Most Definitely Not a Villain

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Mr. Verres's "ingenious methods to cover up the presence of aliens"

"You know, you got all these people with beautiful, beautiful blonde hair and stuff. And then there's this sort of hunched over, greasy guy with black hair. It's like, "Would it be...him?"

Karl Urban, actor of Eomer on Wormtongue

A character is put into a position (for whatever reason) where they must impersonate someone or pretend to be a member of a particular group. The character, instead of simply acting like an X, attempts to do this by constantly announcing they are an X, that they're doing things because that's what an X does, and there is not the slightest chance that they could ever not be an X. Did they mention they're an X?

This sort of behavior almost always indicates that the Rule of Funny is in full effect, so its effectiveness as a disguise depends on whether it would be funnier for the impostor to get caught. If it's funnier for everyone around him to completely fail to see through the ruse—even though the impersonate-ee is someone they've known for years—then that's what's going to happen.

Compare Paper-Thin Disguise, Master of Delusion, Clark Kenting, Blatant Lies, Hugh Mann, and Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today? If a zombie were to say they aren't a zombie, well then it would not be a zombie, now would it? Kind of a subtrope of Bad Bad Acting, although it isn't deliberate. Tends to fuse with Suspiciously Specific Denial. Often happens during a case of Impersonating the Evil Twin. Contrast with Have I Mentioned I Am a Dwarf Today?

Named for a recurring line in the Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series spinoff Cr@psule Monsters; "My name is Dr. Alex Brisbane. I'm definitely not a villain."

If you're looking for a similarly named web comic (which is not an example of this trope), see Not a Villain.

Examples of Most Definitely Not a Villain include:

Anime and Manga

  • In the Pokémon episode, "Pokemon Scent-Sation", Ash reluctantly has Team Rocket disguise him as a girl so that he could sneak into the Celadon gym. Ash breaks character a lot while he's in the disguise but always does his best to recover from it, until eventually, Pikachu revealed Ash's identity by electrocuting him.
  • Sousuke's attempts at passing himself off as a normal civilian in Full Metal Panic! occasionally segues into this, especially when one of his classmates ropes him into a Zany Scheme where he has to pretend being her boyfriend in front of her friends.

Sousuke: I feel unimaginable happiness wasting time talking with women. I'm that type of human.

Comic Books

  • A scene in a Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire comic has Buck disguised as an alien Pog, sauntering down the street singing a song about how he's just a Pog, no, really. Mind you, in this instance having the disguise fail is actually part of the plan. For context, Buck Godot is at least eight feet and probably a half ton of muscle, bio-engineered for life on heavy gravity planets. Your typical pog may, generously, top four feet.
  • The Highly-Visible Ninja of The Tick disguise themselves a hedge by declaring "We are a hedge. Please move along." While holding sticks. See the appropriate trope page for more (hilarious) details.
  • In PS238, some of the children mask their secret use of a launch pad into space by sending the launch pad operator a message that this launch is scheduled and completely normal; no need to panic. The operator dismisses this as the computer AI being needlessly polite.
  • In Preacher Corrupt Hick Odin Quincannon tries to use the Ku Klux Klan to kill the protagonist. In an attempt to ingratiate himself with them, he keeps enthusiastically stating how much he hates black people, all the time, and keeps adding it to practically everything he says. The other Klan members eventually start talking about how forced this makes him sound.
  • In Teen Titans, Starfire and Raven, having temporarily lost their ability to fly, seek alternative transportation on a bus full of villains. They beat up two and take their clothing. Starfire then tries to fit in by acting like an over-the-top parody of a villain. Her overacting goes almost completely unnoticed by her audience; what gives her away is the use of an alien version of "God bless you."
  • In one issue of Suicide Squad, Captain Boomerang manages to do this while playing himself in an operation to lure in a local vigilante.

Ahhh, Wipeout, me old mate. I, Captain Boomerang, am glad I've returned to Central City. With my old nemesis, the Flash, no longer here, I am free to use me trick boomerangs and amazing skills to knock over this bleedin' armored car!

Fan Works

  • In An Entry With a Bang!, no-one seems duly concerned with the Wolfnet agent named Remus Lupin, even though such a name should be more than a mite suspicious to the Genre Savvy.
    • The BT universe, by nature of being itself, is chock-full of pop cultural references. They've even run across Mario and Luigi, brother plumbers and a reporter named Lois Lane. None so far have exhibited anything special than just the odd coincidence in names, but there's just so many that GDI has decided to just ignore them all. It's just the universe screwing around with them again. This perhaps falls under the rationale it would be funny. After receiving word about other operatives from Wolfnet, Remus Lupin (his name chosen beforehand as a random pseudonym and now having read Harry Potter) mutters:

"Please don't be Lily and James. Please don't be Lily and James."

