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Tomato In The Mirror / Literature

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Tomatoes in the Mirror in literature.


  • This happens in The 39 Clues, at the end of Book #7 - "The Viper's Nest". Near the end, they discover that Amy and Dan are Madrigals.
  • In The Adoration of Jenna Fox, the titular character Jenna wakes up from a year-long coma after an unspecified accident with no memories of her life. Her parents say that she'll remember with time, and she does begin doing so, but it doesn't take her long to realize that something's off, something her parents are hiding from her. The Reveal is that 90% of Jenna is artificial and only 10% of her brain is from her old self. Oh, and the operation to give her a new body after the car accident is illegal, which is why her parents are hiding out in a secluded place. She even says "I'm not a tomato" at one point; it does make sense in context.
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  • At the end of Diana Wynne Jones's Archer's Goon, Howard Sykes finds that he is Venturus, and that he's keeping all his siblings stuck in one place in time and space.
  • Mira, the only human character in Rick Griffin's Argo, finds out at the climax that she, as well as most if not all the human race, is an android.
  • Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson is about Christine, a woman who each day forgets everything that has happened to her for years (she is in her 40s, but cannot remember anything since her early twenties). Each day, her husband (who she does not recognise) explains to her what has happened to her, why this is the case, and what happened to her to make her like this. Later, she meets a doctor, who suggests that she keep a written journal (a film journal in the movie) to keep some sort of day-to-day continuity. Through this, and further meetings with the doctor, she discovers that her husband has been lying to her about parts of their past; he explains this as embarrassment about certain events, as well as an inability to cope with having to explain so much to her every single day; the reader is led to believe instead that he is an abusive, unfaithful husband who is using Christine's amnesia to hide a dark part of their relationship. However, the eventually revealed reality is even worse; he is not her husband at all, but her sociopathic ex-lover who has abducted her and used her memory loss to convince her of his false identity as her husband. Furthermore he is the one responsible for her condition; when she broke off their affair, he viciously beat her and left her for dead.
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  • Subverted in Breakfast of Champions wherein a man of declining mental health becomes convinced that failed Sci-Fi writer Kilgore Trout's short story really is a letter from God revealing his Tomato in the Mirror status.
  • The short story The Copy by Paul Jennings features a copy machine (which creates a mirror-image replica of objects put into it) which a boy uses to copy himself so he can beat down a bully, but becomes jealous of his copy and kills him. Afterwards, his mother remarks that it's odd — his mole used to be on the other cheek, and he's writing with his left hand instead of his right...
  • Done twice in the Crucible trilogy by Sara Douglass. First, the protagonist goes out to return the demons to Hell — only to find out that both his wife and best friend (and soon-to-be-king) are demons. Then, when the antagonist role shifts to the angels, he discovers he is an angel too, and thus doomed to send all mankind into eternal slavery. Poor Tom.
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  • In Darkest Powers, the audience knows that Liz is dead, however when Chloe tells her she goes into denial until someone else later confirms it.
  • At the climax of The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees-Brennan, Nick, the protagonist, learns that he's not human—he's actually a demon who was bound into the body of an infant and grew up thinking it was his own.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: Repple finding out he is not Shade Vassily but a clockwork robot in The Clockwise Man.
  • Done excellently in the Dragonlance short story "The Best." It's told in the first person, with the narrator being a noble who's hired the four best dragonslayers in the land to kill a dragon who's been terrorizing the countryside. At the end of the story, they reach the dragon's lair, and it's revealed that the narrator actually is the dragon in a magical disguise, and he's gathered them all together to take them all out at once, so he can sleep in peace. And it works.
  • In Emily the Strange: Stranger and Stranger, after losing the Emily Jeopardy, Emily discovers that she may be the clone Emily, not the real one.
  • Fever Series: In Shadowfever, Mackayla Lane figures out fairly early in the story that she must be some kind of Tomato since she's still alive. Afterwards, the plot is divided between Mackayla trying to figure out who or what she really is and the search for the Sinsar Dubh which has been the MacGuffin of the entire series. In the end, it is revealed that Mackayla was imbued with the essence of the Sinsar Dubh before she was born.
