Consummate Liar

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Psycho Mantis: But it's all about the little details! I mean, you must spend every day pretending to act like you're falsely letting on that you aren't not unbetraying someone you don't not purport to allegedly work for but really do! How do you keep all this shit straight without having an aneurysm?

Revolver Ocelot: *shrugs* Practice.

This character is not your ordinary everyday lying jerk. This is the liar so good you never, ever want to play Poker with them because you'd go home without even your underwear and short next week's paycheck. This liar is so good, he or she can defeat the Living Lie Detector, much to the dismay of that exceptional individual.

This also covers the lucky liar, someone who is not necessarily a great liar all the time, but who through luck (or possibly careful planning) is able to fool the Living Lie Detector at some critical moment.

Obviously, this is a handy talent for a villain to have if the hero group has a Living Lie Detector, although it can also come in quite handy for a hero who needs to fool the villain for a change. For obvious reasons, it is particularly useful if the Living Lie Detector believes that his or her ability is working, when it fact it is not. Conversely, a more flamboyant and audacious Consummate Liar might make blatantly false or contradictory statements to the Living Lie Detector just to show off. Will also use Self-Serving Memory if it will suit his/her needs.

Two common variations on Consummate Liar are:

  • Just Too Alien: An entire race of people (usually aliens) just happen to be immune to whatever the Living Lie Detector's ability is. Often not quite as disastrous as the lone exceptional Consummate Liar, because once you figure out that the Ferengi are immune to your telepathy, you quit trying to use it on them to gather information. Note that being immune to one type of truth-telling might not make a race immune to ALL types (just because you can resist telepathy doesn't mean you can necessarily resist some kind of Applied Phlebotinum Truth Serum).
  • Truth Twister: A group of beings with the unusual reputation of being "unable to tell a lie." This is usually interpreted by the group as "unable to tell a LITERAL lie"—violating the spirit of the rule is just fine if you can get away with it. This usually renders them immune to most Living Lie Detector abilities, but it doesn't help them for long, as they quickly develop a reputation for being able to lie without lying, resulting in no one believing ANYTHING they say. Examples include the Aes Sedai from The Wheel of Time, and the ability of Earthsea dragons to lie in the True Speech (which is supposed to be impossible, but they manage.) Vulcans are often thought to fall into this category, but in fact they can lie; they just strongly prefer not to. When confronted with evidence of having told an untruth, the typical Vulcan response is, "I exaggerated." Liar!

This trope does not apply to tricks such as the Memory Gambit or Note to Self: when they are used as a defense against lie detection. In those tropes, the would-be liar must convince him or herself that they are telling the truth. The Consummate Liar knows perfectly well that they are lying. May or may not actually admit, later, that I Lied.

Any character who gives a Bastardly Speech has no business being anything else.

Compare The Power of Acting.

Contrast Bad Liar.

