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Nazi Captain: Your name vill also go on ze list! What is it?

Captain Mainwaring: Don't tell him, Pike!

This is when someone — usually a villain — grabs hold of the Idiot Ball, and denies information in such a fashion that states exactly what is allegedly being denied. For example, Alice has defeated Bob, The Dragon, whose boss has kidnapped Carol. Alice demands to know where Carol is, but Bob just smirks at her and says, "Ha! I'll never tell you that she's in the warehouse in Somewhere City!"

A sort of Accidental Public Confession, with a little Suspiciously Specific Denial thrown in for good measure. If the person is doing this deliberately, it's Could Say It, But.... Or it could be that the villain has a gun in his face and he's a coward. If the person saying this is not a complete moron, he may follow it with "Did I Just Say That Out Loud?" Also related to You Just Told Me. Truth Serums in fiction have been known to cause this. Compare Cannot Keep a Secret and Loose Lips. sub trope of Saying Too Much

Examples of I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You include:

Anime & Manga

  • One Piece
    • A heroic example when Vivi says it would be best if the Straw Hat Pirates don't know that the one trying to ruin Alabasta Kingdom is Crocodile.
    • A running gag with Sentomaru, who claims to have the world's tightest mouth, yet will immediately tell anyone whatever they want to know, even if they're not actually addressing him. He immediately adds that he's doing it just because he wants to, not because they asked.
    • Before him came Fukurou from CP9, who spills vital information at the first opportunity for absolutely no reason and does it so much that he was fitted with a zipper over his mouth... which he unzips before spilling vital information.
    • A character in the Punk Hazard arc claims to know nothing about two enemies coming their way... then recites a long list of personal facts up to and including their ages (25).
  • Rurouni Kenshin:

 Shishio's guard: Who are you?!

Misao: Makimachi Misao gives her name to no villain!

Guard: ... You just did.

Misao: AGH!

  • In an episode early in the second season of Keroro Gunsou, Keroro leaves a robotic copy of himself to head the invasion so he can go to the amusment park and see the Java Risers live show. After discovering the robot, Giroro presses Tamama to tell him where Keroro went. Tamama replies by saying that he'll never tell them that Keroro's at the amusment park. Later in the episode, Tamama finds a candy house and assumes it's a gift from Keroro for keeping his secret. This adds on to an already-established gag of Tamama not being able to keep secrets.
  • Mega Man NT Warrior manga:

 Torakichi Arakoma: I'm sworn to never reveal that I'm here to defend th' world from impendin' doom!! I may be lost, starvin', without a single zenny t' my name, but wild horses couldn't whip that outta me!!

Lan and Maylu: (Sweat Drop and Face Fault)


 Rin, the girl in Daikichi's care, abruptly starts dancing and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Daikichi Kawachi: Rin, what are you doing?

Rin Kaga: It's a secret, so I can't tell anyone at home about Parents' Day!


Comic Books

  • The very first appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk in the comic book Superman is a textbook example of this trope, when the imp declares, "Ha! You thought you could trick me into telling you that the magic word is 'Kltpzyxm'!"(poof). Also played with in the animated series:

 Mxyzptlk: You make me say, spell, or otherwise reveal my name backwards and I'll split until our dimensions come into alignment again in about, oh, three months, give or take.

Superman: I can't even say your name forwards. How am I supposed to say it backwards?

Mxyzptlk: No, dope! You don't have to say it backwards! You've got to get me to say it!

Superman: Say what?

Mxyzptlk: KLTPZYXM! Gosh, you're thick! Now, for the last time... (realizes) ahh nuts! (disappears)

(ninety days later)

Mxyzptlk: (reappearing in the bathroom mirror) Hi guy! Your three months are up, and this time, you're not gonna cheat me out of my fun!

Superman: Oh, it's you again, Mr. Kltpzyxm.

Mxyzptlk: Not "Kltpzyxm"! Mxyztplk! Now the first thing I'm gonna do... ahh nuts! (poof!)

...and so on and so on... Eventually reached the height of awesome when Mxyztplk showed up, screwed up, and poofed without Superman saying a word. All he does is smile... and continue drinking his coffee.

 Lusene: Zat would be ze greatest crime in histoire, non? But... Ah 'ave no idea what ze Black Knight plans to do... tomorrow morning at 10AM! Here! Pass zese out!

(passes a written program of the caper's details)


 Thomson or Thompson: No, our lips are sealed. We can't tell you whom we suspect, but it isn't anyone in the house. Mum's the word, you know.

