Follow TV Tropes


The Unreveal / Live-Action Films

Go To

Unreveals in live-action movies.

General Examples

  • 2:37: We never find out why Kelly committed suicide. This is the point of the movie; we see that the six viewpoint characters all had reason to do so, but since we don't get to see things from Kelly's perspective, we don't understand what drove her to end her life.
  • 12 Angry Men is a famous example, since the plot revolves around a murder trial that we see entirely from the perspective of the jury. From the pieces of disparate information that the jurors piece together, we come to the conclusion that it's possible that the defendant is innocent, but the movie abruptly ends when the jurors come to a consensus and go home. Since we never get the perspectives of the police, the accused, or anyone else connected to the case, we never get any clear answers about whether or not the defendant really murdered his father (or about who else might have been responsible if he is innocent).
    • As infuriating as this approach might sound, it works very well as an illustration of what jurors have to go through in Real Life, since they're often forced to draw conclusions about cases based solely on the limited information given to them by lawyers and police, with no definite answers either way. Yes, it's just as uncertain as it sounds, but it's how the American justice system works.
    • Advertisement:
    • Not to mention that it's consistent with the presumption of innocence. The prosecution has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, while the defense doesn't have to prove anything (and a prosecutor even implying that the defendant has to prove their innocence is enough to get a mistrial declared, despite what many courtroom dramas show). As long as the jury is unconvinced of the defendant's guilt, then the prosecution has failed to meet its burden of proof and the defendant goes free. There's a ton of stuff that Twelve Angry Men gets wrong about the judicial process for the sake of drama (jurors are not supposed to consider evidence not introduced in court or to conduct their own investigations/experiments), but it got this essential principle right.
  • In Ace High, the heroes have just finished a gunfight with one of the protagonist Cacopoulos' enemies Drake. Cacopoulos taunts Drake, and then says "My grandfather used to say..." before fainting on the casino floor.
  • The Big Lebowski: Did Walter and The Dude ever make it to the Finals in that bowling tournament that they spent a big chunk of the movie competing in? The credits roll right before they start their Semifinal game, so we never get to find out.
  • Bird Box: The exact appearance and nature of the creatures is never shown.
  • Did the five teenagers in The Breakfast Club stay friends, or did they drift back to their respective cliques when they had to go back to school? It's discussed late in the film, with Brian and Allison apparently eager to maintain the group's newfound friendship, while the others remain uncertain about whether it will work. Then the credits roll just as they're going home after Saturday detention, leaving the question open to interpretation.
  • In The Cable Guy, the verdict of the Sweet murder trial is almost revealed but cut when Chip Douglas lands on the satellite knocking out cable.
  • Advertisement:
  • In A Christmas Carol (1938), Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Past before she can show him "the darker years of his life".
  • Cloverfield goes through the entire movie without revealing what the origins of the monster are, or even if three of the main characters ultimately survive.
  • Crank: High Voltage has the contents of Johnny Vang's cooler. When Chev looks in it, he's disgusted and tells Vang he has some serious problems.
  • In C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, it's never revealed what a 'negative' test means in the context of the movie, therefore it's never learned whether Horace's claims that John Ambrose Fauntroy V has black ancestry were true or not.
  • Cthulhu (2007). The movie ends with the protagonist implored to "Make sacrifice!" by the Big Bad (e.g. kill his lover and become leader of the cult); the movie ends before showing us his decision. Also, we never see the Half-Human Hybrid offspring of the protagonist in the bathtub. Which is probably just as well.
  • The Cube film series:
    • In Cube, the people trapped inside the Cube constantly speculate where the cube is, who might have built it and why. The movie ends just as the last survivor has found the exit. In an additional Downer Ending twist, he's the Idiot Savant who'd be unable to explain to anyone else what he discovered.
    • The Hypercube in Cube 2: Hypercube seems like it might be a bit more practical since it can apparently fit in one room in physical space, but only as a prison for an Eldritch Abomination, or something of similar order.
    • In Cube Zero, the mystery of the Cube is explained somewhat, with it being revealed to be a secret government project. Still, what anyone would want with an entirely useless, extremely expensive machine like the Cube is impossible to know.
      • This, of course, could itself be another unreveal, as the twist is that even the people who think they're just monitoring the cube are brainwashed into forgetting they're prisoners, too. Ultimately, only one character is even implied to know the truth, and he's clearly an Unreliable Narrator at best.
  • Played straight in the opening scene of Desperado in which El Mariachi's face continues to be obscured by shadows just when it looks as if it's going to be illuminated. It's then immediately subverted in the next scene when we see his face clearly and it turns out the previous scene was a story his buddy contrived to boost his legend.
  • Dragonheart begins this trope when the dragon tries to tell the hero his name, but gets interrupted before he can start.
