6 TV Narrators Who Flat-Out Lied To Us

You can't trust anyone these days

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It may feel like the unreliable narrator is a relatively recent invention, considering how many shows currently rely on the narrative technique. But characters whose every utterance feels like a complete lie have been with us for a while. Possibly because they can lead to some pretty intense plot-twists, possibly because they're fun characters to write.

But whatever the reason for their existence, here's a whole bunch of TV characters you should probably never, ever trust.

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1. How I Met Your Mother - Ted

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Ted is the worst. While telling the story of his dating life at great length, in uncomfortable detail, he clearly lies about a whole bunch of stuff. Whether he's describing Robin and Barney as being hugely fat after they get together, or making himself sound like a more decent person, Ted lies loads.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Andrew

In the episode 'Storyteller,' former villain turned prisoner Andrew tells the story of Buffy and her adventures, recording them for posterity to camera like some old-school TV host.

Unfortunately, it's his version of events – which make him look better. A last-minute twist reveals the whole episode is about Andrew telling stories to cover the reality of the episode's events.

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3. Game Of Thrones - various characters

George RR Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire books are potentially full of unreliable narrators. It's something that's a bit harder to achieve on the TV show, what with the lack of voice-over and everything. But the showrunners have found a way to incorporate the concept into their show, via the medium of Blu-ray extras.

The GoT extras include various histories of Westeros, which are narrative by different characters, all with their own biased takes on the events on the show. Tywin thinks the sack of King's Landing was an honourable event, Ned Stark thinks it was a crime, Viserys sees it as an injustice. Different perspectives on the same event, and who's to say who's right?

4. Red Dwarf - Rimmer

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In the episode 'Blue' the gang takes a trip into Rimmer's mind, via an artificial-reality version of Rimmer's diary in which he describes himself as being the brave, cool and clever leader of the group. Doesn't get more unreliable than that, narration-wise (if you've never seen the show, Rimmer is the actual worst). Basically, never trust Rimmer.

5. Legion - David Haller

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X-Men spin-off series Legion focuses on the mutant David Haller, who apparently suffers from schizophrenia. Haller's illness (if he does indeed have one) combined with his mutant powers warp reality – which means audience members can never really trust what they see.

The narrator who lies to himself as much as others is a big part of the show, and creator Noah Hawley has talked about how it's incorporated into the narrative.

"You have to solve the mystery," Hawley says. "The narrator has to become reliable. It's a lot to ask an audience to take a perpetually unsatisfying journey where it's like you're never going to know for sure. It's another thing to say, 'We're going to take a character out of confusion into clarity and an audience out of mystery into clarity.'

"That's the goal of it which is to say, there's a contract and you watch that first hour and you're like, 'I don't know. There's a devil with yellow eyes and there are these other elements that I'm not sure what they mean, but I trust the filmmaker and I know that I'm going to understand it eventually.' You do. It becomes clear by the end of the first year what's going on."

6. Mr Robot - Elliot Alderson

Spoiler alert for a TV show and an old movie, Mr Robot is basically Fight Club. Our protagonist Elliot Alderson imagines he's friends with someone called Mr Robot, who turns out to be his dead dad.

So far, so Tyler Durden. But the show takes the concept further. Because we see the show through the eyes of the unreliable narrator, we get lots of twists based on his perception of the world (in series two, we see him living at home under a strict routine, only later finding out he's actually in prison. Sadly, the internet figured out the twist fairly early, which lessened the impact of the moment (which you can see discussed in the video above).

From: Digital Spy