Thompson or Thomson: Yes, dumb's the word, that's our motto. So we're not allowed to tell you about the gypsies, though we suspected them from the start...

  • In one story of Monica's Gang, Smudge (Cascão) had his right arm in a cast and Jimmy Five (Cebolinha) wrote on it that Monica was short, fat and buck-toothed. Upon reading it, she became furious but realized it wasn't Smudge who wrote it. When she asked who was, he told her she'd never make him tell it was Jimmy.

Comic Strips


 If you want to see your doll again, leave 100 dollars in this envelope by the tree out front. Do not call the police. You cannot trace us. You cannot find us. Sincerely, Calvin.


Films — Live-Action

  • Harry Potter: The movie version of Hagrid. "I shouldn't'a told ya that..."


  • Harry Potter's Hagrid in the book version too, just without the catchphrase. For example, the heroes that are looking for info on the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, and Hagrid tells them that they should give up and the only people who need to worry about the Stone are Dumbledore and Nicolas Flamel... when they didn't know about Flamel yet. In Hagrid's defense he had downed a few pints earlier...
  • In a variant, the Death of Discworld once tricked a swan into singing its "swan song", a necessary prerequisite before it could die, using this trope:

 Swan: Thought you'd got me there, didn't you. Thought you'd tricked me, eh? Thought I might unthinkingly give you a couple of bars of the Pedlar's song from Lohenshaak, eh?

Death: I don't know that one.

Swan: That's the one that goes "Schneide meinen eigenen Hals--"

Death: Thank you.

Swan's ghost: Bugger!


 Rachel: Louis, we can't afford... you can't afford...

Louis: I socked some money away off and on since last Christmas... and it wasn't as much as you might think.

Rachel: How much was it?

Louis: I'll never tell you that, Rachel. An army of Chinese torturers couldn't get it out of me. Two thousand dollars.


Live-Action TV

  • A Mad TV sketch has the following exchange:

 "I'm not going to tell you my name. Because when you tell someone your name, you give them power over you. Like if you said, 'Ron,' I'd say 'What?' And no-one's going to have that kind of power over Ron Shaffer!"

  • Blackadder
    • Blackadder I: The queen insists she can keep the secret of Prince Edmund oversleeping and missing the battle altogether:

  Queen: Do I tell people that your brother is afraid of spoons? Or that your father has very small private parts?

  • Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps: Louise attempts to avoid giving any indication that Gaz is Corinthian's father. She eventually encounters Gaz and says she's not going to tell him he himself is the father.
  • In the functional finale of Beetleborgs Metallix, the heroes have just managed to swipe the Astral Axe, which controls one of the two Humongous Mecha of the season, Boron. The one who snatched it holds the axe high, intending to summon Boron by shouting his name...nothing happens. The villains laugh at him, one of them snorting derisively about how he forgot to say "Arise," after which of course the hero repeats the incantation, giving them the key to defeating the bad guys' plot.
  • Dads Army, regarding Pike's name:

 "Don't tell him, Pike!"

  • A particularly clunky example occurs in a second-season episode of Lie to Me: a guy suspected of killing a woman named Connie claims to not know her husband, Eric. When asked if he'd ever been to Connie's house, the suspect immediately replies, "No, I've never been to Eric's wife's house." As an inadvertent slip, it seems oddly deliberate.
  • The Daleks and Cybermen have a variation in the Doctor Who episode "Doomsday".

 Cyberman: You will identify!

Dalek: Daleks do not obey orders!

Cyberman: You... have identified as Daleks.

  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Doctor Bashir's father comes into the public medical facility and proceeds to say to what he thinks is his son, "Don't worry, I'll never tell anyone <detailed explanation of big secret>" Slightly more of an accidental public confession, but wins extra idiot points for pretty much explicitly I'll Never Say What I'm Saying Right Now.

 Amsha: What he's trying to say is, we would never do anything to jeopardise your career.

Richard: And just so there's no misunderstanding, I give you my word that at no time in our interview with Doctor Zimmerman will we ever mention or even hint at the fact that you were genetically enhanced as a child.

Amsha: Jules, you can trust us. Your father and I have kept the secret of your DNA resequencing for almost twenty-five years and we're not going to let it out now.


 Penny: (inside a restaurant) Look, why is it so hard for you to keep one little secret?

Sheldon: I'm constitutionally incapable. That's why I was refused clearance for a very prestigious government research fellowship at a secret military super-collider, located beneath a fake agricultural station 12.5 miles south-east of Traverse City, Michigan.

