Masquerade

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
LoSRH116 4754.jpg
The First Tradition: The Masquerade -- "Thou shalt not reveal thy true nature to those not of the Blood. Doing so shall renounce thy claims of Blood."
—from Vampire: The Masquerade, Third Edition.

The setting, the geography, etc. should somewhat resemble the viewer's. The newspapers will have the same headlines, the cities will look the same on the surface, etc. But... hidden below it all, what's really going on is far different. This trope is a tool of the writers to engage Willing Suspension of Disbelief and ensure Plausible Deniability.

At its most basic definition, whatever supernatural or extraordinary groups in the series, often an Ancient Conspiracy of some sort, must hide their existence from consensus reality, and anything is permitted to maintain this: Laser-Guided Amnesia, Brainwashing, even shaping the natural laws to make themselves Invisible to Normals.

The in-setting reason for this is usually some version of "society in general would object to said group's very existence". The real-life reason is typically that the story is intended to be set in "our" world, and the streets of Anytown USA might seem a bit less familiar if they were filled with vampires and witches and the like who were making their presence obvious. The Masquerade makes it easier for the fans to imagine what it feels like to live as a "normal" person in the setting.

Sometimes, especially in more cynical series, Somebody Else's Problem or The World Is Not Ready is used to explain why the Masquerade persists, even if the heroes don't necessarily want it to continue. On the other end, maintaining the Masquerade usually requires morally gray or outright black choices, like discrediting or killing the Crazy Survivalist and Agent Mulder trying to expose it. Even if the character protecting the Masquerade doesn't turn evil doing it, he's likely to end up isolated. The tensions of their role usually engender a bad reputation and kill off their love life.

People who discover the masquerade usually have five choices that present themselves to them.

The decreasing popularity of Plausible Deniability has led to this trope becoming increasingly subverted or just ignored.

Alternately, usually in shows that are on the comedy side, a large portion of the general public actually believes the Masquerade exists and the very authority figures whom they assume are covering it up are actually the ones being kept in the dark. The Men in Black may even spread true rumors with the intent that a Crazy Survivalist will deny them. It works, because without enough evidence to unravel the conflicting stories, the general public only get a general idea that they are being deceived.

Other times, it seems like the Masquerade is so paper thin that anyone with two brain cells to rub together should see through it, yet the world at large remains oblivious. If that happens you know you're dealing with an Extra-Strength Masquerade. Taken even further, if the Masquerade is broken in front of the general public with any regularity and yet the public never seems to acknowledge it, then there is likely a Weirdness Censor facilitating that it remain masked.

If the Masquerade does manage to get blown wide open for everyone, The Unmasqued World may result. If the masquerading beings aren't remotely human looking, they will have at least one means to pose as human.

The word "Masquerade" appears with this meaning in the 1958 Robert Heinlein novel Methuselah's Children, as the code-name which the extremely long-lived Howard Families apply to their efforts to conceal their longevity from ephemerals (the short-lived three-score-and-ten-years majority of the human race). A later example appears in the Tabletop RPG game Vampire: The Masquerade, published by White Wolf Games since the early 1990s (and its short-lived TV series spinoff, 1996's Kindred: The Embraced). "The Masquerade" referred to the necessity for vampires to hide their existence.

A Sub-Trope of Living a Double Life.

Not to be confused with Masquerade Ball or Masquerade.

Examples of Masquerade include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Roppongi Club in Speed Grapher usually covers up everything that goes awry and might expose them by either buying off people or killing them, but this starts getting harder and harder to pull off when Tatsumi Saiga enters the picture.
  • Magical Project S subverts this trope as Sasami hides the secret she is the magical girl Pretty Sammy and that there is a magical kingdom on the moon, however in the last episode it's revealed that everyone knew about her identity and the magical world, but played along because they knew she wanted to keep it secret.
  • Strawberry Panic has a fairly obvious one going (on behalf of the students) to blind the faculty to the massive amounts of Girls Love going on. Since the story is set at a Catholic school, this is justified. This does have a dark side, though, in that sexual predation is more or less buried and handled informally in much the same manner.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima, a world with similarities to Harry Potter, has as the first defense to magic a simple worldwide spell that prevents muggles from noticing anything really obviously weird. Things like Negi flying on his staff are written off as nobody looking up. However it is possible for magic to be figured out or noticed, in that case the person suffers a bout of forgetfulness. Any mage who does break the Masquerade is threatened with punishment (such as being turned into an ermine). This especially comes up in the second series, Negima?!, when two "observers" threaten Negi every single episode as more and more students become aware of him (and hiding this fact becomes increasingly difficult). The school being an Elaborate University High with oddities like The World Tree and a huge dungeon for a library helps in dismissing the few scattered reports of magic as just part of the package, as does humanity's natural inclination to dismiss the illogical.
    • An arc about midway through the manga deals with a conspiracy to irrevocably reveal magic's existence. By replacing the spell that forces people to drop their built-in Weirdness Censors while spreading enough evidence to convince them that Magic is real.
      • And the hero angsts about possibly not being right for about half of it and eventually just accepts that he's probably the bad guy in this arc. He does have the good point that if it was worth being turned into an ermine from his point of view, the villain would have just told him that at the beginning.
  • The Manhua School Shock has double masquerade revealed later on: first of, the entire town Ah-Xuan lives in has been built for him to live there, as he is the Child Of Eden, and he is under constant surveillance. After he had several run-ins with military and renegade Vanguards and had a role in a particularly great event, in which he kidnapped his super soldier love interest and a mech to effectively flee out of control, he get his memories replaced and his school life is filled with Vanguards from the local military base, all pretending to be friends and family.
  • In Darker than Black the existence of contractors is kept secret from the general population with the use of memory erasure devices.
  • Mages in the Nasuverse (Tsukihime, Fate/stay night) generally have to keep themselves hidden, and teach their arts in secret. While everything in the universe is stronger than a measly human, things like vampires still do the same, apparently because human beings are too far-reaching (the Church is rather devoted to wiping out bloodsuckers).
    • The canon explanation for this is because systems of Magecraft actually draw on a limited "amount" of power—the more followers a system have, the lower the amount an individual can actually pull out. So really, they're keeping it secret just so they can keep the power to themselves.
  • The mermaids of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch keep the Masquerade going with an elaborate story (true or not) that a breach of the secret will turn the offending mermaid into seafoam. (This is likely based on the old Danish fairy tale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, in which mermaids turn into seafoam when they die.)
  • In the original Digimon Adventure and its sequel, the kids try to conceal the fact that they have Digimon from their families. It works fine until all hell breaks loose and the worlds start overlapping bringing them front-and-center. Gennai does a good job rebuilding the Masquerade on a worldwide scale, but the kids are met with considerably less success when they try to re-pull the wool over their parent's eyes (They try, but their parents have better memories than they think).
  • Subverted in Digimon Savers, when Masaru attempts to hide Agumon from his mother and sister. However, both he and Augmon fall off the roof in front of them within five minutes. When Masaru wakes up he finds that not only is his family completely unfazed, but that his mother had invited Agumon to have dinner with them while he was KO'ed.
    • This reaction is actually explained around episode 11, when Masaru's mother reveals that she knew about both the existence of Digimon and DATS (her husband created the organization), and realized pretty early on that Masaru's involvement with them was almost inevitable.
  • Magic in Kaze no Stigma, supposedly a secret between mage families and various government agencies. Stretches disbelief in the modern setting, considering the demons the mages are hired to exterminate and the occasional reckless mage. A giant flaming statue commanded by an heiress with the high ground fighting a demon down a city street—and the occasional collapsing hotel—can not be that easy to cover up.
  • The existence of shinigami and Hollows in Bleach is kept secret from humans, thanks to them being Invisible to Normals and copious erasure of memories.
  • Megazone 23: Despite appearing like an idealized 1980's Japan... the world is actually in a drifting colony ship far in the future, with an AI trying to keep its inhabitants blissfully unaware, productive, and not panicky.
  • Despite the fact that the existence of Time Travellers, ESPers and Aliens in Suzumiya Haruhi is technically hidden, sometimes it seems as though you can't move for students at North High who turn out to be one of the three. Then again, the three such who are in the SOS-dan have all told Kyon that the school is heavily infiltrated by agents of all three groups. This is more evident in the books than in the anime, where only one character outside their group turns out to be one of these.
    • One character, Tsuruya, has laughed about how badly Kyon and company cover their activities, but has stated she's not going to push the issue. It's implied that she herself is hiding a plethora of adventures; if so, she's a lot better at avoiding detection.
    • Tsuruya has a 600 year old titanium-cesium jar buried in the mountain behind her gigantic home that she didn't know about. And since the only other Genki Girl in the series happens to be a reality-warper, it's a pretty good sign that Nagaru Tanigawa has big plans for her.
  • Subverted in Pom Poko, where the Tanuki desperately attempt to save their habitat from the bulldozers by scaring the developers away. When that doesn't work, one group breaks the masquerade to try to openly fight the human, and lose. Meanwhile, another group decides to arrange TV coverage; they publicly reveal themselves to plead their case to save their home, and that move succeeds in getting public opinion on their side (to some degree).
  • Sailor Moon. At the end of the canon, only a handful of non-senshi knew their civillain names, so it's an example of the masquerade working. Well, at least until Sailor Galaxia blows it up in the Grand Finale. Alongside with the entire population of the Earth. Don't worry, humanity gets better in the end.
    • Codename: Sailor V, on the other hand... well, let's just say that it may as well be a masquerade itself that the parents don't know...
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha keeps Non-Administrated Worlds such as Earth out of the Masquerade through Phantom Zones that shift non-mages slightly out of place/time so magical battles and strange occurrences will be Invisible to Normals. There doesn't seem to be any harsh consequences for people learning about the Masquerade, though it helps that the only Muggles that have learned about it are friends and families who are willing to play Secret Keeper.
  • Essentially all Magical Girl series, helped by the fact that they are traditionally Invisible to Normals.
  • Kamichu!! is exactly the kind of show you'd expect to have a Masquerade, which is why it's so startling that it doesn't. By the end of the first episode, everybody knows Yurie has become a kami (minor god), and no one has trouble buying it. Such gods are all around according to the Shinto faith, but they don't usually reside in people. However, there's only so much room for doubt after a typhoon with Yurie's face on it appears.
  • Since he can't persuade her not to come to school, Sakura tries to get Dokuro to maintain a Masquerade in Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan. This lasts about ten seconds—when asked to introduce herself, she forgets completely and just says she's an angel. No one has a problem with this, and it saves them the trouble of explaining her visible halo.
  • The monks in Shikabane Hime go to considerable lengths to hide the existence of Shikabane, apparently to prevent Muggles being hurt in the crossfire.
  • Shakugan no Shana has battles that stop time, but the collateral damage must be fixed with energy taken from peoples' lives, and the heroes always have make sure to fix everything. Thakefully, almost anything can be fixed, including the Muggles suspended in time sustaining lethal damage.
  • Omamori Himari has this more as a side note. The "Public Safety Division 4" usually keeps things secret in Japan and works together with the Onikiri-Yaku/Demon Slayers, other nations are stated to have similar groups.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, everyone has a mask.
  • Kashimashi averts this both by having the Human Alien and his Spaceship Girl prominantly broadcast that they were aliens, just crash landed on Hazumu, and made him a Gender Bender putting him back together. This gets Lampshaded when the aliens start living in Hazumu's room, and he/she tries to hide them, only to find his/her parents already know and not only don't care, but are already serving them breakfast.
  • Ojamajo Doremi lampshades it with reason—if someone calls witch a witch, she will turn into a slug/frog. So obviously, you cant reveal who you are.
  • Seto no Hanayome does this with mermaids attempting to hide their existence. Given all the weird stuff that goes on, one would think that no one would care about mermaids.
  • Fruits Basket to an extent, hiding the Sohma curse.
  • Code Geass has the Geass Directorate, which naturally hides Geass. Also, in a bizarre use of this trope, the vast majority of the world is left unaware of the political turmoil and the Zero Requiem towards the end of the series, which makes this a rare Masquerade set up by the good guys.
    • On the surface, Ashford Academy is just a high school for the upperclass Brittanians in Area 11. But the entire school compound is wired with surveilance, and an extensive underground headquarters has been set up underneath the school by the military. The hot PE teacher is actually an undercover baron, several of the students have been implanted with false memories, while another student is actually a superpowered assassin masquerading as a younger brother to the protagonist, who is unknowingly the the legendary, mind controlling, and supposedly dead terrorist leader Zero.
      • Even in season 1, the Academy served as a sanctuary for an exiled prince and princess, who's mother was an imperial consort backed by the Ashford Foundation.
  • In Super Dreadnought Girl 4946, it's revealed that every major war for the past century or so has been a cover-up for a war against giant alien monsters.
  • The Breaker (Manhwa) has the murim-in, a secret world of superpowered martial artists. The government has agreed to keep the murim-in secret and not to meddle in their affairs.
  • The World of Narue has a lot of masquerade maintainence of the alien variety in it. It's difficult because most aliens(and whole alien battleships) are fugitives and the occasional alien terrorist attack happens as well.
  • Rosario + Vampire has two overlapping masquerades. First, there's Youkai Academy, a school that teaches monsters to coexist peacefully with humans and hide their identities. Then there's Tsukune, a human who accidentally enrolled and has to hide the fact that he's human from everyone. Except his closest friends. And the headmaster. And the Big Bad. And every plot-significant character. Further subverted in that he eventually loses his muggle status.
  • The Magical Girls of Puella Magi Madoka Magica don't try very hard to maintain The Masquerade; it's more that with everything relevant being Invisible to Normals and/or taking place in a Phantom Zone, it'd be considerably more work to explain what's going on than let people make up explanations.
  • In ARAGO, The Fair Folk and other "mythical" creatures most definitely exist, but the majority of humans are completely unaware of them.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The miniseries Wanted has an almighty Legion of Doom of allied supervillains who exterminated all superheroes on earth in 1986, and keep the world under a delusion that they never existed, as well as covering up all the horrible crimes supervillains can now commit for fun.
  • Fables has the various fairy-tale and mythological beings of the book living in the middle of New York City, and disguised from normal humans, called "Mundies". Nonhuman fables (Three Little Pigs, Billy Goats Gruff, Etc.) who can't afford magical disguises live on a massive upstate park called "The Farm". The are found out by a reporter who notices that all the property in Fabletown has been owned by the same people for hundreds of years and draws the conclusion that they're vampires. They scare him into silence by drugging him and setting up a photoshoot with the perpetually young Pinocchio to blackmail him into keeping his mouth shut. Then Bluebeard kills him.
  • Route 666 follows the adventures of Cassie Starkweather when, after the traumatic accidental death of a friend, she (re)gains the ability to see and talk with ghosts. However, she can also see the true forms of monsters pretending to be normal people. When escaping from an insane asylum run by said monsters, she kills a few of them. Unfortunately, after death, they revert to normal human form. This means she is not only being pursued by the monsters as an enemy to their conspiracy, but by the law as a psychopathic killer.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In Highlander, the existence of Immortals is unknown to the general public, and one Season Finale of Highlander the Series is based upon a specific threat to reveal their existence to the world.
  • The Men in Black movies and cartoon series spun this theme around, and justified it with the (quite reasonable) claim that if humans knew about aliens, they would do stupid things because The World Is Always Doomed.
  • The Matrix takes place in a world where Earth as we know it is actually a virtual simulation created to pacify the human race while they were being harvested for electricity (supposedly) after they lost a Robot War.
    • The Resistance has a rule of not revealing the true nature of the Matrix to those they haven't freed yet, and there's a very good reason for it—every human still connected to the Matrix is a potential Agent, and the nature of the trace program that the Machines use means that doing this is a very good way to bring them down on your head.
  • Tyler Durden's Fight Clubs are a variant of this. Rules 1 and 2 of the Fight Clubs forbid revealing their existence. (At times, it seems like the entire male population of the US is in on it.) This is problematic when the main character wants to go public, and has to deal with protocols he himself has set up forbidding him from doing so.
    • So many people get in on the secret because, as we see several times, members of Fight Club don't always follow the rules. Also there is one point in the film where a politician, who is vaguely aware of Fight Club and its vandalism/terrorist activities, promises to take action against them... then denies their existence after Tyler threatens to castrate him.
  • The toys of Toy Story drop or freeze in place when humans or animals approach. This is apparently a societal more, as they treat breaking cover on Sid in the first movie as a desperation move. Compare this to Jim Henson's The Christmas Toy, in which toys are animate when humans are not looking at them. Any toy caught out of place is "frozen forever" and cannot reanimate.
  • In Independence Day, President Action says that the Roswell Incident never really happened, only to be told by one of his advisors, "Uh, Mr. President, that's not... entirely accurate".
  • In Harry and the Hendersons, The Obi-Wan-like museum curator declares "There is no such thing as Bigfoot" just as Harry steps into view behind him.
  • The live-action Transformers film is an even better example than its animated counterparts listed below; the Transformers, especially the Decepticons, exist as robots in disguise because if they attract the attention of American's armed forces, our military technology can and will kill them. Starscream may be superior to any two or three human fighter craft, but we have lots of fighter craft to hunt him down with.
    • The masquerade is two-way, however. A bureau of the US Government discovered Megatron and the All-Spark Cube many years before Bumblebee showed up, and so the US presidents and Sector 7 have been aware of the Transformers all that time, never informing anyone else. According to the Sector 7 comic books, the knew that Transformers were out there, but not that they were out here.
  • The Island. In the beginning it looks like it's the last remaining Utopian society After the End, but it turns out that all of the inhabitants are really clones being raised in an artificial environment in order to provide replacement organs for the owners' wealthy clients.
  • In the Blade series, vampires hide from humanity. In the 1st film, Deacon Frost wants to break the Masquerade and rule humans in the open. In the 2nd film, the vampires have beefed up their Masquerade a bit just to hide from Blade. Also in the 2nd film, they promptly show Blade their new security measures. No wonder they had to bring back Dracula... Drake is disgusted with the Masquerade. In a twist of fate, it's a human weapon that kills him.
  • In Plan 9 from Outer Space, whether or not the aliens want to maintain a masquerade, the government is trying to cover up the aliens, and the civilians or the government are aware of the aliens apparently changes from line to line.
  • In the Rifftrax for Terminator 3, as the girl witnesses her fiance morph into a killer robot, Mike lampshades this: "Don't look so surprised. A shapeshifting robot killed your fiance and wants to kill you, this is now the world you live in."
    • Actually the Terminator movies avert this as much as possible. There are robot parts everywhere. A freaked out mother tells the authorities she had a son with a guy from the future and now robots from the future are trying to kill him because he's going to save the world. When she escapes, she goes underground in paramilitary groups to train herself and her son. Also, machines have no qualms in fucking up the timeline in any possible way, kill anyone gets in their way, and they only put on a thin Masquerade themselves to gain access to the human society and technology, which both equal information for their missions. The behavior of the Terminator sent in T2 to protect John, in the first half of the movie, shows best how any Masquerade is pulled off.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, the adults of Springwood have established a Masquerade concealing the existence of Freddy Kreuger from the town's young people, to deny him the fear that allows him to harm people through their dreams. Those already aware of Freddy's existence are drugged with Hypnocil to prevent them from dreaming, and are confined in a mental hospital, cut off from the outside world.
  • In Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, ghosts are only invisible to the living because the livingwon'tsee the strange or unusual. Those who can see the ghosts (such as Lydia), are only able to do so because they themselves are "strange and unusual."
  • In the first Hellboy film (in contrast with the original comicbooks) the existence of the supernatural is a carefully-guarded secret. As far as the public knows, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense does not exist, Hellboy is just an urban myth, and Hitler died in 1948. Then in the sequel, The Unmasqued World Hellboy goes public.
  • In The Tooth Fairy, the tooth fairies try to keep their existence hidden. What makes it weird is that they need the belief in tooth fairies to stay around, and apparently belief is waning. Why try so hard to cover up your existence if you need people to believe in you?


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Most of Mr. Lovecraft's work, and the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole, depends on a metaphorical 'veil' that shrouds us from any reality aside from the one right in front of our faces. Only the curious and academic seek to pierce it, and at their own peril. Justifying the veil varies according to its origin; the Mi-Go and Deep Ones are good ensuring they stay a secret for their own convenience and infiltration purposes, and the enormous time gap between now and the reign of Ancient Astronauts and currently-sleeping gods-monsters keeps them out of common knowledge. The investigators themselves, however, often find reason to destroy evidence of strange and powerful beings, not simply to avoid a panic, and certainly not to protect what they have found, but rather to preserve the sanity of civilization as a whole. "The Call of Cthulhu" says it best:

"We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either Go Mad from the Revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."

    • Actually, most masquerades in Lovecraft's work are of a less esoteric kind, being simply actively maintained by interested parties from alien species who do not care to have mankind at large discover their presence to cultists who'll happily murder any outsiders found to know too much. The above quote gets mined quite a bit, usually leaving out the little fact that it's written in the 'voice' of the dead narrator rather than that of the author himself.
    • The Danish Cthulhu Mythos short story Tilfældet H.P. Lovecraft (The Case of H.P. Lovecraft) pulls a rather inserting twist on the usual Masquerade in Cthulhu Mythos stories. The main character, a Lovecraft fan, finds an encrypted blog written by his old friend, an esteemed Lovecraft researcher who recently committed suicide. The blog starts off being written as a project looking into some strange theories about Lovecraft's stories for a even strange company. It eventually devolves with his friend's blog entries becoming more and more confused and rambling, and finally on goes to claim that H.P. Lovecraft never existed, that and he was just a fictional construct used as a pseudonym for a collective of writers headed by Robert E. Howard, who wrote stories based on the real Necronomicon which the group had in their possession.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter contends that it's "more convenient" if non-wizards (Muggles) don't know about it. This is not a pure example of the trope, as the highest echelons of the mundane British government are aware of and work with the Wizarding World, as do the families of Muggle-born wizards and witches. One of the themes of the series is how the WW seeks to isolate itself from Muggles because they think of themselves as better. The Minister for Magic's interaction with the Prime Minister, for instance, consists largely of the MM teleporting into his office, telling him a few terrifying facts about what Voldemort and Friends are up to, and popping out again.
    • The masquerade is justified in that it started out to protect them in the Dark Ages when witches and wizards were persecuted. Fast-forward to modern day with more advanced weapons and technology. And many more Muggles. A covert SAS unit tasked with fighting Voldemort and other Dark Wizards would likely have worked very well, if any wizards had had the humility to even consider such a thing.
      • Actually the Statute of Secrecy was instituted in 1692 - hardly the dark ages. Perhaps it was precipitated by the ongoing Salem witch trials. The date is important, though, for being around the beginning of the enlightenment. In the HP verse, what we muggles traditionally think of as a gradual scientific rejection of the supernatural was actually caused by the WW's intentional retreat into secrecy.
  • Used in The Dresden Files by most people. Whereas most of the supernatural world tries to keep out of the eyes of normal people, Harry actually advertises his status as a Wizard and assists the Chicago Police Department's Special Investigations branch in mysterious cases. Many people still think he's a charlatan, however. Proven Guilty has a villain tell Harry that he dare not threaten the Masquerade by acting against him in public. Harry comments that he's listed in the phone book, under Wizards.
    • In one book, Harry specifically notes that involving the general public in supernatural conflicts would result in an escalation into global chaos. However, in a later book, when fighting an enemy faction that refuses to adhere to any of established rules, he seriously considers the option of getting the government to attack them under guise of them being terrorists (which is what they are anyways). Calling in mortals is seen as something of a "nuclear option" in the supernatural world. They may not know what's going on, but they can keep throwing bodies, guns, and potentially actual nukes at a problem until it goes away. Consequently most supernatural creatures keep a moderately low profile, though the mortals' Weirdness Censor means they don't have to try very hard, even if they have contempt for humans individually.
    • The main reason given for why the supernatural world is hidden is a case of planet-wide denial. People are so freaked out by the supernatural that humanity as a whole will come up with any excuse they can think of to rationalize it away. This isn't aided by the fact that magic fries electronic equipment, leading to any video, audio, or even photographic evidence coming out blank, or glitchy to the point of being unrecognizable. One of the best examples is when Harry is escaping from a fight with his friend, a medical examiner, who has actually seen some weird stuff in bodies before, and has just seen something that is explicitly supernatural, and asks how people can rationalize stuff away. Harry asks him what he's seen, and he starts to rationalize it away. Harry lampshades, it making his point.
    • The wizarding world also has an internal Masquerade with the Oblivion War, an attempt to destroy ancient evil gods. They have a very good reason for keeping quiet, because the only way for the gods to cease to exist is for no mortal to remember they exist at all. Recruiting people than absolutely necessary or sharing information is counterproductive, and they have no idea how many gods they've erased, because any record of them would let them hang on.
  • As said above, the actual phrase "masquerade" appears in Robert A. Heinlein's Methuselah's Children, in which the "Howards" conceal their long lifespans from the rest of humanity, mainly because their long lifespans come from a program of selective breeding. ("Hey, we live for three times as long as you! Sorry, we're just special, there's no way you can have this.") The novel starts with the consequences of an attempt to drop the Masquerade which has gone badly.

"You all know the efforts all of us are making to keep our ages optimized. You, Maureen, how old are you?"
"Uh ... forty-seven."
"Nancy? Your age, dear?"
Nancy started to say, "Fifty-two." She got out the first syllable, bit it off. "Oh, shucks, Papa Weatheral. I don't keep track of my age."
"Your age, Nancy," Justin insisted.
"Let me see. Mama had me at fifteen, so-- How old are you, Mama?"
"Forty-seven."
"Yes, of course. I'm thirty-two."
Justin looked at my granddaughter Roberta, my great-granddaughter Anne, and my great-great-granddaughter Nancy Jane ...

  • In an interesting subversion, in Gils All Fright Diner the people of Rockwood are completely aware of the zombies, vampire turkeys, evil cults, and other supernatural occurrences that happen in and around their town—and are generally completely indifferent to it. This is apparently because the rising level of weirdness also causes people to accept the supernatural easier—the weirder things get, the less strange they seem. This all works out quite well for the two protagonists of the story, as no one is particularly freaked out or surprised to learn that Duke is a werewolf or Earl is a vampire.
    • This actually makes for another example of fiction imitating reality. In the real world, most humans, for most of our history, believed in all of these monsters, the beasts and demons and ghosts. They learned to live with their fears, no less than we live with our fears of muggers and drunken drivers.
  • The existence of vampires and werewolves in Twilight.
  • Mortal Instruments: Supernatural creatures and Shadowhunters protect their existence from Muggles. Also, a country apparently doesn't exist.
  • In John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos, Greek gods are raising hostage children in what appears to be a school; they are hiding this not only from the outside world but from the children themselves.
  • Subverted in the Mercy Thompson series, where some supernatural races have voluntarily abandoned their own Masquerades. The Fae had revealed themselves (although not all of their abilities and bad habits) before the series began, and the Were come out of the closet (with a fancy PR job) in the first book. By contrast, the Vampires haven't come out, for the obvious reason that it's a little harder to be socially accepted when you freakin' eat people.
  • Uniquely subverted in the erotic werewolf novel Master of Wolves, in which werewolves have two Masquerades: one to conceal their existence from humans, and another to keep vampires ignorant of their presence. The werewolf protagonist must eventually force his kind to "come out" to the vampires—creatures which they'd originally been created to keep an eye on, and exterminate if they became a bad enough threat to humanity—to avert a still greater threat to all three species.
  • Vampire Elders and the human governments work together to keep the existence of vampires a secret from the world at large in Night Watcher. This might actually be more of a standard Government Conspiracy according to one mindscrewy revelation that may or may not be entirely valid ( i.e., that vampires are a 20th century military experiment gone useless).
  • Wicked Lovely gives the fey quite a good masquerade- they merely don glamours to apear mortal.
  • The fairies in Artemis Fowl live underground to avoid humans, although it wasn't always so.
    • Also, the demons in "The Lost Colony used to live in Limbo. Does that count?
  • On the Discworld, a long-standing Masquerade exists amongst wizards, that insists they must remain chaste to maintain their power. This mistaken belief was deliberately disseminated after the Mage Wars, as keeping wizards celibate seemed like the surest way to prevent sourcerers from being conceived.
  • In the Young Wizards series, a society where wizards practice the Masquerade is the exception, not the rule. Wizardry is practiced out in the open on most other planets, and cat wizards and whale wizards only have to hide their magic from humans, not other members of their own species.
    • The Language of Magic has acronyms for "place where magic can be practiced out in the open" and "place where magic must be practiced in secret".
    • Wizards have a spell much more powerful than mere Laser-Guided Amnesia for maintaining the Masquerade. Lets say that a bunch of dinosaurs appear in the middle of downtown New York City and start eating the Muggles. To deal with this, a group of wizards will cooperate on a large spell which will search the Alternate Universes for a New York City who's downtown wasn't invaded by dinosaurs, then copy that version of downtown over their version of downtown so that the invasion never happened, up to and including bringing the dead Muggles back to life. However, this spell can't be used bring wizards back to life, or non-wizards whose Heroic Sacrifice helped defeat the Big Bad, so Death Is Cheap is averted.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, the Circle of Solomon goes to great efforts to keep magic away from Mundanes; the only reason The Tempest was not censored out of existence was that it was taken as fiction. This was to prevent people from trying to solve problems by appealing to supernatural beings, many of which demanded worship and some of which were evil. Success resulted in the Industrial Revolution.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows in Zamboula", this is rumored of Aram Baksh, who has managed to keep himself from official notice but not Infallible Babble: he is said to be a demon in human form. (The truth is also something ugly.)
  • In Animorphs, the existence of the Yeerks is largely unknown on Earth. There is one website devoted to Yeerks, but it is run by a Controller. Justified in that Yeerks tend to go for important people, and many people in the media are probably Controllers.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Kull story "The Shadow Kingdom", the Snakemen disguise themselves as humans and usurp thrones.
  • In the Alcatraz Series- Most of the world, known as the Hushlands are controlled by Evil Librarians who use their control of information to teach all sorts of lies about history, economics, geography, physics, etc. The Free Kingdoms are continents that have not yet been conquered by the Evil Librarians, so they don't even appear on Librarian-approved maps. For example, one of the Free Kingdoms is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Actually averted in the web-novel Domina. One of the first things the Reasonable Authority Figure does when he finds out the city is being attacked by super-powered zombies is go on TV, explain everything, and warn people not to panic.
  • Justified in Sergey Lukyanenko's Night Watch. While the Others are powerful, human technology has progressed to the point where they would not be safe anywhere should humans at large find out about them. The novel Last Watch shows how easily Others can be killed using remote-controlled guns, which don't have an aura and have no malice. Luckily, the Others have a host of mind-manipulation spells that they're normally not allowed to use but can break them out in an emergency.
  • Rivers of London the masquerade is kept up not by deliberate cover-ups, but mainly by a combination of traditionally being discrete and just nobody having actually noticed yet. Between Peter and Tyburn's efforts, this may not last much longer.
  • Lonely Werewolf Girl has the masquerade being seen as both a help and a hindrance for the werewolf hunters. On the plus side it lets them kill any Werewolves they feel like, on the downside it means they have to be extra-careful in selecting their targets because "I thought they were a werewolf" is not going to cut it as a murder defence. It's not clear exactly what benefit the Werewolves get from the masquerade though, beyond it just being how they've always done things.
    • To stop every git with a chip on his shoulder trying to climb up their nose?
  • The eponymous main character of The Automatic Detective stumbles upon one of these: aliens who believe the world isn't ready for them, and so have been deliberately introducing all manner of mutations into the human population, until they can eventually blend in with them.
  • In the Philip K. Dick short story, "Adjustment Team", the story's protagonist stumbles into a world that is in effect behind the scenes of the observable world where omnipotent beings alter the flow of reality to fit some kind of ineffable design. He opts to subject himself to Laser Guided Amnesia at the end of the story.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Conspiracy in The X-Files is a prime candidate. Not being known by the public means they can control it.
  • The vampires from Forever Knight had a faction called "The Enforcers" who either hypnotically erased memory of vampires in humans who discovered their existence or simply killed them.
  • In the Whoniverse, the Torchwood Institute, while similar to the Men in Black, kept its work secret for a less altruistic purpose—its goal was to adapt alien technology to recreate and maintain The British Empire. In the Spin-Off series Torchwood, a splinter cell of the original institute claims that it is trying to prepare the human race for some unspecified point in the 21st century when humanity will have to confront alien life. For some reason, this means keeping aliens a secret. But also sometimes not bothering to cover things up. This has been Lampshaded at certain points by the fact that, while Torchwood is theoretically a secret organization, even little old ladies respond to a car chase involving a fish-man with "Bloody Torchwood".
    • The Whoniverse as a whole had a Masquerade in contemporary Earth, but it's difficult to tell when it was broken, other than it being somewhere in the revival between "The Christmas Invasion" and "Last of the Time Lords". One of the major alien attacks following this was erased in series 5, though it was probably brought back by the rebooted universe in "The Big Bang". Series 1 (and a sleeper agent character in series 2) of Torchwood is somewhere in the middle, where humans are getting more and more alien tech, but plenty are still in denial about aliens coming through the Rift.
  • Common in Alien Invasion series such as First Wave, The Invaders, Threshold and War of the Worlds all relied on the notion of the aliens being somehow able to always keep their presence secret from everyone but the heroes. In War of the Worlds, they suggest that this is a combination of alien powers of hypnosis and mass hysteria. In Stargate SG-1 the Stargate program itself is an ordinary government secret, but several alien invasions have been averted with the general public being unaware even when fleets of ships approach the Earth.
    • If the invasion never actually reaches Earth's surface, it's semi-plausible that it could be covered up. What are the odds of somebody just happening to point their telescope right at the space battle, after all?
      • Unfortunately, Stargate is one of the sci-fi works that likes to lug around ships with sizes measured in kilometers, and throw around ship-to-ship weapons measured in megatons, if not more. When you use a pair of one-gigaton missiles to hit an equal number of kilometer-wide, gaudy gold pyramid ships, and said ships survive, you don't need telescopes to see, and you'd have to be underground, blind, or comatose to not notice.
    • The Masquerade came within serious danger of being broken in one episode which revolved around a guy who did just that, and captured some pics of Anubis's invasion fleet above Antarctica, along with some more concrete evidence: a living, but mindless, Asgard clone body. They actually, and believably, manage to maintain it despite the guy going public with his proof.
      • Half-believably. Attempting to explain it away as advanced holography would ring screaming alarm bells in anyone with even the most basic knowledge of optics. Perfect freestanding, three dimensional, beyond-human-eye-resolution holograms do not spring from nowhere.
      • Several episodes of SG-1 make it clear that some reverse engineered alien technology has been making its way into the commercial sector, via the SGC and the Trust composed of rogue-NID agents and corrupt businessmen. One episode featured a prototype particle cannon being "developed" by the US military. In the 8th Season finale Moebius, which features an alternate timeline in which the Stargate program never existed, a video camera left behind by a time-traveling SG-1 from the main timeline is described as being more advanced that what was commercially available in the alternate timeline.
        • And in Stargate Atlantis when McKay goes to a civilian scientific conference, the compound is surrounded by a force field and nobody thinks there is anything unusual in that.
        • The same episode also reveals that McKay has been publishing papers regarding certain concepts like pumping energy from another universe, which usually got him laughed at in the academic circles. The whole point of the episode is that a scientist didn't think it was ridiculous and built a device that made use of the concept.
  • The Star Trek universe's Section 31, an organization within The Federation which is dedicated to the dirty things that The Federation won't do. It has become mainly self-serving over the centuries and hides its existence from anyone outside.
    • There's also Gary Seven in Star Trek: The Original Series. His series never happened, though.
    • Several Expanded Universe novels reveal that Section 31's public counterparts (the Romulan Tal Shiar and the Cardassian Obsidian Order) know about its existence.
  • In the short-lived Birds of Prey (which was set in a very strange and dark version of The DCU), the existence of superheroes and supervillains was considered more or less an urban myth by everyone but those involved, although the degree to which it was necessary stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief almost to its breaking point.
  • Kamen Rider uses this often with the race of monsters/cybernetic humans attacking in that season; they usually hide in plain sight in an attempt to make taking over the world easier when the time comes. Occasionally one or more of the lead characters will be of the same race, but continues the masquerade both because The World Is Not Ready and because he wants to live a normal life after he successfully stops his race's plans.
    • Subverted cleverly in Kamen Rider Faiz, and while the Orphenochs are a lot stronger and tougher then normal humans, they can still be hurt and eventually killed by a lot of bullets. They even explicitly point out that while there's a good deal many Orphenochs, there's a lot more humans, with a lot more guns and bullets then they could ever hope to handle.
    • At its root, though, this is why all of the earlier Riders—more often than not created by evil terrorist organizations—have to henshin. After all, what's the point of an overpowered cyborg agent if they're easily identifiable as such. Also, the Riders don't mind living a normal life while stopping said organization's plans.
      • Subverted somewhat in an episode of Kamen Rider Amazon. Amazon (that's his actual name) realizes that a scared girl is an agent of the enemy when she isn't frightened of his Beastman friend.
    • In spite of the mooks being called Masquerade Dopants, Kamen Rider Double lacks one. People know about the Dopants that have been running around Fuuto for at least ten years and refer to them as such. Double himself starts out as merely a rumor, but not out of Shotaro's hesitance to transform in front of people. Admittedly the identities of the Dopants aren't known by the public, but they understand what they are.
  • Charmed used this as well, in that the sisters had to conceal their use of magic from normals. Not doing so led to disastrous results in a few cases (which were usually able to be reversed, in some cases with help by Lawful Neutral entities called the Cleaners who could just erase things and memories from existence).
    • What's really weird is that even the bad guys supported the Masquerade, despite the fact that breaking it only ever hurt the protagonists. All the demons were Immune to Bullets.
    • Considering Warhammer 40,000, having legions of fanatical humans hunting you down every time you popped up to do battle is a bit nervewracking. That, and there's no guarantee humans won't find a way to harm demons. It's much simpler for all parties involved to just keep that variable out.
  • Most, if not all, Sit Coms that involve magical worlds do this. Examples: Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Wizards of Waverly Place.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the main setting of the former gave its name to Sunnydale Syndrome. This was eventually subverted in Season 7 when the entire town ups sticks in face of the coming apocalypse. The government also knew about the supernatural and kept it from the public, and occasionally tried to fight it or take advantage of it, with results ranging from ineffective to disastrous.
    • The masquerade here is debatable, although partially because most people in Sunnydale get beaten around the head with just how many weird things occur. For example, in the Buffy Season Three last few episodes, it's revealed that if not most of the school, than at least Buffy's entire year, has come to realise that something about the town isn't quite right. In the Prom episode, several past examples are mentioned by the crowd (as well as Snyder) before they thank Buffy for keeping them all safe, giving her the title of "Class Protector". Then, in the finale, the entire graduating year bands together to fight off the Mayor and his hordes. It almost seems like everyone KNOWS, they just don't discuss it.
    • The Masquerade was broken for Los Angeles in Angel: After the Fall, and for the whole world in Season 8. These are both comic continuations.
  • Heroes involved several factions, such as the Company, which were involved with observing, controlling and if necessary eliminating people with abilities to prevent them from becoming a threat to society at large. In the second half of season three, the President is made aware of their existence by Nathan Petrelli, and a black ops group (currently led by Emile Danko) is set up to track down and lock up superpowered individuals. At present, though, the general public is not aware that they people with powers exist.
    • Except possibly in Tokyo, where Hiro and Ando are currently advertising a heroes-for-hire service in the phone book.
    • Also, while the Company and the rest of the not-so-Ancient Conspiracy is probably responsible for a good part of the Masquerade remaining intact, the main reason is that people with abilities don't usually want the world to know about themselves.
    • In the series finale, Claire breaks the Masquerade by demonstrating her abilities to a crowd of reporters. Had the show continued, the next volume would probably have dealt with the consequences of this action.
  • On True Blood, the vampire community came out of the coffin about two years ago. Well, glad that's done with. Oh, wait. Sam is a shapeshifter who can turn into an animal, particularly a dog...but he's not a werewolf. Werewolves are also real. Nobody knows this. Nobody knows about the witches, fairies, were-leopards and minotaur-like maenads. Also, the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, is secretly a psychic.
  • In Being Human (UK), the existence of Vampires, Werewolves and Ghosts is generally a secret. In Bristol (and implied elsewhere), the Vampire community has a relationship with the local Chief Inspector and the Coroner, to help cover up botched feeding attempts.
    • The premise of season one is that Herrick wants his faction to grow large and powerful enough that he can give up on the Masquerade and just rule humans directly.
      • The ending of season three suggest that another vampire faction wants to get that plan back on track since they are tired of having to hide from humans.
  • This is the premise of the upcoming Cartoon Network pilot, currently known as KROG. The titlar group are monsters from Middle Earth sent to Take Over the World, incognito as a monster costume band. Guess which one of the two they're more competent in.
  • In the British series Ultraviolet, the vampires code 5 keep their existence a secret so that human society won't wipe them out. The secret government agency that seeks to eradicate them also keeps it a secret to avoid creating a mass panic.
  • Wicked Science does this, both Toby and Elizabeth prefer to have their genius not known to others than their friends.
  • In Moonlight, the vampires are required to keep their existence hidden from the general public. A few humans can know, as long as they keep quiet. Any rogue vampires (usually newborns who haven't been taught to behave properly) must be "put down". There is also a team of leather-clad female Cleaners who are called in to clean up bloody messes left by careless vampires. In the series finale, they also act as executioners for a vampire who threatened to expose all LA vampires.
  • There was never a Masquerade to speak of in Supernatural - for a while, it seemed like both hunters and a large portion of monsters just didn't bother to tell the general public the truth because it would be inconvenient for them. Then the leviathans came along, and their leader stated the golden rule to be "There's no such thing as monsters".
  • The US Federal government created one in Alcatraz to explain the disappearance of all the prisoners and guards on March 21, 1963 from the titular prison. According to the official record, the prison was shut down as a cost-saving measure, then all of the inmates were issued fake transfer orders, followed by fake death certificates.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Every supernatural group in the Old World of Darkness games (and by extension in Kindred) -- not just the vampires—hides its existence from the "normals", even though collectively they not only control the world, but the fabric of reality. (Although to be fair, the werewolves accidentally bred their "masquerade" into humans, and it is at times as troublesome and annoying to them as it is useful; and the Mages are in fact hiding from the Technocracy, a group of Mages that have shaped the modern world the way it is, and strongly object to Hermetic magic, or herbalism, or spirit guides)
    • Almost every group: the Mage group the Taftani believe the Masquerade to be a lie and therefore immoral. They are not immune to Paradox that punish mages for breaking the Masquerade, but they shun 'coincidental magic' as cowardice, and practice magic that is both spectacular and aggressive (and often suicidal), hopefully with as many witnesses as possible.
      • Also, Demon: The Fallen. Considering that their source of power, Faith, is derived by revealing themselves to humans and making pacts, they have no problem with revealing themselves to advance their powers.
    • In the New World of Darkness, all of the supernaturals have reasons for the Masquerade - vampires for their survival, mages because Muggles just cause magic to fall apart if they see it, Changelings are afraid that their old masters will notice and come calling, and Prometheans because they cause the Torches and Pitchforks reaction by their existence. As their oWoD counterparts, werewolves can't help the Lunacy (their "masquerade"); their myths say it was a curse.
      • The non-human aspects of changelings' appearance in the nWoD are normally hidden by a powerful illusion called "the Mask." They don't maintain a masquerade so much as they sometimes put out the effort to not maintain one.
      • The Masquerade in the unofficial Genius: The Transgression, set in the nWoD, stands out because the Geniuses don't want the Masquerade. However, the nature of Inspiration enforces a masquerade whether they like it or not. This is because 1) When normal mortals try and fiddle with a Wonder, it either breaks or goes on a homicidal rampage. 2) Even if a Genius is careful not to let anyone touch his Wonders just demonstrating it in public tends to turn people into Igors or rival Geniuses. Between these two reasons, any attempt to break the Masquerade inevitably results in failure and death. They also tend to look as mad as they are when they try.
    • Geist: The Sin-Eaters, has no Masquerade-equivalent. None. There's nothing in the book even discouraging a group of Sin-Eater player characters from advertising in the Yellow Pages as a group of ghostbusters... except that perhaps no one would believe it.
    • The nWoD Hunters vary from Division Six, the Cheiron Group and Task Force VALKYRIE (whose job it is to keep the Masquerade intact, and all of whom are backed by something that isn't a normal human - a pack of mysterious aliens for Cheiron, vampires for VALKYRIE, and the Seers to the Throne for Div Six) to Network Zero, whose sole motive is to blow it wide open, and Null Mysteriis, who intend to do so as soon as they have a decent scientific explanation for all the weird shit that goes on in the World of Darkness.
  • In Deadlands, both of the setting's dominant governments actively maintain the Masquerade. They do this because they've realized the Big Bads thrive on, among other things, fear...and if people knew about things like walkin' dead, they would panic. There are no supernatural safeguards to keep people in the dark, though, so basic psychology is used instead. The Agency relies primarily on elaborate deceit (and the fact that people don't want to believe); the Texas Rangers are known more for intimidating people into silence. ("Now show me where you didn't see Aunt Minnie crawl up outta her grave. I got some carvin' to do.")
    • Deadlands is possibly a Deconstruction of the Masquerade, as it has been argued (in-text) that the governments actually aid the Reckoners with their masquerade, as making the supernatural (and the fact that it can be fought and beaten) known to the public would rob them of much of their ability to generate fear. A mysterious creature that prowls the jungle and snatches people from fields is scary, but a tiger is just dangerous.
  • In Unknown Armies, hiding your mojo is central, since you'll either be beaten, tied up, and drowned in the nearest holy water fount, or killed by some seriously Big Bads called the Sleepers.
  • In Paranoia, every Player Character (and almost every NPC) is a mutant and a member of a secret society. These facts must be hidden from the other players and from the ruling Computer, as (barring "registered" mutants) they are grounds for summary execution.
  • In the Ravnica block of Magic: The Gathering, House Dimir is a guild of spies and information dealers lead by an ancient vampire named Szadek, the Lord of Secrets. The original magical pact that the ten guilds of Ravnica all signed specifically forbids the other guilds from revealing the existence of House Dimir, so only the highest ranking guild officials and members of the Dimir itself know about the so-called 10th guild; the rest of the world believes the Dimir to be only a myth. House Dimir's agents covertly but actively encourage such a belief, so that the guild may accomplish its agenda in secret.
    • "In a space where there is no room, in a structure that was never built, meets the guild that doesn't exist."—Flavor text for Duskmantle, headquarters of House Dimir.
  • In Continuum, Time Travel isn't made public knowledge until 2222 AD. As a result, it can't be made public knowledge until 2222 AD, ever, on penalty of frag or a visit by the Inheritors. Most of a spanner's job is preventing Narcissists from creating paradoxes, which would include causing one by revealing time travel to the public.
  • Nobilis has a Masquerade enforced for pragmatic reasons. Exposure to the true reality of The Multiverse usually results in dementia animus (i.e. insanity).
  • Depending on the Writer, the existence of all of the enemies of the Imperium in Warhammer 40,000 is kept from the general populace in much this way. It's a slightly unusual instance, since the masquerade is conducted by the good (well, less bad) guys, to keep the population from realising just how crapsacky the world really is. In particular, only a select few not actively involved in combat against them realise the existence of the Tyranids and Chaos. The Traitor Legions are a closely guarded secret. Sometimes. It really depends who's writing, and particularly on the setting, since we rarely see the non-combatants of the 40k 'verse
    • In a similar vein, any citizen who goes around talking about heretics or aliens can expect a very unpleasant visit from the local Inquisition or Imperial Church.
  • Warhammer Fantasy's Skaven take great pains to conceal their existence from humankind, presumably to aid in their attempts to undermine and enslave human society without anybody noticing until it's too late. What with regular massive incursions and devastating pitched battles to hush up, this usually involves such extreme measures as stealing back all surviving artefacts of Skaven manufacture, assassinating or discrediting witnesses by the thousand and conducting complex magical rituals every thirteen years to cloud human minds on a global scale. The fact that the Warhammer world contains untold other sinister underworld terrors and chaotic warbands that make no attempt to hide their existence makes things considerably easier, as does natural human superstition and gullibility. In the Empire and Bretonnia at least the Skaven are widely regarded as nothing more than a bad-taste myth put about by bored university students who should really know better. It should be noted, however, that the Skaven only seem to keep their existence a secret from human societies - the dwarfs, elves, orcs, lizardmen and others all seem perfectly aware of their existence following centuries of open warfare.
  • German game Pluesch Power Und Plunder features living plushies having to hide from the "tramplers".
  • Witch Girls Adventures has a fairly tame version. Nobody cares if individual humans learn something they shouldn't, so long as they can't prove anything, and witches can in fact operate openly in many parts of the world (mainly Asia and Africa). On the other hand, the world as a whole cannot be allowed to learn about the supernatural; use of magical powers to affect Muggle politics is forbidden (though it happens all the time, especially in the Middle East), and ever since World War Two, the Witches World Council has been keeping the magical world hidden from mundane eyes through Laser-Guided Amnesia and toading inconvenient mortals.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Fallout 3's Vault 101 is an odd case. The vault was in originally in place to shelter people from the nuclear war raging overhead, but as generations passed, the motto became "Born in the vault, die in the vault." Eventually this led the people inside to believe that the outside world is completely uninhabitable. Your character quickly finds out that this isn't completely true.
    • The Vaults were never intended to shelter people. From the very beginning they were designed as social experiments. Vault 101's specific experiment was that it was never supposed to open, hence why it was still occupied 200 years after the nuclear war that destroyed society. This might still count as The Masquerade since only the government knew of this.
  • Thief's Keepers are both this and the The Watcher.
  • The fourth game in the Desert Strike series, Soviet Strike, hints at this. Rather than a part of the Kuwaiti liberation forces or government endorsed strike team, the player finds themselves in spook territory, the pilot of a covert operation that uses false news broadcasts and cyber warfare to prevent military action from escalating. A canny player might be able to hazard a guess that the game's Big Bad was in fact their co pilot, who goes rogue, is apparently killed, then turns up later. The third and fifth stages, at the very least, indicate he was behind the events that took place to scare Mother Russia into playing along with the shadow organization.
  • Dragons in World of Warcraft can take on a humanoid form to interact with the sentient races of Azeroth, though initially they didn't tell anyone who they really were, and the disguise was used to twist events; for example Onyxia infiltrating Stormwind under her "Lady Prestor" guise. Now the practice is very well known, and dragons do it because it's more convienient to talk to a humanoid when you have a similar size and shape, instead of being a house-sized reptile.
  • In Magical Diary: Horse Hall, people who are not witches and wizards are not supposed to know that magic is real. Maintaining the masquerade appears to involve an awful lot of mind-control - even on the families of the students. And on the students themselves, if they get expelled.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The concluded webcomic Its Walky spends many of its plots detailing the fight between the main characters and the aliens that are just begging to expose themselves. And eventually they do, and life goes on as normal (to the point that a talking car showing up in the sequel comic, Shortpacked merely results in a few raised eyebrows).
    • It does give our protagonists considerable trouble though, as they now have to chalk up "good PR" among the responsibilities. They manage to pull it off, but not without being chewed on air about whether a bunch of angst-filled teens are adequate defense against the alien menace.
  • Last Res0rt subverts this by making it pretty clear that even average folk (well, those running around on the show, anyway) have a pretty good clue about the existence of Djinn, Vampires, and other Dead Inside, but their actual knowledge is limited and contaminated with Celeste propaganda, and the unwillingness of almost all Dead Inside to reveal what they actually know since an outed Dead Inside doesn't last long.
    • The RPG makes it clear that the Insiders on Earth maintained this until First Contact with the Celeste.
  • Sluggy Freelance wavers back and forth on this. The Planet Eris setting would seem to make any sort of Masquerade impossible, except that the average Sluggyverse citizen is gullible enough to believe even the flimsiest of excuses. This still doesn't explain why Aylee needs an elaborate disguise to hide the fact that she's an alien, but Bun-Bun (a talking, switchblade-wielding rabbit) can walk into a bar, order an alfalfa margarita, and not raise a single eyebrow.
    • It helps that the rabbit would slice off the eyebrow if it was raised...
  • El Goonish Shive can't seem to decide if there's a Masquerade or not. On the one hand, clearly inhuman people like Hedge walk around in public, and aliens wear shirts with gems such as "Human" on them. On the other, people tend to accept any explanation, or are conveniently not around when people need to use magic.
    • If I saw someone wearing a shirt reading "Human", I'd just assume it was a joke, not conclude that the wearer is an extraterrestrial.

Guy looking at an alien wearing a hat that says "Homo Sapien": Hehe yeah! Cool! Gay pride yo! Yeah!!"

    • The point of the shirts is that the Masquerade is so strong, an alien wearing a shirt which says "Human" is automatically assumed to be human unless the observer is aware of the Masquerade.
    • This has just recently been blown open as a super powered fight has shown up on Youtube, and the weirdness around Moperville (and the fact nobody in the town seems to notice) has been an in comic topic for a while now.
  • Upheld by the Everto, to hide the Everto in Shadownova, a group of normal humans (and a few Espers) who have decided they want complete control over everyone outside their own group.
  • The biggest difference between the world of T Campbell's Fans! and that of Penny and Aggie, Rip and Teri, and Cool Cat Studio is that the fantastic elements of the latter (only seen in Cool Cat Studio) are still unknown to the general public. Occasionally, versions of characters from Fans! are seen in Penny and Aggie, never having been caught up in the supernatural weirdness (Rikk is a still-awkward grad student, Di in a formal private school, Meighan a Hollywood talent scout), and Charlotte turns up in Fans! as a Dark Magical Girl.
  • Blip employs this to run two plots in parallel: an Urban Fantasy one and a mundane Slice of Life one. The protagonist K's three gal-pals are a witch, a vampire, and a cyborg, and K herself is closely watched by both Heaven and Hell because she's Immune to Fate. She doesn't know any of this.
  • Skin Deep is home to a secret culture of mythical creatures functioning under the unsuspecting nose of humanity. There is an assumed threat of The World Is Not Ready that is keeping the non-humans from breaking the Masquerade and exposing themselves to the human world.
  • In At Arms Length, magic and magical beings are kept hidden from several mortal races including Earthlings. As part of the deal that allows Ally, Reece and Sheila to stay on Earth, they have to keep their background as Enchanters hidden from everyone, including their husbands. The main characters have issues with this policy, and are increasingly questioning the rationality of keeping the big secret in the face of increasing magical threats to Earth.
  • In Homestuck, Skaianet knew well in advance that the world was coming to an end and prepared the Kids (and ultimately a few other people by mistake) for it by creating and mass producing Sburb.
  • Most people in the fictional world of Tales Of Gnosis College seem unaware of the mad science going on in their midst. The mad scientists themselves take measures (not always successful) to keep their activities secret, and sometimes law enforcement itself hides the consequences of their activities for political reasons.
  • In Shifters the majority of humanity doesn't know that Shifters, Vampires, or any of the other Veil Races exist due to the Conspiracy called The Veil.
  • In The Kingfisher, supernatural phenomena are at least somewhat Invisible to Normals, and the Circle persecutes the Crowboys with the ostensible excuse of keeping vampires secret.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In the Whateley Universe, everyone knows there are mutants out there. But Super-Hero School Whateley Academy is kept secret from all the baselines in a giant conspiracy of superheroes, supervillains, and all major law enforcement agencies worldwide. Would you want to have those teenagers learning how to control their powers in your town? Still, there is a village of were-people in the Native American reservation just off-campus, and everybody knows there's no such thing as werewolves, right?
    • This is more in the nature of "Let's keep the exact location secret from the KKK equivalent so that the resulting conflict won't blow a Texas-sized hole to North-American continent." The Technical term is "Open Secret".
  • In Breeniverse series such as Lonelygirl15 and Kate Modern, the Order of Denderah is a worldwide Ancient Conspiracy which uses various front organizations to hide its true nature from the public.
  • New York Magician: Unless they can See or Hear, people simply can't notice the supernatural events around them. Interestingly, when mundane people find out about the magical world, they usually take a very short time before coming to grips with it.
  • Paradise: In this setting, human beings randomly undergo a permanent Change into Funny Animals that only other Funny Animals can see—-to everyone else they appear to be their old human selves. Early on, Changed must pretend everything is normal, that they are still the human beings they used to be—-because if they are not able to keep their new differences hidden they will be committed to mental institutions, or worse. A group of cautious Changed formed a conspiracy, the Changed Network, to help newly-Changed keep their secrets; said conspiracy largely fell by the wayside as too many people Changed for them to be able to control. Eventually, the masquerade broke entirely as the "Reality Distortion Field" that kept the changes invisible began to fail.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The first of "Da Rules" in The Fairly OddParents is that a kid may never reveal the existence of fairy godparents, on pain of separation and memory erasure. At least once, Timmy got around this by erasing the memory of a fairy first.
    • FOP has an ass-load of loopholes on this one. For example: Kids can pass them off as something else (used in the Jimmy Neutron crossovers), etc.
  • Danny Phantom must keep his ability to change into a ghost secret from everyone—especially his ghost-hunter parents. However, he seems to have no problem with every single non-human recurring enemy he's ever faced retaining knowledge of his identity; only once or twice have any of them thought to actually use this against him.
    • Many fans have tried attributing the ghosts' lack of exposing his identity to many things such as some sort of ghost laws Danny has no knowledge of (like the Christmas truce) to some sort of threat from Vlad Masters (also a half ghost) as if Danny were exposed he could easily expose Vlad.
      • Danny actually states this- if he gets exposed, his friends and family will stick by him (and when he eventually does, they do), but Vlad will be in big trouble (when he eventually exposes himself, other issues are at hand)
  • In Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter "must" keep his titular lab a secret from his parents and most other characters; a recurring exception is Dee Dee (since she breaks through security every time).
  • AJ from The Fairly OddParents has a secret lab, this one in his bedroom.
  • Johnny Test is weird about this. The lab belonging to the title character's sisters is secret in some episodes. In others, it seems their parents are fully aware of it.
    • I got the impression that the parents always know about it, but Susan and Mary just aren't allowed to be reckless with their inventions, or else their lab access will be shut down. This happens half the time.
  • Technically, this was the entire gimmick behind M.A.S.K, what with the face-concealing helmets and Transforming Mecha vehicles, but seeing as how both factions (and most of the organizations they work with/against) know each other's vehicles and Masks by sight (and don't use code names, and to varying degrees know each other's secret identities right off the bat), such deception doesn't work too well...
  • Gargoyles largely maintained it partially because there didn't seem enough evidence to conclude the sighting of monsters was the real thing and all parties who did know were content to keep it that way. Mostly because Gargoyles were nigh-extinct the The Fair Folk were all incredibly disorganized and generally isolated from each other and humanity. Subverted in the potential Grand Finale when the Hunters exposed the Gargoyles' existence to the world once and for all.
  • Invader Zim maintains a Masquerade of being a "perfectly normal human worm-baby" despite his incompetence, and total lack of knowledge about human norms and customs. This is possible because of the incredible stupidity of everyone in Jhonen Vasquez's universe.
  • In Ben 10, Ben's Grandpa Max was a member of the Plumbers, whose purpose was to hunt down rogue aliens. They hid their existence from humanity and had a secret base hidden inside Mount Rushmore.
  • Parodied many times in South Park.
  • In X-Men Evolution, the existence of the mutants is hidden at first because Professor X does not believe mutants will be accepted by the public yet. The existence of the mutants is revealed to the world at the end of the second season.
    • And for a while, it goes about as well as Xavier had feared.
  • In both the Hanna-Barbera and The Hub versions of Pound Puppies, both the Pound Puppies network as well as the fact that dogs are able to talk are kept secret from humans. However, there is one person in each version who are aware, at least in part: the sweetheart orphan Holly in the H-B show, and the doting little girl Dot in The Hub's iteration.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Professional Wrestling, for most of the twentieth century, existed behind an elaborate charade known as Kayfabe, hiding the fact that it was a staged athletic exhibition rather than an actual, competitive sport. Eventually, said secret came out, and, as it turned out, most fans of the "sport" didn't really care too much. Or already knew.
    • Several TV quiz shows in the 1950s practiced a similar Masquerade, only in their case the public was royally steamed when the deceptions were revealed.
  • Certain Internet forums have adopted Fight Club's Rules 1 and 2 (do not talk about this place) in an attempt to limit contact with the outside world and maintain their own lawless environment. Unfortunately, this works about as well as it did in Fight Club.
    • From time to time, actual Fight Clubs are identified and shut down by police.
  • Early in the profession's history, stage magicians maintained their own Masquerade to conceal how their tricks were done, keeping up a pretense that they actually possessed supernatural powers. As audiences grew more skeptical and came to appreciate magic more for its cleverness and theatrics than for mysticism, this ruse was generally abandoned, yet many still adhere to the "Magician's Oath" of secrecy as to how a trick works, if only to hide their trade secrets from rival magicians. Many magicians reveal their secrets on You-tube or in magic books, making it a wasted effort for all but the most spectacular illusions.
  • National Security services traditionally operate a form of masquerade - traditionally Britain's MI:5 (domestic counter intelligence) and MI:6 (foreign spying) didn't "officially" exist until the mid-80s, even though this was a legal fiction everyone knew about. These days, MI:6 is happy to have its most famous (fictional... probably) operative, James Bond emerging from its (real) London HQ!