  • In Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World, a Crapsack World in which a super weapon poked big holes in the time-space continuum and which is held together by Applied Phlebotinum, the narrator tells the story of himself and his best friend Gonzo and how the world came to be. About halfway through when the story shifts to present tense we find out that the narrator is Gonzo's imaginary friend who has been made flesh by an accident involving said phlebotinum.
  • Goosebumps was fond of this one.
    • A Shocker On Shock Street: A kid whose father is a horror movie director is menaced by horrible things; turns out he's the robot star, and the whole thing was part of the movie.
    • You also have The Ghost Next Door, in which the girl suspects ghosts only to find out that she's the ghost.
    • My Hairiest Adventure: a kid starts growing hair after trying some instant-tanning lotion. He thinks there's something wrong with the lotion and he's turning into a dog as a result, but everyone insists the stuff is harmless. Turns out it is, he was born as a dog, and so were all the other kids in the town. The adults are involved in an experiment to turn dogs into people, but it's starting to wear off...
    • Another book by the same author (though not part of the Goosebumps series) involves a kid who is convinced that everyone he knows is being replaced with a duplicate, a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Turns out at the end that he is a robot, and his memory chip is malfunctioning.
    • In Vampire Breath, the protagonist finds out that the vampire he woke up is actually his grandfather. In the live-action adaptation, he and his sister even get fangs and coffins at the end of the episode.
    • I Live in Your Basement, one of the last in the original series, tells the story of a boy who is stalked by a possessive, inhuman entity that lives in his basement. The end reveals that the monster is the narrator, dreaming that he was in the shoes of the kid upstairs.
    • The short story The Werewolf's First Night features a boy being terrorized by a pack of werewolves. It turns out that they're really humans playing a mean prank on him... but he discovers he actually is one. He then uses this chance to get some revenge and chase them.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry believes himself to be the tomato when he overhears members of the Order mutter something about him being possessed by Voldemort. As he'd just witnessed/felt like he'd actually attacked the father of his best friend, he is terrified of the possibility that he'd been the one attacking people. He wasn't.
    • Throughout the series, Harry turns out to have some uncanny similarities to Voldemort, including speaking snake-language and their personal wands being "twins" by some bizarre coincidence. And even accounting for his "Boy who Lived" fame, the equally famous Dumbledore gives him an unusual amount of attention and special training. A prophecy states that "neither [Harry nor Voldemort] can die while the other survives," and Dumbledore is evasive about whether or not this means what it sounds like. The last book has the heroes hunting down and destroying Voldemort's Soul Jars, and near the end they learn that Harry is one of them, created accidentally when Voldemort tried to kill him as a baby. His connection to Voldemort comes from literally possessing part of his soul. For Voldemort to die, Harry himself must die... presumably. But somehow, by baiting Voldemort into Killing-Cursing him again, Harry makes Voldemort unknowingly destroy his own soul shard, and Harry only has a brief case of Only Mostly Dead.
  • Philip K. Dick used this trope frequently as both a device and a premise. In the short story "Imposter", the protagonist searches for an android with a bomb inside it sent to Earth by hostile aliens, only to find that he himself is the android.
  • The first twist of I Sit Behind The Eyes is that the Narrator of the story is not a little girl, as the readers were meant to believe, but the Eldritch Abomination she suspected of possessing her. She is actually a disembodied soul performing a Demonic Possession on Emily. She was unaware of what she was because she was using Emily's mind at the time and had no memory of what she was like prior to the possession. The creature she suspected of possessing her was actually the real Emily trying to call for help. The second twist explains WHY she was possessing the little girl in the first place. Let's just say that everyone was glad when the Entity took over completely.
