Ubiquitous deceptions

When I was writing up Paul Ekman’s book Telling Lies, I started to try to make a list of all the movies and TV shows that were arguably related, then realized that there were too many for the list to be coherent.

Now that I think about it, it’s hard for any plot not to involve a deception somewhere along the way. Entertainment wouldn’t be entertaining if there were no mysteries and no surprises.

Assessing the hundreds of movies and shows in my collection to find out which have a strong lying theme is a big task, but here’s a first stab at listing them.

  • Oblivion (2013): you are not who you think
  • Shark Tale (2004): the snowballing consequences of lying
  • Accepted (2006): lying about college acceptance
  • A Thousand Words (2012): misuse of words
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002): being a con artist
  • The Usual Suspects (1995): lies about criminal guilt
  • Chicago (2002): lies about criminal guilt
  • The Matrix (1999): the world is a computer simulation
  • The Truman Show (1998): the world is a stage
  • Pinocchio (1940): lying makes your nose grow
  • Liar Liar (1997): pathological lying
  • Lie to Me (2009–2010): ascertaining truth as a career
  • Breaking Bad (2008–2013): lies about criminal guilt
  • House (2004–2014): everybody lies
  • My Fair Lady (1964): rags to riches
  • Pygmalion (1938): rags to riches
  • The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997): mistaken identity
  • Mulan (1998): gender masquerade
  • Mulan (2009): gender masquerade
  • The Incredibles (2004): superheroes in disguise
  • Speed Racer (2008): disguise
  • Gattaca (1997): impersonation
  • The Princess Bride (1987): disguise
  • Anastasia (1997): stolen/lost identity
  • Impostor (2002): aliens are among us
  • The Mask of Zorro (1998): disguise
  • Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009): aliens are among us
  • Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993–1997): disguise
  • Batman Begins (2005): disguise