The Reveal

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"What a twist!"


The pivot in many plotlines is The Reveal. A character is revealed as another character's mother, a god, or secret suitor or arch nemesis in disguise. More broadly, the audience is given new information which had been withheld to create suspense. The Reveal changes the nature of the plot, often pushing it from suspense towards action. A good reveal will also create a new set of questions and further suspense. On some occasions, The Reveal Prompts Romance.

A key moment in most Gambit Pileup plots, when the heroes or the audience discover how the villains have been manipulating everyone. Can also be used to make a Cliff Hanger more dramatic. Myth Arc and Mind Screw series love springing these; Jigsaw Puzzle Plots pretty much require them. Eventually necessary for a Mysterious Employer.

The Reveal is in fact a rather easily explained trope. A lot of mystery stories wouldn't work without either the criminal or the detective explaining how the crime was committed, and a lot of other plots would leave people with more questions than answers if they never bothered to explain the plot to other characters...and by extension, the viewers. It's easy to explain it off-screen, but doing so would confuse the viewer and make them think they missed something.

A Super-Trope to Emerging From the Shadows.

If you're set up for this but it's then subverted by not revealing it, it's The Un-Reveal. When made too obvious ahead of time, it's The Untwist. If it comes out of nowhere and serves no purpose other than to be a twist, it's a Shocking Swerve and/or a case of The Dog Was the Mastermind. If the thing revealed is named in the title, then its The Namesake. If a Driving Question is involved, this is where it's finally put to rest. Can overlap with Remembered Too Late.

Super-Trope to Anagnorisis, a specific variety of The Reveal first defined by Aristotle in his Poetics.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware. Expect every example to be a spoiler for something.

Examples of The Reveal include:

Anime and Manga

  • Magical Project S The whole show being a parody of the magical girl genre, you wouldn't expect much in the way of plot twists. Cue Episode 19 - Sammy's Shrinking Violet best friend, Misao is really the sadistic Dark Magical Girl, Pixy Misa. More so, Pixy Misa is her default form; the shy and demure Misa was only a result of repressing her negative traits.
  • 20th Century Boys: Friend iiiiiiiiissssssss * drum roll* Fukubei! Then comes along second Friend who is implied to be Katsumata.
  • Episodes 14 and 21 of Code Geass R2 are pretty much Infodumps on the nature of Geass and everything involved.
  • Suzumiya Haruhi combines this with Rashomon Style, with Yuki, Mikuru, and Itsuki each explaining both their own true nature and what each of them thinks Haruhi's is.
  • Naruto has been rather reveal-happy in recent years: we've gotten the true identity of both Akatsuki's leader and its Man Behind the Man, Kisame and Itachi's true motivations (including the real reason the Uchiha Massacre happened), the identities of Naruto's parents, the fact that Naruto is not the first host of the Nine-Tailed Fox,Madara was REALLY dead and a guy took his eyes and impersonated him, etc..
    • Now if we could only find out who Tobi is...
  • Ergo Proxy: Vincent is the near invincible monster that was constantly tailing him and slaughtering everything in its way, the titular Ergo Proxy.
    • In the beginning Vincent was a Proxy, the near invincible monster tailing him was his clone-fathers girlfriend.
    • Also, Proxy One
  • Usagi/Sailor Moon is Princess Serenity. Although it could be made obvious over time — we begin to see glimpses of the princess and she has the same voice actor — the original Japanese manga and anime didn't truly reveal this until well into the first season. The NA dub, on the other hand, revealed this in the very first episode (or figured no one would put two and two together with the identical princess in a bubble and Serena).
  • Hagino's obsession with Mari in Blue Drop gets explained by revealing that Hagino saved Mari from drowning during the catastrophe caused by her space ship.
  • Hellsing: Dok was actually using the remains of Mina Harker as a template for all of Millenium's vampire soldiers. Turns out that since Alucard wasn't destroyed when he lost to Abraham Van Helsing, Mina wasn't completely purified of Alucard's curse. Thus all of Millenium's soldiers are poor copies of Alucard's power.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle lives for this:
    • First we find out that Syaoran is a clone created by the Big Bad, and meet the real one.
    • Then we find out Fai/Fay has a depressing backstory, he's faking his personality, is working for the villain, and he killed his brother.
      • Then we find out that his memories were false, he didn't kill his brother, and he switches sides.
    • Then we find out that the whole goal up till that point, collecting the princess' feathers, was a Xanatos Gambit by the Big Bad to have her develop "physical memories".
    • Then we find out that the princess is a clone.
    • Then we find out that the original Syaoran is actually the son of the protagonist and love interest of Cardcaptor Sakura, and is using his father's name as a pseudonym.
      • Then we learn that the protagonist of ×××HOLiC is a time-travel duplicate of "Syaoran".
      • And that the creation of said duplicate f**** d up the entire space-time continuum.
    • Then that "the country of Clow" is really Acid Tokyo in the far future.
    • Then that Yuko was Dead All Along, and her revival was the whole purpose of the Big Bad's Gambit Roulette.
      • Then that she was preserved from going to the other side by an inadvertent reality warp from Clow, giving a Reveal as to why he was so desperate to get rid of his powers and set off the plot of Cardcaptor Sakura.
    • And then we find out that Syaoran is the clone of his biological son, who is the "real Syaoran" mentioned above!
    • Then, finally, we learn that the feathers were actually soul fragments of the clones!
    • Not to mention that both the Syaoran and Sakura's real names are Tsubasa!
  • Baccano!: The Rail Tracer is Claire Stanfield/Vino, AKA the young conductor supposedly killed in the second episode.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is loaded with these. The Eva's are alive and cloned from Angels. Rei is a clone of Shinji's mother and there's a whole aquarium full of clones. The Eva's have human souls (specifically, Shinji, Asuka and Ritsuko's mothers). Ritsuko is not a natural blonde. Kaworu is an angel. And so on and so forth.
    • Eva 00's soul is probably Rei 1, not Ritsuko's mother.
      • Eva 00 does not have a soul. Rei 1 shares the same soul with Rei 2 and 3 which just happens to be Lilith.
  • One Piece has a number of them, many relating to the legendary Gold Roger. However, one of the most incredible was during the Jaya arc. Luffy gets into an eating contest with a random Boisterous Bruiser type guy at a bar, who later gives Luffy a pep speech in which he toasts to their shared ideals. Turns out that guy is Blackbeard, the evil pirate that Luffy's brother has been searching for.
    • Chapter 550 made another reveal. A reveal that's doesn't make the plot take a new direction, but explained pretty much everything that has happened since chapter 1.
    • The reveal of who really attacked Iceburg in the Water Seven arc.
    • The reveal of what the ancient weapon mentioned in the Jaya Arc truly is in Chapter 649.
  • In Ojamajo Doremi, the Witch Queen is The Faceless until the penultimate episode of the series (and only one or two hints are given to her true identity in the final season). She was watching the girls the entire time as Yuki-sensei, the school nurse.
  • Monster has a number of them, the biggest one probably being the reveal that the woman in Prague is really Johan.
  • Bleach: Aizen isn't dead yet.Not by a long shot.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has Miyo being the Big Bad, and the reason why we have so many arcs. There are other reveals though, but most are in the sound novels.
    • Don't forget the reason everyone goes crazy.
    • Also for the viewer/reader (and Keiichi during Atonement chapter) the big reveal of unreliable narration during the question arcs. Go watch Onikakushi-hen knowing Keiichi is delusional and the girls really are just trying to help. So many little things suddenly make sense. Not to mention Rika's dimension-jumping and Hanyuu's existence.
  • Pokémon does this with Pokemon's genders. For example, Pikachu, after ten years of debating, is proven to be male..Or, is it?
    • In Pokémon Special, Yellow is revealed to be a girl at the end of the Yellow Chapter (though Red doesn't find out until the Gold/Silver Chapter).
  • In Umi Monogatari it is revealed that Sedna is formed from the combined sorrow that the inhabitants of the island committed to the sea.
  • In Shaman King (at least the anime) the main antagonist is revealed to be the main protagonists Evil Twin . Not that we knew that from the beginning, cause they look the same...
  • In Tona Gura, Kazuki remembered that, even as a little boy, Yuuji was playful, and his 'perverted nature' is mainly him still acting like a little boy around his best friend. When he realizes that she * seriously* does not like it, and she stops romanticizing their childhood, things finally begin to move for them.
  • Negima has Setsuna's wing pull.
    • Once the Magic World Arc starts, reveals are dropped left and right, especially once Kurt Godel shows up. The most important one is probably that Negi's mother is Queen Arika of Vesperina, making Negi a Warrior Prince.
      • This is subverted when the girls discover that the Magic World is Mars and get excited, only to realize that it's just a useless bit of trivia. Then it becomes a double subversion when it turns out to be important after all.
  • In Soul Eater the killer of BJ was Justin Law. While not affecting the entire plot, it's still a major deal for certain characters, with potentially serious implications (if that one, who else has been overlooked?) in the series.
    • In chapter 72; Kid is said to be a fragment of Shinigami, who turns out to be one of a group of entities called the Great Old Ones. Making the Super OCD boy a Humanoid Abomination (currently) minus the evil and his 'illness' impliedly the result of the fact he/his father is an anthropomorphic personification of the 'madness of the rule of law'.
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, the Jovians are exiled humans victimized by Earth's government and who use the Super Robot series loved by the protagonists to justify destroying Earth. Also, the little girl the protagonist is shown with at the beginning is Inez Fressange, who is older than the protagonist due to a time paradox.
  • In Game X Rush, Yuuki's Mom/Yuki-san is Memori's presumed-dead birth-mother, who murdered Memori's father and supposedly died in the fire that Memori accidentally started (hence explaining both Memori's adopted status), but Miyuki did NOT die, instead wandering off with semi-amnesia to save a young Yuuki who was then raised as Memori (explaining how he knows so much about the REAL Memori). Bizarrely enough, due to the compressed storytelling and the changes forced by the same, it's possible for this to be not much of a Reveal after all.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist manga: when the identity of Pride was revealed to be Selim Bradley.
    • It's literally impossible to bring someone back to life. Anyone who sees the first anime then either reads the manga or watches Brotherhood, the shock is increased several-fold; in the original anime, they're transformed into homunculi.
    • At the beginning of the manga and animes, Edward's automail arm isn't revealed until he foils an attack that would have destroyed a flesh-and-blood arm.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Protagonist Subaru, who has been a regular narrator ever since episode 1 (where as a little girl she is rescued by Nanoha and decides to become a hero too), finally battles the combat cyborgs but fails to rescue her sister and is seriously injured. Then we see her arm. Along with the blood, we see metal and cables. Subaru is a combat cyborg too.
  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, we get a relatively minor one, compared to what's going on all around, but a reveal nonetheless. For 99% of the series, the Holy Nightmare Salesmen always appeared on the big screens in King Dedede's palace from the waist up. When Dedede and Escargo(o)n meet the Salesman face to face in Nightmare's fortress, we see the awful truth- All that's at the bottom are just kirby-like feet, no legs, nothing else.
  • In Code Geass, the secret behind Geass, as well as numerous other examples of this trope that pop up from time to time.
  • The Distant Finale of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann reveals that the narrator speaking at the beginning of every episode is actually Simon in his forties.
    • In the second movie, during the fight between the TTGL and the Granzeboma, the Anti-Spiral drops the obvious (to the fans who've watched the anime) bombshell that if the Anti-Spiral is defeated, Nia will disappear. This shocks the Dai-Gurren Brigade and then the Anti-Spiral proceeds to tear the TTGL into many pieces, causes robot blood to spill all over the galaxy they were standing on. They got better.
  • In the last episodes of Tenshi ni Narumon it was revealed that the Big Bad Silky (who hates angels) is a 1/3 angel herself and has her fallen halo hidden in the drawer.
    • Similarly, it was revealed that Mikael who was supposed to be an angel-in-training, lost his qualifications to become one and also hid his fallen halo in the boxes.
      • In the last episode, it was revealed that the whole plot of the show revolved around Mikael and not Noelle.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni Episode 7's most important reveal. Unbelievable; Beatrice = Lion = Shannon = Kanon = possible murderer with motive and means. The game facts don't seem to apply, until you consider the fact that 17 people isn't clarified by multiple personality disorder, allowing for a murderer to exist among a population of 17 fully recognized people.
  • Tons of information revealed in Eureka Seven. Eureka's identity as a human Coralian, what really happened to Renton's father and sister, the origin of the 3 kids, the history of the Scab Coral which reveal that all along the planet was Earth which got covered up by a living planet-size alien. Not to mention Gonzy was another hidden human Coralian. What we need is to pray for BONES to reveal WHO those 2 teenagers are in the final DVD cover of the series, since their face is never shown.
  • The true identity of the Red Man in Deadman Wonderland being Shiro all along is going to pretty much set up a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Digimon has several. Hikari being thw 8th Child and Tailmon being her partner, the fact that BelailVamdemon was behind everything in 02, Juri, after returning to the Real World, being an ADR, Duskmon being Kouichi, Kouji's long-lost twin brother, Kurata being a jackass and a Magnificent Bastard and that old guy being the head of DATS.
  • Master of Martial Hearts's ending brings this trope to utter madness:
    • The almost unseen Cute Mute, Hot Mom of Natsume? She's actually a Stepford Smiler. On the top of it, she used to be one of the past contestants of the Platonic Heart martial heart tournament. Defeated, she literally got her voice box ripped out of her, her sanity shattered and spent an unspecified number of years as a sexual slave before escaping and rebuilding a semblance of normalcy around herself. Simply unable to let it go, she then hatched a complex Revenge by Proxy plan involving her offspring organizing the current edition of the Platonic Heart tournament, lure the daughter of the (still living) past winner and the (then dead) past promoter of the contest and have her relive every bit of her experience, including defeat, maiming and slavery. Just to get some vengeance.
    • Natsume herself, and Miko. Aya's Heterosexual Life Partner and resident her friend in need are actually cousins, in league together with Aya's love interest to get Aya defeated and enslaved in the current tournament, and bitches in sheep's clothing.
    • Aya's caring Hot Mom and her dead loving father? According to Miko and the whole Natsume's family a sadistic Dark Action Girl and a sadistic rapist who had his way with the Action Girls defeated by her wife.
    • Every single character thought to be dead or defeated according to the Platonic Hearts rulebook, unknown and unmentioned until the very end, the defeated contestant get Mind Raped into drooling idiots, may get their vocal cords surgically excised to avoid useless noises and are sold into slavery. Even the sympathetic ones. And you're shown the whole supporting cast in that pitiful state. Until they die. Every single one.
    • Aya, poor Aya after losing her mother, being backstabbed by her best friend, her love interest and her needy friend, after trying hard to stay behind her Moral Event Horizon, loses her shit and, in the final scenes, goes personally after Natsume's mom, the only surviving baddie, and kill her with her bare hands
  • Although spoiled for U.S. audiences thanks to the fact that Dragonball Z almost entirely aired first barring a few episodes, in Japan Dragon Ball dropped a big one. In the manga, after Goku's big defeat of Piccolo, the following chapter features a mysterious character crashing to earth looking for someone named "Kakarott" And in the very last page of the chapter, Kakarott is revealed to be Goku. Then of course two chapters later it turns out that armored man is Goku's brother and Goku is revealed to be an alien. Piccolo and Kami get this same revelation not long after when they're revealed to be Nameks, which was foreshadowed as early as the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai when the two spoke to each other in a strange language.