  • In the novel John Dies at the End, while dealing with a conspiracy involving agents of a parallel universe, the protagonist/narrator David discovers self-incriminating evidence and catches a glance of what appears to be a dead body in his tool shed. He can't remember a half-hour or so of his day, while his gun is missing a single bullet. He also finds out about a young woman, Amy, who went missing around the same time. He immediately suspects he murdered her during a bout of temporary insanity, but while following clues, he discovers that she's alive and well, but can't remember anything from when she went missing. He later learns that those conspiratorial agents are in fact perfect clones that have replaced other people in the city. Over the course of a few days, he uncovers some very unsettling information, protects Amy from the forces of darkness, falls in love with her, travels to the parallel universe with his best friend John, and cripples the organization behind the invasion. When he finally takes a good look inside his tool shed, he discovers a corpse that looks exactly like himself. Assuming that this corpse was an intended replacement that he shot in self defense and blocked it out, he goes to reveal the identifying mark of the clones on the bottom of the body's foot. When the mark isn't where he expected to find it, Dave checks his own foot and learns that he is the clone, and personally killed the original Dave. At first, he's suicidal with guilt, but since he is completely indistinguishable from the real Dave in every way (aside from the mark on his foot that regular people can't see) and anything that would have controlled him is now dead, John and Amy manage to convince him to go on living his life as if nothing had happened. Except for his friend John occasionally calling him "Monster Dave" as a joke.
  • Appears in Hunter S. Thompson's seminal work The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, wherein the main character and his foreign photographer search Kentucky during the annual horse race derby for the poster child of the decadence and depravity associated with the derby. In the end, after four or five days of madness, culture shocks and innumerable quantities of alcohol, his photographer exclaims: "It's us!"
  • Kill The Dead, also by Tanith Lee, ends with the reveal that ghost-killer Parl Dro is, himself, a ghost.
  • Stephen King probably has more than just the one, but an early story, "Strawberry Spring", (published in the collection Night Shift), has something like this happen to the narrator, who realizes he has a dissociative serial killer personality that only emerges during the fogs of titular "Strawberry" springs.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's horror works:
    • One of the earliest examples is "The Outsider", a first person point-of-view story that follows a mysterious lonely individual who cannot remember coming in contact with people. When he escapes his tower, he scares off the first people he sees and spots his reflection, revealing him to be — ta-dah! — undead.
    • Lovecraft did this one again in the novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth, which ends with the protagonist discovering that he is one of the Half Human Hybrids that are the titular Town with a Dark Secret's dark secret.
  • A rare happy example of this trope: throughout Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom for Sale — SOLD!, Ben Holiday spends the novel trying to find a way to summon the Paladin, the invincible champion of the kings of Landover, only to discover when he is finally successful that he himself is the Paladin.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering short story collection Shadowmoor, one of the stories is "Meme's Tale", in which the titular heroine is forced to flee her goblin family, and has no idea why they exiled her until she glimpses her reflection in a pool and sees that she's an elf.
  • In the O. Henry story "A Man About Town", the protagonist is obsessed with learning more about people, particularly stereotypes like the titular "Man About Town". He questions people, including a learned friend. His obsession causes him enough travel and tunnel vision that he has a traffic accident. In the hospital, he reads a newspaper article about the accident where the victim is described as a "typical man about town."
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe Tie-In Forever Red, Alex Manor seems like an Ordinary High-School Student who constantly gets into fights because he has a low tolerance for bullying. Then one day he meets a girl named Ava who knows everything about him even though they've never met before. A short while later he and Ava are being pursued by Russian mercenaries, only to be rescued by the famed superhero and secret agent Natasha Romanov. He soon finds out that he's able to speak perfect Russian despite never having learned the language before, and he suddenly begins displaying enhanced skill in hand to hand combat despite never taking any martial arts classes. Then it turns out that Black Widow has been spying on him for the last 2 years. It turns out that he's really Alexei Romanov, Black Widow's younger brother who she placed in Witness Protection with Fake Memories to protect him from her Evil Mentor Ivan Somodorov.
