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Will Not Tell a Lie

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"Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known."

When a character makes a conscious decision to be honest they Will Not Tell a Lie.

This is different from Cannot Tell a Lie in that nothing is forcing the character to be truthful besides their own will. This could be for different reasons. It could be a moral decision, or they could have an aversion to lying. Or they could get a noticeable tic when under the stress of lying, or otherwise be bad at lying so it defeats the purpose.

Either way, these are the characters who make an honest effort to be honest. This may cause them to become narratively associated with honesty as an ideal (or conversely, an example of Honor Before Reason).

As with Cannot Tell a Lie, it is possible that a character who follows this trope will decide to speak in half-truths, and pull the You Didn't Ask card every time they get the chance. A character who functions like this may do so because it's more fun, or because it's easier to manipulate people when you are telling the truth. They are able to tell half-truths and omit important information, allowing for False Reassurance and even Malicious Slander and acting as a sort of Technical Pacifist Consummate Liar.

A character who isn't trying to get around his principle of honesty is a kind of deontologist, but if they take it a bit too far they might also be a Principles Zealot.

Sometimes a sitcom plot, wherein a normally Consummate Liar pledges to truth-telling. The plot nearly always will have them being accused of breaking their promise, even when they aren't. Another frequent situation is the character's idea of being honest seeming to be unnecessarily hurtful, rather than simply telling the truth, "Does this make me look fat?" "Well, you want the truth? You look terrible."

Contrast I Gave My Word. Compare Villains Never Lie. May be able to deceive with Lying by Omission.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Claymore: The Claymores have a very strong moral system and don't feel the need to lie or deceive. They are perfectly capable of doing so if they feel like it. That rarely happens, though.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, Iori initially refused to take the Digimental of Faith because he lied earlier in the episode getting help.
  • In Dr. STONE, Senku claims "Science doesn't lie", and neither does he when it comes to science, even in situations where doing so would benefit him. Early on, when Tsukasa holds Yuzuriha hostage and demands to know the formula for the "miracle water", Senku complies rather than giving him a false formula just to save his friend. When they're trying to sway Nikki to their side, she asks if they can bring back Lillian Weinberg's music; Gen encourages him to lie and say yes, but Senku admits that all music storage media from their time have long since crumbled into dust.
  • Greed of Fullmetal Alchemist considers it a matter of principle never to tell a lie. In the end, he finds one worth telling.
  • Duo Maxwell of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. His motto is even "I may run and hide, but I'll never tell a lie".
  • My Hero Academia: Ibara Shiozaki/Vine absolutely refuses to perform any kind of deceitful action, even if it would benefit her. Whenever her teammates need to act covertly or trick their opponents, they don't tell her the plan because they know she'll just blurt out the truth.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Chao Lingshen states numerous times that "Martians don't tell lies." Of course, this doesn't prevent her from withholding all sorts of information....
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Kyuubey never lies. But he has absolutely no qualms about omitting all kinds of useful information and phrasing things in misleading ways, whenever he feels that be completely truthful would put him at a disadvantage. Case in point, When Kyoko asks if there is any way to return Sayaka to human form, Kyubey states that there's no precedent for it, but all kinds of things can happen when magic is involved. Later, when asked the same question by Homura, after Kyoko's plan to save Sayaka has failed spectacularly, Kyubey straight up tells her that it's impossible. His answer to Kyoko was technically correct, but was also deliberately worded in a manner that baited her into believing that there might be a way.
  • Satsuki, of Usotsuki Satsuki wa Shi ga Mieru, ironically for someone who has earned a reputation for being a Compulsive Liar, is this in reality. When her friends challenge her to lie about even relatively minor and harmless things, she still refuses to do so—and when she at one point lies about jumping off a building as part of a scheme to save someone's life, she actually goes through with it solely because doing otherwise would make her a liar. As it turns out, she has some major-league trauma relating to the one time in her past that she did tell a lie.

    Asian Animation 
  • Jonie of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf doesn't seem to have it in her heart to tell lies. Joys of Seasons episode 82 has this as a driving plot point; she's asked to lie and feels terrible enough about it that she goes to apologize to the person she had deceived. Said person is the goats' arch-enemy, Wolffy, whom Jonie was asked to convince there wasn't a trap waiting for him when there actually was. Wolffy quickly uses the opportunity to capture Jonie.

    Audio Play 
  • In 36 Questions, Jase is unable to lie for very long. This is inconvenient for him because it means he can't lie to Judith about any feelings he has, and his answers to the 36 Questions have to be honest.

