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"ACKNOWLEDGE MY SHOCKING REVELATION, DAMMIT!"
Zeta Vincent, Narbonic

Collin: Act surprised or I'm going to strangle you with your intestines.

Fox: Sorry, this is like that "Pope secretly Catholic" shocker.

You've got a secret. A deep, dark, Earth-shattering, reality-bending, madness-inducing secret. Something so secret that you have to kill people just in case they do know it. It's a secret of massive proportions. They don't have a classification for how secret it is. The Men in Black would be astonished to learn it. The Ancient Conspiracy? They don't have a clue. It's not even on the Internet.

And then, for truly life-threatening reasons, you have to reveal the secret. You set it up carefully, bringing proof because, I mean, something so secret it's not like anyone will believe you when you spill the beans, right? You take a deep breath, and blurt it out.

There's no shock. There's no surprise. There's mild annoyance when your audience says "What, that's it? I thought you were going to tell us something we didn't already know."

Your deep, dark, Earth-shattering, reality-bending, madness-inducing secret? Oh, they knew about it. They just didn't mention it because they were being polite. Or humoring you. Or, worst of all, they didn't know you were trying to keep it secret.

It is at this point you might want to revisit the "Kill them all if they find out" strategy out of annoyance.

See also Transparent Closet, which is one of the most common manifestations of this. Also often applies to Secret Relationship. Contrast the Open Secret, where even the secret-keeper is aware that everyone knows.

Examples of The Not-Secret include:


Anime & Manga

  • In Mai-HiME when Akira decides to wear a mask and use her ninja skills to help defend the school from the rampaging Orphan Monsters; Akira's roommate Takumi realizes instantly, but tries to humor the whole "secret identity" thing.

 Takumi: Oh, if only there was a ninja protector who could save us!

Akira: <rolls eyes> I'm going for a walk.

Takumi: <happily smiles>

  • The end of Magical Project S has Sasami's class telling her they knew she was Pretty Sammy, they just figured they weren't supposed to talk about it.
  • In To Love Ru, the general reaction to finding out Lala is an alien goes along the lines of "Oh. So that's why she has the tail." All while Rito, the only one who cares about The Masquerade, freaks out and panics.
  • In the School Rumble manga, Yakumo's friends clumsily prepare her a surprise birthday party and she spends the rest of the day pretending she doesn't know. She comes home to find Tenma also preparing her a party.
  • Near the end of Martian Successor Nadesico Nagare dramatically reveals that he is the CEO of Nergal Industries. Someone (Jun, if memory serves) replies, "Yeah, I figured it was something like that."
    • No, everyone except Akito and Yurika knew about it. Up to Eleven indeed.
  • Humorously done in part 3 of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure with Polnareff trying to surprise the others with the revelation that Abdul survived a seemingly fatal attack and had been recovering the whole time he was gone only to find out that not only did they already know, every single one of them but him was in on it! Total Chew Toy moment.
  • Setsuna from Mahou Sensei Negima tries to hide the fact that she has Bodyguard Crush on Konoka. No-one is fooled, so when Rakan reveals that she had her first kiss with Konoka, no-one even blinks their eyes. Even Negi.
    • When Takane tells Yuuna that her father is a mage, she just says she figured it was something like that since she recognized the person working at the gates was a friend of her father's. And from there she figured that Mahora is a magic school. Only really applicable to Yuuna, everyone else was pretty surprised.
  • In an episode of the Pokémon anime, there is an Old Superhero named Gligarman who is really the owner of a toy store. He gets shocked when everyone in town starts calling him by his real name during a climactic battle.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Brotherhood in particular, it seems that Ed has "I performed a human transmutation" written on his shirt. Most alchemists he meets figures it out within an episode.
    • His automail (kind of) and ability to perform alchemy without a circle (much more so) tends to make it pretty obvious. He tends to rattle it off to anyone who'll listen, too...
  • Subverted hilariously in the last chapter of Ouran High School Host Club: The girls eagerly declare that they already knew Haruhi's "secret" when she wears a dress and begins dancing romantically with Tamaki. It isn't until later that they actually find out that she's a girl, and it turns out that they thought her "secret" was that "he" and Tamaki were gay and that "he" liked wearing women's clothing.
  • Nano Shinonome from the Nichijou manga is a robot who goes to school and believes she's convinced everyone she's not a robot. This despite the fact that one complaint that she has on returning to school one day is everyone keeps turning the big wind-up key on her back.
  • Bleach: Ikkaku goes to such lengths to hide his bankai that he ends up losing a fight he shouldn't have lost because he was holding back, causing a captain and vice-captain to have to come to his rescue. While Captain Komamura is cleaning up, Vice-Captain Iba begins lecturing Ikkaku on the difference between his bankai and Komamura's bankai. On seeing Ikkaku's shock Iba says Ikkaku's an idiot if he thinks something as powerful as bankai can be kept secret. Then they discover Komamura was standing right behind Iba. Komamura, however, brushes it off by claiming his hearing isn't working today and walks off. Not quite at the Open Secret stage since it's not confirmed whether everyone else knows.. Iba's just hinted there's a good chance people probably do.


