Actually, I Am Him

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Hmm, think he might have had this problem before?

Obi-Wan: Obi-Wan Kenobi? Obi-Wan. Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time.
Luke: I think my uncle knows him. He said he was dead.
Obi-Wan: Oh, he's not dead. Not yet.
Luke: Do you know him?
Obi-Wan: Well of course I know him! He's me.

A character, usually the protagonist, is looking for someone, often an older, wiser character. During the search, he meets a stranger, and the conversation turns to the sought-after character. The stranger will typically either respond, "Oh, I know him well..." or else act as if he's never heard of the person. Either way, in time it is revealed that this stranger is the sought-after character.

Often, the stranger is playing dumb about their true identity in order to assess the searcher's character and intentions, the idea being that the searcher's behavior will be more genuine in the presence of someone they perceive to be just an ordinary stranger. This can lead to a painful lesson for the searcher once he learns the truth about the stranger, making this a favorite form of introduction among Trickster Mentors.

Further confusion can arise if the sought-after character is of a different gender, race, species, etc. than the searcher was expecting, such as when a sought-after "doctor" turns out to be a woman scientist. Or maybe the searcher was just Expecting Someone Taller.

Can also be Luke, I Am Your Father if the sought-after character is the searcher's parent. See also You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With, Right in Front of Me, King Incognito, Actually, That's My Assistant, I Am One of Those, Too, and And That Little Girl Was Me.

Not to be confused with Because I'm Jonesy.

Given that this trope is about a plot twist, there be spoilers.

Examples of Actually, I Am Him include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens at the end of the first Baccano!! Light Novel, when a Japanese tourist in the frame story decides to ask the narrator (whom is assumed to be Maiza) where Firo is now, seeing as he's not present like everyone else is. "Maiza" responds...?

Isn't he right here?...Oh, That's right, I have yet to introduce myself. Well, normally with business associations, I just leave without having ever said my name...

  • In a particularly funny example, in Black Cat, Train eventually acquires an imposter, who the gang meets. Sven and Eve want to smack him upside the head, but Train listens to his wild stories with a look of wonder on his face, and eventually agrees to become the imposter's apprentice. When people challenge the imposter, Train steps up to the plate, claiming that the other guys aren't "worthy for [Train's] master to spit on." THEN the imposter notices the XIII tattoo, and the unique gun...
  • This is played with in Cowboy Bebop with Radical Edward, the Bebop crew expecting something like a 3-year-old, 7-foot alien genius that plays basketball. When Ed hacks into their computer and they ask who Radical Edward is, she responds in her perpetual adorable third person way of talking, "But Ed is Ed." In case it wasn't clear: Edward is very much a girl tacking on the "Assumed Wrong Gender" part of this trope.
    • Well, they really weren't sure what to expect. Jet's comment that Radical Edward was a "3-year-old, 7-foot alien genius that plays basketball" was just bitter sarcasm over the fact that he trooped all over the place asking questions and never once got two descriptions that matched up.
  • Death Note uses a variation, when the Yotsuba Group attempts to hire Eraldo Coil, the world's second greatest detective to hunt down L, the world's greatest detective. The police task force surveilling this is worried, but not L... because he is the detective Yotsuba is trying to hire. (Using three different names, L is the world's top three detectives.)

L: "I've found that people who try to find me usually fall for this."

  • A thorn in Edward's side in Fullmetal Alchemist, that people are more willing to believe that Alphonse is the infamous "Fullmetal Alchemist" and not him. (Al is a walking suit of armor...)
  • Played with in Howl's Moving Castle. It's not clear when Sophie realizes the strange young wizard is Howl himself.
  • Team Satomi's coach, Andre, in IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix turns out to be The Rocket.
    • Also, Team White Snow's captain isn't Zanak, it's Max, although it's easy to make the mistake since he's the Forward and all the other team captains are Forwards.
  • In the manga adaption of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link meets young Zelda, who has escaped from the castle and disguised herself as a commoner girl. When Link asks her about Princess Zelda's whereabouts, she tells him that she and Zelda are good friends and that she'd introduce him if he played with her for a whole day.
  • Guaranteed to happen three-quarters of the time in the Pokémon anime. This also applies to the games, to a lesser extent.
    • Subverted with Max, who was only pretending to be the gym leader in Petalburg City. He initially managed to fool Ash...only for his sister and father (the latter being the real leader) to show up.
    • Also happens in Pokémon Special; when Red wanted to battle the Cerulean City Gym Leader, Misty who IS the Gym Leader took him to the Gym.
  • For the first few episodes/chapters of Trigun, the story follows Meryl and Millie investigating every lead they can find on the location of the most wanted criminal on the planet, Vash the Stampede. And, by chance, everywhere they go, they run into the same hapless, clueless, spiky-haired dork blundering into trouble...
  • Earyl in Rave Master Haru finds himself so desperate for leads as to where to find the legendary blacksmith Musica that he's willing to be at the beck and call of a drunkard who may or may not know where the person was. Said drunk turned out to be...
  • Happens over and over consecutively in almost every town the Sanzo party enters in Saiyuki. Quite often word reaches villages that the great Sanzo-party has happened through the area in which many humans search after them for blessings while many youkai look to eliminate them. What they don't expect is for the Great Holy Preist Genjo Sanzo to be a young Jerkass man with a gun and a smoking problem, and his holy followers a group of youkai.
    • In fact, it has happened so often that when for the first time it doesn't happen to them but instead, another group of wandering demon-slayers, they're actually taken by surprise.
  • In the Soul Society arc in Bleach, Ichigo and his friends pay a visit to an old friend of Yoruichi, who would help them break into the Seretei. Because this mysterious' friend's name is Kukaku, which is said to be a pretty manly Japanese name, Ichigo and his friends thought Kukaku was going to be a brawny, manly Badass. Kukaku turned out to be a Badass alright. But Kukaku turned out to be a she, to everyones suprise. It was't much of a surprise after she started being herself; The Hot Chick with a Sword.
  • Hilariously inverted in Dragon Ball, where, upon meeting a normal monkey, the Genre Savvy Goku instantly assumed him to be the legendary King Kai, and spent a while fooling around with him before the real Kai - who himself could easily qualify for this trope under different circumstances, what with how he looks and acts - shows up.
  • In Vision of Escaflowne The Movie, Van and Hitomi are looking for a man named Dryden Fassa - then they meet someone who pretends not to know who Dryden Fassa is, before turning out to be actually him.

