The Un-Reveal

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
A second Domino Mask and a Face Framed in Shadow? Well played, Tuxedo Mask.

Hokuto's Lackey: Now that I've taken care of all of your problems, all you guys have to do is sit there while I say my name. RIGHT? Now LISTEN! My name is- BOOM
Random student: Holy crap a meteor hit the school building!
Hokuto's Lackey: Son of aaaaaaa ---
Narrator: Will anyone learn Hokuto's Lackey's name? What will happen with the Boss Championship? Many questions will be answered in the next episode of Cromartie High School... and many will not.

It appears that a reveal is being set up... but there's no reveal in the end.

Can be either frustrating or hilarious, depending on how badly the viewer wants the reveal, and how far the viewer was strung along expecting it.

If The Reveal is cancelled because the revealer suddenly dies, it's His Name Is--.

A Sound Effect Bleep can be used to create an Un-Reveal. Another weapon in The Un-Reveal arsenal is the end-of-episode cutoff.

A special case of Un-Reveal is when we think that the info withheld in an Unreveal earlier in the episode is finally going to be revealed now... only we're frustrated again.

A last type of Un-Reveal is the "you know the rest" gag: A character is giving historical information to another character, and ends by saying "you know the rest," even though the viewer does not. Usually done for comedic effect, since it's a good way to create outrageous Backstory without having to make it fit continuity. If this becomes a Running Gag, it's the Noodle Incident.

See also Missing the Good Stuff and Riddle for the Ages. Regularly used to add fuel to a Driving Question. Not to be confused with The Untwist.[1]

Contrast Emerging From the Shadows.

Examples of The Un-Reveal include:

The Basic Un-Reveal

Anime and Manga

  • Naruto had its infamous Episode 101, the "Unmask Kakashi" episode. At the end, he takes off his mask to reveal... another lighter-colored mask.
    • However, the one-off manga special this episode was based off didn't even reveal that to the main characters (and audience). Apparently, the ramen store-owner and waitress did see Kakashi's real face, and the reaction (all starry-eyed with the Luminescent Blush) seems to suggest that Kakashi is at least a borderline Bishonen.
    • A later manga special had Naruto asking Kakashi's ninja dogs what his face looked like. They all give different descriptions, but after Pakkun criticizes them they agree on his account. Naruto then runs off to tell Sakura, right before Kakashi comes by the dogs while eating and the dogs all notice that wasn't what he looked like either.
    • More dramatically this has happened at least three times with another masked character, Tobi. It's because of this that some people refer to him as the Mask, because one can never be sure what/who is behind it:
      1. He tried to let Sasuke see his face, but after he'd only shown one corner was interrupted by the Amaterasu ability Itachi put in Sasuke's eye activating, setting Madara on fire. After that he stumbles back out of view and when he comes back the mask is on and he keeps it on.
      2. Aoba started reading Kisame's mind and recovers a memory of him without his mask, but he's in the shade with only his eye visible and Kisame manages to kick Aoba out right as he's coming into view, then frees and kills himself before they have a change to try again.
      3. When fighting Konan, part of his mask is destroyed revealing exactly the same part of his face we'd already seen. Another attack destroys even more of his mask, but almost everything besides his other eye is hidden in shadow.
    • And then the true reason to why Kakashi wears his mask is revealed in the spin-off manga Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth: it's to hide his nosebleeds whenever he reads porn. Although he later says its a joke, so its back to square one.
    • Tsunade uses a transformation technique to maintain her young image. The only times she returns to her true elderly form is when she is low on chakra. But both times that this happened we only saw part of her face.
  • A facepalmingly obnoxious scene in Code Geass has C.C. reveal her name to Lelouch TWICE, only to be drowned out by the sound of water dripping from the ceiling. The lip-flaps are actually well-animated enough to attempt to guess what vowels are in it. That's good, right?
    • Even more annoyingly, after going out of their way to conceal C.C.'s real name from the viewers, implying that it has some larger significance to be revealed never is. Supposedly C.C.'s and Lelouch's seiyuu both actually spoke the name during the scene in question, so the writers really did come up with a name that they're withholding for no apparent reason.
  • Through the whole run of Maison Ikkoku, Soichiro had been depicted as The Faceless. Finally at the end, Godai gets a clear look at his picture. Too bad that for the reader his face is covered by a panel.
  • Cromartie High School gives us Hokuto's Lackey, a character who is Exactly What It Says on the Tin—and every time he attempts to say his name, he's interrupted by increasingly absurd circumstances, from Freddie spilling juice, to a meteor hitting the school, to aliens landing on Earth and accidentally leaving with Freddie on board.
  • In Gundam Seed, we never get to see what Rau Le Creuset's face looks like under that mask. Mu and Kira got to see it, and it was apparently shocking. But his face is never once shown to the audience.
    • Just to rub it in, his mask burns away seconds before he's disintegrated in a huge explosion. But the scene is angled so we still don't see anything.
    • We do get to (very briefly) see his face late in Destiny during a flashback to his mask getting shot off in SEED. However, just to twist the knife in even further, it looks completely normal, well, as normal as a clone of a famous politician can look. I guess the mask was just there to hide that fact.
      • The reason for the shocked reactions, presumably, is that said famous politician is Mu's father (who also bankrolled the experiments that led to Kira's birth).
  • Every chapter of 20th Century Boys. There are about 15 different Unreveals in the manga (one for each volume). Sometimes the villain has a mask (three of them). He's "seen" in flashback as one of two identically masked children, or again as a child in a different mask. He's seen again in a virtual reality program, but since there are no photos of him as a child, his face is a blank sphere. Later he is unmasked and killed, but because he has always appeared as a masked man, an imitator (or is it the genuine article?) appears. Cue the rest of the manga. his actual identity is only implied in the very last page of the manga's epilogue, 21st Century Boys. He had only been mentioned twice before, and on both occasions the person speaking said they thought he was dead.
  • Duero's hair is flipped in the last episode of Vandread, revealing his supposedly handsome face. We still don't see it, though.
  • In Ranma ½, Principal Kunō threatens to reveal everyone's English test scores for all to find out. Ranma initially doesn't care, but when the principal implies his score is so bad he couldn't reveal it, Ranma gives chase and the principal later changes his mind about revealing his score. Even Ranma's English teacher forgot what she actually gave him. When he finally caught him, it turns out that what the principal had was actually a cheesy prank of a poster with his face with the words "Kiss me!" and he accidentally left everyone's test scores in a hot-air balloon (which is initially how he was going to let everyone know). The scores reach the international news somehow; Akane's score turns out to be very good, and while Ranma's isn't revealed, it's implied he actually did not too bad.
  • In Gals!, Towa reveals Ran's secret to Kasumi. But whatever it was, it isn't actually interesting.
  • School Rumble. When Eri and Yakumo were fighting in the school play, Eri asks Yakumo about her relationship with Harima. Her answer is never revealed but it is enough to make Eri yield.
  • Bokurano, with its premise of killing all of the "chosen" pilots as part of a gigantic, winner-takes-all tournament that would determine the last universe remaining, seemed to have been heading towards an ending finally explaining how and why all the events in the manga happened with its last chapter, titled Dung Beetle. Instead, said character offers one theory for why everything has happened, before proceeding with its No Ending.
  • A Cowboy Bebop episode features a mad bomber who is continuously thwarted in his attempts to get the word out on why he is setting off teddy bear bombs to blow up public buildings.
    • His motives were (mostly) revealed at the end. He was blowing up tall buildings in protest of humanity's excesses.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: After Kyon refuses Koizumi's suggestion that he confess his love to Haruhi as a way to escape the Endless Eight Groundhog Day Loop ("There is no one more suited for this than yourself, right?"), Koizumi offers up the possibility of doing so himself. The resulting expression on Kyon's face is pointedly kept out of sight in every iteration of the loop, but it's enough to make Koizumi laugh and quickly wave off his remark as a joke.
    • Other unreveals include the name of the computer club president (replaced by a scene of a cat meowing) and Haruhi's expressions at the end of the first season both when Kyon kisses Haruhi and when Kyon tells her her ponytail looks good.
    • A Fan Sub for some of the "Endless Eight" episodes uses <classified information> when Mikuru and Itsuki talk about the details of time travel and the endless recursion of time. As it turns out, they actually say something along the lines of "classified information" in Japanese. Kyon, being the Deadpan Snarker he is, wonders out loud if it is some kind of censor.
    • An instance where this is played lightheartedly for humor: when Kyon is about to introduce himself by his real name to Koizumi, Haruhi interrupts him and says "That's Kyon!"
  • Prunus Girl: Aikawa gets hounded by girls for a whole chapter about the secret behind his unwanted body hair and ends up whispering the answer in Maki's ear.

"That night, Maki had a nightmare."

  • Monster never reveals to us the true names of twins Johan and Anna, even though it was revealed to Tenma by their mother, who was still alive by the end of the story.
  • This is played with in the infamous Hot Springs Episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann where Kamina and the rest of the guys are waiting with bated breath to see what the girls look like under their towels. Turns out they're wearing bathing suits underneath.
  • End of Evangelion plays with this trope. When Ritsuko's plan to blow up NERV is thwarted by the MAGI, Gendo delivers an intentionally muted line.

Gendo: Ritsuko Akagi, the truth is... (mimes something)
Ritsuko: You liar... (Gendo shoots her)

    • In the spanish dub, he said "I always loved you". But you know... EVERYBODY knows that he would destroy humanity and bring the end of the world as we know it to be with his wife, Yui. The fans weren't pleased.
      • He also says it (or rather, "I did love you") in the manga adaptation by character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, so that might actually be the line.
  • Cross Game ends with all the relationships resolved but Wakaba's dream still unfulfilled—in particular, we never learn how it is that Aoba plays center field at Koushien, as promised in the opening of the anime.
  • During the second to last episode of Outlaw Star, Gene finally asks why someone who's so obviously not much of a team player like Suzuka works with them. She gives a true enough answer: Tracking down Kei Pirates and killing one of them in particular. They separate and said pirate asks her why she works with them. Does she love Gene or something? Suzuka claims that she will tell his dead body after the fight, but if she does, we never find out for sure.
  • Averted in Axis Powers Hetalia: it looks like this has happened when Turkey appears without his mask, as his face is constantly blocked by the crowds. In the very last panel of the strip, however, we get a completely clear view of him.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, we never find out what Scar's real name is! This goes for both the first anime and the manga/Brotherhood version.
    • Edward always covers the text balloon whenever someone mentions his exact height.
  • In one of the last chapters of Mahou Sensei Negima, Negi whispers to Asuna the name of the girl he likes. The reader doesn't get to know who it is.
  • In Weathering with You, Hina and Hodaka are about to say something to each other on the way back to her place after the final sky-clearing job when she gets briefly lifted into the sky. Whatever they were going to say never gets revealed.

Comic Books

  • While the other New Warriors are trapped in various points in time the Sphinx sends Speedball to a kinetic dimension that is revealed to be a representation of time and the source of Speedball's bubbles and powers. One of the bubbles calls out to him and reveals a major revelation about the moment Robbie Baldwin became Speedball. Once he was rescued from the kinetic dimension he forgot what he learned. Later the Speedball who was rescued from the kinetic dimension is revealed to be a clone with the mind of one of his descendants in the future and killed by the Sphinx. When the real Speedball gets rescued he doesn't seem to remember the big secret he learned in the kinetic dimension either.
  • Judge Dredd's face is obscured from the readers in a similar fashion in the original comics, using bandages, panel borders, darkness and the like. As an additional kicker, criminals that do see his face invariably die soon afterwards, keeping his looks a secret even within the story.
  • In issue #11 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, The Faceless Big Bad is shown speaking to his minions. In the bottom panel on that page, his speech bubble ends in a Dramatic Ellipsis and he's shown lifting the bottom of his mask... but on the next page, he stops just above his chin, scratches the itchy spot on his neck, and lowers the mask again.
  • In an early issue of Young Justice, the others dare Robin to take off his mask. He does... and because he expected this dare, he has another mask on. This is actually only an Unreveal for the other characters in the comic book. Robin has his own book, and so the audience already knows that he is Tim Drake. He has to keep his own identity secret from his friends due to Batman's rules.
  • It's not exactly a Comic Book, but the comic on the Cover of the LP KISS UNMASKED shows a reporter who tries to take a photo of, well, KISS unmasked. They take off their masks and look just the same underneath. Two records after that one they took of the masks for real, but it didn't look that cool.
  • The meaning of the "S" on Jughead's sweater is a mystery. Of course, the only time this fact is mentioned is if an Unreveal is going to happen. One example is when Jughead learns his family is moving away, he decides to tell Archie, but only gets as far as "The S stands for..." when his dad announces that they aren't moving.
  • Agent 355's real name is a secret throughout Y: The Last Man, despite a fair amount of badgering from Yorrick. Close to the end, she whispers it to him, but we aren't told what it was. However, the clever reader can deduce her real name. Word of God says that 355's real name was carefully placed in the comic over the run of the series. It's almost certainly "Peace". Did you really think that the inscription on the tree used as her grave marker meant nothing, when the last thing she asked Yorick to do is call her by her real name? And that the peace symbol used to make the Y on one of the covers she appears on, that means nothing as well? Hah!
    • Another prominent Unreveal of the series is, what the hell caused the Gendercide? Various possibilities are offered up - such as the removal of a fabled artifact from its native land, said to bring a great disaster if it leaves the soil - and when one "solid scientific" possibility is offered up ( a tampering with the earth's morphogenetic field), it's instantly debunked as fringe science. Word of God says that the true cause is mentioned somewhere in the series, but is never made explicit.
  • The angels in Lucifer have Barbie Doll Anatomy, yet the protagonist has clearly been involved with Action Girl Mazikeen. In the second-to-last issue, Spera works up the guts to actually ask Mazikeen how that worked. Mazikeen whispers in her ear, Spera looks surprised and rather impressed, and that's all we hear about that.
  • In the civil war story arc of Image comics' G.I. Joe reboot, Serpentor removes Cobra Commander's helmet only to reveal a balaclava underneath. He lampshades a bit by making fun of CC's paranoia issues.
    • And then the helmet explodes, killing Serpentor and proving that Cobra Commander is Crazy Prepared.
    • Much, much earlier during Marvel's run issue 55 even advertised this in the cover for Destro, Cobra Commander, and Snake-Eyes. They all do remove their masks in the issue, but a clear shot of the uncovered face is not given for any of them.
      • A later story arc (Issues 93-96) has Snake-Eyes' face fully revealed, right before he gets plastic surgery to look normal again. Of course, he gets captured and tortured by Cobra, culminating in getting a face full of hot coals.
  • In Marvel Comics' Dark Reign Files, Quasimodo is tasked with profiling and assessing various personalities who may be of use to Norman Osborn as the head of HAMMER. On the first page we see emails from Quasimodo to Osborn that detail his efforts to this end, blah blah; One of them concerns the identity of Facade, a minor Spider-Man villain whose identity was made into a huge mystery but never revealed. But the lower half of the paper is torn off and it ends with "Facade is-"
  • V for Vendetta has V's identity. We're left guessing as to what sort of person he was and whether he was anyone we'd know—or even whether he was speaking literally or metaphorically when denying the Luke, I Am Your Father possibility. We go through several fake Dream Sequence reveals, before Evey finally realizes that it's important that his identity never be revealed, and that she should instead take up his mantle.
    • This is because V the man had long been lost so that V the persona could take his place. The identity of the man he was before he became V would never be as important as the idea. It becomes a deeply symbolic variation of Becoming the Mask.
  • Not a perfect example but when Destruction is finally revealed by name in Sandman his name is given in Ancient Greek.
  • In the Batman comic series Gotham Knights a scene featured Batman analyzing the blood left behind by villain Prometheus, a JLA-level threat whose identity has never been revealed. The computer displayed "Match found"—and the matter was never brought up again. Interestingly, the Prometheus in question later turned out to be an impostor, and the name of the real Prometheus remains unknown to this day.
  • The Marvel Universe comic Civil War: Frontline: in issue #10, two characters independently found out the secret of the war and were rushing to tell each other (neither of them knew that the same thing was what the other person was going to tell them). On the phone they said they should say it in person; when they meet in person and are about to say it they get interrupted by a battle. When they're finally safe, they point it out to each other in their notebooks, and when it looks like they're finally going to say it, the story ends.
  • In an Italian Donald Duck story possibly retelling War and Peace with the ducks in the main roles, the threat of "cosacking" is repeatedly used and presumably being a fate worse than death, but we never learn what it is; at the end, the story's version of Daisy tries to force Donald to tell her, after they have married, but at the last minute he maintains it is such a horrible thing she is better off not knowing.
  • In Blackest Night #5, we see Hal Jordan and the leaders of all the other Corps reciting their oaths simultaneously... except for Larfleeze who just goes "Eh?"
    • Although readers only know this is an unreveal if they know that Geoff Johns has said the Orange Lantern oath hasn't been heard yet, and is his favourite. Otherwise you might conclude that Larfleeze simply doesn't have an oath (since he's not really in a Corps), or that it's the word "Mine!" (as stated in his Tales of the Corps factfile).
  • Subverted in the first Batman/Grendel crossover; Batman doesn't know that Hunter Rose is Grendel but the reader does. During the final battle, Batman succeeds in unmasking Grendel, only to find that he had painted the Grendel mask pattern on his face with greasepaint.
  • In one issue of X-Men, Rogue and Gambit go on a date. She is about to tell him her real name (in Real Life one of the minor undisclosed mysteries of the Marvel Universe for almost 30 years), but he hushes her and says that it's not important to him.
  • The Haunt of Fear story Wolf Bait, which unusually has no supernatural elements at all, centers around four passengers (all of whom have an important reason for reaching the city) on a sleigh going speeding across the Russian tundra with a pack of starving wolves after them. They manage to delay them a few times with bullets and meat, but soon run out of both, and if the wolves reach the horses it's all over. They soon realize the only way to slow down the wolves long enough for them to escape is to sacrifice someone. Once they all come to agree on this, the decision takes but a second, and the other three throw themselves on the sacrifice and throw him/her to the wolves. It's all in shadow, and the reader has no idea who they picked.

Films -- Animation

  • In a hilarious moment of Kung Fu Panda, just before the final fight with Tai Lung, Po is given a pep talk from his adoptive father—and just when it seems Mr. Ping is about to admit that the panda is not his biological son (presumably to suggest he doesn't have to limit himself to a future in noodle-making), he instead reveals the secret ingredient of his special recipe. To clarify: the panda's adoptive father is a goose. It's played for drama in the sequel, becoming one of the twin engines driving the story.
  • The carriage at the end of Robin Hood. For some reason, they never show who or what was pulling it in the first place given the fact that everyone in this version is an animal...
  • Near the end of the first Shrek film, we actually do not see Fiona transform from an ogress to a human and back at all: as soon as she starts transforming, the camera immediately cuts away from her, and cuts back when her tranformation is complete. The one time we do see her transform, she remains an ogress.
    • This is also true in the sequel, were as a result of a magic potion they drank both Fiona and her new husband Shrek are changed into humans (and Donkey into a White Stallion). When they change back into ogres at the end of the film (and Donkey back into um, guess), for some reason we only see Donkey transform back.

Films -- Live Action

  • Shaun of the Dead played with this trope to emphasize the disinterest the main characters have in the situation. Several hints are given to various origin of the Zombie Apocalypse—a space shuttle exploding over England and showering debris, and GM crops being "to blame" for something on a newspaper headline, to name but a few. Finally, Shaun is watching the news report at the end of the episode. The announcer cheerfully reads, "We now know the outbreak was caused by large amounts of--" and Shaun changes the channel. A brief snippet is also heard on the TV saying, "Theories that the infection was caused by rage-infected monkeys have now been dismissed as bollo--"
  • In the Grindhouse movie Planet Terror, leading Badass El Wray has a mysterious past that accounts for his remarkable skill with knives and firearms. During the plot, the mystery is revealed. Unfortunately the relevant scenes take place in the never-filmed "missing reel".
  • In The Strangers, the title characters terrorize a couple while wearing masks. At the end of the movie, before they kill the couple, they remove their masks, but the camera cuts away before we get to see any of their faces.
  • Cloverfield goes through the entire movie without revealing what the origins of the monster are, or even if three of the main characters ultimately survive.
  • Quarantine is very much in the same style as Cloverfield. Near the end of the film, after we have been fed tantalizing hints about the origin of the virus, our protagonists stumble upon a hidden room, full of newspaper clippings, pseudo-scientific reports, and an old recorder. They fire it up, only for it to play so slowly as to be unintelligible. Now, it's probable that it actually says something (again, like the message at the end of Cloverfield) but it's pretty frustrating for the audience.
    • Thanks to various dedicated individuals and the internet, there are answers, for the viewers, anyway. Too bad it's still just as confusing.
  • REC does reveal the origin of the virus, but the fate of Angela is still up in the air, with strong implications that she's either dead or infected. In the sequel, REC 2, you will get the answer: infected, but of another kind... she is now possessed by the devil entity
  • In the film version of The Neverending Story, Bastian chooses his mother's name to give to the ailing Childlike Empress. What is it? Nobody knows; when he dramatically calls it out, it can't be heard over the storm. (In the book, he names her "Moon Child".)
    • In the film, he actually does say "Moon Child", but due to his voice being so high pitched when he screams it, combined with the storm, unless you knew that's what he said, you'd never be able to tell.
    • In the movie, there's absolutely no way to understand what "moon child" could mean. Earlier, Bastian muses about calling the empress by his mother's name, but we never find out what that name is, and it wouldn't make sense for her name to be Moon Child—so the scene seems like a red herring.
  • Cube. The people trapped inside the Cube constantly speculate where the cube is, who might have built it and why. The movie ends just as the last survivor has found the exit. In an additional Downer Ending twist, he's the Idiot Savant who'd be unable to explain to anyone else what he discovered.
    • In Cube 0, the mystery of the Cube is explained somewhat, with it being revealed to be a secret government project. Still, what anyone would want with an entirely useless, extremely expensive machine like the Cube is impossible to know. The Hypercube in the second movie seems like it might be a bit more practical since it can apparently fit in one room in physical space, but only as a prison for an Eldritch Abomination, or something of similar order.
  • The Alfred Hitchcock flick Foreign Correspondent. The Nazis kidnap a Dutch delegate and force him to reveal what "Clause 38" is. The protagonist rescues the delegate but he has already revealed "Clause 38" to the Nazis but not to the viewer.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. The One-Boobed chick's relationship to the Chosen One will be revealed in the sequel.
  • The contents of the briefcase from Pulp Fiction. All we know is that it glows and "It's beautiful." The original script had the briefcase simply contain diamonds, but Quentin Tarantino decided to change it at the last second to make it more ambiguous. He ultimately regretted putting the lightbulb in the case, since that was too leading. Ultimately the case is just a MacGuffin.
  • Similarly, the contents of the case in Ronin. All we know is that governments want it badly. Even some of the people fighting over it don't know the contents.
  • Possibly the earliest "MacGuffin case" is the one containing the "Great Whatzit" in Kiss Me Deadly. All we see is that it gives off a blindingly bright glow (possibly nuclear in origin); the briefcase in Pulp Fiction is speculated by some to be a Shout-Out to this.
  • Same again, for the contents of the car trunk in Repo Man. A similar blindingly-bright glow is seen radiating from it whenever somebody opens the trunk and is disintegrated. An alleged photo of the contents is shown on a tabloid newspaper, but is far too blurred and ambiguous to be recognizable.
  • The "Rabbit's Foot" from |Mission Impossible 3. They even mention in-universe that it's a MacGuffin and it doesn't matter what it is exactly. That we know that it is powerful is enough to know.
    • It has a biohazard label on the container.
  • Dragonheart begins this trope when the dragon tries to tell the hero his name, but gets interrupted before he can start.
  • Cthulhu (2007). The movie ends with the protagonist implored to "Make sacrifice!" by the Big Bad (e.g. kill his lover and become leader of the cult); the movie ends before showing us his decision. Also we never see the Half-Human Hybrid offspring of the protagonist in the bathtub. Which is probably just as well.
  • The "Charles Dance Version" of The Phantom of the Opera has the Phantom twice removing his mask with his back to the viewer. We see the shocked reactions to his deformity, but not the deformed face itself.
  • At the end of Lost in Translation, Bob whispers something into Charlotte's ear just before they part ways. The movie then ends without the audience knowing what was said. It can be assumed that it has something to do with whether or not they plan on getting back together, but that too is never revealed.
  • At the very end of Inception we see Cobb go home to his children, finally see their faces, and supposedly finally have a happy ending. That is, until we see his top spinning and spinning and star-ting to wobb-le... credits
  • In The Social Network, Did Erica Albright accept Mark's friend request? at the end of the film? Also, to a lesser degree, who is the "movie star" whom the lawyers mention as having studied in Harvard at the time? It's Natalie Portman.
  • In Casino Royale, M comes home to find James Bond sitting in her living room...

M: How did you find out where I live?
Bond: Same way I found out your name. I always thought M was a randomly assigned initial, I had no idea it stood for...
M: Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed.

  • Being unmasked is the greatest humiliation a Masked Luchador can face. So the wise luchador hero takes precautions, like El Santo in El Santo vs. the Martian Invasion. When a nefarious Martian rudo removes El Santo's mask, he discovers that the Crazy Prepared luchador wore a second mask underneath that one!
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, we never find out what Judge Doom looks like underneath the disguise.
  • In A Christmas Carol (1938), Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Past before she can show him "the darker years of his life"..
  • The made-for-TV Spielberg thriller Duel never shows the crazed trucker's face.
  • Top Gun: Maverick: Just before setting off on the mission, Rooster tries to tell Maverick something. Maverick says it can wait until after the mission. We never get to learn what it was supposed to be.


  • House of the Scorpion is set sometime in the future, but the exact year is never revealed. Matt reads a book that would have at least given a rough estimate, but he stops reading the book just before it says what year the book's author received a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The "wealthy and forgettable" god in American Gods whose odd traits (such as having everyone remember that he'd spoken, but nobody remembering what he'd said) never has his name or occupation revealed, despite the fact that such care was taken to describe him.
  • The opening to Frank Stockton's The Discourager of Hesitancy, the sequel to The Lady or the Tiger, is set up with the apparent intention of finally revealing what happened in the No Ending of the previous work. Instead it presents a similar problem without answering what happened in the last one, making this Older Than Radio.
  • Two Older Than Radio examples in Effi Briest: the author repeatedly evades revealing details of the story of the Chinese man's ghost. In one scene, Rosawitha sits down with Frau Kruse and asks her to tell the story; as Frau Kruse begins to speak, the narration follows another character out into the courtyard, then Rosawitha comes into the courtyard and says, "I must say that story about the Chinaman is very queer." Later, one character asks another about it, and gets the answer, "An extraordinary story, but not for now. We've other things on our minds." That's it! The reader never learns more.
  • This effects both the protagonist and antagonist of The Chronicles of Prydain. Taran, the protagonist, is an orphan with no family linage in a land where familial descent is everything. It starts weighing on him so much he eventually goes Gene Hunting, but comes up empty. It's finally revealed that even his mentor, Big Good Dallben, has no idea who his real parents are (it had been alluded to previously that Dallben was keeping the information secret, but that turns out to be nothing but unfounded speculation on Taran's part). Meanwhile, Arawn, the antagonist, is notable for being a Shape Shifter. One of the key facts of his villain mythology is that only one person has ever seen his true face and lived to tell the tale, setting up a Chekhov's Gun regarding his true appearance. When he's finally defeated, he reverts to his true form, which falls face-down on the ground, but because he's a Load-Bearing Boss, his fortress begins to crumble just as Taran goes to turn him over and see his true face.
  • In The Quest for Saint Camber, after an apparition appears to Kelson during his duel with Conall and does a Godly Sidestep, Kelson and Dhugal meet a cowled man on the beach near Castle Coroth. The man still won't give his name or admit appearing to Duncan years before, but he does draw a sigil in the sand that shows them a vision of Camber on his bier. Though there's no clue as to where or when the vision actually happened, Kelson finds a tiny shiral crystal bead (like those sewn into Camber's netted shroud) in the sand.
  • Throughout The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton, the protagonists argue the feasibility of so many carnivores in a so closely confined space with so little prey in relation to their numbers. Near the end, one of said protagonists reveals that he came up with a good explanation but the reader never finds out what this is (probably because Crichton couldn't think of any and just didn't want to leave the question imply a Lampshade Hanging).
  • In Neuromancer, the character Molly has mirrored sunglass lenses surgically embedded over her eyes. Late in the novel, one of the lenses is broken in a fight, and the characters responsible comment that they'll be able to see the colour of her eyes once she wakes up. They do, but by the time the main character (and thus the reader) get there, she's already been bandaged up.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. Hundreds of plot points are unexplained, after the readers are informed of just how incomprehensible everything is if you don't know what they mean. Heck, "The Sugar Bowl" could easily be this trope's name. Also, Lemony Snicket sometimes takes the above plot points to an extreme of this trope, resulting in a chapter beginning that is poorly related (if ever excused by that) to the following chapter.
  • At the end of Cold Comfort Farm, Ada Doom explains to Flora Poste the wrong that Amos did her father, and what her "rights" are, but the reader never finds out. Flora follows up with "and did the goat die?", but not even she finds out the answer to that. And we never discover what "something nasty in the woodshed" Aunt Ada saw.
  • 1984. Winston stops reading Emmanuel Goldstein's book just as he was in the part about the Party's true intentions.
    • Those intentions are, however, revealed later in the book by an actual Party member. Of course, there's no guarantee it's not a lie. But considering that it's about the most horrible thing they could admit to, and the fact that their entire goal with Winston is to break him rather than deceive him, that's not very likely.
      • It's strongly implied that the Party wrote Goldstein's book, anyway
  • Subverted in The Westing Game. During the reading of the will, Sandy McSouthers makes a joke, cutting off the lawyer before the last word in the third section is read. Subverted in that there is no last word; the will only reads, "The one who wins the windfall will be the one who finds the... FOURTH;" referring to the fourth identity of Westing himself. Samuel WESTing is "dead;" we've met Sandy SOUTHers and Barney NORTHrup; Julian Eastman is the fourth, and the girl who found him got the full Westing inheritance when Eastman died.
  • Torak's father's name in The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Due to plot-related reasons, it appeared that it was going to be revealed in Ghost Hunter....but instead we just get something along the lines of Torak hearing his father's name, with the reader never finding out.
  • In the Xanth novels, Bink's talent (immunity from magical harm) invokes this trope as part its power. Even if Bink himself tries to tell someone, his talent will intervene and cause an interruption (like a sudden dragon attack or a bout of sneezing). It also always invokes itself to protect him in the most indirect way possible. This is so that no enemy can figure out that a non-magical weapon is the only way to harm him. Of course, Xanth being Xanth, virtually everything is magical in some way, so that would mean Bink's talent is a bit on the paranoid side.
    • While Bink is supposedly vulnerable to non-magical attack, we never see one of those really harm him, either. I always figured that the "magical harm" qualification was another manifestation of his power to protect him from all harm, since people who knew about that wouldn't bother attacking him with magic, and would instead use mundane attacks, and they were even easier to protect him from.
    • Except that one of the methods his talent used to protect him was to get him exiled from Xanth, where his talent would not work but where it would also be impossible for him to be harmed by magic.
  • Warrior Cats is this trope. At the end of Long Shadows, you think you're going to finally find out a mystery that's been puzzling you for almost six books. But no. In Sunrise, you find it out. Also, you think you'll find out who'll be the real Third. No, you find that out in the next book.
  • In Dan Simmons' Hyperion saga, we never get a full explanation of The Shrike's true origin and purpose. In fact, a lot of things are left less than fully explained in the end.
  • In Reaper's Gale Rhulad's consort writes a single phrase on a confession paper before she is brutally murdered. Based on the reaction of the two men to subsequently read it, the phrase would have been truly damning to her murderers, which could mean a wide array of things considering their actions. Yet what was written is never revealed; the paper itself is destroyed and both men to read it die without ever revealing the contents.
  • The Brothers Grimm story "The Golden Key" describes a boy who discovers a golden key and a small box in the snow. The boy imagines what wondrous things might be in the box, and searches it for a keyhole. He finally finds it, and inserts the key into the keyhole... but the reader will have to wait for him to unlock the box before finding out what's inside. The end.
    • Considering most Grimm stories can be read in an entirely different way, guess what Key and Keyhole could symbolize.
  • In "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator never gives details on the insult for which he wants revenge.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea:
  • Near the end of the second book in The Millennium Trilogy, Lisbeth Salander figures out a simpler proof for Fermat's last theorem. In the third book, thanks to being shot in the head, she no longer remembers what it was.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Collateral Damage reveals the Elias Cummings never wanted the job as FBI director, but he was blackmailed into taking the job. It is never revealed what he was being blackmailed over, but Judge Cornelia "Nellie" Easter knows what it was, and states she would have done the same thing in his place. Perhaps he committed an act of justifiable murder.

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Who was Adam before he was turned into the "Tri-borg" human/demon/cyborg Adam? "Not a man among us remembers".
  • Cheers: Vera gets pied in a food fight, so that she remains faceless.
  • Saturday Night Live: The "It's Pat" sketches from the early '90s were built around repeatedly Unrevealing Pat's sex to both the other characters and the audience. In only one sketch do the characters learn Pat's sex, but the reveal is interrupted by a fake news bulletin. This extended all the way through The Movie of the sketch. Fans have pointed out that Sweeney tilts her head to the side in a feminine manner during one sketch, suggesting that Pat is female.
  • iCarly: In iThink They Kissed, Carly asks Sam and Freddie if they enjoyed the kiss. Before they answer, Spencer interrupts them, and the question is never answered.
  • All through Firefly, Shepherd Book acts much like a preacher out of a western, but occasionally shows skills with hand to hand combat and firearms, and once flips a badge to some Alliance guards. In The Movie, Book is talking to Mal about how government assassins operate. Mal comments that for a preacher, he sure seems to know an awful lot about that world. Book replies "I wasn't born a Shepherd". Mal says to him: "You'll have to tell me about that." Book pauses... and says "No, I really don't."
    • And then, The Operative kills him.
    • There's also the question of what Saffron's real name actually is. In a rather satisfying scene, Mal asks Saffron what her real name is, and when she hesitates, he gives her a Pistol-Whipping in the face, and mutters "You'd only've lied anyhow."
  • The Drew Carey Show: Mimi's allergic reaction to her experimental brand of make-up requires her to go without the garish stuff completely for a week. After covering up for the whole episode, she comes up with a flashlight that will cast the colored light pattern on her face. Notable in that the following episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?? featured Mimi's actress, Kathy Kinny, as a contestant, sans make-up.
  • On The New Adventures of Old Christine, Richard finds out that Matthew and Barb once made out. For security, they demand to know one of his secrets. He responds by telling them about an incident from his high school wrestling days. The audience never hears what exactly his story is. We do, however, see Matthew and Barb's thoroughly Squicked reaction.
  • At the end of Remington Steele, Steele asks his father what his real name is... only to find that his father has just died.
  • The Sopranos—The Series Finale had all the makings of a high tension close... only to fade to black without anything being resolved. What really happened? No one knows, but Word of God later squashed many of the free floating theories and all of the violent ones.
    • All of the violent ones? Word of God seems to suggest that Tony is assassinated.
  • How I Met Your Mother loves this trope.
    • On one episode, Ted teases his kids about what a goat did during his 30th birthday party. When he finally gets to it at the end, he realizes that it actually happened on his 31st birthday, and drops the subject. (Sure enough, Ted revealed what happened on an episode broadcasted a year later.)
    • And don't forget The Pineapple Incident. At the end of the episode, Ted admits that he never found out where the pineapple came from.
    • Barney's job. We know where he works and that he has his own office; we just don't know the specific job title.
    • And of course the biggest, repeated Unreveal of them all: the identity of the mother. About twice a season, the writers set it up to reveal her identity, and then pull out at the last second. So far, we have managed to see her umbrella, her college class, her roommate, her apartment, and, most recently, her foot.
  • Lost. There are naturally a number of elements that have remained unexplained for a long time, but there have been a few instances where the reveals seemed to be coming and were withheld. For example, at the end of season 1, Locke finally blew open the hatch, but what was inside was not revealed until the season 2 premiere.
      • Though the fact that the hatch blew open mere seconds before the ending of the episode should've been a great hint that it would be a cliffhanger.
    • Another example was Locke's paralysis. After his first flashback episode revealed he'd been in a wheelchair, viewers spent his next few flashback episodes expecting to learn how he got there. By the time this was revealed in "The Man From Tallahassee", it was completely unexpected.
      • The writers play with this, as in one flashback Locke gets hit by a car, causing the viewer to immediately expect to see him in a wheelchair afterwards.
    • Jack demanding to know who his wife Sarah is cheating on him with. If you were a hyper-paranoid Lost fan you probably imagined it was someone we had seen before or someone important to the overall plot. In the end it was just some guy played by an extra with no lines.
  • In the finale of Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm is (naturally) the valedictorian of his class. He's introduced as "Malcolm--" (microphone feedback).
    • It was initially planned as "Wilkerson" (Francis wears a badge with this name in the very first episode) but then they decided to get rid of it to leave the family's ethnic origin less clear. "Nolastname" appears on Francis's nametag in the last episode.
    • Where they live exactly is never revealed, either.
    • Jamie's gender was originally kept secret, with "It's a beautiful baby..." (ambulance siren), he was eventually revealed to be a boy in the next season premiere when he peed on Hal.
  • That '70s Show makes a point of never revealing Fez's name or what country he comes from.
  • Heroes: Sylar, in disguise, is talking with Sandra Bennett about the then-unnamed HRG. Sylar says that he never saw "Mr. Bennett" as a dog person. Sandra responds by wondering why everyone always calls him Mr. Bennett, then says "I've always known him as..." before being interrupted by her dog Mr. Muggles licking Sylar's feet.
    • The creator commentary for the first-season finale has the creators talking loudly over the reveal HRG's name. Possibly intentional, but hilarious coincidence if it isn't.
      • Eventually they reveal his first name to be Noah. Which sort of makes this a case of the Un-Unreveal.
      • They name him after a man who was meant to collect a bunch of creatures together and protect them from the inevitable holocaust? Faux Symbolism?
    • And then there's the Haitian, whose name isn't revealed for the first 3 seasons, but suddenly everyone's just like, "Hey, Renae.".
  • Seinfeld: "The Seven". We never do find out why Jerry's girlfriend always seems to be wearing the same dress. In "The Pie", we never find out why the girl wouldn't taste the pie.
    • Or why Kramer was discharged from the Army.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess. The episode where there was a 20th century reporter running around. His camera runs out of tape just as Xena and Gabrielle were about to reveal the true nature of their relationship.
  • Bob from Becker told a story about why he never turns on the light when he gets dressed. The rest is never revealed but the characters are shocked and disgusted by the story.
  • In the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, just as the men are about to go over the top, Baldrick tells Blackadder that he has a cunning plan. After asking how cunning it is, Blackadder wistfully observes that it will have to wait, although it was surely better than his own plan of pretending to be mad. Then the whistle blows and they all go over the top.
  • Chuck: Agent Sarah Walker's real name. We know that she went by an alias as early as high school. At least a couple times characters who know it tried to say it but she interrupted them. At one point Chuck asks for her middle name. She said it was "Lisa", but Chuck had already left, so only the viewer heard.
    • We (probably) now know her first name. She told Daniel Shaw that it's Sam, presumably short for Samantha. It might have been a lie, but it was treated like a big enough deal that it was probably true.
  • The real name of the protagonist of Spartacus: Blood and Sand has been almost revealed several times, with responses ranging from "I don't care, you're Spartacus now" to "every girl in town knows who you are" (from his future wife).
  • In an episode of NCIS, Abby is upset because she thinks Gibbs forgot her birthday. Toward the end of the episode, Gibbs not only assures her that he remembered, but was able to slip her gift in her desk drawer when she wasn't looking. She opens the box, and all the viewers see is a glow on her face as she whispers, "That's so Pulp Fiction!" There have been other Pulp Fiction references in the episode.
  • In the series 5 finale of Doctor Who, we're never actually told who was behind the plan to destroy the universe by blowing up the TARDIS. All the episode does is set this up as a plot point for the next series.
    • In which we still aren't told. (The implication is there, but that just raises even more questions...)
    • Also, in The Lodger, we never do find out who it was that was trying to build a TARDIS.
      • Actually both were caused by the Silence
        • Except we're never really told that. Or, if it was, why. Or how. So it's really STILL up in the air.
        • And given that the Silence is a religion devoted to assassinating the Doctor to prevent him from answering a question which he is apparently predestined to do, whatever the consequences of doing so are, destroying the universe seems a bit counter-productive.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the finale arc had a few characters wondering what the Breen really look like under those armored suits they always wear. At one point, a Breen is shown taking off its helmet... only to reveal that it's actually Kira disguised as a Breen.
  • Several times on Star Trek: The Next Generation Beverley Crusher really has to tell Jean-Luc something... but we never find out what. (We assume it was "I love you"...)
  • Frasier viewers have often been tricked into thinking that they will catch a glimpse of Maris during various times in the series. In one notable instance, Frasier sits in the coffee shop, nervously expecting Maris to arrive. Suddenly a thin, fashionable woman with large sunglasses and a headscarf enters, and Frasier eagerly gets up to wave her over. But it turns out he is actually waving at Maris' maid, Marta, who has shown up in her place.
  • In one episode of Are You Being Served, the staff chips in (a grand total of £6.25) to buy a birthday gift for Mrs. Slocombe. She takes the top off the box and exclaims, "It's just what I've always wanted!" It's passed around to the rest of the cast, who all comment on the gift ("I've had one for years myself", "I wish I'd had one in the desert", "I've never actually seen one before"). Mr. Humphries then turns to the audience and says, "We're not going to tell you what it is, it's a secret."
  • The original Battlestar Galactica uses centons as units of time. A character asks "What is a centon?" Cut to another scene.
  • A rare real-life version of this happened with the National Geographic Channel's highly-publicised television special in 2003. Supervised by leading Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawaas, the show was a first-time stunt in the history of TV - The television crew and Hawass' expedition used a robot to peer into a narrow shaft that opens into the queen's chamber of the Great Pyramid - Within the shaft Hawass found another stone block, possibly a door, and Hawass was made a laughingstock in front of live TV audiences from 140 countries. Poor guy.
  • Played for Laughs on the April Fools' Day 2011 episode of The Price Is Right. Throughout the whole show, host Drew Carey hypes up a "10,000th something", which at the end is nothing.
  • Wilson, Tim Taylor's neighbor in Home Improvement, always has the lower half of his face obscured from the viewers, usually by the fence which separates his yard from Tim's. In the few episodes when a full body shot of Wilson is shown, he is only shown from behind. There was even one episode where Wilson attends a party at Tim's house, but in every close-up of his face, there is always some other item in front of him to prevent the viewers from seeing the lower half of his face.
    • And in one instance, the lower half of his face is revealed, only for the top part to be covered with a mask.
      • In another, he was out in the woods on a camping trip. No convenient scenery to conceal his face, but he was wearing a parka zipped up to his nose.
  • On Jack of All Trades, Captain Brogard once had the opportunity to rip off the mask of "the Daring Dragoon" and reveal his secret identity... except that Jack was wearing a second mask underneath the one Brogard ripped off!
  • In Barney and Friends, we for some reason neither see Baby Bop, BJ, and/or Riff emerge from their, um... ...home dimension nor see Barney turn back into a doll.


  • In Tom Waits' "What's He Building In There?" we never find out what he's, well, building in there.
  • Faith No More's song "Epic" repeatedly refers to "it" without ever explaining what "it" is.

Newspaper Comics

Rat: I can't believe it...All this time has passed and I still can't get over the Sopranos ending...How the screen just went black...
Goat: Wow, you should have said something...I'm personal friends with the writer David Chase. Matter of fact, he's here now.
David Chase: Hahaha...No problem...Well, after the fellow in the "Members Only" jacket makes that turn to the restroom, he-
(The next panel is almost completely covered by a black smudge.)
Stephen Pastis: (Looking at the comic) Heckuva time for an ink spill.
Rat: (Very pissed off) I'M...GONNA...KILL...YOU...

    • Another strip had a very similar joke.

A Croc: Hullo, zeeba neighba...How is you?
Zebra: You know, I've been wanting to ask you this for a while. What is that stupid accent you guys have?
A Croc: Oh...You not know? We is speaking (word whited out)
Stephan Pastis: (looking at the comic) Stupid liquid paper.

  • Beetle Bailey: Sarge and the Captain once conspire to see Beetle's eyes by scaring him so that his hat will jump off. When they do, it turns out he's wearing shades underneath.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • The Bible:
    • In the tale of the woman caught in adultery, it is noted that Jesus wrote something on the ground, but what exactly He wrote never gets revealed.
    • In Revelations 10, an angel cries out, and seven thunders respond. John is forbidden to write of what they said, and so no one knows.

Puppet Shows

  • A "Pigs in Space" skit on The Muppet Show features the Swinetrek approaching the edge of the Universe, beyond which lies The Meaning of Life. Unfortunately, it's interrupted by a Muppet News Flash to announce that they're close to discovering The Meaning of Life. When we return to the sketch it's over, and the crew missed it as well (It was lunchtime, and apparently swill stroganoff is more important than the Meaning of Life). The narrator then reveals that he saw it, but when pressed further he chants "I know something you don't know!"


  • On I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, there's a round called Closed Quotes. The chairman says the beginning of a quote, the panellists finish it in a humorous way, and the chairman reveals the real answer. At least once, Chairman Humph has neglected to give the answers because they're too boring, at one point just saying "Sod the answer, buy the book".

Video Games

  • Pokémon: What exactly does Diglett look like beneath the ground? We know that they at least have feet, but that's about it.
    • We never find out what Cubone and Marowak look like under their skull helmets, or Tangela under the vines, as well.
  • Follow the right path in Planescape: Torment, and the Nameless One can remember his first life, shrug the grip of his own torment off from his soul, and learn his name. For the player, just knowing that he has one will have to do, well that and the 2 million experience that comes with it.

Suddenly, through the torrent of regrets, you feel the first incarnation again. His hand, invisible and weightless, is upon your shoulder, steadying you. He doesn't speak, but with his touch, you suddenly remember your name... and it is such a simple thing, not at all what you thought it might be, and you feel yourself suddenly comforted.

    • In a similar way, you never find out exactly what it was you did that lead you to seeking immortality. Depending on interpretation, if you see finding out what you did as being the important part, you might possibly be missing the point...
    • There are a few hints that suggest it was to win time - the First Incarnation's crimes were so great, he wouldn't possibly have been able to atone in just one lifetime, and would have gotten stuck in the Blood War forever. Of course, it's also pointed out that even if it hadn't backfired, it wouldn't have worked.
  • Several times throughout Half-Life 2, various characters seem to fully assume that Gordon is clued up on everything that is going on in the world, and make constant references to wars, characters and events that you have no explanation of. You can eventually piece together some of the info from newspaper clippings on various notice boards or listening to Dr. Breen's interminable speeches, but the game is pretty obtuse. It's not until Episode One that you lean the fairly basic fact that ten years have passed since the events of the original Half-Life, for example.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II. The build-up to what happened to Revan, or for that matter what exactly he saw that was such a threat he had to abandon everything and everyone he loved, ends on a less-than-satisfying note either resulting from or aided by a rushed release and an unfinished end game.
    • The fate of Revan (and the Exile) are finally revealed in the backstory to The Old Republic. They died fighting the Sith Empire in the Unknown Regions.
      • Actually, we learn that the Exile died, but Revan actually survived and makes an appearance.
    • The game also utilized this in the final confrontation with Kreia. The notes for her voice actor in the script even explicitly spelled out the lack of a Luke, I Am Your Father moment.
  • In Yoshi's Island, the end credits sequence shows the stork returning baby Mario and Luigi to their parents. but all that's shown is their feet.
  • Shy Guys, recurring enemies in the Super Mario Bros. series, wear masks, and many games at one point mention what their identity would be. In Mario Tennis, if Shy Guy wins a match, he will step up to get the trophy, but trips and falls down, his mask falling off. He is facing the other way, but Luigi, being able to see his face perfectly, looks astonished. This again happens in Mario Strikers Charged, except no one appears to have seen it.
    • In Luigi's Mansion, Shy Guy-like ghosts appear as enemies. Their masks can be removed, and seen perfectly, although it is merely black space with two glowing yellow eyes visible.
  • Master Chief takes off his helmet at the end of Halo—just in time for the cockpit of his ship to obscure his face as the camera pans upwards.
    • However, in the PC version it's possible to take control of the camera. Leaving it in the ship results in MC revealing his head to be graphically represented with another helmet, like this?
    • The opening cutscene of Halo 2 plays this a similar way—Master Chief, who has just finished suiting up, picks up his helmet and puts it on as the camera pans upwards from his chest—just not fast enough to catch a glimpse of his face.
      • Halo 2 opening is somewhat similar to Halo Legends anime short The Package—we see the faces of all other SPARTANs before (and sometimes after) they don their helmets, but Master Chief puts his helmet on just off-screen. The end of the same short is, in turn, using the same trick as the Halo: Combat Evolved end.
    • The Halo 3 Starry Night trailer features a first-person view of an unmasked Chief reaching for his helmet. Fans went over stills with a fine-toothed comb, hoping to catch the Chief's face reflected in the visor, but the helmet is tilted at just the wrong angle to see anything.
    • During his Last Stand in the epilogue of Halo: Reach, Noble Six discards his damaged helmet, but his head remains out of view.
  • The same thing as in the Halo ending happens in Mass Effect 2, when Tali takes of her helmet. People have made so many speculations about what Quarians look without their suits, that the designers decided that nothing they could come up with would really do it justice.
  • Nintendo Power's Howard and Nester comic series usually gives you straight hints and tips on one of the latest games that month. For the Startropics comic, they spent the comic building up to how to submerge Sub-C (a notorious Guide Dang It moment in video game history). While Nester is screwing around trying to get the submarine to go underwater, Howard Phillips explores a cave and finds a note within a bottle. He comes back out saying he found the code to submerge Sub-C, only to find that Nester used a six-inch drill with a carbide tip to sink the ship. Note that the code itself was not actually revealed through all of this.[2]
  • In The Force Unleashed II, you keep on being tugged back and forth between whether this Starkiller is the real one or a clone. You never get a straight answer.
  • In the first Kingdom Hearts, Mickey Mouse is never seen properly. His voice is heard a few times, but even in the final cutscene you can only see his silhouette before he locks himself behind the Door to Darkness. And we never find out how he got out!
  • In the Command & Conquer series... hope you weren't expecting Tiberian Twilight to actually answer any of the big questions from the series. All the game reveals is that Kane is an alien, and a very old one, which the previous game had blatantly alluded to anyhow.
  • The significance of Ashley's dead family in Vagrant Story is never explained. Maybe he genuinely had a wife and son who were killed by thugs during a family picnic... or maybe he murdered an innocent family in the course of his duties as a soldier, and through a combination of his own grief and advanced brainwashing techniques, managed to convince himself they were his family rather than face up to the truth.
    • That's only the biggest unreveal, and is the only one the game goes out of its way to point out to you. A discouragingly large amount of the plot goes unexplained, despite that Vagrant Story never stops dropping hints that the next bit of dialogue or the next cutscene will explain something important, and is a Squaresoft game, a company that loves its exposition so much its works will usually go into detail about anything and everything they can.
      • The early information on the game strongly suggested it was intended to be the first game of a series—it's possible some of these were being held back for the sequels that never came.
  • In Loom, even the other characters in the game are curious as to what a Weaver's face looks like, despite the rumors that to gaze upon one means death. However, when one character finally looks under Bobbin's hood for himself, the camera cuts away to another location. Screaming is heard in the background, and when the camera returns, Bobbin is re-hooded and the other character is simply gone. The expert mode of the game reveals the character's fate, but hides Bobbin's actual face behind glowing light. Interestingly, Bobbin's dialogue in the original game implies that the answer as to what lies beneath his hood may be "Nothing Is Scarier." The re-released version removed this line.
  • Sanitarium prominently features a number of references to Aztec culture, repeatedly shows a flashback of a "Eureka!" moment involving the discovery of a cure to a disease, the researcher deriding himself for not seeing this simple solution that had been staring him right in the face the whole time, and a number of other flashbacks showing said researcher performing archaeological and field studies in Aztec ruins. While you do get to see the photograph that seems to spark the insight, which is just a picture of the researcher standing in the jungle, the nature of the insight is never communicated to the audience.
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness episode 5 starts off with a photo being mailed to Laharl as part of a blackmail. Apparently, it shows Laharl in an embarrassing situation (take Flonne and Etna's words for it) and Laharl is mortified at the possibility of the photo being spread all over the Netherworld. We never know exactly what was in the picture.
  • In Kinnikuman: Muscle Fight, the Cross Bomber is used to reveal the identities of masked wrestlers and make references to scenes in the Kinnikuman manga. If the Hell Missionaries perform the Cross Bomber on Kinnikuman, they won't be able to reveal Kinnikuman's true identity. Instead the following happens: if Kinnikuman is hit with the Cross Bomber at full health, it's revealed that he wears a spare mask underneath[3]; if Kinnikuman is hit with the Cross Bomber at 50-75% health, he loses his arm instead[4]; and, finally if Kinnikuman is hit at low health, it turns out that the Kinnikuman fighting in the ring is actually Terryman[5].

Visual Novels

  • There are a decent amount of things that go unrevealed in Shikkoku no Sharnoth. Among them, we never learn the original identity of Jane Doe.
  • When late for school one day in A Profile, Rizu accidentally puts on some underwear that doesn't belong to her. We're not told what it is, but we're told that it's not a thong. It's implied to be more embarrassing than that.

Web Animation

  • On Homestar Runner, in the Strong Bad Email the chair, Strong Bad rips off his mask, gurgles in pain, says he'll never do it again, then offhandedly shows a picture of his parents. The catch? A new, high-backed chair means the audience can't see any of it. Even using a flash decompiler on the cartoon is of no help, as the photo is revealed to say "Nice try, dodongo!". Naturally, the two Unrevealed things are two of the biggest mysteries of Homestar Runner.
    • In one e-mail, Strong Bad asks Coach Z if his skin is green or if he just runs around wearing footy pajamas all the time. Coach Z responds with "Oh, I've got footies all right. Airthlete's footies."
    • In another e-mail, the secret to Strong Bad's typing with boxing gloves on is revealed... by "the Cheat", who can only use squeakish noises. The situation is similar to the one seen in the page picture.
      • You're assuming way too much. For all we know, The Cheat could've said "Just fudge it! You know, like you do everything else!"
      • Everyone else in Free Country understanding The Cheat's squeaking perfectly is just one of the running gags of the site. Mostly used for implied cuss words a la Kenny McCormick. (The Brothers Chaps have stated somewhere that they intend to reveal just how Strong Bad types with boxing gloves on someday, it's just that they don't know yet.)
    • In Best Caper Ever, Homestar is stranded on an ice floe in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The entire cartoon (other than a bunch of Homestar non-sequiturs and a brief run-in with Strong Sad) is Strong Bad and The Cheat hashing over the one thing they remember about this incident and lamenting that they don't know any more. We never find out how Homestar ended up on that ice floe. Or how Strong Bad and The Cheat got satellite footage of Homestar on that ice floe. Or if there ever was any caper, for that matter. Just par for the course.
  • Halo Legends does this with the Forerunner's appearance on several levels. We finally get to see what a Forerunner looks like after nearly 10 years of waiting...but all the ones we see are wearing Power Armor so we don't know what they look like underneath. Then Word of God announced that Halo Origins was only a possibly-rampant Cortana's interpretation of the data she had collected, so the Forerunner weren't necessarily bipedal horned humanoids with five fingers.

Web Comics

  • In Order of the Stick, the elven wizard Vaarsuvius's gender is left ambiguous, and multiple attempts by other characters to discern his/her gender end in Unreveals. For instance, when he/she is turned into a lizard, Belkar lifts his/her tail and comments: "You know, if I knew more about reptilian reproductive anatomy, I'm sure this would answer a lot of questions." When V's application to join the adventuring party is shown, there is an ink smudge in the blank for "Gender", which he/she refuses to correct, citing the possibility of getting ink on his/her robe, and remarking that the question is irrelevant anyway. When the other characters stop to use the men's and women's bathrooms, V doesn't have to go, and later it's mentioned that, while camping, V always turns invisible before peeing, to annoy Belkar.
    • Late on a dragon attempts to get revenge on him/her by killing his "mate" who appears to be just as ambiguously gendered. This is made more complicated by his/her children being adopted (and who refer to V and "mate" as "Parent" and "Other Parent").
    • Xykon's pet "Monster in Darkness" has been kept in darkness for at least three years of bi-weekly strips.
    • In the prequel book Start of Darkness, Redcloak and Right-Eye's real names are nearly stated more than once.
    • Daigo is saving his last name for an emergency. When an emergency arose, he started to announce his last name... and was promptly interrupted.
    • One story arc has Haley start speaking in a cypher as a result of trauma partly caused by her (at the time) unrequited love for Elan. In this strip, she starts trying to reveal her secrets to Elan in order to ease her worries. Translating the cypher into english, her secrets become: "I'm in love with you", "My dad is being held ransom by an evil dictator", "I cheat at solitaire", "I have a tattoo you've never seen", "I kissed a girl once... ok, more than once!", and "It turns out I may not be exactly what you would call..."
    • There's an in-universe version here. The readers already know it's Tarquin, but the characters don't.
  • El Goonish Shive has done this twice: once with the history behind Sarah and Tedd's rivalry, and once with Ellen's odd sleeping habits. Both eventually got resolved.
  • The Wotch loves this one. The meaning of the last three letters of D.O.L.L.Y. (the first two are "Daughters of") is Unrevealed three times, as is the explanation of Dee's tail.
  • Annie from Gunnerkrigg Court asks Coyote "What is Gunnerkrigg Court?" His response... yeah...
  • Subverted in an arc of Count Your Sheep. Despite revolving around Aunt Karla, who has been The Ghost like most of the supporting cast members, she has been conveniently off-panel the entire time... until this strip, where we finally do see what she looks like, now that we're expecting it to be The Un Reveal.
  • This Nedroid fan art. For those interested, Nedroid himself later answered this question on his "about" page.
  • In Blip, Bang nearly revealed K's full name to her boyfriend, Bishop. Unfortunately for Bishop (and the audience), Bang is massively drunk, and starts vomiting in mid-sentence.
  • In the second-to-last part of the Gooey Bomb story on Brawl in the Family, Dedede suggests taking Meta Knight's mask off while he's asleep, to which he wakes up, and threatens them. They ignore this, and the camera shows the back of Meta Knight, stabbing the Gooey Bomb as Adeline looks at Meta Knight's face with an astonished look. In the Turnabout Kirby story, Meta Knight references the indecent and shows the judge the "scars" from it, although again the camera shows the back of him, although the judge looks very disgusted. However, Meta Knight without his mask has been seen clearly in many Kirby games, looking exactly like Kirby's, but with a blue face and yellow eyes. although the look could be different in Bit F's case.
  • The Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything in this The Way of the Metagamer comic.
    • Ripping your own comic to shreds to conceal "42"? Talk about overkill!
  • In the Paper Mario fan comic A Castle Divided, Yoshi Kid (a.k.a. the Great Gonzales Jr.) is about to tell Goombario what his real name is when he gets cut off. This was obviously done because the Yoshi partner is named by the player, thus has no official real name.
  • Recently in Misfile, fans got a tease of what boy-Ash used to look like.
  • In Bob and George I give you . . . Mega Man X.
  • In Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes, when Kore finally takes his completely face-concealing helmet off to tend to an injury, the comic's viewpoint cuts away from him until he puts it on again.
  • In Homestuck, fans demanded to know what Gamzee's title was. When he later talks about it with Dave, he's actually forgotten half of it. This was later given a proper reveal as the Bard of Rage.
  • In Digger, the true name of Sweetgrass Voice, on account of its being a demon.
    • Also, Ed's real name. But in the end, he chose Ed.
  • In A Girl and Her Fed, we still don't know the identity of the ghost who set the Pocket President program in motion. We've seen him, but the art style made his identity ambiguous He looked a lot like Henry Kissinger. When Ben is told (off-panel) who the ghost was, he expresses dismay that "a nobody... a drone" would move against him and the other more famous ghosts like that. This would normally have Jossed the theory that it's Kissinger, but Ben (the ghost of Ben Franklin, by the way) is shown to have some odd priorities. That, and psycho ex-agent Claire (Who's working with the antagonist ghosts) calls "her" ghost Henry
    • One small problem with that hypothesis: Henry Kissinger is still alive. Now, obviously that world isn't ours, but it still makes it difficult to set him up as the mastermind behind a program that's been going on for at least five years, but probably a few more before it could even get to the testing phase.
  • The Serpent's identity in Zap. It was so obvious that a guest comic spoiled it months before it was officially revealed. One may argue that this was just a setup, and the real reveal was Zap's identity instead.
  • The cast of Cuanta Vida does some investigation into the nature of the nonsensical war they're fighting, but ultimately come up completely empty. Word of God is that the comic takes place twenty years after Team Fortress 2, so the automated nature of the war's recruitment and supplies really has just been left on after the end, and there isn't anything to find.
  • In Frankie and Stein, Karl's going upstairs, thinking there's an intruder in the house, and we all know what he's gonna find up there is a Frankenstein's Monster, and he's probably going to freak out... but then this happens instead.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Hey Arnold!, "Fighting Families": Arnold has just been drawn out by random to participate in a gameshow "Fighting Families", but the person doing the draw adds: "There seems to be a smudge over the last name..." A similar sequence happens in "Eugene, Eugene!": Arnold has been cast in a school play, and the casting person adds "I can't read my own handwriting..." An interview with the show creator made years after the show ended heavily implies his name is Shortman (he said his grandpa called him it regularly and it apparently wasn't just a nickname).
  • Done so much on The Simpsons about its location that it could become a drinking game; each time they Unreveal the precise location of Springfield, take a shot. Some examples include:
    • "Lisa Gets An A":

Superintendent Chalmers: Good lord, what a dump. It's not surprising this school was once classified the most dilapidated in all of Missouri.
Lisa: Huh?
Chalmers: .... that's why it was shut down and moved here, brick by brick.

    • "Much Apu About Nothing":

Lisa: (with a large map behind her) Now, point out Springfield on this map.
(Bart suddenly enters the frame, obscuring the entire map)
Bart: Hey, what're you guys doing?

    • In one mockumentary episode, a narrator calls the Simpsons a "Northern Kentucky family". In reruns, he may call them a "Southern Missouri family" depending on the area, adding to the confusion. This was non-canon as it was in the context of the family being Animated Actors.
    • In The Simpsons Movie, Ned Flanders explains that Springfield is bordered on each side by Kentucky, Maine, Nevada and Ohio—a geographic impossibility. Also, one of the Credits Gag states "Filmed on location in Springfield,____________".
    • Marge: That's 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield, Oh-hiya-Maude!
    • Just to add fuel to the fire, in one episode Lisa assures a character that while Springfield's location is a bit of a mystery, "if you follow the clues, you can figure it out." This is, of course, just the writers messing with the viewer, as the "clues" were never meant as such and all contradict each other in countless ways.
      • This is the only time that she lied for no good reason (lying about Jebediah Springfield being a great man was justifiable). When a tradition/meme/belief/obsession can convince Lisa Simpson to do that, you know it's pretty damn powerful.
    • ... and many, many others.
  • One episode of Dilbert featured the nameless boss signing a package delivery form. The package delivery guy looks at the signature and remarks incredulously "THAT's your name?"
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy does this a lot. In "Stop and Ed", Edd's hat comes off for the first time, but only Eddy and Ed (and not the audience) see what's under it. Their reactions are "Geez Louise" and "Cool", respectively, and Edd swears them to silence as he hastily dons his hat again.
      • actually Edd's hair HAS been shown, just not in the show. The foodfight computer game on Cartoon Network allows you to(naturally) play as him, with his victory pose having him tossing his hat in the air in celebration. His hair is black and seemingly slicked down somewhat.
    • In Ed's nightmare in "Rock-A-Bye Ed", Ed's mother is shown as a 50's housewife... with Johnny's face and voice because it was a dream.
    • In the episode "Ed, Pass It On", Eddy's brother turns up, but we only see his body, and it turns out it's just Jimmy and Sarah on stilts dressed up like him.
      • Eddy's brother eventually shows up for real in the finale movie.
    • In the episode "Mission Ed-possible", Eddy's dad and Ed's mother show up, but only their arms appear to drag them home for a talking-to about their bad report cards.
    • The audience at the Spelling Bee in "Too Smart For His Own Ed" consists of just silhouettes.
    • When the kids play football against a rival school in "Tight End Ed", the opposing team members and the crowd are seen only as silhouettes.
    • The episode "The Eds are Coming" also shows Rolf's family as just silhouettes.
    • Edd's hat issue comes up again in the Movie, when Ed pops up and ends up knocking Edd's hat off. As Edd retrieves it from Ed, disinfects it, and puts it back on, anything above his eyebrows is cleverly blocked off from the camera by other objects in the scene.
  • Sheldon in Garfield and Friends never completely hatched and is just a walking egg. In one episode, he finally hatches—to reveal another eggshell beneath.
  • Halfway through the serial Superman vs. Atom Man, Atom Man—whose true identity has been a secret throughout the story so far—begins to take off his mask, only for the scene to suddenly fade somewhere else. (His secret identity was actually pretty obvious, but it was still the perfect time in the story for the big reveal; why they played it like this is a bit mystifying.)
  • Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, another Faceless Villain, has an Unreveal at the end of the title sequence when Gadget places handcuffs on his gauntleted hand, only to turn the chair and find nothing but a bomb waiting.
  • Phil Ken Sebben loses his eyepatch in a card game in an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. In the scenes that follow, the show plays Scenery Censor with the right side of his face as weirdness ensues and other characters react with varying degrees of revulsion. (There is a very brief moment where his entire face is visible in a wide shot. Doesn't seem too bad.)
    • Then there's the matter of how he got the eyepatch. His biography in the "Sebben & Sebben Employee Orientation Video" episode shows pictures of baby Phil holding pointed sticks next to his face, leaning in close to industrial equipment as sparks fly into his eye, having a bomb go off in his face and not losing his eye, pulling a truck by a rope looped around his eyeball... Then the video switches to a dramatic re-enactment of his "life-changing accident" in which a broken folder clip sent plastic shrapnel into his face, which leaves the actor playing him lying on the floor with blood leaking from his face. "Afterward, Phil grew a mustache to cover the scar."
    • X the Eliminator makes us think that he will reveal his face when he decides to get plastic surgery. In the next Scene, he still has his mask on, and there's little, if any difference.
      • There's probably actually a VERY big difference... it's just hidden under his mask!
  • The short lived Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot program from FOX in the late 90's featured a monkey which rode around on the boss' shoulders who could talk, think, and reason better than he could. None of the characters in the show seemed to think it was unusual, except for one monster of the week villain who questioned her on the origins of her abilities. As she began to explain ("Well, it all started when I was a wee, little monkey...") the titular robots burst in, and she ends the discussion ("Ah, some other time.").
  • An episode of Teen Titans has the Titans and just about every bad guy they've ever fought racing for a briefcase with something special that was stolen from Robin in it. Robin acquires the briefcase at the end and reveals to the other titans what's in the briefcase, but the audience is never shown what is in there. Never.
    • Slade's face is also subject to this trope. In the Season 1 finale, Robin knocks off half of Slade's mask. Slade, obscured in shadows, covers his face with one hand as he escapes. In the Season 4 finale, his whole mask gets knocked off, only to reveal a skeleton. This is because he sold his soul to the Big Bad after his death in the Season 2 finale, and he presumably goes back to normal after Trigon's death. In the last episode of Season 5, Beast Boy knocks off his mask again, but it was just another Sladebot.
    • Another example of this is Robin's eyes. In Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, Robin removes his sunglasses (which he is wearing as a disguise), but is interrupted and the only thing the audience sees is his cartoon circle eyes.
      • A similar thing happens in Teen Titans Go. In issue 47, he takes off his mask to cry about his family. He's either being comforted by Starfire or the panel is too low, so we don't see his eyes. We see his eyes when he was little, and before he was a superhero, though.
    • Even Robin's true identity qualifies for this trope. There have been at least three different characters who have used the Robin identity in the comics and the show intentionally never reveals which Robin is the one featured (though there are hints in a few episodes which point towards Dick Grayson, such as Starfire time traveling to the future and meeting an adult Robin who uses the Nightwing identity).
    • Also, the identity of Red X. His entire introductory episode revolves around the team trying to figure out his identity ("Who is Red X?"), and in the end they never find out and he just escapes. He reappears in a later episode and we STILL don't find out who he is.
  • The Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe had several Unreveals about his appearance without his mask. His blank faceplate electrocutes a mook who's about to unmask him in one episode. In another, Destro walks in on the commander eating a meal and implores him to put his mask on, which he does before we get a glimpse. He would finally be unmasked in the full-length movie, but by then, he's been mutated to the point that he no longer resembles himself anyway.
    • That we know of. The Movie stated that he started out as a snake-creature anyway, so his face might have looked quite a bit like it did once the mask popped off. But that's just a theory.
      • A recent comic-book revealed him to be horrifically scarred.
  • Code Lyoko: What Jérémie would look like once virtualized on Lyoko is the source of much fan speculation. There are two close calls in Season 1: in episode "Frontier", but the virtualization is botched and he ends in the limbo between Lyoko and Earth; and in episode "Ghost Channel", but he virtualizes inside a virtual bubble mimicking the real world and hence looks like his normal self. He finally is fully virtualized in Season 2 episode "Mister Pück"... but this happens off-screen, and the only comment the viewers get about his avatar form is: "He looked ridiculous."
  • Miss Sara Bellum from The Powerpuff Girls. Her face is usually just offscreen, but it's been hidden by numerous things including clipboards, bandages, shadows, flying debris, even pickles.
  • In one episode of Total Drama Island the campers agree to confess their sins, and in what may be one of the laziest Unreveals, they simply cut to right after the confessions are done.
    • The joke isn't so much that we don't find why Duncan was sent to juvie but that unexpectedly Heather did something worse than Duncan, only to be topped by the revelation that worst Noodle Incident of all was done by Gwen (If that's even her real name.)
    • And in another episode, someone tries to shed some light on what really happened to Izzy, after her elimination in Up the Creek. However, before the beans can be spilled, the accused cuts off the accuser and denies everything.
  • The South Park episode "The Coon" revolves around the search to discover the true identity of vigilante crime fighter Mysterion. Mysterion is finally persuaded to remove his mask and reveal himself at the end. All of the characters are either surprised or say something along the lines of "I knew it!", but because of the show's art style (in which faces are only distinguishable by the character's hair and/or trademark clothing, neither of which are visible here), the viewer is still unable to recognize his identity.
    • We are given a hint in that Cartman says "I knew it was you! I even said it before." Of course, that still hardly narrows it down. "The Coon 2: Hindsight" later narrowed it down further to Clyde or Kenny but didn't confirm which one it is.
      • And in "Mysterion Rises," the trope is subverted when Kyle, in an oddly nonchalant tone, tells Mysterion, "Dude, Kenny, calm down." That was the first line where he's referred to as his secret identity.
    • In The Movie, Kenny's face was repeatedly Unrevealed before finally switching over to a true Reveal.
    • Also in South Park, two whole episodes are spent on searching for the identity of Cartman's father as a parody of cliffhanger episode endings. In the second episode, it is finally revealed that Cartman's mother is in fact a hermaphrodite and that she/he could not give birth. A new question arises of which woman in South Park is Cartman's mother, but Cartman himself gets sick of the mystery and walks off. In an inversion of this trope, his other parent's identity is eventually revealed, to the surprise of all the fans who thought it never would be.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door, "Operation: FLAVOR": Numbuh 5 is describing the supposedly mythical fourth flavor of ice cream, but only gets as far as "It tastes just like..." before she's talking to the other KNDs on her phone for the rest of the story. This one would later be revealed in a subtle way in "Operation ZERO". "I have a hankering for some blurpleberry ice-cream — it's the closest thing to the fourth flavor I've ever tasted!"
    • "Op RAINBOWS": Numbuh 3 freaks like heck over Boss's whispered big plan for the Rainbow Monkeys he's just captured. Later, Boss and other adults are amongst themselves, but come time to mention his big plan, he still whispers it anyway.
  • Mighty Max, "The Missing Linked": The villain tries on multiple occasions to go on a Motive Rant about how the world will know his name, but every single time he tries, someone interrupts him just before the name is said and calls him something else, which he briefly works into the rant, then realizes that's wrong, gets flustered, and aborts the whole rant. As in, "And then the world will know my name, and that name is--" (Off-screen guard, calling for him) "Prisoner #21376?" "--Prisoner #21376!! ... What? No! That's not right!! Oh, never mind."
  • In the second season of The Venture Brothers, a large chunk of episode was devoted to three theories on the origins of character The Phantom Limb, while also explaining how Master Billy Quizboy's hand was removed and replaced with a robotic substitute. Though both answers would not be revealed until the third season, at the end of the episode Dr. Venture absent-mindedly enquires how Quizboy got his robotic arm, to which he replies: "Interesting question!... I have no idea."
    • To be precise, Monarch's story was the closest; he got most of the salient facts right, although he wasn't there so it played out differently than he imagined.
    • When the shapely-figured cosmonaut Anna takes her spacesuit helmet off, she is never facing the camera. Judging by the reactions of the other characters, her face is apparently quite hideous. Brock Samson was still happy to sleep with her, though he asked her to keep her helmet on.
  • Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life. His last name never gets revealed

Announcer: And our last contestant is Rocko... no last name given.

  • SpongeBob SquarePants spends an entire segment trying to get a peek inside his best friend Patrick's Secret Box. Among his speculations are things like a piece of string, or an embarrassing photo of him at the company party. He fails, but Patrick lets him take a look at the box anyway. It contains a piece of string. After a bemused SpongeBob leaves, Patrick narrates that the string is pulled to open a secret compartment inside the box, which contains an embarrassing photo of SpongeBob at the Christmas party. The audience never sees what the photo is.
    • The embarrassing incident is shown or hinted at in a separate Nickelodeon ad, although exactly what the photo is of is still unknown.
      • You actually see the incident where they took the picture during the Christmas episode where SpongeBob and everyone waits for Santa.
  • Futurama: Everyone misses Calculon's major reveal on "All My Circuits" twice because of interference from Bender.
  • In Veggie Tales, Larry's bearded Aunt Ruth was mentioned a few times. When he finally shows a picture of her, in "The Song of the Cebu," half of the film was over-exposed and Ruth's face is almost completely obscured.
  • In an episode of Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, Stimpy is crying because of the horrible thing Ren did to him. Ren repeatedly tries to apologize to Stimpy, but he won't listen and tells him to get professional help. Near the end of the episode, he reveals the awful thing he did to Stimpy to Mr. Horse, who is portraying a psychologist. We never hear what it was because he loudly whispers something unintelligible in his ear.
  • Just like the original series that is spawned from, Salem's human form in Sabrina the Animated Series is almost never shown. In one of his flashbacks, all but his head can be seen. However, in ANOTHER separate series, Sabrina's Secret Life, Sabrina uses a potion to turn Salem into a human for her prom dance. Whether this is his true face or not is never revealed. Another character from Sabrina: The Animated Series is Pi, whose eyes are always obscured by his porkpie hat.
  • An in-universe example; in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series called "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy" a villain named Wormwood uses various deathtraps to force Batman to relinquish his cape and cowl. Finally, Batman does so...only to reveal that he was wearing a smaller cowl under his main cowl. Wormwood didn't care; his client hired him to retrieve Batman's cape and cowl, not to reveal his secret identity. The client turned out to be Batman himself, who "hired" Wormwood in order to goad him into a confession for a previous crime.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Vanessasary Roughness", Vanessa is surprised to learn Ferb's name, and he tells her it's short for... before locating the pizzazium infinite capsule she needed and giving it to her. Later, in "Phineas and Ferb Summer Belongs to You!" while they're guarding the plane in the Himalayas, Vanessa asks Candace what Ferb is short for. "I don't know."
  • In the show Transformers Animated it's never shown or explained what Blackarachnia actually turned into before she became an organic spider (Wasp before becoming organic was a palette-swapped Bumblebee.)
    • Also, all of the Decepticons' besides Megatron's (a Cybertronian VTOL jet, which briefly appeared for only a few seconds in the first episode) Cybertron modes, judging by their kibble. All of the Autobots' Cybertron modes, however, are completely revealed over the course of the show.
  • The Emperor's New Groove:

Kuzco:' No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?
Yzma: Uh...
'Yzma: did we, Kronk?
'Kronk: Well, ya got me. By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
[Kronk holds up a map of the two parties' trails, showing Yzma's and Kronk's falling down a canyon halfway through]
Yzma: Oh, well.

Examples of "Sound Effect Bleep"

Anime and Manga

  • Code Geass: Lelouch learns C.C.'s real name by accidentally seeing some of her memories, but an obtrusive sound effect (water dripping) keeps the audience from hearing it (and then he goes back to calling her C.C. later on). This also ends up becoming a more standard form of The Unreveal, since her real name is never revealed within the series despite ample opportunities.
  • The End of Evangelion was originally going to play this type of Unreveal straight, as Gendo's final words to Ritsuko before killing her were supposed to be drowned out by an explosion. The sound effect ended up not being used, but Anno still wanted the line to not be heard, so Gendo moves his mouth but has no dialogue. Anno apparently did tell Yuriko Yamaguchi, Ritsuko's seiyuu, what Gendo said, but no one else knows.
  • In Sonic X, the last episode, Sonic kneels down before Amy, offering her a flower. In the original version, his mouth moves but no sound comes out, but whatever he says makes Amy happy enough to hug him. Unfortunately in the dubbed version, they actually gave him voiced words ("I'll always be around," or something like that) which didn't quite carry the same emotion.

Films -- Live Action

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

Live Action TV

  • That '70s Show: We can't hear Fes introducing himself over the school bell, so he remains a No Name Given character.
  • In one episode of Father Ted, Mrs Doyle's full name is spoken out loud several times in quick succession, but each time her first name is obscured by a loud noise.

"Do you know a Mrs. Doyle, first name (ringing noise) Doyle?"
"Do I know a Mrs. Doyle, first name (glass breaking) Doyle..."

  • Agent 99's real name in Get Smart was never revealed. Even during her wedding, the name remained hidden from the viewing public—a conveniently-timed gunshot went off right as the preacher was reading that part of the vows.
    • In another episode, Max tries to console 99 after the Chief is shot.

Max: Don't worry Ernestine; he'll be all right.
99: Do you know, that's the first time you've ever called me "Ernestine"?
(Max nods)
99: I wish it were my name.

  • The same happened with Dr. McCartney in Green Wing—at his wedding in the very last episode, everybody coughs right at the moment when his first name is spoken.
  • Scrubs has the Janitor's real name, which is was going to be revealed during the finale, until they found out the show was renewed for another season on a different network. Multiple episodes reference the fact, and the Janitor has said his name to at least one person (although knowing him, it was probably a lie). Apparently the show creator has thought up several names, but lets the actor playing the Janitor disapprove of any ones he doesn't like.
    • Also, in the beginning of the show the Janitor only interacted with J.D. This was so that, in case of sudden cancellation, there would be a handy Reveal—the fact that the Janitor was a figment of J.D.'s imagination. The show increased in popularity and the Janitor started interacting with other characters.
      • Lampshaded in one episode when The Janitor tells J.D. that he doesn't even know his name. J.D. takes a quick look at the Janitor's name tag but he quickly covers it up with his hand.
      • In another episode, new chief of medicine Dr. Maddox demands to know the Janitor's name. When he refuses to tell her, she looks at his name tag only to find that it says 'The Janitor.'
    • In the series eighth season finale on ABC, J.D. is leaving Sacred Heart and wants closure with the Janitor. He asks the Janitor's name, and the Janitor tells him, and points out that J.D. never actually asked before. Closure found, JD leaves the scene, and someone walks into the scene and calls the Janitor by a different name...
      • Word of God states that The Janitor's name is indeed Glenn Matthews.
  • Malcolm in the Middle did this as well. When Louis's new baby was just born, the question came up on what the baby's gender was, where it was revealed to be- * police siren* . To add more to the mystery, the baby was ambiguously named Jamie. The series continued to tease the audience on what Jamie was until the kid eventually grew and it is finally confirmed he was yet another son.
    • This was also done with the family's last name. Various tricks are used to keep the viewer from ever learning it throughout the show's run. In the final episode, a character finally speaks it into a microphone, but a feedback whine makes it impossible for the viewer to hear.


  • The 1950's novelty song by Phil Harris "The Thing" has the protagonist struggling to rid himself of a !!!, which is drummed over every time it is mentioned.
  • Her Name Is replaces any personal details of the woman in question with music - except for the fact she's married.
  • The liner notes for KMFDM's Symbols album show the 5-symbol title in the lyrics for "Down and Out", but it's bleeped on the recording.

Western Animation

  • The Fairly OddParents, "Father Time": Timmy is talking to a kid whose nickname is Dad (naturally, his future father; Timmy's here because of Time Travel). When he's mentioning his real name, a truck is whizzing by blowing its horn. "Dad" is pointing to a girl he says has a beautiful name. We don't get to hear since yet another truck is whizzing by. But guess what everyone calls her: Mom (of course, Timmy's mom in the future).
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, "The Junkman Cometh": Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen travel into space via an open-cockpit rocket (as has been the case in many episodes, and even the original movie). When Sheen wonders how they can survive without spacesuits, Jimmy responds as if nothing could be more elementary, but his explanation is conveniently drowned out by Carl suddenly breaking into song in the background, and done later in the episode when Sheen asks how they get to the moon so fast rather than taking several days.
  • One episode of The Secret Show had several noises preventing the audience from hearing whenever Changed Daily's original name was mentioned.
  • The location of the "Secret Spot" on Rocket Power is mentioned several times. Yet when it's mentioned, its drowned out by an ice cream truck, an ambulance, and jets. When they are ready to go to the area, they explain they left out one crucial detail as a cow walks by with the bell ringing. They then go to the proper place which looks exactly like any other beach.

Examples of "end-of-episode cutoff"


  • In a recent[when?] Geico commercial, a question comes up as to whether the Gecko is British or Australian. The scene cuts out as he answers the question.

Films -- Live Action

  • In The Italian Job, the characters find themselves in a literal cliffhanger, in a bus that's precariously balanced on the edge of a cliff. Michael Caine announces, "Hang on, lads, I've got a great idea!" The end credits sadly prevent us from finding out what that is.
    • The cliffhanger would have been resolved in a sequel: helicopters would be used to save the bus, and the grateful gang would soon discover that it is the Mafia that has saved them, and the sequel would have been about stealing the gold bullion back from them. Unfortunately, the sequel was never made.


  • In Just Another Judgement Day, John Taylor and a companion barely manage to outmaneuver a homicidal tyranosaur, in order to reach a secret door inside its cage. After meeting the occupant, they're booted out into the cage, where the tyranosaur awaits. Confronting this peril, John (the narrator) simply comments "Luckily, I thought of something", after which the author cuts to the next chapter, leaving their method of escape unstated.
  • In Jasper Fforde's One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, how Thursday escaped Fan Fic. She even tells another character—but not the reader.

Live Action TV

  • The X-Files addressed its most flagrant gap of logic in this way—a fan of Mulder and Scully's asked them how they got out of Antarctica (after being stranded there half-dressed without any vehicles or anyone knowing where they were) in The Movie; they started to explain, quibbled over a minor detail, then were cut off by the end credits before we found out anything. This was a multi-layer joke: the character asking the questions the show's fans had so often asked was herself a fan, a Shout-Out to a popular Fanfic author who had died just a few months prior.
  • This type of cutoff can be used as a Cliff Hanger (Benson's 1986 finale, for instance) or No Ending as well.
  • An episode of the Batman TV show which had a cliffhanger with Batman and Robin in a literally impossible trap to escape from. Cut to next week, they open with Batman and Robin speeding away in the Batmobile, with Robin declaring "I'll never figure out how we were able to escape that one!", and Batman declaring "Just be glad we did, Robin!"
  • In the series 4 finale of Hustle, the group are stranded on a dinghy when Danny says "I've got a great idea" as an homage to The Italian Job.
  • The Grand Finale of JAG features a variation of this; after nine years of Will They or Won't They?, Harm and Mac finally resolve their UST and get engaged. Slight problem; Mac has been reassigned to head the San Diego JAG office while Harm has been promoted to a position in London. As they announce their engagement at the JAG team's favorite bar, they decide to flip a coin; heads, Mac would resign her commission and join Harm in London, tails, Harm would resign and join Mac in San Diego. The show ends in mid-flip, the coin suspended in the air.
  • At the end Las Vegas episode of Lie to Me, Cal is given one million dollars in chips as a thank you for solving the case. He promptly bets it all at a roulette table, but the episode ends before it is revealed whether he won. However, since Status Quo Is God, and everything is seemingly back to normal in the next episode, one can assume that he lost.
  • One episode of Without a Trace involves the separate abductions of a white girl and a black girl. Near the end of the episode Jack Malone gets a phone call stating that one of the girls was found dead, but doesn't say which. The last scene has Jack walking up to a bench where the two mothers are waiting...and fades to black.

Puppet Shows

  • Tweenies, "Being Really Old": The last lines of dialog are the titular characters (kids not more than 5 years old) asking one of their caretakers at playgroup (he's really old), and they go: "How old are you?" "Well, if you must know..." Cut to credits.


  • In the mock radio drama The Further Adventures of Nick Danger by The Firesign Theatre, the hero is about to announce his plan to solve a time-travel crisis, but he only gets as far as "All right, everyone, take off your—" before he's cut off by Franklin Roosevelt, announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor—and the United States' immediate and unconditional surrender to Japan.
  • In an episode of the short-lived sketch show The Long Hot Satsuma, there's a Running Gag of a failed investigative journalist trying to find the true identity of one Adolf Hitler. At the end of the episode, he bursts into the BBC, and accuses one of the announcers. She says "Don't be stupid. Mind you, it's one of my colleagues..." "Which one?!" "This one." We hear the sound of a door creaking, and...the episode ends. (Which means every announcer who'll ever announce after that is accused of being Adolf Hitler...)

Video Games

Nick Scryer: I remember everything now! (cuts to "To Be Continued")

    • The game didn't sell well enough, so we will never know what he remembered. It is heavily implied in the story that the big reveal was that Nick was killed and resurrected with no memories. In fact, during the hallucination scene, it is explicitly stated by a nameless voice as one of the distant memories deep in his brain.

Voice: Oh God, Nick Scryer, HE'S DEAD!

Western Animation

  • South Park, "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride": Stan phones into a cable-access talk show hosted by Jesus and asks him for his opinions on homosexuality. They're cut off by the next program, however.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants cuts to the end credits (or the pre-credits commercial break on Nick's broadcasts) at the end of the Krusty Krab training video when the narrator is about to reveal the Krabby Patty Secret Recipe. "What you've all been waiting for, the Krabby Patty Secret Recipe i--"
    • In a later episode ("Plankton's Army"), Plankton gets his hands on the recipe, only to find that plankton was the secret ingredient; however, after Plankton and his family had run off in fear, Mr. Krabs revealed that the recipe Plankton had found was just a decoy, and the real secret recipe was hidden elsewhere.
      • Actually we're told where it is. After Mr. Krabs says he has it hidden in a secret spot no one would ever figure out, Squidward says "let me guess. It's at home, under your matress." Mr. Krabs then runs toward his house yelling "Curse you Squidward!"
    • The Movie has Plankton actually succeed in stealing the formula. But the very next scene with him is of him selling Krabby Patties at the Chum Bucket, meaning that the scene of him actually reading the formula is something we don't get to see.
  • The Secret Show: "The secret thing is--" (end episode). Among many others.
  • At the end of the Season 18 finale of The Simpsons, Lisa is about to reveal a dark secret about Fox... before the Fox Logo cuts her off, signaling the end of the episode.
    • And then during the credits, Homer comes out to tell the audience what the secret is, but is cut off as well.
    • In another episode, Homer convinces God to tell him the meaning of life. God declares, "The meaning of life is--" (end episode).
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Operation: DIAPER, The KNDs after 'rescuing' and returning babies from a hospital ask Numbah 5 where babies come from, because earlier she said her older sister had one. She starts to say "Babies come from..." then 'END TRANSMISSION'. Given the targeted audience, they will never know where babies come from until The Talk from their parents.
    • However, in an extended credits scene, it shows Numbers 2 through 4 freaking out over it, when suddenly Number 1 steps up and says "Hey! Babies don't come from New Jersey! They come from Philadelphia!" This subverts the trope.
  • Throughout Kim Possible, the Big Bad Dr. Drakken has had blue skin and never offered an explanation. Finally, in the tag for the Grand Finale, someone asks him about his blue skin. His reply? "Funny story. Not funny 'ha-ha,' but it was Tuesday..." and then the series ends.
  • The episode "the Great Indoors" on Phineas and Ferb ends the episode like this by having the episode be cut off by an in-universe tv broadcast of a soccer game, right at the moment where the audience was going to find out the reason Jeremy likes Candace (something she's been trying to find out the entire episode).

Candace: "Tell me why you like me."
Jeremy: "You bet, the reason I like you is-" gets cut off by a soccer game coming on
Sport Announcer: "Viene, le pega! GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL"

Real Life

  • Events in the real world conspired to produce a sort of unintentional Unreveal in the premiere episode of CSI New York, as The Summation was unexpectedly cut off by the announcement of Yassir Arafat's death. Of course, this has been known to happen in fictional TV shows: an episode of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 opens with the gang watching a mystery series when their friend April O'Neil breaks in over The Summation to bring in a special report.
  • The so-called "Heidi Game" of American football, where the game was cut-off with 65 seconds to go and the score 32-29 , Jets-Raiders, in favor of NBC showing Heidi the movie. What happened in those final 65 seconds, you ask? The Raiders score 14 points and win the game.
    • Canadian cable TV systems are bad for this sort of thing, due to a form of legalised theft of ad revenue known as "simultaneous substitution" where domestic stations are allowed to insert their signal in place of a foreign station (usually a US border station) carrying the same programme. As these substitutions are triggered using automated timers, if a sport event runs into overtime, US programming in Canada gets cut off at inopportune moments.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Historically, the hanging of Lambeth Poisoner, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (27 May 1850 – 15 November 1892), in England. His enigmatic last words are allegedly "I am Jack the..."

Examples of "you know the rest"

Films - Live Action

  • In Dodgeball, Gary Cole's ESPN announcer character says "a double-fault final-play elimination hasn't occurred since the Helsinki episode of 1919. And I think we all remember how that turned out!"
  • Most any story set in the near-future United States will have an "Xth Amendment" gag, about some vague but hilarious amendment to the U.S. Constitution that passed between now and the story's timeframe. Here's an example from the movie Demolition Man:

Lenina Huxley: Yes. The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn't he an actor when you...?
John Spartan: Stop! He was President?
Lenina Huxley: Yes! Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment which states...
John Spartan: I don't wanna know. President...

Western Animation

  • In The Simpsons, Mr. Burns rolls up his sleeves to single-handedly take down the Loch Ness Monster. Cut to the monster already captured, and Burns saying "I was a little worried when he swallowed me, but, well, you know the rest."
    • Burns seems to be a fan of this trope. In another episode, Bart and Lisa try to escape Mr. Burns' clutches by sliding down a vent into the basement of his mansion. When they arrive, they find that Burns is already there, even though he'd been with them on the ground floor three seconds earlier. "That's impossible!" says Bart, "how did you get there before we did?" "Oh, I'll explain later," Burns replies. He doesn't.
  • In Futurama, Bender is coveting a gigantic cigar, which the cigar shop owner says was made from a piece of the U.S. Constitution and hand-rolled by Queen Elizabeth II during her "wild years", until grave-robbing know the rest.
    • In a more recent episode, Bender achieves near-omnipotence, but won't answer when Fry asks how his relationship with Leela will go. At the end of the episode, after Bender is returned to normal, he reveals that he did indeed plot what would happen in Fry and Leela's relationship and wrote it down. The two read it together, and we get to see their emotional responses (basically every emotion a couple can experience), but obviously we don't hear a word of it.
  • In an episode of G.I. Joe: Renegades, Snake Eyes is captured by Zartan and the Dreadnocks. While Snake's back is turned Zartan explains why he likes to take trophies and snatches the mask off. He and the Dreadnocks react with an unnerved expression, and then promptly replaces the mask.

Real Life

  • A Real Life example occurred when Alistair Cooke had to record an episode of "Letter from America" dealing with the impending resignation of Richard Nixon from the Presidency. The show was scheduled for broadcast after Nixon made his announcement but had to be recorded beforehand, so the only thing Cooke could do was to give a summary of the mounting Watergate scandal and then, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, declare: "... and the rest -- you know."
    • Dave Barry once did a column about the presidential election in which this was supposed to be the joke. (He didn't want to stay up to find out the outcome and asked the editor to fill in the blanks with the appropriate name). Unfortunately, this was the 2000 presidential election, and you know the rest.
    • In Pogo, the result of the election of 1952 is announced by a character who can't quite make out the name, but is fairly sure that it contains the letters E, E, N, O, S -- the intersection of "Stevenson" and "Eisenhower".
    • On the morning of the 1996 US presidential election, a crossword contained a clue asking for the name of the new president (who wouldn't be known until the late evening). It was cunningly constructed so that either "BOBDOLE" or "CLINTON" (the two major candidates) would work!
  1. unless you expected The Un-Reveal to be subverted
  2. 747. Y'know... a generic airplane term.
  3. A reference to the mask deathmatch against Warsman
  4. A reference to a scene before the match against the Hell Missionaries
  5. A reference to Terryman disguising himself as Kinnikuman during the 7 Devil Choujin arc and disguising himself as Kinnikuman during the match against the Hell Missionaries