  • MARZENA: Lauren Hackenhoek is just your everyday ordinary American girl dreaming of one day becoming a doctor. Then the day comes when she becomes a neurosurgeon, and then a tragic accident occurs: one of her patients becomes a mass murderer. Lauren loses everything, she ends up on the streets, then somebody picks her up and offers her a good job with a good pay. The work? Doing consultation for a Private Intelligence Company. Everything is going great, except for her own medical examination. Lauren has something weird inside her head, her brain is full of microsurgical scars. That's because Lauren is actually a body double of the real Lauren made by Plastic Surgery Magic. Her memories of who she is are all an artificial construct from dream and drug therapies.
  • The young adult series Mindwarp has one of these. The kids at the core of the series, teenagers with superpowers who're hunted by alien shapeshifters, often make reference to Todd, a kid who vanished from their small town before they started coming into their powers. Come book 5, Todd shows up back in town; to him, there was a bright light one night, and he returned several months later with no knowledge of the intervening period. Surprise — he's actually an alien shapeshifter on very, very deep cover trying to flush the kids out. He defies his programming, however, and disguising himself as one of the other kids so the aliens take him instead. The trope is also played with every kid in the series. They're part aliens too.
  • In Neil Gaiman's novella "Murder Mysteries", the main character turns out to be a dissociative serial killer who doesn't remember his crimes, or that anything is wrong at all, until after he's told about a murder investigation that happened in heaven prior to the creation of the universe, by an old man who may or may not have been the Archangel Raguel, whose function is to serve as the Vengeance of the Lord.
  • V. C. Andrews' My Sweet Audrina is about Audrina Adare, a little girl who was born exactly nine years after her older sister, also named Audrina (or the First and Best Audrina), was gang-raped and murdered. Audrina also has trouble keeping track of time and has no memories of her early life, and her father keeps telling her that she needs to absorb the First and Best Audrina's gifts and memories. At the end of the book, it is revealed that there was no First and Best Audrina. Her father wanted her back to the way she was before the rape, and used shock therapy on her, along with other things.
  • In the Bittersweet Ending of Night, Elie Wiesel (or an Author Avatar of him) is liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp at the cost of losing his family. When he finally gets home, he looks at himself in a mirror and sees the full extent of what The Holocaust has done to him. He describes himself as nothing more but a corpse.
  • Subverted and parodied in Lavie Tidhar's novel Osama. The Genre Savvy reader has suspected all along that the protagonist is an Alternate Universe version of Osama bin Laden, and near the end he sees a portrait of Osama bin Laden that looks exactly like a bearded version of him. Then he discovers that it's actually a mirror with a false beard attached.
  • In the Gene Wolfe's The Other Dead Man the protagonist fights off Came Back Wrong crewmates. Then he is shown a mirror...
  • In the Otherland series by Tad Williams, one of the many characters you follow is Paul Jonas, a man who has lost his memories. He picks up bits and pieces over the first three books, but in the last one finally discovers not only his past, but that he is a digital clone of the real Paul Jonas.
  • Pact follows Blake Thorburn and his Distaff Counterpart Rose Thorburn, who is an artificially created vestige trapped in a mirror world. After Blake has his connections to the world eaten by a demon, however, Rose steps into the real world, assuming his place amidst his family and friends. Blake eventually realizes that this means that he, not Rose, is artificial, created so that Rose, protected in her mirror world, would have someone to take the blows for her as she was initiated into the secret family practices, and that correspondingly everything about his past was calculated in order to make him avoid physical contact, which made him decay, while simultaneously being someone that would do everything in his power to help Rose, a family member trapped in a terrible situation.
    • And then we get another reveal when it turns out that neither is truly the original. They were created by a demon splitting an original Ross/Rose Thorburn in half, with the original's traits being selectively divided between the two.
  • In Mira Grant's Parasitology, the main character, Sal, is a tapeworm who has taken control of her host's body. An astute reader will figure this out considerably faster than Sal does, but, to be fair, she hasn't read the blurb.