    Comic Books 
  • Batwoman: Katherine "Kate" Kane was a Cadet Captain at West Point, highly regarded by both her fellow students and also her instructors and serving officers, when rumors begin to circulate that she is gay. The commanding officer of the facility calls her into his office, explains the situation, and gives her a choice: She can undergo a formal investigation, be revealed a homosexual and be kicked out of the academy, or she can say right now that the entire thing was a misunderstanding, a rumor, or even just an isolated incident and have the entire affair swept under the rug with no further questions. If she says the right thing she will still lose her status as Cadet Captain and will not graduate at the head of her class, but she will graduate, and will then go on to be the officer that she wants to be.
    Colonel Reyes: You know what I need you to say.
    Cadet Kate Kane: 'A cadet shall not lie, cheat or steal, nor suffer others to do so.' I'm sorry, sir, I can't... I'm gay.
  • In Loki: Agent of Asgard, Loki wonders if the true reason they Cannot Tell a Lie after the Inversion event is because part of them just doesn't want to lie anymore.
  • In Lucifer, the title character finds lies beneath him. As Mr. Easterman narrates, "He doesn't lie at all. He tells you the exact, literal truth. And he lets you find your own way to hell."
  • Superman:
    • In Superman 1939 #176, Superman and Supergirl celebrate a Kryptonian holyday called the Day of Truth in which they have to speak nothing but the truth, no matter the cost. It is not an easy task because they are incredibly and rudely blunt when they are being honest. Also, several crooks ask Superman about his secret identity and his Fortress' location.
    • In week 34 of the 52 series, some of Luthor's thugs kidnap a depowered Clark, drug him with truth serum, and ask him a question about Superman's secret identity. Specifically, they ask "Why is the Man of Steel masquerading as Supernova"? He cracks up.
  • Wonder Woman can lie when she's not touching her Lasso of Truth, she just doesn't. In Wonder Woman (1987) when time travel circumstances force her to try preventing her mother from learning who she is Hippolyta is shocked and amused that her daughter "lied" to her, but even that "lie" was more a half-truth and was apparently the first time Diana lied in her life despite being at least thirty by that point.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dan Dare: The titular character absolutely refuses to lie. In "Prisoners of Space", this paid off superbly: Dan told the Mekon he'd fixed a limpet mine to his flagship, and, even though they couldn't find it, the Treens still abandoned ship and surrendered because they knew Dan was telling the truth.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Silmarillion fanfic, A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script, Finrod tells Beren that he can keep quiet about things Beren would want to know of, but he would never lie to his friend.
  • In Child of the Storm and its sequels, Doctor Strange is distinguished by the fact that he never, ever tells a lie. Despite this, he still manages to be the series' premier Magnificent Bastard, playing the rest of the cast, from ordinary humans to the Endless themselves, like a violin. This is because of a mind-boggling amount of future knowledge and like The Fair Folk, with his mastery of Exact Words and somewhat selective attitude to the truth, telling the literal truth is not the same as being honest. However, if he gives his word or makes a vow, he will keep it, no matter what it costs him, because it is quite literally the only thing that he has left. The implication that he might lie or break his word presses his Berserk Button sufficiently that he states that the person questioning him only gets a pass this once, and that because they're a justifiably frustrated and worried teenager. It is very heavily implied that if it was anyone else, he'd have killed them on the spot. While he's half mad at the time, it speaks volumes of how seriously he takes his word.
    I am many things; among them, a manipulator, a murderer, perhaps even something of a monster. I have walked too many dark paths for too long to be anything else. But the one thing I am not and will never be is a liar.
  • A Crown of Stars: In order to earn his trust, Daniel promises Shinji and Asuka that he will not lie to them. Asuka's future counterpart confirmed that he did not break his promise.
  • Invoked in the Kim Possible fic "Eric", where Kim initially chooses to go to the prom with Eric after he turns out to be real (Drakken replaced him with a synthodrone as part of his plan to demoralise Kim). When Kim nevertheless chooses to seek out Ron and ask him if he was genuinely going to say he had deeper feelings for her, Ron initially considers lying as it might save their friendship and he reasons he never had a serious chance with Kim anyway, but ultimately concludes that he could never deceive Kim like that.
  • Harry Potter and the Riders of the Apocalypse:
    Harry wanted to yank the knife strapped to his left forearm out of its sheath and cut Snape's tongue out for calling him a liar. He omitted details, yes, but he never told an outright lie. If someone were to ask him point blank if he was the Pale Rider, Death of the Apocalypse, he would tell them honestly that he was. He hated lying that much.
  • Invoked in Lessons from the Mountain when Maedhros realizes Manwe would not lie to him or anybody because then nobody would trust him.
  • In Lost Latte, Sora feels uncomfortable lying about Latte being a stuffed animals, though Mashiro tells her it's necessary to protect Latte.
  • Downplayed in the The Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade crossover Whom She Found. While Lyn does say that the tribes of the plains of Sacae do not lie as part of their culture, at the same time, they can fall to hubris about their skills and thus it is not a lie to them. It is because of this that Sacaens do not put much value into self-evaluation.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Finding Neverland, James refuses to lie to Peter, who refuses to believe him since Peter believes that adults are never honest with children about the serious stuff.
  • The time-displaced hero of Kate & Leopold considers it dishonorable to lie, even when the truth is likely to be disbelieved at best, and have him committed to a mental health facility at worst.
  • Ben Gates of National Treasure is uncompromisingly honest about his work, only using subterfuge if he sees no other means to his goal, and even then he tends to lay all his cards out on the table.
  • The 1941 comedy Nothing But The Truth (based on a 1920 dramatization of a 1914 novel) stars Bob Hope as a stockbroker who bets $10,000 that he can go 24 hours without telling a single lie. Hilarity ensues as seemingly endless opportunities for lying present themselves.
  • Father Lonergan in The Quiet Man won't tell a lie because he believes it's morally wrong. At one point, in order to trick someone into doing the right thing, he made the statement "I can´t say it´s true, and I won´t say it´s not. But there's been talk." Of course, the reason he can't say it's true because it's not true, and the rest of the statement is just vague enough to imply it's true without ever actually lying.
  • At the conclusion of Smokey and the Bandit, the Bandit and Snowman make it to Atlanta with truckload of Coors beer followed by Sheriff Justice. Via CB radio, the Bandit tells Justice where he is when he's really detailing Big and Little Enos. But then he has a change of heart:
    Bandit: I can't lie to you, sheriff. You're too good a man. Look over your left shoulder. (Turns slowly; sees Bandit, Snowman, Fred and Frog in a convertible)
  • Superman: The Movie: KAl-El expressly states that he never lies.

  • In one joke, a priest helped a woman to smuggle a hair dryer by hiding it within his pants. When asked if he had anything to declare, he stated he had a wonderful instrument meant to be used by women that has never been used before.
  • The German punchline equivalent would be the priest saying about his contraband "ja, aber ich habe sie unter den Armen verteilt". note 
  • The other German punchline for the excuse of the pupil who doesn't want to go to school and claims he is sick, "etwas Schwindel ist auch dabei". note  The gag also has been used in the German translation of Gödel Escher Bach.

