Follow TV Tropes


Villains Never Lie

Go To

"A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent."
William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"

Would I lie?

When a villain declares that The Hero is the Tomato in the Mirror, or that his mentor is using him, or that his girlfriend doesn't love him, or that his long-lost father is actually the villain himself, the hero often believes it, instead of just assuming that the villain is trying to screw with him. Even if the hero does assume that, the doubts in the back of his mind start to gnaw.


Also, the villain is usually telling the truth, or something that is "technically" true, for certain values of "true", anyway — there are only a few cases where the villain just makes something up for giggles. This is why Break Them by Talking works.

This can often leave you wondering why the hero is suddenly carrying the Idiot Ball and believing the villain rather than his trusted companion. Or even believing anything the villain would say without having 50 sworn trustworthy witnesses to back it up. Of course, it becomes a lot more justified if the villain's general truthfulness has already been previously established.

As an alternative, sometimes the statement is actually true, but only by failing to take into account the personalities and feelings of others. As an example, perhaps the hero is told, in an effort to convert him to the villain's side, that they are in fact the Tomato in the Mirror (which given the nature of the story is actually true), and that their girlfriend will never love them (which is not true, since the girlfriend in question has already found out about his status as a Tomato in the Mirror, and perhaps for any other person this would be true, but the girlfriend loves this about him). Expect this character to be strung along for quite a few episodes before they find out this latter part.


A common tool of The Chessmaster, the Manipulative Bastard and Well-Intentioned Extremist, because what better way to get The Hero to trust you than by telling them something they can't deny or dismiss out of hand? Particularly common for the Magnificent Bastard — they're just that good that they don't have to waste time deceiving you and can instead play you like a harp using just the facts. The Noble Demon on the other hand may use this trope out of principle, feeling that the hero has heard enough lies and deserves the truth from them.