  • In the short story "Quest" by Lee Harding, an old man is searching for something non-artificial on Earth out of nostalgia. At the end, when he discovers that there is nothing left and the police are coming to arrest him, he tries to commit suicide to prove that he, at least, is not artificial. He is.
  • Subverted in Rog Phillips' "Rat in the Skull", in which a laboratory rat unwittingly lives its whole life hooked up in the pilot's seat of a Mobile-Suit Human. When some teenage boys stumble upon the inert robot and remove the sleeping rat, the narration muses upon how traumatic it would have been for "Adam" to discover its real nature ... except the psychologists conducting the experiment never allowed their test subject to learn what a rat is, so the poor thing's perplexity remains complete to the end.
  • Lord Dunsany's short story "The Return", in which the narrator—who promises a real ghost story—only discovers at the end that he is the ghost. (Also broadcast as a radio play.)
  • Alastair Reynolds does this a lot in the Revelation Space novels. Chasm City offers a particularly convoluted example: Our lovable hero Tanner is actually the war criminal Cahuella, after stealing Tanner's identity and buying into his own cover. Cahuella experiences flashbacks of the life and times of the near-mythological psychopath Sky Haussmann, and believes them to be the result of the indoctrinal virus he is infected with. Actually, he is Sky Haussman.
  • Sabella by Tanith Lee ends with the reveal that she and the main male character are both native Martian copies of human children who died in a certain underground cave.
  • Done in a Sesame Street book, of all places! The Monster at the End of This Book has Grover being terrified of the title character and pleading with the reader not to reach the end of the book and reaching the monster. Hilarity Ensues as Grover tries increasingly drastic measures to prevent the reader from reaching the end of the book. When the reader finally reaches the end, Grover thinks he's doomed...but then he realizes that he is the monster at the end of the book. Go figure.
  • Shutter Island. Teddy Daniels is Andrew Laeddis, who killed his wife after she drowned their children. He has been searching for Laeddis throughout the novel only to find that he IS Laeddis under a horrible delusion. Maybe.
  • This is the plot of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch novel Fearful Symmetry, told first from Captain Kira's perspective, then from that of her double, Iliana Ghemor, a Cardassian sleeper agent altered to look like Kira and remember being her. In the novel, Ghemor is the tomato; in the Deep Space Nine episode it was a sequel to, the tomato was not Kira.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Galaxy of Fear book Clones features, you guessed it, clones. Possibly subverted. Tash Arranda flees a horde of evil clones of herself and her brother, sheds her own clothes and dons one of the jumpsuits they're wearing, and hits her head so the past few minutes are blurred together and confusing. She finds a defective Tash-clone that thinks she is the real girl and the others are after her. Since they seem to have her memories, Tash freaks and wonders for a while if she isn't a defective clone herself. Soon enough she decides she's not. For one, only she has the necklace her mother gave her. For two...
      Tash remembered the two clones of herself that she'd met. Both had known everything she had known. But they were still different from her. One had been angry, almost evil. The other had appeared frightened and defeated. The real Tash had been bothered by the sense of the dark side, but the first clone must have been totally absorbed by it. Later, Tash had been frightened by the army of clones, but the second clone had been petrified.
      So they weren't exactly like her. They couldn't have the same feelings. They hadn't had the same experiences, just memories of those experiences. The feelings attached to them were absent.
    • Played straighter in an earlier book, City of the Dead. In that book, injecting a corpse with a certain serum and exposing them to boneworm slime caused them to rise as a zombie. The Mad Scientist looking into this also found that injecting himself with the serum before he died, and then getting bonewormed after death, made him come Back from the Dead as a zombie with all his memories and facilities intact, though he did tend to twitch. Then, trying to eliminate the twitch, he injected Zak Arranda with the serum, poisoned him into a coma so deep he was declared dead and Buried Alive, and therefore had him exposed to boneworms. Later Zak categorically denied that he was now a zombie, since he was still alive and actually had never died, and he doesn't have the Super Strength of these zombies... but he does twitch a little at the end of the book. Maybe this means that he'll come back after he actually does die.
