Looking for examples of unreliable narrators in television shows.

I either missed that, or don’t remember it. Is it in the same episode?

No. It is one of the very last things revealed in the entire show. Perhaps even in the series finale.

Oh, that makes sense then. I watched the entire series, beginning to end a looong time ago and now I just watch the reruns. I was just commenting to my sister that I almost never see the reruns from the last season on TV (IFC channel).

Leverage had an excellent Rashomon-style episode called, er, the Rashomon Job. The best part about it is Sophie’s exasperation at how they all hear her accent.

TV Tropes has loads of Rashmon episodes listed, but not this one.

I’m only halfway through season 1 but couldn’t resist clicking on the spoiler box.

How does that work, since she’s Michael’s twin?

Several episodes of Red Dwarf, iirc, altough I don’t recall which ones…


George and Lucille raised them to believe that they were twins, but Lindsay is actually something like 3 years older than Michael. The plotline involved the family business’s competitor Stan Sitwell (played by Ed Begley, Jr.) being in competition with the Bluths to adopt Lindsay way back when.

Well, if you really want to know…

She’s three years older than Michael. She finds out she’s adopted, and 40, not 37, which sends her into a hysterical spin that she’s old and washed up and will never find a decent husband. She tells Michael she wants to divorce Tobias and marry him (Michael.) Michael declines, telling her he’s not into “older women”.

ahhh, I remember that now.

Duplicate…don’t know how that happened!

Thanks both!

3 years is a difference they couldn’t have hidden, though. Bit odd.

I’ve never watched the Glenn Beck show, but this review sorta makes me want to check it out. They say it’s not really a talk show, but a “weird amalgamation of a daytime soap opera, a televangelist show, and a mystery show like Lost.”

That the example that tests the rule. As I said, it makes it unlikely. Indeed, most of the examples here are not unreliable narrators. The idea of an unreliable narrator is that you cannot trust him. But in, say Arrested Development, the narrator is trustworthy in every individual episode; it’s just that the story made changes that didn’t exist at the time that, on retrospect, turned out not to be true. The the narrator is not lying himself.

The original unreliable first person narrator on TV was George Burns, who would break character several times an episode to comment on what was going on. But Burns wasn’t deliberately misleading, he was switching between being involved in the story and viewing it as an outsider.

Greg House is occasionally an unreliable narrator.

There’s a Rashomon-style episode of X-files where Scully slaps around a witness.

Pretty much all movies or films where the main character is also the killer. The main examples that come to mind are Hide and Seek with Robert Deniro, and many, many horror movies.

When? He’s not generally a narrator.

I remember the episode at the end of the first season (“Three Stories,” maybe?) in which he was telling stories to a class of medical students, and in that case he was clearly leaving out a few facts and moving things around. But I cannot recall another episode of House in which he is the person telling the story. Of course, I haven’t seen them all.

There were a bunch of them where House was hallucinating events, which should qualify:

  1. After getting shot, he hallucinates the events of the rest of that episode, but in “reality,” he’s being taken to the ER for emergency surgery on the gunshot wound.
  2. He hallucinates the ghost of Wilson’s girlfriend, and takes a few episodes to figure out that she is him.
  3. When his drug use was highest, it was difficult to figure out what was real and what wasn’t.

I know what you mean, but House is not narrating the events of those episodes. That’s why I’d not say they qualify; House generally has no narrator. Contrariwise, if there were an episode of Star Trek which made it clear that Kirk was deliberately entering false info into his log, that would be him acting as unreliable narrator.

I think “unreliable narrator” doesn’t necessarily mean literal narration. If the events shown on screen from a particular character’s point of view are not true, that should count. In Rashomon, for example, they are (in story) narrating their point of view, but what’s shown on screen doesn’t include their actual words.

I’ve only watched the first season, but that would make sense. All throughout we’re being told that the main character is this great, popular guy and yet he’s so obviously a complete asshole. I kept wonder what in the world the writers were thinking, but it would make sense if – as the narrator – he was distorting reality.

I suspect that the writers just had an odd idea of coolness though.