  • The titular Caine of The Acts of Caine has a bit of a warped sense of honor, which has given him the well-deserved reputation that he would rather kill a man than lie to him. The last act of the first book hinges entirely on lies and deceit, which makes him very uncomfortable.
  • The guest in the Black Widowers story "Truth to Tell" by Isaac Asimov is a man who never lies, which ultimately supplies the solution to the mystery. Henry, who does not like to lie, pays very close attention to his Exact Words.
  • The Kencyr peoples in P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series have a rigid honor code in which lying is one of the most serious offenses, for which a honorable death (suicide, or death in battle) is the only way to redeem oneself. This nature is known to others, as when Jame is called as a witness in a scene in God Stalk:
    "You know, it's an odd thing about these people: they never lie. And they will fight to the death to uphold their word. You there by the door, you guards, can you say the same? Will you do battle for your honor?"
    The guards looked at Jame and Marc, then at each other. "No, sir," said the bigger of the two flatly. "We weren't paid enough for that."
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant:
    • Lord Foul, the Big Bad, always seems to tell the truth. The Word of God is that he thinks himself so superior to his enemies that he feels lying is beneath him. He is very good at saying things that are misleading, yet technically true, though.
    • The Insequent will not tell a lie either.
  • The Marat from Codex Alera have little concept of lying, and no word for it. As such, being "deliberately mistaken" is an incredibly grave offense, and an accusation of it can lead to an honor duel.
  • The Minds in Iain M. Banks' Culture series do not lie.
    • "They dissemble, evade, prevaricate, confound, confuse, distract, obscure, subtly misrepresent and willfully misunderstand with what often appears to be a positively gleeful relish and are generally perfectly capable of contriving to give one an utterly unambiguous impression of their future course of action while in fact intending to do exactly the opposite, but they never lie. Perish the thought."
  • Daughter of the Sun: This is among the things Orsina has sworn against, being a paladin. People who know she's one thus feel assured of honest answers from her. This does not stop her from using exact words sometimes though, which Orsina feels is acceptable and doesn't break her oath.
  • Most light dweomer workers in the Deverry cycle have sworn an oath to always tell the truth. It is not required, however, and Nevyn decided it would be too inconvenient, so he didn't. Many people who know a bit about the light dweomer and deal with Nevyn fail to realise this.
  • Discworld
    • Carrot Ironfounderssons is good at this. Paraphrased: "If you do not let us in... well, I have my orders. And I won't like carrying them out. If it's any consolation, I'll be very ashamed later. But I will follow them." "I have armed guards!" "Believe me, that will only make it easier for me to obey." His orders? Walk away if they don't let them in willingly.
    • The Truth: William de Worde refuses to lie, but he is good at using Exact Words to mislead people without actually lying to them. Like saying "I've just spoken to Commander Vimes, and I would like to see the room where the crime was committed," knowing that this would be taken to mean Commander Vimes gave him permission to do so.
  • In Alexander Key's The Forgotten Door, Jon is puzzled by the concept of a white lie because his people always tell the exact truth, no matter what the circumstances.
  • Star from Glory Road. She always tells the truth, but has no problem with misleading you. She also has no problem with letting you mislead yourself. Rufo even states this explicitly.
  • The Great Gatsby: Nick Carraway, although he may not be telling the exact truth, which isn't much better.
  • The Houyhnhnms from Gulliver's Travels are fully capable of saying basic lies like "Black is white", but they cannot comprehend the point of using speech for miscommunication rather than communication.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, Shasta suggests to Corin various ways he could cover up the facts, but realizes it's impossible and says he will have to tell the truth. Corin scornfully says that of course he would have told the truth.
  • In I Was a Sixth Grade Alien, also by Bruce Coville, Pleskit, the son of the first alien ambassador to Earth, is told that humans in general hate lying. As a result, he uses Brutal Honesty whenever he interacts with him — which naturally results in some problems. Only when he befriends Tim does he learn that humans lie all the time, and that the false information was planted by a saboteur wanting to engineer diplomatic incidents.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Gods of Mars from John Carter of Mars, Thuvan Dihn supports John Carter's claims because
    "It is not a lie. This much have I learned of the Prince of Helium—he does not lie."
  • Michael from the Knight and Rogue Series goes out of his way to be honest, even if it gets him in insane amounts of often not deserved trouble. It probably helps that he's also a terrible liar anyway, so there's no real temptation to fib, but he tries to prevent Fisk from being dishonest as well. On the other hand, on the rare occasion when he does lie (such as to protect someone else), his usual honesty makes the lie much more convincing.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Shadow Kingdom Kull insults a Pict by claiming Picts never tell the truth, even though they follow this trope.
  • The title character of James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer from The Leatherstocking Tales.
    Truth was the Deerslayer's polar star. He ever kept it in view, and it was nearly impossible for him to avoid uttering it, even when prudence demanded silence.
  • British statesman Lord Chesterfield recommends being this in Letters to His Son: "I really know nothing more criminal, more mean, and more ridiculous than lying." (letter XIV) Also, he often pointed out how a honest friend who doesn't hesitate telling you about your flaws is better than a flatterer.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Éomer declares that "The men of Rohan do not lie, and so are not easily deceived."
    • Faramir says he wouldn't use a falsehood to ensnare even an orc, though that doesn't mean he is above being Metaphorically True if necessary.