Comic Books

  • One old (prose) Superman story suggested that most of his close friends and co-workers knew he was Superman, but were secretly government agents assigned to allow him the illusion of a "normal" life.
  • One issue of Superman had an emergency that doesn't leave him time to get into costume at the Daily Planet, and everyone tells him to just go do it -- they've just been humoring him about the "secret identity" thing. Wham issue? Nah, it was All Just a Dream.
  • Spider-Man's secret identity is like this sometimes, especially in Ultimate Marvel. In one issue, Daredevil (not in costume, of course) walked up to him, at school, to recruit him for a mission. In another issue, the Human Torch and Iceman showed up at school mostly because they were bored (Iceman: "Hey, aren't you-" Peter: "Don't you dare."). And finally, Kong -- a jock who deduced it on his own -- tells Peter to go help a friend, and when Peter looks ambivalent, he mocks him. "What do you want me to say? Should we have a code? Should I just throw up my hands and say 'Oh, if only Spider-man were here...'!?"
    • Lampshaded, parodied and subverted in one issue when he's knocked unconscious and wakes up in the X-Mansion without his mask (they wanted to make sure he was OK); upon learning this, Peter engages in a very lengthy rant about how he's trying to keep a Secret Identity here and is getting a bit sick of everyone somehow knowing that he's Peter Parker... only for Kitty Pryde to inform him that they didn't know his name. Oops.
  • In his own comic book, Wolverine found out that Jessica Drew and some other people knew that he was the man called Patch. Considering that Patch is Wolverine with an eyepatch and the claws not extended, this should really not have been such a shock.
  • In one issue of Batman and the Outsiders, Alfred reveals Batman's identity to the team while he (Batman, not Alfred) is unconscious, to prevent them from wasting time by trying to contact Bruce Wayne, who they know as the team's rich patron. At any rate, Batman later reveals his identity, but the team act shocked anyway.
  • In Gold Digger, Britanny Diggers did a brief stint as a superhero in her school days. While the villains remained oddly oblivious, the rest of the students had no trouble figuring out the superhero 'Cheets', was actually their classmate Brittany, the only member of the student body who also had fur and a tail and was the only werecheetah on Earth.
  • The Human Torch's features in Strange Tales involved him protecting his secret identity...despite the fact that he was a celebrity in his main title. Presumably, this was due to a lapse in Stan Lee's memory (which actually has some precedent); eventually, it was retconned that all the supporting cast were simply going along with the Torch's masquerade out of concern for his privacy...
  • Green Arrow's "secret identity" as Oliver Queen. Between his not-particularly-concealing mask and incredibly distinctive facial hair anyone who's met them both will know that it's him. In one case a policeman working with Green Arrow came to his house and, on being asked how he knew his identity, hadn't even known it was supposed to be a secret. His to-be sidekick Mia also recognized him instantly, not least because he was claiming to be a good friend of the Green Arrow. The best he could hope for is people thinking he's got a twin.
  • Two examples in Elf Quest:
    • The first occurs when Leetah accidentally yells out Cutter's secret soul name in front of Cutter's best friend, Skywise. It turns out Cutter and Skywise have such a strong mental link, they've known each other's soul names since they were kids.
    • The second one occurs when Big Bad Winnowill reveals Cutter's animal heritage to Leetah. Not only did both Leetah and Cutter already know, they're actually both proud of it.
  • Both averted and played straight in Birds of Prey, when Barbara Gordon revealed to her father, then-former Commissioner Jim Gordon that she has been operating as Oracle for several years after being shot in the spine and paralyzed by the Joker. Jim Gordon was surprised, but ultimately assured Barbara that he was proud of her. Barbara then pulled out her old Batgirl uniform and added, "I'm afraid there's something else I need to tell you, Daddy." Jim replied, "Oh. Well, that I knew about."
  • Right from the first issue, it's almost become in a Running Gag in Demon Knights that everyone knows "Sir" Ystin's real gender.


Film

  • Captain Shakespeare's crossdressing in Stardust. Outsiders don't know, but his crew is fiercely protective of his "secret".