  • The made-for-TV Spielberg thriller Duel never shows the crazed trucker's face.
  • In Enemy, the exact nature of Adam/Anthony's being doubles is never explained (many fan theories exist).
  • In Forrest Gump, Gump's speech about Vietnam at the huge protest rally on the Mall in Washington, DC is left unheard due to a sound system failure—all we hear is him saying at the end, "and that's all I have to say about that." Though this did not "unreveal" a major pivotal point of the plot, it still might have been interesting to hear what this character would have said about it. Possibly Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment on the part of the writers, due to the divisive nature of the Vietnam issue among the Baby Boomers to whom this film is a sort of anthem.
    • A "making of" feature showed one take of Tom Hanks doing the line read, with Gump giving a short speech about his experience to the effect of "In Vietnam, your best friend can get shot, and your Lieutenant could lose his legs."
  • In The Good, the Bad, the Weird, we never find out what Do-won (the Good) wants to do with the treasure if there is proof that it exists. He almost explains it to temporary partner Tae-goo (the Weird) when they're bunking down for the night, but Tae-goo decides he isn't interested and has already fallen asleep before Do-won gets around to explaining his motives.
  • In the Grindhouse movie Planet Terror, leading badass El Wray has a mysterious past that accounts for his remarkable skill with knives and firearms. During the plot, the mystery is revealed. Unfortunately the relevant scenes take place in the never-filmed "missing reel".
  • At the end of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, after Kelly and Frederick remove their helmets to show that they're about the same age as the cadets they have just rescued, everyone (including Kelly and Frederick) looks at the Master Chief to see if he'll do the same... and he simply turns away from them and grips his weapon.
  • In Hardcore Henry, the antagonist Akan has Psychic Powers which he uses to throw Henry around like a ragdoll. How he got them, or whether other people might have them, is never elaborated on.
  • The original Highlander does this with the nature of the immortals. We’re never given a reason why some people are granted immortality and forced into this competition, they just are. When asked about it, Ramirez flat out says that nobody knows and nobody will ever know, so there’s no point in trying to solve the mystery. The sequels tried to subvert this and give an explanation, which quickly proved to be a bad idea.
  • At the very end of Inception we see Cobb go home to his children, finally see their faces, and supposedly finally have a happy ending. That is, until we see his top spinning and spinning and starting to wobble... credits.
    • However, there actually is a way to know whether he is still in a dream. It is never explicitly said, but the top isn't Cobb's totem. His wedding ring is. Whenever he is in a dream, he has the ring on his finger, whenever he is out of the dream, the ring is gone. The top was Mal's totem. So yes, he was actually reunited with his children at the end.
      • At least that's one of the more popular fan theories. The director refuses to give a definitive answer.
  • James Bond: In Casino Royale (2006), M comes home to find Bond sitting in her living room...
    M: How did you find out where I live?
    Bond: Same way I found out your name. I always thought M was a randomly assigned initial, I had no idea it stood for...
    M: Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed.
    • Originally, in-universe, it was a randomly assigned letter, but when Ian Fleming was young he would often call his mother "M", so he may have chosen it for that reason. He also knew a man named Maxwell Knight, who was the head of MI5 and signed his letters with a single M.
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus in Skyfall reveals that it's Olivia Mansfield.
  • A plot point in Jeepers Creepers 3 is that anyone who touches the Creeper's severed hand (cut off during his previous rampage 23 years earlier) is granted visions that apparently explain his origins and true nature. Despite several characters getting this knowledge, by the end of the movie it's not shared with the audience. Presumably, it's left up in the air as part of the movie's Sequel Hook.
  • Possibly the earliest "MacGuffin case" is the one containing the "Great Whatzit" in Kiss Me Deadly. All we see is that it gives off a blindingly bright glow (possibly nuclear in origin); the briefcase in Pulp Fiction is speculated by many to be a Shout-Out to this.
  • K-PAX: Is prot an alien, or just some guy suffering from mental illness? There’s a lot of evidence for both answers, and every time it looks like the film will have a solid answer, a new question arises.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. The One-Boobed chick's relationship to the Chosen One will be revealed in the sequel.
  • The protagonist's name in Layer Cake goes unmentioned for the whole film. At the end, just before he is shot dead on his front steps, he addresses the camera directly and teases us with the possibility of mentioning it: "My name? To know that, you'd have to be as clever as me."
  • At the end of Lost in Translation, Bob whispers something into Charlotte's ear just before they part ways. The movie then ends without the audience knowing what was said. It can be assumed that it has something to do with whether or not they plan on getting back together, but that too is never revealed.
  • In Mamma Mia!, we never find out which of the three men is Sophie's father and by the end of the film, Sophie eventually decides that she doesn't care since all three men are happy being 1/3 of her father. Word of God does reveal that Bill is her father.