Often takes the form of Brutal Honesty, because inconvenient or unvarnished truths are easier to twist to the villain's advantage. When a hero believes the villain will keep his word and the villain does not, expect an exchange along the lines of "You Said You Would Let Them Go!" "I Lied." Frequently, they'll Trash Talk the hero over being such a Horrible Judge of Character as to actually believe their lies in the first place. Is a subtrope of Fiction Never Lies. Compare Villain Reveals the Secret.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • The Butcher Serial Killer Barry the Chopper in is one of the rare "making it up for the giggles" examples: He uses an entirely improvised Hannibal Lecture on Al, and Al falls for it in all three versions of the story. Justified in the 2003 anime, where Alphonse is shown to be questioning his existence for several episodes beforehand, and Barry just happened to get lucky with the subject matter. In the manga, however, it is not foreshadowed, and it leads to an outright Out-of-Character Moment for Alphonse. He doesn't dwell on it for as long as his anime counterpart, however.
    • Played straight with Greed, who insists that his policy is to never tell a lie. Later, he utters his first and last lie in order to trick Prince Ling into letting him commit a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Kimblee wears many masks to conceal his psychopathy, but he never tells a direct untruth. For example, when he is talking to Winry, he tells her about finding her parents' bodies, and says that he admired their efforts and would have liked to meet them when they were alive. Sure, he was trying to make sure that she would trust him, but every word he said to her was genuinely true. He conveniently left out the part where he had been ordered to execute them, and was disappointed that somebody else killed them before he had the chance.
  • Gilbert Durandal in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, where he says he has a plan to bring ultimate peace and unity to the universe, ridding it of war. His plan turns out to be forcing conformity on every human in the universe, so no one can disagree.
  • Code Geass:
    • Ohgi, for the record, implicitly trusting the word of the enemy commander and Prime Minister who commissioned the weapon that nuked Tokyo and is aiming another at your flagship while he speaks to you and a woman who tried to kill you twice and makes no secret of her loyalty to the enemy is not the brightest move in the entire world. Of course, Schneizel wasn't entirely lying. The list of people Lelouch may or may not have controlled with his Geass is shockingly accurate, and the only evidence he has that he himself was not controlled is that he's not dead. Of course, while most of the stated facts are true, the implied actions are not.
    • Another example is Lelouch's promise to Rolo. At this point, Lelouch states that he won't lie to him. Which is false reassurance for two reasons: first, Lelouch may love Rolo so much that he won't lie to him...except that the fact that he loves Rolo at all may be a lie. Second, Lelouch always lies to people he loves. Rolo, how could he forbid himself to lie to his fake brother when he lied so much to Nunnally in R1? (yes, he states than he can't lie to Nunnally during the "new governor" phone call...but actually, in R1 he pretended that everything was fine at Euphemia's SAZ opening ceremony).
  • Naruto: Hey, Sasuke, guess what? Itachi's actually a good guy!
    • At least with that one he checks his facts when he could. Granted, this was about 75 chapters later and he'd been under the assumption Tobi was telling the truth for all that time.
    • One of Tobi's claims is later proven false—he was actually responsible for the Nine-Tailed Fox's attack.
    • One of the more outstanding examples was Tobi revealing his evil plan to the four Kages and their retainers. It involved merging all known bijuus into another one, Ten-Tails, and using it to project his genjutsu to the moon and trapping the entire humanity with it. Everyone believes him without realizing that if this is actually what he intends to do, he sabotaged himself by revealing it.
    • Orochimaru actually inverts this trope. When he goes to Tsunade for help and she asks him about his arms, he openly admits to killing the Sandaime Hokage, even though it would hurt his chances of her helping him. He also openly admits he wants to destroy the Leaf Village, but appears to decide to spare it when Tsunade asks him to as a condition for healing his arms. However, when Tsunade's treachery becomes apparent to him, he admits he was lying.
    • "Madara's" identity is a fourth wall-piercing example. Many readers never questioned his identity simply because he stated he's Madara and other characters believed him. That and the person he was eventually revealed to be was thought way too obvious to be be real.
  • Played with in The Garden of Sinners. When Shirazumi says that Shiki is the killer, it's outed IMMEDIATELY as a lie. However, when Shirazumi says that Shiki's beloved is dead, which as far as the viewer knows is true, Shiki takes it on slim evidence. She did not see the body.
  • Bleach: During their fight in Karakura Town, Aizen waxes lyrically about how he has manipulated all of Ichigo's battles to develop his strength and power for Aizen's own gain. He even claims he has been manipulating Ichigo's life from the moment he was born. Ichigo notices that Aizen's words are contradicting what he said back on Sougyoku Hill, and accuses him of lying. Aizen points out that if he really is a liar, why would Ichigo trust anything he says to believe he was telling the truth back then and lying now; Ichigo should instead assume that Aizen has been lying constantly since the moment they met. When this sinks in for Ichigo, Aizen explains that he doesn't bother with lies or truth because truth is in the eye of the beholder: nothing Aizen says can ever be trusted.
  • Berserk: Ubik always tells the truth. Unfortunately, the truth is always pretty damn depressing. That's why he does so well with his Hannibal Lecture.
  • This would be why Maka fell for Medusa's emotional blackmail in the Baba Yaga arc of Soul Eater when she hears that, apparently, the witch is a mother who would do anything to protect her child. She wouldn't have even needed to explicitly mention Spirit, but does so simply to drive the point home. It works like a charm, and isn't the first or last time Maka's caught out by something of the sort.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • After All For One reveals to All Might that Shigaraki is the grandson of All Might's mentor Nana Shimura, All Might falls into a Heroic BSoD and claims he's lying, until All For One replies by saying All Might knows its the truth, because it's something that he would clearly do.
    • Discussed in Chapter 291. Dabi reveals on live TV that Endeavor is Dabi's father, that Endeavor abused his family, and that Endeavor's associate Hawks killed Best Jeanist and Twice. "Can't Ya See Kid," a fan of Endeavors, is in denial, but his friend tells him that the public will lose faith in heroes after hearing Dabi, especially after seeing all the destruction caused by the heroes' failure to stop Gigantomachia. That said, while readers know that some of what Dabi said is true, there is at least one lie in his account- Best Jeanist is still alive.
  • Kyubey of Puella Magi Madoka Magica rarely tells the whole truth, but never in the series actually says something that's later proven to be untrue. It's very good at twisting what it says to get the desired result, though. For example, when asked if it was possible to turn a Witch human again, it replies "Nobody has ever done it before. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if you could do it." Well, this is all true, because such a task is impossiblenote , and Kyubey doesn't have emotions, so it's physically incapable of being surprised. He also abuses You Didn't Ask for all it's worth; most importantly he studiously avoids explaining the actual mechanics of the deal he's offering so that the girls can deceive themselves with false assumptions.
  • The fourth season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX features a villain named Trueman who has that name because he never speaks a lie (although he is willing to use deceit and dishonesty on occasion, such as when he used illusions to make himself look like O'Brien's father in their duel).
  • Subverted with Rudger Goodwin, the leader of the Dark Signers in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. In his first encounter with Yusei, he claimed that it was greed and lust for power on the part of Yusei's father that caused Zero Reverse; it was a blatant lie which Yusei clearly would not believe. In their second encounter, he told Yusei a story that was closer to the truth, but still distorted by his own biased beliefs, which resulted in Yusei resorting to a "The Reason You Suck" Speech followed by a Shut Up, Hannibal! when he realized it was pointless.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: Kaito's main reason to help Dr. Faker collecting the Numbers is because the latter promised him to cure his younger brother Haruto. For the viewers, Dr. Faker's appearance, name, the way he behaves and that he's using Haruto to attack the Astral World are enough hints to make them distrust him and that Kaito is believing an obvious lie. Except all of that is a giant Red Herring. Dr. Faker is entirely motivated to save Haruto by all costs and he's not as evil as he seems. Since he's Kaito's and Haruto's father, he is the most trustworthy person they can rely on.
  • Played with in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School. In episode 7 of Side: Future, Monaca Towa claims that one of the survivors of the 78th class's killing game will die because of Makoto Naegi. In episode 9, we learn she had found out everyone's NG codes, and that Kyoko Kirigiri's was "Pass the fourth time limit with Makoto Naegi alive." The fourth time limit passes, and Kirigiri is seemingly killed. However, Episode: Hope reveals that Kirigiri took some of Seiko Kimura's "Antagonist" medicine to slow the poisoning, allowing Mikan Tsumiki to save her. But Monaca had no idea of knowing this, so while she did tell what she believed to be the truth, it was not what actually ended up happening.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: Season One: Zarrko wastes a perfect opportunity to sow discord and honestly tells Thor he had no part in Cap's revival. Thor still doesn't listen, because Loki had planted images of Cap in Zarrko's monitors.
  • Subverted in the Sleepwalker comics published by Marvel in the 1990s with Big Bad Cobweb and Rick Sheridan. Cobweb blatantly lies about Sleepwalker's true nature to Rick, as part of his Evil Plan to invade Earth and frame Sleepwalker as leader of the invasion. To his credit, Rick doesn't believe him until Cobweb "proves" his claims by showing how Sleepwalker supposedly killed him, distorting the truth of what really happened.
  • Averted with Black Beetle, who tells several different stories about who he is, before declaring himself to be Jaime's future self. And although he sticks to that story with much more force than his previous ones, by this point Jaime doesn't believe him.
  • The title character of Lucifer considers lying beneath him, but he's not above letting people hear what they want to hear. Being an Anti-Hero in his own comic, he's not exactly evil, just kind of a bastard. Indeed, it's mentioned that his chief vice is pride, and he is far too proud to ever lie, break an oath, or leave a debt unpaid. Rachel comments during their last meeting (having been burned by an Exact Words deal with Lucifer before) that never outright lying in no way means Lucifer is honest.
  • Many Marvel heroes and Villains have no problem believing what Loki says, even though he once called himself the God of Lies. He's not above using his reputation as an inveterate liar to use the truth to hurt those who don't believe him, too, though. And not listening to him is just inviting trouble too as unfortunately for everybody he does possess a great deal of knowledge and wisdom that could save lives.
  • The Joker never lies to get out of punishment — he'll lie to throw someone off balance, or as part of a Gambit Roulette, or just because he finds it's funny, but he never denies his crimes in court or when Batman confronts him with them. He uses this to convince Batman its Not Me This Time in one story, pointing out that he always takes credit for his work.
    Joker: Admit it, Bats- you know that if I'd killed him. I'd gladly own up! Why, I'd be giving interviews!
    • Discussed in Batman (Rebirth) in the Everyone Loves Ivy arc. Having cornered Poison Ivy, who's taken over the world through mind-control by now, the heroes discover that the whole thing was instigated by Ivy killing six people for the Riddler at the start of Batman's career, and feeling deep guilt over it. As it turns out, Riddler killed those people himself and made Ivy believe she'd done it.
    Batman: That's what villains do, Ivy. They lie. And maybe, just maybe, you didn't understand this, not because you were weak or young...but because you're not a villain.
  • In Star Wars (Marvel 1977), there's an arc after The Empire Strikes Back where Luke's targeting computer goes offline and he uses the Force to sight on and vape someone — only to find later that it was his wing guard and Love Interest Shira Brie. Shira was important enough to the Rebellion that he was immediately ostracized. While Luke was having a crisis of faith in the Force, Vader contacted him and told him that Shira was The Mole, operating at Vader's command. No one would believe Luke if he told his friends — the only one he could go to in all the galaxy, now, was Vader. Luke had found evidence that Shira had been making up her tragic past before, but he didn't believe Vader until he'd infiltrated a data storage facility and saw the evidence himself.
  • Inverted in the French comic book Les Légendaires, where the Evil Sorcerer Darkhell, after betraying his ally General Rasga, mockingly reveals to him that the whole reason for his people, the Pirahni, and their ennemies, the Elves, to hate each other, was because of the Pirahni wrongly blaming the Elves for banishing them on a deserted island, when they actually chose themselves to live there and the Elves used to be their allies. Ironically, Rasga is reluctant to believe it, when it turns out Darkhell is actually telling the truth.
  • Discussed by Madrox in X-Factor, who trusts villains more than his friends, because they're usually too arrogant to hide malicious intent.
  • Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom as a part of his noble villain character type, actually never lies though sometimes he avoids lying by using Exact Words.
  • X-Men: When intel given by Sabretooth turns out to be good, Gambit grudgingly admits that what he told them wasn't a lie. Psylocke says, "I've found that very little of what he has to say is, Remy. More often than not, they're unpleasant truths that we'd prefer not to hear."
  • Discussed in PS238 here, where a character mentions that she can trust a magical villain not to lie if he's making an official oath.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): While most of Diana's villains lie to an extent just to provide contrast with the truthful hero Ares would rather manipulate the truth to his whims, at least when dealing with Diana and other mortals, he's far more willing to stretch the truth completely out of shape when dealing with other gods. He also sticks to his oaths, even when they become inconvenient for him, though he tends to stick to the letter rather than the spirit of the oaths.

