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We Have Been Researching Phlebotinum for Years

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Mulder: They're here, aren't they?
Deep Throat: Mr. Mulder, "they" have been here for a long, long time.

The Hero encounters some weird shit. Really weird shit. However, just as he is about to say bye-bye to his sanity, some impeccably dressed gentlemen take him into a sciencey lab where The Professor explains that what the hero saw was a perfectly scientific phenomenon they've studied for years, and really, just another kind of Applied Phlebotinum that The World Is Not Ready for yet...

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This trope is a form of Exposition that would have become an Info Dump, if it wasn't so long overdue, since it comes after the protagonist (and the audience) is thrust right into the middle of a situation he cannot even begin to understand. It doesn't have to be Phlebotinum per se: any kind of Masquerade will do, as long as the hero stumbles into a life-threatening situation before people who know what's going on show up. Compare Redundant Researcher.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Film 
  • Independence Day, when they visit Area 51, it turns out The Government knew about the aliens all along. They just didn't get around to telling the elected part, i.e. the President, until some time after the shit hit the fan.
  • In the first Underworld movie, when Selene tells Michael about the werewolves and the vampires.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show:
    Dr. Scott: This sonic transducer...it is, I suppose, some kind of audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport device?
    Brad: You mean...?!
    Dr. Scott: Yes, Brad, it's something we ourselves have been working on for quite some time. But it seems our friend here has found a means of perfecting it. A device which is capable of breaking down solid matter and projecting it through space...and who knows, perhaps even time itself!
  • Happens in the first Men in Black movie, when K gives J a rundown on the little known facts during the latter's first entry to the MIB HQ.
  • Used in Godzilla2014, where it's revealed the government knows about Godzilla and his ilk, and are in the midst of preparing contingency measures for them.
  • In Edge of Tomorrow, the hero learns that his accidentally acquired power to reset time was a condition known to two people already who were busy doing research on it for some time already. More would have known, but attempts to inform military high command had gone... badly.
  • In the first Transformers movie, it turns out that the government has been studying Transformers for decades in a secret base under the Hoover Dam, and that most modern technology is actually the product of their reverse-engineering efforts.
  • Prodigium in The Mummy (2017) has been studying monsters and searching for a "cure for evil" for a very long time. They're presently headed up by none other than Dr. Henry Jekyll.

    Literature 
  • A Wrinkle in Time: Meg and Charles find out that their father went missing because the government had him experimenting with tesseracts, which left him stranded on another planet.
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    Live Action TV 
  • The spaceship containing the Power Source of the chronosphere from 7Days. Of course, a later episode reveals that the Americans aren't the only ones who have been doing that. Russians also had a time travel program that was shut down due to the lack of a potent power source. However, after another alien vessel was found in Siberia, it was restarted (by a Renegade Russian general seeking to usurp the presidency).
  • Happens all over the Myth Arc of The X-Files, such as when Mulder goes to great lengths to recover the tiniest sliver of evidence that the aliens have visited Earth—only to be told by his Mysterious Informant that aliens have been on Earth for decades and some government circles have been in cahoots with them the entire time.
  • In Switched, after Ayumi has lost hope of learning how to switch bodies from Umine, who clearly knows the secret, she is invited to meet with Ukon, the local expert on the red moon phenomenon. As it turns out, many people have switched bodies before. Ukon specifically says there have been three other cases besides Ayumi's and her own. This is how Ayumi and Kaga learn that if Ayumi kills herself in front of Umine during the red moon, she will simply die rather than switch back.

    Video Games 
  • Max Payne: "We were all involved in the early stages of the Project during the Gulf War..." This refers to Project Valhalla, the origin of the mysterious drug Valkyr that has caused Max so much trouble, to put it mildly.
  • In the later sections of Half-Life, it is revealed that the dimensional rift at the beginning of the game was not a completely random coincidence. The piece of crystal that made the particle accelerator go crazy and open portals to another dimension was of same the type that another department at the research facility used in their development of teleportation technology for a very long time. Not only is the Lambda Core a huge device several stories tall and powered by its own nuclear power plant, the Addon Opposing Force shows quite clearly that expeditions to other dimensions have been going on for years and they have their own zoo for captured alien wildlife.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the Player Character is working as a member of the Blades, investing two dangerous cults who are becoming active in the game's setting. One of the cults, the Sixth House, worships the deranged Physical God Dagoth Ur, who has re-awakened after being thought killed thousands of years in the past. He is believed to be connected to the Blight, which can spread the crippling, uncurable Corprus Disease. While investigating a Sixth House base, the PC is naturally inflicted with the disease by one of Dagoth Ur's minions. Thought to be a death sentence, your Quest Giver sends to you meet with the ancient Telvanni wizard, Divayth Fyr, who runs a "Corprusarium" to provide refuge for the infected. It turns out that Fyr has been studying the disease for years. It saps the mind of those infected, leaving them with little more than animalistic intelligence, while also causing their body to bloat and grow cancerous, leprous chunks. It also makes the suffered into The Ageless and gives them Ideal Illness Immunity. He has been working on a cure...but it has killed every test subject so far. When he uses it on the PC, it works...at least according to what he was trying to do. The PC still has the disease, but the negative aspects have been cured, leaving the positive ones of biological immunity and complete disease immunity.

    Webcomics 
  • Weregeek begins with Mark drooling at a look on dice and being chased by the Hunter of Monsters. He is saved by Joel and the others, who explain to him that he is a weregeek, just like themselves, which is why he was being hunted. It is much later explained that Joel, in fact, is the leader of La Résistance hunting the Hunters and he knows much more about them than he tells anyone.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation approaches this trope from the side of the mysterious research organization, and plays with it quite a bit. The foundation has warehouses and biological containment sites full of things that simply should not be, which they constantly struggle to explain, or at least understand even after over 150 years of operation. In the world of the foundation, Magic A Is Magic A is horrifyingly deconstructed, and Sufficiently Analyzed Magic may only make you realize that the object previously deemed harmless is actually destroying the fabric of spacetime. There are times when the reader finds themselves understanding why its entirely reasonable for someone to be Killed to Uphold the Masquerade. The consequences of a Broken Masquerade are potentially The End of the World as We Know It.

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