Comic Books

  • In issue #101 of the French comic book Donjon/Dungeon (Twilight, vol. 1: Dragon Cemetery, in English), when Marvin the Red meets his idol Marvin the Dragon, the latter first pretends to be someone else.
  • When Bruce Banner goes looking for the Panchen Lama in Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, he is greeted at the monastery doors by a wizened old man who assures him that the Lama is inside and offers him hot cocoa. Banner shows a Genre Savvy flash by assuming the old man is the Panchen Lama, calling it "one of those Yoda things"... but nope. He's talking to Steve, who makes hot cocoa.
  • The "Pagliacci" joke that Rorschach heard from the Comedian in Watchmen.


  • In American Wedding, the main characters go into a gay bar unknowingly looking for a dress designer (named Leslie, I think—a classic fictional bigender name) to design a dress for the bride and after impressing a group of gay men with their comical antics one of the members of the group finally reveals that he * is* Leslie.
  • In the 1989 Batman film, Vicki Vale corners a man at a swish party at Wayne Manor and asks whether he's seen elusive billionaire Bruce Wayne. He says he hasn't. Later, as she and Alex Knox are in one of Wayne's rooms, making fun of the statues, the man appears behind them and informs them that the statue they're currently laughing at comes from Japan. How does he know? "Because I bought it in Japan. Bruce Wayne."
  • Batman Begins. In order to get the needed training for his war on crime, Bruce seeks out Ra's Al Ghul, the head of the Asian group League of Assassins. Instead, he ends up dealing mainly with The Dragon, Ra's more ScottishIrish-looking second in command. Ra's tends to sit in the background and be imposing while his lackey does all the work of teaching Bruce all he needs to know to be awesome. Much drama ensues and when everything explodes, Bruce explicitly saves The Dragon. Much later it's revealed The Dragon was the Big Bad all along.
  • Twisted on itself in Circle Of Iron, where the hero Cord is seeking the Book of Enlightenment held by the mysterious Zetan. Along the way, he adventures with the Blind Man, a wise man and incredible martial artist who serves as a sort of informal master. David Carradine plays the Blind Man, and also the characters for several trials Cord must face. In the end, Cord thinks the Blind Man is actually Zetan, but he isn't--he's just seen the Book of Enlightenment.
  • Subverted in Die Hard when the hero and the Big Bad meet. It looks like Gruber tricks McClane, but in fact McClane sees through it and gives his adversary an unloaded weapon.
  • In The Distinguished Gentleman, when Eddie Murphy's love-interest-to-be enters a reception for the new Congressman Johnson (Murphy), she goes right up to him first and asks where Congressman Johnson is, then goes on to bad-mouth him a bit before he reveals his Congressman's pin (hidden behind a clipboard he's holding).
  • Used in Jackie Chan's The Drunken Master, where the main character Wong Fei-Hung flees from home in fear of being sent to train with the infamous Beggar So, master of the style of the eight drunk gods. He meets an old geezer who displays some highly unusual but equally effective moves, and they share a leg of the journey—no bonus point for guessing who this turns out to be.
  • In El Diablo, Anthony Edwards' character is searching for legendary "Kid Durango" with the help of a man named Van Leek only to later discover that the exploits of Kid Durango are based on the adventures of Van Leek.
  • Sort of done in Face Off: "I am Castor Troy!"
  • Dragged out to a painful degree in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 subject Giant Spider Invasion, where the leading man meets the female scientist and persists in believing he must really be meeting with some male relative of hers for some time before she explains that, no really, she's the "doctor" he has an appointment with.
  • Phil in Disney's Hercules.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Dr. Elsa Schneider.
  • In Kill Bill: Volume 1, The Bride pretends to be an American tourist upon first meeting Hattori Hanzo in his Sushi restaurant.
    • Hanzo himself is an attempt to play the trope: He's a legendary sword maker posing as a sushi chef. Only the Bride knows who he is, so he can't play that trope on her.
  • Done with Holly Goodhead, the Moonraker Bond Girl.
  • Castor/Zuse in Tron: Legacy.
  • In Kenneth Branagh's version of The Magic Flute, the Speaker and Sarastro are played by the same person, leading to this.
  • Somewhat subverted in The Matrix when Neo meets Trinity for the first time and tells him he expected her to be a guy. Trinity responds that 'Most guys do.'
  • Star Wars
    • In A New Hope when he's looking for Obi-Wan Kenobi, although in that case he's actually already an acquaintance under another name ("Old Ben" Kenobi), so it's understandable that he's not expecting him to be Obi-Wan. Plus, Ben tells him straight-out that he's Obi-Wan instead of hiding it. In addition, in The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader turns out to be Luke's father.
    • The Empire Strikes Back follows this formula perfectly when Luke is looking for Yoda.