  • Lumbanico The Cubic Planet: When Ustrum doubts Vinca's sincerity, the little girl indignantly declares she never lies, which is because she is often punished by her father. Ustrum asks why her father would punish her for not lying, and Vinca replies she always confesses when she has misbehaved.
  • One of the obnoxious behaviors of the Martians in Fredric Brown's Martians, Go Home is spying on humans and blabbing their secrets. The fact that their stories always check out when someone tries to verify them just makes matters worse.
  • The Sithi from Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn not only don't lie but seem to have trouble grasping the concept of lying. They do tend to talk a lot without saying much when they don't want to give away the truth.
  • Les Misérables: Sister Simplice is this trope to the extreme. Also, Inspector Javert.
  • The Lord Ruler from Mistborn: The Original Trilogy has a reputation for never lying - after all, he's an omnipotent God-Emperor, so why would he ''need' to lie to get what he wants? While he never tells an explicit lie on-page - even his rant about being The Chosen One and the Avatar of God is true from his perspective - he is willing to mislead his followers about his true origins, so they don't uncover the secret of his power.
  • Braxton "Bix" Rivers in Bruce Brooks' The Moves Make the Man. He will go ballistic at the faintest suggestion of an untruth, even if it's a joke, takes obvious lies from others at face value on principle, and refuses to fake in basketball, hoping to win by playing an "honest" game. By the end of the book, he has learned to fake, both in basketball and in real life.
  • Wallace Wallace of No More Dead Dogs refuses to lie because his father was constantly telling whoppers when Wallace was a kid, which leads him to be incredibly blunt towards others. He does tell Rachel a white lie at the end.
  • In Pact, most characters are magically bound to speak the truth. This is not the same as not being able to lie. Alister Behaim, however, tries his best to avoid the Metaphorically True mentality of most people and speaks with as much directness as possible, avoiding weasel words where he can, and comments that he's pretty sure that he's following the spirit of things better than many others.
  • In Rachel Griffin, Nastasia at one point refuses to Feed the Mole because of this trope.
  • Ravirn: Eris, as Villains Never Lie, usually:
    Why bother when the truth is usually so much more devastating?
  • Rod Allbright Alien Adventures: Rod will not lie, even when aliens crash land in his room and eat his homework, a tale that he knows no one will believe. He lies right to the face of a police officer at the end of the story to protect his alien friends.
  • David Weber's Safehold:
    • Because how honest (or not) he has been will come back at him when he inevitably has to reveal major secrets, Merlin Athrawes is extremely careful about this. He is not above using half-truths or explaining his abilities in terms his Safeholdian counterparts will more easily grasp, but he will do his utmost to avoid outright lying. A perfect example would be, when explaining the abilities granted by being a machine, he claims "to possess skills attributed to seijin, sages/warriors in legends." He allows people to call him seijin, but never actually claims the title for himself.
    • Later on, it becomes a significant factor in the propaganda battle between the Empire and the Church. The Charisians have done their best to restrict their propaganda to provable facts, regardless of whether anyone will believe them or not. On at least two occasions: Ahnzhelyk's files regarding Church corruption and the murders of vicars within Zion itself. Charisian leadership choose not to publish anything because they only have copies and not the original evidence in the case of the former and because there's an off-chance of Clyntahn's pulling a fast one and can disprove their claims in the case of the latter.
    • In At the Sign of Triumph this becomes crucial when the propaganda broadsheets Owl's remotes tack up all over the Temple Lands call on the people of Zion to rise up against the Inquisition. The Charisians' keeping the broadsheets limited to pure facts, compared to the Inquisition's constant lies and denials, it made it easy for people to decide what to do.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, the vampaneze have a complex code of honour which, among other things, forbids them from lying. A vampaneze will never break this code, even when violently insane.
  • Spider Robinson's story "Satan's Children" describes the societal effects of a drug that makes people tell the truth. Even after the drug wears off, users continue to tell the truth because they find that honesty just feels better.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • In Star Trek: Federation, Jim Kirk learns to his chagrin that while Vulcans as a general rule don't lie, that doesn't apply when there's a logical reason for it. Such as Spock and Sarek cleaning him out at poker.
    • Star Trek Novelverse
      • Seleneans and Zaldans. The Seleneans are only a partial example - their truthful nature is more a result of their usual form of communication rather than for moral reasons. Zaldans, on the other hand, are fanatical in their Will Not Tell A Lie morality. This causes problems in one novel, A Singular Destiny. Evidence suggests that planet Zalda is refusing refugees; this isn’t true, but the faked records are convincing enough. The situation is made considerably worse in that their representative is completely outraged at the very idea of being Wrongly Accused - of being lied at and made to look like a liar himself - and storms off rather than defending himself.
      • The Star Trek: The Lost Era novel A Catalyst of Sorrows, portrays Dr Selar as this (but not Vulcans in general; Tuvok lies frequently over the course of the novel). When people look questioningly at the teenage Romulan accompanying them, she says "My sister's eldest", but later clarifies to Sisko that she does have a sister who does have an eldest child, and if people want to assume this sentence fragment has any connection to Zetha....
  • In Albert Camus' existential novel The Stranger, the main character Meursault never ever tells a lie. He is not a textbook example, though, because this does not seem do be a conscious decision of his - it just never occurs to him that lying might help his situation.
    Judge: Why did you kill the arab?
    Meursault: ... Because of the sun!
  • Fair Witnesses in Stranger in a Strange Land, due to their conditioning as expert witnesses, will only tell the directly observed facts. This excludes subjective qualifiers, conjecture or analysis from their description. This gives them perfect eidetic memory and more legal credibility than audiovisual recordings, which can be forged. Jubal exemplifies this to Jill by calling his secretary over who is licensed as a Fair Witness and asking her what color the neighbor's house in the distance is. She responds "On this side it's white, boss."
  • In Poul Anderson's "Brave To Be A King" from Time Patrol, Manse listens to a story that is clearly Moses in the Bulrushes and so a hero legend — but from a Persian, and he knows the Persians are fanatical about this.
  • In Wen Spencer's Tinker series, the elves are fanatical about this. Tinker has to be very careful about shading the truth and lying by implication around them, and Tommy at one point faces a serious dilemma because the elves will take the printed team list and his having taken bets as unbreakable.
  • The Wheel of Time: Women who become Aes Sedai swear unbreakable oaths that forbid them from lying. Since their pupils, the Accepted, strive to become like them, many of them decide to stop lying, instead training the famous Aes Sedai communication style: omissions, half truths, letting people reach their own conclusions, and sometimes telling the whole truth, too.
  • The wizards in the Young Wizards series. When your job is reshaping reality with words, lying is a Bad Idea.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
  • One of the Corpses of the Week on Bones was in a 'Radical Honesty Group' and prompted the whole Jeffersionian to adopt this trope for the episode, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Forever: Not an absolute for Henry, but he generally tries to tell the truth as much as he can, often using Exact Words and Metaphorically True to avoid telling outright lies whenever he can. An excellent example is Henry telling Jo what "Abe's mother" meant to him, keeping in mind that Jo has no idea Abe's mother is also Henry's wife Abigail, the love of Henry's life, and they were together for forty years and raised Abraham together from a baby.
    Henry: Though I knew her many years ago, when I was quite a bit younger, she was quite simply the most wonderful woman I've ever known. I don't often talk about my life then, but suffice to say that before her, I was a lost soul. And as you know, I have certain...eccentricities...I suppose I've always had them.
    Jo: I can only imagine, a young Henry Morgan, with a little scarf.
    Henry: Yes, well, I wasn't much different than the man you see before you, but Abraham's mother loved me, despite all my oddities, when I needed it most. And although we didn't have much time together, when she was gone it left a hole.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jon Snow refuses to lie to Cersei about taking her nemesis' side, even when it meant breaking a ceasefire that was necessary to band their collective forces against the hordes of the undead.
      Tyrion: I'm glad you chose to bend the knee. I would have advised it. But would it kill you to learn to lie, just a little bit?
      Jon: I'm not going to lie, nor am I going to keep secrets. Tell me my father died because of this way of thinking, but when enough people make enough lies and secrets, words lose their meaning, and then there's no meaning, only bigger and better lies.
      • On the other hand, Jon did tell Stannis something that could either be interpreted as a lie or at least a blatant exaggeration earlier on. Stannis had just invaded the wildling camp, where Jon was meeting to arrange a cease-fire with Mance Rayder. They come out, and are captured by Stannis' men. Stannis then asks Jon what Eddard Stark would do. Jon praises Mance as an honorable man who treated him well as a prisoner (Jon and his companion were force-marched and verbally abused, Jon had to kill his friend to convince the wildlings he was a defector): Mance raises an eyebrow subtly, but wisely plays along. Then Jon claims that Eddard Stark would have shown mercy, when "merciful" isn't among the adjectives most would use to describe the late Lord of Winterfell. The actual truth is that Jon simply refuses to lie to save his own skin. As evidenced by how he originally died. However, he will gladly lie-and do it well-if it's to save someone else. Which makes what Jon told Tyrion at least not quite the truth.
    • Stannis is very frank; as exemplified by his stern objection to Robert being called "my beloved brother" in a missive, and by the confession of his adultery to his wife.
  • Good Omens (2019): Played with.
    Crowley: The Hellhoud has found its master.
    Aziraphale: Are you sure?
    Crowley: I felt it... (offended) Would I lie to you?!
    Aziraphale: Obviously! You're a demon, that's what you do!
  • The Good Place: Chidi Anagonye is a moral philosophy professor whose compulsive deliberation about the implications of everything he does leaves him effectively paralyzed when he isn't following categorical imperatives. One of those imperatives is to never lie, even when in (im)mortal peril. He's nonetheless able to conceal important information when necessary using misleading wordplay, lies of omission, and irrelevant statements of fact that he merely allows others to believe are metaphorically related. On the one single occasion he has no other option but to lie, he afterwards has a panic attack so intense that he nearly suffocates.
  • One Patient of the Week on House, M.D. is a woman who will not lie to her daughter. House is astounded, since this challenges his "everybody lies" philosophy.
  • Loker on Lie to Me abides by "radical honesty," which means he not only always tells the truth, but he also blurts out whatever he's thinking, no matter how inappropriate that may be.
  • Lucifer (2016): Despite his moniker as "The Prince of Lies", Lucifer is always completely honest about being the Devil, but nobody ever believes him. If anything, he's actually averse to lying and often drifts into oversharing. The closest he gets to being dishonest is by omitting details from otherwise true stories, e.g. when he tells Chloe that a shipping container that was stolen from him contains Russian nesting dolls (which it does), but leaves out that it also contains his severed angelic wings. In a particularly heartbreaking moment, Trixie demands that Lucifer be the one to tell her that her father, Dan, really is dead because she knows he won't lie to protect her feelings. Lucifer's unfailing honesty is so well known to those around him that it becomes one of the ways to tell him apart from his twin brother Michael. When the latter tries to pull off a Twin Switch he has to come up with an elaborate excuse about why "Lucifer" is suddenly willing to lie.
  • Married... with Children: In one Christmas Episode, Al and Griff were fired and spent the day trying other jobs. They regained their jobs by tricking their replacements into quitting. When Peggy asked Al how his day was, he said it started at the store and ended there.
  • On Necessary Roughness Nico informs Dani that he does not lie. While he is never shown on the show to lie, he uses a lot of euphemisms and does not really explain things fully when asked.
  • Oz. Unit Manager Tim McManus is faced with telling what he knows about the death of prisoner Scott Ross or lying. Kareem Said asks him (under oath) if prison officer Diane Wittlesey shot Ross "with the intention of ending his life." So McManus says "No" (though he may have been answering very literally, as in: "Diane shot Ross with the intent to save my life"). Nevertheless the situation bothers McManus enough to have Diane transferred to another part of the prison, away from him.
    Diane: "Look, can we just cut the shit? You are going to say you have a conscience, right? A moral code... seepage in your cerebral cortex and I am going to say, 'lie'. If you love me, if you ever loved me, then lie."
  • Pushing Daisies has a team of lawyers who refuse to lie for religious reasons. It doesn't work very well.
  • Maura Isles from Rizzoli & Isles. She will be evasive, however. When the sensitivity trainer asks her where Detective Rizzoli is, Maura replies that she is sure Rizzoli is "in the building", but that she "can't see her at the moment". Both of these statements are literally true as Rizzoli is hiding behind Maura's door at the time.
  • Smallville: Clark usually changes the subject or says something true but irrelevant rather than give an outright lie:
    Perry White: This kid just picked up and threw a tractor!
    Clark: You've been drinking too much, Mr. White.
  • From Star Trek:
    • The psychic Betazoids in Star Trek: The Next Generation seem to have this as a cultural trait. They are not averse to joking, however.
    • Also in The Next Generation, the android Data seems highly opposed to lying to the extent that it was (initially) practically a part of his programming (well, that, plus the fact that he's really bad at it). So much so that a good way to get information out of him was to construct your question into the form of an order, as Picard did during the episode "'Clues'". If you were at least one rank higher than him, then there was absolutely no way he could refuse to tell you. This usually worked (unless another previously given order overrode the new one). It also meant that he was usually trusted without question when reporting on a particular situation — which means the times when he did lie, he usually got away with it. One of his more notable examples is attempting to kill a murderous kidnapper threatening future harm to others if Data didn't accede to his demands. Data reluctantly accepts that the only way to prevent the man from carrying out his threat is indeed to kill him first and fires at him, but it happens to be at the exact moment that he himself is transported to safety. When asked about the discharged weapon (disarmed mid-transport) he provides a half-truth that "perhaps something happened during transport". It's possible that something else happened during the transport, but it's an evasion to avoid explaining that he had deliberately decided to take the life of an unarmed man who posed no (immediate) threat.
    • Vulcans are often perceived as this by others, but in fact they see no problems with lying if it's the logical thing to do. Their culture's ethical standards hold one should not lie unless it is absolutely necessary, but if logic dictates that it's necessary, then they will lie and can generally do so quite convincingly. Spock was known to "exaggerate", and even tell outright falsehoods, on numerous occasions. Aptly displayed in the first reboot film with the two Spocks. After discussing why Old Spock sent Kirk to do the work instead of going to explain everything personally:
      Young Spock: How did you persuade him to keep your secret?
      Old Spock: He inferred that universe-ending paradoxes would ensue should he break his promise...
      Young Spock: You lied?
      Old Spock: Ah... I— I implied.
      • Or the classic example that spawned all the others:
      Saavik: You lied!
      Spock: I exaggerated.
      • Discussed again here (bear in mind that Tuvok has been a spy and infiltrator during his Starfleet career, which obviously required him to lie):
      Seven: Commander, am I correct in assuming that Vulcans are incapable of lying?
      Tuvok: We are capable of telling lies. However, I have never found it prudent or necessary to do so.
      Seven: You have never lied?
      Tuvok: Only under orders from a superior officer.
    • Word of God states that Ziyal in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a woman who never lied. It was one of the reasons why they decided to pair her up with Garak (someone who never tells the truth). They thought it would have an air of tragedy to put them together. In the show itself, if Ziyal didn't want to tell the truth, she'd say nothing at all or talk about other subjects.
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, Janeway claims this about Q. The SF Debris review responded with a clip show of times Q has blatantly lied, and that he's known as the God of Lies on one planet. Clearly, Janeway doesn't know Q very well.
    • Star Trek: Picard: The Qowat Milat warrior nuns are a Romulan sect who believe in what's called the Way of Absolute Candor, which forbids lying and encourages openly displaying whatever you're feeling at all times, and thus Elnor (who has been raised by them) is really bad at lying later, as demonstrated when the crew prep for an undercover op.
      Elnor: I don't know how to not be Elnor.
      Picard: Then be Elnor.
      Seven: An Elnor who never talks.
  • The game show To Tell the Truth centers around this as it pits three people all claiming to be a person of some importance or significant feat. One is telling the truth of who he/she really is; the other two could be telling the truth regarding what the person has done as a means to throw off the questioning panel but mainly they're fabricating.
  • The Tunnel: Elise refuses to lie, even for sparing grieving relatives of murder victims' feelings, saying it only leads to more lies when Carl counsels it.
  • In an episode of Would I Lie to You?, Vic Reeves has to claim that he once helped Dr Raj Persuad fix his computer. He doesn't even attempt to defend it and admits at once that he doesn't know who Raj Persuad is.