Comic Books

  • Although old news now, the identity of the Green Goblin in the original Spider-Man comics was a well-kept secret for years before it was finally revealed to both Spidey and the readers.
    • Stormin' Norman did double time on this trope when he was revealed to be the true mastermind of the Clone Saga all along.
    • His successor, the Hobgoblin, is arguably the king of this. His true identity was the single biggest plot point of the Spider-Man books in the eighties, and thanks to editorial interference, a really lame reveal, several more fake-out reveals, and judicious retconning, his real, this-is-it, honest-to-God-this-time identity wasn't revealed until fourteen years after he first took up the pumpkin bombs.
    • Roderick Kingsley, the 'true Hobgoblin all along, in fact first appeared in 1980, many years before the retcon and three years before he ever donned the Hobgoblin's hood, which actually brought his ID back to what his creating writer had intended. It was still one of the most convoluted rides in Marvel history, possibly only exceeded by the FF's Hyperstorm.
  • The Hush storyline in the Batman comics does this a few times, eventually becoming somewhat incomprehensible as to who was doing what. It first appears that Jason Todd was responsible, then Tommy Elliot, and then apparently the Riddler was responsible all along.
    • Hush is Tommy Elliott and has been Elliott in all appearances after this storyline. He simply enlisted Jason Todd and the Riddler to help him with an Un Reveal and an unmasking respectively. The only real problem was having the real Jason Todd unmask as Hush then immediately switching him with Clayface when Batman wasn't looking so that Batman would think it was Clayface posing as Jason Todd all along (the original story has it as Clayface all along, it was a later writer who added the detail about the real Jason Todd having been there as well.)
    • Similarly, The Long Halloween storyline suffers from this, with about three or four people claiming responsibility for the murders which could only have been committed by two at most. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, they were written by the same person.
      • This actually makes sense in the story. The original culprit created an identity to throw suspicion off and the others took advantage of the situation using the identity and established details of the MO to kill people they wanted dead. One of the copycats wants everyone to think it was all him out of spite for his father who's organization is targeted by the killer.
        • Alternately, that guy was the only killer and the other person claiming to have done it was just crazy. It's deliberately left ambiguous.
    • This actually seems to be a good way to throw the "World's Greatest Detective" a curveball, by having a masked villain turn out to be multiple people. It was used again in the animated Mystery of the Batwoman where Batwoman turned out to be a wealthy socialite, a cop and an engineer working together. Batman seems to have less difficulty with the idea here than he did in the other two stories.
  • Joss Whedon pulled off one during his first arc on Astonishing X Men, when he brought back Colossus, in such a way as to leave no doubt that he was the real deal.
  • Perhaps the best executed twist in comics is the end of Thunderbolts #1, in which the titular team is revealed to actually be The Masters of Evil. What's really impressive is how far they went to keep secret the fact that there even was a secret. Peter David, as a favor to Kurt Busiek, even had the solicitations changed for the Hulk issue in which the Thunderbolts first appeared in order to keep the secret under the rug.
  • Gotham City Sirens began with a life-or-death arc struggling against the Joker (The frikkin' Joker), with the evil clown wreaking horrible vengeance on the three stars, only for it to be revealed that it is not the Joker at all, but instead it is...Gaggy? Gaggy the ex-sidekick from the Silver Age? The dwarf clown who actually ran away from the circus? The ex-sidekick who has spent decades living in an old abandoned hideout, waiting with bated breath for the return of the Joker in extremely disturbing stalker fashion? Seriously? Yes, seriously, it is Gaggy the whole time, and it actually comes off as pretty creepy and unsettling, and he gives the women a good run for their money. He loses, of course, but it is their series, did you really expect the first villain to bump them off?
  • Dark Avengers 13 reveals that the Void is actually Galactus. Or thinks he is. Or is lying. Maybe.
  • Due to a tragic miscommunication between the authors of the series and its artists, Batwoman's reveal in 52 actually became an accidental Unreveal. The original intent had been for Batwoman to make her first ever appearance during a Dynamic Entry while being a Big Damn Hero, following several small hints intended to make both the readers and the characters think that it was actually Batman. However, two issues prior to this reveal, she had actually been drawn in full detail on the final page of the issue, already establishing not just her existence, but that she was involved in the current story. Commentary released in the Fifty Two trade-paperbacks reveals that the first drawing was supposed to be a silhouette that would again make the readers think it was Batman, but that artists were unaware of this and instead drew her in full detail. The characters of the story are still unaware of her existence, but it is no longer a surprise to the readers.
  • In the Marvel UK Transformers Generation 1 story "Target: 2006", Galvatron decides to gloat over Jazz by revealing his shocking secret: he's actually Megatron from the future! This may possibly have partially spoiled The Movie.
  • Frank Miller usually writes straight forward stories but when he wants to, he can pack a helluva reveal. Such was the case with Ronin The ancient Japanese characters don't exist, including the hero himself. It was all a part of the TV show an autistic, telekinetic youngman watched in the distant future. A supercomputer was using his powers and a little biotech to make him turn his fantasy into a reality, essentially turning himself into a hero. That way, she could easily manipulate him into doing her bidding. This would eventually lead to the destruction of mankind and the emergence of biotechnology as the dominant lifeform.
  • The final issue of Steelgrip Starkey And The All-Purpose Power Tool reveals the tool (and the technalchemy that drives it) were developed by Steelgrip's partner Flynn, on a mission from a group of Cosmic Entities.
  • The culmination of the who is the Red Hulk? saga. It is far too convoluted to explain here but involved opening a can of LMDs.

Fan Works


Blaine: I'm not a virgin.

    • And then in the thirteenth chapter, David tells a counselor that Blaine has a stalker.
    • In "The Cat," it turns out "Jerry" from the fourth chapter is Blaine's father-figure, Greg.
  • There are several huge ones in With Strings Attached:
    • The first comes when Jeft reveals to Shag and Varx that he, not the Dalns gods, was the force behind the Vasyn quest. He set the whole thing up just to see the four in action and ultimately to have them go up against his favorite gaming character, Jim Hunter.
    • The second comes when everyone learns there is no curse on Ketafa—even Jeft believed it—and the gods could see the continent all along, but told everyone there was a curse on it so they didn't have to spend money “godding” it. The actual effect of the Vasyn is to end the reign of the Dalns gods and turn the planet over to the Pyar gods. Whether this is a Good Thing will be explored in the sequel.
  • How Can It This Be has the Spice Girls finding out they actually died during their reunion tour when their tour bus fell off a bridge into the river below, while Victoria was killed in a road accident.
  • Seeing is Believing, after Melanie showed what she had subjected to, with her head being the only original body part she had left prior towards "operation". As Melanie was discussing each detail, Victoria speaks with her husband, David. David understood Victoria needed to explain her actions after many in the room, including the narrator, noticed she was nervous. With David's support, Victoria had to explain what happened as she also had the same run-in. As the narrator pointed out during the events of Case of The Missing Technolgy, Melanie's eyes were replaced with Electronic Eyes. Both Melanie and Victoria kept their original eyes, as a reminder of what Monty did.


  • The all-time most famous is, of course, Citizen Kane. It Was His Sled.
  • The next-most famous is, of course, "Luke, I Am Your Father", as well as the revelation that Leia is his sister in the next movie. Vader's status as Luke's father was actually a reveal to near everyone, even those involved in the production, considering only a very select few knew about it up until near the film's release. Even David Prowse, the actor within the suit, did not know the truth. The line he spoke while filming, believing it would be the final line, was "Obi-Wan killed your father." Of course, that would have been pretty screwy, too and in fact, is in a way also true, From a Certain Point of View...
  • The big reveal that Captain Barbossa has returned to life at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
  • Every single Scream contains a scene where the masked Ghostface killer reveals his/her true identity and motives. It usually changes the way you see the entire movie.
  • The hidden setup of So I Married an Axe Murderer.
  • When the central protagonist in Memento finally does...Remember Sammy Jankis.
  • One of the creepiest reveals ever is when Morpheus explains the true nature of The Matrix.
  • In Unbreakable, the reveal that "Mr. Glass" deliberately arranged disasters to try and find a superhero who could survive them.
  • In the film The Illusionist, it's where it turns out that Sophie was alive all along, that Eisenheim successfully fooled the Police Inspector, causing the Prince to kill himself, and that he got away with all of this scot-free. And Eisenheim's the protagonist.
  • In Tootsie, the big reveal for the fictional soap is when the main character - who had been masquerading as a woman to land a part on a soap opera - takes off his wig and many of his feminine touches and reveals himself to be a man during a live taping.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gandalf the Grey is believed to be dead, having died in the previous film, and his death being recapped at the beginning of this film. Director Peter Jackson utilized various film techniques (distorted voice, blinding light covering his face) to hide that the mysterious White Wizard was actually Gandalf brought back, alive and well, as Gandalf the White. Although Jackson presents this in the film as a surprise, even tricking the audience to believe it may be the evil wizard Saruman, the reveal is completely ruined by all of the trailers and TV spots for the film, which included this pivotal moment to advertise the film.
    • Note the scene is directly derived from the one in the book, in which at first the others cannot tell Gandalf from Saruman, as Gandalf has been sent back "as Saruman, as the way he should have been".
  • Similar to the previous entry, the advertising killed this trope for Terminator 2. If one watches it back-to-back with the original you notice that, cleverly, it is left completely ambiguous why the T-800 has returned until the point where he rescues John Connor in the hallway.
  • Chinatown. She's her sister. And her daughter.
  • The Usual Suspects: Keyzer Soze is Verbal Kint.
  • Reservoir Dogs: The rat is Mr Orange.
  • One of the funniest ones ever comes from Down With Love, when Renee Zellweger's character explains her Gambit Pileup in a breathless three-minute single-take monologue which, when it's all finished, leaves Ewan McGregor with a truly priceless expression of bemused confusion on his face.
  • In the French film He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (which stars Audrey Tautou), the first half is a whimsical unrequited love story, getting a bit creepy, and then as the Love Interest is being taken away to prison, the film rewinds and you see it from his point of view—he's met this strange woman once or twice in passing and doesn't know who all the love notes are coming from. It turns out she's mentally ill with "erotomania," and is ultimately institutionalised.
  • Not every Reveal has to be serious. In the 1982 comedy Jimmy the Kid, some low-grade crooks use a crime novel about a kidnapping to plan a genuine abduction for ransom. The chosen target, a kid genius, leads them on until he can slip away with the ransom money. At the end, he reveals why he's so successful at manipulating his abductors: because he wrote the book they based their crime on.
  • Again, lack of complete sincerity, in the movie Just One Of the Guys, Terry reveals her true gender to Rick who responds with the line, "Where d'you get off having tits?"
  • In A Beautiful Mind, The Reveal is that John Nash has schizophrenia and has been imagining all the spy work he was been doing for the government - along with several of the other characters.
  • There are not one but two major reveals in the first Mission: Impossible movie - that Phelps is alive after being presumed KIA on a mission, and later that he and Claire are working together against Ethan.
    • Mission Impossible III starts with a very tense scene in which Ethan Hunt's wife is tied to a chair, whilst Big Bad Philip Seymour Hoffman threatens to kill her. At the end of the movie it's revealed that it was a woman who worked for the bad guy. She is wearing a mask of Ethan Hunt's wife's face.
  • One of the most famous is from Planet of the Apes.
  • Parodied to hell and back in A Shot in The Dark, where it's revealed that all but one supporting character introduced in the film is either a murderer or a blackmailer.
  • Laura has a twist middle. She's actually alive.
  • Saw 3D ends with Lawrence Gordon, the sole surviving protagonist of the first film, being revealed to be the one confirmed good egg out of Jigsaw's apprentices, as the only two apprentices that appeared before then, Amanda and Hoffman, were both cold-blooded killers who greatly exaggerated (and sometimes even flouted) Jigsaw's legacy. Both Amanda and Hoffman were executed in their last films: Amanda is killed by one of Jigsaw's victims after she threatened the life of the nurse that was treating Jigsaw, and Hoffman was left to die without even the faintest hope in the same room Gordon had previously been imprisoned in by Jigsaw, with Gordon himself acting on Jigsaw's orders (Jigsaw put a contract out on anyone who harms his loved ones--especially Jill Tuck, his wife). "Game over."
  • "Take a chill pill" in Mystery Team.
  • Fish Story has several, owing to its Anachronic Order: The missing minute of the song is the lead singer breaking down and asking if this will ever be heard by anyone. The Word Salad Lyrics are the result of a poor translation job on an english-language novel. The record store employee is the son of Gekirin's manager. The college student failed to save the girl, but bought her the opportunity to save them both. The champion of justice was their son, who takes back the ship from the terrorist cult. The student on board the ship is a mathematical genius who calculates the trajectory of the missiles to blow up the comet.
  • Lesser example in The Grey. Ottway states early in the film to the memory of a woman, "you left me." A picture of them in her room shows her in a wedding dress. Ottway occasionally flashes back to her, always in a white bed. Ottway also seems to know what the body experiences during death. This all lines up toward the end of the film, when the camera pans in the flashback, showing the IV drip that Ottway's late wife is connected to.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? has a disturbing one as the callous Judge Doom whose glasses often lighted up to cover his stare is revealed to the Toon who killed Eddie's brother, complete with an insanely high pitched voice and cartoonish eyes that could be best described as coming straight from a mentally disturbed animator or Hell itself Eddie was likely not the only one who was terrified of this scene.


  • In The Hand of Oberon, 4th book of The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny, Ganelon is revealed to be the long-vanished Oberon.
  • The penultimate chapter of Isaac Asimov's original Foundation Trilogy had three characters giving three different solutions to the mysterious location of the Second Foundation. In the last chapter, yet another character reveals the true location, and the narration tells us his Secret Identity in the very last sentence.
    • What makes this Reveal even better was that in the first section of the first book of the series, the location of the Second Foundation was revealed by Hari Seldon... and NOBODY picked up on it the first time they read it.
  • Harry Potter books often have surprising reveals of the villain's identity, including in Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone where it's Quirrel, Chamber of Secrets where it's Ginny, etc.
    • This is another way the books mature: as the main turning point/climax, the first four books have reveals, and the last four books eschew these for main character deaths. (That's not a typo, GOF has both, as the series's turning point). For the record, in Prisoner of Azkaban it's Ron's pet rat and in Goblet of Fire it's Mad-Eye Moody.
    • The later books still have a Reveal in the climax, e.g. the Prophecy in OOTP, Snape in HBP, the last Horcrux and Snape again in DH.
  • Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, when the killer is revealed to be ...nope, nice try.
  • Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner where Amir discovers that Hasaan is his half-brother.
  • In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Galaxy in Flames, when Tarvitz realizes that Horus intends to virusbomb the Space Marines on the planet.
  • In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, when Garro insists on hailing a Thunderbird he has been ordered to shoot down, and learns that it's Tarvitz, trying to warn the Space Marines on the planet of Horus's treacherous attack. Sendek, who prided himself on being The Stoic, has a Not So Stoic moment of pure surprise.

"Saul Tarvitz," whispered Sendek. "First Captain of the Emperor's Children. Impossible! He's a man of honour! If he's turned traitor, then the galaxy has gone insane!"
Decius found he couldn't look away from Garro's shocked expression. "Perhaps it has." It was a long moment before Decius realized that the words has been his.

  • In An Abundance of Katherines, Colin has dated nineteen different girls named Katherine, all of whom have dumped him, and communicates these relationships to the reader through flashbacks. Katherine Carter, aka Katherine XIX, was with him for almost a year and totally broke his heart. When he was eight, a little girl named Katherine asked him to be her boyfriend; he said yes, fell in love, and got dumped two and a half minutes later. Then Colin is asked out by the most popular girl in school, who is named Marie, not Katherine, and is finally going to break his streak... but then he sees Katherine I, Katherine the Great, and ends up ditching the date. "And so it was Colin and Katherine Carter snuck out of the house to have a cup of coffee at Cafe Sel Marie."
    • Then the book does it again—Colin is determined to figure out why Katherines keep dumping him, and he works out a theorem of relationship graphs, and it works for eighteen of the Katherines. But the graph says that he dumped Katherine III. So finally he calls her back and tries to figure out what happened... guess who did the dumping after all.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Chessman of Mars, when Turan reveals that A-Kor is a prisoner, U-Thor demands to know the meaning of it, and reveals that after O-Tar gave him the slave woman who was A-Kor's mother, he had freed and married her, and so he regards A-Kor as his son.
  • The short story "Cop Killer" tells of an eager new police recruit, Max, who moves in with his veteran-cop partner and becomes a part of the family, only to be shot in the line of duty by a cheap crook. The grieving partner hunts down and kills the shooter, whose last words reveal that Max was a police dog.
  • Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Esmeralda is Gudule's long-lost daughter.
  • Neil Gaiman's American Gods: "It's a two-man con." Mr Wednesday (Odin) and Loki, gods of death and chaos, have been manipulating the Old Gods and the New Gods into a war so that they can feed on the resulting carnage. Wednesday is quite really a Magnificent Bastard.
  • The Dresden Files book Changes has a big reveal for the series up to that point, but also for that book, in the first sentence.
  • In the third book of the Codex Alera, we find out that Tavi is Gaius Octavian, son of Isana and Septimus, and heir to the throne. Needless to say, this is a tricky spoiler to hide when discussing the rest of the series.
  • At the end of Thief, when Gen and company are brought into Eddis' throne room, and the Queen recognizes him, sighs in exasperation at his appearance, and holds out her hand for the missing artifact he's had hidden in his hair for half the book
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows in Zamboula", near the end, Zabibi reveals that her lover is the ruler of the city, and she is his mistress. At the very end, Conan muses on how he realized that up front and has stolen the ring she wanted him to retrieve.
  • In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Oedipus searches for the man who assassinated King Laius, only to find that he himself killed the king, who was actually his father, and then married his own mother. As the prophet Tiresias tells him, "You are the murderer you seek." This is one of Aristotle's examples of anagnorisis in the Poetics.
  • Subverted in Les Misérables. Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who had almost returned to a life of crime after being released but had been redeemed by a kind bishop. Mr Madeleine is a good, philanthropic mayor who always helps the poor and feeds puppies. The two are introduced to us as completely separate people, though it is clear to the reader that they are the same person. After a while the author mentions that his readers will certainly have worked out by now that they are one and the same. There is a rather dramatic reveal of this identity to a courtroom though:
  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Gambit Pileup that it is, has a bunch of these, ranging from Arstan Whitebeard actually being Ser Barristan Selmy, to Jon Arryn's murderer being his wife, Lysa, at the behest of Littlefinger, and probably culminating with Doran Martell's twenty-year-long revenge gambit to return the Targaryens to power. There's also the as-yet-unrevealed promise Ned made to Lyanna, which has been set up as a particularly whammy reveal since the first book.
  • The second and third novels of the Star Trek series Terok Nor take advantage of the medium to set up a reveal they couldn't pull off onscreen. Specifically, two apparently different characters turn out to be the same man. The security chief on Terok Nor station, Thrax, is revealed mid-way through the third book to be the same character as Sa'kat, the loyal second to outlaw priestess Astraea.
  • In Daddy-Long-Legs, the revelation that Daddy Long Legs is Jervis Pendleton, though it is somewhat spoiled by the fact the letter that reveals this is addressed to "My very dearest Master-Jervie-Daddy-Long-Legs-Pendleton-Smith".
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea:
  • Despite being incomplete, The Pale King has plenty:
    • The owner of the Doberman Hand Puppet is Dr. Lehrl.
    • The identity of drifter girl and the fate of her mother.
    • The identity of Mr. X. It makes the Uncomfortable Elevator Moment chapter read completely different the second time through.
    • The fate of Lane Dean's girlfriend and their unborn child.
    • The true purpose of Claude's investigation.
    • Chris Fogle's role at the IRS.
    • Dr. Lehrl's intentions for Post 047.
  • In Magyk, the first book of Septimus Heap, it's revealed that Boy 412 is Septimus Heap.

Live-Action TV

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Angel is a vampire.
    • Buffy's temporary death had created another Slayer.
    • Sleeping with Buffy turns Angel evil.
    • Jenny is a gypsy from a family Angel slaughtered, and was sent to Sunnydale to watch him.
    • Oz is a werewolf.
    • Angels Face Hell Turn in "Enemies" was a fake.
    • Riley and Professor Walsh are part of The Initiative.
    • Glory's not a demon. She's a god.
  • In Angel Season 4, when possessed Cordelia is revealed to be behind the rise of the Beast.
    • And again in Season 5, with the return of Lindsey.
    • From the Season Three premiere: Darla is pregnant.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when we learn that the Changelings are the head of the Dominion.
    • Also when Gul Dukat is revealed to be working with the Dominion.
    • And a few episodes later, when it is revealed that Bashir is in a Dominion prison and has been replaced by a Changeling for most of the season.
  • Famous early example in Lost is the nature of Locke's "miracle," revealed at the end of the fourth episode. There are, of course, plenty more from the series.
    • (Arguably) the two biggest reveals come at the third and fifth season finales: what we've thought is a pretty standard despondent-alcoholic-Jack flashback is actually a flashforward, with Jack and Kate off the island and Jack wanting to go back, and the man we've thought is Locke this whole time is actually the series' Big Bad, who has taken the form of John Locke, who was not miraculously brought back to life by the island but has been dead since season three (technically), respectively.
    • The series finale has the Sideways timeline reveal that their "alternate lives" are actually their afterlife and the entire cast will eventually be Together in Death.
  • Heroes is not only fond of this trope but loves to do it multiple times on the same subject. A specific case would be the bomb that will/might/did destroy New York City, which is "revealed" to be caused by one person, then re-revealed to be actually caused by someone else, then...
    • Nothing about Nathan being Claire's father?
    • The episode "Five Years Gone" contains perhaps the best reveal of the series: President Nathan Petrelli is actually Sylar, using the illusion power he obtained from Candice Wilmer. We discover this as Sylar is cutting open Claire's skull.
    • The fact that this actually comes partly true, Sylar replaces Nathan, is more than slightly disturbing.
  • The end of the second season X-Files episode "Sleepless" in which it's revealed that Krycek is working for the CSM. (Not spoiler cut because I'm fairly sure it's old news.)
    • Not to mention that CSM is Mulder's father.
  • In the Season Two (and series) finale of Carnivale, we learn that Sofie is an avatar of darkness, just like Brother Justin.
    • Well, technically she isn't an avatar of darkness, but the Omega, but still, we didn't know what that meant up to that point (and it's still not really clear).
  • Alias does this a LOT. Including the very first episode in which Sydney learns that she's actually working for The Alliance, an evil organization that she thought they were fighting, and not the real CIA. Some of the major ones:
    • Season One: Laura Bristow was not a lit professor, but actually a KGB spy by the name of Irina Derevo, and is actually alive and is The Man.
    • Season Two: Sloane assisted in taking down the Alliance for his own means (arranging for the information that Sydney & co. at Oops Central to be available).
    • Season Three: Sydney actually erased her own memories of the two years she spent "working" for the Covenant.
    • Season Four: Jack Bristow actually killed a double of Irina Derevko. The real Irina was being held by her sister Elena in captivity. Elena turned out to be Sofia, the woman running the orphanage that Nadia grew up in.
    • Season Four/Five: Six words: "My name is not Michael Vaughn." Sloane's flip-flopping between being good and evil does not count because, honestly, who didn't see it coming?
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show—The Crowning Moment of Funny in "That's My Boy??" is a classic. The episode is a Flash Back to when baby Richie came home from the hospital. Over the course of the episode, Rob (Dick Van Dyke) convinces himself that Richie has been Switched At Birth with the baby from the Peters family. He invites Mr. & Mrs. Peters over to reclaim their baby, only to learn when he opens the door that that they are an African-American couple. Rob asks, "Why didn't you--?" and Mr. Peters (Greg Morris) replies, "And miss the look on your face?"
  • Battlestar Galactica (the new series) Has an on-going mystery about the identity of the twelve Cylon models. The first of many reveals is in the Miniseries, where it is revealed that Sharon must be one of them in the final scene. There are also a few other puzzles:
    • Season 2: Another Battlestar survived the Cylon Holocaust.
    • Season 3: Tyrol, Tigh, Tory and Anders are four of the missing five Cylon models.
    • Season 4.5: The Thirteenth Tribe that colonized Earth were all human Cylon models.
    • Season 4.5: Ellen Tigh was a Cylon.
    • Season 4.5: The 'original programmers' were Tyrol, Tigh, Tory, Anders, Ellen and Cavil.
  • By Season 4, Supernatural seems to be doing an average of one an episode. From off the top of my head, we've had the Reveals that: Dean was rescued from Hell by an angel! Big Bad Lilith plans to raise Lucifer! Dean tortured souls in Hell! By torturing souls, Dean allowed the first seal to be broken, making Lilith's plan possible! Sam can now kill demons with his mind! There are some angels working to help release Lucifer! There are plenty more. To give you some idea, the last 3 reveals were in just one episode.
    • The Trickster is the archangel Gabriel who, when it comes down to it, is just a bitter, jaded kid who didn't want to see him family fight.
    • Lilith was not working to break the final seal, she WAS the final seal, and Ruby was manipulating Sam to get him to kill her. "The first demon shall be the final seal."
    • The colt doesn't work on Lucifer.
    • Season 6: Sam is soulless! The Campbells are working for Crowley! And up to eleven in the last four episodes of that season: Crowley isn't dead! Castiel is working with Crowley to open Purgatory! Cas raised Sam from the pit! Cas is the Big Bad!
  • The Doctor Who episode "Utopia", where in the last 15 minutes it is revealed that Professor Yana is the Master, chameleon arched, and the Face of Boe's message was a secret acronym hinting at this (You Are Not Alone). Then the Master regenerates into the British Prime Minister.
    • "It's us!", if you hadn't guessed it an episode earlier.
    • Who is the Pandorica's intended occupant, the "nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies", the "most feared being in all the cosmos"? It's the Doctor.
    • The reveal of River Song, and who she is. Series 5 and 6 have done this a lot.
    • Technically, Jack's immortality although it was revealed in episode 1 of Torchwood.
  • Used in Bones when Dr. Brennan finds out that her parents were actually notorious bank robbers.
    • Also used when the team discovers that Zack is Gormogon's apprentice.
    • Also used in pretty much every episode of Bones.
  • In the Season 3 ER episode "Night Shift," a patient who is badly mangled after jumping (or falling) onto the tracks in front of an elevated train is rolled into a trauma room. Dr. Benton tells a nurse to page Benton's favorite medical student Dennis Gant, and everyone is horrified when the patient's beeper goes off—it's Gant on the table!
  • Dollhouse: Daniel Perrin is a Doll and Cindy Perrin is his handler.
    • Boyd is Rossum's founder.
    • That quirky engineer guy played by Alan Tudyk is Alpha.
  • From the first season of Dexter, the Ice Truck Killer is Dexter's biological brother.
    • From the third season premiere: Rita is pregnant.
    • From the 4th season finale: Rita was the Trinity killer's last victim.
    • Late 6th season: Professor Gellar is shown to have been dead for some time and only alive in Travis' imagination.
  • In the Season 8 episode of Stargate SG-1 "Prometheus Unbound," Daniel is the only person left aboard the Prometheus with one of Anubis's Super Soldiers. After Daniel is captured and tied to a chair, the Super Soldier hits on Daniel, who is understandably disturbed. Then the Super Soldier removes its helmet to reveal Vala Maldoran.
  • Jack and Bobby pulled this off in the pilot episode, waiting until the very end to reveal which of the show's two brothers would grow up to become President.
  • In season 4 of NCIS, Tony's relationship with Dr. Jeanne Benoit was allowed to progress for many weeks, and to get quite serious for both of them, before it was revealed that he'd engineered the relationship to investigate her arms-dealer father, and hadn't even told her his real name.
  • Noah's Arc has plenty, but a major one that stands out is Junito's HIV status.

Professional Wrestling

  • The shocking revelation of the identity of the Outsiders' Third Man in WCW's 1996 Bash at the Beach: Hulk Hogan.
  • The very long awaited reveal of the identity of The Undertaker's "higher power", which had kept everyone guessing and which turned out to be a big letdown when it was only Vince McMahon himself all along, which just meant more Austin vs. McMahon, which everyone had long since grown tired of.
  • Or the true horrific reveal about Pro-Wrestling itself? It's scripted. Dun Dun Dun.
    • GASP!
  • In WWE, the man who drove a car and ran over Stone Cold Steve Austin at 1999 Survivor Series was revealed to be Rikishi, as well as the mastermind HHH.
  • Can't wait to find out who the mystery RAW GM is in the WWE.

Video Games

  • Super Smash Bros.: Sheik is Zelda.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic You know that Darth Revan everyone's been talking about? The one who disappeared mysteriously and is presumed dead? The one who would have every reason to hate the Jedi AND the Sith for what they did if he/she were still alive? That's you.
    • The sequel pretty much makes a point of having no reveal, even though just about everything that happens in the game is one surprise after another in a kind of "I've always known" sort of way. The one true revelation is that the whole game was a test. Except anyone who paid attention already knew that. This is just speculation, but it might be in response to the Revan issue, considering how obvious it was to - again - to anyone paying attention, like the writers of the sequel would be.
  • Grandia II has a killer - Granas, the god of good you've supposedly been serving, was actually the loser of the ancient struggle between good and evil and has been dead all along. The supposed 'Seals' that were binding the parts of the sealed dark god Valmar were actually devices created to prepare a human's body for possession by a part of Valmar's damaged body, and the Pope of the Church of Granas has actually been manipulating you into reassembling Valmar's body from the very beginning. Basically, EVERY SINGLE THING you've done so far in the game so far has been a lie.
  • Final Fantasy VII takes until late in the second disc to reveal what really happened in Nibelheim five years ago, especially Cloud's involvement.
    • The game actually turns this situation into two reveals for the price of one. The first being where he's told that he is just a clone of Sephiroth, and all his memories of Nibelheim were taken from Tifa. The second being him discovering that he is in fact, not a clone, at least not in a traditional sense. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase Un-Reveal.
  • System Shock 2: You spend roughly the first half of the game being assisted by Dr. Polito, who is your only companion, her only real flaw being she at times is a bit cold and short with you, what with the stress of all comrades dying and all. You finally enter her offices to find her slumped dead in her chair, having been Driven to Suicide long before ago...then the same voice you've been hearing mocks you for a minute, before announcing..."I am SHODAN".
  • At the very end of Episode Aegis / The Answer in Persona 3: FES, Metis reveals to the party that she and Aigis are one and the same. Metis was the "human" side of Aigis, cast out due to Aigis' wishes to be a mere machine again. If Aegis remains that way, she won't have to mourn/grieve over the loss of the protagonist, nor will she have to bear the penalties of being human. But after seeing what became of the protagonist and learning of the true nature of Shadows and Persona, she wishes for Metis to return to her. Aigis absorbs Metis and decides to stay with the SEES team, as a complete being.
  • The moment when it becomes apparent just what Mass Effect's Reapers really are.
    • Your initial impression of the Reapers is basically correct though. The Reveal is when you discover that Sovereign is a Reaper.
    • And the second reveal - That all the precursor technology was actually left behind by the Reapers. They did this on purpose to steer galactic civilisation down a path that makes it easier to be harvest.
      • And the final reveal - the Citadel is actually an enormous Mass Relay, used by the Reapers to travel from extragalactic space back to the Milky Way. The Conduit, the weapon Saren has been searching for, is actually a minature Mass Relay that will allow him to get aboard the Citadel, kill his way to the station's Master Control Unit, and give control to Sovereign.
    • Mass Effect 2, meanwhile, has three major ones. Firstly, the Collectors are actually the Protheans, repurposed and horifically modified by the Reapers to serve them. Secondly, the abducted humans are being used by the Collectors to build a human Reaper, revealing the reason the Reapers commit galactic xenocide every 50,000 years: it's their version of reproduction. Finally, Harbinger is a Reaper, and the Collector-General is just another Mook.
      • Turns out Cerberus and the Illusive Man actually are evil. Who knew?
  • BioShock (series): "Would you kindly..."
    • Shortly after: "It's time to end this little masquerade. There ain't no Atlas, kid. Never was. Fella in my line of work takes on a variety of aliases. Hell, once I was even a chinaman for six months. But you've been a sport, so I guess I owe you a little honesty. The name's Frank Fontaine."
    • Then comes BioShock (series) 2, where you find out that Eleanor brought you back with the help of the new Little Sisters, and has been watching your every move.
    • Minerva's Den - Sigma is Porter.
  • Final Fantasy X brings 'em until the final dungeon.
    • First and foremost is the can of worms that is Sin. *deep breath*
      • Jecht IS Sin.
      • Sin brought Tidus to Spira, and Sin is the only thing that can take him back to Zanarkand. So by completing the pilgrimage, Tidus will be forever stuck in Spira.
      • Indirectly related: You know the Final Aeon, the only thing that has ever beaten Sin? It will kill Yuna once it's summoned. This is never explored, but the fact alone agonizes EVERYONE, regardless of how long they've known.
      • Sin will never go away. The Final Aeon is possessed by Yu Yevon upon Sin's defeat, and the Calm, the short period of years between Sin's appearances, is its incubation/growing period.
      • Sin is, in fact, a summoned monster by Yu Yevon, who was a summoner from Zanarkand a thousand years ago, who sacrificed what was left of the devastated Zanarkand (from a war with Bevelle) to use as Fayth for the summoning.
        • Not quite. Sin is the armor that Yu Yevon creates for himself by possessing the Final Aeon. What he is really summoning is "The dream of the Fayth", a dream version of a Zanarkand that never lost the war; the Zanarkand that Jecht and Tidus came from. Yu Yevon's defeat means that Sin will finally disappear, along with the dream Zanarkand and Tidus.
    • Auron's confession that he's an unsent (solid ghost). It was his devotion to his previous summoner and Tidus' father that allowed him to retain his human form (and not become a fiend), so he could Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • At the End of Red's Story in SaGa Frontier Red's Mentor from when he was aboard the Cygnus is the one who gave him the superpowers he used throughout the story.
  • Planescape: Torment, built as it is upon a well-crafted Laser-Guided Amnesia plot, is made of these, and doesn't stop until the very end - expect reveals about enemies, allies, old flames, rivals... even the main character. In fact, every attainable companion in the game has one of these, if you talk to them and dig deep enough.
  • Subverted in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, in which the Black Knight's true identity is spoiled to you by Ranulf rather casually a few chapters before your final showdown with him.
    • Justified when you consider that Ranulf is the resident Genre Savvy character and he didn't want Ike to become emotional or be caught off guard when he and the Black Knight finally face off.
  • The Legacy of Kain series loves this trope:
    • The ending of Soul Reaver 2, which, after the game spends a lot of time foreshadowing it, reveals that Raziel is the Reaver.
      • And...Future Raziel killed past Raziel.
    • In Defiance, when it is revealed that not only did Mortanius use the powers of the Heart of Darkness, previously belonging to Janos Audron, to make Kain into a vampire, but the Heart is also inside Kain.
      • This is also a brilliant subversion of Gameplay and Story Segregation; in the first game, made by different developers, no less, where you play as Kain, the Heart of Darkness is a collectible item that does exactly what Mortanius is revealed to have used it for, but strictly in game mechanics. As long as Kain has at least one in his inventory, it's impossible to die.
    • And of course, in the original Blood Omen, the reveal was that Kain had been the Balance Guardian all along.
  • Pokémon Colosseum has a surprisingly effective Reveal: not only is Nascour not the Big Bad, as everything in the game beforehand had seemed to state, but his boss was Evice. Who's Evice? The incompetent mayor of Phenac City, who did pretty much nothing helpful through the entire game. This was very surprising, considering how Pokemon games usually made no secret of the villain and the only foreshadowing of it was Nascour casually leaving the mayor's house earlier in the game. This is done less effectively in the sequel, where it's pretty obvious Mr. Verich is the bad guy the minute you meet him.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, you'll have to wait until the 16th statue crumbles to find that yes, Dormin will resurrect your girlfriend/sister/who-knows-who-she-is. He just wants to make you into an unstoppable force of darkness in return.
    • Although, you were warned, by Dormin themselves, no less, that the consequences would be dire, and that you're basically signing a waiver.
  • The biggest Reveal for the Mega Man X series is that its resident Ensemble Darkhorse hero is built by Dr. Wily for the sole purpose of destroying the world, and his best friend.
  • And the Mega Man Zero series also has a big Reveal: that The Hero is using a clone body, since the Big Bad stole his original body to create The Dragon.
    • Another loosely-guarded Reveal that occurred at the climax of Zero 4: Dr. Weil is immortal, meaning that no matter what happens to him, he will keep coming back to menace the world.
  • Mega Man ZX, taking a page out of the Classic series, makes the villains in each game obvious right from the start (although, in the case of Advent's Master Albert, was not too obvious at first). No, the real Reveal would occur in The Stinger of the latter game, where Master Thomas, previously thought to be an ally to the heroes, orchestrated Albert's defeat so that he can further his own plans.
  • Braid slowly foreshadows this, then hits you in the gut with it. The final level has Tim and the Princess, each helping the other as the Princess runs away from a knight. Then, at the end, the Princess reaches her home. Tim is suddenly locked out. All that you can do is rewind... where it turns out that the Princess is running away from Tim, each trying to stop and hinder the other as she escapes into the knight's arms. Unexpected... but logical if you think about it.
  • Neverwinter Nights is full of these. When the creepy Helmite cleric pretending to be helping is actually working to spread the plague, the scene at the top of the Host Tower where Aribeth turns to the Dark Side, Haedraline explaining the history of the Old Ones out to destroy the world of mammal-descended sentient species, the incredibly powerful ancient artifact inside the supposedly barely magical tower statue in Shadows of Undrentide, Heurodis' being a medusa at the end of the Interlude, the intended function of the Relic of the Reaper and Mephistopheles' plot in Hordes of the Underdark, etc, etc, etc.
    • Neverwinter Nights 2 has them also. Original Campaign: You have a silver shard embedded in your chest. The mysterious warlock you thought was the King of Shadows is Ammon Jerro. Mask of the Betrayer: You've become a spirit-eater. The spirit-eater is the tormented soul of Akachi the Betrayer.
  • Too many to count in Jak and Daxter, especially the third one. The biggest one is probably the mystery of the Precursors being solved. They're ottsels, so Daxter's been one all along.
  • Couple of them in the Wing Commander games, revolving around revelations of The Mole.
  • In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, near the end... Luke: "What do you MEAN 'the villagers are all robots'?!"
    • Heck, there're major reveals at the endings of the second and third games, too. In the second it's that Folsense isn't real, and the Elysian Box doesn't actually kill people. In the third, it's quite a bit more startling. You're not really in the future, and the so-called Older!Luke is, in truth, the Big Bad. Oh, and Celeste was really Claire all along. Too bad she dies anyway about two minutes after you find out. (More accurately, she died ten years earlier, just as everyone thought- it just so happened that just before she died she was thrown into the future where she got to help save the day before being forcefully pulled back to the time of the accident. Curse you, temporal mechanics!)
  • The games in the Metal Gear series have tons from beginning to end.
    • The reveal in Metal Gear Solid 2 that the Colonel you've been taking orders from via radio is an Artificial Intelligence that has just become affected by a computer virus that's been uploaded to its source, causing it to spout gibberish such as: "I hear it's amazing when the famous purple stuffed worm, in flap-jaw space, with the tuning fork, does a raw blink on Hiri-Kiri rock! I need scissors! 61!"
  • A really big one in Homeworld 2. You remember Sajuuk, worshipped by half the galaxy as the god of creation and destiny? Remember the prophecy that whoever unites the Trinity of Great Hyperspace Cores unlocks his power and becomes Sajuuk-Khar, Manipulator of He Whose Hands Shape What Is? Turns out Sajuuk is a brutally powerful Progenitor warship which only needs the cores and an Unbound controller to become flight-worthy again. Once active, it unlocks a galaxy-wide network of hyperspace gates, pushing the galaxy into a new golden age of prosperity. Also, it crossed 30 parsecs in a matter of minutes which is a staggering record for hyperdrives.
  • They're RAMPANT in Mitsumete Knight. This game thrives for a rich storyline, and a lot of events are built around and triggered by those. The game's TV Tropes Character Sheet is a testament of this, with a lot of info masked due to spoilers.
  • Jewelry Master Twinkle, a Puzzle Game with Dating Sim elements, surprisingly has one. On the third date with Kaori, the girl for Hard mode, she reveals that she's actually Nozomi, the girl for Another mode, and has been disguising herself because the real her is not very good with the opposite sex.
  • The end of inFamous has a rather big one, in the form of Kessler's past and the motivation for all his actions during the storyline.
  • Played very well in the Overlord games. There are just enough hints throughout the story for the player to look back and realize it was all leading up to this without actually preparing the player for the actual reveal.
    • In the first game, the player spends the entire story killing off the heroes who killed his predecessor and claiming his new kingdom. Just as he kills the second-to-last hero, it is revealed that the previous Overlord has been using you all along to eliminate his enemies. On top of that, he's been turning all the former heroes into corrupt shadows of themselves and you are in fact one of them, who was left behind.
    • In the second game, the player battles the Glorious Empire to take a new kingdom after your father's land was destroyed by a magical explosion. Just as you move in to kill the Emperor, the useless elf that has been a minor annoyance the entire game is revealed to not only be the cause of the explosion, but also the Emperor himself who has been using you to gather the energy he needed for his final magic transfusion.
  • In Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure, the reveal is saved up for the last level of the game. The Prince actually turns out to be Puku in disguise. He reveals that Parin's entire adventure was all just a part of his plan, to meet the monsters, obtain the drill, and go to the Eggplant Caverns. He tricked the phantoms into fighting her so she would be strong enough to reach Great Fang and release Tokaron on the world.
  • In the original Ratchet & Clank, Captain Qwark is revealed to be working for Drek in an attempt to make enough money to fuel his "comeback as a hero". Which would, in turn, get him more money as per heroic deeds and sponsorships. Another reveal, which is doesn't come until the end of the game, is that Chairman Drek is NOT looking for a home for his people. He turns out to be the one who polluted Orxon from the beginning, and the building of a new planet was actually a great real estate scheme as he was being paid for "every square inch" of his new planet.
  • Legend of Dragoon has many
    • Rose in particular holds a number of them.
      • She's immortal
      • She's the Black Beast.
      • She killed Dart's parents.
      • And Shana's twin sister.
    • It is implied, though never confirmed, that Haschel is Dart's grandfather.
    • That's No Moon: It's a monster whose soul is reincarnated in human form every 1000 years.
    • Shana is the reincarnated soul.
      • Rose killed Shana's twin under the belief that the twin was the soul.
    • The Big Bad is Dart's father. And Rose's ex. From before she became immortal.
  • Each Sly Cooper game has one.
    • The original had Clockwerk reveal the reason he killed Sly's parents, steal the Thievius Racoonus and leave Sly alive was to show the the world that without the book, the Cooper family would be nothing.
    • The second game had a big one in that the Klaww gang members you had fought were all part of one big plan that was orchestrated by the leader of the gang, Arpeggio. What was the plan? To bring Clockwerk back to life, have Arpeggio become Clockwerk and become immortal. Also, Neyla was working for Arpeggio the whole time. But, once again, she backstabs him at the last second and becomes Clock-la.
    • And in the final game, the Big Bad Dr. M reveals that he was a part of Sly's father's gang. Apparently, Sly's father was a bit of a douche to Dr. M.
  • In Dragon Quest V the main character isn't The Chosen One prophesied to save the world. His son is. Thus it makes sense why you never ran into the legendary hero on your travels until you're far into the game: He hadn't been born yet.
  • In Tales of Symphonia 2: Dawn of the New World, it is revealed in the end that the hero is actually the summon spirit Ratatosk that wanted to destroy the world as well as the clone of the scientist that was killed by Ratatosk and his personality was fabricated to protect Ratatosk's identity.
  • Hotel Dusk: Room 215 has one in the final chapter. You learn that Osterzone is actually Dunning Smith, who resolves every mystery that was brought up in the previous chapters (what happened to Bradley, where Mila's father is, how Iris' sister got the money to settle the lawsuit, etc.). It should be noted that Dunning himself doesn't come out and reveal his identity; you figure it out by using a coding machine while sealed inside of an airtight basement chamber that Dunning locked you in.
  • Kingdom Hearts loves this trope, especially in regards to the Big Bad.
    • KHI: Maleficent was actually being manipulated by the heartless of Ansem, a researcher and the ruler of Hollow Bastion. He turned himself into a heartless in order to claim the heart of all worlds, and has been manipulating Riku as well, even possessing him.
    • Chaim of Memories: Namine is a witch who controls memories, and she's been messing with Sora's memories ever since he set foot in Castle Oblivion to replace all his memories of Kairi with memories of her. The two of them had never met before.
    • KHII: Roxas is Sora's nobody. Namine is Kairi's nobody. The villian from the first game was actually the real Ansem's assistant, Xehanort, who took on his identity. DiZ and his assistant, Ansem, are actually the real Ansem and Riku.
    • 358/2 Days: Xion is an imperfect clone of Roxas.
    • Birth By Sleep: Takes the cake. Vanitas is the personification of Ventus' darkness. Aqua created Castle Oblivion from the ruins of her home world so she could hide Ventus. Xehanort is actually an old Keyblade Master who's been possessing Terra's body for the past eleven years. Ventus' heart has been living in Sora, which is why Sora can use the Keyblade. Terra passed his keyblade on to Riku, and Aqua accidentally did the same to Kairi. Finally, the reason Kairi ended up in the Destiny Islands when Radiant Garden was destroyed was because Aqua cast a spell on her to lead her towards light.
    • Re:coded: Master Xehanort will return since his Heartless and Nobody were destroyed.
  • Mother 3: The Big Bad only makes an appearance when the party's going for the final Needle... and by then you know full well who he is. Porky Minch. And he's all grown up... literally.

Porky: Who knows? I may be 100 years old, or even 1000 years old. But I'm still the same kid at heart!

    • And a reveal that should really shock Lucas: the Masked Man is his brother Claus.
      • Did you have to say shock?
  • Fatal Frame IV: Choushiro is a ghost, and has been dead for eight years.
  • In No One Lives Forever, in the very end of the game, there are four reveals. First: Tom Goodman is alive, and is the traitor. Second: Tom Goodman is in fact the real traitor's dragon, and is simply an impostor who was placed in after real Tom Goodman was killed. The true traitor is Mr. Smith. Third: Bruno Lawrie is alive as well. Fourth: After the end credits... we discover that the Director of H.A.R.M. is a drunk guy we've seen throughout the game.
  • The Morolians were being used by Blank all along.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky: The villainous Grovyle has finally been captured and the heroic Dusknoir is taking him away...and then he snatches you away too, because it turns out that he's the real villain and the "villain" you just helped capture was your amnesiac hero's old partner. Also you're from the future.
  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 had every mission begin with text on screen telling you the name of the mission and where it was taking place. Late in the game, one of the Ranger missions starts with you in a bunker, with no text telling you where you are. You navigate through the bunker, filled with wounded soldiers, shaking violently from nearby explosions that are causing debris to fall from the ceiling, until you finally exit, go around a corner and see a war-torn Washington D.C. in flames. Only then does the title text come on screen.
    • The game wastes no time in topping this with the end of "Loose Ends". Shepherd's the Big Bad, not Makarov.
  • Call of Duty Black Ops of course, had: My name is Viktor Reznov, and I will have my revenge!
  • The flash game "Alice is Dead" does this quite well. In the first game, you see Alice's decomposing skeleton, and it is later revealed that you are the one that killed her (although, you developed some nasty amnesia and forgot most of it.) In the third game, you go after the Queen of Hearts and get killed just as soon as you meet him. He slyly goes into his limo, only to find that there is another passenger: Alice. She was still alive the whole time, and only faked her death to make it easier to kill the Queen.
  • Big Daddy in the original Gungrave is depicted as dead throughout the game. Not quite. He was actually used as a guinea pig for Harry's undead soldier program and lives on in the form of a twisted monster—he's really the final boss of the game.
  • Team Fortress 2: "Oh my god, you're a SPY!"
  • The main character of Prototype, Alex Mercer, is trying to find out how he became the mutant with Badass powers that he is. When he finally does, it turns out that he's not really Alex Mercer at all. He is the Blacklight virus that infected the corpse of the real Mercer and copied his body when he was shot after releasing the Virus on the city. The protagonist only thought itself to be Mercer because it retained some of his memories as it does with all the people it infects and consumes.
  • in Fallout 3, you get a Reveal early on: You're not a Vault baby. Which leads to the conclusion that the "no one ever enters, no one ever leaves" creed of Vault 101 is a lie.
  • In the second half of Portal 2, after listening to several recordings of late Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson talking to a cheerful secretary by the name of Caroline, it's revealed that GLaDOS was built as an attempt by the terminally ill Johnson to cheat death by uploading his mind into an immortal AI network...and while Johnson seems to have died before the project was ready, he left instructions that Caroline should be uploaded, against her will if necessary, in his place.
  • The Orion Conspiracy has a number of reveals. The first one is that Gates is an undercover agent who has been trying to dig up dirt on the space station and gave Devlin the note about his son's death being murder. The second one is that there are xenomorphs (aliens) running loose, killing off crew members and impersonating them. The third one is that Captain Shannon murdered both Danny and Kaufmann. Why? Because he is a Complete Monster who killed Danny as revenge for his wife's death, and he killed Kaufmann to frame Devlin. He was also going to kill Devlin. The fourth one is that Mogami-Hudson discovered the xenomorphs in statis in the asteroid and released some of them, hoping to get their technology in return. The fifth one is that Doctor Chu, Waterman, and Lowe are dead and that you were interacting with xenomorphs disguised as them.
  • Vagrant Story: Lea Monde is the Gran Grimoire. And Sydney had the key to inheriting its powers all along—the tattoo on his back.
  • In The 3rd Birthday, you are not really playing as Aya Brea throughout the game. Hint: Overdive.
  • Near the end of Dragon Age, you find out a Grey Warden must sacrifice their life to permanently kill the Archdemon. Not long after, you find out the real reason one of your companions was sent with you was to have a child with either you-if you're male-or your other Warden companion to hold the Archdemon's essence; this would also mean no Wardens would have to die.
  • At the end of Metroid: Other M, it turns out that Madeline Bergman is actually Melissa Bergman, daughter of the real Madeline Bergman, who is not actually her daughter, but an AI who took the form of a human and saw Madeline as a surrogate mother. When Madeline gave up Melissa to some scientists, she goes berserk, destroying most of the station and its occupants. You learn all of this during a seven minute long expositional monologue shared between Samus and Madeline.
  • The flash game QWOP seems so simple. Run the 100 meter dash. But about halfway through you find out you're actually running the hurdle jump.
    • And at the end you find out that it was the long jump the whole time.
  • Xenogears: OH JESUS. From the top:
    • Elly was a member of the raiding party responsible for stealing Weltall from Kislev, indirectly resulting in the destruction of Fei's home village, Lahan.
    • Grahf arranged for the raiding party to engage in battle directly over Lahan, so as to involve Fei in the conflict and begin unlocking his latent abilities.
    • Bart is actually an exiled member of Aveh royalty.
    • Citan and Sigurd are both former citizens of Solaris, the shady technocratic civilisation in the sky controlling Aveh from the shadows.
    • Chu-Chu isn't a stuffed toy, it's ALIVE!
    • Rico, a demihuman, is the sole heir to Kislev royalty.
    • The Ethos, the not-quite-Catholic religion responsible for excavating ancient weapons of war, is actually a front for Solaris' operations and their entire theology is a lie.
    • Solaris has, in fact, been running the entire surface world as a puppet show by means of kidnap, genetic conditioning and political machinations for the past several centuries. The other civilisation in the sky, Shevat, is the only force that is both aware of this and actively combating it.
    • Those Reaper enemies you've been fighting? Genetically altered people bred by Solaris as a means of merging man with machine and creating superior weapons of war.
    • Bishop Stone was directly responsible for the death of Billy Lee Black's mother.
    • Maria's father, Sergei, had his consciousness transplanted into one of Solaris' mechs.
    • Elly's mother isn't her real mother - she was born from an illicit affair her father had with a surface-dweller, meaning she's not a pure Solarian.
    • The food produced in the Soylent system is actually the reconstituted remains of human beings - that's right, Soylent Green is PEOPLE!
    • Citan was an agent of Emperor Cain, the figurehead leader of Solaris, planted to watch over Fei and lead him to Solaris.
    • Humans are not from this planet; the goal of the disembodied Gazel Ministry who rule Solaris is to inhabit the bodies of those with a high Animus factor and journey back to the stars.
    • Fei is Id - specifically, Fei has dissociative identity disorder, and the Fei we've been playing as until now is a mental construct that's only been around since he was brought to Lahan three years ago.
    • Miang is the Executioner.
    • Grahf is Lacan, an artist and warrior who suspiciously resembles Fei from the conflict 500 years ago.
    • Ramsus was created by Krelian to destroy Emperor Cain, freeing the Gazel Ministry to activate the Gaetia Key and reawaken Deus.
    • The humans on the planet of Xenogears were actually born from Deus, an interplanetary bio-weapon that crash landed there 10,000 years ago, and are actually intended as spare parts for the man-made God.
    • Miang is Deus' avatar; the "Miang-factor" exists within all women on the planet, allowing Miang to effectively possess any woman she chooses when her current host dies.
    • Miang at one point occupied the body of Fei's mother and performed horrific experiments on him when she became aware of his special status. This is what caused the personality of Id to form.
    • Fei/Id inadvertantly killed his mother when Grahf arrived at their family's house.
    • Fei and Elly are both reincarnations of passengers on the Eldridge, the ship which originaly bore Deus to the planet, who came into contact with the Wave Existence, the higher-dimensional entity which powers Deus. They've also reincarnated several times over the course of the intervening centuries...
    • ...and one of these reincarnations was Lacan, who upon losing his current incarnation of Elly, swore vengeance upon the world and became Grahf.
    • Grahf has body-hopped his way across five centuries, and the body he currently resides in is that of Fei's father, Kahn. He seeks to merge with Fei, the current incarnation of the Contact, in order to bring about the apocalypse.
    • In his moments of control, Kahn has appeared to aid Fei over the course of the game in the guise of the mysterious figure Wiseman.
    • *deep breath* And finally, Krelian's true intentions in reviving Deus were to return humanity to the higher plane of existence from which all things originate, where they would be one with the Wave Existence and all individuality would dissipate.

Visual Novels

  • The Ace Attorney series, being all about very dramatic trials, has some major reveals. Perhaps the most epic is in the second game's final case, where your client, Matt Engarde, turns out to be not the killer, but the man who ordered the killing. The reveal is so awesome because he smoothes back his hair to reveal some nasty scars on his eye, changing his appearance and expression extensively, and then he pulls a glass of brandy out of Hammerspace. In a holding cell.
    • The homepage says "a buttload more informal than Wikipedia", so let's go with some more. The ending to the third game: even after Big Bad Dahlia Hawthorne has been defeated for good, there still isn't an actual suspect for the murder. After some further testimony and debate, Phoenix accuses Prosecutor Godot. What makes this a surprise is that so far there's been absolutely nothing to even suggest that person was anywhere NEAR the murder as it happened. But it's not out of nowhere; because the player has to prove they've actually been paying attention by answering "Who do you think the witness saw?" just before The Reveal.
      • Or right before that, the fact that Dahlia Hawthorne is even involved. Spirit channeling had been a sidenote until that case, so the executed Dahlia was thought to be out of the picture completely.
    • The first game's final case has two of them, in sequence. Lana Skye has already admitted guilt as your defendant, leading to a lot of suspicion as to: Why would you do that? When investigating a very obviously-related incident referred to as SL-9, you must go through the testimony of her younger sister, Ema Skye, to find out what happened. Many players here expect this murder gives the proof and motive to put the real culprit behind bars. The result? You accidentally find proof positive to the real killer in that incident: Ema. This sets up for a bigger reveal later on.
    • Throughout the fifth game the question we've been building up to is whether the Yatagarasu is Kay's father Byrne Faraday, as Kay claims, or Calisto Yew, as Yew claims. In the penultimate challenge of the game we find out that the answer is neither option. The Yatagarasu was actually three people—Faraday, Yew, and Faraday's partner Detective Badd, putting their respective skills together to commit the thefts. Compared to that the reveal of the Big Bad is almost minor.
  • Fate/stay night. In the Fate route Saber is revealed to be King Arthur (or Arturia), the Holy Grail is actually an Artifact of Doom Jackass Genie and that random priest at the very start is the Big Bad. In Unlimited Blade Works route Archer is actually a Future Badass version of Shirou. In Heaven's Feel route Sakura is Rin's younger sister who was given to the evil Matou family and during eleven years was subject of horrendous domestic abuse and Training from Hell in order to become a vessel of the Holy Grail.
  • Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors has its first major reveal during the Safe Ending, where you find out that Ace is Gentarou Hongou, the CEO of Cradle Pharmaceuticals and the perpetrator of the first Nonary Game. Except he isn't Zero. Zero, as revealed by the True Ending, is June, and that you've actually been playing as her, not Junpei, the whole time. It Makes Sense in Context.

Web Comics

  • There are several big ones related to the backstory in Avalon.
    • At the beginning of the second year, Ceilidh finds out from Ryan that Joe, Alan and Phoebe were all friends until Helène arrived and took Alan away from Joe, then Phoebe started dating an abusive douche named Todd, who eventually dumped her and started spreading rumours that she was a lesbian, pushing her to the breaking point and causing her to beat him up. In the end, Joe never spoke to Phoebe again and while Alan came back to him after having had enough of Helène, their friendship was already damaged.
    • Later in the same year, Joe eventually reveals that it was actually Alan who took Helène away from him, as Joe immediately fell in love with her but was too timid to ask her out, and Alan took advantage of that to make a conquest of her, reeling back when she wanted an actual relationship. He also reveals that it was him who caused Todd's injuries, pushing him down a set of stairs out of frustration and anger at hurting Phoebe, who he was also originally in love with. Afterwards, he simply never had the courage to go up to Phoebe and start their friendship up again.
    • Even later, Phoebe tells Ryan that Joe actually asked her out, but she got scared and broke his heart, then got together with Todd because Joe going after Helène made her feel like he was lying to her before. She knew what he was like all along, he even physically abused her, but she couldn't bear to admit that she was wrong, and the whole experience just convinced her that nobody could care about her. This eventually lead to her lashing out at Ryan at the start of the actual comic, when he tried to help her.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court is just aching to make a couple billion of these.
    • Antimony and Renard's first real argument quickly devolved into them throwing extremely painful revelations at each other. Specifically Surma never loved him, and Antimony was the cause of Surma's illness.
  • Sarda was Onion Kid!!!
  • Parodied in this strip from Dominic Deegan.
  • At the climax of an earlier plotline of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, it's revealed that literally every detail of the plotline was all part of an elaborate publicity stunt orchestrated by FOX News.
  • YU+ME: dream - when the reader finds out that everything in Part 1 has been a dream.
  • Mortifer, being more or less a Wham Series in later chapters, has plenty of these. The most notable, however, is chapter 18. William Aussek, Sam's Ensemble Darkhorse new CO, is actually Joey Von Krause in disguise. And Joey is actually a demon, with flame powers. And his eyepatch hides a gaping wound with a small light deep inside instead of an eye. And then he kills Sam, who's a viewpoint character. There are several other examples, such as the reveal that Vlademyre Hynner, Joey's old boss who was introduced in the first chapter, then forgotten, is the new leader of the southern black market, or the reveal that Badass Preacher Zebidiah is actually a demon under Vlad's control, or the reveal that Joey's hallucinations are actually Rashnu trying to get him to redeem himself, or the reveal that Joey's plan thee whole time has been to use his William Aussek identity to eliminate Sintec and the black market for good—more or less the opposite of what the audience thought he was planning, etc. etc. And what's better, all of them manage to make perfect sense in retrospect—well, except for the whole Zebidiah = demon bit.
  • The Phoenix Requiem: The spirits are the bad guys.
  • Homestuck: The most important character in Homestuck is... Gamzee Makara. Though, Lil' Cal may be more likely at this point.
    • Also, Sburb's purpose is creating universes. And the trolls created ours.
    • The Tumor is what created the Green Sun. And Doc Scratch planned it all.
    • The reveal of Lord English.
  • In Impure Blood, Dara drops her knowledge on Caspian.
  • Why is Yehuda Moon hated so much by Sister Sprocket? How did he get involved in the Kickstand in the first place? It's because he's a Soapbox Sadie, right? Actually, his work on a housing development inadvertently destroyed the forest, taking with it the Shakers' way of life with it. Selling their bikes is his way of paying penance.
  • Ctrl Alt Delete had a Running Gag involving Ethan trying to get into Scott's bedroom to see what was such a big secret that he spent most of his time there & refused to explain what he was doing, yet failing every time. And then, when he finally got inside by tricking Scott into leaving, he was stunned to find... a perfectly normal room, and got bitched at by Scott for the inasion of privacy, before Ethan accidentally knocked a lamp which opened a hidden panel in the wall hiding several computer monitors, with Scott's pet penguin, Ted, sat at them. Scott then explains they're going to release a virus that destroys all Microsoft software, because they experimented on Ted & Scott rescued him from the lab. Oh, and that made Ted super smart, and he developed a way to give himself telepathic control over Scott, with Ted being the dominant one of the two.
    • Even better though - Microsoft probably wasn't responsible for the experiments. The only reason Ted thinks they are is because he saw the Windows logo on a nearby computer screen - and HOW many people use Windows OS?
  • In Sinfest, Satan is doing his charming sell when the door to Hell opens with pleas for help and he slams down on it.

Web Original

  • Broken Saints has quite a few, but the most memorable comes in at the end of the penultimate chapter. Palmer is found dead, and in a storm of Mind Rape we see the face of the real Big Bad. The hobo Raimi encountered by the alley, AKA, Lear Dunham.
  • Ruby Quest has several moments that would qualify, but the biggest is probably "Today is october 31st".
  • In Red vs. Blue's Reconstruction series, the fact that Church is the Alpha AI would definitely qualify.
  • The biggest reveal in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe was the fact that Stone's mother was a supervillain, and that his father abandoned him at an orphanage in order to hide him from her.
  • In the Whateley Universe, "Christmas Elves" has Fey and Generator in a trap, and they then find out that Don Sebastiano did not make Cavalier and Skybolt into his mind-slaves with his psychic powers but instead, Hekate did it with black magic.
  • In Wormtooth Nation, it's revealed that wormtooth gas, an invisible, odorless gas that causes permanent Easy Amnesia and has caused numerous problems for the protagonists, actually causes people to live forever in small doses. The entire population of the City moved down to the subterranean world in order to gain immortality, but after an unknown but presumably very long period of time everyone had been "nixed" so often that no one remembers this fact, nor the way back to the surface.

Western Animation

  • American Dad loves spoofing this. One example, from "The Phantom of the Telethon":

Stan: Give it up, Roger!
Roger: I'm not Roger, I'm the Phantom!
(Stan pulls off his mask and gasps.)
Stan: Roger!
Roger: Well, yeah, I...what?


Real Life