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"Circumstantial evidence, that's all you've got!"

People have trouble admitting things, even when the proof is right in front of their face. Whatever the situation, and for whatever reason, they will adamantly refuse to admit a situation is what it is.

It could be being caught red-handed in a theft (even if caught clearly on the security cameras). It could be losing a battle (not that the losing side might make a comeback; this would be denying that one was even at a disadvantage at all). It could be one's lie proven false. It could be caught cheating. This person will deny all of them despite the most blatant and clear evidence, through Blatant Lies.

As for why, this person may be delusional, desperate, playing coy, or would rather swallow poison than Pride. Or someone might be forced to by another, for whatever reason (often politics or blackmail).

Sometimes this can be a whole group of people denying something due to fear of change.

A Sister Trope to I Reject Your Reality.

Compare Suspiciously Specific Denial, Never My Fault, I Was Never Here, You Didn't See That, Bad Liar.

Contrast Sarcastic Confession, Plausible Deniability.

Examples of Implausible Deniability include:


Advertising

  • A Starburst commercial features Ernie the Klepto. Ernie claims to have reformed from his thieving ways. A kid points out that Ernie stole his Starbursts. Ernie replies, "No, I didn't," while actually eating the candy. The kid accepts Ernie's denial though , allowing Ernie to steal the rest of his stuff.
    • The kid is either really stupid, or Ernie is an Impossible Thief, since he steals the kid's helmet, his bike, his Starburst, his dog, and his shirt.
  • In the first of Troy Polamalu's Head and Shoulders commercials, one of his teammates asks if he's been using his shampoo, because it's for guys who want "thicker and fuller hair"; Troy's already impressive mane gets thicker and fuller each time the camera cuts to him when he denies it, until he sheepishly admits the obvious.
    • A follow-up commercial has Troy asking his teammates who took his shampoo, one of whom has a beard as big as Troy's hair. The bearded one says it was the guy next to him, who is bald.


Anime & Manga

  • Full Metal Panic: No, Kaname, Sousuke is not following you. He decided to stop at the same cafe, take the same train and - when accidentally missing his stop that he just now decided to get off on (which is, coincidentally, the same as yours) - jump out the window of a moving train for entirely non Kaname-related reasons. Really, it's entirely coincidence!
  • In a more serious example, Light Yagami of Death Note after irrefutable evidence to his being Kira was presented, his first answer was "I've been framed! This is all a set-up!". Aizawa told him to give up the act. Understandably, given that this evidence consisted of Light shouting "I win!", and his name being the only one of the people besides Mikami's not being in the notebook
  • In the case of School Days, Kotonoha Katsura denies that she's been wronged, and frequently tells people that she's Makoto's girlfriend and that he wouldn't cheat on her. After he tells her in person that he doesn't like her any more, it goes from implausible deniability to psychosis. She leaves several voice messages for him to a recording saying her call could not be connected, detailing plans for their dates together. In the end she says "Finally... It's just the two of us..." as she clutches his severed head as she sails off into the sunset, although partially she is speaking the truth.
  • A delusional example occurs in the manga version of Chrono Crusade. When Rosette confronts Joshua about his dependency on Chrono's horns, he responds "You're not Rosette. My sister was nice." After seeing a flashback of her half-strangling him when he (correctly) tells Chrono that her cooking is horrible, as well as eight volumes of watching her do things like damage private property, abuse Chrono (at one point until he's lying in a pool of his own blood!), and calling her superior an "old hag", it's a tragic (and somewhat hilarious) illustration of how much of his memories he's lost.
  • In Nagasarete Airantou, Ikuto refuses to believe in magic, no matter what he has seen. He assumes summoned spirits are just "creatures". One chapter has him partially transformed into an animal, which doesn't wipe his memory (unlike everyone who was fully transformed). Despite seeing friends look completely different and the changes to his own body, when he finally recovers, he believes it was just a dream. (Pitying friends try not to remind him of this.)
  • A Running Gag in Saiunkoku Monogatari has Ri Kouyuu coming up with ridiculously implausible explanations whenever he got lost.
  • Seto Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh! to a ridiculous extent, at least in the dub. No matter how much everyone tries to convince him that magic is real or the world is in danger, he generally believes they're either delusional or just plan nuts. By the time the fifth season ends, he admits that maybe magic exists.


Comedy

  • One Adam Sandler sketch has his character asking random people on the street to guess if the sounds he plays for them are made by people having sex or working out. He'll then play a recording of an over-the-top porn soundtrack, with people saying things like, "You're fucking the shit out of me!" When the person tells him they were having sex, he'll respond with something like, "Nope, they were doing leg squats!" then mock them for having dirty minds.
  • In one of Bill Cosby's routines, he tells a story illustrating why "Children are so honest" is bullshit. He tells his toddler daughter she can't have a cookie, then catches her with her hand in the cookie jar. When he asks her what she's doing, she says, "I was getting a cookie for you, Daddy!"


Comicbooks

  • Oliver Queen's attempt to deny being Green Arrow to Mia despite being a blond guy with an identical beard who sounds exactly like Green Arrow. Maybe running for mayor and trying to keep a Secret Identity in the same town was a mistake.


Fairy Tales

  • The Grimm Brothers' story "Our Lady's Child" (sometimes called "The Virgin Mary's Child") is built around this trope. The titular child, a foster-daughter of the Virgin Mary, denies disobeying Our Lady six times in total, even though it's clear that Mary had caught the child red-handed (or rather, gold-handed).


Fan Fiction

 [When Inara and the Doctor are escaping from the enemy base].

The Doctor: You must be mistaken, Leftenant. The lady and I were just out for a stroll. You must have mistaken us for someone else.

Security Mook: Then how do you explain the blood all over you?

The Doctor: Um...I got mugged? Really, you should do something about that, streets aren't even safe... You're not buying that for a minute, are you?

Security Mook: Not so much.

 Halle: We have reasons to believe Kira is an exceptionally talented and highly skilled genius member of the Japanese NPA's Cybercrimes division.

(Everyone stares at Light.)

Light: Clearly, you must be talking about Matsuda.

At that precise moment, Matsuda's printer viciously ate ten sheets of paper at once, choked on them, and died.

 "Are those trackmarks?"

"No."

Films

  • Lord of the Rings: Gimli after falling off a horse: "It was deliberate! It was deliberate!"
  • Monty Python and The Holy Grail:
    • The Black Knight scene. "It's just a flesh wound."
    • The man who insists that the loudly protesting "corpse" he's trying to offload onto the body collector is, in fact, quite dead.
  • In the film The Guide for the Married Man, the main character's friend teaches him all the tricks of cheating, including denying it even if the wife walks in. However, when the friend is caught, all his teachings fail him.
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin's increasingly desperate insistence that "Swedish-Made Penis Enlarger Pumps" weren't his bag, baby, as the evidence continued to mount against him.
  • In Chicago, the denial is made by a cheating boyfriend while he's still in bed with two other women: "Who you gonna believe, your own eyes or me?"
    • Two of the murderesses in the "Cell Block Tango" deny things this way:

 "And then he ran into my knife! He ran into my knife ten times!"

"I was in such a state of shock, I completely blacked out. I can't remember a thing. It wasn't until later, that I was washing the blood off my hands, that I even knew they were dead."

  • At the end of An American Tail, when Warren T. Rat's disguise is shot off and it becomes obvious he's a cat, he still tries to maintain the charade, with the line "Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"
    • And they got that line from Chico Marx. "Lady, who ya gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?"
  • Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Renfield eats bugs in front of Dr. Seward, and pretends he's not doing anything.
  • Played for laughs in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. When Sparrow first sees Barbossa, he assumes he's hallucinating. Barbossa mentions that, last time they met, Sparrow shot him. Sparrow just looks at him for a moment, says, "No I didn't." and keeps walking.
  • Subverted in The Incredibles when Dash puts a tack (drawing pin) on the teacher's chair, is caught on video tape and still gets away with it due to being almost too fast to see.
  • In the 1997 Harland Williams comedy RocketMan, astronaut Fred Randall's oxygen tank springs a leak, so he is connected to his superior via a breathing hose, in order that they might share air on the surface of the planet Mars. Randall then has an... ahem, "attack of indigestion", the effects of which cross over to Commander Overbeck's suit, prompting the above memorable exchange (which is no doubt familiar to most people from Real Life). Randall finally relents and admits to it, but not for long:

 Fred Randall: It wasn't me!

Bill Overbeck: What do you mean, it wasn't you? We're 35 million miles from the nearest person!

Fred Randall: Maybe it was Julie! [Julie, for the record, is miles away, on a different part of the planet's surface]

Bill Overbeck: You dog!

Fred Randall: Hey, miracles can happen!

Bill Overbeck: Blaming this on Julie...

Fred Randall: Okay, I admit it, it was me.

Bill Overbeck: Thank you.

[Fred has more "indigestion"]

Fred Randall: Now that was Julie!

  • In Role Models there is a funny minor scene with the lawer Beth defending a thief. He's taped on security camera (identifying himself by name and admitting that he is currently committing theft) and he still insists he didn't do it.
  • Close to the end of In the Loop, Malcolm Tucker discovers that Toby (Simon Foster's assistant) was the one leaking information to the press, and confronts him; Toby makes a rather half-hearted attempt at denying it...

 Malcolm: I know it was you who leaked Linton's war committee.

Toby: Oh... right... erm, it wasn't?

Malcolm: "It wasn't?" That's what you're gonna say when they come and slip a hood over your head and fly you to Diego Garcia and carry out a cavity search?

Toby: I don't actually recall... it was a very busy time...

Malcolm: That's better.

  • In Madagascar, Alex the lion reverts to his primal instincts and attacks his zebra friend Marty, then realises what he's doing just as he bites. Awkward pause:

 Marty: Excuse me? You're biting my butt!

Alex: (with his teeth still sunk in Marty) ... No I'm not.

