Master of Disguise

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"I know a detective who once attempted to disguise himself thoroughly. The first policeman he met took him into custody."

"I'm the master of disguise
I can vanish from your eyes
I can be in different places

With my many friendly faces in disguise"
Robbie Rotten from LazyTown, although his disguises are less than masterful to the viewer.

A character who can be anybody during the course of the story. Giving a character this power and concealing its use from the audience for a "reveal" is very hard to pull off.

They may rely on extensive training and a vast collection of wigs, clothing and stage makeup to pull off the fakery. Or, their powers could be Phlebotinum-driven, in that they have the physical ability to alter their very shape and size to perfectly match that of the person they are duplicating.

Expect them to be called "The Chameleon" even if real chameleons can't hide themselves.

Their allegiances can go either way. Sometimes they're villains, sometimes they're heroes (though more likely to be The Smart Guy in the Five-Man Band, rather than The Hero), and very often they're just Wild Cards.

Crucial to an Impossible Mission.

See also Convenient Color Change, Latex Perfection, Master of Illusion, Shapeshifting, Wig, Dress, Accent, We Will Not Use Stage Make-Up in the Future, The Power of Acting. Compare Clark Kenting. Master Actor is a subtrope that covers only the acting.

Examples of Master of Disguise include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Five in Detective Conan: Shinichi's Hot Mom Yukiko, former prize-winning actress and Black Organization member Vermouth who actually trained with Yukiko; the Kaitou Kids who also starred in Magic Kaito -- Kuroba Kaito currently and Kuroba Toichi formerly (who trained Vermouth and Yukiko), and Phantom Lady who trained Kuroba Toichi—and may have married him.
  • Masaharu Niou and Hiroshi Yagyuu from The Prince of Tennis. They pretend to be each other during a doubles match, after all.
    • Mercilessly parodied with Koharu and Yuuji, who use disguises not to conceal their identities but to disrupt their rivals's concentration. And to provide a whole Crowning Match Of Funny. To beat them, Momo and Kaidoh had to become Masters of Disguise, using lucha libre masks to confuse them back.
  • Lupin III: pretty much the whole cast. When you've got the Inspector pull off his disguise to be the buxom beauty Fujiko, and then the person we all thought was Fujiko pull off her face to show herself to be Lupin,[1] you can be sure you're going to see this sort of thing a lot.
    • It should be mentioned that Lupin is the best at it of his entire gang; Fujiko, Jigen, and Goemon have all had their disguises fail utterly at one time or another, while Lupin's is always airtight.
    • It should also be noted Lupin can be unmasked, but only when it's actually part of the plan.
  • Honey Kisaragi aka Cutey Honey has the Applied Phlebotinum version of this trope as her defining gimmick.
  • Akko from Himitsu no Akko-chan.
  • Due of the Numbers in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Shape Shifter Combat Cyborg that specializes in infiltration and assassination.
  • Great Britain aka 007 of Cyborg 009. In fact, he was a brilliant clasically-trained actor before being turned into a Cyborg.
  • Sayoko Shinozaki from Code Geass. Source of much lulz when she impersonates Lelouch in an incredibly bizarre way in R2.
  • Saemon Kisaragi from Basilisk.
  • In one Axis Powers Hetalia strip, China vents his frustrations to a panda and talks about how he's sick of all the foreigners and how Russia's planning to backstab him. The panda takes its head off, revealing Russia.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima new Anti villainess and Fate's minion Shiori has a specialized kiss that can steal the full appearance of the one she kisses, as well as the ability to lose her consciousness and think she's the person. Needless to say, no one figures it out once she switches with Asuna... until they meet up with the Governor General, that is..
    • The series also has Kazumi Asakura, who's capable of becoming indistinguishable from whoever she chooses in order to (in this case, Shizuna-sensei) get the big scoop. Main lead Negi only managed to tell the different thanks to the Marshmallow Hell she gave him, seeing as even though she's not bad herself, Asakura just couldn't compete with Shizuna.
  • Schwarz Bruder from G Gundam is shown to be this in episode 18, where he took the form of an old man. It's not surprising, since he's ninja and all. He doesn't use this often though.
  • In Monster Johann dresses up as his sister twice. Once as a child for a completely inexplicable reason and then later as an adult just in order to fuck with everyone. No one saw that coming. As a variation on this trope he also proves a master of disguising his identity and real nature (through sheer charisma) from various people right up until it's too late for them to do anything about it.
  • MW has Michio impersonating every female victim he kills.
  • Mr 2, Bon Clay from One Piece can take the shape of anyone he's touched. He isn't that comfortable acting the part though...
  • Ranma ½ has Tsubasa Kurenai, a oneshot (twoshot in the anime, with a pair of cameos) character whose specialty is dressing up in elaborate costumes, mainly of inanimate objects, which allow him to blend in perfectly to his surroundings if he chooses. He's been a mailbox, a statue, the sign outside Ukyo's restaurant, a trashcan, a kasa-obake (an umbrella spirit), a vending machine... and underneath the costume, he also dresses in women's clothes as an expression of his love for Bifauxnen Wholesome Crossdresser Ukyo Kuonji. He's so good at impersonating a woman that just about everyone he meets actually thinks he is one at first. He even has a girl's voice! (unless he's angered; in that case, his voice becomes as male as you can hear it from someone his age)
    • Another oneshot, Copycat Ken was a paparazzo who stole martial artists' techniques by becoming them and using all of their moves against them. The only one he couldn't copy perfectly was Happosai, because he was just too perverted. So he trained Ken. He ended up with so many copies that he started mixing them up and became unable to change back.
  • Hannya from Rurouni Kenshin, to the point that he actually mutilated his own face to make the process easier. The result is Nightmare Fuel, and it's understandable why the anime didn't include that bit (only showing us one of his eyes).
    • In the manga, Gein--The Dragon to Enishi Yukishiro, the final Big Bad—proves to be a Master of Disguise as well. He was disguised as his own puppet, Iwanbou, in order to spy on Kenshin from within Shishio's group--and Shishio, himself a Genre Savvy villain who's always on his guard with most other people, never gave any indication that he knows of Iwanbou's true nature.
  • Team Rocket from Pokémon disguise themselves as somebody or another, sometimes crossdressing, or in the case of Meowth dressing as another species, on average once an episode. Jessie "Jessebella" "Jessadia" "Jessalina" "Jessilinda" "Jessilynlyn" "Jessirilyn" has used so many deviations of her name with rather small (relatively—her big dress up costumes are usually very detailed) changes to her outfit it isn't even funny. Ash and Co. never figure out who Team Rocket is until they out themselves—if they figure it out at all.
    • Early in the series, Team Rocket were legitimately good disguising themselves. As they became less serious antagonists (a transition that didn't take very long at all), their disguises became more and more paper-thin.
    • A oneshot character, a girl named Duplica, was also a quick-change master, even able to impersonate Ash, Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny in a flash. Her Pokemon of choice was, of course, a Ditto.
    • There was also the Phantom Thief Brody in the Hoenn series.
  • Green/Blue (the female one) of Pokémon Special, through creative usage of her Ditto as a sort of Latex Perfection mask. Her disguises include Sabrina during the Rocket Team HQ assault in the Red/Blue arc and the old man with the Abra in the Pokemon League during the Gym Leader battle of the Gold/Silver/Crystal arc. Even Silver, the one who she's been with for the longest time, wasn't able to identify her until her Ditto flowed off to reveal her true face.
    • The Latias who's friends with Emerald is also able to do this by manipulating the refraction of light. She's actually a lot easier to identify than Green/Blue. Just look for females with her distinctive hairstyle.
    • Petrel has proven to be this in the HGSS arc, dressing up as the Johto Safari Zone owner, Eusine, Silver and Lance... in the same page.
  • Wraith, whose job in MITHRIL is to be a Master of Disguise. Kaname has no idea what he/she really looks like.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist Envy is an example of this. Oftentimes he will disguise himself as various members of the army to get to places that he otherwise could not go. He also uses his power of shape shifting to confuse people and take advantage of them. He used this tactic when he kills Hughes by disguising as Ross and Gracia. In the manga and in Brotherhood, he constantly uses this power to keep his monstrous identity hidden and in the original anime by hiding his identity as Ed and Al's eldest brother.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Saiga Furinji reveals that he's capable of this. To what degree? He was disguised as the fat, short, bumbling, jolly mercenary John for most of the rescue mission to save Miu from Silcardo Junazard. To put it in perspective, Saiga is much taller and leaner than the John disguise, capable of cowing the members of YAMI's Nine Fists by simply speaking, and is physically capable of beating down several skilled assassins while covering up his daughter with his jacket.
    • What makes it even better is that Sakaki Shio, one of the Ryouzanpaku masters and therefore someone you'd expect to be skilled enough to see through such a disguise, doesn't suspect anything at all.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Mystique, X-Men - she's a shapeshifter, and is quite comfortable as either a man or a woman.
    • On the other hand, she has more difficulty maintaining a shape that is different in mass than herself. For example, when she spent a few years pretending to be a Governor's wife, using the name Mallory Brickman, part of her disguise was that she was about twice her normal weight. Since she was going to have to maintain this image for a very long time, she gained weight, to bring her own mass up to the same amount as "Mallory".
  • The Chameleon from Spider-Man. Mysterio has also pulled this off, as part of his Master of Illusion schtick.
  • Batman
    • And his foe Clayface is a shapeshifter. He has fought a number of other masters of disguise over his career, such as False Face, Chimera and Jane Doe.
  • Olrik from Blake and Mortimer.
  • Mortadelo in Mortadelo Y Filemon.
  • The King, a Golden Age hero in The DCU. Also his arch-nemesis the Witch.
  • Nemesis in The DCU.
  • The entire premise of DC Vertigo title Human Target, along with a healthy dose of Becoming the Mask.
  • Shapeshifter, one of the main villains in Comico's Elementals series.
  • Diabolik and his partner Eva Kant from the Italian comic Diabolik.
  • The Chameleon, an actor turned assassin who once came gunning for Jonah Hex.
  • Ninjas in Empowered. One of them even disguises as a dog!
  • The Unknown Soldier uses latex face masks to perfection.
  • Jimmy Olsen had this talent for a while when he had his own series.

Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • Averted with George in With Strings Attached. Though he can become a perfect copy of anyone, he knows he can't adequately pull off an impersonation because he can't readily suppress his accent, act, or otherwise seem convincing. When he has to become the woman Bayanis, he spends the entire time praying no one will ask him to say or do anything. When he becomes a goblin, every detail about him besides his shape is wrong, and he has to rationalize every one of them when he is questioned. Luckily for him, in these cases no one is expecting an impersonator.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Simon Templar from The Saint
  • Mitch Leary from In the Line of Fire
  • The Day of the Jackal, in which the eponymous assassin is a Master of Disguise capable of getting close to his target (Charles De Gaulle) undetected, helped inspire the nickname for Real Life assassin and terrorist Carlos "The Jackal", who had similar abilities to elude authorities.
  • Pistachio Disguisey in The Master of Disguise is a parody, but his family, the Disguiseys, play it straight. Pistachio himself begins to play it straight by the end of the film.
  • Three words: Who's Harry Crumb?.
  • Several Peter Sellers characters. Some merely fancy themselves as this, such as Inspector Clouseau, but others, like Claire Quilty, are dangerously good at it. Chance the Gardener has a knack for blending in. Also, Peter Sellers himself: see, for example, Dr. Strangelove where he plays three characters.
  • Spoofed in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes by Sam Smith, a black man who disguises himself as such notable non-black people as Hitler, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, and a blonde girl, all while making not the slightest effort to disguise his skin color. He even managed to convince the tomatoes that he was one of their number, until he forgot and asked for ketchup.
  • Zelig (played by Woody Allen) is pathologically capable of blending in with important people, due to a childhood need to fit in. This enables him to impersonate a surgeon, a sex god, and a member of Hitler's inner circle (among other politicians), despite having no particular skill, and being Jewish. He can even change his race, causing the Ku Klux Klan to pronounce him "a triple threat".
  • Peyton Westlake, a.k.a., Darkman
  • Despite being the Trope Namer for Clark Kenting in the comic canon, the first Christopher Reeve film turned Superman into one of these. Like Richard Hannay in the Literature example below, his success had less to do with props than body language and vocal mannerisms.
  • In the old Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes film series, Rathbone was nearly impossible to identify most of the time, other times his nose gave him away. Also, just scroll down a little to the literature section for more info.
  • Agent Triple X in The Man Called Flintstone.
  • Kirk Lazarus of Tropic Thunder is a master actor. He is a blue eyed blond haired Australian playing a black Sergeant and while he was doing that he managed to pose as a Vietnamese Farmer.
  • Eames in Inception can pose as anyone during dream when necessary. Thus, he's called "The Forger."
  • Artemus Gordon in Wild Wild West. He can become President Grant, a fur trapper or a rather ugly woman.
    • Gordon and Grant actually share an actor. Kevin Kline did a great job of playing Gordon-as-Grant doing an almost perfect impression of Grant.
  • In Cars 2, both Finn McMissile and Mater become this, thanks to voice-activated holographic disguise systems that let them instantly assume any appearance.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Sherlock Holmes. Since he rarely warns even his allies about this, he's managed to (almost?) get himself arrested at least once. Oh, and he's equally good at faking himself-plus-condition, from mortal illness to opium addiction, whenever it serves the case he's on.
    • He does point out that it's painful to take a foot off your height for hours on end.
      • He also FREQUENTLY fools Watson and several Inspectors, amazingly enough.
      • Then there the pastiche character, his sister, Enola Holmes, who regularly fools him. Knowing how he thinks certainly helps and she plans her disguises accordingly.
  • The title character of The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • The title character of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
  • Subverted in Richard Hannay novels by John Buchan: while the main character disguises himself frequently and successfully, it is more through acting than characterization.
    • Buchan's thesis appears to have been that if you're a good enough actor you can disguise yourself from even people who know you well. The main character's best friend is a particularly good actor, and is always unexpectedly appearing in books, sometimes from behind the face of a villain.
    • At least once, Holmes's disguise was also mostly due to acting, in "The Final Problem"—Watson is supposed to meet Holmes at a train station, and instead is joined by an old Italian priest in a cassock. The priest changes his expression for a moment and Watson realizes it's Holmes. (The cassock is his only physical disguise.)
  • The original Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief, had this down to an art.
  • Fantômas, the villain of his own series by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, is one of the more brutal examples of this. One of his defining features is always appearing in various disguises and then getting rid of the persona through faked deaths, explosions, and mass murder. The same is true of his rival the Inspector Juve, sans the death count, who uses an equal number of disguises to try and bring Fantômas to justice.
  • For crook turned secret agent Jim DiGriz this is a basic survival technique, seeing as he works in a universe of omniscient surveillance and paranoid secret policemen. Can range all the way up to full body surgery.
  • Alias in the Evil Genius Trilogy, who teaches Disguise at the Axis Institute, and frequently arrives to class disguised as one of his own students. Notable for being one of the few teachers who isn't a Complete Monster, and one of the three that escaped the institute alive.
  • The Avenger, Richard Henry Benson, of the 1930's pulps was a master of disguise. He suffered a horrible emotional shock which deadened the nerves in his face which he could mold like putty. (I am not making this up!! Ah the innocence of the 30's!) He carried around a disguise kit with wig, contacts, make-up etc to go along with the putty face. Later when his face came back to life he invented a serum which had the same affect.
  • Doc Savage, which is pretty amazing when you consider his extraordinary physical appearance.
  • The Shadow was, in the Pulp Magazines, a disguise master as well.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, we have the birdman Kaird, who is of a very rarely-seen species, but has elaborate prosthetics and suits and so on - Star Wars generally averts We Will Not Use Stage Make-Up in the Future - to disguise himself as anything from a human to a Hutt. He'll also use less extensive measures. Whatever works.
    • Face Loran from the X Wing Series. He uses makeup and prosthetics, but his main tools of disguise are his extensive acting experience and the fact that he comes from a planet whose hat is observation and control of body language.
    • Nom Anor in the New Jedi Order. His people, the Yuuzhan Vong, have genetically engineered a creature called an ooglith masquer that acts as a second skin that can alter the wearer's features dramatically, even allowing them to impersonate members of other species (though since they're basically humanoid, impersonating some species requires more extensive alteration). Anor, though, is a master actor and spy on top of that- with a masquer and the right prep time, he can fool anyone except a Jedi (since the Anti-Magic nature of the Vong means they don't show up in the Force).
  • Erast Fandorin is so good at this that some characters get confused, which of his appearances is the real, original one.
  • Betty Bent in the Kiki Strike books. She's the daughter of costume designers and so good at disguising herself that she can appear as pretty much anyone the Irregulars need her to be.
  • The villainess in The Girl With The Golden Bouffant, a Les Yay spoof of James Bond, isn't recognised despite turning up as a girl in a mink bikini or a stewardess conducting an 'intimate' lifebelt drill demonstration on the heroine.
  • Jay, from the Paladin of Shadows series after the first one. Kurt Schwenke is also suggested to be this, in A Deeper Blue.
  • Nymphadora Tonks from the Harry Potter series is a metamorphagus who can change any part of her appearance at will, which she says was very helpful in the disguise section of her Auror exams.
  • Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events, being an actor, has an infinite amount of costumes at his disposal, especially from his evil troupe. He's been everything from a Sikh gym teacher, to a submarine captain, to a carny. No one second guesses the tall lanky man with an eye tattoo on his ankle except the Baudelaire kids.
  • Locke Lamora and the rest of the Gentlemen Bastards are quite adept at changing personas, thanks to their Unlimited Wardrobe and talent for mendacity.
  • Sauron in The Silmarillion thanks to his Shapeshifting ability. Beren and Luthien successfully disguise themselves as Elite Mooks by wearing the pelts of their demonic enemies.
  • The Confidence Man has the confidence man himself. He sneaks on a riverboat on April Fools' Day, and puts on more than eight different disguises, becoming a different character tailored to be one that would be able to con money out of each passenger, all while testing the confidence in their morals and perception.
  • Lisbeth Salander.
  • Moist Von Lipwig in the Discworld novels.
    • Though this is equal parts disguising himself and his natural appearance; he was born with the most forgettable face in the world, the sort of person that someone would look at and think, "I wonder if I've seen that man before", but he never seems like more than a face in the crowd. He's average in every way, which helps him blend in anywhere.
  • Agent Pendergast has an almost superhuman ability to look like a different person with little more than a change of clothes. In Reliquary, he even makes his disguise as a hobo more convincing by imbibing an illegal hallucinogen.
  • Burke from Andrew Vachss's books is no shapeshifter, given the hard-realistic setting, but with the aid of makeup, changes of clothes and putting on a different persona has been able to pass himself off as different people
  • Raffles, being more or less an Evil Counterpart of Sherlock Holmes is also quite good with disguises.
  • Faceless Men in A Song of Ice and Fire are assassins who through their training are able to completely alter their appearances. Some kind of magic is involved.
  • Toni Ware in The Pale King has at least twenty distinct voices and differently-colored contact lenses.
  • Time Scout's Chuck Farley. He disguises his face, his mannerisms, everything.
  • Tzigone of Counselors and Kings is a former street performer and natural mimic, which allows her to pull a dizzying array of impersonations- particularly since she's flat enough to pull a convincing male. It's very hard to pick Tzigone out of a group of people if she doesn't want you to (the fact that half the Big Bad Duumvirate has been after her most of her life makes such skills essential).

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Master in Doctor Who tended to do this up to the point that BBC credited the actor with an acronym to keep up the suspense. Leon Ny Taiy = Tony Ainley anyone?
    • The new series Master manages this due to The Nth Doctor. Nobody realizes Professor Yana is him, and he later regenerates into Mr. Saxon, a mystery figure who's been hovering at the edge of things all season. He then travels a year back in time to become said Mr. Saxon. As usual, there's a Significant Anagram: Mister Saxon = Master No. Six. However, The Powers That Be have said that was wholly unintentional, and that when a character's title is simply "Mr.," it's easier to make a Master anagram than avoid one. However, Saxon really is the sixth form of the Master: there's Delgado, zombie, Ainley, US film, Prof. Yana, and now Mr. Saxon.
    • It's lampshaded, along with Paper-Thin Disguise, in The End Of Time.
  • Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) and Paris (Leonard Nimoy) from |Mission Impossible.
    • The revival had Nicholas Black: He was the one to wear the Latex Perfection masks because he had an acting background.
  • Arch-enemy Murdoc from MacGyver was said to be a master of disguise. But his disguises were so bad that viewers only fell for them because his appearances were spread out enough that the audience had forgotten what he looked like.
  • Christopher Chance, star of the comic book and quickly-cancelled TV series Human Target, though Chance doesn't impersonate, he becomes (often resorting to surgery, which is kind of cheating.)
    • In the original comic books, he relies on disguises.
  • An episode of CSI had an old Vegas mob boss who was thought to be dead come back as one of these, killing his betrayers with a different disguise.
  • Jared, the Pretender from The Pretender, had an entire series based around this. While he never changed his physical appearance, he would adopt an extremely wide array of different jobs, mastering all of them in an astonishingly short timespan.
  • In something of a subversion, Col. Flagg of M*A*S*H thinks he's one of these, while in reality absolutely anyone can see through his disguises. Mostly due to the ridiculous ones he tries to pull off.
  • Artemus Gordon, on The Wild Wild West even fooled Jim West occasionally. However, his disguises weren't allowed to be too good as a result of Executive Meddling, fearing that Viewers are Morons and would be confused.
  • The Lone Ranger put on fairly good disguises not too infrequently, since all he really had to do was remove his mask and add a beard or something - and the beard was more to keep the audience from seeing his true face, since if he were to ever show himself just plain maskless to other characters on the show, only Tonto would ever know who he was.
  • False Face from the Batman TV show (who was based on a one-shot comics villain).
  • Sylar from Heroes recently joined the members of this trope. In addition to a ton of other powers, goshdangit.
  • Several characters in Super Sentai can do this, mostly the Pink Rangers, but also quite prominently Soukichi Banba (aka Big One) from JAKQ Dengekitai. One memorable battle from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger even had Mei fighting the villains' master of disguise, Lamie, with both often switching costumes.
    • Also it is noted that in Dai Sentai Goggle Five, Goggle Pink/Miki Momozono is designed to be a Shout-Out (or Expy) to Cutey Honey above, since she just needs to spin around to change clothes without flinging them off (even going as far as switching from Goggle suit to a sexy Flamenco dancer outfit right off bat).
    • Shurikenger made his own version. He has no name or human appearance. As a result he has no definite actor other than his voice actor. Three(?) years later Omega Ranger had no actor until the end and for a split second other than his voice actor and child appearance as a possible shout out.
  • The Dolls of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse are imprinted with many different personalities for their engagements.
    • One of them, however, is portrayed by the friggin genius named Enver Gjokaj, who can be everybody, and probably is. His acting alone is reason enough to watch the show.
  • Prince Ludvig the Indestructible from the second series of Blackadder is this. It proves to be his undoing.
  • Get Smart has at least three episodes about Disguise Masters. First one is about the man who pretends to be Chief to kill a very valuable witness. Second one is about the leader of ACB (third organization; it has both CONTROL and KAOS as its enemies) who disguised himself as fellow agent (one of the first on-screen black agents). Third one is about Chameleon: he disguised himself as Larabee, Admiral Hargrave and even as 99, all to infiltrate a secret counsel.
  • Spoofed in Monty Python's Flying Circus, with a contact agent disguised as a dog. He proudly describes the painful-sounding surgery required to fit him into the costume. On screen, he looks more like a victim of taxidermy.
  • Spoofed with Butterfield Detective Agency from Peter Serafinowitz Show.
  • The Changelings in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are actually a race of almost liquid amoeba that can change their shape to about anything. While the changeling in the main cast can only rudimentarily mimic humanoid features, more skilled ones can impersonate any person and even fooled close friends for years.
    • Speaking of Star Trek, Isaac Asimov once suggested to Roddenberry that Kirk might make a good one of these.
    • Because he's a hologram, The Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager can mimic anyone so long as an image of them is uploaded into the main computer.
  • In The A-Team, team leader John Smith did this at the start of every episode, but he only used it to fool potential clients until he decided they were O.K. Then he'd take off the disguise right in front of them.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Sakashima the Impostor, from the Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa vignettes.
    • Also a possible in-universe explanation for the "Ninjutsu" mechanic from the same block, where an unblocked attacking creature can be replaced by a creature with Ninjutsu, already attacking. A possible explanation is that they're retroactively assumed to have been perfectly disguised as the creature they replace.
  • Any and all Lunars in Exalted have the ability to disguise themselves perfectly by Shapeshifting.
    • Any Exalt with Charms dedicated to disguise can be this. Solars, in particular, can convincingly disguise themselves as anything up to and including a decently powerful local deity.
  • With the appropriate stunt in Spirit of the Century, characters can disguise themselves thoroughly enough that they don't even have to declare in advance what they are disguising themselves as. They simply declare that they are going undercover and leave the party. At any later point, they can declare that any of the background NPCs is really the player in disguise.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • D&D3 has several Prestige Classes that focus on Disguise skill and creating and maintaining cover identities and gaining certain bonuses to using them. The descriptions mention that use of these methods is usually cover for less legal activities.
    • Birthright has Disguiser kit for illusionists from Book of Magecraft.
    • Spelljammer has Imposter kit for illusionists from The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook. Travel the vast space, meet the gullible people...
  • Dark Heresy has psychic power Shape Flesh that replaces Disguise skill or enhances it (though it's not the only use) and implants that change facial features and skin pigmentation as needed (naturally, it makes sense only for those who plan repeated use).
  • Sir Bearington [dead link]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Decoy Octopus from Metal Gear Solid is quite possibly the most detail-obsessed Master of Disguise ever, being able to flawlessly mimic a person's speech and mannerisms, and either ingesting or injecting himself with the blood of the person he's imitating. But he's unable to fool The FOXDIE pathogen, which kills him.
    • In The Last Days of Foxhound Octopus becomes a straight-up shapeshifter: He can disguise himself as anyone (including Berthold, who is a wolf) by using specially prepared solutions of the target's blood, and assimilates all of their physical mannerisms including genetics, physical abilities, and... Clothing? Better not think too much about that one. At one point, Mantis and Ocelot even force Octopus into obtaining a Liquid disguise just by force-feeding him Liquid's blood. The comic's continuity even explains how FOXDIE is able to kill him in spite of his freakish genetics: It was programmed to kill all witnesses to Shadow Moses, including the person Octopus was disguised as at the time.
  • Mimi from Super Paper Mario is astoundingly good at this, at least in looks; she can't pull off the personality of her target terribly well.
  • The Spy in Team Fortress 2.
    • To the other team anyways. When looking at a friendly spy, he's wearing a paper-thin cardboard mask with the face of whoever he is disguised as. Unless that Spy is a Spy...
  • The dragons in World of Warcraft are able to assume humanoid forms, generally High Elvish, but there are exceptions, such as human or even gnome forms. Notably, Onyxia used to live in the human city of Stormwind, under the disguise of human Lady Katrana Prestor, where she was subtly influencing political decisions to the Black Dragonflight's favor. Some dragons appear to be worse than others at this: thus, the leader of Red Dragons Alexstrasza takes on the guise of a Blood Elf of High Elf, but even in the guise she keeps her distinctive dragon horns and red color. Since she doesn't actually hide the fact she's a dragon, perhaps she does this on purpose.
  • Agent 47 in the Hitman series is truly a master of disguise. Being able to take on the identity of pretty much anyone without raising an alarm. Despite being bald and having a barcode on his head.
  • Sasuke from Sengoku Basara has the ability to perfectly disguise himself as other characters using Ninja techniques.
  • In Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, Petrel desperately wishes he was this (he keeps make-up in his belt for just such a purpose), but the two times he disguises himself (As Giovanni in Team Rocket's hideout and as the Director in the Radio Tower) are completely pointless, and his disguise fails to fool the player anyway. Amusingly enough, the player's disguise works perfectly, until your Rival comes along...
  • Don Paolo, in the Professor Layton games, crosses this with Latex Perfection. Thus far in the series, he's flawlessly impersonated everyone from Inspector Chelmey of Scotland Yard to teenaged girl Flora to Professor Layton himself!
  • Parodied in the Spy Fox games, where Fox only has to put on the Mook uniform to get past the real ones. However, he still needs to go into more depth in order to get past advanced security.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Zartan, G.I. Joe
    • To a lesser extent the Baroness and Scarlett were both masters of disguise, but they used rubber masks. Scarlett invariably botched it anyway, but Baroness could easily be, for example, a highly decorated prison warden.
  • Puttypuss from The Houndcats.
  • Camille Léon from Kim Possible.
    • Oddly enough in an earlier episode, Ron Stoppable pulled off this trope, using a latex mask to impersonate Mr. Dr. Possible. In a later episode, Monique helped Kim impersonate Camille after Camille framed Kim for stealing an upcoming fashion line.
  • Merrilee from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids.
  • Masquerade from My Little Pony
  • David Bowie on The Venture Bros via shapeshifting and psychic powers. Also see below.
  • Batman in Batman: The Animated Series would occasionally disguise himself for undercover work in the criminal underworld. Clayface, a shape-shifting villain, appeared in the same series.
  • False Face from She Ra Princess of Power.
    • Imp from She Ra Princess of Power was typically used by the Horde for information gathering against the Rebellion. He was very much able to shapeshift into any form he wanted and his transformations were so flawless the characters encountering him in a shifted state tended to treat him accordingly. Examples include Kowl perching on top of him when he was a footstep in a ladder, Bow tossing him when he became a stick, and Catra even drinking from him when he was mimicking a goblet. Though most of his transformations tended to retain his blue color scheme, on at least two occasions (as a ground rodent and as a hanging painting) Imp showed the ability to alter his coloration at will. The only limitation here seemed to be Imp wasn't able to become anything more massive than himself, although he did take on the abilities of whatever thing he was pretending to be.
    • Part of She Ra Princess of Power's every episode was to watch the scenery for the character Loo-Kee, who tended to be hidden amongst the scenery. While sometimes he was easy to find, there were several times it was very difficult to pick him out of the background. I'm not sure if this would count as being a Master of Disguise, but it certainly makes him a Master of Hiding.
  • Dingo from Sonic Underground is something of a Master of Disguise, though his powers are controlled by his partner Sleet making this an form of Involuntary Shapeshifting.
  • The title character from Walter Melon who would regularly take on the appearance of the heroes he was substituting for, could do so so well that apparently even those with intimate knowledge of the hero were unable to spot the difference (with one exception when he did his Karate Kid, the Expy of Mr. Myogi claimed he watched Walter Melon and stopped him before he could kiss Daniel's girl). Simultaneously he wasn't the only one as his assistant Bitter Bug and his rival Sneero also displayed such ability, typically taking on the roles of needed sidekicks and villains respectively without anyone noticing.
    • Its interesting to note that, though Walter and Sneero encountered each other during almost every episode of the show, neither one ever recognized the other as a substitute hero/villain.
  • Agent Xero from the rejected Nicktoons pilot, The Modifyers.
  • Stanley Chan in The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan is this combined with Cosplay. Sometimes his disguises are very useful, sometimes... not quite so much.
  • The antagonist, Transfer the wolf, from Around the World with Willy Fog is a sinister master of disguise hired by London Club to ensue Willy Fog lose the wager. Viewers can spot his disguise from the way his one eye gleams red.
  • American Dad!'s Roger is perhaps one of the best example of this trope. He literally has an entire closet full of disguises, and usually ends up disguised at least once (if not multiple times) per episode. Of course, many of his disguises are Paper Thin, but no one seems to notice, most of the time.
  • From Transformers Prime, Makeshift. He was apparently capable of transforming into anyone he wanted. He was also killed off at the end of the episode.

Real Life!

  • Octupusses are well known to be much better at changing their color than even cameleons. The Mimic Octopus however, has specialized in impersonating completely different creatures like flatfish, snakes, giant shrimp, lion fish, seahorses, sea anemones, jellyfish, and seemingly whatever else it wants. It not only assumes the form of the creature, but also acts like one, fooling most other animals. In fact, their existence wasn't discovered until 1998.
  • David Bowie. He's been known to wear different costumes and came up with a lot of different alteregos. He's more than just a master of disguise...he's the Wizard of it.
  • As with David Bowie, Peter Sellers was a real-life example of this; he discovered his talent for mimicry and acting when he was in the RAF, playing pranks in which he successfully pretended to be various high-ranking officials.
  • Eddie Murphy has made several films out of his ability to disguise himself as multiple characters. He even impersonated a white man in more than one comedy sketch. While Jim Carrey has a similar knack for facial contortions, he's generally unmistakable for Jim Carrey.
  • Gary Oldman, anyone?
  • Or Johnny Depp.
  • And Madonna...at least according to Basil Exposition in her "Beautiful Stranger" video.
  • If we're talking about real Masters Of Disguise, Lon Chaney Sr. blows all of the above out of the water. It's not as if Johnny Depp applies or designs his own characters' make-up ... let alone, invented it.
  • Older Than Radio example: Chilean La Résistance leader Manuel Rodríguez Erdoíza.
  • SS chief Heinrich Himmler was only apprehended because he'd worked so hard on preparing his forged documentation that it was actually suspicious to find someone who had all his papers in the chaotic Germany of immediately after the war's end.
  • Another Chilean example: actor and stand-up comedian Stefan Kramer.
  • Ted Bundy: Part of the reason he was able to elude the authorities for so long was his generic looks, which allowed him to completely change his appearance very easily.
  • Assassin and terrorist Carlos The Jackal, so much so that he got his nickname from a fictional Master of Disguise and became a fictionalized nemesis for Jason Bourne; see The Day of the Jackal, above.
  • Capt. Kazimierz Leski of Polish Army. After the fall of Poland in 1939 he began to operate for the Underground State as intelligence and counterintelligence officer. He was traveling across Europe, usually impersonating various German officers and specialists and extracting vital information for the Allies. He has been captured several times (by Soviets, Germans and Soviet-controlled Security Officein post-war Poland) but was able to escape using his disguise skills.
  • Christopher Guest is so good at this most people don't realize it's the same guy in different films. To clarify, he is Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap; the Six Fingered Man in The Princess Bride; Corky St Claire in Waiting for Guffman; Harlan Pepper in Best in Show; and Allan Barrows in A Mighty Wind.
  • Isadore Einstein (No relation to Albert Einstein), the Man of a Thousand Faces. His talent at disguise helped him make nearly 5,000 arrests in his five year career as a Prohibition officer.
  1. or was it the other way around?