  • In a fanfic which pitted Sailor Moon against Doctor Doom (yes, really), Doom reveals to Amy about how the other girls think about her. When Amy denies this and calls Doom a liar, Doom responds with this trope.
  • In the Pony POV Series, Diamond Tiara makes a deal with Discord, freeing him in exchange for him restoring her mother's sanity. And to the great surprise of the readers, when he gets out he upholds his end of the bargain. However, it's made clear that he only did because he swore to his parents, which appears to be a vow he can't break (his little sister Rancor reveals later that if he does, their mother Entropy will erase him from existence and apparently has done so before). Though in the process of freeing Discord, Diamond does end up being driven so crazy she goes Nightmare, so he still screws her over.
  • Twilight's Movie Night reveals in its final chapter that Discord was telling the truth about 'Tom' when the CMC accidentally split it open using it as ammo for a catapult, revealing three gigantic pieces of Diamond in the shape of Rarity's Cutie Mark. Pinkie Pie then explains the justification Discord would have for doing such a thing; if he always lied, he'd be predictable, and chaos isn't predictable.
  • In Fever Dreams Light tells the investigators he is constantly being watched and guarded by two Shinigami-one keeps constant watch over him and threatens him every time he steps out of line and the other, a Shinigami that likes apples, drops in regularly to takes reports from the one guarding him and then lets them come to their own conclusions about his involvement in the Kira case.
  • The Cadanceverse: Octavia realizes that Blazing Sun and Nightmare Moon must be telling the truth about Cadance being a Golem because they're both sticking to the story — they hate each other so much that if one of them were lying, the other would expose it just to trip them up.
  • Aizen in The Defeated never lies to Ichigo or Orihime. Yes, she intends to sacrifice Karakura Town to become Soul King, but she doesn't need the entire town and is willing to spare their friends and families. Yes, she arranged for Rukia to be executed but not only would she have likely been executed anyway (as shown by how few even consider questioning it), but she was really only interested in obtaining the Hogyouku that Kisuke hid inside Rukia. When Yoruichi is resurrected, Aizen doesn't lie to her either and states Ichigo and Orihime have joined her to get revenge on Soul Society for what was done to them and their friends, all while detailing exactly what they went through. In each case it's less a matter of not wanting to lie (She lied to the entirety of Soul Society after all) but rather that the truth is more helpful to her cause.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Little Mermaid: In "Poor Unfortunate Souls", Ursula is cruel, vindictive, and completely and utterly honest. She doesn't lie one bit about Ariel's chances, and her analysis about her being able to win the Prince with just her looks is completely correct. Possibly this is required to make the contract valid.
  • The Princessand The Frog: In "Friends on the Other Side", Doctor Facilier does a read on Naveen and concludes, "You just wanna be free, hop from place to place. But freedom...takes green!" Naveens believe the good witch doctor is going to bring him into a great fortune, when in actuality, Facilier is being very blunt in declaring he will turn Naveen into a frog.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Red Eye, Jackson Rippner never lies once, and makes a point of it to Lisa. This has led to some fans interpreting his off-handed joke about killing his parents as actually the truth.
  • Memento: Teddy tells Leonard that Leonard killed his own wife with an insulin injection, and now he continues to search for a new murderer time and again in order to have some meaning to his life. We don't know if Teddy is really a villain, or whether he says the truth or not, but this is the second-to-last scene (or is it the second scene?), so we tend to believe him. Not to mention the whole self-manipulation twist-ending.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:
    • Frodo believes Gollum rather than Samwise when Gollum claims that Samwise ate the last of their food. Of course, it's suggested that the Ring's influence was clouding his judgement.
    • Defied by Aragorn. The Mouth of Sauron claims that Frodo and Sam were tortured and killed, producing Frodo's mythril vest as "proof". The rest of the Fellowship is distraught at the news, which the Mouth clearly enjoys, while Aragorn calmly rides up to the emissary and chops its head right the hell off.
      Aragorn: I do not believe it. I will not believe it!
  • Star Wars:
    • The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader telling Luke "No. I am your father." Again, actually true. Luke's acceptance is justified by the Force, which allows a Jedi or Sith to divine the truth of a statement — Luke initially doesn't believe Vader, leading Vader to say, "Search your feelings; you know it to be true!" and Luke still remains skeptical enough to ask Yoda point-blank in Return of the Jedi to confirm it. According to George Lucas, after a discussion with a psychologist, he learned that most people would automatically assume that Vader was lying, and was trying to trick Luke somehow. He added the scene with Yoda confirming it to convince both Luke and the audience that Vader was in fact being truthful.
    • Attack of the Clones: Count Dooku tells Obi-Wan plainly that the Senate is controlled by a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious. Yoda and Mace Windu say they're reluctant to believe this. Then Windu is shocked to learn that Palpatine is the second Sith in Revenge of the Sith. Of course, Dooku doesn't bother to mention that he's a Sith Lord, which makes it a lie by omission as well.
  • Wanted: Sloan tells the Fraternity that they've all been tapped to die. Even though it's been revealed he has been manipulating the prophecy machine for some time now, it's never even implied that he's lying about this. Sloan is certainly in a more trustworthy position, though.
  • In the movie of The Golden Compass, Mrs. Coulter is the one to tell Lyra who her parents are.
  • In The 6th Day, the villain tells Adam Gibson that he's really the clone, and Adam just laughs him off, until the villain gives his proof.
  • John Milton in The Devil's Advocate never outright lies to the people he wants to manipulate. Instead, he plays on their own human flaws and sinful nature to get what he wants. "I only set the stage. You pull your own strings." "Vanity, definitely my favorite sin."
  • Seen in the 80's classic Back to School when Jerk Jock Chas tells Jason that his father bribed the coach to give him a spot on the diving team, Jason believes him right away and chews out his old man for it. His dad Thornton calls him out for that, but in all fairness, up to that point it did seem like something Thornton might do. He did, after all, cut the school a huge check to enroll in the first place and was using his hired staff to do his homework for him.
  • None of the machine characters in The Matrix ever lie, and it's somewhat implied that they can't. Even Smith's initial conversation with Neo is totally truthful, to the point that Smith admits to Neo that he is actually living two separate lives, with one "lived in computers". The Architect reacts with something approaching disgust when the possibility of him breaking his word is brought up: "What do you think I am? Human?"
  • Jigsaw, the titular villain of the Saw franchise, always told his victims clearly and specifically how they could escape death without using falsehood, distortion or even metaphor. If he told one of them to dig deep inside themselves to find the key that unlocked the deathtrap that would kill them, he actually meant that he surgically implanted the key inside their bodies and intended for them to painfully tear said key out.
  • In The Dark Knight, the Joker repeatedly states that he's "a man of his word" and is constantly believed. He's very fond of Exact Words, but seemingly only outright lies once: when he switches the locations of Harvey and Rachel, leading to the latter's death. That everyone believes him this time too, is presumably due to this.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, nobody but John Blake ever questions Bane when he reads Gordon's speech about the true nature of Harvey Dent.
  • Subverted in The Big Lebowski, where the title character refuses to even entertain the idea that the people claiming to have kidnapped his wife may be lying, although our hero, The Dude, certainly speculates on the possibility. The Dude turns out to be right, and it turns out the only reason Lebowski was so credulous was so he could embezzle the ransom money.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, '70s Erik claims he's never lied to Raven, while manipulating her towards his cause.
  • Don Vito Corleone claims to "never lie to [his] friends" in The Godfather Part II.
  • Subverted with Dramatic Irony in the climax of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder certainly believes that Splinter is dead by now and the audience knows otherwise, but the Turtles themselves don't and Leo accuses him of lying. Once Shredder smugly doubles down on it ("Do I?"), Leonardo attacks him in a rage.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Ego the Living Planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 consistently restricts himself to lies of omission when talking to Peter Quill. For example, he has no problem telling Peter that he genuinely loved Peter's mother... but it's only when Peter is getting Drunk on the Dark Side that he lets slip that he ensured Meredith Quill's terminal brain tumour because he felt that love threatened his commitment to his Evil Plan.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos claims to his adopted daughter Gamora that while he taught her all she knows about being a powerful warrior, he never taught her to lie. This is why he thinks she does such a bad job of it when she is questioned about the location of the Soul Stone.
    • In Avengers: Endgame, when the Avengers finally capture Thanos, they demand to know where he hid the infinity stones, so they can reverse what he did. He reveals that he destroyed the stones to keep anyone from reversing his wish. In denial, the Avengers refuse to believe him, but Nebula states that Thanos is many things, but he's not a liar.
  • At the climax of Wonder Woman (2017), Diana is quick to throw the Lasso of Truth around Ares, but that doesn't slow him down one bit as he gives her a Breaking Lecture about how Humans Are Bastards (and We Can Rule Together). Since she's been holding such a black and white view (humans were supposed to be good while Ares was responsible for the Great War), it's enough for him to tell her that humans were largely responsible for all the atrocities she's seen. It threatens to lead her to the same conclusions as him.
  • In Dracula Untold, a pre-vampire Dracula is desperate to save his kingdom and family from the wrath of the Ottoman Empire, so desperate he goes to a cursed cave that keeps a vampire prisoner. Once Dracula meets the vampire played by Charles Dance, he begs to be turned into a vampire, and use the power to save everything he loves. The vampire reveals all the consequences and tragedies that will be fall Dracula if he accepts, and even reveals that if Dracula becomes a permanent vampire, somehow he will be free to leave the cave and become a blight across the land once again. Dracula asks why the vampire is being so truthful, and the vampire responds that it's because the truth is so much worse than any lie he could tell.
  • In Look Who's Back, for all the things Adolf Hitler is, he never lies about who he is. The film plays this for chilling effect, when Sawatzki realises Hitler is the genuine article rather than a politically-incorrect comedian who is very insistent on Method Acting, and confronts him at gunpoint, accusing him of tricking people like he did in the 1930s. Hitler replies with cold bemusement that he never tricked or conned anyone; he argues that if he really is a monster, then so are all the people who backed his goals and policies, because he was completely up-front about what he believed and what he would do if he ever got into power, and everyone who supported him knew exactly what he was all about.

  • This is one of John Taylor's favorite expressions: "The Devil always lies, except when the truth will hurt you more."
  • Sometimes justified in The Dresden Files, when dealing with either the denizens of Faerie or certain other supernaturals who have made promises. Faeries can't lie and most supernaturals invest a lot in their promises and will not break them lightly. Of course, that only binds them to their word. Fae are simply unable to tell an outright falsehood, but many are know not to trust them since that doesn't quite preclude being deceptive, dishonest, or manipulative. Also, they are bound only to the word of their agreements while being willing to break the spirit if it suits them; a faerie who promises it will "protect you from danger to your life" may break your back and both your legs and dump you in a hospital to keep you from being in actual danger of death.
    • Dresden is quick to learn that the Order of the Blackened Denarius will always lie, and thus is extremely wary about trusting anything they say. Harry's experiences have actually made him pretty good at never taking what villains tell him at face value. Unless the villain happens to be a vulnerable woman. That tends to skew his rationality, a flaw he fully acknowledges. He's gotten better about that, to his somewhat-justified disgust.
    • The fact that the members of the Sidhe are known to be unable to outright lie becomes a key plot point in Cold Days. When Harry realizes that Maeve, the Winter Lady, freely gave information without the usual Faerie obfuscation, he gets suspicious, and then realizes that Maeve had been "infected" by Nemesis, a sentient and infectious form of madness, which turned her to the cause of the Outsiders and given her the ability to lie. Since so few people know about Nemesis, and since the Sidhe are known to always tell the truth, this meant Maeve could lie freely to may people and they would have no reason to disbelieve her.
  • X-Wing Series. The Director of Imperial Intelligence, Ysanne Isard, averts this. Corran Horn falls into her clutches believing that Tycho was her agent and had betrayed him. Isard never actually tells her victim that this is so, but several times she seems to confirm his belief. Really Tycho was innocent, but Corran doesn't learn this until he finds out during his escape. Telling him that he'd gotten an innocent man put on trial for his own murder, and Tycho was quite likely to be declared guilty and executed, would have given Corran massive guilt, but Isard wanted to use his anger.
  • Lord Foul the Despiser, in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, never lies. He doesn't see it as necessary to achieve his goals, and he's been right so far.
  • In Twilight, Bella completely believes James when he tells her that he's holding her mom captive. To her defense, they had the conversation over the phone and he used the audio from a home movie he stole from her mom's house.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry assumes that the vision he has of Voldemort torturing Sirius (which is basically him seeing what Voldemort is seeing) is actually happening, despite the fact that he had been warned by Snape that Voldemort knew about their mental bond and might feed him fake images. Of course, that's the one. In Deathly Hallows, Pansy Parkinson is one of very few who actually believe Voldemort when he says that he won't hurt anyone if they hand over Harry. Fortunately, no one else listens to her and have her taken from the school grounds.
  • In their confrontation at the end of Stephen King's The Gunslinger, the man in black makes the following proclamation to the eponymous hero: "Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty."
  • Rimmer Dall, the Big Bad from The Heritage of Shannara series is a masterful user of this, he gives Par a fairly standard Tomato in the Mirror, "the guy who sent you on this quest is using you etc..." speech, then hands over the Sword of Shannara which Par was there to retrieve, said Sword having the power to completely destroy any lies and show the full and complete truth about anything it's used on. He tells Par to use the Sword on him to see if he's lying; he does, and it doesn't respond. Turns out the whole point of Dall's speech before handing over the sword was to put just a tiny bit of doubt in Par's mind about himself, and since the Sword requires the user to fully believe he can use it in order to call on its power this makes Par unable to use the Sword at all.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss may see President Snow for the horrible power-hungry monster he is, but she does take him at his word when he says that he will never lie to her. This is part of what leads Katniss to assassinate Alma Coin.
  • In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, it's stated in-universe that the Lord Ruler Will Not Tell a Lie. After all, he's the nigh-omnipotent God-Emperor of the world — why on Earth would he ever need to lie to accomplish his goals? Of course, his reign is based on deception — he's not actually an avatar of God, nor is he The Chosen One who arose to protect the world a thousand years ago — but he never actually refers to himself using the name of the former Chosen One, and his belief in his divinity and that he'd successfully co-opted the Chosen One prophecy were, to all appearances, completely genuine.
  • The Divine Comedy: It's understandable wanting directions on your trek through the burning tar pits of the Malebolge, but Virgil would have been wiser to buy a map rather than seeking guidance from the local devils who run said burning tar pits of etc. etc. Naturally, those devils deliberately send Virgil down a dead end, try to attack him, and send him tumbling into the next Circle of Hell. The rest of the damned love rubbing this in Virgil's face for the rest of the descent.
  • Carpe Jugulum: Count Magpyr manages to seriously dispirit would-be vampire hunter Mightily Oats by claiming that he contributed to much of the holy texts Oats is trying to use against him. Oats is already so plagued with doubt about his faith that he doesn't question it, and it's ambiguous as to how much truth there was to the Count's claims.
  • Brave New World: To the extent that he can be called a villain in the first place, Mustapha Mond's final appearance to Berhard, Helmholtz and John provides him with the opportunity to be extremely open and honest to all three of them. Unlike all the other characters Mond understands the full extent of how the society of the book works from the top-down, and willingly explains why he finds this state of affairs somewhat regrettable but ultimately necessary.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Although it's only mentioned in an episode commentary, Holtz didn't lie, manipulative as he was. He considered himself to be on the side of right, after all.
    • Angelus, too. Wesley even warns the team that Angelus will try to hurt and manipulate them using the truth (and twist it a bit), but he won't outright lie. He does this and is successful in turning them against each other.
  • Arrow:
    • Subverted in "Deathstroke". After Slade tells Laurel that Oliver is the Arrow, she's later shown taking the time to investigate his claims and confirms it herself.
    • Played completely straight in "The Magician". Malcolm denies having anything to do with Sara's murder. Oliver believes him without question, and actually places him under his protection from the League of Assassins (smoothly ignoring the literal hundreds of murders he is guilty of). Nyssa is utterly disgusted by this and remains convinced that Malcolm is the one who did it. She's right.
  • Babylon 5: Bester may utilize Metaphorically True, he may not tell the entire truth, but when he tells the station crew something, it does generally turn out to be true.
  • In the Italian fiction The Black Arrow, Designated Heroine and Faux Action Girl Giovanna constantly fell for this trope. Every single time. Needless to say, she became The Scrappy very quickly.
  • Blue Bloods: A Serial Killer who's been taunting Danny all season 6 informs him that he's going after his family. He rushes home and is confused to see that Linda and the boys are okay—"Why did he lie? He never lies. He said he was going after my family and he always does what he says." Until the FBI agent he's working with reminds him of the guy's MO—"18-22 year old females"—and he realizes that his niece Nicky is the target.
  • Used to great effect in the Swedish/Danish series Bron|Broen, as the killer always delivers on his promises, whether that's how many people he intends to kill or whether he will let the hostages go if certain demands are met, thus ensuring people always take his threats seriously. In the climax of Season One, he reveals his ultimate revenge on Martin is that his son has been taken from him, and Martin will never find out what happened to him, made all the more effective because Martin knows without a shadow of a doubt he isn't lying.
  • Daredevil (2015): In season 3, Wilson Fisk gets Ray Nadeem wrapped around his thumb by feeding him a constant stream of reliable information about other criminals...who conveniently happen to have corrupt connections that Fisk wants to take for himself. Once he's certain Nadeem has been thoroughly manipulated, Fisk sends Nadeem and the rest of the FBI after Matt Murdock, claiming that Matt used to work for him (and which is partially true, since he had James Wesley hire Nelson & Murdock to defend one of his hitmen). Nadeem doesn't stop to think that this conflicts with public records that show that Nelson & Murdock was instrumental in sending Fisk to prison, simply because Fisk’s testimony on other things has proven itself to be reliable up to this point. He does come to realize Matt is innocent and Fisk is a liar after Jasper Evans is killed while preparing to claim that Fisk paid him to shank him, but by this point, Nadeem is in too deep with Fisk to get out.
  • The Defenders (2017): Across this show, plus Daredevil and Iron Fist, Madame Gao prides herself in always telling the truth and she is extremely apt at using it to mess with people's heads.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Next Doctor", while facing conversion, Miss Hartigan protests that the Cybermen told her she would be heralded if she helped them. In response, they hail her as the Cyberking. She adds that she was specifically promised she would never be converted, which the Cybermen admit they straight-up lied about.
  • Not exactly a villain example: when Frasier is supposed to be on a date with a model, he winds up minding her daughter while she does a shoot. He eventually strikes up a conversation with the daughter, who tells him about how shallow and neglectful her mother is. When the woman returns and tries to resume the date, Frasier confronts the woman over her supposed behavior, which prompts her to ask if Frasier ever considered that the angry twelve year-old might have been lying.
    "Oh, and, by the way—I only have one kidney. Guess who has the other."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Lannisters lie all the time, but they do take their unofficial motto ("A Lannister always pays his debts") very seriously. If they outright promise you something (whether it's gold or revenge), you can count on getting it.
    • Post-season one, Danaerys repeatedly says that her dragons are the only children she will ever have and no one questions the accuracy of this statement until Jon asks who told her this in the season 7 finale. When Dany replies "the witch who killed my husband", he points out that a murderer is probably not the best source of information.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): Played with for Dr. Karl Malus in season 2. When Jessica confronts him with the fact that Jeri Hogarth is trying to use Shane Ryback's healing powers to save herself, he insists that he never created a healer, let alone performed experiments on someone named Shane. As it turns out, Shane is indeed a fraud who is manipulating Jeri. In general, though, while Karl rarely tells direct lies, he tends to leave important information unsaid and hides incriminating material.
  • Legal and police dramas, with their emphasis on the veracity of witnesses, defendants, etc., frequently play with this trope. Law & Order mocked it in the episode "Access Nation", in which a convicted felon, while in prison, uses an Internet information-gathering company to track someone down and then murders that person upon his release. The owner of the company, trying to defend himself from accusations of wrongdoing, points out that all customers are required to fill out a form asking if they had a criminal record. McCoy says, "And it never occurred to you that someone with a criminal record might actually lie about it?"
  • Ben Linus from Lost is pretty much always lying, but the other characters pretty much always believe him, even if they say they know what he's up to. On several occasions he's admitted that past statements were "not entirely truthful".
    • Michael Emerson's excellent performance makes this much easier to suspend disbelief about.
    • Except Keamy, who called Ben's bluff about not actually caring about Alex. That one kinda backfired.
    • The Man in Black also used this tactic to try and get Richard to kill Jacob.
  • Heroic (or at least anti-heroic) variant: the titular character of Lucifer never lies; at most, he can be evasive, but he takes great pleasure in telling others that he is, in fact, the Devil himself. Nobody believes him, and most assume that it's some kind of act. His cop partner Chloe tells him that, grandstanding devil act aside, she knows she can trust him.
  • An interesting case is Morgause from Merlin (2008), who convinces Prince Arthur to visit her home so that she can conjure up the spirit of his dead mother. On meeting the late Queen Igraine, Arthur learns the truth about the circumstances of his birth: that his father Uther made a deal with a sorceress to help them conceive, which resulted in Igraine's death thanks to the nature of the spell. This enrages Arthur so much that he races home to Camelot and almost kills his father, only for Merlin to talk him out of it by suggesting to him that Morgause had made the whole thing up and that the spirit of Igraine wasn't real. The twist is that although Morgause could have conjured up a fake Igraine (the show is never clear), the audience knows (thanks to conversations betwen Uther/Gaius) that everything Igraine told Arthur about his birth was in fact completely true. Even more interestingly, Merlin knows the information was true but has to lie to Arthur to protect him.
  • Averted in the new Nikita series. Percy, the Big Bad, attempts to manipulate his way out of danger (for about the tenth time) by telling Nikita that Michael knew that her fiance was about to be killed by them, and telling Michael that something happened between Nikita and Owen that she's not telling him about - neither of which is actually true, as far as the viewer knows at least. They hesitate for about a second, doubting each other, and then flip right back into kill-the-psycho mode. His accusations have so far not been brought up by them again.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • For some reason (that Regina's description of the incident might be believable in this world aside), Rumplestiltskin believes the Evil Queen when she tells him that his Love Interest was Driven to Suicide.
    • As an interesting note, Rumplestiltskin himself has only been seen onscreen outright lying twice. The first time when he tells Belle that he doesn't care about her when he's getting her to leave. The second time when he tells Emma he's going to use a spell on her that lets people voluntarily give up light magic (he's actually planning to absorb her into the Sorcerer's Hat). And as he says to Regina, he's only broken one deal in his life. He's a master of Exact Words and he twists things to suit his needs, but he rarely flat-out lies.
    • Hades tells Regina that the Olympian Crystal has the power to completely destroy your soul which appears to be the fate of Robin Hood. Three episodes later Henry tells her that he believes Hades was lying, which she too decides to believe. Since this is the man who faked a Heel–Face Turn due to the love of Regina's sister, Henry was probably right.
  • Supernatural:
    • Lucifer states in "Sympathy for the Devil" that "Contrary to popular belief, I don't lie. I don't need to."
    • At the end of "Do You Believe In Miracles?", Crowley says, "I might not have told you the entire truth. But I never lied."
    • In "On the Head of a Pin", Alastair tells Dean that Dean accidentally broke the first seal when he agreed to torture souls in Hell and made the Apocalypse possible. Dean is initially unsure whether this is true, but Castiel confirms that the prophecy Alastair described is real and does in fact refer to Dean.
  • In Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, one challenge centered around a note left by Dr. Dark, which implied that one of the heroes was actually a spy. The heroes all then began wondering who it was and discussing which amongst them was the most suspicious. Only Hygenia was smart enough to consider that Dr. Dark was just lying. This was pretty much the case, although he also wasn't outright lying—the note said that one of the heroes could be a good spy, not that one of them actually was.
  • One episode of The X-Files has Mulder rather unbelievably instantly trusting someone he's never met before about some new information on the alien conspiracy. Scully even calls him on it: "What happened to 'trust no one?'" Mulder replies "I changed it to 'trust everyone.' Didn't I tell you?" This attempt at a Lampshade Hanging falls rather limp since it does nothing but make it even more explicit that Mulder is utterly out of character in the scene, and we don't even get any reason for it like mind control, as some other episodes do. Agent Mulder often had to two conflicting ideals to choose between: "Trust No One" and "I Want To Believe." In this case, Mulder wanted to believe that the character was part of a government conspiracy, feeding into both of those ideals at once.

  • In The Bible:
    • The serpent (who may or may not be Satan) tells Eve that eating of the forbidden fruit won't lead to her death like God said it would, and she believes him, making this the Ur-Example. It's also Metaphorically True: It's true that the fruit gives humans the ability to decide for themselves what is good and evil (rather than relying on God), like the serpent says. Opinion is divided over whether God's warning was Metaphorically True or not: eating it did not kill them immediately and God had to remove them from the garden so they could not eat from the one fruit that could apparently restore/maintain their immortality; however, God never said when or how they would die.
      • Subverted. Orthodox Christianity says that the death is a coincidence of disobedience of God's law. Adam and wife could live forever if they followed the Lord. And after they committed the first sin, and couldn't manage to repent, so they died - they become sinners, moreover they got passions - eight deadly illnesses, and all their deeds became sinful. The death was simply not instantaneous. So, it's the case of devil being the Consummate Liar. That's why Jesus called him a killer of man: he convinced them to fall.
      • Also subverted by Catholic Christianity. The serpent (who is indeed Satan according to the Church) tells Eve that eating the fruit will make her and Adam beings above God; the Original Sin as it's known is not in the act of eating the fruit (which would be considered an act of Gluttony) but to try to put themselves above God, which indeed becomes the root of the Deadly Sin of Pride, and by extension, of all sins that followed. In fact, this act is considered what introduced pain and death to mankind as Adam and Eve were expelled from the Paradise and prevented from eating the Fruit of Life, which would indeed have given them immortality.
    • The apocryphal Book of Jubilees has it as "if you eat the fruit you will die on the same day" and Adam and Eve both died 900-odd years later: "in the eyes of God a thousand years are as a day".
    • There was also an Exact Words trick; Adam and Eve misinterpreted God's threat as a warning about the fruit itself, so the sepent reassuring them that the fruit was safe was completely true. Although if the serpent was just a serpent it might not have understood that either.
    • There is also a case of a heroic use of this alongside Metaphorically True: King David has Hushai spy on Absalom by becoming his adviser. He even says "As I have served in thy father's presence, so will I be in thy presence."
    • Satan quotes Scripture during his temptation of Jesus. Jesus doesn't fall for it and responds with further quotes which explain why Satan's interpretations are wrong.
      • In this case, Satan is not being deceptive by lying, but by distorting the original intent of each quote, which is why Jesus's rebuttals are quotes as well, to return them again to the context and meaning in which they were written.

