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Jorgen: Turner, you're in BIG trouble! That's no excuse for what you have done!
Timmy: Jorgen, I can explain! I got a little careless and I messed up! Please, don't take my fairies away from me!
Jorgen: What are you talking about?
Timmy: What are you talking about?
Jorgen: I'm talking about the fact you wished up an amusement park in your backyard and didn't invite me! You know how much I love the swan boats!
Timmy: ....YES, I DO!
—The Fairly Odd Parents, Meet the OddParents
Alice has been acting suspicious. Bob knows she's up to something, watches her, and...comes to the wrong conclusion. He confronts Alice with what he thinks he knows, and Alice, to keep him from discovering her real secret, lets Bob think he got it right. May lead to a Maintain the Lie to keep Bob from catching on.
Sometimes Bob confronts Alice with a vague phrase like "I know your secret", and each of them thinks the other is talking about something different until Bob (it's always Bob) comes right out and says what he thinks the secret is.
- In a series of Twix commercials, a man lies to a woman to get her to come home with him. When they get to his place, it's a mess.
Man: I've been robbed!
Anime and Manga
- In the supplementary manga set before Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha's second season, while Nanoha, Alisa, and Suzuka watched a tape sent by Fate, a girl from another world whom Nanoha befriended, Alisa asked Nanoha a question that threatened to crack the Masquerade wide open.
Alisa: What country is Fate from?
- Subverted in Victorian Romance Emma: Adele does this to comfort and cover for Emma after a party. Emma gets drunk and lets her secret slip when she ends up crying over William. Adele gets it, but simply escorts Emma to her room with only a "Liquor can be overwhelming if you've never had it before."
- The English dub of Shin Chan gives us this:
Shin: What's 'exasjulate (ejaculate)' mean? Some type of lady face cream?
- Code Geass, when Lelouch encounters an opponent he can't fight (Nunnally), resulting in a Ten-Minute Retirement:
Shirley: You just seem sort of down.
- Arguably, Lelouch does this to Rolo: as Rolo is dying, he tells Lelouch that he knew Lelouch was lying about trying to kill him; Lelouch "admits" that Rolo is right to allow him a peaceful death. The alternate interpretation is that Lelouch actually did forgive Rolo at that point, and considered him a brother.
- This also applies to how the other Black Knights view his relationship with C.C. While they assume she's his Dark Mistress she's in fact far from it, but he doesn't bother to correct them. C.C., on the other hand, tries to set the record straight with Tamaki, but he doesn't believe her.
- Mahou Sensei Negima has Evangeline doing this during her fight with Setsuna during the tournament. She decides that Setsuna is getting too soft because of her friendships, and tries to force her to decide between her sword and her happiness. Setsuna believes it's a Secret Test of Character and ends up Taking A Third Option. Afterward, this conversation happens:
Setsuna: The choices you gave me — it wasn't that I needed strength to defeat you, but what I did need to break through was to truly realize the power of my own will! That was the answer, wasn't it?!
- In The Goon, federal agents have been investigating the ties between the titular character and his boss, the infamous and secretive mobster Labrazzio, in whose name The Goon has been controlling crime in the city. Eventually, the agents discover a tombstone with Labrazzio's name on it, and, recalling the Goon's story about how Labrazzio once hid out at the freakshow where the Goon grew up and took him in when his aunt was killed in a shootout, confront the Goon with their realisation that the Goon must have created the grave as a fake to throw people off of Labrazzio's scent. The Goon being perfectly aware that he actually beat Labrazzio's brains out with a rock after the mobster mocked his aunt for dying, then stole Labrazzio's "favor diary" and claimed to be Labrazzio's new #1 in order to steal Labrazzio's place without anyone being the wiser, invokes this trope while making plans to destroy the tombstone, lest someone smarter figure things out.
- Spider-Man: How Peter gets out of most situations when a disasters turn up and he simply has to leave the scene only to have Spider-Man show up a few seconds later.
- This is played for laughs in Oh God Not Again.
Sirius: Top box. It was part of my reparation. Of course, the rest of it went to buying Harry a Firebolt but...
- In What Women Want, Nick Marshall is at one point confronted by Lola who claims to know the secret why he's so understanding of women: he's gay! In reality, it's because he can read the minds of women. Nick goes along with the story, mostly because Lola's thoughts reveal that a rejection from Nick would support her fears that she was undesirable and ruin her self-esteem.
- In Shrek, when Fiona seems to be terrified because nightfall is upon them, Donkey exclaims: "Wait a minute, I know what's going on here! You're afraid of the dark, aren't you?". Fiona agrees that that's the case, when the truth is that she turns into an ogre by night.
- In American Beauty, Ricky Fitz's authoritative (and homophobic) dad sees Ricky through the window giving his neighbor some weed. From his vantage point, it looked like Ricky was giving him oral sex, and looking through some of Ricky's recorded videos of his neighbor working out, he had suspicions that Ricky was gay. When he confronted Ricky about his homosexuality (Ricky is actually straight), Ricky admitted to giving oral sex for money because it was better than his father finding out he was selling drugs. Either that or he had just had enough of his dad's crap.
- It's actually both. Leaked drafts of the script reveal that Ricky had been looking for an excuse to get kicked out of the house for a while.
- It's actually in the movie itself. The father threatens to kick his son out if he's gay, the son asks if he's serious, which the father confirms, so the son tells him he's gay.
- In The New Guy, Danielle confronts "Gil" (AKA a post-makeover Dizzy) with "I'm onto you". He thinks that she's talking about his previous identity as his last school's Butt Monkey. She thinks that he's actually a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. He decides to play along with that.
- An interesting variation occurs in Home Alone, where Kevin tells a man dressed in a Santa suit "I'm old enough to know you're not the real Santa Claus, but I also know that you work for him." The Santa actor just goes with it.
- In one of Robert Asprin's Myth books, Don Bruce, a Mob boss, comes to see Skeeve, who has been quietly sabotaging Mob operations, and says he knows Skeeve is the reason the Mob hasn't succeeded in moving into the dimension of Deva. He lists the evidence: Skeeve knows the territory, has connections on Deva, etc. His conclusion? They should have hired Skeeve to work for them in the first place. This echoes an earlier scene in which the Devan Merchants' Association hires Skeeve to defend them from the Mob, not knowing he was the one who originally brought the Mob to Deva. To cover up the truth, Skeeve agrees to work for both sides, so he has to maintain a balance between working for the Mob and limiting Mob activity on Deva.
- In Allegiance, five stormtroopers end up as fugitives from the Empire, but remain Imperials themselves, remembering the oath they made to protect Imperial citizens. When they stop at a spaceport on an out-of-the-way world and the local authorities fine them needlessly and confiscate their speeder bikes, they snoop around and find that the local authorities are very corrupt, confiscating weapons from the citizens, shooting protesters, and basically trying to milk money from anyone and everyone. The local citizens aren't allowed to petition higher authorities and can't do much themselves, since they don't have blasters. So the stormtroopers take care of that problem for them. The locals are pleased, and believe the stormtroopers were sent officially.
Atmino: "You get back you bait all right?"
- In the Discworld novels, Vimes (and a few other Watchmen) play this line when someone takes a guess at the identity of the Watch's famous werewolf, and usually they guess it's Nobby. (They're wrong.)
- Miles in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga is the king of this. He just keeps letting people assume things about him, and pretty soon, he has his own mercenary army.
- Percy Jackson guesses that Thalia Grace freaked out while driving the sun-chariot because her mom died in a car crash. Thalia lets it ride because it's better than admitting the daughter of Zeus, god of the Sky, is afraid of heights.
- In John Dies at the End when main character David Wong takes Amy back to his place where it looks as though someone broke in she says "They threw laundry all over the floor!" David responds "Yeah and they wore them first! The bastards!"
- Vin pulls this when Kliss assumes she's been trying to drive a certain house into bankruptcy so House Renoux can corner the weapons market...when Vin is really part of a conspiracy to throw the city into civil war and overthrow the Lord Ruler.
Live Action TV
- Pushing Daisies: Olive thinks Chuck faked her own death. In fact, Chuck was really dead and was resurrected by the pie maker.
- Also from Pushing Daisies, when Olive notices that Chuck and Ned never touch each other:
Olive: Do you have some sort of deadly food allergy to Ned?
- Occurs loads in Friends. When Monica and Chandler are looking for a new house, they don't tell anyone for fear that it would upset them. As a result, Phoebe and Rachel see Chandler get into the car of an attractive woman (the real-estate agent), follow them to a house in the suburbs, and conclude that they are having an affair. In this case both Monica and Chandler let Phoebe and Rachel labour under this delusion for half the episode before revealing the truth.
- Another notable one is when Ross has been practicing telling a story (Joey told him it would get a woman to have sex with him) in front of a video camera. When Rachel walks in, she asks him "Were you just talking to yourself?" He answers, out loud, "That's less embarrassing. Yes, yes I was."
- Used as a one-off joke in Firefly, "Our Mrs. Reynolds". After Mal kisses The Vamp and is knocked out by her lipstick, Inara kisses him in grief, thinking he's dead...and gets knocked out. When the rest of the crew finds and revives them, she claims she slipped and hit her head. At the end is this exchange:
Mal: C'mon, tell the truth: You didn't just trip, did you?
- Of course, it's also established that Inara also accepts female clients.
- Dexter: Rita thinks Dexter is a heroin addict, which he goes along with to keep from having to explain that he's a serial killer. Later in the season, Dexter is brought to the station by the FBI after finding his blood slides missing. He assumes that he's been exposed as the Bay Harbor Butcher, but in fact the agents are there to protect him because his nemesis Sergeant Doakes is suspected of the murders.
- Merlin: Morgana tells Merlin she'll keep his secret, and Merlin thinks she's talking about him being a sorcerer, but it turns out she thinks he's in love with Gwen. (Which, admittedly, was also true.)
- Hannah Montana Rico is blackmailing Miley for the majority of the episode claiming to know her secret. Thinking the secret is involving her other life as Hannah Montana, she agrees to meet and discuss terms with him. When he reveals the secret that he knows is that she carries a teddy bear around with her, Miley feigns being upset while being relieved that he knows nothing.
- Subverted in Prison Break. Michael burns his back while wearing a guard uniform for part of his escape plan, and when fibers from it are picked out of his wound, the warden assumes that a guard has been abusing him. However, going along with this would also hinder Michael's plan, so he has to just say he doesn't know what they're talking about.
- But only until he manages to pin it on Geary, whose removal is beneficial to the plan.
- In an episode of The Closer, after Brenda uses Obfuscating Stupidity to sabotage another detective's interrogation of a suspect because she wants to be the one to solve the murder, her boss suspects there's something she's not telling him. When he guesses that she has info from the FBI, she runs with that.
- This happens frequently on Chuck. His sister says that she knows Chuck's secret, and he panics because he assumes she means the fact that he's a spy, but it turns out that she suspects him of cheating on his girlfriend. His best friend warns him about spies in the store, and he panics because he assumes the spies in question are his handlers, but his friend is really just being melodramatic about the Sitcom Arch Nemesis. This is usually just for quick laughs rather than an extended plot.
- In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina is trying to retrieve a magical duplicator box she accidentally sold to Mr. Kraft (who is using it to duplicate a lot of gold bars). However, Sabrina is having a magical crisis that is causing parts of her body to rot (long story), which happens in front of Mr Kraft (but heals at that point as well). Mr Kraft accuses her of being...a space alien. Sabrina says "OK!" and turns into an armored humanoid alien, congratulates Kraft on recognizing her despite having "taken the form" of one of his students and orders him to return "their" box and give ALL the gold to charity (threatening him with "the probe" after his reluctance).
- Subverted in Castle; during "A Rose For Everafter", Castle has ignored Beckett's warnings about him seeing his ex-girlfriend because she could be a murder suspect and has met her. The next day, Beckett lays into Castle about how he's been going behind her back and refuses to listen to her instructions and orders — and then readjusts her chair, accusing Castle of sitting it in and adjusting it when she's not around. Castle is momentarily relived, but eventually his guilt overcomes him and he confesses that he saw his ex-girlfriend. Turns out Beckett knew — she has surveillance photos — and the chair thing was just her playing games with him.
- The Big Bang Theory, "The Love Car Displacement":
Bernadette: Is something bothering you?
- Grey's Anatomy, "The Time Warp"(6x15):
- Skins: Naomi and Emily has danced around eachother for the entire season. They are at a party, both being three sheets into the wind.
Naomi: [Motioning between the bottles in her hand] So, what do you want?
Kurt: I'm in love with someone. *stares longingly at Finn*
- In No Ordinary Family, when Stephanie's parents visit, Jim's habit of frequently sneaking out to fight crime initially leads to him being Mistaken for Cheating by Stephanie's father, which leads Jim and Steph to consider telling her parents about their powers. But as they're about to do so, Stephanie's father announces that he's figured out that what Jim's actually been sneaking out to do is help the homeless, so they let him continue believing that.
- From Community episode Home Economics, Pierce gets angry at Britta's ex boyfriend (whose band he recently joined) about not getting his share of the credit for a song they wrote (an insulting song about Britta caused by the ex's Creator Breakdown regarding the events in "Social Psychology"). Britta watches their argument from a distance without hearing the words, leading to this exchange:
Britta: Pierce, did you just defend my honor?
- The Thin Blue Line episode "Honey Trap" featured Detective Inspector Derek Grim and Inspector Raymond Fowler using Constable Maggie Habib as a Honey Trap to capture a criminal. Fowler's girlfriend, Sergeant Patricia Dawkins, thought he and Maggie were having an affair. In retaliation, Dawkins broke something valuable to Fowler, who claimed it represented all the values he stands for. She then replied he doesn't stand for any and mentions knowing what he and Maggie are doing. Wrongly believing she figured out about the Honey Trap, he comments about it, revealing to her the truth. She then let him think he was right, and he tells her he agrees with her reaction.
- Pair of Kings: After a giant spider is destroyed and the Kings got dirtied by it. When Brady asked asked Boomer if that's the reason Boomer said he needed a change of underwear, Boomer hesitated before answering 'Yes'.
- Kamen Rider Fourze: Ryusei has a Freak-Out during a special exam, and his friends think that he only faked it so that he'll have more free time on his hands, thus being available for Zodiarts attacks. Wanting to keep up his stoic image, Ryusei just goes along with their idea...
- Ford Cruller of Psychonauts was severely psychologically damaged in an important battle years ago, and becomes scatterbrained, to say the least, when taken away from the large levels of Psitanium located underneath the camp where the game takes place. When he leaves the metal, he takes on split personalities who have no trace of Cruller's intelligence and wherewithal. He tells Raz, the protagonist, that this is because he wants to keep his identity a secret, so he 'pretends' not to recognize Raz. Cruller doesn't reveal the real reason until much later in the game.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, Case 4, this is what happens if Phoenix presents the profile of "John Doe" to his client. He knowingly plays along with Phoenix's misinformation about Doe's identity - i.e. that he's merely a butler.
- Used in Fate/stay night, when Issei comes over, and wonders why Saber is there.
- Fire Emblem: Sword of Seals uses this in Hugh's recruitment conversation, when he mentions that he needs the money for his grandmother, Roy immediately asks if she's sick. "Uh, yeah, really sick". He later mentions that "she gets really bad headaches around her back" as an "example of the pain" that she suffers from. Roy suspects that something's up, but doesn't press the issue.
- In Fallout 3, the player character often comes across people who are either a bit kooky, have a bit of a misguided view of the world as it was / is or are quite crazy. In the dialogue options, there's usually at least one which enables the player character to politely humour the NPC in order to enable the conversation to progress. There's also usually an option for the player character to simply bluntly and rudely point out how crazy the NPC is.
- In Alpha Protocol, making Mike play along with the crazy is the best way to curry favour with resident completely insane Conspiracy Theorist Steven Heck.
- Girl Genius, in this example. Also a meta-Sure Why Not.
- Order of the Stick does it here, after what was supposed to be a Badass Boast:
Vaarsuvius: Oh, forget it. It would take longer to make you understand than it would to research the next spell.
- An earlier one:
Roy: Too bad you froze Elan by accident.
Kid Rayne: Take me to the barbecue, I was learning about fire.
- In Ménage à 3 Gary thinks he lost his blanket while sleepwalking. Zii, not ready to tell Gary what really happened goes for the "Sure, Why Not?" line.
- Dr. Schlock tries to use this trope in this Sluggy Freelance strip. It doesn't work.
- Became a Running Gag Catch Phrase on The Fairly Odd Parents to the point where they could parody it:
Vicky: Hey, this microphone uses technology to make your voice deep and irresistible.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has Iroh deciding to teach Zuko a powerful yet dangerous technique. As Zuko tries to understand why they're drinking tea instead of practising, he comes up with the explanation that it's because tea is a relaxing drink and will allow him to do better when he's taught.
Iroh: Oh yeah, good point! ...I mean, yes.
- Used in the Danny Phantom episode with the ghost disease. The ghost disguised as a doctor uses the phrase at least twice.
- In one episode of Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-lot, Grizzle attempts to capture the Care Bears by telling them he's turned over a new leaf and has a gift for them, which is actually a codeword-activated trap. When he accidentally sets off the trap and gets captured along with everyone else, the Care Bears realize he hadn't changed at all, but their visiting child friend, McKenna, interprets the situation as Grizzle "giving them the gift of togetherness." Grizzle very quickly agrees.
- In My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure, Sweetiebelle and Cheerilee try to cover for Cheerilee, who has gone after the missing Twinkle Wish, when the mayor asks where she is. Sweetiebelle says she's gone ballooning, which the mayor doesn't like the sound of, so Scootaloo quickly changes it to "she's gone to get balloons." The mayor takes this to mean Cheerilee is getting decorations for the festival, and Sweetiebelle replies brightly, "If you say so."
- In the Sushi Pack episode "Red Hot Chili Planet," Wasabi runs away from home and is caught by The Hot Squad. They accuse him of being sent to spy on them, which Wasabi truthfully denies. So they ask if he's there to join them instead. Wasabi thinks for a moment and then agrees.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Chez Platypus," Perry the Platypus attempts to do his usual "break down the door" entrance, only to get his foot stuck in the door. Dr. Doofenshmirtz starts to help him out, commenting, "You're really trapped in here...just like I planned!" And then he goes off to describe his latest scheme, leaving Perry with his foot in the door.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Beezy dressing like Jimmy, telling Heloise "It's lucky you had an extra set of Jimmy clothes." Heloise mummers "Yeah, lucky..." before entering and reveling in her Jimmy-themed Stalker Shrine.
- From The Simpsons (Homer is being held at gunpoint by the local Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club, who believe him to be Krusty the Klown, when the real Krusty bursts in)
Homer: Krusty! You came to save me!
- Also from The Simpsons, in the episode Last Exit to Springfield, Homer has to excuse himself during a union negotiation with Burns to use the bathroom. This leads to an Overly Long Gag of Homer looking through doors to find the bathroom, which cuts back to Burns discussing how the negotiation is going with Smithers. When Homer comes back:
Burns: I take it you found the bathroom?
- In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Swarm of the Century," the town of Ponyville is plagued by a swarm of parasprites, which destroy the town on the day that Princess Celestia is supposed to visit. However, Pinkie Pie manages to get rid of the 'sprites by putting together a one-man band and leading the bugs out of town, pied piper-style, just as the Princess arrives on the outskirts of town. Celestia assumes the procession is a parade in her honor, and Twilight Sparkle quickly assures her that it is, indeed, a parade.
- Alternatively, Celestia was well aware of what was going on and pretended to misunderstand to allow Twilight to save face.
- The Family Guy episode "When You Wish Upon A Weinstein": Max Weinstein says he cannot eat Lois's marshmallow and fish casserole. Lois assumes because it's not kosher, and after looking at it Weinstein lets her think that.
Max: ...yeah, let's go with that.
- In the Tuff Puppy episode "Snap Dad", Snaptrap starts dating Dudley's mother and says they met at the laundromat.
Dudley's Mom: No grown man should be walking around with ketchup on his shirt.
- In Kim Possible episode, The Mentor of Our Discontent, Drakken has Shego don a blonde wig and dress in order to distract Martin Smarty, whilst he and Frugal Lucre break into his office. The distraction works, but Smarty becomes just a little too enamoured with Shego for her tastes, leading to this exchange;
Martin Smarty: Well, hello...Being a single father such as I am, it would be my privilege to assist you, Miss...?
- There's also the the misunderstanding Kim and Ron had over the Magno-Rings in Car Alarm;
*As Kim is about to jump out of the Sloth onto the Kepler*
Ron: ...I had nothing to do with this!
- This is how the Pound Puppies get a puppy adopted in one episode of the 2010 series:
A puppy jumps into the arms of a debarking airline pilot
- In Young Justice, when Superboy needs a civilian name, Martian Manhunter suggests "Kent". Not privy to Superman's identity, Miss Martian and Superboy assumed he was referring to the late Kent Nelson whom they had met earlier.
Superboy: "Wait, shouldn't I be 'Conner Nelson' then?"
- King of the Hill: When Dale had a dream that clued him to the fact his wife cheated on him with John Redcorn and her son Joseph was indeed a result of this, he concluded instead that he was a Native American like John Redcorn, who let Dale think he did interpret the dream correctly.
- This is a good tactic to use when you're running a Dungeons and Dragons game: if the players figure out something and they're wrong, but it wouldn't do any harm to change things so that they're right, just go with it: it's no extra work for you and makes your players feel clever for "working it out".
- Alternatively, you could let them think they got it right, and surprise them with just how wrong they were. Sort of like what could happen in a good story.
- Also a good tactic when the DM asks if you did something in preparation. "Did you do X before Y?" "...yeah, sure."
- Though this can backfire; it is especially entertaining when the players start to say "Sure, let's go with that", then get that deer-in-the-headlights look because they just realized the DM might actually be checking to see if they did something that would insta-kill them.
- Chuck Palahniuk tells the story of a time he was on a plane and the flight attendant said he'd figured out that Fight Club was really about a group of guys watching two men have sex in a bath house. Pahlaniuk said his response was basically "Yeah, sure, why not?" Guy gave him free drinks for the rest of the flight.
- This tends to crop up on the Not Always Right blog when the stupidity of the various customers has gotten the employee in question so bewildered / annoyed / Mind Screwed that they just want to get the person out of the shop as quickly as possible.
- i.e. "Bring The Pain"(2x05), when he and George were trapped in an elevator with a heart patient who George ended up saving after Alex wussed out