Examples of Consummate Liar include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Kaiji pulls off the "lucky liar" feat at a crucial moment or two during his game of E-Card with Tonegawa.
  • From World Embryo, Amamiya Riku. He didn't start like this though, but thanks to some certain events and such, he become experts at this, so he can live normally.
  • Death Note: With Light Yagami's track record, the only way to keep this entry to a reasonable length would be to list only the characters he failed to fool completely. They are L, Rem, Aizawa, Mello, and Near.
  • One Piece's Usopp when he wants to. He tricked his enemy into thinking he was wielding a five ton hammer by knocking another enemy out with it, for example, when really it was just the weight of your everyday frying pan and the person he knocked out was horribly stupid.
    • He later pulls the same trick successfully using a "ten ton" hammer. Combined with sudden bursts of strength and sneakiness beforehand, Usopp succeeds in scaring his opponent unconscious.
  • Although it isn't emphasized, Hei in Darker than Black is a really good liar. Watching the first two episodes in particular when you already know what he's like is a little awe-inspiring; Huang chalks it up to characteristic Contractor Lack of Empathy. ("You people don't give a shit about what you're doing.") And later, as part of a security check, he was questioned while rigged up to a lie detector; one of the questions was, "Do you know any Contractors?" "No." He passed.
    • All Contractors seems good at this. It is taken Up to Eleven in the finale by Hei once more, when it is implied that he has had normal human emotions the whole time, and the "contractor" persona was the lie.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima's Kurt Godel. Pretty much everything he says is either an outright lie, or a rather twisted version of the truth. The only reason that the protagonists bother to listen to him is because he really does have important information, and because one of them is a mind reader who can confirm his statements.
  • Akiyama from Liar Game does this so well that he can bring down entire corporations. Sure, he got tossed in jail, but still...
  • Code Geass's Lelouch Lamperouge/Vi Britannia. While a lot of his lies and secrets do eventually get found out, he still manages to be incredibly convincing. By the end of the series, he's lying to the entire world.
    • There is only ONE person who he never lies to (C.C.) in the entire anime, and the only reason he's ever caught is because he's the universe's chew toy.
    • Schneizel is a consummate Truth Twister, which becomes brutally evident when he turns the Black Knights against Lelouch.
  • The Count in Gankutsuou.
  • Xelloss of Slayers is a master Truth Twister. The closest he ever comes to telling a direct lie is to deliberately mispronounce the name Bibble.
  • There is a manga by Iruma Hiruma (try saying that name five times fast) called Lying Mii-kun And Broken Maa-chan: Precious Lies which tells the gruesome, heart-wrenching tale of a young boy and girl who get kidnapped 8 years prior to the main storyline. The title refers to these children, who end up clinging to one another emotionally in order to survive their horrible ordeal. "Maa-chan" (Mayu Misono) ends up as a mostly Empty Shell because of the incident, whereas the narrator who's only known as "Mii-kun" becomes such a compulsive liar that his Catch Phrase is "That's a lie." He even ends up pointing out that he's lying right after the fact. To the person he just lied to. Apparently there are a couple of people who can sometimes see through his deception, but for the most part, everyone is left unsure if what Mii-kun said is anything close to the truth (even his "wife" Maa-chan can't tell, though she claims she can). A fascinating manga indeed.
  • Madara Uchiha of Naruto manages to mix truths and lies to such a degree that nobody is entirely sure what is true and what is not about his many revelations.
    • Case in point: Madara Uchiha has recently been revived as a zombie, proving that the "Madara" we know has been lying about his identity for two hundred chapters and is really someone else.
  • For Keima in The World God Only Knows, it's not just what he says but also what he does during a capture. He seems to invoke Loving a Shadow to get the job done as quickly as possible yet what he does seems natural and in character enough apart from a few tweaks. The end result is that even the audience isn't quite sure how much he really cares about the capture targets or how much of what he was doing was acting.
  • Itsuwaribito gives us Utsuho, whose fighting style combines bombs, poison, knives and lots and lots of lies. He usually wins by tricking his opponents into a situation where they have no choice but to believe him. And once they do, they play into his hands. If this doesn't work, he complicates things by lying about lying. Actually, all of the titular Itsuwaribito aspire to be this, but many claim the title but have few skills to back it up...
  • Sai from Peach Girl. Oh lord. No matter how many times she's exposed she still manages to get some people to still take her side...


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The alter-ego of comic book hero Daredevil is lawyer Matt Murdock. Matt can usually tell when someone is lying by listening to their heartbeat. He agrees to defend an accused man because the man's heartbeat does not change when he claims to be innocent of the crime. Matt successfully defends the man. The man thanks Matt for helping him get away with a crime for which he was actually guilty. Turns out he had a pacemaker so his heartbeat didn't change when Matt questioned him prior to taking him on.
    • This twist was done in the movie but with a witness rather than the defendant. For some reason Matt openly reveals his super-hearing when he ambushes the guy to requestion him and figure out why his heartrate isn't changing.
  • Loki in The Mighty Thor is the god of this trope, as he is literally the 'God of Lies.'
    • he also manages to play with it by being the god of lies-people know they can't trust him, so he simply factors in the not being trusted into what he says. He's literally so good that he can manipulate a person when they know who he is, that he's evil, and that he's probabaly manipulating them and shouldn't be trusted.
  • Two versions of this shows up in the Outsiders comic. When trying to figure out which of the members is a traitor, Arsenal hooks them up to lie detectors. Nightwing points out that he's more than capable of beating a lie detector (to which Arsenal replies, "Not this one.") and alien member Starfire is completely immune. Arsenal uses his massive connections to procure an alien torture device that he modifies to work as a lie detector. Two other members of the team aren't even questioned because one is a robot and the other doesn't have a bloodstream. The robot turned out to be a Manchurian Agent whose "Indigo" personality was a mask; her true self was actually Brainiac version 5.0 from the future.
  • In Daredevil Noir Matt's senses never detect dishonesty from Eliza, and even when he's spying on her, she reads as being uniquely devoid of internal conflict, which turns out to be because as that continuity's version of Bullseye, she's a sociopath.
  • A crossover between Daredevil and Batman noted that Batman's heartbeat never changes based on his thoughts or intentions, leaving Daredevil unable to tell if he's bluffing or what he's thinking. On the other hand, it also makes it really easy for Daredevil to identify Batman's secret identity, as his heartbeat is described as "wardrum" and slightly slower than it should be.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The Jim Carrey film Liar Liar, is a major aversion of this. The main character can't even break the spirit of this—and can't even ask a question if he knows the respondent will lie to his advantage... but before his curse, he was pretty much one of these.
    • He can tell a half truth though. For instance, if he injures himself, and is asked who assaulted him, he can give a vague description of himself without giving away that it is self inflicted.
    • Said half-lie accomplished absolutely nothing and was likely thrown in for Rule of Funny.
  • Lampshaded to an extent in Lawrence of Arabia; where Dryden (Claude Rains) responds to T.E. Lawrence's (Peter O'Toole) outburst that "There may be honour among thieves, but there is none among polititians!" by noting, "If we've told lies, you've told half-lies. And the man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But the man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it."
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, pretty much all the hardcore Pirates in the trilogy are consummate liars who try to con one another, so much so that if a character were notoriously honest, the honest character would have the potential to become the consummate liar. Captain Jack Sparrow puts it best in this quote:
    • On the other hand, it's pointed out that everyone assumes pirates to be this trope anyway. And while Jack is good at it, what truly makes him so effective a liar is the fact that he's telling the truth half the time. He lampshades this in the second movie.
      • The villains, of course, get in on the half-truths, too. Beckett only gives part of the picture Will, Elizabeth, Norrington, Swann and even Davy Jones to get what he wants. The usually straightforward Jones strings his crew along with promises of only a hundred years before the mast, neglecting to mention that said crewmen will eventually lose their humanity and memories by the end of their sentence and they end up becoming part of the ship for all eternity. In the first film, Barbossa never actually lies, preferring instead to dance around the truth, like swearing Elizabeth would go free when he intended to maroon her. Or, less obviously, when Elizabeth guesses Barbossa needs the medallion, rather than deny it, he simply says, "Why?"
  • Shattered Glass depicts Stephen Glass, the writer for The New Republic, as something like this; he faked at least 21 of his 47 articles for the magazine in part or in total and got away with it for two years, and went to the extent of faking business cards, websites, email addresses and such for his sources. It's played with, however, in that his stories as published are immensely convincing; however, when his editor Charles Lane starts pulling the thread and confronting him about his stories face to face he immediately turns into something of a Bad Liar, acting sweaty, whining and unconvincing, relying on Lame Excuses and playing the victim to convince people to believe him.
  • Loki in Thor lies effectively throughout the film, with the only person he is unable to fool being Heimdall, who can see and hear everything happening throughout the universe. Loki's still able to hide things from him, though.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby. Interestingly, her boyfriend, the Nick Carraway, Will Not Tell a Lie. Of course, he's the First-Person Peripheral Narrator telling the story, so we can't be sure that he isn't an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series is so good with the magical skill of Occlumency (hiding his thoughts) that he is able to play Double Agent against Big Bad Voldemort, despite Voldemort's fondness for Mind Probes.
    • Also note that when he eventually kills Dumbledore, even the Order is unable to tell which side he is on. He has effectively fooled both sides of the war, making his true allegiance impossible to discern because anything he's said could have been a lie and they don't trust themselves to know it. It's also interesting that even though Voldemort kills him in the final book, he does so believing that Snape is still on his side, and it's not until Harry tells him in their final battle that he finds out he was wrong.
    • For that matter, Voldemort himself, though mostly the Affably Evil teenage version of him from before he became Obviously Evil. While it probably doesn't take too much to manipulate an eleven-year-old girl, it must count for something that he feigned interest in her (for a year, while actually being bored out his mind) so well that she was thoroughly convinced that he was her best friend. Also, after Harry's Heroic Sacrifice in Deathly Hallows, Voldemort oh-so-casually lies that "He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him." And this trope probably also figured into his manipulation of Quirrell.
  • Magnificent Bastard Artemis Fowl pulls a particularly clever version of this at the end of Eternity Code (Book 3). The faeries use mind control to "convince" Fowl to spill the beans on where his various Notes To Self are before they memory wipe him. Fowl, however, uses mirrored contacts to avoid this and plays along, sending them after dummy notes while keeping the real Note to Self: hidden (in the literal hands of a kleptomaniac dwarf).
  • Rashmika Els from Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds manages to be both a Consummate Liar and a Living Lie Detector, by being instinctively aware of how subconscious facial tics correlate with truth-telling.
  • The Gap series by Stephen R. Donaldson uses this trope. One character's cybernetically enhanced vision lets him see physiological changes associated with lying. That character has an underling who is completely unreadable. He has no physiological reaction to lying because he makes no _psychological_ distinction between speaking a true statement or speaking a false statement; to him, it's all just words, and the concept of honesty basically doesn't exist.
  • In Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man, a murderer is able to confound the telepathic police by memorizing a super-catchy jingle ("Tenser Said the Tensor: Tension, Apprehension, and Dissension Have Begun") and letting it play endlessly through his mind when there's a cop in the room. The telepaths can't get through this induced Psychic Static to read the truth.
  • Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones from Carnival by Elizabeth Bear has this ability; it causes tension with his lover, who is a Living Lie Detector.
  • The Hunger Games is filled with this trope: Haymitch, Coin, Johanna Mason, and even nice-guy Peeta are all VERY good liars.
  • In The Dresden Files, all of The Fair Folk are unable to tell a direct lie, but are nonetheless famous for their duplicity. Pretty much every sane character in the series advises against making deals with them, especially Harry Dresden himself, who, in his youth, managed to get saddled with a Fairy Godmother. (And no, this is not a good thing.)
    • In Grave Peril, Thomas Raith, Harry's vampire half-brother, admits to Harry that he shouldn't be believed, because "I'm a good liar. One of the best." What he suggests Harry believe instead is the situation, as presented by Thomas, natch. Turns out that despite Harry's doubts, Thomas is telling the truth.
  • In Randall Garrett's story The Best Policy, the human protagonist is interrogated under a lie detector by aliens gathering intelligence for an invasion. He realizes that he can exploit their ignorance with true but misleading statements (e.g. he says that human minds are capable of channeling certain physical energies to travel from place to place—a literal description of walking that gives the impression that humans have the power of psychic teleportation). By the end of the questioning, he has them believing that humans are incredibly powerful beings and that he's only humoring them them to be polite.
  • Lyra Silvertongue of His Dark Materials gained the name "Silvertongue" by being such a good liar that she easily tricks Iofur Raknison, king of the bears, despite the fact that it is impossible to lie to a bear.
    • Mrs. Coulter (Lyra's mother) is also extremely good at lying. So good that she managed to lie to Metatron, who is very nearly a Living Lie Detector. In fact, she lies to Metatron by using her history of lying, to convince him that she will betray Asriel.
  • All the fae in the Mercedes Thompson series are the truth-twister variant. While completely and totally unable to lie, they're more than capable of fooling experienced policemen or even those experts at knowing who tells the truth, nevermind the reader. There is, after all, a distinction between the statements "I've heard he hates you" and "he hates you", or "this artifact is a mere echo of its previous power" as compared to "this artifact is not dangerous".
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, those who can use the Force are better able to discern the truth—but they have trouble with species they've never encountered before. Further, Bothans seem to be natural Consummate Liars, still able to hide the truth from Leia Organa Solo, a Force-sensitive politician who's worked with Bothans for over fifteen years by the end of the war with the Empire.
    • Apparently there's an old joke about how you can tell when someone from a deceptive species is lying. It's "whenever they open their mouth", and the species mentioned in that joke are Bothans, Hutts, and Humans.
    • Then there's Vergere, who remarks, "Everything I tell you is the truth, and everything I tell you is a lie."
  • The Kencyr in P.C. Hodgell's Kencyrath books consider lying to be extremely dishonorable and thus are known for their honesty; this rigid code of honor forces the protagonist to be very creative in her speech and in interpreting the orders of her superiors.
  • In the Codex Alera books, watercrafting can be used to detect truth, but some people have sufficient skill to get away with telling blatant lies anyway. At least two characters (Tavi and Fidelias) have been noted as belonging to this category. It seems to come through simple practice and control - Tavi, for example, grew up in the care of a skilled watercrafter (one so good at being a Living Lie Detector that she could see through the normally impervious First Lord, Gaius Sextus), and so has been practising against one of the best since he was quite young, while Fidelias became this due to his duties as a Cursor, although he's incredibly skilled at doing so, more than most.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, the Ancient Language carries the caveat that one cannot tell a lie while speaking it (because anything you say becomes true; this is how magic is performed, though it draws on your life force so the more outrageous, the more likely it will kill you trying to come true). The Elves speak it fluently, and so have the reputation of never telling a lie. Brom warns Eragon in the first book that this means that most of them have mastered the art of being Truth Twisters. Eragon tries his hand at this in the second book; when someone who broke his heart asks him (in the Language) how he is now, he tells her that he is "better than [he] was", referring to his healed back.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Trickster books, Aly can fool a magical truth potion by retreating into what she calls her "liar's palace," the part of her mind where she's constructed a whole character and backstory for her assumed identity.
  • The title character of Stephen Fry's The Liar Novel. (Who's an Author Avatar of the teenage Fry. He got better.)
  • Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird lies effortlessly, but usually also thoughtlessly, resulting in ridiculous tall tales that he seems to nearly believe. When he does put his mind to it, he can weasel out of trouble this way.
  • Holden Caulfield, who may not actually be as good as he thinks he is.
    • Which is extremely ironic considering his hatred of "phonies".
  • Mackenzie Calhoun can use his considerable military training (especially his ability to remain calm) to fool Morgan in the computer, who can read his bio-signs as a way to tell if he's lying.
  • In Frank Herbert's Dune, Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers are unable to utter direct falsehoods, due to the effects of the "Water of Life" spice-drug that gives them their power. However, they are masters of manipulation; and by use of partial truths, combined with shifts of context and emphasis, are able to mislead more effectively than a straight lie could.
  • Alan Ryves is a lying liar who lies, but that's exactly what we love about him. He's fooled every single member of the main cast, including his brother, his possible love interest, the Big Bad, various demons, and the reader. Constantly. It's always for good reasons, though.
    • His brother suggests that his near-superhuman ability to make anyone believe anything is because he had to learn to lie to people rather than be one.
  • In Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat for President, Jim is trying to topple a corrupt president of a tourist planet. He walks into a police station full of Dirty Cops and offers to make a deal (a ploy, obviously). Da Chief takes him to the interrogation room, where he sits him down. Jim starts talking a bunch of BS and offers to take a Lie Detector test to prove it. He is calmly informed that he chair he's sitting on is a lie detector. Jim immediately changes his tactic and starts telling partial truths. Before, he was simply lying through his teeth without feeling nervous. After all, he is a professional thief and con man.
  • In The End of the Affair Maurice tries to convince another character that Sarah is a "consummate liar".
  • Rimmer Dall, Big Bad of Terry Brooks' The Heritage of Shannara is such an effective liar that it takes the Sword of Shannara to help the characters penetrate the web of falsehoods he has fed them. And even that almost doesn't work because, prior to letting Par get his hands on the Sword, Dall managed to convince Par that he couldn't use it.
  • Caine of The Acts of Caine is immune to the truthsense of Khryl's holy knights for reasons he doesn't quite understand. Though it might have something to do with the fact that he would rather kill a man than lie to him. Maybe that kind of "honor" just confuses the poor god trying to read him.
  • One could certainly argue that PG Wodehouse's Jeeves is this; with a little Verbal Judo, he can convince anyone of anything.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire consists of several Doorstoppers' worth of Thirty Xanatos Pileups, so unsurprisingly there are several. The absolute masters, however, have got to be Varys and Littlefinger, who have between them set pretty much every single one of the numerous plot threads into action through their machinations, and regularly outmanoeuvre and gain the support of people who are fully fledged Manipulative Bastards and Chessmasters in their own right.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • George Costanza from Seinfeld is the embodiment of this trope, even being able to fool a lie detector.

George: Remember, Jerry, it's not a lie if you believe it.

    • Which is true, when you think about it. You might still be wrong, but you're not lying.
  • Garak of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has been credited as having a natural gift for obfuscation. He may, or may not be, an exiled spy from a military organization, and may or may not have been exiled on numerous grounds. Though all that is known about his exile is that it came as the result of falling out of favor with his boss, he himself maintains that he was exiled for tax evasion. His personal motto is (or maybe it isn't): "The truth is often an excuse for a lack of imagination," and after Bashir tells him the story of the boy who cried Wolf, he interprets its lesson as "Never tell the same lie twice".

Garak: I'll go along on your fools errand. But I want one thing to be perfectly clear: I have no intention of sacrificing my life to save yours. If it looks like we're in danger of being captured, if there's any sign of trouble at all, you're on your own.
Sisko: Mr. Garak, I believe this is the first completely honest thing you ever said to me.

But given his later actions, this was probably another distraction from his true goals.
  • Adam Monroe of Heroes has only the power of regeneration, yet is such a skilled liar he is able to fool the telepathic Peter Petrelli into blindly falling in step with his plans to unleash a deadly virus on the world - and all the while Peter believes Adam's goal is the opposite. As the man who gathered the twelve founders of the Company, Adam can also claim to have hoodwinked such lumunaries as Kaito Nakamura and Daniel Linderman.
  • On Lost, magnificent and manipulative Ben likes to lie. A lot. Given that he sometimes seems to throw the truth in, sorting out the true from the false gets pretty frustrating. The other characters really shouldn't trust anything he says. Unfortunately, they're currently often in a situation where they pretty much have no other choice but to listen to him.
    • Turns out he even lies in JOKES. When he's reading in an airplane he knows will crash, Jack asks him how he can read in this situation. Ben replies with the joke that he assumes Jack literally asks how he can read, and says "My mother taught me". That isn't even true since his mother died giving birth to him. Later, he sarcastically gives out his star sign (pisces) in response to a question, something that fans deduced to also be false.
  • In one Monk episode, the villain fools a polygraph early in the episode, forcing Monk to concede that he may have been wrong in accusing him. Later, however, Monk witnesses the villain lying to an aide while on an exercise bike, and sees that his heart rate doesn't change. Consummate Liar.
  • On an episode of Chuck, the main characters got exposed to an Applied Phlebotinum poison that acted like a truth babbling drug. Attempting to take advantage of this, Chuck tried to get Sarah to say they might be able to have a relationship. Sarah denied it, and thanks to the Truth Serum, Chuck believed her and (temporarily) gave up hope. At the end of the episode Sarah reveals to Casey that she has been trained to resist truth serum, strongly hinting that she was lying about having real feelings for Chuck.
  • In the RoboCop TV series, Robocop comes equipped with an almost foolproof lie detector—so accurate it analyzes, among other things, facial tics that occur in less than a second. Almost in that, in one episode, they try to get a statement out of a career politician who is so good at his job that an identical lie detector is fooled, even when the politician says he's Abraham Lincoln.
    • The best part is that the lie detector isn't so much fooled as it is hopelessly confused. No matter what the mayor says, the lie detector claims that the odds of it being the truth are 50/50.
  • From the second series on, the title character of Blackadder takes pride in his ability to lie. While this is mostly demonstrated by his claims to be incredibly wealthy to enhance his standing at court, on one occasion he tells Percy that "An enormous hummingbird is about to eat your hat and cloak!" Not only does Percy believe it, when he returns, he simply decides that it must have got away.
    • He's so good that even a drunken monk lurching into the room, puking in the fire and shouting "Great booze-up, Edmund!" in front of his deeply religious aunt can be explained rationally.
  • In Farscape, Crichton manages to temporarily fool Scorpius' lie-detecting abilities with the help of Scorpius' neural clone. He's also able to lie (or half-lie, at least) when facing the Scarran heat probe on several occasions. Emperor Staleek even comments that he is immune to the probing in The Peacekeeper Wars.
    • Chiana often thinks this of herself, but is seldom successful.

Chiana: How could you tell if they were lying? You can't even tell when I'm lying.
Sikozu:Yes I can, Chiana. We all can.
Chiana: Oh yeah? How do you know?
Sikozu: You open your mouth, and words come out.

    • Scorpius himself is probably the best liar in the series. In addition to being the resident magnificent bastard.
  • Veronica Mars' standby method for investigating a mystery is to lie through her teeth for about three-quarters of an episode. The only people who see through it are the ones who know about her beforehand.
    • Ironically, her skill at deception sometimes leads her to screw up, overconfident of her ability to wing it. She once put on a very convincing "concerned friend" act (complete with "And the Emmy goes to..." music), but pushed it too far by claiming to be the sister of the victim... who was Hawaiian.
  • Urataros: A thousand falsehoods, ten thousand lies...
  • Kirk Devane was one of these in the first season of Newhart.
  • One episode of Lie to Me involved Cal going up against one of these. He spends most of the episode baffled until the end when we find out it was a huge Batman Gambit.
  • Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother is a self-described "master of manipulation" who takes the art of lying to seduce women to whole new levels. At one point he actually got a woman into bed by dressing up as an old man, telling her he was from the future, and warning her that, if she didn't sleep with present-day Barney, the world would come to an end. And it worked.
    • This isn't even getting into all the Batman Gambits he's pulled on his friends, in episodes like "Game Night," "Little Boys," and "The Scuba Diver."
  • The title character on Profit manages to beat a lie detector by putting a thumbtack in his own foot and stepping on it at strategic moments.
  • An episode of Barney Miller features a lie-detector specialist who thinks the machine is infallible, causing problems for one of the detectives, who flubbed the test due to being too nervous. The problem is solved by Detective Dietrich, who is such a Consummate Liar he's able to convince the specialist he's an alien from a distant galaxy and winds up scaring him away.
  • As a sociopath well-practiced at fitting in, Dexter's a decent liar himself, but his victim in "An Inconvenient Lie"(2x03), a car salesman/murderer, lies so effortlessly that even Dexter is amazed and impressed.
  • While Supes in Lois and Clark lies daily to cover up his identity, he's not very good at it (remember all the I Need to Go Iron My Dog excuses?). When hooked up to a polygraph to find out the identity of Superman, he uses his powers to make true answers appear to be lies (e.g. blowing on the needles or levitating and dropping his chair). It gets a little hairy when the interrogator asks baseline questions, and one of them is "Are you Superman?". Clark answers "Yes" as he's supposed to, causing the interrogator to examine his equipment for malfunctions when the needles don't move.
  • In Better Off Ted, Ted demonstrates a black box that's supposed to buzz whenever anyone in the room lies. It works fine on most people, but Veronica is able to reel off a story about Hunting the Most Dangerous Game with Sean Connery without getting a reaction out of it. They eventually fix it so it works on her too, though.
  • In Supernatural when Sam loses his soul, it allows him to lie to Veritas, the Goddess of Truth, to whom no human can lie. She is understandably upset.
  • Shawn Spencer from Psych, as part of his Training from Hell, was taught how to fool a lie detector if he ever had to.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Dogbert is such an excellent liar he was once able to fool a polygraph...while claiming to be Abraham Lincoln.

Dogbert: Lie detectors never make mistakes, do they?
Dilbert: Uh...no, Mister President.


Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • In Nomine has the Balseraphs, demons who are so committed to their own lies that they can make almost anyone believe almost anything though sheer force of will. However, it weakens them significantly if their lies are visibly contradicted by hard evidence. Somewhat unusual in that although they can fool their opposite numbers, the Seraphim, they are at a significant disadvantage when trying to do so. Also, Malakim can recognize them if they're perceptive enough, but are otherwise just as vulnerable as anyone else to their lies.
  • Nobilis has Deceivers, a subset of Excrucians whose MO is to employ deception above all else. Their powers vary and GMs are actively encouraged to invent more, but standard ones include impenetrable disguises, the ability to convince a crowd of mundane humans of anything at all, and the ability to tell someone a lie which, whether they believe it or not, renders them incapable of seeing any evidence to the contrary.
  • More to the point, the Bard class in 3.5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons has access to a complete and utter Game Breaker of a spell at level 7: Glibness. The sheer degree to which it improves the user's ability to lie borders on mind control, considering that it grants a +30 bonus on such checks in a system where "By the way, your Majesty, I'm actually your trueborn son and heir, hidden from you at birth by your treacherous adviser" would be, at most (even if you are a female from a completely different non-cross-fertile species), a -20 penalty, for a net bonus of +10. Oh, and it can fool magical lie detection.
    • But as with Costanza above, just because you believe it (and everyone else is convinced that you believe it) doesn't make it true. The bard might just be crazy. Beware the clever DM.
  • GURPS has Mind Shield to make one immune to telepathic lie detection. People with enough levels of the Fast-Talk skill are so good that they get a bonus on reaction rolls in any situation that they can speak.
    • Also, those with the Compulsive Lying Disadvantage can more easily deceive electronic lie detectors.
  • The Yozis in Exalted include the Ebon Dragon. He's essentially the cosmic principle of betrayal and self-interest given form, and is incapable of taking actions that help others more than they help him. He's also managed to persuade the other Yozis to put him in charge of their attempt to escape their prison.


Videogames[edit | hide]

  • Kristoph Gavin in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was the only person who avoided being questioned by Phoenix's Magatama, the locks that appeared when he lied were black, and couln't be broken with evidence like any other liar.
    • A better example would be Matt Engarde from Justice For All. Phoenix asks him if he comitted murder. He didn't, so the Magatama didn't go off. However, he is guilty of hiring an assassin to do the job.
    • There's one instance where breaking a Psyche-Lock with the Magatama yields Phoenix information which turns out to be completely wrong. It's hard to say, though, whether this is an example of this trope or whether it's a mistake from the Magatama. Both times it happens, it's when someone is submerged in a false identity.
  • Metal Gear's Revolver Ocelot. In the games, one of the most Magnificent Bastards imaginable. In the webcomic The Last Days of Foxhound, such a good liar that not only is he completely immune to telepathy, but he managed to string along Psycho Mantis (the world's strongest telepath...no, not that one) for most of the comic's run with it.
    • The only thing that he stated that is very likely to be the truth (aside from possibly his real name in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) is that he planned to allow war to run rampant across the world so people's true emotions, feelings, and nature can be brought out, and that's only because of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and even that is debatable, since not once did Big Boss ever mention anything about Ocelot actually intending for mayhem to spread.
  • In StarCraft, Magnificent Bastard Arcturus Mengsk is so skillful that he gets away with lying to a telepath. In the novelization, Kerrigan thought he was the only person who always told her the truth, and was horribly shocked to learn that he was capable of deceiving her. Of course, by then, it was too late...
    • Infested Kerrigan is also not bad at lying... oh, and Duran, who also manages to fool Kerrigan. After her infestation.
  • Kreia from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. She's so good, that by your fifth time through the game, you may realize something she's telling you isn't right. Bonus points for being the main source of exposition throughout the story.
    • You can also found many people quote her several time on Star Wars forum, regarding her word as facts.
  • One that may not be immediately obvious: The character Joshua from TWEWY can be scanned as he's playing from the RG, but you're always somehow blocked out of his memory of what really happened until The Reveal.
  • Trias the Betrayer from Planescape: Torment. Angels aren't supposed to be able to lie...but he can. And oh, boy, can he.
    • The Practical Incarnation from the same game was a good enough liar to fool an oracle, repeatedly.
  • Fain of Lusternia. It's hard for real life readers of the Backstory to determine when - if ever - he Jumped Off the Slippery Slope.
  • In BioShock (series), Atlas' lies practically play the game for you.
  • The Illusive Man lies as easily as he breathes, making it next to impossible to say whether or not he's actually telling the truth. It's so good that even people who know not to trust him have to admit that what he's saying is too plausible to entirely write off.
    • He's even able to lie to Aria, a woman who has held power on Omega, a space station full of Starscreams for centuries, partly by being able to tell exactly what one is planning and thinking or when they might try to move against her. The book Mass Effect: Retribution has a bit from Aria's POV where it says that she is able to read body language and tiny subconscious clues, but the Illusive Man is still unreadable because he is actually sending out a confusing mishmash of contradictory signals, so that even she can't read him. The best part? Even though she realises that he is capable of lying to her, and so devotes all her considerable cunning to working out if he is being truthful, he still manages to tell her several direct lies without her realising.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Girl Genius, Anevka Sturmvoraus says that her brother Tarvek could probably charm Baron Wulfenbach himself, and he indeed does a pretty good job at playing all sides up the middle, until he's forced to reveal a hand in an effort to keep Lucrezia from ordering a city full of revenants to attack incoming soldiers and gets shot for it. Later events reveal that Tarvek has been able to keep some major lies running for years.
    • Anevka does a pretty good job herself, convincing almost everybody she meets for an entire arc that they're really on her side, whether they are or not. She is eventually defeated by Tarvek's hidden ace, though.
  • In Order of the Stick, Smug Snake Kubota claims to be capable of fooling magical lie detection, which is pretty much a prerequesite to scheming for the throne of a city that has no compunctions about using such magic.
    • Since Order of the Stick is based on Dungeons & Dragons rules, it applies there as well: There are a number of feats and spells that allow you to ignore or resist magical lie detection.
    • Also keeping with good Dungeons & Dragons traditions, Haley, who is already good at bluffing, downs a potion that greatly increases her bluff which means she can make any bluff check no matter the penalty. In practice, she uses this to convince guards that they can't really see them, or that they are fired, or that the guard himself doesn't exist, or that she didn't mean it when she said her father ruined her life. She is however unable to convince her father than Elan is a good guy, because Bluff only works on things that aren't actually true. (That would take a Diplomacy check. As such, any D&D player can be better at convincing people of lies than of truths.
  • Subverted in Schlock Mercenary when General Xinchub, who is suspected to be this trope after telling a rather outrageous story to Ennesby and Schlock, reveals that he isn't an example when he establishes a baseline by telling an obvious lie and is caught red-handed by TAG (an AI skilled at lie detection). Double-subverted when it turns out telling the truth was a Batman Gambit to make Ennesby trigger a query trap when he tried to confirm the story using the Hypernet, and nobody was able to catch on to that.
  • Thief of Eight Bit Theater has claimed that Red Mage is "not actually a cross dresser and he has no daddy issues. I've just been messing with his head."


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Cody Jenson in Survival of the Fittest v1 (at least pre-psychotic) was a devilish liar, stringing along Adam Dodd for quite some considerable time before the latter even started to get suspicious. (Jenson pretended he was another kid, leading to Adam talking to him about how much he wanted to kill... him). When he finds out later who Jenson really is, Adam is needless to say, not pleased.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

Azula: I am a four-hundred foot purple platypus bear with pink horns and silver wings.
Toph: *Beat* Okay, you're good...

  • Odd example in Shrek 3: Pinocchio has to become an incredibly skilled Truth Twister to avoid being given away by his own lie-revealing "ability".
  • "That No-Good, Lying" Toucan Dan of Disney's Timon and Pumbaa show was an evil and impossibly hypnotic liar, being able to convince anyone of anything, merely by stating it as fact. In one episode, after being imprisioned, he tricks Timon into switching places with him by gently insisting that he (Toucan Dan) was actually on the outside of the cell, and Timon was on the inside.
  • Vlad Masters from Danny Phantom who managed to convince everyone he's just a normal billionaire and later benevolent mayor unless he felt the need to reveal his true intentions. Played the best in "D-Stabilized" where Vlad continuously succeeds in convincing Valerie with little hesitation.
    • Goes hand-in-hand with Manipulative Bastard, as Vlad maintains an anti-ghost attitude when dealing with Valerie and other citizens of Amity, who are generally anti-ghost themselves. This works because the only people who know about Vlad's half-ghost status are unable to reveal it without risking Danny's secret in turn.
  • On Justice League, Thannagarians (like Hawkgirl) are revealed to be immune to telepathy and thus J'onn cannot read any of their thoughts. There's also the events of the Justice League meeting their Alternate Universe equivalents in "A Better World", who use the alternate J'onn to make first contact.

Batman: Have you read his mind yet?
J'onn: Martians don't do that to one another.
Batman: Can't... Or won't?
J'onn: Both.

  • The above Justice League example is very interesting if one considers how Martian telepathy is treated in Young Justice, wherein young Miss Martian (aka M'gann M'orzz) initially tries to converse with her fellow YJ members telepathically... only to be told it's considered to be a horribly invasive thing to do from the POV of non-Martians.
  • Steele, the Big Bad of Balto, is able to lie effectively enough that the entire town is sold and considers him the town hero. The only one whose able to see through his lies is Jenna, and that's likely because she knows he's a selfish Glory Hound and has no interest in him, and Balto, because Steele lets him see what's Beneath the Mask by tormenting him all the time. Naturally neither of them are believed when they tell others Steele is a liar.
  • Angelica Pickles frequently makes stuff up to her cousins to manipulate them into doing bad things and usually requires the entire episode to uncover the lie. A notable example being when she convinced Tommy that her friend's sister disappeared as a result of her parents giving away toys she outgrew.