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Casanunda: I'm a world-famous liar.Casanunda: No.
Nanny Ogg: Is that true?
Whether the story they tell is a complete whopper or a bending of the truth, your average liar usually has one goal in mind: Tell the lie undetected. Their attempts to deceive you are rooted in the fact that they don't want you to know they're lying. A Self-Proclaimed Liar, however, is the complete opposite. Just as their name implies, they will openly proclaim that they are lying to your face as they tell you whatever tale they're deciding to weave that day.
Paradoxically, by taking Refuge in Audacity in this way, the outright lie sometimes manages to become more effective than trying to hide it. It may be because a person simply doesn't believe that someone trying to lie to them would tell them they're lying. Or perhaps the open lie is actually a way of hiding a second lie. Regardless, a typical reaction to this scenario can be for the victim to go through the circular logic of "If he was lying, then that statement was a lie, so he was telling the truth..." and so on.
Regardless, despite making everyone around them aware of the fact they are not to be trusted, they somehow still manage to get away with the deception. Compare Sarcastic Confession, in which a character bluffs by telling the exact, if unbelievable, truth. See also Logic Bomb.
Anime and Manga
- In Ghost in the Shell, one of the Tachikomas says this to one of the basic androids and causes it to malfunction.
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni might be an example, although it might just be a case of Unreliable Narrator. Basically, Beatrice doesn't care whether or not Battler thinks she's lying because he can't prove it. And because he can't find an alternate reality with which to fight with her own, she wins by default, telling fantastical stories about wild magic battles. Although she never outright tells him that she's lying. That's why I'm not sure, but I thought I'd mention it.
- No, that's certainly true. The whole point of Umineko is to show the audience lies they have to sift through to find the truth. It's stated in canon that since the story isn't being told from the eyes of God, Battler et al. can't trust everything that is presented to them.
- Usopp in One Piece uses this as a battle tactic. Usually it's not blatantly obvious that he's lying, but then he continues in his fight against his captain. However, the lies are always used as a distraction.
- Additionally, the "Uso" in Usopp's name is Japanese for "lie." An early joke soon after he joined the crew was for his introducing himself to sound as if he was saying "I am a liar."
- Eyeshield 21. Hiruma lies. ALL THE TIME.
Achilles: EVERYTHING HE SAYS IS A LIE!
Players who've played Hiruma's team: You just noticed?
- Motoharu Tsuchimikado calls himself a liar in A Certain Magical Index right before faking a Heroic Sacrifice.
- The Jackal from the infamous Clone Saga in the Spider-Man comics. He shamelessly piles lies on top of lies in the clone saga at various times leading Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider and Spidercide each to believe they are the real Peter Parker. In the end even he didn't know the truth.
- Discworld uses this a few times.
- One of the best known is the dwarf Casanunda. He even has "Outrageous Liar" on his business cards.
- Also, Reacher Gilt, the Big Bad of Going Postal, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who advertises the fact by going around resembling a pirate, complete with a bird on his shoulder screaming "Twelve and a half percent."
- Moist Von Lipwig notes in Making Money that if you tell the masses you want to take their money, you'll just gain a reputation as an honest man.
- Petyr Baelish from A Song of Ice and Fire
Petyr Baelish: Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed down off your horse.
One of Crete's own prophets has said it: 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons'.
He has surely told the truth.
- In Illuminatus, one of Hagbard Celine's advices to Geroge Dorn was "Never trust anyone who has the initials H. C." He's a Trickster Mentor to George, as well as the crew of his submarine.
- Thomas Raith in The Dresden Files tells Harry in Grave Peril that he's a liar and can't be trusted. Nevertheless, he nearly always tells him the truth. His sister Lara, on the other hand...
- Adding to the series' use of Mind Screw via Unreliable Narrator, the Dragaera novel Orca is narrated by Vlad's friend Kiera as a conversation with Vlad's wife, Cawti. Kiera starts out by telling Cawti explicitly that she can't tell the whole truth, and will be altering some things for her own purposes. Then at another point in the story, Kiera describes Vlad, the narrator of most of the other books as pretty much a pathological liar but also essentially implies the same about herself.