"Of course I know him; he's me."

    • Also, Queen Amidala traveled with a host of impersonators decoys for security purposes, it seems. What makes her an example of the trope is that she's always disguised as one of her own attendants, as opposed to moving completely behind the scenes.
  • In The Usual Suspects, it turns out that Verbal Kint is Keyser Sose.
  • In Dragonheart, Bowen swears vengeance on a Dragon who kept prince Einon alive with an ancient ritual and turned him evil (not realizing Einon was evil to begin with). When he meets Draco many years later and is told he is the Last of His Kind, Bowen's first thought is that the dragon he hunted must already be dead, and does not figure out that Draco is that dragon until they travel to Avalon together.
  • In Fast and Furious, Dominic and Brian are searching for Campos, the leader of a narcotics gang. Only near the end do they realize Campos is actually the man who pretended to be his assistant.
  • In Obssessed, when the main character and the psychotic temp first meet, the latter mentions having to deliver a file to "Derek Charles' office", not knowing that she is talking to him. Derek then says that "Derek Charles" is "an asshole. Takes himself way too seriously. But don't tell him I said that, OK?". Shortly afterwards, she learns the truth.
  • In the movie version of Clue, in one of the possible endings, Wadsworth reveals himself as Mr. Boddy, saying that the alleged Mr. Boddy was, in fact, his butler, and not the other way around.


  • Robert A. Heinlein's short story All You Zombies in which, thanks to a great big Timey-Wimey Ball, every character, male or female, was actually the same person.
  • In Assassin's Apprentice, the first book of the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb, Fitz asks a woman where he can find Hod, who is going to teach him swordfighting. Naturally, the woman is Hod.
  • An almost identical incident occurs in Louis L'Amour's Fair Blows the Wind, when a tall, weather-beaten Scot tells Tatton Chantry that he can lead him to the legendary sword master Fergus MacAskill, with whom Chantry wants to study fencing. The Scot is Fergus MacAskill himself.
  • In George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, 16-year-old Cleopatra is hiding from the invading Romans, and she runs into a nice old man who turns out to be Caesar. Hilariously, she tells him she's heard Caesar has a nose as big as an elephant's; he self-consciously fingers his nose in response. Then, when he decides to break part of the truth to her: "Do you notice that I have a rather long nose? It is a Roman nose, Cleopatra."
  • In one book, Conan is invited to meet the leader of a group of rebels plotting to overthrow their king. Perhaps as a safety precaution, the person he is led to and the person leading him are impersonating each other.
  • Used in the Geronimo Stilton book "My Name is Stilton, Geronimo Stilton," when Stilton prepares to meet his new personal assistant, Pinky Pick, whom he hired without even an interview, based on her impressive resume. When he finds a 14-year-old girl in the lobby who announces "My name is Pick!" he assumes that she's the daughter of his new assistant, until she clarifies that she is indeed his new assistant.
  • In The Great Gatsby, the narrator talks to a man at one of Gatsby's parties about how he hasn't even seen the host all evening, whereupon the man says that he is Gatsby.
  • In the Heritage of Shannara series, Morgan Leah spends a long time arguing with a boy mopping floors that he wants to meet with Matty Roh, a resistance contact and owner of the inn they are talking in. After being thrown out twice by the small, skinny boy, he comes in holding the resistance leader's badge, pushes it in the boy's face and demands to speak to Matty. Turns out the reason a small skinny boy can beat a burly highlander is that she's not a boy and she knows Waif Fu.
  • In Homer's The Odyssey, Odysseus is helped by the gods to disguise himself as a an old tramp. He then enters his own household to investigate how suitors of his wife (believing him dead) are abusing his estate's hospitality. He initially introduces himself to his own son, Telemachus, to observe his reactions and intent to the developing situation. Once satisfied that his uninvited guests are pillaging his stores and furthermore treating him with disrespect, much to his son's chagrin, he reveals his true identity and proceeds with the help of Telemachus to slaughter the lot of them. This is undoubtedly the oldest example of the trope.
  • Turned around early in the Sword of Truth novel Wizard's First Rule. Kahlan seeks out a Last of His Kind wizard, and Richard leads her to his old friend Zedd, who he's confident can help them. Richard later figures out the wizard is his friend, Zeddicus Zul Zorander.
  • Occurs in"A Spell for Chameleon," the first of Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, the first time Bink encounters Magician Humphrey.
  • Isard's Revenge varies this when Wedge Antilles disguises himself as an Imperial with a prosthetic hand and half a face, and has to make conversation with an actual Imperial, who has a conspiracy theory that the members of Rogue Squadron are actually quite easy to kill, but the reason why members like Wedge Antilles seem to have stuck around for so long is because they get cloned. Later in the book Wedge takes off his disguise in front of this Imperial.

