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"I'll begin with how I peeled back the layers of the boy'snote  mind. Oh, he bravely tried to fight it at first. You would have been proud to see him so strong. But all too soon, the serums and the shocks took their toll, and the dear lad began to share such secrets with me. Secrets that are mine alone to know... Bruce. It's true, Batsy. I know everything."
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Never tell a lie, they say, if the truth can cause more damage.

The Masquerade, a Big Secret, a Dark Secret, and other things that you shouldn't know about are serious business. But what happens if your archnemesis, an evil organization, or your evil relative reveals something about YOU? And what would happen if that secret had the potential to blow up all your relationships with friends and allies alike?

Well, you risk letting the bad guy win with style, and you may go from the frying pan into the fire if that secret may trigger a massive Face–Heel Turn and make the supposed villain look like a less flawed character than his or her opponent. In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, this trope can also unravel much of a character's unknown Mysterious Past. However, the villain may have been lying all along to make the hero panic and stutter in front of The Cavalry, so be careful avoiding a red herring or blatant deceits. On rare occasions, this may undermine the villain if they reveal too much.

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Related to Keeping Secrets Sucks. It's a common way to start The Reveal and, in the worst case, trigger a Domino Revelation and a general What the Hell, Hero?. Compare Villains Never Lie and The Villain Knows Where You Live. Normally, it's this trope that kicks off a Third-Act Misunderstanding and a Liar Revealed moment. Expect the main character(s) to suffer from a massive Heroic Blue Screen of Death in both cases afterwards. This tends to overlap with Wham Line and/or Dropping the Bombshell. See also Just Between You and Me for cases where the villain goes into too much detail.

Spoilers ahead!


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Avengers Undercover, Baron Zemo hijacks S.H.I.E.L.D.'s communications apparatus to reveal to the world the extent to which the organization is monitoring everyone.
  • The Loners ends with Phil Urich, having made a complete Face–Heel Turn, revealing that Mickey had made a deal with Fujikawa Industries to allow them to harvest MGH from the members of Excelsior at some point in the future.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin: Al makes a wish to impersonate a prince so he can court Princess Jasmine. Aladdin and Genie argue about whether to tell Jasmine the truth. Later on, Jafar reveals Aladdin's true identity, but Jasmine isn't angry with Aladdin for lying.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: After capturing and torturing Robin, Joker manages to acquire all of Batman's secrets, such as the location of the Batcave and Bruce's identity, leading to the page quote.
  • Hercules: Hades reveals to Herc that his love interest Meg had been working with him all the time. And this happened AFTER Herc accepted to trade his own strength to save her and let everyone else be harmed by any potential threat. As you may imagine, he doesn't take it well.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Exploited by Frollo. During the final part of the climax, Quasimodo finally learns that his mother died while trying to save him. Sadly, Frollo told him his entire life his mother was heartless and unable to feel "real love." As he tells the truth, Frollo finally attempts to kill his foster son.
  • In Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, King Goobot shows Jimmy and his friends that they knew about Earth by showing them Jimmy's recorded message broadcast on an alien news program, surprising the kids and especially Jimmy himself, who never knew said message got picked up somewhere.
  • The Lion King: Scar exploits this trope to blame Simba for Mufasa's death. Much to the horror and awe of the pride, the young lion publicly admits his crime. It turns out in the following Near-Villain Victory that Simba was innocent in the first place (well, the audience knew that since the first part of the movie).
  • Downplayed in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted: During their stay in London, the Zoosters find out the heroes weren't circus animals at all. How was that possible? Well, Captain Du Bois promptly left a few flyers showing the truth in their circus.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: After kidnapping Lois Lane and Martha Kent to lure Superman to him, Lex Luthor drops a hell of a bombshell by revealing he knows Superman's Secret Identity. Near the end of the film, when he's arrested and confronted by Batman, he reveals he knows Batman's as well.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Jim Gordon is one of the three people who know the truth about Harvey Dent's actions in the previous film, and the guilt of having to keep the secret has affected his work and marriage. Gordon keeps a letter revealing the truth on his person at all times in hope that someday he'll have the courage to reveal the truth. Unfortunately, Bane steals the letter when Gordon is captured and reads it publicly as he and his men turn Gotham into an anarchist state, the demoralizing effect of learning that their hero was a murdering psycho making the city's downfall all the harder.
  • Ever After: Just as Danielle finally approaches Henry at the masquerade to tell him the truth of who she is, Rodmilla cuts in and beats her to the punch, announcing Danielle's deception of the Prince to the entire French court and consequently turning Henry cold towards her.
  • In Highlander, the Kurgan gloats to MacLeod that he raped Heather after he took Ramirez's head, mistakenly believing she was Ramirez's wife. He gauges MacLeod's mortified reaction and realizes that Heather took the secret of what really happened to her on that terrible night in 1542 to her grave, and takes sick glee in it, [[PostRapeTaunt suggesting that she secretly liked the Kurgan defiling her more than any of the time she and Connor made love. The more likely explanation is she realistically feared that MacLeod would try a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against an extremely dangerous immortal barbarian and get killed if he ever found out, or more simply she was just too traumatised to ever mention it (this is the angle the novelisation goes with).
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: After Lockwood has been murdered by Mills, Mills exposes Lockwood's secret to Claire, Owen, and Lockwood's granddaughter Maisie: that Maisie is actually a clone of Lockwood's late daughter who he had grown as a way of getting his little girl back.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Armin Zola gleefully admits that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by HYDRA, all to rub it in Captain America's face seventy years after they first met. This also serves to distract him and Black Widow from a HYDRA missile that is intended to take out everyone present.
    • In Captain America: Civil War, after striking a truce after a misunderstanding, Iron Man, Captain America, and Bucky work together to stop Helmut Zemo from releasing the other Winter Soldiers. But when they get to the room, Zemo reveals that he never intended to release the soldiers and killed them all. His real plan was to get them in the same room together so he can show them footage of Bucky killing Stark's parents in 1991. Rogers is forced to reveal to Stark that he knew about his parents' death and kept it a secret, which results in Tony trying to kill Bucky and a near-lethal fight between Cap and Iron Man. The end result is the Avengers being disbanded, seemingly for good.
    • Defied in Spider-Man: Homecoming: After his defeat, another crook approaches the Big Bad Toomes in jail and asks if it's true that he knows Spider-Man's Secret Identity. Toomes lies and claims not to know, though whether he's being a Graceful Loser to his daughter's friend or has ulterior motives is left ambiguous.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home: In the mid-credits stinger, doctored footage of Spider-Man’s showdown with Mysterio makes its way to The Daily Bugle and subsequently the MegaVision in Madison Square Garden. Most of it is fabricated, but the one true statement about Spider-Man is the most damning of all - his real name, Peter Parker.
      Spider-Man: What the fu — (credits begin)
  • Se7en: A particularly gut-wrenching one in the climax when the villain murders Detective Mills' wife Tracy, then reveals that she was pregnant. She had confided this to Detective Somersett but hadn't told her husband yet. When John Doe realizes this, he even gloats about it, incensing Mills to the point where he executes him on the spot, which is exactly what Doe wanted.
  • Star Wars:

    Literature 
  • Most of the Big Bads in Alex Rider are guilty of Just Between You and Me, but a few others are guilty of giving away other secrets. Yassen ends up revealing to Alex that his father was a member of Scorpia at the end of Eagle Strike, prompting his Face–Heel Turn in Scorpia. Later in Snakehead, it is Ash who is forced by Yu to reveal how he killed Alex's parents.
  • In Super Powereds during a party at the end of freshman year, Michael Clark blows the secret that the Melbrook Five used to be Powereds (individuals with no control over their powers). Since Powereds are held in contempt by Supers, Clark hoped that revealing it would get the Five ostracized or outright expelled from Hero training, thus satisfying his vendetta against Vince.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., John Garrett accidentally reveals that he is the Clairvoyant by Saying Too Much.
  • Arrowverse:
    • In Season Two of Arrow, this happens three times. Firstly, it is Merlyn who reveals to the audience that Thea is really his daughter as a result of an affair with Moira. Later, Slade Wilson tells Thea her parentage so as to drive a wedge between her and her family as part of his plan. Finally, he reveals to Laurel that Oliver is the Arrow, though this bites him in the arse.
    • In The Flash (2014), Dr Wells eventually confesses to Cisco that he is really Eobard Thawne, is from the far future and is the Reverse-Flash, shortly before crushing his heart. This gets undone by Barry travelling back in time, but Wells accidentally gives a bit too much away when helping Barry beat the Trickster later on.
    • In Supergirl, Lex Luthor does this when his own sister shoots him in cold blood, gleefully revealing Supergirl's secret identity to Lena simply knowing that he'll die having destroyed the Girl of Steel on a personal level. And this was coming around just as Supergirl was heavily considering telling Lena the truth, which comes right back around to bite her in Season 5 when Lena undergoes a Face–Heel Turn and starts committing villainous acts.
  • In the second season of Community, Pierce takes on a more villainous persona due to his addiction to painkillers. In "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons", he's excluded from the game to cheer up "Fat" Neil because of this. He forces his way in anyway and causes much grief by tormenting everyone else. At one point, he reveals that Jeff was the one who came up with the nickname "Fat Neil".
  • In the classic Doctor Who serial "Silver Nemesis" minor villain Lady Peinfort tries this by claiming that she has learned all of the Doctor's secrets and will blurt them out to the Cybermen if he doesn't hand over control of the superweapon to her. Subverted in that the Cybermen tell her they don't care about the Doctor's secrets and that they want the superweapon for themselves.
  • Storm of the Century: Andre Linoge uses his virtual omniscience to reveal the horrible and embarrassing secrets of many of the people on Little Tall Island to mess with them.
  • Supernatural:
    • In season 6, the evil goddess Veritas, who forces everyone around her victims to speak to them with Brutal Honesty before killing them, reveals that Sam Winchester isn't really human since he's able to lie to her. Dean, who has been disturbed by Sam's psychopathic demeanour throughout the season, is shocked by this. As it turns out, it's because Sam has no soul due to a resurrection gone wrong.
    • In season 7, when a leviathan who has taken on Dean's form confronts Sam, it reveals to him because he knows it will hurt him that Dean killed Madison, a werewolf Sam believed would not kill humans again, even after he told Sam he agreed that she was good.

    Video Games 
  • Towards the end of Assassin's Creed, the mortally wounded Robert de Sable confesses to Altair that the master of the Assassins, Al Mualim, is actually a member of the Templars who was manipulating his order so that he could wipe out the conspirators and claim an ancient treasure for himself. Altair does not take this well.
  • Subverted in BioShock Infinite, where Booker murders Father Comstock just as he is about to reveal to him and to Elizabeth that Liz is Booker's own daughter and that Booker had sold her to Comstock as a baby to pay off his gambling debts—a memory that had since become thoroughly garbled in Booker's mind by his own guilt and by the Luteces' dimension-traveling shenanigans. Elizabeth seems to guess the truth anyway, but Booker does not figure it out until much later.
  • In Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack openly admits that he's holding something secret towards the start of the game, but says that he has no plans to reveal it just yet. He waits until Wilhelm has been killed and his power core looted to replace Sanctuary's shields... at which point he reveals that Angel is actually working for him, causing the shields to go down and the city to be bombed by a Kill Sat.
  • In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, this is subverted towards the climax when Anti-Villain Colonel Zarpedon attempts to warn Jack about the dangers of the Vault on Elpis, in a last-ditch effort to keep him away from the forbidden knowledge it holds. Unfortunately, in revealing that the Vault has already been opened, she causes Jack (who is suffering from Sanity Slippage) to rush his plans into overdrive and shoot her before she can finish speaking.
  • Played With in Brütal Legend, where Demon Emperor Doviculus seemingly reveals to the heroes that one of them, Ophelia, is The Mole, resulting in her being cast out after they escape. It turns out, however, that he was actually referring to Eddie, who is not The Mole, but the son of the previous Empress and thus a half-demon himself.
  • Dante's Inferno: as soon as Dante broke his promise, Lucifer captured Beatrice, for she had bet his man would have never slept with other women. Much to her horror, Lucifer tells her the truth before Dante reaches the second circle of Hell. To add pain to injury, Lucifer showed her every single second of that day. We later see the aftermath through her eyes.
  • Subverted in Dawn of War 2: Retribution. Kyras taunts Gabriel by telling him the Emperor's soul was eaten centuries ago (the God-Emperor is Only Mostly Dead, his spirit is still present in the Warp and there are a few cells still alive in his corpse). Gabriel responds with a Shut Up, Hannibal! and a really big hammer.
  • In the final campaign DLC of DOOM Eternal, the Overarching Villain Davoth the Dark Lord reveals his true origin to the Doom Slayer - the legends that speak of him in Urdak were complete lies. Davoth wasn't sealed away by the Father of all things - he IS the Father, who was betrayed by his own creations and therefore sealed away for eons. This is further punctuated by Davoth ordering the current Father to spill the beans for him first; and up until this point you are led to believe that he was Davoth's superior. Of course, this revelation just pisses Doomguy off even more, and he ultimately kills Davoth anyway.
  • In the Lonesome Road DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, the Courier has a lot of their Mysterious Past filled in by Ulysses, who lets them know how responsible they are for the Divide's present condition.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, at about level 75, the Ascian Emet-Selch finally confirms something that had been foreshadowed for years — that the Big Good Hydaelyn and Greater-Scope Villain Zodiark are nothing more than "the eldest and most powerful... of primals." Given that primals have been a huge problem at every turn of the story so far, this comes as quite a shock to the other characters.
  • Golden Sun: The first game ends with the party boarding a ship hoping to find Lemuria for Babi, the ship's owner, who's run out of the Lemurians' immortality elixir. Partway through the sequel (which features a different party), Alex casually reveals that Babi has died in the meantime, pretty much For the Evulz.
  • This happens a couple of times in Halo 2. Anti-Villain 343 Guilty Spark reveals to Commander Keyes and the Arbiter of the Ark's existence, as well as the fact that it can be used to light all Halo installations remotely. Similarly, when betraying the Arbiter, Tartarus openly admits that the Prophets ordered him to take the former out, giving away their planned betrayal of the Elites.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, when the party takes down Saul Karath, he whispers something to Carth Onasi before dying. He reveals Revan's true identity as a former Dark Lord/Lady of the Sith. However, the player doesn't get to hear what he actually said until they run into Darth Malak, who outright tells you that you are Revan.
  • In Mass Effect, it is Sovereign who reveals to Shepard and the crew that the Reapers are seeking to return. However, he's smart enough not to tell them what the plans are.
  • A variation happens in a sidequest for Mass Effect 2, when the villain Enyana accidentally lets Shepard and Miranda know that the latter's friend Niket is really helping them out, rather than helping Miranda's sister to escape.
  • Mega Man Zero 3: Weil reveals that Omega is the "Original Zero". Something then awakens from Omega's remains, revealing a body similar to Zero but with a darker color, and this means protagonist Zero's body is actually a copy. Though after you defeat "Omega Zero", Cyber-elf X will arrive at the scene and explains that Zero's mind is still the original, and that "the heart is more important".
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: Before the Final Boss fight, the Big Bad Master Albert reveals to our protagonists that Grey is his backup body, Ashe is his legitimate descendant and their Biometal, Model A, contains a copy of his abilities as well as directives for its user to continue his plan - in other words, "Model Albert".
  • In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, it is the Tower of Sauron that reveals the truth about Talion and the Wraith, specifically the fact that Celebrimbor could have let Talion move on to the afterlife at any point he wanted. Instead, he opted to keep bringing the ranger back as part of his revenge plot against the Dark Lord. The reveal very nearly causes Talion to give up there and then.
  • During his Villainous Breakdown in Pokémon Black and White, Ghetsis reveals to N and the player that he's really in charge of Team Plasma and that the plan to release Pokemon is really to weaken Unova so it can be conquered.
    • Another example occurs halfway through the same game when N reveals that he is the rightful king of Team Plasma. The Wham Line in this case is underlined by how casually he's implied to reveal it.
  • In Pokémon X and Y, a member of Team Flare accidentally gives away the fact that they might not be as harmless as they seem. This is fairly early on, so players may forget this Wham Line at first.
    "Allow me to spell it out for you! It's so Team Flare - and only Team Flare - can survive!"
  • Towards the end of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Darkness, Darkrai reveals that he was responsible for the 'accident' that kicked off the game's plot.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert, Cecilia reveals to both Amanda and Mortelli how the money intended for Lainie’s treatment was instead used to start the diner. However, what she doesn’t tell them is just as significant.
  • In Your Turn to Die, three groups were subjected to the same First Test: Sara and Joe, Mishima and Nao, and Kugie and Kanna. Kugie didn't survive, and Kanna blames herself for not being able to save her. When she asks the others how they managed it, Mishima claims it was a matter of physical strength rather than puzzle-solving, reassuring her that she couldn't have saved Kugie due to being a tiny middle-schooler. Sue Miley later reveals the Awful Truth in a Breaking Speech, taunting Kanna with how she could have figured it out in time to save her sister and calling her a murderer.