  • This is a key element of deals with the devil. In Goethe's Faust, Mephistopheles surprises the doctor by telling him that hell has laws and that, therefore, he can be trusted to hold up his end of the bargain. The quintessential feature of such a deal is that the devil figure either twists the terms of the agreement to subvert their intended effect or brings about some change that renders the benefit he confers undesirable—not that he breaks the agreement outright. Without this trope—played straight, mind you—this effect couldn't be achieved.
  • In Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Mephistopheles is even more honest. He tells Faust he'll give him certain powers and abilities in exchange for Faust's soul, and keeps the bargain to the letter, giving Faust everything he promised. Interestingly, he even tries to talk Faust out of it, pointing out that if he, Mephistopheles, a demon, exists, then wouldn't it stand to reason that God also exists, and that Faust, by implication, would be making a horrible mistake by taking Mephistopheles up on his offer? Faust replies that that doesn't follow at all, since just because one part of a story turns out to be true, it doesn't prove that the whole story is true. Mephistopheles concedes the point.

    Video Games 
  • This is Terumi's schtick in BlazBlue. What better way to Mind Rape somebody than reveal truths such as "their rightful place in the world was stolen away by someone who only exists because of causality-interference effects screwing with the time loops", or that "they're really just a failed version of an Eldritch Abomination" which in turn is a failed version of a Person of Mass Destruction"? He does conveniently forget to neglect certain details, however, but he never technically fibs and pretty much confesses without any provocation that he gave Ragna his Dark and Troubled Past For the Evulz.
    • There is one incident Terumi was forced to lie, however - if he was honest in any capacity, his plans could have been compromised. In Decisionnote , he makes a move on Makoto, only to get subsequently parried by Jin, and when he states that his actions were for disciplinary purposes, (which, seen as Metaphorically True still could be considered a truth from Hazama's perspective,) Jin refuses to buy it. In addition to Makoto's protectorate issues, she had just returned from assignment in Ikaruga, where she learned things that stand to be very damaging to his schemes if left uncontrolled. In Slight Hope, which takes place beforehand, she had proven herself a nuisance to his plots - add all of that up, and it's clear he wanted her dead three days ago.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, a dying Admiral Karath whispers the game's major plot twist to Carth in hopes of shaking him up a little. Carth, naturally, immediately turns to Bastila and yells, "You knew! You and the whole damned Jedi Council!" Bastila actually confirms it as soon as he says this, though, so he was actually right to be mistrustful - and the circumstances leading to said revelation already heavily foreshadowed this to the player. And depending on how you answer an inquiry a little further on, you can confirm the same truth as well.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, meanwhile, Kreia tells the PC all sorts of things. Some of them are true. Some of them are not. Have fun figuring out which is which. There's still debate in the fandom about what her actual end goal was, since she gives multiple mutually exclusive explanations.
  • Shin Megami Tensei if...: In the World of Pride, you will find a couple of classmates Taken for Granite. The villain comments that smashing the statues might free them. The game forces you or your partner to pick the Idiot Ball and do so. The guy laughs in your face when the result becomes apparent.
  • Final Fantasy VII's legendary Mind Screw was initiated by one of these. Cloud actually does insist that Sephiroth is lying when he says Cloud isn't who he thinks he is, but since his own version of events isn't right either, and thus there is evidence even in his own memory that seems to support the even more false but still truth-tinted alternative, the doubts eventually overcome him.
  • In the Street Fighter series, one of Bison's character traits is that he does not lie, ever - unless you count Cammy's ending in Super Street Fighter II, which was a mistranslation on the part of Capcom.
  • The Affably Evil Ur-Quan Kzer-Za in Star Control II never lie about their intentions and always do what they say they will. They believe that lying is for the weak,
"And the Ur-Quan are not weak."
  • In Jade Empire, Grand Inquisitor Jia helpfully informs you that the apparent Evil Chancellor is actually completely loyal, and the evils of the Lotus Assassins are condoned by the Emperor himself. God forbid the leader of the evil Secret Police force would let you get the wrong idea, after all.
  • The Black Knight in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance told Ike the truth about his armor and how to penetrate it, and Ike believed him. Somewhat of an inversion, in that the Black Knight was actually telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in that instance.
    • He does this because he likes to have interesting fights. Invincible armor takes the thrill away...
  • Averted in Batman: Arkham Asylum. The Oracle tells Batman that the Joker has claimed to have set up bombs in Gotham and will detonate them if anyone comes to Arkham. Batman immediately declares, "he's lying." Turns out he has planted something around Gotham, but instead of explosives it's marzipan and kittens. Of course, knowing the Joker, there were probably still some real bombs planted elsewhere.
  • Akasim from Super Robot Wars Z cannot lie because of his Sphere of the "Truth Seeking Goat."
  • In Silent Hill, a lot of the vital information concerning what the hell is going on is given to the player character by people who are less than inclined to be honest with you:
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Legacy of Kain. Kain is a class V Anti-Hero / Villain Protagonist who never lies. Unfortunately, the people he doesn't lie to almost always assume he's lying, to disastrous results.
  • Army of Two. As The 40th Day draws to a close, Salem and Rios have Jonah cornered; Jonah promptly tells them he's sitting on a nuke that will wipe out half the city if it goes off, but, keeping with the social-experiment theme of his actions, he'll disarm it if Salem or Rios kills the other instead of him. As is likely easy to guess despite the spoiler tag, there's no nuke.
  • Myrkul in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer when talking to Kaelyn. The main character can even lampshade it. The trope is subverted in your own case, however: What Myrkul tells you in the same conversation later turns out to be a complete lie.
  • Some in the Mass Effect fandom have taken this approach where Morinth is concerned. After Shepard kills Samara in cold blood, Morinth claims that her mother was "tyrannical" and "a monster" and deserved to die, along with the statement that she'll never pose Shepard any threat, and for some reason, a few people have taken this and a few other of her lies at face value. This includes the lie that Shepard would be safe if he/she and Morinth decided to meld, which has been proven to be wrong.
  • In the ending of Mass Effect 3, the Catalyst, an entity that created and controls the Reapers, gives Shepard its reasons for doing it. Also it calmly presents the options for Shepard, one which includes its destruction alongside with the Reapers but paints it as the undesirable one, even saying that Shepard will also die since he is partly synthetic, yet in the best "Destroy" ending Shepard survives. Statements by BioWare have gone both ways on whether or not the Catalyst's explanation of the Crucible can be taken at face value. Either way this trope is averted; what it says is completely at odds with what the Reapers have told you across the series about their methods and motives.
  • In Dark Souls Lautrec of Carim is a very shifty, amoral fellow with goals that don't quite match with yours, but he remains completely on the level with the player.
  • The bad guys in Duel Savior Destiny tend to be a lot more honest about what's actually going on than the good guys who know the full story. Knowing the truth is rather destabilizing and can lead to some serious issues, so the good guys withhold crucial information such as the fact that they should never allow the Messiah to come into being.
  • Skies of Arcadia: Early on, the heroes meet a young woman named Bellena who leads them to the Red Moon Crystal. She explains that her motivation is that her father was a sailor who was killed in the Valua-Nasr war, and she doesn't want to have anyone else die in pointless conflicts. When the heroes re-emerge from the dungeon with crystal in hand, "Bellena" reveals her true identity as Belleza, along with several armed Valuan soldiers, before taking the Crystal from them. Fina confronts Belleza on her backstory and asks if it was all a lie, but Belleza actually defends her story and claims that she never lied to them: her father really did fight and die in the Valua-Nasr war, but what she didn't tell them was that her father was on the Valuan side. She also claims that she never lied about hating war; she doesn't want anyone else to go through what she went through, and if she has to lead The Empire into conquering the world to end wars for good, she'll do it.
  • Discussed and defied in Dragon Age: Inquisition. After reaching Skyhold, the Inquisitor can point out that what Corypheus says about entering the Black City and what the Chant of Light says are similar, but do not match completely. Giselle will remark that, while the Chantry is a tool of men and might have erred in speaking of it, that doesn't mean Corypheus is right and truthful. He might well be choosing to remember things in a manner more flattering to himself, or have confused memories after being sealed away for a thousand years.
  • Invoked by Risky Boots in Shantae, when she first shows up in Pirate's Curse. And yes, she can and will.
  • Diablo III: Zoltun Kulle, the renegade Horadrim, flat out tells you he'd never lie because he finds the truth to be far more entertaining. Indeed, of all the things he says little, if any of it, is a full on lie. It's all extremely manipulative, of course. He barely even bothers to pretend that he won't betray the hero(es) at the the first opportunity.
  • Parodied in No More Heroes, where the Final Boss Dark Star claims to be protagonist Travis Touchdown's father, and after a moment of trying to remember, Travis seems to remember him. Then Travis' hitherto-unmentioned step-sister Jeane comes out of nowhere to punch through Dark Star's ribcage and remind Travis that no, that guy isn't his father - Travis saw both his real parents die right in front of him as a kid. Dark Star simply liked lying like that to get into his opponents' heads so they'd be unable to focus on the fight, and therefore easier to kill.
  • In Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack will rarely tell an outright lie. He'll omit the truth and twist it, but he almost never tells a true lie... which makes the rare moments when he does it to your face all the sharper and uglier.
  • Frequently abused by villains in the Kingdom Hearts who love to say things that are Metaphorically True or the actual truth—just not the whole truth or a slanted version of it. Maleficent in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep used this to devastating effect on the protagonists by making them question Terra's brushes with the darkness until it becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, something Xehanort was counting on.
  • Indivisible: For all his faults, Lord Ravannavar never lies to or manipulates anybody, allowing them to make their own choices. He even sometimes gives out information that can harm him, just so they can make an informed decision, such as actively warning the protagonists that by pursuing him, they are playing right into his hands and will help him unleash Kala. Ajna presses forward anyways, just as Ravannanar planned, simply because she's too blinded by vengeance to believe him.

    Visual Novels 
  • Umineko: When They Cry features the red text. Anything said with it is always true and if you try to lie with it you will choke. The red text can only be used by the witches, or anyone granted the power to speak the red truth. Naturally, the ones to use it are the witches trying to force Battler to surrender and accept them.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All, the final defendant Matt Engarde tells Phoenix that he didn't commit the murder he was accused of. He's technically correct, and bypasses Phoenix's magical lie-detector by being so, but what he fails to mention is that he hired the assassin who DID commit the murder.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors plays with this in interesting way. Whenever Zero says something it's a safe bet that it's true. It may not be what you think it is, but it's the truth (one exception: She lied about putting bombs in the players (the innocent ones at least, it's unknown if Ace had a bomb in him, but two of his conspirators definitely did (though one wasn't even a proper player)) and threatening to blow up Clover if Snake reveals what happened in the first Nonary Game). However this only aplies to things said as Zero. When not being Zero Akane has no problems lying to everyone all the time.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc leaves the question of whether this trope is at play or not hanging until the sequel, specifically in regards to the trial of Junko Enoshima after she reveals the world ended a year ago at the hands of herself and her sister, using the argument that lying to them to create despair wouldn't even be fun. She was telling the truth. This is also at play with Monokuma throughout the franchise, much to his irritation when nobody believes him because he's the teddy bear mascot that stuck them in a killing game. Subverted every time Monokuma isn't Junko, as those masterminds are in it for their own purposes and thus are not following her rules, and subverted by her protege Monaka Towa. Also subverted by Junko herself (well, an AI copy) as Shirokuma in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, as her point for lying there was not despair, but to prevent Komaru and Toko from killing 50% of her existence on the spot and gain their trust. Played with further because, thanks to multiple books in the franchise, we know that while Junko wasn't lying during her trial, that doesn't mean she knows everything. Namely, there's one thing she was dead wrong on: Mukuro was never into despair like her.