Wedge: "You recall mentioning that you'd killed plenty of Rogue Squadron members at Brentaal, and that Wedge Antilles would be back?"
Lorrir: "Y-yes?"
Wedge: "You were right. I'm Wedge Antilles. I'm back." shoots him

  • In one of the 1632 novels by Eric Flint, a young lady accused of witchcraft is brought to the American territory. Because the Americans have to get along with their 17th century neighbors, a new trial is convened. Going through their research material for the period, one of the Americans remarks that they need one particular historical figure to help them with the case, a famous individual who had historically opposed witch trials. By coincidence the person they were speaking of is the same one who brought the girl to them in the first place.
  • Judge Dee frequently disguises himself as a peasant or travelling martial arts instructor (the latter suits him much better) during his investigations. This frequently results in him dropping "I am the magistrate" when things get serious and someone suggests to report to the judge.
  • Discworld:
    • A variant in Feet of Clay when a man claims to be a good friend of the Commander of the Watch to intimidate the watchman he's talking to, who is in fact Commander Vimes. As a bonus in an earlier letter to Vimes the same man claimed to be a good friend of the Patrician, an unlikely claim to anyone who knows the Patrician. As Vimes does.
    • This happens again — rather more subtly — in Monstrous Regiment, where Vimes assures the protagonists that he'll take them to the leader of the Ankh-Morpork regiment.
    • Thief of Time A young braggart monk confronts the little bald wrinkly smiling 'cleaner' Lu Tze. His teacher uses the moment to hammer home Rule 1 - "Do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men". It's implied that the rule was written with Lu Tze in mind.
  • In one of the MYTH Inc. novels, Skeeve gets set up on a blind date with a vampire, Cassandra. For whatever reason, she doesn't ask his name, and later she remarks, "Say, you're a friend of Vic's from Klah... do you know the Great Skeeve?" He plays along for a little while before revealing his identity.
  • The last Sherlock Holmes novel, "The Valley of Fear", culminates in the infiltration of a criminal gang by a man from Pinkerton's. A trap is set for the private investigator, where it is revealed that McMurdo is Birdy Edwards.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Remus Lupin says of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, "We’ve met." He's Moony.
  • In one of the Star Trek: Stargazer novels, Admiral McAteer is strolling the Starfleet Academy grounds, and starts thinking about Boothby, whom he admires. At least, he's heard good things about the man. He encounters an elderly groundskeeper whose general attitude annoys him (and who has the gall to tell him off). Eventually, he demands the groundskeeper's name. Upon being told he's talking to Boothby, McAteer walks off spluttering.
  • Toward the close of Georgette Heyer's Devil's Cub, heroine Mary meets an elderly gentleman to whom she confides her worries about how badly her love interest's father, a wealthy duke, will take the fact that the young man wants to marry her. She says that she's heard the duke is a sinister and scheming figure. When the truth comes out (he married late in life, which is why he's so much older than his son), he says calmly that, yes, her description of his character was quite accurate. On the other hand, (approximate quote) "...if you can bring yourself to marry my son, I will be in your debt. But I feel I must advise you that you can do better."
  • Howard Pyle's Robin Hood includes a scene in which Robin is drinking with a tinker who says he's looking for Robin Hood, with intention to turn him in to the Sheriff for a reward. Robin makes him drunk and goes off with his purse, leaving him to foot the bill.
  • Biggles enters the Nazi Air Force under the name of Hendrik, claiming to be Norwegian.

Biggles: Fair hair ... blue eyes ... as a matter of fact, he was about my build.
The Nazi: He must have been very like you.
Biggles: No one has ever mistaken me for him.

Live-Action TV

  • People looking for The A-Team usually found Hannibal in disguise when they met with the person who was supposed to get them in contact.
  • Doctor Franklin from Babylon 5 has a reputation for taking his oath of confidentiality very seriously, so when he arrives with an offer to set up a meeting between Captain Sheridan and the man in charge of smuggling fugitive telepaths through the station, nobody is surprised. You already know who the meeting turns out to be with.
  • When starting a new job at a publishing company, the main character of Being Erica strikes up a conversation with an assistant and a young woman, and ends up insulting a book called The Secret of Now. The woman turns out to be her new boss, recently promoted due to her success with that same book. Her assumption is understandable, as she expected the man who interviewed her to be her boss, but he was fired in the interim.
  • In the "Thanks for the Memories" episode of Grey's Anatomy, a doctor filling in on Thanksgiving Day is dismissive of Dr. Bailey, saying he's only interested in meeting and working with The Nazi, an incredibly talented doctor he's heard about. Dr. Bailey pretends at times not to know who The Nazi is and at other times claims that The Nazi is busy nearby. At the end of the episode, the visiting doctor discovers that Dr. Bailey is The Nazi. (Miranda Bailey is a diminutive black woman - many people have made this mistake over the years.)
  • Used in the very first episode of Power Rangers Jungle Fury when the Pai Zhua students are looking for RJ.
  • Some versions of Robin Hood have this with King Richard.
  • Used hilariously on Neighbours when Steph is annoyed with her mother for wanting her to talk to the new local priest, and starts complaining about her, and the priesthood in general, to a stranger she meets outside the church. The man then joins in complaining, leading Steph to figure it out quickly.
  • The latter part of the second season of Dollhouse features the search for the head of Rossum, a mysterious person who hasn't been seen in public and may be to blame for everything in the show. Boyd is the head of Rossum.
  • Happens in the Doctor Who serial Shada when the somewhat doddery old Professor Chronotis turns out to be the notorious Time Lord renegade Salyavin.
  • On the first episode of News Radio, Dave Nelson turns up at the wrong building for his first day of work as news director of WNYX. When he shows up late at the correct building, he is looking for his new boss, billionaire Jimmy James, whom he has never met in person. He runs into him immediately, and asks him where Mr. James' office is. Mr. James gives him directions before telling him that he's not in there right now. Dave asks where he is, and in response Mr. James just stares at him, leading a nervous Dave to ask, "...Mr. James?"
  • Done by proxy in Happy Days when a man tracks down Fonzie to give him a letter from his estranged father. The letter begins "If you're reading this I didn't have the guts to tell you it was me who gave it to you."

Religion and Mythology

  • This is a very old trope: Jesus (I am that I am...) does it in The Bible no fewer than three times after his resurrection, showing himself to the disciples—but somehow they don't realize it's him. (John 20:14, 21:4; Luke 24:16). The conversation with the Samaritan woman in Sychar (John 4:1-26) comes close to it as well, with Jesus revealing at the end of the conversation that He is the Messiah she is waiting for.
  • This also happens to Saul in 'I Samuel' when meeting Samuel for the first time. Saul is looking for a prophet of God and goes to a town where one is reputably staying. Thinking that he is just a citizen of the town, Saul approached Samuel and asks where the prophet is. Samuel informs Saul that he is the one Saul is searching for.

Tabletop Games

  • Subverted in a vignette of a third party Dungeons & Dragons supplement, where a warrior seeking a martial arts teacher is first greeted by a humble, chuckling old man who claims he knows the teacher very well—only to step aside as the actual teacher, a large, muscular warrior tells him to be quiet and welcomes the would-be student.


  • She Stoops To Conquer takes place almost entirely within the space between the deceit and the revelation. Charles Marlow, on the way to a blind date, stops at what he thinks is an inn and flirts with the barmaid. He's actually at the manor he was traveling to, and the barmaid is his date.
  • In Camelot, a nervous King Arthur and Queen-to-be Guinevere run into each other before the wedding. Guinevere, not knowing it's Arthur, complains a bit about having to marry a total stranger and is assured that the king isn't really all that bad.

Video Games

  • Played very simply in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, where Ezio helps a woman carry a box and talks to her about Ezio, eventually revealing that he is Ezio.
  • In The World Ends With You: Quoth Joshua: "It was me, Neku. I'm Shibuya's Composer." Cue Neku's Heroic Blue Screen of Death.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3 has a sequence in which the party needs to find a legendary (and tiny) strategist. The old man in town tells them that he's not in this place, and suggests they ask around. After a long fruitless search, they come back only to be told that the old man is the strategist. Justified with "I was walking around at the time, so I wasn't in any place". And then the town mocks them for their gullibility. * grumble*
  • Secret of Mana: "Go away! The sage is out!"
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance the first time Marche meets Ezel Berbier, Ezel speaks about himself in third person and it isn't revealed until later that he was in fact Ezel Berbier. However given that he is rendered with a different sprite from the standard NPCs, as well as the fact that he is speaking in a very cryptic manner makes this one of the more conspicuous examples
  • Also in Final Fantasy Tactics A2, the mage in the mountains (Lezaford) pulls this on Luso.
  • Suikoden pulls this trick when you're first looking for The Strategist. It's sort of given away by the fact that his name is in the textbox when you're asking him where he lives.
    • And in Suikoden IV, this happens when you're looking for Lino En Kuldes. Who apparently makes a habit of it.
      • Given that Lino is a pretty casual guy whose usual outfit (an open vest and cut-off shorts, with the notable absence of any sort of crown or other royal symbol) doesn't at all fit his station as King of Obel, it's no surprise that he can pull this off so easily.
  • In Paper Mario, in what appears to be a similar example to the Secret of Mana example above, Mario comes back to town from Shooting Star Summit and told that Merlon is looking for him. When he knocks on the door, he'd told that Merlon is out. If he tries again, he is again told that Merlon is out, but the door opens, knocking him down. A man in a robe comes out, and when Mario gets up, they go inside, he reveals himself to be Merlon.
    • Mario is trying to get to Dry Dry Ruins. He meets with a mouse called Sheik. Mario may part with an item to be told that Moustafa knows how to get there. If Mario gives him the right item, he'll be able to tell Mario how to see Moustafa: by buying items in the correct order, which is a sign to the shopkeeper. Upon following these directions, Mario arrives to find... Sheik! And he was Moustafa all along!
  • Chrono Trigger does this with Gaspar, the Guru of Time. When told to search for him, the party discovers that he's someone they already met much, much earlier in the game.
    • Also done when you are rescuing the Guru of Life from Mt. Woe, who turns out to be Melchior, the swordsmith you met in the very first scene of the game and who helped you reforge the Masamune earlier. He doesn't remember this, though, because of time travel (it hasn't happened to him yet).
  • Shenmue 2: Ryo is looking for the leader of a Shaolin monastery and is told by a girl that he should look around the place for clues to understand the monks' beliefs and that only then will the master reveal himself. After that nonsense an old man shows up; Ryo assuming this must be the master tries to talk to him shushing the girl but in the process it turns out that the girl is the actual master and the old guy is just the janitor.
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the protagonist is assigned to kill a Jedi. Later on in the game, it's revealed that the Jedi survived, but lost his sight as a result of the battle. In a twist on this trope, the protagonist now needs the Jedi's help and so pretends to be a stranger, hoping the Jedi won't find him out. At the end of the game we find out the Jedi suspected it was the protagonist but chose to help him anyway.
  • Another Star Wars example is in Knights of the Old Republic. No one really believes it...
  • At one point in Deus Ex, JC Denton is sent to look for a young woman named Nicolette Duclare. He meets a girl in a French club that promises to take him to see her. When he meets up with Nicolette, it turns out that she is the same woman he met in the club earlier.
    • In Deus Ex Human Revolution, Jensen is looking for crime boss Tong Si Hung in a nightclub and is sent to talk to the VIP bartender for his whereabouts. If the conversation goes well, the bartender directs him to Tong's office. When Jensen reaches it, the "bartender" is there waiting for him and mocks Jensen for not figuring it out.
      • Jensen can see through the ruse with the Social aug, though.
  • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Ike is put to the task of finding the apostle, empress of the nation he was seeking assistance from, on his ship. He finds a small girl, and tells her to wait since he needs to find the apostle. Naturally, this girl turns out to be the apostle. Except in the sequel, it's revealed she isn't the true apostle.
    • In a bit of a variation, back in Fire Emblem, Dart tells Karel about dozens of legendary warriors, like a giant who shrugged off all blows and a mage who could freeze his enemies' blood. After Dart mentions each person, Karel calmly tells him they're dead. Dart doesn't seem to realize that Karel killed them all before he tells him.
  • One side quest in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines has the player hunting down a demon by the name of Zygaena. A drug dealer in the local bar will arrange a meeting in a nearby warehouse, but only if you tell him that you're planning to kill Zygaena. Guess who shows up in that warehouse.
  • In Dragon Age, Oghren runs into you by this way. When you're ready to set out to Deep Roads to mount a search party for a paragon who is needed to support a king canditate (and who happens to be Oghren's wife), he stumbles into you, asking if you have seen a Grey Warden. You can play dumb and ask what does (s)he look like, and he'll say a long list of Mary Sue Knight in Shining Armor qualities with appropriate Purple Prose, and is instantly disappointed to see that you're the person he is looking for.

Oghren: Seems that the requirements have gone way low.

  • In the mainstream Pokémon games, there are certain characters who would often help the protagonists throughout the story (Pokémon Red and Blue's Blue although he's also The Rival, Pokémon Gold and Silver's Lance, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire's Steven, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl's Cynthia). Unless you know the plot of each game already, it would take much later until you find out that they are actually the Champion. In Pokémon Black and White, however, the identity of the Champion, Alder, is flat-out revealed to the player before endgame, because he actually introduces himself to the player the very first time they meet.
  • In Final Fantasy V, the sage Ghido turned out to be the turtle that Bartz was bugging at the moment.
  • In Mabinogi the wandering merchant Price helps you try to find the missing ex-paladin leader Redire, it is later revealed that Price IS Redire.

Web Comics

  • Inverloch gets insidious with this, between Silvah/Kayn'dar --and Acheron/Kayn'dar.
  • In Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name a certain paranormal investigator is often thought to be the sidekick to his undead (and nameless) companion. Usually his clients were Expecting Someone Taller.
  • Happens in Girls with Slingshots when Hazel is trying to spy on Jamie, and the person she believes to be Jamie's new boyfriend, by enlisting Jamie's new girlfriend.

Web Original

Guy 1: Did you take my sandwich?
Guy 2: I am your sandwich.

Western Animation

Bugs Bunny: What's up, Doc?
Elmer Fudd: Shh... There's a wabbit down there, and I'm trying to catch him.
Bugs: What do you mean a "wabbit?"
Elmer: Wabbits! Wabbits! You know, with big wong ears!
Bugs: Oh, like these? (shows his ears)
Elmer: Yeah, and a little white fwuffy tail!
Bugs: Like this? (shows off his tail)
Elmer: Yeah, and he hops awound and awound.
Bugs: Like this? (hops around)
Elmer: (to the audience) You know I bewieve this fella is an R. A. B. B. I. T. (to Bugs) Pardon me, but you know, you look just wike a wabbit.
Bugs: Ehhh, c'mere. Now listen, Doc, now don't spread this around, but... uhhh... confidentially... I AM A WABBIT!!!

  • In the first Pirates of Dark Water, Ren seeks out the wise man Alomar in the Abby of Galdebar. First he meets an imposing man, who he assumes is Alomar, but he's just a servant. Next he encounters a fearsome dragon, who it turns out is Alomar.
  • Inverted in the Justice League episode "A better world": The Justice League are trapped in an Alternate Universe ruled by Knight Templar Evil Counterparts to the league, and are ambushed by the army. Justice Lord Batman (whom the league are trying to avoid) then turns up and calls off the army, making Superman think it's their Batman in disguise.

Superman: You fooled them all. Even I thought you were him!
Lord Batman: I am him.

  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Leo's first meeting with The Ancient One is a textbook example of the trope.
  • An episode of the Pole Position animated series had the characters sent to retrieve a sensitive research satellite for a "Doctor T. Russell." Along the way, they're helped by this flannel-wearing, backwoods-type Cool Old Lady named "Dora." Meanwhile two fellows, both claiming to be "Dr. Ted Russell" and "Dr. Tom Russell" are trying to get the satellite. The protagonists finally find it...and the backwoods-lady reveals that they're both industrial spies. Her full name is Dr. Theodora Russell, and she just happens to live out in the middle of nowhere.

Real Life

  • Nestor Makhno, the great Ukrainian anarchist revolutionary, caught a group of German officers going to a party held in their honour by Ukrainian landlords, who had welcomed the invading Germans. After executing the officers, Makhno and his men dressed in the German army uniforms and attended the party in their stead. Much of the conversation at the dinner party circled around Makhno. At the end of the meal, a toast was offered to the capture of the dreaded anarchist Nestor Makhno. Makhno drank off the toast and announced, "I am Nestor Makhno." In the silence and horror which followed, Makhno tossed a bomb into the room as he and his men leaped out the windows and escaped.
  • Truth in Television, sort of: A president-elect, governor, business leader, etc., initiates a search committee to fill an appointed position, but ends up picking someone on the committee or the person who had already been helping him in that area anyway.
    • In 2000, presidential candidate George W. Bush appointed one Richard Cheney as the head of his running mate search committee. The person who he ended up suggesting to Mr. Bush is recorded in the annals of history.
    • The 2005 papal conclave following the death of Pope John Paul II was presided over by one Joseph Ratzinger, then Dean of the College of Cardinals, and shortly thereafter was elected Pope Benedict XVI.
      • Though the Cardinal was leader of the enclave ex officio, and was considered, as it were, the frontrunner even before John Paul II was dead.
        • Though it is widely perceived that Ratzinger hijacked the conclave to manoeuver himself into office, in particular by using his position to deliver a speech, which all other members had to attend, condemning criticism of the Catholic Church and launching a new anti-modernism movement, thereby granting himself notoriety and the support of the conservative faction before the deliberations had even begun.
  • Subverted in Real Life: Dr. Livingstone, I presume?
  • Retail employees live for saying or hearing the phrase 'I AM the manager' in response to a customer being argumentative. Subverted in that the customer tends to demand the next person up the line.
  • Tends to happen a lot when someone asks for a transsexual person's old name.
  • There's an Italian joke subverting this trope: Jesus walks along the street when he sees a sad old man sitting on a bench. He stops and asks him what his name is and why he is sad. He says his name is Joseph and he has lost his son. "How do you recognise your son?" "He has nails in his hands and feet." "Father!" "Pinocchio!"
  • At one point right after confederation, Sir John A Macdonald (the first Prime Minister of Canada) was at a diplomatic reception in Washington, D.C., where he struck up a conversation with an American senator's wife. When he revealed he was from Canada, she began asking about his Prime Minister, stating she had heard stories that he was a drunk and a rogue. Sir John A agreed with her on both points, at which point the senator himself wandered over and fully introduced him.
  • This story.
  • Kevin Smith once attended a picket line of Dogma as a picketer. A reporter covering the event almost figured him out, but Smith introduced himself using his friend's name (who was standing right next to him).
    • Doubly hilarious since the friend in question (Bryan Johnson) is given a Shout-Out in Dogma... as a boy who urinated on the protagonists head and later died.
  • Painter Gilbert Stuart had a Actually, I Am Him moment with the Father of Our Country (or my country anyway). Stuart had been invited to a presidential levee and assuming it was run along the same lines as similar events in Europe presumed the room full of milling, chatting gentlemen was a sort of waiting room and he would in due course be ushered into the presence. Eventually President Washington noticed an unfamiliar guest wandering around talking to no one and, like a good host, went over and introduced himself. Stuart, it is said, never entirely recovered from this experience.
    • A man was riding along when he saw an officer who was ordering soldiers to lift timber but not doing anything to help them. The rider asked him why he was just standing there; the officer sneered, "Why sir, I'm a corporal!" Upon hearing this, the stranger promptly dismounted and spent several minutes helping the men move the timber. As he was about to ride off, he turned to the pompous corporal and quietly said, "The next time you have a piece of timber for your men to handle, corporal, send for your commander-in-chief." It was G-Dubs.
  • There is a story concerning Peisistratus, a politician from Ancient Greece, who got chatting with a farmer. Not realising who he was talking to, the farmer criticised Peisistratus' policies, calling him a tyrant and complaining about unfair taxes. Eventually Peisistratus asked the farmer a question:

Peisistratus: What do you get from the land you farm?
Farmer: Nothing but aches and pains. If only Peisistratus and his tax collectors would take their fair share of those.

    • Peisistratus, having a good sense of humour, decreed that the farmer need never pay taxes again.
  • British artist Sir Stanley Spencer was invited to receive an award at a ceremony in London. While getting off the train at Euston station, a gentleman mistook him for a porter and asked for help carryig his bags. Stanley obliged and helped the man carry his bags across London. When he arrived at the ceremony that evening, the award was handed to him by the gentleman he'd helped earlier that day.
  • There is an almost certainly apocryphal story of Napoleon going out into his army disguised as a common soldier. He met a savvy veteran who shared that he had gotten short on money and taken his sword to a pawn shop, with the plans to redeem it as soon as he got paid. Until then, he had only the hilt of a sword attached to a stick that went into his scabbard. Later that day, Napoleon returned undisguised to hold a surprise inspection. He found a soldier who did not pass, then turned to the veteran and ordered him to cut down his comrade. The veteran, knowing he faced punishment if anyone knew he had pawned his sword, cried out "May God turn my sword to wood so that I need not do this thing!" He then drew his sword hilt which had a wooden blade. The next day, he received a beautiful new sword and a note saying "This one will get you more at the pawn shop," signed Napoleon.
    • The same story is commonly told about Peter the Great, along with half a dozen stories about similar disguises.
  • Emma Watson said once that she'd go out to a restaurant, and be told "You look just like the girl who plays Hermione Granger!", to which Emma would laugh and inform them that, well, that's because she is "that girl".
  • Following treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, Australian songstress Delta Goodrem's hair grew back shorter, curlier and darker. A stranger is alleged to have told her "You look a lot like Delta Goodrem, only prettier."
  • Inverted my J. Golden Kimball, a prominent Mormon in the early 20th century. Once he was drinking coffee in a restaurant and someone recognized him, prompting the following exchange.

Lady: Aren't you Brother Kimball? And isn't that coffee you're drinking?
Kimball: Ma'am, you're the third person today who's mistaken me for that old SOB.

  • Carrie Anne Moss once purchased a Trinity action figure, explaining to the clerk that it was a gift for her husband. The clerk asked if her husband didn't perhaps have a bit of a crush on Trinity, to which Moss replied "I hope so!"
  • In another joke, an officer moved to a Pentagon job finds himself overloaded with bureaucratic red tape. Worse, he notices that a young lieutenant in the next office is finishing far more paperwork in far less time. Swallowing his pride, he asks the lieutenant his secret, which turns out to be "Just stamp everything 'Route to Major John Smith' -- somebody around here is bound to have that name and rank". One guess who that turned out to be....