  • Ted Dekker's Christian suspense novel (and later movie) Thr3e is about a young man tormented by a serial killer that decides to make him his next victim. He's aided by an old childhood friend and an FBI agent whose brother was one of the victims. It later turns out that both the "killer" and the childhood friend are alternate personalities of the main character, caused by the abuse his adoptive mother put him through as a child. In fact, the "evil" side of his personality isn't the same serial killer that killed the agent's brother at all—the main character heard about the murders and his other personality started to copy them.
    • This is also the plot of Sidney Sheldon's Tell Me Your Dreams and several other books and movies.
  • Thursday Next:
    • In First Among Sequels, when Thursday 1-4 is impersonating Thursday the second time, the first person narrator actually switches to Thursday 1-4, so even the audience is fooled... until she starts thinking about her villainous plot again.
    • Goliath, the evil corporation, replaces people with synthetic versions on such a regular basis that the Genre Savvy characters check themselves frequently to make sure they're still . . . them.
  • In "The Town Where No One Got Off", by Ray Bradbury, has a protagonist that is suddenly threatened by an old man, so he reveals that he was planning on killing someone in this town, which surprises the protagonist, too.
  • In Frederik Pohl's science fiction "The Tunnel Under the World" the main character becomes convinced that some sinister conspiracy is keeping the citizens of his town stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop by erasing their memories every night. He eventually learns that he and everyone else in the town were killed in an explosion, and their consciousnesses have been installed into tiny androids in a scale model town where they repeat their final day over and over while researchers use them to test the effectiveness of advertising jingles and political slogans.
  • Ukiah Oregon's realization that he's an alien (actually a Half-Human Hybrid, but he doesn't know that yet) is rather traumatic for him, especially since he now has to explain this to his brand-new girlfriend.
  • In the original book version of Up in the Air, Ryan Bingham notices strange charges on his credit card and frequent flyer miles and suspects identity theft. At the end, it's implied he is responsible for these charges, as he's suffering from blackouts and memory loss.
  • In the story "To Mars and Providence", published in the anthology novel War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, this happens to Lovecraft himself; he discovers he's actually one of the elder gods whose eventual return forced the Martians to flee their homeplanet and invade Earth.
  • The urban fantasy book White Apples by Jonathan Carroll has an enemy mook who is ordered to a barbershop to meet the King of the Park, a notoriously dangerous bad guy. As he enters the barbershop, he is terrified, desperately trying to figure out which of the people present is this nasty character, until it is revealed that the King of the Park is not a single person, but a series of people who have been given his power; the people in the barbershop are there to transform him into the King of the Park, until the end of his mission.
  • Older Than Radio: Used in the 1839 Edgar Allan Poe short story "William Wilson", wherein the titular Villain Protagonist discovers that the mysterious doppelganger that has been constantly foiling his schemes is himself, or rather the personification of his conscience.
  • In Wonderland by Joanna Nadin, what was designed as a clever plot twist was actually made pretty obvious to the readers. The main character begins about to kill herself and her best friend, encouraged by that friend. Then the story is told in flashback and she realises she IS her best friend. She has Dissociative Identity Disorder, apparently. Many readers called it, especially since NO ONE else interacted with the friend, and the main character hid all reasons why she went to see her, and so the plot twist was no longer there.
  • A variant of this trope occurs in the World War Z supplement "Closure, Ltd". The interviewer is given what appears to be a tour of the titular organization, which provides closure for customers by dressing up a zombie to look like a loved one and kill it. The interviewee goes at great length to explain the detail they take, flat-out explaining that his customers generally know that the end-product isn't really their reanimated loved one, but the need for closure is so great that they don't care. It's hinted at the end that the Interviewer isn't really an interviewer: he's a customer, and at the end, he shoots the zombie they dressed up for him.


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