 Crewmember: We always knew you were a whoopsie. (Rest of crew pulls him back to shut him up.)

  • The only people who don't know that nightclub owner Johnny Kelly is really mob boss Johnny Dangerously are is mother and baby brother. This is explained to Johnny by the Pope.
  • Mocked in the Green Lantern movie where the love interest very snarkily informs the hero that a domino mask really isn't sufficient to hide his identity from her.

Literature

  • In Great Expectations, Pip confides in Herbert about his love for Estella, to which Herbert replies, "Exactly. Well?" When Pip asks him how he knew, Herbert exclaims, "Told me! You have never told me when you have got your hair cut, but I have had senses to perceive it. You have always adored her, ever since I have known you. You brought your adoration and your portmanteau here, together. Told me! Why, you have always told me all day long." Unlike most other examples on this page, Pip feels relieved instead of annoyed that his secret was known all along.
  • Horatio Hornblower suffers from horrible seasickness every time he puts out to sea, something which he is mocked for earlier in his career. Once he gains command of his first ship, he takes pains to not let the crew know about his seasickness, for fear of appearing weak. It is years before he finally realizes that his men have always been aware of his seasickness, and have simply chosen not to comment on it out of respect for their captain.
  • In Superfudge by Judy Blume, Peter is asked by his parents to humor Fudge's belief in Santa, despite never having believed himself. After receiving his coveted red bicycle, Fudge confides to him that he's never believed, either, and pretends for his parents' sake.
  • In Starclimber, by Kenneth Oppel, Matt and Kate are in love but have to keep it secret because of class differences, and Kate is engaged to someone else to make her parents happy. They're both on the crew of a spaceship that's about to crash-land, and Kate throws her engagement ring to the floor and announces that she loves Matt. Then another character informs her that this was obvious to everyone already.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series, Harry is afraid to reveal the demon in his head to his Knight in Shining Armor buddy Michael, whose job is pretty much to bring down said demons. When he finally does, the reaction is of course "I know." Harry has forgotten that at least in theory, Michael's job is to give people possessed by those demons a chance to repent and be freed.
  • It takes several books before Tavi in the Codex Alera finds out that his "aunt" Isana is actually his mother, and his father was Gaius Septimus: he's the heir to the throne. Ambassador Varg is a Wolf Man who could tell this by smell as soon as he met him. Besides, Tavi could pretend to be haughty and imperious very well. This was a bit of Fridge Brilliance as Tavi acted like a lord several books before either the reader or himself knew that he was. Ambassador Varg just figured he must have a reason and didn't say anything about it. Tavi's reaction is a bit nonplussed.
    • There's so much heavy foreshadowing going on that a Genre Savvy reader can figure it out in the first book or at least by the second one. From that point on, the fact that Tavi doesn't know is almost a running gag.
  • In Simon R. Green's Beyond the Blue Moon, it is revealed that Hawk and Fisher are Prince Rupert and Princess Julia from the Forest Kingdom books. They attempt to hide this fact from the other characters, but at the big denouement at the end, everybody is relieved that they can finally drop the pretense.
  • In Shadow of the Hegemon, Peter finally reveals to his parents that he's Locke and that he's been manipulating events via his articles. His parents tell him that they've known all along, they didn't want to interfere at all, and that they're proud of him (Mrs. Wiggin revealed to Bean earlier that she's known all along, so this isn't a shock to the audience by the point).


Live Action TV

  • A recent episode of Criminal Minds had J.J. trying to keep the fact she was having an affair with a detective she'd met the year before a secret to keep her personal life personal, causing problems when the team encountered him again and she didn't want to acknowledge it. When she finally gave in and kissed him in public, the response from her co-workers who saw it was amusement that she was finally admitting it.
  • In the premiere of Torchwood Gwen is cleverly (she thought) infiltrating the Hub as a pizza delivery person, only to have the group unable to keep up the charade that she was fooling them and break out laughing.
    • Torchwood as an organization is this too, since they're theoretically a secret one. That uses a van with "Torchwood" on the side. The rough location of which people have found by asking random people in the street where it is.

 Ianto: Ask about Torchwood, and most people point towards the bay.

      • Not to mention the Crowning Moment of Funny from the premiere episode after Gwen's cover is acknowledged to have never existed:

 Captain Jack: And by the way, who's ordering pizza under the name of Torchwood?!

Owen: Me sir. Bit of a prat.

      • And in the second season premiere, an alien goes screaming by an old lady in a convertible. The Torchwood van shows up a few seconds later to ask where it went. As they pull away, the woman mutters "Bloody Torchwood", and continues on her way.
  • From Scrubs

 Dr. Cox: Heaven help me, I love newbie theater. Honest, I do. It's... the way you both play your parts with such wonderful commitment that almost had me believing that you aren't having whiny, neurotic, extremely pale sex with each other.

J.D.: What are you talking about?

Dr. Cox: Please stop. The whole floor knows. We do. Watch this. [turns around] Laverne, did you know?

Laverne: Was it supposed to be a secret?

Dr. Cox: And Carla?

Carla: Please. I knew before they did.

Dr. Cox: So, there it is. And if you go ahead and listen very carefully, you'll hear the familiar sound of no one caring.

  • Eric on That 70s Show hid his money in a Candyland box, only to discover just about everyone already know about it (and had been dipping into it).
    • Similarly, an episode of Blackadder had Percy preparing to lend Edmund the savings he has hidden, only to be told that not only do Blackadder and Baldrick know about it, Blackadder has already taken it.

 Percy: You've seen it then?

Blackadder: Seen it, pinched it, spent it. And the same goes for the two farthings Baldrick thinks he's got hidden inside that mouldy potato.

Baldrick: Oh bloody hell!

  • Top Gear frequently introduces a Top Secret Test Facility of one kind or another, and then helpfully provides detailed directions to it.
  • Some time ago, MTV broadcast a documentary which alternated "day in the life" snippets of three (closeted) gay teens. Towards the end of the piece, one young man worked up the courage to come out to his best friend. He sits her down, lets her know how much their friendship means to him, and that he has something to tell he that he's never told anyone else. He tells her that he's gay. Without blinking, she looks at him and replies, in a slightly confused tone "Yes. What was the secret you wanted to tell me?"
    • In fact, the girl's first words on confession cam were "From the moment I met [him], I knew he was gay."
      • This is from an episode of True Life from 2002 called "I'm Coming Out."
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "I Was Made To Love You", Warren makes a dramatic, unbelievable revelation: his girlfriend is actually a robot! Which would have had more impact if everyone else hadn't (easily) figured that out several scenes earlier.
    • Additionally, during class awards towards the end of prom on her senior year (ep 20, season 3), Jonathan makes a speech saying everyone knows that the lowest mortality rate the school has ever had is because Buffy was there because she was their protector.
  • On Northern Exposure, this is the townsfolk's reaction when Joel and Maggie announce that they are now having sex: "I assumed you'd been doing it for months."
  • On one episode of The Nanny, Niles admitted that he was once secretly in love with the housekeeper, Catherine. Maxwell's response was, "The whole house knew! We were taking bets on when you two would get together!"
    • In another episode, Fran and C.C. are stuck in a wine cellar and to pass the time, try to have a conversation. When asked if she has a crush on anyone, C.C., who everybody knows is obsessed with Maxwell, "confesses" that she has a crush on him, adding that "My therapist says I'm obsessed with him!", to which Fran responds "How much did you pay to figure that out?".
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney reveals his season-long crush on Robin to Ted, who (like everyone else in the series) figured this one episodes ago.
  • On The Invisible Man, Darien prevents a priest in a chemical-induced psychosis from bludgeoning a man while he is invisible. Later he goes to the confession box after the priest has been administered the anti-pyscho serum. To his surprise, the priest knew about him and the project that made him Invisible.

 Father Tom: You stopped me from killing a man.

Darien: What're you talking about? I got there right after you dropped that poker. Surely that must've been God that saved you.

Father Tom: I don't think God sneaks up on a man and puts him in a half-nelson. It was you. Invisible you.