  • The "Rabbit's Foot" from Mission: Impossible III. They even mention in-universe that it's a MacGuffin and it doesn't matter what it is exactly. That we know that it is powerful (it has a biohazard label on the container) is enough to know.
  • In Monsters, it’s never revealed whether the protagonists survive the giant alien attack and subsequent airstrike.
  • My Cousin Rachel: We never do find out the answer to the central mystery, whether Rachel really did kill her husband and whether or not she was poisoning Phillip. Phillip's last line of dialogue has him saying "Were you innocent, or were you guilty? Rachel my torment."
  • In the film version of The Neverending Story, Bastian chooses his mother's name to give to the ailing Childlike Empress. What is it? Nobody knows; when he dramatically calls it out, it can't be heard over the storm. (In the book, he names her "Moon Child".)
    • In the film, he actually does say "Moon Child", but due to his voice being so high pitched when he screams it, combined with the storm, unless you knew that's what he said, you'd never be able to tell.
    • In the movie, there's absolutely no way to understand what "moon child" could mean. Earlier, Bastian muses about calling the empress by his mother's name, but we never find out what that name is, and it wouldn't make sense for her name to be Moon Child—so the scene seems like a red herring.
  • In Tarantino's Once Upona Timein Hollywood, the plot builts tension around whether Brad Pitt's character killed his wife or not. We never get an answer.
  • The contents of the briefcase from Pulp Fiction. All we know is that it glows and "It's beautiful." The original script had the briefcase simply contain diamonds, but Quentin Tarantino decided to change it at the last second to make it more ambiguous. He ultimately regretted putting the lightbulb in the case, since that was too leading. Ultimately the case is just a MacGuffin.
  • Quarantine is very much in the same style as Cloverfield. Near the end of the film, after we have been fed tantalizing hints about the origin of the virus, our protagonists stumble upon a hidden room, full of newspaper clippings, pseudo-scientific reports, and an old recorder. They fire it up, only for it to play so slowly as to be unintelligible. Now, it's probable that it actually says something (again, like the message at the end of Cloverfield) but it's pretty frustrating for the audience.
    • Thanks to various dedicated individuals and the internet, there's at least one answer, for the viewers, anyway. Too bad it's still just as confusing.
  • Rashomon never gives a solid answer about the circumstances of the samurai’s murder. Everyone questioned (except maybe the Woodcutter) give blatantly biased accounts and there isn’t any physical evidence. It briefly seems like the Woodcutter’s story is definitely the true one... but then, it turns out that he was the one who stole the pearl dagger, throwing his testimony into doubt. The movie ends shortly after, with the characters more uncertain than ever.
  • [REC] does reveal the origin of the virus, but the fate of Angela is still up in the air, with strong implications that she's either dead or infected. In the sequel, REC 2, you will get the answer: infected, but of another kind... she is now possessed by the devil entity
  • The contents of the car trunk in Repo Man. A similar blindingly-bright glow is seen radiating from it whenever somebody opens the trunk and is disintegrated. An alleged photo of the contents is shown on a tabloid newspaper, but is far too blurred and ambiguous to be recognizable.
  • The contents of the case in Ronin. All we know is that governments want it badly. Even some of the people fighting over it don't know the contents.
  • Being unmasked is the greatest humiliation a Masked Luchador can face. So the wise luchador hero takes precautions, like El Santo in El Santo vs. the Martian Invasion. When a nefarious Martian rudo removes El Santo's mask, he discovers that the Crazy-Prepared luchador wore a second mask underneath that one!
  • Shaun of the Dead played with this trope to emphasize the disinterest the main characters have in the situation. Several hints are given to various origin of the Zombie Apocalypse — a space shuttle exploding over England and showering debris, and GM crops being "to blame" for something on a newspaper headline, to name but a few. Finally, Shaun is watching the news report at the end of the episode. The announcer cheerfully reads, "We now know the outbreak was caused by large amounts of—" and Shaun changes the channel. A brief snippet is also heard on the TV saying, "Theories that the infection was caused by rage-infected monkeys have now been dismissed as bollo--"
  • In The Social Network, did Erica Albright accept Mark's friend request? at the end of the film? Also, to a lesser degree, who is the "movie star" whom the lawyers mention as having studied in Harvard at the time? It's Natalie Portman.
    • If it helps anyone sleep better, the real Erica Albright claimed that never happened in real life.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi leaves Snoke's origins, motivations, and ultimate plan completely unknown as he's unexpectedly killed by Kylo before he has a chance to reveal anything.
  • In The Strangers, the title characters terrorize a couple while wearing masks. At the end of the movie, before they kill the couple, they remove their masks, but the camera cuts away before we get to see any of their faces.
  • The Usual Suspects might be a very rare case of inversion: we get to learn the identity of the weapons truck robber at the time when both audience and characters had forgotten a long time ago that it did happen at all.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, we never find out what Judge Doom looks like underneath the disguise.