  • In Billy Rose's Jumbo, a 1962 musical comedy set in a circus, Jimmy Durante plays an elephant trainer who tries to sneak his beloved elephant off the circus grounds and is caught red-handed.

 Sherrif: Where are you going with that elephant?

Durante: (standing in front of the elephant) What elephant?

  • Subverted in Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes. The evil, possessed lamp (yes, really) makes the chainsaw turn on and flail around randomly while the son is holding it and covers the daughter's room in crayon graffiti, but while the mother doesn't believe an evil spirit is behind it yet, she still denies the logical explanation that the kids did it.


Literature

  • Several examples from the Discworld series:
    • Carcer in Night Watch would deny he had done anything, even if caught (literally) red-handed. Just like the psychopath entry under real life.
    • Trolls also tend to repeat "I never done nuffin" (They have learned that denying specific things doesn't work as well.) when they suspect they may be in trouble. Coalface is quite emphatic in this regard.
    • Detritus is the king of this. No of course he didn't nail that troll up by the ears for being the kind of scumbag that sells drugs to kids. Now, if you'll excuse him, he needs to go hide that hammer in his locker.
    • And then there's the inversion of "Done It" Duncan, who confesses to every single crime ever committed, even if it's completely impossible for him to have committed it.
  • Robert Zubrin's The Holy Land. The President and his advocates do this all the time; none of the significant characters actually BELIEVE them, but plenty of them find accepting the lie more profitable and useful than calling them on it. Back to that first entry under Truth in Television, below...
  • Natalia in The Tiger's Wife refuses point-blank to admit that she knew in advance that her grandfather was terminally ill, even though her grandmother knows perfectly well that Natalia knew, and is begging her to admit it.
  • There is a story told about the possibly fictional possibly real Mulla Nasreddin (the Muslim World's Trickster Archetype):
    • A neighbour came to the gate of Mulla Nasreddin's yard. The Mulla went to meet him outside. "Would you mind, Mulla," the neighbour asked, "lending me your donkey today? I have some goods to transport to the next town." Having heard that that particular man was occasionally rather harsh with his own donkeys, the Mulla didn't feel inclined to lend out the animal to that him, however. So, not to seem rude, he answered: "I'm sorry, but I've already lent him to somebody else." All of a sudden the donkey could be heard braying loudly behind the wall of the yard. "But Mulla," the neighbour exclaimed. "I can hear it behind that wall!" "Who do you believe," the Mulla replied indignantly. "The donkey or your Mulla?"
  • In Hidden Talents, a kid known as "Torchie" insistently denies that he was responsible for those odd fires that keep breaking out all over the place whenever he's around. Justified, as Torchie isn't intentionally starting them... he's a pyrokinetic with a case of Power Incontinence.


Live-Action TV

  • Spoofed in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode "Corporal Punishment". As his Bumbling Sidekick Baldrick is being called to the stand to testify in Captain Blackadder's trial, Blackadder tells him to "deny everything." First question:

 George (as Blackadder's attorney): You are Private Baldrick?

Baldrick: No!

George: ...Oh. Um... But you are Captain Blackadder's batman?

Baldrick: No!

Blackadder: (headdesks)

George: Come on, Baldrick, can't you be a bit more helpful? It's me!

Baldrick: No, it isn't!

  • "Deny Everything" was one of the themes on The X-Files.
  • A Running Gag in the dentist/spy sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus: "There is something going on here!" "No, there isn't!"
    • And, of course, no one should forget the Dead Pining For the Fjords Parrot Sketch.
      • Which was once beautifully subverted in a stage version that took full advantage of the sketch's over-familiarity: after building up to the lengthy Implausible Deniability that forms the sketch's core, the shopkeeper amiably agrees with the customer, and gives him a full refund and a few holiday coupons to compensate.
      • John Cleese has mentioned, as an early memory of recognizing something as absurd, a teacher who told his class a story about an ancient Greek wrestler who "won" a match by not letting go of his opponent even after he himself had died. The idea being that if you just never give up, you can't possibly lose.
      • The Dead Parrot sketch is loosely based on a Car Salesman sketch that Michael Palin had previously done with Graham Chapman in How To Irritate People. And that was based on a Real Life encounter Palin had with a car salesman who "had an excuse for everything" and refused to admit that there was anything wrong with a car, even as it fell apart in front of him.
    • There's also a sketch in which Graham Chapman insists he can fly while hanging from a very visible wire. And the Argument Clinic sketch dips in and out of this.
      • No it doesn't!
    • The smuggler sketch. The smuggler continues to dig himself deeper with his continued denials of having done anything. The joke being the customs officer continues to question the smuggler only to instantly believe he's not the smuggler, even as he shows what he's smuggling.
  • Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers did it quite a bit. At one point, Manuel was semi-conscious in a laundry hamper with one arm sticking out and this exchange occurs:

 Bystander: There's someone in there!

Basil: No, there isn't.

Bystander: Yes, there is, I just saw him moving!

Basil: No, you didn't.