- Vergere of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, with one of the earliest lessons she imparts being "Everything I tell you is a lie." Including, apparently, not being a Sith.
- Cadrach of ~Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn~ is a self-admitted liar, cheat, and Dirty Coward. Unlike most examples, though, he's not trying to pull a con on anyone; he really is sunk so deep into self-loathing that he cares nothing of what people think of him. Beneath the Shell Shocked Senior exterior is a man who knows he betrayed the world to its ultimate doom, and would do so again, out of sheer terror. Miriamele tries to befriend him anyway, which ultimately leads to his redemption.
- Fireflyer, the fairy stand-in for Tinkerbell in the book Peter Pan in Scarlet, is a notorious liar to whom being called a liar is the greatest compliment of all. He openly and proudly claims that he never tells the truth -- though this is revealed to be a lie.
- A famous quote of Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies
"Me, I'm dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly."
- In Bedazzled (at least the original version) Peter Cook's Mr Spigot (the Devil) tells Dudley Moore's character "I'm a terrible liar, believe me."
- The Invention of Lying
- It's not really called attention to, but one of many reasons why it wasn't the best idea for Lt. Kujan to trust Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects is the fact that Verbal is an admitted con artist. More importantly, there are several scenes where Kujan is able to challenge something Verbal claims and accuses Verbal of lying. In these instances, Verbal "confesses" and then tells the "truth" (i.e. exactly what Kujan wants to hear).
- Allison from The Breakfast Club.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Elim Garak is probably this show's most triumphant example, to such a degree that on one occasion Odo realises Garak is telling the truth precisely because his response to a question is a simple "I don't know" rather than a convoluted and eloquant tale of extravagence. His reputation for obfuscation is legend not just in the fandom but in-universe as well.
Bashir: Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?
Garak: My dear doctor, they're all true.
Bashir: Even the lies?
Garak: Especially the lies.
- Ben Linus from Lost. His most effective manipulations have all taken place well after everyone knows he's a dirty, stinking liar.
- Urataros from Kamen Rider Den-O boasts about his ability to lie, primarily to charm cute girls. He even says his main goal in sticking with the good guys is teaching Ryotaro to be a better liar.
- In Voltaire's When You're Evil, the singer seems to break his evil persona to reveal that all along, he really just wanted to be loved... before admitting,
I'm lying through my teeth/
Your tears are all the pay I'll ever need
- To state the obvious, "Liar" by the Rollins Band.
- GLaDOS from Portal.
- Kreia of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II:The Sith Lords. She encourages The Exile to distrust people, even herself, you even gain influence with her (that oddly works as "trust" for everyone else) if you say you don't trust her.
- Played for laughs in Sam and Max: The Penal Zone:
Flint: You wouldn't know anything about these toys, would 'ya?
Max: I can't lie to Flint Paper, Sam!
Sam: I can, little buddy. (To Flint) Nope, not a thing.
- Marisa Kirisame of Touhou seems to take pride in telling the most outrageous lies she can as often as possible, but nothing can top the one in Phantasmagoria of Flower View where, confronted by the local Judge of the Dead about all the lies she's told, plainly states that she has never told a single lie in her life.
- In an episode of Sushi Pack, the Pack face down a villain known as The Prevaricator, who can only lie. He gets away with this because most people don't know what "prevaricate" means. However, since his method of lying is just to say the opposite of what he means, Tako is able to easily get him to surrender by asking him to tell a lie.
- One episode of Garfield and Friends has Roy state, in no uncertain terms, that he is about to lie to Wade. He even asks Wade if he understands this fact. Then he tells Wade "The bull is loose." Cue panic.
- Angelica from Rugrats, especially in the All Grown Up sequel series. She even describes lying as an art.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula is a pretty good liar.
Zuko: You lied to me!
Azula: Like I've never done that before.