  • On The Mentalist, when Wayne Rigsby and Grace Van Pelt revealed that they were in a relationship, Cho comments that "Half the building knew. The only person who didn't know is the one glaring at you." As Lisbon glares at them.
    • Of course, it's heavily implied that Lisbon was deliberately trying to avoid finding out because then she'd have to do something about it. Dammit.
  • May only half qualify but in an episode of Psych while drunk Lassiter admits that none of the higher ups at the police department actually believes he's a psychic and are only playing along due to his impressive track record. Though, it is also clear that a good number of officers do buy into the psychic act.
  • Being Human, first episode: New vampire Lauren corners George and does her big scary build-up reveal about the stuff of nightmares being real and herself being a vampire about to kill him. Then she is perplexed when he doesn't react scared. Too bad George is a werewolf and has been sharing a house with another vampire for some time.
  • On Mash, Frank Burns and Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan had a secret relationship for the first few seasons. Although as Hawkeye once observed, "The only person in Korea who doesn't know about them is MacArthur's pipe stuffer."
  • ER's fourth season started with ex-lovers Dr. Doug Ross and Nurse Carol Hathaway (George Clooney and Juliana Marguiles) reconciling and having a "secret romance" (due to past experiences, she was a bit shy to commit at first). During the season's Christmas Episode, Carol announced at the hospital's Christmas party that she and Doug were together again. After an awkward silence, a nurse's aid(who had apparently won the office pool) held out her hand and said, "Pay up!"
  • Castle:
    • Lanie and Esposito are trying to keep their relationship a secret from their co-workers, and several times just barely manage to cover up verbal slips or dodge questions about their weekend plans. At the end of the episode, Castle, Beckett, and Ryan talk about how cute it is that they think nobody knows.
    • Castle, Beckett and Esposito are torn up about telling Ryan that his fiancee slept with a pick up artist a month after they started dating. When they're finally about to, Ryan nonchalantly announces he already knew and didn't care because they weren't exclusive at the time.
  • On Glee, Kurt believes that his father doesn't know he's gay. In the episode "Preggers", he comes out to his father, who says that he had know since Kurt was three and he asked for a "sensible pair of heels" for his birthday.
  • In one episode of Simon and Simon, the B-plot revolved around the partners trying to dispose of her recently deceased father's possessions without letting his widow learn about his truly impressive magazine collection. At the end of the episode, she quite calmly and casually asks over dinner, "Have you decided what to do with your father's dirty magazines?"
  • On The X-Files, there are a lot of secrets. The paternity of Scully's baby is not one of them. Even though it's played up as Who's Your Daddy? and Scully doesn't volunteer any information about her pregnancy at all, everybody knows who William's father is. Skinner and the Gunmen admit as much at various points that they know it's Mulder.
  • On The Amazing Race 19, Ethan & Jenna wanted to keep it a secret that they had both won Survivor in order to keep the other teams from targeting them. However, at the same time they were telling this to the camera, the other teams were talking about it while waiting for their flight.
  • On Once Upon a Time, Mary Margret (a.k.a. Snow White) admits to her roommate Emma that she's been having an affair with David (Prince Charming). Emma says she knows, and Mary Margret demands to know how she found out:

 Emma: I'm the sheriff. You're a love-sick school teacher. It wasn't hard.


Tabletop Games

  • To quote an in-character passage from Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, about one of this Mystara-setting nation's several wizard-princes: "He hides the fact that he's a werewolf? How droll! We've all known that for years."


Theater

  • In another example of the Transparent Closet, in Avenue Q, there is a straitlaced Republican stock broker who is *gasp* in the closet. Of course, the response to his coming out is underwhelming.


Video Games

  • In Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Woozie's blindness. He's convinced that he acts normally enough to be indistinguishable from someone sighted, but he feels his way around everywhere and fires an MP5 like... well, someone who can't see. Everyone humours him.

 Woozie: I have a confession to make. I... I'm blind.

CJ: No shit.

    • Oddly, he never twigs that everyone already knew.
      • This may be because, despite being completely blind in most matters, he is still incredibly accurate in gunfights, car races and video games. Bizarre, yet awesome.

 "He is very lucky."

  • It was a somewhat shocking twist at the end of Art of Fighting that the mysterious Mr. Karate was actually Takuma Sakazaki, Ryo and Yuri's father and teacher of the Kyokugen style. Unfortunately, Takuma must be senile, because he pulls the grand reveal a few more times, including King of Fighters 96 and 97, well after everyone else already knows.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Estelle thinks she's managed to hide her status as an Imperial Princess from the rest of the party. She hasn't.
  • A brilliant example of this is in Dwarf Fortress: HFS, the Hidden Fun Stuff, always hidden in spoilers as per a community tradition. Nowadays, though, nearly every player discovers them through the forums or the DF wiki. The 'secrecy' is not helped by the fact that the wiki article on them is protected only by a scrolldown wall, and they are discussed on the forums openly in every way save the name, which, as it was told above, is always hidden in spoilers.
    • Adamantine, too. Also called 'cotton candy', the name coming from an extended metaphor of freakin' Hell itself being a 'clown car' (probably due to endless numbers of HFS in there), and adamantine essentially being a cork that seals the entrance into there, thus being next to it. Heck, the words 'cotton candy' are often coloured cyan on the forums, further playing up The Not-Secret status of it.
    • Made for a simultaneous Crowning Moment of Funny and Crowning Moment of Awesome when someone who really wasn't in on the secret was egged on by fellow forumgoers into opening the "circus", and was an incredibly great sport about what happened next, trying to reclaim the site twice and writing a short story about it. Further proving DF's motto, that "Losing is fun!"