  • The protagonist of many Power Metal songs, especially Man Owa R. For example Man Owa R's Hymn of the immortal Warriors ("...Great were his deeds/All his words were true/He lived and died/A man of Honour..."). Power Metal protagonists are often the strongest, smartest, most honourable and truest Lawful Good heros possible, fighting For Great Justice, honour and Metal.

  • Dice Funk: Jayne hates telling lies, even if it is a necessity, and will then disclose the truth when it is safe to do so.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Genius: The Transgression the Peerage is steadfastly against lying, though the attitude is fading. This is because the oldest and most respected organization of mad scientists in the world traces it's origins back to a Zoroastrian philosophy cult.
  • In GURPS the "self imposed mental disadvantage" Truthfulness is for characters that hate lying and are obvious when they try.
  • The Fire-Touched of Werewolf: The Forsaken are bound to the rule "Never let a false statement lie". Since this would presumably include your own false statements...

  • Bousille, the main character of the French-Canadian play Bousille et les justes. This trait leads him to his ultimate tragedy, as he is grappling between telling the truth and lying to protect the reputation of the family for which he is testifying. In the end, he tells the lie, but ultimately feels so guilty about himself that he hangs himself in the garage.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: Byrne Faraday writes in Kay's 'promise journal' that she should not tell lies. When she actually does tell one it's only because she broke another promise (talking to a stranger) and is upset that he might find out. Of course he can't, being dead and all, and her lie nearly gets Gumshoe arrested for Faraday's murder. Later on she not only refuses to lie but runs her mouth off about being the Yatagarasu in front of Interpol agents actively looking for the Yatagarasu.
  • The Great Mizuti of Baten Kaitos never lies nor tricks. Maybe only sometimes. Rarely. Once in a blue moon.
  • This is Terumi's schtick in BlazBlue. Lying is, in fact, even a Berserk Button for him... Besides, what better way to Mind Rape somebody than Hannibal Lecture-ing them with Awful Truths and Brutal Honesty; like revealing to them that their desired rightful place in the world was stolen away by their best friend, 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?
    • Here's another interesting detail about him: He is an SNK Boss, but in his first appearance he claims that he isn't good at fighting. How did he manage to tell that Blatant Lie without breaking character? Well, aside from never telling lies, he is also very accomplished in being Metaphorically True, or conveniently "forgetting" to include certain insignificant details that might prove vital to a person's continued existence. He just said that while he doesn't consider himself good at fighting, the majority of the cast still suck donkey balls compared to him, seeing as he's actually one of the Six Heroes and has only ever tasted defeat by other heroesnote . So, while he doesn't necessarily say the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, he doesn't technically fib and pretty much confesses without any provocation that he gave Ragna his Dark and Troubled Past For the Evulz.
    • Though subverted that despite his claims of disliking lies and constantly claiming that the world is nothing but lies... he's not above lying if being honest would lead to his schemes and plans getting revealed too early. For instance, when he attempted to get rid of Makoto for knowing too much of his plan in Jin's story, his claim was merely 'to discipline Makoto'. The Hypocrite.
      • Metaphorically True one could say that he was being truthful then, too. Offing someone isn't a diciplinary session that would teach anyone a lesson they'd have much use for, but it sure as hell gets the point across that they shouldn't have done it, and will never do it again....
      • Also in a subversion above all else, the definition of 'lies' in Terumi's mind far differs from what humans think to be lies. His definition of truth is only 'Despair', everything else are lies. Unfortunately for him, everyone knew that such claim is a big lie and only he thinks like that. So he may not tell a lie indeed... Just that his brand of lie that he won't tell.
  • Zotul Kulle in Diablo III makes many cryptic statements as you assist him, which since he is an unrepentant evil wizard, makes it all suspect, but when he's directly accused of lying he denies it, simply saying he finds the truth far more entertaining.
  • 343 Guilty Spark from Halo might fall into this trope, or he might fall into Cannot Tell a Lie, depending on how you think he was programmed and to what degree his rampancy has proceeded. Either way, nothing he ever says is untrue. He does withhold inconvenient facts if nobody asks about them, but it's more likely that it just doesn't occur to him to explain; he simply takes it for granted that anybody attempting to activate Halo would know what they were doing.
  • Villain Protagonist Kain from the Legacy of Kain series is a horrible person, but never directly lies. In a plot that includes half a dozen time travellers trying to trick each other into doing things that are against their own interests, this is a welcome though unexpected break. He still does his fair share of manipulating, but he never hides that he is only telling half the facts and hopes that sharing them will benefit his own goals. There is one point where he does lie (promising mercy to someone he fully intends to kill,) but he is immediately called out on it, and calmly acknowledges that his victim is correct.
    • Kain is an interesting use of this trope in that it seems highly unlikely that his honesty comes from any moral qualms; he is as ruthless and selfish as they come. It seems more likely that he is simply too proud to lie, as shown when he calmly admits to personally killing Umah, even though it could have been against his interests to do so, and the person to whom he admitted it actually thought Kain had simply been unable to save her until Kain chose to correct him. Another possible reason is that the usual target of his manipulation (his "son" Raziel,) has the sort of personality that causes him to seek the truth of his own accord, so simply hinting at the time-spanning Gambit Pileup into which he is blundering is usually enough to get him on the path Kain wants.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Turians are described as such in the codex, as a matter of personal honor. A turian who commits a crime will do everything he can to avoid getting caught, but if flat-out asked, will freely admit it. Turian culture has a thing about personal responsibility. It is mentioned that a turian using illegal recreational drugs while off-duty in a way that wouldn't halter their ability to do their job and duty, no turian would blink an eye. This also causes turian arc villains in the series being seriously prone to start giving MotiveRants. There is also some Fridge Brilliance / All There in the Manual: adult turians are given Tribal Face Paint signifying their colony of origin from before their Unification War, and people that dishonor their ancestors are refused their Face Paint. It is mentioned that the slur bare-faced is used amongst turians to describe untrustworthy individuals (and politicians). The two bare-faced turians we meet in the games? The Big Bad Saren from Mass Effect and the Arc Villain Warden Kuril in Mass Effect 2.
    • According to Legion, the geth understand the concept of deception, but don't practice it among themselves. Their "species" becomes more intelligent by sharing information with each other, so the idea of deliberately withholding information from another geth is simply unthinkable. This is one reason Legion is disturbed by the heretic geth: it discovers that they are consciously lying to the mainstream geth civilization, in preparation for an attack. Legion is horrified by this idea, and cannot understand what kind of thinking would lead the heretics to act that way.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: When Aeyr half-seriously calls Serra a liar before the fight with Emperor Daigo, her response is vehemently against the concept:
    L-Lie? How dare you accuse me of such an impure act? I despise lying! I wouldn't lie to you or anyone!
  • Ishida Mitsunari from Sengoku Basara never lies, or indeed speaks in anything but Brutal Honesty, due to being too socially blunt. This is actually one of his few virtues, as he's a screaming whirlwind of bloody vengeance most of the time.
  • The Ur-Quan Kzer-Za in Star Control 2. They claim that lying is for the weak, and the Ur-Quan are NOT weak.
  • The Avatar, in the Ultima series. At least, you play that way if you want to win. S/He is not perfect, either. You lose Honesty-points if you try to claim "I never lie."