Penny: (Jaw Drop)

Sheldon: Which you did not hear about from me.

  • Top Gear parodies this. Very often they'll take their cars (supercars or otherwise) to a manufacturer's "top-secret road-testing facility" while the camera pans over the facility's address. That is, if Jeremy doesn't outright say the address himself, pausing to let the audience take notes.
  • From Eureka:

 Sheriff Carter: So... what? You're taking credit, but you had help? I'm guessing from somebody who'd want to hurt the new sheriff?

Dr. Fielding: No! ... Marguerite would never harm anyone!

  • From Glee, when Brittany is asking Will embarrassing questions.

 Will: Brittany, who told you to ask these?!

Brittany: Miss Sylvester says I'm not at liberty to say.

  • The 1950s show House Party (redone by Bill Cosby as Kids Say the Darndest Things) was hosted by Art Linkletter, who'd interview children in hopes they'd say something amusing; one of his favorite tricks was to ask "What did your mother tell you not to say today?"
  • The Fast Show featured the character of Janine, a Dumb Blonde teenage single mother, who refuses to disclose the identity of her baby's father because "it's not fair to grass on your headmaster."



 Cyrano: I loved you not.

Roxane: You loved me not?

Cyrano: 'Twas he!

Roxane: You loved me!

Cyrano: No!

Roxane: See! how you falter now!

Cyrano: No, my sweet love, I never loved you!


 He lives not now that knows me to be in love; yet I am in love; but a team of horse shall not pluck that from me; nor who 'tis I love; and yet 'tis a woman; but what woman, I will not tell myself; and yet 'tis a milkmaid.


Video Games

  • In Street Fighter Alpha 3, this is how Birdie reveals Shadoloo's headquarters to Chun Li.
  • Invoked in Batman: Arkham Asylum, when Harley Quinn says, regarding the Joker's location: "You'll never find him! He's in a secret lab in the gardens and... aw, crap!" Of course, Bats already knew, so this just served as another item on the Humiliation Conga she was currently going through.
    • In a Call Back, Harley does this once again in the second game by not telling Batman about the Freeze Tech in the boiler room, and again in the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC by not telling Robin about the secret room she and many of her mooks are hiding in.
  • Final Fantasy VII plays with this trope a bit, if this is the right trope; Elena doesn't exactly tell you what she's denying, but she does continue to tell you the enemy's plans verbatim after being told explicitly that she talks too much...for telling you the enemy's plans verbatim.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Deliberately invoked in Sonic Battle, where Eggman states, very loudly, "They'll never find me in Gimme Shelter!" However, Eggman was actually trying to trick Knuckles and Emerl to "follow" him to Gimme Shelter.
    • Also happens in Sonic Rush Adventure; apparently, Captain Whisker is that dumb.
    • Also happens in Sonic Adventure 2 when Eggman finally has Sonic and Tails where he wants them, and just needs the real Chaos Emerald to complete his scheme. Sonic sees through it. Tails... not so much.

 Eggman: Did you really think you could trick me with that fake Emerald?

Tails: So... how did you know it wasn't the real one?

Sonic: Tails!

Eggman: Because You Just Told Me, Fox Boy!

To Eggman's credit, he did know there was a fake Emerald, due to him having 6 and there being 2 more aboard the ARK (and there are only seven Emeralds).

Knuckles: How do we know we can trust you enough to tell you that Sonic and Tails are a few levels down?


 Kyon: Sorry! Kyon's on a secret mission right now. I can't tell you my name.

Aschen: ... So, Kyon, what were you doing in a place like this?

Kyon: Wha--!? D-Did you read my mind!? Are you a psychic robot!?

Aschen: Yes.

  • In The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, there are two girls on Windfall Island who embody this trope. They "won't" tell you anything, not even for two Rupees!
    • And in The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass, a Goron tells you that, since you're an outsider, he shouldn't tell you that the Elder's home is right over there, in this spot on your map! (Of course, the home is a big and obvious cave anyway.)
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant
    • When Yuri and company reach Roger Bacon's house, Lenny appears to tell taunt them by saying Roger's been kidnapped. Yuri tricks Lenny into blabbing by claiming Lenny doesn't know where he's been taken, annoying him to the point where he vehemently tells them Roger's in Florence, Italy just to prove he does know. He then slumps to the ground, mouth agape, and sobs at what an idiot he's been.
    • Yuri tries the exact same trick on Veronica later on when trying to figure out where their leader, Nicolai, went. She pretends to fall for it before responding with "That's right. I don't know. What kind of idiot would fall for that stupid trick?!", making Lenny feel like a complete jackass in the process.
  • Commonly done by the villains in the Pokémon games.
  • During the tutorial in City of Villains, Operative Jenkins tells the Longbow agents that have him pinned, "I'm a trained Arachnos soldier, you won't get me to spill the name of <player name> that easy!"
  • In Mother 3, Alec confronts Lucas regarding Claus's whereabouts (this is before Lucas becomes a Heroic Mime). He says:

 Alec: Don't tell me Claus went after that detestable Drago to try to...

Lucas: Okay. I won't. I also won't tell you he grabed Dad's knife and ran off into the mountains to try and kill the Drago.

Alec: It's a good thing you raised him to be honest, Flint.


Web Animation

  • Red vs. Blue: Recreation has Sarge pulling several in a row early in the series, when trying to warn Donut, "captured" by Caboose, not to tell him about their new vehicle or hologram chamber. Of course, since this is Caboose we're dealing with, nothing comes of it.

Web Comics

  • The Order of the Stick
    • Thog has a slight variation — he gloats along with Nale about how the heroes will never be able to turn a petrified Celia back to normal... so long as they don't have the scroll Nale is carrying.
    • In the Prequel On the Origin of PCs, Elan has an exceptionally long and detailed instance:

 Elan: Sir, I'm not about to tell an innkeep I just met about the priceless antique shield Sir Francois carries, or the pouch of rare gems he keeps hidden in his saddlebags, of his purse filled with platinum pieces that he hides in his left boot when he sleeps.


 Jim: I'll never tell you how we stole the the plans! Or if we did steal them. Which I'm not saying.

  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You: Umesh.

 Desmond: How come you and Fang aren't fighting anymore?

Umesh: What? No! I've never even had sex! How dare you sir!


Web Original

Western Animation


 Pieman: No trap can hold Homer Simpson! Uh, but I'm not Homer Simpson... I'm the Pieman! Homer Simpson away! I mean, the Pieman.

    • On the advice of our lawyers, we swear we have never heard of a musical based on the life of Eva Perón.
    • There's a much more extended example: "Oh, I'm sorry. I can't divulge information about that customer's secret illegal account. (hangs up the phone) Oh, crap. I shouldn't have said he was a customer. Oh, crap. I shouldn't have said it was a secret. Oh, crap! I certainly shouldn't have said it was illegal. Ah, it's too hot today."
  • In Invader Zim:

 Zim: I'm infecting this city with genetically enhanced vermin, but you'll never know.

Dib: You just told me.



 Dennis: Plankton was very specific.

Spongebob: Plankton?

Dennis: For some reason, he wanted me to step on you.

Patrick: Step on us?

Dennis: Yeah, that way you'll never find out he stole the crown!


Dennis: Perhaps I've said too much...

    • There also a variation with Mr. Krabs.

 Mr. Krabs: Well, you can't. That door will only open if I say "Open"! (cue Face Palm)

  • Seen in an episode of Lucky Luke, unsurprisingly by Averell.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnic captured Tails and used him as a bargaining chip to convince Sonic to deliberately lose a race, which will have every member of a sheep race put into slavery. It works until Sonic demands Grounder (his opponent) to reveal where Tails is. Grounder responds, "You'll never find him under the arena."
  • The classic in this genre: Private Snafu - Spies, from a series of WWII training films. "Private Snafu has a military secret which he tells us he will never tell." Directed by Chuck Jones, written by Dr. Seuss.
  • This was done in a Tweety & Sylvester cartoon. Sylvester has immobilized the dogs in a dog pound, and Tweety wants to know how to break the spell. Sylvester's reply: "You expect me to tell you that the only way to wake them up is with a police whistle?"
  • In one Danger Mouse episode, Penfold is hypnotized into going with Danger Mouse in a roller coaster ride and not telling anyone it was a trap. While in trance, he constantly mentioned in front of Danger Mouse he'd never tell anyone it was a trap. Because of how much the show follows the Rule of Funny, Danger Mouse didn't suspect a thing until Penfold broke free from the trance and "told" him it was a trap.
  • In an episode of Goof Troop, Goofy tells a group of criminals, "I'll tell you where I live, but I'll never tell you where my next door neighbor Pete lives".
  • It happened to Slushhead at least once in The New Adventures of He-Man. During a peace meeting with the Galactic Guardians, he slips the fact that the meeting is just a diversion while Skeletor and Flogg attack Primus.