  Oh god, you guys are dicks, I think I just unleashed a horde of demons into my base.

    • It also doesn't help that, by example of Lord of the Rings, Genre Savvy folk will assume that something horrible will be unleashed if you dig too deep. That, and the fact that Hidden Fun Stuff is openly Pot Holed on the Wiki and redirects to Hell...
  • Golden Sun Dark Dawn pretty much hammers you over the head with Amiti's parentage, repeatedly. It's a wonder all the characters don't know it by the end of the game (though Amiti himself might have an excuse).
  • In Avernum 3, the player characters are spies from Avernum (Beneath the Earth) exploring the surface in secret. Anyone with a brain knows or suspects you're Avernite spies immediately, due to your pale skin and conspicuous behavior. No one really cares enough to report you, since the Empire has much more important things to worry about.
  • In Magicka, you discover to your shock and horror halfway through the game that your mentor Vlad, who repeatedly assures you he's not a vampire, wears evening-wear all the time, has a romanian accent, slick hair, opera cape and is seen sucking blood fro-, I mean, 'having a conversation' with some poor villager that happens to get tossed off a cliff the moment he notices you've been observing him... Is actually a werewolf! No, wait. Not a werewolf. The other 'v' monster. 'Vampire', that's it. He's secretly a vampire. Shocking, we know. We apologize for the lack of spoiler tags.
  • In City of Heroes, the existence of Oroborous and Time Travel in general is supposed to be a secret. (The badge that you get when you gain access to their headquarters outside of time is even called "Entrusted With The Secret".) In practice, however, its utility as a teleport nexus for getting around the city quickly means that heroes frequently open glowy/whooshy time portals in plain sight, right in the middle of Atlas Plaza, and most characters arrange to gain access as soon as possible rather than waiting to learn the "secret" by doing one of the mission arcs that are intended to award it.
    • A Not Secret within a Not Secret is the identity of the leader of Oroborous, Mender Silos. His name is a Significant Anagram (for Lord Nemesis). The initial Incarnate arc, which opens up at level 50, finally comes out and says it, but it was an open secret within the community almost from the moment of his introduction.
  • In World of Warcraft since the Cataclysm expansion, the zone of Azshara has a secret goblin R&D facility, cleverly named the Secret Lab. Several goblin non-player characters talk about how it'll make a good tourist attraction, and there's a visitor's guide book about the lab to be read at the nearby rocketway terminal.


Webcomics

  • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach of Girl Genius has saved Punch and Judy and still thinks his father doesn't know about it. Granted, they both have huge spy rings, so he probably won't be terribly surprised when he finds out...
  • Friendly Hostility: Collin realizes he's gay and tells this to Fox. Fox's reaction is less than surprised, to say the least, as shown in this strip and the above exchange. It's more understandable if you know that Collin has been insisting that he's asexual, and probably views being attracted to only one man as less shameful than being attracted to men in general. Still, considering that Fox has been Collin's boyfriend and only romantic partner for years, come on now...
  • Defied in El Goonish Shive, when during a double-date Elliot and Sarah instantly know Tedd and Grace have switched bodies -- and never say a word.
    • Also straight with Nanase and Ellen. Only Tedd didn't know.
    • And then, Nanase's magic and her mother.
  • Ice by Faith Hicks: Cirr's parentage.
  • After five years of being in a Transparent Closet, Marluxia of Ansem Retort comes out. As Namine put it, it was anticlimatic. Zex even asked why this was more important than Seinfeld reruns.
  • In Girls with Slingshots, Jamie thinks she's obtained "proof" that Thea and Angel weren't actually "playing board games" in the back. Hazel tries to tell her that everybody knew about them. Subverted when Jamie's "evidence" is revealed to show Angel with someone who isn't Thea.
  • In Dragon Tails, when Lemuel reveals his crush on Firewing, Goldy responds with this gem:

  Goldy: You know, for a dragon that's normally unwilling to speak up when his tail's on fire, you've sure been broadcasting that you like this girl. Everyone in the forest thinks your crush on Firewing is very cute.


Web Original

  • In Red vs. Blue, due to a complicated chain of events, Simmons is pretending to be a Blue. Church knows it's really Simmons the entire time but doesn't say anything, instead using it to needle him mercilessly.
    • In Recreation, when the other fill Tucker in on what happened in Reconstruction, his response to the revelation that Church is the Alpha AI is that he'd figured that out a long time ago, and was surprised no one else had noticed.
  • In Marble Hornets, not even Jay is particularly surprised to find that Tim is actually Masky. It's those sideburns, man.


Western Animation

  • Quinn pretended for four and a half seasons that Daria was not really her sister; she especially wanted to convince her friends in the Fashion Club that she was an only child. When she finally admitted that Daria was her sister, Sandi attempted to make a big deal out of it; the other Fashion Club girls said that they already knew it. Tiffany actually said, "We were just being polite."
    • Although it seems like Quinn herself had mentally blacked out the first episode where Daria revealed it to the entire school. Why Sandi didn't remember is still a mystery.
  • Played with in an episode of Justice League. In order to hide from the invading Thanagarians, it's proposed they simply go out in their civilian identities. Flash is reluctant to do it, because even though he trusts his teammates, it's still his secret identity and... and Batman, annoyed, proceeds to name off everyone's secret identities (at least the ones who have them).
    • But then, this is Batman we're talking about here...
    • Also played with in a later episode where Lex Luthor, in Flash's body, tries to find out Flash's secret identity and pulls off his mask and stares at himself for several seconds in a mirror before admitting he has absolutely no idea who that person is.
      • Humorously, Flash really is Luthor...
      • In the same episode, Grodd reveals he figured it out right away, but just thought it was too much fun to spoil.
  • When Patty Bouvier came out of the closet on The Simpsons, Homer treated it as though she'd just said she waxed her car that morning. Marge, on the other hand...

 Homer: Yeah, and I like beer!

    • And the sad thing is that Marge had seen more "hints", such as Patty making out with another woman outside a movie theatre, and still refused to comprehend it.
  • In Kim Possible's continuity, Area 51 is rumored to be a secret alien research base. The main characters eventually arrive at Area 51 to discover that it actually is a secret alien research base, but with a twist -- authorities let the secret out, knowing that the public would believe it to be wild rumors, thus keeping the "secret" safe.
  • An episode of Drawn Together deals with the housemates doing a role-playing exercise to help Xandir tell his parents he is gay. They (pretending to be his parents) initially simply exclaim "Duh!" when he tells them. The rest of the episode is an extended fantasy in which the characters all take on roles and act out an elaborate story of what might happen when he really tells them, involving running away, prostitution and eventual murder. At the end of the episode he finally comes out to his parents... who simply exclaim "Duh!"
  • In King of the Hill, when Peggy finds out that Nancy has been cheating on Dale with John Redcorn (for years), she confesses this discovery to Hank. Hank's more distressed that this is news to Peggy than over the revelation itself. Peggy, in turn, is horrified that everybody seemed to know except her. (The only people who didn't know were Peggy, Dale, and "Dale's" son, Joseph).
    • Peggy also shares it with Minh, who at first is shocked that Nancy's been cheating on John Redcorn. Of course, it took her some time to figure it out in the first place. About fifteen minutes. She's very naive and trusting.
  • In Fairly Odd Parents, Timmy travels back to the time of Dimmsdale's founding to meet its founder, Dale Dimm. Alden Bitterroot, the witch hunter, is unmasked as a witch himself when Timmy points out that his feet don't touch the ground. The Mayor says that "many of [them] were quite perplexed about that."
  • In American Dad, Steve discovers that Stan, his dad, is bald, and they promise to share with the world their secrets and live with them, which Stan doesn't. From the half on, is a race between Steve wanting to reveal Stan's secret and Stan wanting to avoid this, while all the family, beside Steve, already knew this all along.
  • Moral Orel revealed some time in the second season that Orel's father Clay is actually the mayor of Moralton... and everyone but Orel and the audience knew it already.
  • In the Doug episode "Doug Says Goodbye", everyone was able to recognize Skeeter despite his Paper-Thin Disguise.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, "Green Isn't Your Color": Spike confesses his crush on Rarity to Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle. While Pinkie is surprised, Twilight isn't, and claims that nearly everyone in Ponyville can tell.
    • He even has the shirt to prove it.
    • And Secret Of My Excess has Rarity making quite clear to Spike that she's aware of his feelings for her. It still leaves ambiguous for how long she's been aware of them, though.


Real Life

  • A common occurrence when someone comes out of the Transparent Closet.
    • When Jim J. Bullock came out, the general response was "yeah, and...?"
    • In the UK, Ian "H" Watkins from long since defunct pop group Steps became one of the latest Z-listers to feature on Celebrity Big Brother. This was a man who made his living from hurling himself round a stage dressed in leather pants and cropped lycra tops, sometimes with devil horns, always with floppy blonde hair and an inane grin, singing hideously cheesy songs with carefully choreographed dance routines to an audience of 12 year olds. When he dramatically came out in the papers the week before entering the house, the entire country looked at each other with puzzled faces, thinking "Yeah... was that a secret?"
    • Not a single metalhead in the world was surprised to find out that Rob Halford, of Judas Priest fame, is gay. When your every minute on stage shows you dressed as a Leather Man, it's not hard to infer.
    • Ricky Martin came out of the closet. The general reaction? DUH!. And some people actually thought he'd already come out years ago.
    • Some other "uh, OK?" revelations happened around Rosie O'Donnell and Lance Bass (in Bass's case, there was more shock that only one member of *NSYNC was gay.)
    • Anyone coming out since roughly the 1980s often reveals a generational difference: their parents are often oblivious, as are other people their parents' age, while their peers (who have grown up seeing various portrayals of gay characters, as well as being aware there's a significant gay population) often know and simply haven't mentioned it because it's not a big deal. Thus, the amusing spectacle of parents finally finding out and letting their kids in on the big secret that so-and-so is gay, and the kids wondering why it's news.
    • Kristy Mc Nichol is a somewhat extreme case -- when she came out in 2012, a very common reaction was "Wait, hasn't she been out for years already?"
  • Area 51 in Nevada has always hung its own lampshade. It's on Google Earth, for crying out loud. Official government policy before the mid-90's was to refuse to acknowledge in any way that the massive restricted area (with barb-wire fences and armed soldiers patrolling it) actually contained one damned thing. It was only revealed when the base was sued for causing a horrifying and almost completely unknown disease in several workers by burning toxic waste on site and refusing to give their doctors information about the unidentified substance even though it might have saved their lives. A story that almost disappeared behind claims of alien saucers.
    • It is also fairly well known at this point that Groom Lake is (or at least was) a testing ground for new aircraft. Stuff like the B-2, the SR-71, the F-117...
    • In that vein, it's fairly well-known that Cheyenne Mountain is the command center of NORAD. This does not tell anybody just what goes on down there, and it deflects attention from more important and more secret sites elsewhere. Misdirection, donchaknow. And just to show that they're trolling us, a door in Cheyenne Mountain with multiple locks on it, labeled "Stargate Command." It leads to a broom closet. This was especially funny to anybody who worked in fast food in the nearby town. For years practically every night Domino's Pizza, KFC, and a number of other fast food joints would send a driver up the mountain trail with a massive order that they would hand off at a guarded gate to guards that officially wasn't there to feed people that technically didn't exist. It does make people wonder if the people in NORAD just keep the charade going as a joke.
    • There is also a real life government facility at Raven Rock, although it presumably lacks an insane AI mainframe. As of yet, there has been no official denial.
    • The Not-Secret government installation at Mount Weather was SO Not-Secret that it's been handed over to FEMA.
  • Comb-overs. It's amazing how many men honestly believe that they actually fool anyone.
  • The BT Tower's existence was officially classified and omitted from the government mapping agency's maps until 1993. This is a five-hundred foot office building in central London; it was built in 1964, appeared in Doctor Who in 1966, and contains (among other things) viewing galleries, a souvenir shop, and a restaurant.
  • Isaac Asimov once called the longbow England's "unsecret weapon": their rivals knew how to make them and how to train people to use them, but the training took a long time, and they didn't want to let commoners become that valuable when they could just teach them to use crossbows instead.
    • There's a saying: "if you want to train a longbowman, start with his grandfather." The English longbow corps grew directly out of the strong, longbow-proficient, English yeomanry, with generations of tradition behind them since the trick was starting the training at a very young age. English boys practiced with series of stronger and stronger bows as they grew up. This is why the remains of yeomen examined today show skeletal deformation from excessive muscle build-up on the draw arm, and why (once researchers got real bows from the wreck of the Mary Rose to examine) the English longbow actually had a draw weight more than twice as heavy as historians originally thought (120-150 lbs versus the estimated 60). That tradition would be impossible to match, and trying would have resulted in well armed peasants who could cause trouble. Definitely not worth it.
  • Israel has long denied that it has nuclear weapons, and has had them since roughly the 1960's, despite virtually everybody in the world knowing otherwise.
  • Xenu. In theory, it will destroy your mind to know it before being "ready." However, the organization that set up the largest ever infiltration of the US government somehow managed to let slip to all and sundry information that makes them and everything they touch look absurd.
  • Likewise, Mormon temple garments. Meant to be hidden at all times and not discussed with non-Mormons, the advent of the Internet has blown the secret right out of the water.
  • At one point the Italian government's way of keeping the locations of their military bases secret was to just black out the areas of the map they could be found on. While this did indeed keep the precise location of the bases secret, it certainly provided a good starting point for finding them.
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