claims to be researching the effects of the island to allow his flight to regain their ability to view the past. Come War Crimes, however, and we learn that he has actually been turning that research towards a way to travel through time and timelines which he uses to free Garrosh Hellscream and bring about the rise of the Iron Horde.
    • In the Chronicles tie-in novel, it is revealed that the Tribunal of Ages (where most of our information on the Titans and Old Gods come from) was actually a complete forgery made by the corrupt Titan-Keeper Loken to try and hide his crimes from the world.
  • Phone Guy in Five Nights at Freddy's gets most of the exposition correct, but Word of God is that he's missing a couple key details. Justified in that he never had a clue what was going on. After he took up the job as the night guard, he was probably a bit preoccupied with figuring out how to survive.
  • Much of Touhou Project's lore comes from Defictionalizations of in-universe books like Perfect Memento in Strict Sense. While generally reliable, their authors tend to clutch at straws when covering reclusive or mysterious characters, or events which were covered up by those involved. The aforementioned Perfect Memento also includes a disclaimer from its author that she has exaggerated the dangers of some of the monsters described within... at their own request.
  • Her Story is all about watching clips of the testimonies of a woman suspected of murdering her husband. The testimonies are the only source of exposition in the game, but it becomes apparent the more clips you watch that there are inconsistencies in the testimonies, which are made extremely unreliable by the possibilities that the woman has a twin sister who is an expert at copying her or the woman has a split personality disorder or the woman is an extremely good liar.
  • In Ghost Trick, the first character you meet, Ray, admits to having lied to you about a very important fact about ghosts: that they disappear at sunrise. They actually don't, and Ray himself has in fact stayed around for 10 years after his own murder.
  • Final Fantasy VII has two main culprits - Sephiroth, who is not only willing to lie in order to manipulate the protagonists, but is also genuinely mistaken about an extremely important detail in his first big Motive Rant, and Cloud himself, as much of his own backstory is trauma-induced delusions.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, a cast of characters from all Final Fantasies is guided by Mog, an ancient moogle who leads them to the Torsions they need to close and recruits allies who "bear the light." However, it proves that he's he's not forthcoming, gets jittery around telepaths, makes some questionable recruiting choices, and deliberately conceals the true nature of "the light" from the party. This leads a number of them to start openly mistrusting him and seek answers on their own.
  • Downplayed in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. Both Elizabeth and Caroline/Justine accuse each other of provoking the argument that led to the game's Excuse Plot, and it's never made clear who really started it.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • At the beginning of three versions of Chapter 12, Seteth claims that Edelgard forced her father to relinquish power and assumed power in a bloodless coup. If you play the Black Eagles version of Chapter 11 and accompany Edelgard to Enbarr, it becomes very clear that he's misinformed, as Edelgard politely asks her father, who is very clearly on death's door and knows it, to abdicate, and he easily agrees, having anticipated her request.
    • Almost everyone who says anything about the War of Heroes, and what happened before it is this, whether because they're lying or simply ignorant. Depending on what route you take, you may finish the game without getting any reliable exposition on the matter.
    • After Chapter 8 of the Blue Lions route, Dimitri explains how his father, in his dying moments, begged Dimitri to brutally slaughter those responsible for his death. Judging by what we later learn about Dimitri's mental state, along with other sources stating Dimitri's father died by decapitation, it's likely his account of his father's last words is far from the truth.
  • The Great Will from the Shin Megami Tensei is some kind of esoteric being that is core to the whole franchise and yet it has never appeared directly. The only reason it's existence is even known is thanks to the various descriptions provided by other characters, all of which have various levels of bias making it unlikely to be described the same way twice. This has all lead to the Great Will becoming quite the enigma in both nature and morals and a source of much debate on which interpretation is the closest to the truth.
  • Ruina: Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins: The player can collect several in-game legends and fairy tales, but it's uncertain which ones are the most truthful, since any of the authors could have unreliable or biased accounts. It doesn't help that some of the lore have contradictory accounts. An example is "River Girl" and "Witch of Varamere," with the former painting the Varamere princess and Titus's relationship as being induced by a love potion and the latter implying their love was initially genuine.