    • Manuel does it too: "I know nothing!"
  • In the first episode of ~Homicide: Life On The Street~, a man accused of killing a woman with his car just starts repeating "I was drinking" over and over, to the point where it becomes creepy in itself.
  • This is how Father Ted worked up the courage to kick Bishop Brennan up the backside. It actually works, until Bishop Brennan discovers this gigantic photo of Ted doing it that Dougal had been told to have commissioned.
  • Part of the Catherine Tate character Lauren Cooper's shtick is denying embarrassing situations (like being blown off by the guy she likes, or being left at the altar by the same) moments after they happened, in front of the people who witnessed them.

 Liese: But you were excited!

Lauren: But I wasn't though.

Liese: But you got up and did a dance, mate!

Lauren: Yeah, I was gonna do that anyway.

  • Very common in the WWE, and TNA. What makes it worse, is that their websites tend to side with the Rudo's lies and exaggerations, so a fan who didn't actually watch the event may believe them.
  • Played for laughs in Red Dwarf, in the episode "Me^2". Lister breaks into the Rimmers' room to steal Rimmer's diary, whereupon the Cat emerges from a closet, wearing a suitably gaudy and over-the-top outfit, and turning towards the camera and shielding his face from Lister, says:

 Cat: Did you see him clearly? Could you spot him in a parade? I don't think so. I could've been anybody.

  • Happens in various episodes of Strangers with Candy, but most notably in the last one, when contractors deny that the school is being closed and replaced with a strip mall even as they tear down classrooms and build stores, a Cinnabon, etc. Of course, they get away with it since Principal Blackman and the teachers are powerless to do anything.
  • Paul Merton: The Series had a character doing a monologue explaining how he'd been falsely accused of a murder, but the evidence was so against him that he never had a chance: "Sure, the cops found me standing over the guy with a smoking pistol in my hand -- sure, sure. Sure, I had the motive. I had the opportunity. I even remember killing him! But you must believe me, I didn't do it."
  • Glee, or specifically Sue Sylvester, did this when her leaking of the New Directions set list to the opposing glee clubs.

 Principal Figgins: Sue, the directors, both from the Jane Addams Academy and Haverbrook School for the Deaf, have informed me that you gave them the New Directions' set list.

Sue: You have no proof.

Figgins: The set lists were on Cheerios' letterhead.

Sue: I didn't do it.

Figgins: They say, "From the desk of Sue Sylvester."

Sue: Circumstantial evidence.

Figgins: They're written in your handwriting!

Sue: Forgeries.

Figgins: Sue, there is an orgy of evidence stacked against you!

Sue: Well, you've clearly made up your mind not to be impartial in this case.

  • Supernatural, "Swan Song". In plain view of everyone, Castiel hits Michael with flaming sacred oil.

 Lucifer: [incredulous] Did you just molotov my brother with holy fire?

Castiel: Um... no.

  • iCarly, in "iHave My Principals":

 Sam: I haven't done one bad thing this week!

Mr. Howard: Oh, please! I know you put that big snapping turtle in the teachers' toilet.

Sam: You got it on video?

Mr. Howard: ...no.

Sam: Then I didn't do it.

  • ~30 Rock~: "The roof is leaking!" "No, it isn't. There was a study."
  • Barney of How I Met Your Mother does this regularly.
    • Barney will alternatively be the only one to tell the truth while everyone else uses one blatant lie after another.

 Robin: Plus the show's not half bad, right?

Marshal: Totally!

Barney: Never seen it.

Robin: Have you guys ever watched it?

Lilly: Of course!

Barney: Never seen it.

Robin: Really? What is your favorite segment?

Ted: Weather.

Barney: Never seen it.

Robin: You guys have never seen my show.

All: Sorry.

Barney: It's what I've been saying.

      • Subverted in that case - because he's the only one that had actually seen it, and watches it regularly, as revealed later.
  • After a magician's trick goes horribly wrong in America's Got Talent, he claims it was all part of the illusion - making the audience think about what they're seeing. Apparently seeing the hidden third assistant (he "only had two" assistants) and dropping a cloth, revealing the middle section of an assistant that had been "removed" is all part of the show.
  • In an episode of Friends, Phoebe tries to sneak a dog out of Monica's apartment in her handbag, but someone asks why her bag is moving. First she denies that it's moving, then says it's just her knitting. When the dog pokes its head out of the bag, she says, "Yes, I knit this. I'm very good."
  • On All That whenever a customer would point out a visible mistake Ed made at Good Burger, he would reply, "Ah... no."
  • A sort of inversion happened on an episode of Danger Man when John Drake was pretending to be a member of a certain organization in order to infiltrate their headquarters. (I don't remember the name of the guy he was pretending to be so I'll say it's "Roger Smith.") In the middle of the episode he's about to be introduced to a man (another name I don't remember, so I'll call him "Peter Jones") who is Roger Smith's oldest friend. Knowing his cover's about to be blown, upon meeting him Drake immediately insists "You're not Peter Jones!"
  • Saturday Night Live: Martin Short's Amoral Attorney character Nathan Thurm does an alternate version of this: instead of sticking to his guns in the face of insurmountable wrongness, he just switches positions and expects to get away with it ("I know that! Don't you think I know that?").
  • South of Nowhere opened one time with Ashley trying to sneak out of her girfriend Spencers room only to run into Spencers mother at the bottom of the stairs. Spencer, thinking on her feet, belted out: "Ashley, when did you get here?!"... while standing at the top of said stairs.
  • Green Wing: This is a rather large part of Dr Alan Statham's character, especially when it comes to his "secret" relationship with Joanna. No, dove, there is no method of checking for broken bones which involves sucking on people's toes.
  • The Goodies: In "Scoutrageous", Graeme and Bill have been terrorising the country as 'the Lone Scout, Plus One'. When they are finally cornered by Tim and the Salvation Army, Tim orders them to take off their masks. Upon seeing their faces, Tim lets out a shocked "It was you all along!". Graeme and Bill look sheepish and Bill mutters "No". Tim then says "Oh well, that's alright then" and starts to leave.
  • Pixelface: When Claireparker asks Rex if he's tearing out pictures of apples from a book and eating them again, Rex answers "No!" through a mouthful of paper.


Music

  • "It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy. The evidence against the cheating character in the song includes marks the other woman left on his shoulder, videotape showing the two in the act of cheating, and his girlfriend being either in the house or in the room. In the bridge before the last chorus, the other singer decides to just admit he cheated and apologize.
    • Interestingly, this has resulted in the concept of the "Shaggy Defense", which goes "It wasn't me", no matter how implausible that statement is. (Originated from press coverage of the 2008 trial of R. Kelly, and has since spread to legal circles because there wasn't a simple term for such a defense[1].)
  • "That's My Story" by Collin Raye. Similar to the Shaggy song, the singer sticks to his story of spending the night in his hammock, even in the face of his wife pointing out that she took it down a week earlier, then breaks down and apologizes... for having spent the night playing poker with his friends, with no women around, nuh-uh.
  • Apparently a chronic habit of the girl from verse three of C+C Music Factory's "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm". Either that, or she honestly doesn't know the definition of "virgin".
  • "Not About You" by Jonathan Coulton. The entire song is a very contradictory attempt to claim that "this one is not about you!" Kind of like an inverse "You're So Vain".
  • The traditional folk song "Seven Drunken Nights" concerns a man who stumbles home every night from the pub to find evidence of his wife's infidelities. His wife keeps coming up with even more implausible explanations ('that's not someone's horse, it's a clothes rail'), finally culminating with 'that's not someone else's head on a pillow, it's a baby'.
  • Gian-Carlo Menotti's opera Martin's Lie is all about this.
  • Used by The Lonely Island at the end of "Like A Boss"

 Interviewer: So that's an... average day for you, then?

Boss: No doubt.

Interviewer: "You chop your balls off and die!?

Boss: Hell yeah.

Interviewer: And I think you said something about sucking your own dick?

Boss: Nope.

Interviewer: Actually, I'm pretty sure you did.

Boss: Naw, that ain't me.

    • And then there's "No Homo", where the things the dudes say get more and more blatantly homosexual as the song continues. They insist they're straight throughout, despite lyrics like...

  Jorma: No homo but I wanna dress up like Dorothy, and buttfuck a dude while he 69s Morrissey!


Religion and Mythology


Theatre

  • Played with (albeit in hypothetical situations) in "Picture This" in The Pajama Game where the secretary paints increasingly explicit scenes implying that the supervisor's wife is cheating on him, but after each, telling him that despite all indications to the contrary, he should trust her.


Video games

  • Baldur's Gate: You can undertake a burglary for the thieves' guild. The house's owner wakes up when you tamper with his treasure box (in his bedroom) but since he's half asleep, you convince him that you're "just the cat" and he goes back to sleep. Tamper with it again, and he'll wake up again and realize that he doesn't have a cat - so you tell him you're actually a stray that got in. At no point do you actually act like a cat, and he buys your escalating lies every time - you can't actually get caught on that quest.
  • Cyberswine: Bob Hugh claims that the government is containing the Grid Virus. Cyberswine and Lieutenant Sarah Lee have seen the results with their own eyes, and know that it is certainly not the case.
  • Outpost 2: In the fluff of this game, an university student meets his professor with a hearty greeting and a smile, ignoring the fact that the professor's office is filled with aerogel. And that the student is embedded in the stuff up to his waist and is hanging horizontally in the doorway.

Webcomics

  • "Extra-dimensional imps! That's how this happened!" Foe Yay denial in Super Stupor.
  • Black Mage is willing to deny doing anything wrong in ~8-Bit Theater~. Even if caught stuffing a child's corpse into a garbage can.
  • Early on in Order of the Stick, this was a character trait of Haley. In one strip she denies having stolen a healing potion from Belkar, even though she is standing there holding the empty bottle. He falls for it.
    • Shortly afterward she is sent to scout a room alone. When the others arrive they find that a statue is missing the gems it had for eyes, two goblins have been killed (with Haley's trademark green arrows), the lock of a treasure chest has been picked (and has one of her hairs snagged on it), and Haley now possesses a huge sack of treasure labeled "Haley's Loot". Needless to say, she claims everything was this way when she got here, and that the bag contains "Feminine products."
    • In one of the prequel books she awakens a guard while stealing a large diamond. She is able to convince him that he is still asleep and that she is just a rather Freudian dream.
    • As usual, it's all justified by the universal handwave of RPG Mechanics Verse. As any D&D player will tell you, get your Bluff skill high enough and you can make anything stick.
      • A recent page emphasizes this by having Haley take a potion that gives her a large bonus to her bluff skill. She manages to convince a series of guards that "you don't see or hear us", "you don't work here anymore", and "you're actually a yellow-footed rock wallaby". She even convinces Elan that Roy respects his opinions!
      • As Bluff defaults to Charisma, Haley has an advantage over 9 out of 10 of the population. Fridge Logic: why don't hot evil chicks run the entire setting?
    • And then there's the Knights and Knaves puzzle, where one guy cannot speak the truth. So when Haley solves the problem by shooting one of them (who happens to be the truthful one), the liar says "She did not just shoot you, and I totally expected it!".
  • In Xkcd, Black Hat Guy insists that the Twin Towers are still standing.
  • A dumpster full of Jeremy's stuff in Platinum Grit was pushed into the lake by ghosts. That's Nils' story and she's sticking by it.
  • The main shtick of the Man In Black from Irregular Webcomic is applying this to his job of covering up the existence of aliens. His first appearance had him claiming aliens do not exist...to a group of Martians. Believe it or not, his later attempts have gotten more ludicrous.
  • Evil bear from Bear Nuts does this a lot.
    • Most notable, I think, being when Evil bear is turning a kid around on a spit, and Prozac exclaims, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?". Evil bear says, "....nothing", and then proceeds to keep turning the handle.
  • Bob and George: Definately not Proto Man.
  • Gary from Ménage à 3 is not exactly an accomplished liar:

 Gary: (to Yuki) YOUR DAD IS TAKERU "TENTACLE KING" OYAMA?! THE PREMIER TENTACLE HENTAI ARTIST OF THE DOUJIN WORLD?! (catches Yuki's look) I... I mean... I have no idea who that is.

    • In a later strip, when Zii nibbles Gary's earlobe:

 Zii: D'you just cream your-

Gary: No, but on an unrelated topic, I need to go shower right away.


Web Originals

 NC: And I'm just like, "He's not dead, he's not dead, no no no, he's not dead" (rocks back and forth, crying and/or screaming) "PRIME!"

  • Mitadake High. The video tapes. They're not 100% accurate: one is correct, the other is just a random possible color, and there's no knowing which is which. But when there's only one person in game with a hair color mentioned on either tape and they still deny it...
    • Of course, some people only look at one tape, and go after one person with that hair color because they haven't seen anybody else with that color hair. That person is very likely NOT the killer.
  • In Thalias Musings, Thalia tries this with Apollo when he asks for an explanation of the noise from a Wild Teen Party. She claims her sisters are just singing each other to sleep - with a parody of Tik Tok.
  • In Marik Plays Bloodlines part 6, while freaked out by Mel Gibson attacking him, Marik admits that he's gay. After calming down, the first thing he says is that Bakura couldn't possibly have heard any of that yelling he was just doing. When it becomes obvious he did, Marik claims it was the ghost. Somehow. Bakura doesn't push it much, but probably only because he knows it's a lost cause.


Western Animation

  • Played for Laughs (naturally) in Family Guy episode "The Fat Guy Strangler". Lois absolutely refuses to admit that her long-lost brother Patrick could possibly be a killer. Even when Brian shows her Patrick's room, which is covered with pictures of him strangling fat people and a dead fat guy on the floor. When she tries to explain away the half-dead fat guy who outright says "Patrick tried to kill me", Brian yells at her and she finally admits it.
    • When Lois wanted Peter to take out the garbage, he explained on the phone that work kept him late. When she told him that the caller ID said he was calling from the house and she could even see him, Peter moved out of view. He then said "Can you see me now? Then I'm at the office."
    • Also when Brian tells Peter that he is a terrible liar there is a cutaway to Peter and one other person in a lift, Peter farts and then exclaims "It was you".
  • In Futurama, Bender tries this a lot. When he gets caught by mall security trying to sneak stuff out under his sweater (also stolen):

 [Cans of oil spill onto the floor. Every security camera focuses on him and the police arrive.]

Bender: Now officers...

[More cans hit the floor]

Bender: I know this looks bad...

[More cans]

Bender: I'm sure there's a very...

[Even more cans]

Bender: I said...

[Cans]

Bender: There's a very...

[Cans]

Bender:...reasonable...

{{[[[Overly Long Gag]] One final clatter}}]

Bender: ...explanation.

  • The Simpsons episode "Bart Gets Famous": When Bart accidentally destroys Krusty the Clown's set in front of a live audience, his attempt to deny it spawns the Catch Phrase "I didn't do it", "I didn't do it ... Nobody saw me do it ... You can't prove anything."
    • And when he accidentally destroys the class aquarium trying to do a yo-yo trick, with the string still tied to his finger.
    • Plus the time he uses a grass-killing chemical to write his name in the school lawn in giant letters.

 Bart: Maybe it was one of the other Barts.

Skinner:: THERE ARE NO OTHER BARTS!

  • Master Shake of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is powered by this. Caught red-handed, caught on tape, he will deny it all. Poorly. If he does admit it, he will lie about his motivation and totally change his story.
    • He will frame other people ahead of time, convincing others that they did something he has not even done yet. Usually Meatwad.
    • Also, Frylock in "Super Birthday Snake." Shake, Meatwad, and Carl all return as zombies after Frylock killed them. When they call him out on it, he repeatedly insists that he didn't kill them, even though they all know he did and they are standing right in front of him as zombies. The "Yes, you did," "No, I didn't," argument goes on for about a minute solid. For your amusement, seen here.
  • South Park's Randy Marsh has had a few of these. Probably the most ridiculous was in "My Future Self 'n' Me" when trying to convince Stan that his "future self" is real:

 Stan: Well, if he's really my future self, then I can cut my hand off, and his should disappear! (chop)

Randy: Look over there! (chops off "future self"'s hand) See! His disappeared too!

Stan: That's funny, I was faking.

Randy: (picks up severed hand and holds it up to "future self") It was fake in the future too!

    • In the very first episode, Cartman fervently denies that he was abducted and experimented on by aliens, up to this point:

 Stan: Cartman, there's an 80-foot satellite dish sticking out of your ass!

Cartman: (with an 80-foot satellite dish sticking out of his ass) Sure you guys, whatever!

  • Used all the time on El Tigre. In one episode, when his father asks what he's up to, Manny replies "Nothing! Uh, helping the poor!", which satisfies his dad until he actually talks to "the poor," who haven't seen Manny today.

 Frida: Aliens!

Manny: Mind control!

Frida: Cold and flu season!

Manny: Yooou're dreeeeaming thiiis!

  • On Squidbillies, Early's father lives and breathes this trope. Faced with the fact that he robbed the same bank 17 times in one day, he will interject "Allegedly!" and launch into a pointless rant. Then he will say something that confirms his action start the same process again. Sometimes he will not even wait for someone to call him out on his "confession" before throwing out "Allegedly!" again.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Candace-2 initially tries this in The Movie when she sees Phineas and Ferb with Phineas-2 and Ferb-2.

  Candace-2: There's four of you, aren't there? I've seen nothing, I've heard nothing, I have Plausible Deniability!

  • Fairly Oddparents: When Timmy creates a new radio persona known as "Double-T in the Morning", Vicky starts looking for him without knowing it's Timmy. When she finds Timmy in the radio station, Timmy says he's not Double-T, despite the flashing neon sign right above his head.

Real Life

  • Politicians worldwide are often accused or caught doing this on a constant basis. No need to elaborate on this, partly due to the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment and partly to keep this page from becoming bigger than the rest of the wiki combined.
  • Anosognosia is the neurological inability to perceive one's own disabilities. Patients with the condition may vehemently deny that they are blind or paralyzed because their brains are physically unable to recognize it. Instead, they non-consciously rationalize that something else must be happening, such as "that is someone else's paralyzed arm (by my shoulder)" or "what are you talking about, I just moved my arm." Examples here.
  • The domestic cat will always react to falling off furniture or some other undignified incident with a facial expression that very clearly conveys the message "I Meant to Do That and you didn't see anything anyway".
  • Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, aka "Baghdad Bob", "Comical Ali" became notorious for this. Most famous for claiming in a press conference that there were no American troops in Baghdad...while American tanks were patrolling a few blocks from where his press conference was happening. His speech was also a case of Suspiciously Specific Denial.
    • Saturday Night Live parodied this in a sketch where Baghdad Bob was denying that American forces were in the city while three American soldiers walk in behind him and start moving things.
    • Several political cartoons were also similar to the SNL skit, including one in which the soldiers crowd close to al-Sahhaf, grinning at the camera, making "donkey ears" behind his head, holding up "Hi, Mom!" signs....
    • George W. Bush is noted as finding his "press conferences" hilarious, and said people claimed al-Sahhaf was a plant.
    • For a while there was a website called "We Love the Iraqi Information Minister" where users could insert their own subtitles into a clip of one of his press conferences, allowing people to make him deny whatever they wanted.
  • In a recent civil court case, the defendant, who was representing himself (badly), decided that he needed to delay the trial, and faked a heart attack. After being examined by police, medics, and paramedics, it was determined there wasn't a damn thing wrong with him, but he continued the charade by sitting limply in his chair. At which point the judge, annoyed as hell and rightly so, pretty much told him that he was being a moron and that she was going to rule against him harshly if he didn't knock it off. She literally berates the guy for three minutes before calling a recess. The guy never moves.
  • Combining with the Chewbacca Defense, if you can prove someone's claim wrong, he or she sometimes denies making that claim in the first place.
    • Another Chewbacca variant involves letting the person disproving the crazy argument finish and immediately using their logic to claim victory by implying that they were the ones defending the logical position while the logical person was holding the insane argument. That never works, so expect to be called on it.
  • Clinical psychopaths have a tendency to never admit guilt even when faced with undeniable proof of their actions.
  • Baseball fans have a bunch of in-jokes regarding this, such as "flaxseed oil" ("the clear", according to Barry Bonds) and "B-12 and lidocaine" (Roger Clemens swears these are the only things he was ever injected with.)
  • Despite winning The Sun's Sexiest Man of 2012 poll by a landslide, Benedict Cumberbatch has an incredibly hard time believing that he's attractive. Practically every time somebody mentions his looks, he'll respond in a self-deprecating manner. As he puts it, "I see all the faults that I’ve seen for 35 years of my life with myself so I don’t know how else to take it other than to giggle."
  • Frank Gusenberg, one of the victims of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, when asked who shot him, replied "Nobody shot me". While dying.
    • That's straightforward Mafia honour. The basic philosophy was "if I die, I forgive whoever did this to me; if I don't, I'm gonna get better and come after him. No need for the cops to get involved."
    • Odysseus strikes again!
    • This inspired The Simpsons character Johnny Tightlips:

 Fat Tony: Ah! Johnny Tightlips. How are you doing?

Johnny Tightlips: I ain't sayin' nothin'.

Fat Tony: I see. How is your mother?

Johnny Tightlips: Whoa, Whoa, who says I have a mother?

  • Morrissey's constant denial of being gay, despite many Smiths lyrics (written by him) being about homosexual experiences of his.
  • In the series of interviews that made up 2003's Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson claimed he had only had two plastic surgeries in his entire life, and that the reason his face had changed so dramatically to the point of Body Horror was due to the natural maturation process. (His claim that one reason he had had a nose job was to better "hit the high notes" was referenced in an Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode about Shake becoming obsessed with plastic surgery not long afterwards.)
  • Mickey Rooney still to this day denies that, not only was there nothing wrong with his portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi (an outrageously racist Asian caricature) but flat out denies that anyone has ever even complained about it!
  • Anorexic people will insist that they're fat even when they're as skinny as a weed. The tragedy of it being that due to their perspective being extremely distorted by the condition, it isn't a lie from their point of view. In some cases, though, many are aware of their condition but are told by their subconscious to keep fasting. Also, for some, fasting is not due to a wish to lose weight in particular but a demonstration of power and self-restraint.
  • The Chinese government denies that the Tianamen Square massacre ever happened. Even with millions of videos and pictures of it circulating the web even today. Of course, people behind the "great firewall of China" don't get to see those videos and pictures...
  • "In Iran, we do not have homosexuals like in your country. I do not know who told you that we have them." - Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, President of Iran
  • The Church of Scientology denies that it believes the Xenu story (as famously lampooned by South Park and just about everyone else), despite recordings of L. Ron Hubbard discussing it being readily available, numerous former Scientologists describing it and the Church's lawyers, spokesman and leader publicly alluding to it.
  • There's an old story by Chuck Swindoll about a old man he knew who could never admit he was ever wrong. One memorable example was when he went into a shop and noticed a newly minted horseshoe, which had just been pulled out of the fire and was now cooling off inside a water tub. Old man reaches inside to pick it up and immediately burns himself and drops it. The shopkeeper asks, "That horseshoe was hot, wasn't it?" The old man responds, "No, it just doesn't take me very long to look at a horseshoe."
  • During the 2011 Libyan uprising, a government official went on television to say that there was no uprising taking place in the country. Said non-existent uprising had been going on for six months by the time he got on TV, NATO is enforcing a no-fly zone, and numerous worldwide news stations are covering it.
  • In Italy a driver was caught driving in the wrong direction for 30 km on an highway. The driver denied it.
  • In one routine, comedian Chris Rock claims that this is the proper response when a man is caught cheating by his wife. Deny everything, no matter how much evidence she has...even if she catches you IN BED with the other woman, deny that it was you. Because, as Chris says, "sometimes it works."
  • Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, known in the West as "Comical Ali" or "Baghdad Bob", infamously (and hilariously) continued to claim that the Iraqi army was crushing the American invasion forces, even denying that American troops had reached Baghdad as American tanks were visible behind him.
  • Sometimes a topic can be politicized to such a degree that denial of something is taken as an article of faith, despite extremely well-documented proof of otherwise. While there are many examples in this list that are fairly uncontroversially true where people have the freedom to say them and not be arrested for it, there are some issues that in some parts of the world are pure Flame Bait, documentation notwithstanding. For example, Global Warming denial is extremely common in The United States, and Holocaust denial is extremely common in the Arab world. In these particular social circles, for reasons of ideology rather than documentation, these topics have developed extremely inflamed passions such that Implausible Deniability is considered a fundamental litmus test for social acceptability and inclusion. Ironically, even the Global Warming article here at TV Tropes has a No Real Life Examples, Please disclaimer.

Notes

  1. "Alibi" has a much narrower meaning when used in law.
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