    Web Animation 
  • In Shadow of Israphel, it is King_Finbar who reveals to Simon Lane and Lewis Brindley that Daisy will be sacrificed to the Sand God, finally explaining why she was kidnapped from Terrorvale at the start of the show. Knight_Peculier does not take this well and kills him on the spot.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Subverted in near the end of Acquisitions Incorporated season 8: The Big Bad seemingly reveals that the party's newest intern, Viari, had been The Mole for him the entire time, but it quickly becomes apparent that Viari had been just as much an Unwitting Pawn as the rest of the party and redeems himself almost immediately by killing the bad guy.
  • Noob: It turns out that the Justice guild was getting an unfair advantage in the game, but was Locked Out of the Loop about it. The first people from whom they hear that information are the top members of Roxxor, their rival guild.

    Western Animation 
  • In Season 2 of Amphibia after revealing himself to be the true Big Bad of the show, King Andrias smugly reveals to Anne and Sasha that Marcy knew Calamity Box could transport three of them to another world, making her responsible for the events of the whole show.
  • In Beast Wars, Predacon leader Megatron reveals to Ravage the real reason he stole a Golden Disc from Cybertron: it wasn't to seize large deposits of energon (though that was a bonus), but rather because of a coded message left behind by the original Megatron, leader of the Decepticons and Ravage's former commander. While the recording is cut short, seeing a fragment of it persuades Ravage to switch sides and join him in his efforts to wipe out the Autobots.
  • Justice League Unlimited: Lex Luthor, after treating The Question to a surprising Curb-Stomp Battle, smugly asks him whether he really thought his Presidential campaign was serious, showing that the whole thing was a $75 million plot to tick off Superman and use Cadmus to undermine him.
  • In the Book One finale of The Legend of Korra, Tarrlok confesses to Mako and Korra that he's actually Amon's brother and that Amon is a secret Boomerang Bigot. Played with in that by this point Tarrlok had been stripped of his bending abilities and desperately wanted to redeem himself.
  • In Season 4 of Ninjago, Master Chen reveals to Wu and Misako that Garmadon had signed a love letter from the former to the latter and that this letter had formed the basis of Garmadon and Misako's relationship.
  • This happens many times in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated:
    • In the first season finale, Mayor Fred Jones Sr. admits that he isn't really Fred's dad and that his real parents are Brad Chiles and Judy Reeves.
    • In "Menace of the Manticore", when Mr. E's identity is revealed to be Ricky Owens of the original Mystery Inc, we get this line.
      Mr. E: You see, Scooby is a far more trusting companion than Pericles was to me.
  • In The Simpsons:
    • At the very end of the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter, Burns awakens and regains the ability to speak, which allows him to eventually reveal - both to the cast and the audience (who had been in the dark for months) - that Maggie Simpson shot him.
    • In "Brother from Another Series", after Bart and Lisa discover Bob wasn't responsible for the hollow concrete holding the dam together, Cecil emerges with a gun and admits that he has been doing his best to frame Bob all this time.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Shredder gloats to Splinter that he stole his daughter some time ago and has raised her as his own, purely to twist the knife.
  • In the first season of Winx Club, Bloom eventually learns from the Trix that she is the surviving heir to planet Domino and keeper of the Dragon Fire when they follow her to Earth to steal the Dragon Fire. Up till then, Faragonda and all other protagonists aware of this fact deliberately kept Bloom in the dark about this.

 
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Andrias reveals Marcy's secret

King Andrias reveals a little something about Marcy.

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