Sound-Effect Bleep

  • In the first half of Kill Bill, The Bride's real name is in fact drowned out by a loud noise every time someone says it. Though observant viewers can see it printed on her plane ticket (twice).
    • However, her name is actually said in the first lines of the film, but no-one realizes this until the second movie. Bill calls her Kiddo throughout, and her name is Beatrix Kiddo.

End of Movie Cutoff

  • In Fast Five, when Tego and Rico are at the roulette table after the heist, they each bet their entire ten million—one on red, the other on black. They are bickering about it as the table spins, and they look down as it comes to a stop, before cutting away.
    • Even more so, the last frame of the scene is the ball bouncing around the Zero pocket of the wheel. To those unfamiliar with Roulette, the Zero pocket is green, meaning neither would win, and considering their tailored suits, the fact they were in a high-class hotel in Monaco they have probably spent the first million of their 11 million dollar cut of the heist, so losing that 10 million is going to break one of the brothers. Note: Notice the last few seconds of the scene, the wheel is moving and the ball is bouncing rather vigorously, it is unlikely the ball was going to land on the green Zero, but still, must have been a massive Oh, Crap! moment for the brothers.
  • In The Italian Job (1969), the characters find themselves in a literal cliffhanger, in a bus that's precariously balanced on the edge of a cliff. Michael Caine announces, "Hang on, lads, I've got a great idea!" The end credits sadly prevent us from finding out what that is.
    • The cliffhanger would have been resolved in a sequel: helicopters would be used to save the bus, and the grateful gang would soon discover that it is the Mafia that has saved them, and the sequel would have been about stealing the gold bullion back from them. Unfortunately, the sequel was never made.
    • Michael Caine in an interview said something similar, except the "great idea" was to run the bus' engine until its gas tank - in the dangling end of the bus — ran empty, making that side lighter so the bus tips the other way.

You Know the Rest...

  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension sees Team Banzai holding off an attack on their headquarters by the Lectroids. As Sydney and Reno sneak through one of the labs, they pass a high-pressure vice with a watermelon in it. Sydney asks "Why's that watermelon there?" Reno replies "I'll tell you later." If he does tell him later, he does so offscreen.
  • Most any story set in the near-future United States will have an "Xth Amendment" gag, about some vague but hilarious amendment to the U.S. Constitution that passed between now and the story's timeframe. Here's an example from the movie Demolition Man:
    Lenina Huxley: Yes. The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn't he an actor when you...?
    John Spartan: Stop! He was President?
    Lenina Huxley: Yes! Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment which states...
    John Spartan: I don't wanna know. President...
  • In DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Gary Cole's ESPN announcer character says "a double-fault final-play elimination hasn't occurred since the Helsinki episode of 1919. And I think we all remember how that turned out!"


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: