Collective Identity

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

I Am Spartacus - as a lifestyle. The inverse of the classical Secret Identity. Rather than one character with multiple identities, sometimes authors will flip this around and have multiple people with one identity.

The common prank pulled by twins is a variation on this trope.

Warning: given the nature of this article, spoilers abound.

Contrast Secret Identity and Two Aliases, One Character. Legacy Character is a more-specific related trope, where the identity is passed on from person to person. Identity Impersonator is when a second person temporarily adopts the identity in order to have Secret Identity and Public Identity appear together. Also loosely related to Dead Person Impersonation.

Examples of Collective Identity include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • The Marvel Comics character The Scourge of the Underworld was an entire conspiracy collectively posing as a single vigilante killer.
  • Scrier, a player in the Spider-Man Clone Saga turned out to be played by an entire mystical cult.
  • The Shadow first takes on the identity of Lamont Cranston when he is out of the country, but when the real Lamont turns up, he and the Shadow both use his identity, allowing the Shadow to be seen in one place and Lamont in another.
  • DC Universe
    • Trident, an opponent of the New Teen Titans, was actually three separate individuals masquerading as a single villain.
    • Similarly, the Crimson Fox of Justice League Europe was actually a pair of twin sisters sharing both a single heroic and civilian identity (after having faked the death of one sister).
    • In The Killing Joke, the costumed villain Red Hood is actually just a mask which the members of a robbery gang take turns wearing, the better to confuse the police. (At least, if the flashback scenes are to be believed.)
  • Ladyhawke, ally of Spider Girl, is actually a pair of twins masquerading as an indefatigable superheroine who seems to be in two places at once.
  • In Tangent Comics, an alternate world series, the Joker was three different people. You don't learn this until her second appearance.

Fan Works

  • In The Teraverse, the apparent extradimensional alien vigilante known as "Spring-Heel'd Jackie" is actually two different women, Dr. Gretchen Thomke and Detective Lien Kane. Similarly, Cate Baltimore and Rinkin Mueller share the identity of "Kennedy Redondo/Rollins," an Australian mercenary.


  • The Ghostface killer in the Scream series was more than one person.
  • In Zorro the Gay Blade Don Diego and his incredibly Camp Gay brother Ramon both are Zorro.
  • In The Mask of Zorro, Anthony Hopkins plays the original Zorro (Don Diego de la Vega) and Anthony Banderas is his trainee and later son-in-law, Alejandro.
  • The big twist in The Prestige is that Alfred Borden and his "assistant" are actually twin brothers who take turns being the public face of Alfred Borden.
  • Hot Fuzz: Turns out the local version of Neighbourhood Watch did it.


  • The Opera Ghost in Maskerade is multiple people. ("You recognize him because he's wearing a mask? Think about what you're saying!") There was no agreement involved, however - the villain of the book co-opts the "Ghost" persona, planning to let the real Ghost take the fall for his crimes.
  • In Ben Bova's novel The Multiple Man the President of the United States is actually a set of seven cloned siblings. Each of the clones is a specialist in one area of the job; the one who specialized in how to get elected is the one most often seen in public.
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Everybody dun it.
  • Chip Livingstone in Bimbos of the Death Sun.
  • In some of the Zorro novels, Bernardo occasionally wears the Zorro costume in order to distract and mislead pursuers.
    • Bernardo has also been known to play the part of Zorro to divert suspicion from Diego while he has an alibi (such as being imprisoned or questioned on suspicion of being Zorro).
    • Zorro's friend and sometimes love interest/accomplice Lolita Pulido has also donned the mask.
  • Travis Tea, author of Atlanta Nights , in reality a group of some forty different authors plus a random text-generating program.

Live Action TV

  • Used in one episode of Jonathan Creek where the mention of a character being "not Superman" leads Creek to realise that there are two men with one identity, the logical inverse of Superman's identity tactic.
  • In Human Target, it turns out that Chance's name isn't Chance: the identity of Christopher Chance has been handed down for years.
  • The four brothers in Himitsu no Hanazono work together as the mangaka Yuriko Hanazono.
  • The short-lived TV Series Zorro and Son was actually about an older Don Diego training his son, Don Carlos, to take his place.

Professional Wrestling

Tabletop Games

  • Forgotten Realms being Gambit Pileup setting, it's no wonder there were such cases as team Xulla.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, many members of the Alpha Legion use the name of their Primarch, Alpharius, instead of their own. Some of them even undergo surgery and psychological indoctrination to more closely resemble him.
    • In the Horus Heresy novel Legion Alpharius was revealed to be one Primarch in twin bodies. His twin's name is Omegon.


Video Games

  • The Gray Fox in The Elder Scrolls Oblivion. He is thought to be immortal, but in fact is a succession of master thieves wearing the same magical mask.
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations the three legs of the vigilante thief Yatagarasu turned out to represent three different people. Calisto Yew, a defense attorney, scoped out targeted buildings. Byrne Faraday, a prosecutor, infiltrated the targeted buildings in order to steal incriminating evidence of illegal activities. Detective Tyrell Badd covered up Yatagarasu's activities by being "assigned" to investigate him. In the end though, Calisto was The Mole, working for the criminal syndicate that the latter two wanted to bring down. At the end of the game Kay speculates on finding two other young beauties to be her partners, since previously she'd taken on the name of Second Yatagarasu on her own.
  • In one of the three Special Episodes of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky Sunflora must go on a mission to capture an outlaw, a Haunter who is said to be invincible. She eventually discovers that there are actually three Haunter, and when one of them is knocked out, another replaces him while the other takes the fainted one to safety. With the help of Loudred, Sunflora manages to have all three of them arrested.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Beatrice and especially Clair have a lot of this going on. Some of it is Legacy Character-based. Other aspects are less so. By the end of the game, there have been at least twelve or so different characters who could lay claim to being Beatrice (and Clair by extension) in some way.
  • In Warnings at Waverly Academy, twin sisters share an identity so they can both attend the exclusive school which only one of them could actually register for.
  • The Black Raven from Professor Layton and the Last Specter is actually all the children of the marketplace.

Web Comics

  • In the world of the web comic A Modest Destiny the superhero Crimson Blade is actually an identity that's shared by several hundred people. This discovery terrifies the vampire Lord Fluffy.

Web Original

  • The version of Mikuru Asahina native to Fenspace is actually two people -- a Mad named Kurumi Asahina plus a gynoid she created, who is actually named "Mikuru".

Western Animation

  • In the Batman: The Animated Series spin-off movie Mystery Of The Batwoman, the title character is actually three different people.
    • During "Almost Got 'Im", the villains swap their ideas about who Batman really is while playing poker. This is Two-Face's suggestion.

Two-Face: The way I figure it, Gordon's got a bunch of them stashed someplace, like a SWAT team. He wants you think it's one guy, but...
Joker: Oh, you're always seeing double.

  • In an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, Tortoise Beats Hare, Bugs is wondering how it could be possible for the Tortoise to beat the Hare in Aesop's Fables. As The Other Wiki puts it, 'Bugs is left wondering if he's been tricked; then all ten turtles approach and reply, ", it's a possibility!"'
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Mysterious Mare Do-Well", the eponymous mare is in fact actually four different mares. Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and (briefly) Fluttershy.
    • And in "Ponyville Confidential", Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle work for the school's newspaper as its gossip columnist, "Gabby Gums".

Real Life

  • The respective authors of Hardy Boys (Franklin W. Dixon) and Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene) are not a single person. The series are ghostwritten, with different authors using the same House Pseudonym.
  • Fujiko Fujio, the manga artist responsible of Doraemon and similar works, is actually two people: Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motō Abiko. When the collaboration broke up in 1987, each artist continues to use the Fujiko Fujio moniker, but adds an identifier to avoid confusion—Fujiko F. Fujio (Fujimoto), and Fujiko Fujio (A) (Abiko).
  • Sci Fi author Jack McKinney, most well-known for the Novelizations of Robotech, was a pen name for the team of James Luceno and Brian Daley. (After Daley's death, Luceno wrote a few novels solo as McKinney.)
  • They call themselves Anonymous. They are hackers on steroids, treating the web like a real-life video game. Sacking websites, invading Myspace accounts, disrupting innocent people’s lives - and if you fight back, watch out.
  • Nicolas Bourbaki, the greatest French mathematician who never existed.
  • Occasionally, the inker for a comic will be listed as M. Hands or a variant. This is a shorthand for "Many Hands", used when multiple inkers are required for a rush-job and none of them want the credit.
  • Red Dwarf is the work of Grant Naylor - that is, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.