  • Doc Scratch from Homestuck never lies. Interestingly, as he is an omniscient being, he is also never wrong. Everything he says, taken purely at face value, is completely factual. He chooses not to lie because he considers it beneath him. And you have to admit that if you could tell your opponent what your moves will be and still win the game, you'd do it too.
    • The only falsehoods he allows himself to utter are harmless "jokes", because a joke must by definition have a punchline, which will also reveal the deception, cancelling the lie out.
      Rose: Aren't jokes essentially humorous lies?
      Rose: At least, those like the one you just attempted.
      Doc Scratch: Jokes are only temporary lies.
      Doc Scratch: If the falsehood is never exposed, there is no punchline. If the punchline is never delivered, the lie is sealed forever, regardless of initial humorous intent. Lies are not funny.
      Rose: I think if you're going to risk tarnishing your record of honesty, you should probably get better material.
      Doc Scratch: My joke was objectively funny. Who would know better than I?
      Rose: Ok.
      Rose: So you're saying an inaccurate statement doesn't count as a lie, as long as you say "just kidding" later?
      Doc Scratch: Basically.
      Rose: What if it's much later? Is it still "just a joke?"
      Doc Scratch: No, that would be something closer to a prank.
      Doc Scratch: I don't play pranks very often.
      Rose: Are you allowed to lie about playing pranks? If I asked you if you were playing a prank on me, would you tell the truth?
      Doc Scratch: I am allowed to do whatever I want. I choose never to lie. I also choose to tell jokes now and then, and to play pranks quite sparingly.
      Doc Scratch: But I can say that I have never played a prank on you, and no statement I have made to you thus far, or will make in this conversation, will contain any trace of falsehood for the sake of setting up a joke or a prank, with the exception of the joke I just made, and another one I will make very soon.
    • However, he claims that "lying by omission" is a false concept (read:he does it all the time because he doesn't consider it lying) and is the undisputed master of Exact Words. He manages to con the heroes into believing they are destroying the Green Sun, when in fact they are creating it—and, by extension, Scratch's master, the time-traveling, universe-eating demon Lord English. Of course, essential as the creation of the Sun was, it was also kind of moot, since he is already here. All without telling a single lie.
    Doc Scratch: S u c k e r s.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • During the "Soul Splice" story arc, Vaarsuvius makes a Deal with the Devil with a trio of archfiends, who offer V vast amounts of power in order to save his/her family from a vengeful dragon, in exchange for temporary custody of his/her soul, based on the amount of time he/she chooses to retain the power. The fiends in question are being completely fair and honest, even going so far as to point out that there is an alternative—although this would require V to admit that he/she had failed. Although the soul splice doesn't actually turn Varsuvius evil, black cloak and glowing eyes notwithstanding, absolute power still corrupts...
      • It should be pointed out that Director Lee, the devil, is kind of required to give an alternative. See, infernal pacts in D&D only work if the metaphorical Faust is given a choice. If the deal is made under duress, Vaarsuvius could challenge the deal in a diabolical court in the Nine Hells. Since diabolic courts are somewhat fair (they are beings of pure law and evil, after all), Vaarsuvius could wriggle his way out of the deal and possibly get the commission scrapped by whatever archdevil approved of it. The fiends, however, exploit Vaarsuvius' ego in order to ensure he would pick the option they wanted him to pick. And they told the exact truth the whole time.
    • Also played with in that same story arc. The fiends tell Vaarsuvius "You may be experiencing some slight feedback. You know, alignment-wise", and "Do not let them influence your actions! YOU are the one in control!" The last sentence of that is entirely true. The other three are half-true at best. All together, though, it implies the reverse. Thus, Vaarsuvius assumes s/he isn't in control of hirself, and, as one of them later points out, "A good way to get a decent person to do something horrible is to convince them that they're not responsible for their actions." Horrible indeed...
    • Also subverted in an unexpected way: While the alternative they presented could have worked as far as V knew, it was based on his/her incorrect assumption about the current location of the party's healer. Had V pursued that course, s/he would have accomplished nothing more than suicide. They presented it as part of full disclosure in order to legitimize the contract; V was making a free-willed choice without any lies on their part. As far as V knew, this other option would have worked and not required any obligation to the Fiends. In any case, they knew V would never accept the alternative plan as presented, because it would require admitting defeat and failure to use someone else's plan to get other people to save V's family.
    • It gets even better later. They said they'd get custody of V's soul for the same length of time as V used the power. V (and probably most of the readers) assumed they'd do it at V's death, but they never actually specified a time. One of them chooses to do it when V desperately needs to get a message to the rest of the party. V had actually worked out that the price as s/he understood it didn't really make sense, since his/her actions during the effects had already earned an eternity of damnation on their own.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender. For some reason, Zuko believes Azula when she offers him the chance to join her to take over Ba Sing Se. This is despite his trustworthy uncle berating him for this, and her having explicitly betrayed him in the first episode of the season. AND despite his childhood litany to himself - "Azula always lies." Despite this, however, this is one of the few times where she's being fully honest. Probably more for her own convenience, but she shows no intention whatsoever of betraying him... until he inadvertently informs her that Aang is still alive, at which point she carefully sets him up to take the blame if that truth ever becomes public.
  • Subverted in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. In a climactic fight with Evil Emperor Zurg (complete with glowing metal rods, just to drive the parody home to the viewers), Zurg tells Buzz that he is Buzz's father, causing Buzz to gasp out a "what" response. Zurg then continues the fight after he reveals that the previous reveal was a sham to catch Buzz off guard.

    This is a recycled gag from Toy Story 2, only the end result is different. There's the same Luke, I Am Your Father, the same Big "NO!", but then the next scene shows them playing a nice father-son game of catch. Then again, they're supposed to be toys acting the part of their "namesake" characters. The cartoon series is a Defictionalization of the movies, so the toys might have taken the idea "from the cartoon" and ran with it.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers. An often parodied weakness of the show is that the supporting cast always seem to fall for the villains' deceptions, despite their conspicuous names and menacing appearances. Best summed up by The Nostalgia Critic:
    ...and of course they all have those traditional cosmopolitan names, like Hoggish Greedly, Verminous Scumm, and Sly Sludge. Seriously, would you ever do business with a person named Sly Sludge? It's like marrying a woman named Nasty McSpendsmoney; it just has bad news written all over it.
  • Kim Possible:
    • In "Hidden Talent", after a "recover the stolen MacGuffin" mission, Kim wonders why Professor Dementor insisted that the device was his own invention. Ron just assumes that Dementor is lying. Dementor was telling the truth — the mission was a set-up by Dr. Drakken to trick Kim into stealing Dementor's device and delivering it to him.
    • In "Rappin' Drakken", Drakken's plan to Take Over the World with brainwashing shampoo fails because the label tells people what the stuff does. Drakken may be a villain, but he's not a corporate shyster. Also, he was quite confident that people would buy it anyway, simply because it was mentioned in a rap song on TV, therefore making it "cool."
  • In Over the Garden Wall, the climax depends on revealing that the Beast lied about something important: the lantern is his own Soul Jar, not the Woodsman's daughter's.
  • Played for Laughs on Pinky and the Brain: Whenever the Brain's disguise is questioned, he just tells people that he's an escaped lab mouse out to take over the world; nobody ever believes him.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Averted. In "Droids in Distress", while fighting Zeb, Agent Kallus claims that he ordered the use of disruptors during the massacre of the population of Zeb's homeworld. Over a season later in "The Honourable Ones", while he and Zeb are stranded together on an inhospitable moon, Kallus admits that he was lying about that, having said it in order to rile Zeb up to make the fight easier for him.
  • Valtor in Winx Club claims to Bloom that he killed Oritel and Marion. Later he says to her that he absorbed them both into his body. Bloom initially believes him both times. He lied both times. The Three Ancient Witches locked them up in the Obsidian Dimension.
  • Zig-zagged in Young Justice. When Sportsmaster claims to have an "inside source" on the team, Aqualad keeps quiet about it, unsure whether there's really a mole or if Sportsmaster was just sowing dissent. After Red Tornado seemingly betrays them, Aqualad gets flak from his teammates for not warning them until he explains who the source of the "tip" was. Over the course of the season, three different heroes turn out to have big secrets the villains could exploit... only for them to all come clean to their friends, convincing everyone there is no mole. They're half-right. The mole was never one of them, it was Red Arrow, which was a shock even for him.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: