It's the endgame at last, or at least close to it. The heroes have fought past the Mooks, dealt with the Quirky Miniboss Squad, even defeated The Dragon. They've caught up to the Big Bad, and now it's time to rescue the hostage, and finally put a stop to their nemesis. There's just one problem: the Big Bad is big. Really, really big, and tall. Or, he's flying. Or piloting a Humongous Mecha. That's flying. Either way, the spot they need to reach to get to the hostage is very high up off the ground. There's no way they'd be able to reach that without flying.
Then, one of the characters steps forward. "Hang on just a sec, guys, I have a sort of embarrassing secret to tell you..."
A subtrope of The Reveal, with more specific revelation material; as it turns out, this particular character has had wings on his back the whole time, keeping them secret. But now they need someone who can fly, and it's up to him.
See also Winged Humanoid. Can be a heroic One-Winged Angel. Can be combined with Freakiness Shame. This particular revelation will usually be considered a Late-Arrival Spoiler in promotional art from that point on.
- In chapter 50 of Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Konoka is being held on the shoulder of a giant demon thing. Cue Setsuna stepping forward...
"Here it is, my true form... I'm a monster, just like them."
- Of course, everyone else (like any reasonable person on the face of this Earth) thinks that the wings are awesome.
- Mind you, she was justified, in that in her culture, white wings (like hers) were considered bad luck, and got her exiled from her tribe.
- Of course, everyone else (like any reasonable person on the face of this Earth) thinks that the wings are awesome.
- When Saya falls from a skyscraper in Blood+, Hagi jumps off and sprouts wings to rescue her. It was long established that Chevaliers could transform into alternate forms and Hagi had never revealed his before, but the alternate form being able to include functional wings was something new.
- In Vision of Escaflowne Van reveals his wings while saving Hitomi from a fall. Dramatic enough, especially as Hitomi had been having prophetic dreams about a winged savior for several weeks, and was distraught about the man's true identity. Moreover, the fact that he (and almost nobody else) has wings, and why he keeps them hidden forms a major part of the overall plot.
- Nico Robin in One Piece can sprout wings for five seconds. The usefulness of this is drama dependent. That said, they aren't real wings, but just a lot of arms that she grows from her back and weave together so they look and work like wings. Her body part-cloning ability had been known for a long time, so it isn't an Ass Pull as much as it is just a very unconventional use of her powers. Franky thinks this is awesome at first, then dismisses it as "lame" when she says it only works for five seconds.
- In Saint Seiya, after the Wall of Lamentations dividing the Inferno from Elysium has been pierced, the Saints find themselves faced with an infinite void of warped space. Conveniently, the Bronze Cloths (that had been splashed with drops of Athena's blood at the beginning of the story) can not only protect them from the instantly-lethal dimension, but also grow wings that allow them to fly to Elysium.
- Dragon Boy, the aborted original version of Dragon Ball. The hero had dragon wings that he revealed only when he was doomed.
- Akira the Devilman literally pulled a pair of wings out of his back in order to stop a fall and then fight a flying demon. Since he's, well, a devilman that wasn't too much a surprise but still he never used or even demonstrated them before that moment.
- Beelzebumon from Digimon Tamers sprouts a pair of black, feathery wings out his back when he goes into Blast Mode.
- A better example would be the Main character/main mon hybrid Dukemon who gains SIX angelic wings on activating his Crimson Mode.
- Pokémon has a weird example where a Leafeon suddenly sprouts wings as a result of its Aerial Ace attack and teammate's Psywave attack combining. Needless to say, this can't happen in the games.
- Eden of the East: Diana, Seleção No. 11, to escape the hotel room she was in. It turns out it was an illusion, but, being Juiz's work, was a really good one.
- Accel World protagonist Haruyuki "Haru" Arita/Silver Crow does this as part of his special attack.
- D.N.Angel. Daisuke sprouts a pair of red wings to save Riku when they fall off a cliff and With isn't there. Less random than many as the other person in the cast like him has done it several times before.
- Happens to Hawke near the end of the original run of the comic Tellos. He suffers lethal injuries during the flight, and when he dies, he turns into... a giant hawk. It had been foreshadowed several times: Hawke keeping some big secret was causing real problems in his relationship with his love interest.
- X-Men: Angel has (pun intended) pulled this one off multiple times, when in civilian clothing.
- On several occasions, Batman does the equivalent with a jetpack.
- In Inquiry about Yuuka Kazami, circumstances pit Yuuka against Team Nineball in a duel. After dispatching Mystia, Wriggle and Rumia, Yuuka realizes she's been conned into thinking Cirno was already out, when actually she's been generating a colossal iceberg to drop on her. First she tries her brutal physical strength and then Master Sparks the ice mass... but even that just won't cut it. She's about to allow herself to be crushed when Keine reminds her it's a duel, and holding back would be a grave disservice to her foes. Sighing, she reveals her wings, showing herself to be a fairy so old and powerful she evolved into a youkai. This allows her to pull out Double Master Spark and obliterate the iceberg.
- The Iron Giant doesn't find out he has boosters on his feet until he accidentally falls off a cliff and they activate automatically.
- The Dark Crystal had a variation. Just as the two protagonists are falling off a cliff, the girl sprouts wings. It turns out only girls of that species have them, but since it's never mentioned before... except in some carvings you don't get all that long to look at, and it isn't really clear that the wings on some figures are actually for gliding, rather than just sartorial whimsy. In the novelisation, Kira specifically states that long ago, female Gelflings had the ability to actually fly rather than just break their fall with their wings.
- In a villainous variant, Jeepers Creepers didn't reveal that its demon/monster/alien thing had wings until it'd been shown on screen several times.
- Pacific Rim gives us Otachi, an iguana esque Kaiju with a Prehensile Tail and acid-spitting glands. After a long protracted fight with Humongous Mecha Gipsy Danger where its tail and acid glands are ripped out it reveals its last ability, unfurling its wings and takes flight with Gipsy Danger in its claws.
- Subverted in Tremors when the final Graboid is chased off a cliff and plummets to its doom, while Val mockingly yells "Can you fly, you sucker?'' This becomes ironic upon the third film however, when it's revealed that the Graboids indeed do have a flying form as the final stage in their life cycle.
- Probably the earliest known example of this trope occurs mid-way through Varan, the Unbelievable, when the titular kaiju climbs to the top of a mountain and suddenly unfurls flying squirrel-like wing membranes, inevitably making his way towards Tokyo.
- Possibly as a nod to Varan, during the climax of Rampage (2018), Ralph (a giant mutated wolf) leaps to reveal similar gliding membranes without warning (although this is at least partly justified by him being a Mix-and-Match Critter). Note that it comes doubly as a surprise because this isn't an ability Ralph had in the original games.
- A variation in Back to the Future: threatened by the bad guy with a gun, Marty jumps off the rooftop in apparent suicide... only to reveal he jumped onto the roof of their flying car, which floats back up just in time to whack the bad guy with one of the doors.
- Justified with Aziraphale and Crowley at the end of Good Omens. The two characters in question are known to be an angel and demon throughout the entire story. It's only at the end when they face off against Lucifer and think they're going to die that they decide they might as well go out the way they came in.
- This happens to the Karnee folks in Holly Lisle's Matrin books, who also have to fall off a mountain or a building or something in order to fly.
- Done in one of the Kamen Rider Double movie by Double himself, in his Cyclone Joker Gold Xtreme mode. It's only for a few minutes, enough time to to stop falling off Fuuto Tower and defeat the villain.
- The Music Video for Asian Kung Fu Generation's "After Dark" features a man randomly sprouting wings on his back one day, and desperately hiding them until some window-washer is dangerously close to falling off a building.
- Played kind of lopsided in Kingdom Hearts I and II. For both of the ginormous final bosses, you suddenly gain the ability to fly through the air, without wings. It sort of makes sense because in I, there's a level you could already do this. In II, you can get this ability beforehand, but only at an ungodly high level. In the usual player's case, both are the gameplay equivalent of a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere.
- It's actually more of a Chekhov's Skill from Sora and company's time in Neverland in the first game and a function of Sora's costume upgrade in the second. In the first game Sora only starts flying during the final battle after gaining the resolve to fight in a variation of Think Happy Thoughts with Heroic Willpower. The example in II could be justified or hand waved as space-time being completely distorted in the final battle with Xemnas, as eventually your fighting arena is reduced to a black and white void.
- Interactive Fiction example: Photopia. The way to escape The Maze is to remove your spacesuit, then 'go up' or 'fly'. (If you wander around long enough, a gentle breeze on your back will give you a clue.) The author mentioned that he got the idea from Ron Hansen's Mariette in Ecstasy.
- Lloyd in Tales of Symphonia suddenly sprouts wings to save the world in the ending. Though this was not entirely unexpected, as his Exsphere's special nature had been foreshadowed for much of the game.
- In Grandia, the Icarians are a winged race that has entirely died out - except for Leen and her sister Feena. The latter is revealed when she and Justin fall off an airship.
- Eddie suddenly gains the ability to sprout awesome-looking demon wings in Brütal Legend. Apparently The Power of Rock has to be invoked, because the wings disappear whenever he's not in a Stage Battle.
- Turns out, he's half-demon. His mom was Succoria. Not, as he thought, his girlfriend...oops.
- In World of Warcraft, Baron Sablemane at first gives the player lots of things to help them kill the gronns. At the end of the chain, in Alliance version, he personally help the player to fight Goc, starting with some...questionable words, and shortly after transformed into his true form, he is a black dragon all along. Once finished, he even apologized to the players for his "startling transformation".
- Downplayed in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Lunar: The Silver Star. How exactly are you supposed to get up to The Fortress of Althena? Well, it turns out Nall has you covered, since he's actually a baby white dragon. He always had the wings, of course... he just wasn't big enough for the party to ride on (seeing as he's the size of an ordinary cat) until he gains the ability to transform into a much larger dragon at the very end of the game.
- The Bahro reveal to naturally have this ability at the very end of Myst V: End of Ages.
- In the video game The Legend of Dragoon, the character Meru is revealed to be a descendant of an ancient winged species, sprouting wings of energy. Multiple times thereafter, she uses this ability for various reasons. Another character, the villain Lloyd, is also revealed to be this same species.
- RWBY has a huge Sea Dragon Grimm, which only pulls its wings out after several minutes of fighting, when it sees the ship it's fighting roll out some heavy guns that could actually hurt it.
- Aldran, the necromancer and party leader in Antiheroes, didn't reveal that he has wings until the party confronted his archenemy and twin brother, who also has them. May be justified by his secretive personality, as he didn't even admit his name was Aldran until the 36th strip.
- Marsha in College Roomies from Hell!!!. After being bitten months ago by vampire potatoes. She found out when she was about to kill herself by jumping off a tall building, but changed her mind, but then the cat with a piece of Dave's soul surprised her and she fell off.
- Happens in about half of Aylee's forms in Sluggy Freelance. Apparently her body has decided that it's too useful not to have flight.
- Happens to Sandra in this strip of Zebra Girl.
- In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, both Scrat and Scratte fall off a cliff, and Scrat heroically dives after her in a rescue attempt...only to reveal that this was in fact a trick, as she is actually a flying squirrel who then steals his acorn and glides to safety while Scrat falls.
- The Monarch's henchmen themselves didn't know the wings on their butterfly-themed costumes could be used to fly until someone tried to in the second season finale of The Venture Bros..
- The Monarch also reveals that he can fly in the first episode of season two. It's supposed to be this grand reveal, but as the writers point out, it's done so casually that you're just left wondering when you missed him flying the first time.
- In one of the Wallace & Gromit films, Gromit is heading toward a cliff in a runaway motorcycle sidecar, falls off, and...pushes some buttons that suddenly cause it to sprout wings and a propeller.
- The series-ending "Endgame" of Transformers Animated is a variation on this: Megatron has captured the massive Autobot Omega Supreme, and in order to combat him should Megatron try to use him against the other Autobots, Ratchet and Sari build a jetpack with wing stabilizers for Optimus Prime.