10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture

Screenshots and images from their respective fandoms.
I love the reveal of a good character secret—especially those that come out of the blue and involve something integral to that character’s identity. Whether a character was innocent when thought of as guilty, a woman when it was assumed a man, or has a backstory that no one knows about, here are my ten favourite reveals from geek culture.

1. Sirius Black — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This is my favourite book from the Harry Potter series, and I remember being completely surprised by the twist ending when I read it for the first time. This murderer, Sirius Black, had been set up as Harry’s worst enemy and then turned out to be a loyal and loving character. Harry realizing he wouldn’t have to live at the Dursleys anymore, followed by Wormtail’s escape, is a heart-wrenching moment that I felt to my core.

2. Samus Aran — Metroid

Many gamers were totally floored by the reveal that Samus Aran is female that the end of the original Metroid game (released in 1986). During a time where female characters were often the princesses waiting in castles for rescue, this was a stereotype-blowing move, one that wasn’t even planned at the beginning. Partway through development, one of the developers asked, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” And the rest is gaming history.

3. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings

It might be common knowledge now, but Strider’s identity as the king of Gondor is a neat twist in Tolkien’s masterpiece. He may have paved the way for other fantasy characters struggling with their identity as royalty, and his struggle with following in his ancestor’s footsteps, afraid he’ll make the same mistakes, is a real issue many can relate to.

4. Luke & Leia – Star Wars

Oh, that awkward kiss. George was certainly determined to keep this one a secret till the last possible moment. I always liked the fact that, though Leia discovers she’s a Skywalker and is Force-sensitive, she doesn’t drop everything to become a Jedi, but continues in her role as leader and diplomat—the things she’s actually passionate about. And thankfully her “romance” with Luke didn’t go past a kiss, which means we didn’t have an angsty “I love you, but you’re my sister” side plot to sit through.

5. Shou Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist

This one should be categorized as “worst-kept secret,” as in the most horrendous, I-want-to-puke-at-how-horrible-you-really-are-when-I-thought-you-were-nice kind of secret. Possibly the most hated person in anime history, the fact that Tucker doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong is what gets me—”I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” he says to Ed. “This is how we progress. Human experimentation is a necessary step.”

6. Merlin – Merlin

This whole show revolves around Merlin’s secret identity as a magic user, which creates so many fun scenes and jokes. Merlin constantly has to humble himself and pretend to be stupid and powerless, even though he is always the hero who saves the day. His secret also adds a lot of heartache for Merlin, who believes Arthur will hate him if he discovers the truth.

7. Light – Death Note

Another show that revolves around a secret identity, Death Note gives us the perspective of a villain who thinks he’s right. The cat-and-mouse game he plays with L is the reason I kept watching, not because I liked him as a character or thought his secret was worth keeping.

8. The War Doctor – Doctor Who

This one came as a surprise to everyone, and I’m still confused about what it means or why they inserted an extra regeneration into the story—as if all the timey-wimey plots weren’t confusing enough! Does it mean THIS doctor is number 9, shifting all the other numbers after? Is he number 8.5? Whatever, John Hurt is cool.

9. Sheik – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

One of my favourite games of all time, I love that Zelda isn’t just a prize to be won in Ocarina of Time, but turns out to be this cool-looking, mysterious stranger who has power of her own and helps Link out when he needs it.

10. Gaius Baltar – Battlestar Galactica

The master of keeping secrets (and conversing with imaginary and real people at once), Baltar keeps his betrayal on the down-low for a surprising amount of time. I especially love the tension when someone on the Olympic Carrier knows about his unintentional collusion with the Cylons and is trying to get in touch with the President about it, and then the ship is destroyed.

That’s it from me! Who would you add to this list?

Allison Barron

Allison Barron

Art Director at Geekdom House
Allison is like Galadriel, offering wisdom where needed but turning treacherous as the sea when competitive games are involved. She manages Geekdom House's arts initiatives, including Area of Effect and Incantatem. She spends the rest of her time writing for Christ and Pop Culture and Think Christian, playing D&D, and exploring Hyrule, Middle-earth, or a galaxy far, far away.
Allison Barron