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, Kirei Kotomine won't lie to you. He's very fond of False Reassurances and half truths though. 'A Servant is still hanging around from the last war? As the supervisor I cannot ignore that!' He's shocked because after telling Gilgamesh not to show himself, he did so anyway. So he doesn't ignore it, he scolds Gilgamesh for almost blowing his cover. As noted in Fate/hollow ataraxia it also applies to most Servants by default: Their pride doesn't let them.

  • In El Goonish Shive, in one universe, one of the rules governing Immortals is a prohibition on lying. If one does, this will be sensed, and said liar can expect to face the wrath of the rest of its kind. This rule however notably does not apply to the main universe the story takes place in and this fact is exploited.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, this is said to be true of Coyote. He does not lie, and if he makes a promise, you can be certain he will follow through on it. None of this means he is trustworthy in the slightest. He also enjoys being deliberately obtuse when answering questions:
    Antimony: Coyote, can you tell me: what is Gunnerkrigg Court?
    Coyote: Why... it is Man's endeavor to become God! How's that for an enigmatic answer?
    Antimony: So, was anything that [the wisp] said true?
    Coyote: I'm sure some of it was.
  • Doc Scratch of Homestuck claims that he does not lie ("I am allowed to do whatever I want. I choose not to lie."). After reaching the wrong conclusion based on Exact Words, Rose challenges him on whether lies of omission count:
    Scratch: Lies of omission do not exist. The concept is a very human one.
    Your demands are based on a feeling of entitlement to the facts, which is very childish. You can never know all of the facts. Only I can.
    If I do not volunteer information you deem critical to your fate, it possibly means that I am a scoundrel, but it does not mean that I am a liar. And it certainly means you did not ask the right questions.
  • The angels in Kill Six Billion Demons have the reputation that they Cannot Tell a Lie, as inherently lawful beings. Although they can lie, it damages their physical vessels to do so, so they make a point of avoiding it.
  • Durkon of The Order of the Stick is a Lawful Good dwarven cleric, so it makes sense that he's reticent about lying, especially when dealing with other Lawful Good types, as seen in this strip. Technically, he doesn't.
    Durkon: I can swear on Thor's beard that the five of us never left our cells.
    Miko: Then what of the cell doors? How did they become unlocked?
    Durkon: I cannae lie to ye. 'Twas a mechanical defect.
    Roy [aside]: "Mechanical defect"?
    Durkon: I dunno, I count "able to be picked by a rogue" as a pretty major defect, aye?
    • In the prequel book On The Origin Of PCs, Roy (incorrectly) thought this of his father.
  • Amorphs in Schlock Mercenary may try to eat anything, shoot any fun, and might lie to your face... but when sharing memories THOSE MEMORIES WILL BE ACCURATE. Otherwise, what's the point?

    Web Animation 
  • HFIL: When Cell reveals to Freeza that the Saiyan who killed him was the son of Vegeta, a flabbergasted Freeza refuses to believe it and calls Cell a liar. Cell's response is to chillingly tell him that he has literally never lied.
  • Tonin character Fimose played the trope straight while trying to impress a girl. He told her he lived at a building worth $1.6 million in Brazilian currency. He actually rented an apartment at a building with 40 apartments and each one was worth $40,000. He also claimed to have studied at a school in Switzerland. "Switzerland" was the name of the street where his public school was. He claimed to have made an investment that might earn him $16 million. The so-called "investment" was buying a lottery ticket. He claimed to have a car collection. They were Hot Wheels toy cars. He claimed to have three Ferraris. There used to be four but his dog ate one. He claimed his dad worked with oil products. Said dad worked at a gas station. When asked if he worked at some world wide company, Fimose said his dad worked with the Arabs. The station's owners are Arabs. He claimed his mother used to be an international model before her marriage. She posed naked for a painter from Argentina.

    Western Animation 
  • Care Bears: Shreeky gave the impression she'd play the trope straight but it turned out to be a Bait-and-Switch moment. She did something that drove her Uncle No Heart enraged and told him she couldn't lie. Then she lied by pinning the blame on Mr. Beastley.
  • This is Applejack's schtick in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, so much so that she's the bearer of the Element of Honesty. This, however, worked against her in "The Last Roundup", as she had been Pinkie Promised by Pinkie Pie to tell the other ponies as to why she wasn't coming back to Ponyville. She told them that she'd tell them after breakfast... then tried to get out of town by skipping breakfast. Didn't fool Pinkie for a second and the others have to chase her down to find out the truth.
    • Applejack's honesty is also exploited by the Flim Flam Brothers in "Leap of Faith". AJ has such a reputation for being honest that, when she gives a half-hearted admittance that the All-Natural Snake Oil the brothers are selling probably made Granny Smith feel better, Flim and Flam jump on it and use her in promoting their tonic.
  • Popeye invokes this in an Al Brodax-produced cartoon where Wimpy escapes Brutus' wrath by making himself invisible with vanishing cream. Popeye gets into the act with him, and as Brutus approaches:
    Brutus: Popeye, have you seen that moocher Wimpy?
    Popeye: Brutus, ya knows I never tells a lie. Nope. I hasn't seen him today.
  • Mojo Jojo uses this on Blossom in The Powerpuff Girls episode "Not So Awesome Blossom." Mojo is holding the Professor, Bubbles and Buttercup hostage in exchange for Blossom's servitude. When she counters "How do you know I won't lie?", Mojo responds "Because you're Blossom."
  • This is Bullwinkle the Moose in a nutshell. In the counterfeit box tops story arc, he says his mother told him to never tell a lie.
  • Samurai Jack is so honest, it almost got him killed once. After helping rescue the Scotsman's wife from the Master of Hunt, he suggested she'd "need help", saying she was "quite large". Unfortunately, he seemed to have forgotten for the moment how sensitive she was about her weight, proven by the rather violent fit she threw when the villain called her fat. Long story short, this was one of the few times Jack had ever fled from someone in fear.
  • The Simpsons: In "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", there was a moment Marge asked Homer to tell where he was going.
    Homer: I'm not going to lie to you, Marge. (Beat) (Walks away)

    Real Life 
  • Immanuel Kant is somewhat known for having stated that, because the categorical imperative requires following absolute moral rules in every situation, and not lying is one, it would even be morally wrong to lie to a murderer inquiring the location of an intended victim. Some interpreters have softened this in different ways, including at least by saying he meant it would merely be regrettable to have to do so or pointing out that that doesn't mean you have to tell the truth either.
  • The doctrine of mental reservation is one of the reasons the word "jesuitical" has the connotations it does.
  • Mark Twain once claimed that he Will Not Tell A Lie, which made him morally superior to George Washington, who merely couldn't.
  • Speaking of whom, George Washington was famous for this, though the story, regarding his confessing to chopping down a cherry tree with the phrase "I can't tell a lie", is widely considered to be apocryphal, as it was first told after his death.
    • Ironically, while Washington was at best a mediocre general, he was an excellent spymaster and a superlative counterintelligence officer - both military specialties where an ability to lie with sincerity is a significant asset.
  • A requirement for Zoroastrians, if they want to gain paradise. Humans have free will, and they face their own personal version of the divine struggle, between Truth and the Lie. Based on one's actions in their struggle, they are either led to paradise (the word comes to us from Zoroastrianism) or hell.
  • As told in her sister's memoirs, Nollie ten Boom. A veritable saint, like the rest of her family, but lacking the common sense to understand that some lies are acceptable when you are hiding people from the Nazis.