  • In Soma Spirits, the Guardian Spirits Form and Dissonance are the main source of information on Soma, the history of the Sun King, and what must be done to achieve balance. They are also lying about everything. They claim that they created Soma and that the Sun King was a tyrant who put countries against each other in wars for his own amusement, so they fought and defeated him to stop his evil. In fact, as shown in Soma Union, they are a pair of formerly-human aristocrats who only falsely claim to be the creators of Soma, and it was they who started the wars and fought the Sun King to steal his god-like powers for their own gain. The Sun King was merely trying to protect his people. Meanwhile, both of them claim that balance to Soma can only be restored by creating a world of happiness/sorrow, respectively, and only collecting orbs of one single emotion, when it actually requires getting equal amounts of both orbs.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: In Shadowbringers, the heroes finally get to learn about the true motivations of the malevolent Ascians. The problem is, they're getting the exposition from one of the leading Ascians themselves, Emet-Selch, whom the heroes have no reason to trust and whom openly admits to being a Schemer. In the end, it turns out he was telling the truth about everything, but it's still unreliable because it's colored heavily Emet-Selch's own personal biases and missing some crutial details. His exposition paints the Ascians' old civilization as a utopian paradise of wise and powerful people, Zodiark as a savior who stopped the world from ending, and Hydaelyn as the creation of those fearful and paranoid about Zodiark's power. As the Warrior of Light learns in Endwalker, the Ancients' civilization had its own flaws, Zodiark was less a savior and more of a desperate attempt by a dying civilization to cling to its former glory, and Hydaelyn's actions were a Necessarily Evil measure to steer the world in a direction that might let it grow strong enough to overcome the Big Bad.
  • While Mario is out collecting the Crystal Stars in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Luigi sets out on his own adventure in the Waffle Kingdom. Mario can talk to Luigi in Rogueport, who will give him an account of his adventures. According to his partners, Luigi is exaggerating and bending the truth a little bit.
  • In Persona 4, the rallying cry of everyone's Shadow is, "I am a Shadow, the true self." This is not quite a lie; they really believe what they're saying. However, it would be more accurate to say they are a true self, one of many in a person's heart. Persona takes the view that humans are complex beings who can want mutually exclusive things, and that desires hidden from others aren't necessarily stronger or truer than those out in the open. Most characters upgrade their Enlightenment Superpowers by reconciling facets of themselves, not discarding one or the other.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: After the Mastermind is revealed, they swiftly prove themselves as this, battering the survivors of the Deadly Game with truckloads of information in an attempt to drive them across the Despair Event Horizon. As such, the Awful Truth they claim to be revealing is suspect, and later installments reveal that while they're not completely lying, most of their claims are heavily exaggerated.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
      • Possibly by virtue of Retcon, the "Twilight Syndrome" video game, which claims to portray an actual murder involving some of the students in the second game, comes off as this. In the game, Sato kills Natsumi, Mahiru figures it out and confronts her, and when Sato explains that she did it because Natsumi bullied Mahiru, Mahiru sympathizes with her and destroys incriminating photographs. When Danganronpa 3 shows the actual incident, it's heavily implied that Mahiru completely disapproved of Sato and did not destroy evidence, meaning that Fuyuhiko had no real reason to kill her.
      • After the second trial's culprit's conviction, they declared that they were ordered by another student to commit the murder and remembered being happily praised by them. In reality however, the culprit did it of their own free will, and the other student was horrified by the results.
      • After the third trial's culprit's conviction, Mikan reveals that she regained her memories of being a Remnant of Despair, and declares the Future Foundation to be their enemy with the others taking her word as gospel despite the fact that she murdered two of their friends in cold blood. Technically she wasn't lying, as the Future Foundation was the enemy of the Remnants of Despair, but given that the whole point of the Neo World Program was to reset the students to their pre-despair selves to redeem them, the Future Foundation is not the class's enemy.
      • The Big Bad Junko Enoshima told everyone in the final trial that she'd managed to convert Hajime's alternate persona Izuru Kamukura into a despair-lover like herself, and that he was The Dragon and killed the Hope's Peak Student Council. The anime reveals she was outright lying; she was able to get Izuru to be an Accomplice by Inaction, but that was it; he never really bought in to her despair philosophy (though he was willing to give it a chance), only killed one person in self-defense (the rest of the Student Council killed each other), and eventually turned against Junko.
    • In contrast to the Masterminds of previous games, the Mastermind of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Tsumugi Shirogane, is a Consummate Liar who utilizes deception and outright lies to make her plans work. This is why the game itself encourages the player not to take all the Awful Truths she reveals at the end at face value - even Shuichi thinks she's lying about at least some of it. Some of her revelations outright contradict events that happened in the Prologue (which is confirmed to be real) and even the "evidence" she provides can’t be trusted because it could have been fabricated thanks to her Ultimate Talent.
  • Spirit Hunter: Death Mark: A lot of what Mary Kujou said is revealed to have been lies. For example, the rule that Kazuo may only have one partner at a time, because more people will attract the spirits- in truth, this is not the case and she just said this to increase the fear that Kazuo and his given partner would experience, which would be ruined by more allies. Another example is when she claims that she cannot move on her own and needs someone to carry her, when the final battle against her shows she is capable of levitation.
  • A bad case occurs in Higurashi: When They Cry where often even the unreliable expositors don't realize what they're saying is nonsense, or it's completely irrelevant or even just misleading. After all, the characters are trying to work out what's going on at the same time as the reader. Apart from not knowing whether their conclusions are correct, a lot of the time characters are going crazy or getting paranoid.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry Beatrice is this and an Unreliable Narrator during the first four arcs, since not only is most of what she reveals questionable unless she's using the red truth, but any scenes that aren't narrated by Battler are narrated by her, and in EP5 it's confirmed that in the first four arcs the only scenes that can be trusted are ones from Battler's point of view.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • It's quite difficult to tell whether Turner Grey is right about Mimi Miney being at fault for the incident in which fourteen patients died because of malpractice, or whether he's intending to use her to deflect all blame from himself. This also applies to Mimi herself, who is actually alive and pretending to be her sister. At the end of the trial, Phoenix claims that Grey was right, and Mimi killed him to prevent him from realizing that Ini was the one who'd died, but while this does explain why Grey was murdered, it isn't conclusively proven.
    • Dahlia Hawthorne is one, even when she loses her facade and reveals her true colors. As a result of her bitterness, her comments about other people cast them in the worst possible light, in addition to several outright lies, such as that Maya killed her mother then committed suicide. This also applies to when she's impersonating Iris, as she makes several comments that are intended to cast Iris in a negative light while drawing sympathy to herself. As such, it's difficult to determine the veracity of much of what she says, including the reasons why her parents (whom she despises) did what they did.
  • Virtue's Last Reward:
    • At one point, you find an audio recording from a woman named Diana that claims that during the events at DCOM, 6 people died and 3 survived. However, of the 9 characters in Zero Time Dilemma (a chronological prequel that takes place at DCOM), 5 people who showed up in Virtue's Last Reward alive and well (Sigma, Phi, Akane, Junpei, and Diana herself) appear. The answer? Diana genuinely thought that only she, Sigma, and Phi survived, but Akane, Junpei, and Carlos used an interdimensional transport device to take the place of their dead alternate selves.
    • Temyouji claims that he has been searching for Akane ever since the events of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. However, Zero Time Dilemma shows him meeting Akane at DCOM. How is this possible? In the timeline that leads to Virtue's Last Reward, Akane wiped his memories of the project with drugs.
  • Nasuverse frequently uses this as an excuse for apparent Plot Holes. Usual set-up: character explains that by the rules of magic, something is impossible. Another character with some special power or unique circumstances does the impossible thing. The first character thought it was impossible, but they weren't omniscient and didn't know how magic really works.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: When answering an e-mail about his past, Strong Bad admits to having "an extremely unphotographic memory. ... like a drawing, or a doodle. Like a doodle memory," to explain why his memories of high school, middle school, etc. are so cartoonish and confusing.
  • RWBY: A constant theme throughout the series is that while Team RWBY and JNPR are doing their best to try to fight for the right side, it is made exceptionally more difficult because most of the authority figures they know are this about what exactly they're fighting against and why. Thus, a good chunk of the story is focused not just on fighting against the forces of evil, but just simply trying to figure out what the truth about the entire conflict actually is amidst falsehoods, half-truths, and outright lies.
    • Ozpin is one of the biggest examples of this. He has learned over time to play things close to his chest, making it hard to tell when he's telling the truth, omitting important information, or even outright lying. Although he explains that he's been cursed by the gods with immortality for failing to stop Salem in the past, he only admits he possesses magic when Yang reveals she knows that he gave her mother and uncle the ability to turn into birds. When the protagonists agree to help him protect the Relic of Knowledge, Yang insists it's on the condition he stops lying and telling half-truths. When he fails to mention the Relics attract the Grimm until the Grimm are attacking a train they're on, the heroes confront him about his secrecy. It results in the Relic of Knowledge revealing that Ozpin has been hiding the truth about more than they knew, starting with the real reason why he is immortal, the truth about his origins, his goal and his connection to Salem. It leaves the team so mistrustful of him that even his most loyal companion, Qrow, rejects him — an outcome that breaks him completely. They reconcile with Ozpin eventually, after learning for themselves just how hard it is to carry his burden without breaking themselves and the people they share it with.

  • Erfworld: The Magic Kingdom is full of free casters who spend much of their time philosophizing on the nature of magic itself. Unfortunately, they have no actual scientists, so they tend to construct theories that are more focused on proving their own disciplines superior than truly understanding how magic works. The Thinkamancers, for example, view everything in terms of Grandiocosmic strings, to the point that they never even noticed that key parts of their own discipline involve quite a lot of Date-a-mancy.
  • Girl Genius:
    • One comic illustrates the hazard of relying on a psychotic A.I. for a description of your Love Interest's activities. Though the next page shows that she is totally aware of this trope.
      Agatha: ... Even if you completely misinterpreted the situation — which I wouldn't put past you, by the way...
    • Part of the reason the Sturmhalten arc is difficult to follow the first time around is because Tarvek, one of the major players, lies to almost everyone else during it, making it hard to know what he's doing, whose side he's on, what he will do, or where anything is going.
  • Homestuck:
    • Several characters think the Scratch is a rift that sends Jack Noir to an Alternate Dimension, but it turns out to be a Cosmic Retcon Reset Button that forces Jack to escape elsewhere just to avoid being erased.
    • Doc Scratch says he tells the truth, but he always uses Exact Words. Furthermore, he can lie if it's for a joke or a prank. Plus the Author Avatar calls some of his exposition "fanfiction".
    • Aranea Serket revels in being an Exposition Fairy about her friends and their exploits, but her closest friend claims she frames the stories to glorify herself, which becomes apparent when she attempts to take on the Big Bad by herself.
  • In Ménage à 3, the trope is briefly and explicitly but stylishly demonstrated by Senna in her description to Gary of her falling out with Sandra, starting here. (She claims that Sandra used supernatural powers. Compare and contrast the true story here.) Senna, who evidently loves her telenovelas, isn't the sort to let the truth get in the way of a melodramatic story that shows herself in a much better light than reality.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The team learns from Lord Shojo that Xykon is planning on controlling the Snarl, a god-killing monster born of godly bickering that sealed into the planet. Much later on, once the Order actually looks into one of the Rifts leading to the Snarl, they see an entirely different world, meaning that some of the exposition was either incomplete or inaccurate. Much later again we find out that the current world isn't the first attempt at containment; there have countless others with each lasting a little longer than the last. Even the gods didn't know about the world inside the rift, so the audience still doesn't have a solid handle on what's actually going on.
    • Used very deliberately with Tarquin. He explains his actions in the Empire of Blood as him being a grand strategist controlling things from the shadows. Rich Burlew pointed out that only Tarquin himself gave this version of events: in the final part of the arc his co-conspirators indicate that Tarquin has too high an opinion of himself.
  • Paranatural: Mister Spender, the teacher in charge of the spectral kids, has a habit of doing this. While he's hiding the existence of the Activity Consortium from Isaac due to his possession, for the most part he's just incompetent and more interested in being a "cool teacher" than actually doing a good job of teaching.
    Max: I thought learning was half your club's purpose.
    Isaac: I mean, in theory, sure. But Mr. Spender's favored teaching mechanism is sloooow... DRAMATIC! Speeches. For the last two years I've been "taught" in sparse little prose nuggets, and then only when the information was contextually relevant. The context usually involves mortal peril.
  • Schlock Mercenary had one scene narrated via "The Memoirs of Jud Shafter, K.F.D.A. Commando" — not quite in sync with panels. Later this bit him in the butt (sorry).
  • Unsounded: Duane despises the Crescians, first off because he is a loyal Aldishman despite being in a condition that would get him burnt to ashes by the government, and secondly because their "butcher" of a queen had him and his daughter assassinated. Not only was his assassination plotted, funded and carried out by an Aldish faction his daughter actually survived the night. Duane remains in denial about this, even though he has been forced to face evidence that his brother knew about the assassination ahead of time.

    Web Video 
  • Critical Role: After half their party is abducted by a slaver's guild called the Iron Shepherds, the remaining members of the Mighty Nein (Beau, Caleb, Molly, and Nott) run into Keg, a dwarven woman with a grudge against the Shepherds, who gives them a lot of info about their group structure. When the fight begins however, Keg's info quickly proves to be either outdated or just straight up wrong — their numbers are far greater, the person Keg identified as a sorcerer inexplicably starts giving out Bardic Inspiration, and Lorenzo, their supposedly magic-less leader, suddenly unleashes a devastating Cone of Cold spell onto the group. Keg's bad information caused the remaining Nein to vastly underestimate their enemy, which ends with Molly being brutally murdered by Lorenzo while the rest are Forced to Watch.
  • Played for Drama on the Dream SMP. Wilbur lied to his father, Phil, in the letters he sent him about the Pogtopia situation because he didn't want to admit that he was suffering to his father, and didn't want him to worry. Instead of telling his father the truth, Wilbur said he won the election but gave the position of president to a trusted friend and left to make a new nation. Phil then believed, as a result of the misinformation from the letters, that Tubbo was the one committing atrocities as the head of government (rather than Schlatt) and thus devoted himself to destroying L'Manburg as an anarchist in the Doomsday War, thinking that government corrupts good people. Phil only learnt the truth about the Pogtopia situation months after the Doomsday War from his grandson.
  • In the Series Fauxnale of THE MONUMENT MYTHOS, ALCATRAZAPOCALYPSE, it's revealed that everything said by Leonard W. Morlin in any form of media he participated in (with the sole exception of the New Delaware Journal) was an utter fabrication made by the ADA to give themselves credibility by using his reputation after they kidnapped the poor guy and corced him to read their scripts.

    Western Animation 
  • In the first episode of Amphibia, Anne claims ignorance about how she was teleported to the titular location when asked by Sprig. Not only does the ending of the episode clearly show that she was lying, but the show's opening sequence itself starts off with the very incident: Anne opening a mysterious music box. The second episode tackles this in more detail, showing that she stole it from a pawn shop.
  • In The Boondocks, Grandad's stories about his life experiences are often questionable and he tends to lie to try to get out of just about anything.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Batman Beyond has an interesting, possibly unintentional, case: One character claims that psychic powers are a result of being able to use the remaining 90% of Your Brain; but that character is an avowed Psychic Supremacist criminal foot soldier (in other words, exactly the wrong person to be giving scientific exposition).
    • Likewise in Justice League Unlimited, when Amanda Waller claims Cadmus was made purely in response to the Alternate Universe where the Justice Lords conquered the Earth. At least two creations of Cadmus, Doomsday and the metahumans who would become the Royal Flush Gang, predate contact with the Justice Lords' universe which indicates either a continuity error or Waller lying about how old the organization was. It's later implied that it was actually in response to Superman being brainwashed by Darkseid two series earlier.
  • In King of the Hill, Cotton has numerous stories about his exploits in World War II and a number of them conflict with one another, such as him claiming to have taken part in two battles that happened simultaneously in two very different parts of the world. However when he's called out for being a Phony Veteran because of this Hank raises the salient point that, while some of his stories might be bullshit, he came back from the war minus a set of legs and with a lot less friends. You never actually learn which of his stories are false, and it's implied even Cotton himself has lost track of it, but his rack of medals (including the Medal of Honor) implies a pretty prestigious service record.
  • Many viewers immediately suspected Amon of this in The Legend of Korra due to the historical precedent of charismatic radicals fabricating their origin stories. Even before the show revealed his backstory, it was widely believed that he was lying about something. He was lying about everything.
  • An episode of I Am Weasel had the story of how I.M. Weasel and I.R. Babboon got their start as a small-time country singer and comedian, respectively (which they never were portrayed as in any previous episode). It was voiced over by an unseen narrator with a smooth, fairly deep voice with a hint of a Southern accent. At the end of the story, the voice abruptly changes to that of Jolly Roger, and it's revealed he was the narrator and made the whole story up.
  • The Simpsons: Grandpa Simpson's rambling stories about the past are viewed skeptically by all involved.
    Bart: Grandpa, is that story true?
    Abe: Well, most of it. I did wear a dress for a period in the 40s. [wistfully] Oh, they had designers then!
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "Lair of Grievous": At the end of the episode Kit Fisto gives a rather tactful mission brief to the rest of the Jedi Council which seriously downplays just how much his former padawan Nahdar Vebb was courting ideas and actions the Council believes lead to the Dark Side and which fly in the face of the Jedi's code at the time. This allows Vebb to be remembered in a better light than he likely would have been otherwise, and there's no danger of him falling to the dark side and becoming a threat since Grievous killed him.
  • Steven Universe: Garnet gives what she believes is an accurate account of the Gems' war on Earth in "Your Mother and Mine", but it soon turns out that she was (along with basically everyone else that fought in the conflict) pretty severely misinformed about some aspects. Specifically everything involving Rose Quartz's background.
    • Rose Quartz herself was this, due to being a Consummate Liar. Pearl told Bismuth that Rose said she had lost track of Bismuth during the war. Bismuth eventually reveals that she got in a fight with Rose, who was forced to poof her, and kept this from everyone. Garnet becomes furious on learning that Rose lied to her about her origins, including being born on Earth and begging Pink Diamond to spare the Earth. Rose was Pink Diamond, and she started the ruse because her sister Diamonds would have taken the planet and colonized it against her wishes.
    • Much of what we know about Rose Quartz falls under this. The series starts out by portraying her as a paragon of good and justice... because everything we learn about her is from the lens of her widowed husband and her closest friends, who are obviously only going to focus on her good qualities. As the show goes on however, and Steven learns more about her from both his family and Rose's old enemies, he realizes that despite her good intentions, she was often a horribly selfish and short-sighted person with a tendency to callously hurt everyone around her.
  • Quilby from Wakfu gives a substantial chunk of exposition about the origin of the Eliatropes, and while some of it was true, there were several massive lies and omissions. Most notably the fact that he was the cause of the war that forced the Eliatropes off their planet in the first place and calling himself the Eliatrope King when the real king was actually his own unaware brother listening to the Info Dump.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Scorpia's explanation that her family sided willingly with the Horde and gave them the Black Garnet is subsequently revealed to be absolute hogwash, presumably Horde propaganda fed to a young Scorpia, by a flashback in which Light Spinner's scrying shows Horde forces claiming the Black Garnet at gunpoint and subjugating Scorpia's people in traditional jackbooted thug fashion.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Unreliable Exposition


McGee the Poacher

While out riding at Lord Palmerston's estate in Ireland, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert encounter a man named McGee, who claims to be Lord Palmerston's poacher and expresses several negative opinions about him. Lord Palmerston later explains how McGee is not a credible witness.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / UnreliableExpositor

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