  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series: As mentioned above, Dr. Alex Brisbane. He may lure the heroes into an obvious trap, but he's still definitely not a villain. Of course, as the people he has to fool are Joey, Tristan, Tea and Yugi, not one of them thinks there's anything strange about him.
    • Well, Yugi does. Though his reaction is less "he's definitely a villain!" and more "I'm tired of rescuing people. Let's just go home and forget this happened." Unluckily, Brisbane easily tricks Tristan and Tea to "step on the map", dragging Yugi along for the ride.
    • Also, at one point, Evil Bakura tries to impersonate Normal Bakura. He mentions his "Britishness", says he had to do British things like "drink tea and eat "crumpets" bangers and mash" -- and everyone falls for it.
      • It's worth noting that Evil Bakura couldn't pass for Normal Bakura in the original manga either, but nobody noticed they only met Bakura twice, and suffered from heavy Genre Blindness.
      • Don't forget, he does those British things because he's British.
    • And of course we have "Malik Blishtar" who is "definitely not Marik Ishtar".

Marik: Those fools still believe me to be the innocent Malik Blishtar! I must go out of my way to maintain my disguise!

    • "Attention duelist! My hair is definitely not leading you into a trap!"
    • Let's not forget Crump, who was possessing Tea and had to avoid arousing suspicion. He constantly made references to penguins and the fact that he wanted to have sex with Yugi. But, well, the only thing that really convinced everyone it was Tea was this little gem:

Joey: Yugi, do you notice anything weird about Tea?
Yugi: I haven't noticed anything. You feeling okay Tea?
Yugi: Yep, she's fine.

"PDF Corporal": Me, boss? I’z definnily a humie, ain’t that right, boyz?

Films -- Animation

  • Mulan's joining the Chinese army and posing as a man. And for that matter, Mushu posing as the Great Stone Dragon. "... Did I mention that I am the Great Stone Dragon?"
  • The monsters in We Are the Strange are a rare creepy example of this trope. In the empty ice cream shoppe, there are rather odd-looking posters which try to pass both the shoppe and the townspeople off as normal.

Films -- Live-Action

  • In This Island Earth, a dinner conversation with Exeter quickly makes it clear he's not from Earth, as if his gigantic forehead with a huge dent in the middle wasn't enough of a clue. When it was chosen to be the experiment for Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Tom Servo repeatedly riffs on this part, concluding, "Then I ram my ovipositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your chest. But I'm not an alien!"
  • From The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra:

"Sometimes my wife forgets she is not a space alien."

Villager: It said on the wireless to paint out the sign posts in case the Nazis drop in!
British officer: I'm not a Nazi, I'm a British officer!
Villager: That's what you'd say if you was a Nazi, isn't it sir?

  • Die Hard: Hans Gruber attempts to fool John McClane into thinking that he's an escaped hostage by trying to put on the worst possible American accent. Thankfully, unlike most of the cops in the film, McClane is not an idiot, and when he gives a gun to Gruber to protect himself with it turns out to not be loaded.


  • Winnie the Pooh pretends to be a little cloud when he tries to use a balloon to steal honey from a beehive. This includes having his friend Christopher Robin walking back and forth below him with an umbrella and loudly proclaim that it will be rain soon. While Pooh himself sings a little song about how he's just a raincloud:

How sweet to be a Cloud
Floating in the Blue!
Every little cloud
Always sings aloud:
"How sweet to be a Cloud
Floating in the Blue!"
It makes him very proud
To be a little cloud.

    • The Disney adaptation provides an even better example of the trope, as Pooh's song gets even more insistent that he's only a cloud and definitely not interested in honey:

Oh, I'm just a little black raincloud
Hovering under the honey tree.
I'm only a little black raincloud!
Pay no attention to little me.
Everyone knows that a raincloud
Never eats honey, no not a nip!
I'm just floating a-round,
Over the ground,
Wondering where I will drip!

    • In the Russian adaptation, he first of all establishes to the bees that: "I'm a little rain cloud and definitely not a bear."
  • In Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, the wintersmith makes himself a human form, and then goes into an inn. He announces, excitedly, "I am a human, just like you!"
    • The Discworld book Thud! also features a short appearance by John "Most Definitely Not A Vampire" Smith, the representative and local leader of the Black Ribboners in Ankh-Morpork. Vimes makes several references to his less-than-successful attempts to pass himself off as more human, including wearing hideous knit woolen sweaters instead of evening wear, overemphasizing Ws in his speech, smoking pipes (despite not breathing) and collecting bananas for a hobby.
    • The Wintersmith never denied he was the Wintersmith, though; he just wanted to be human so Tiffany would love him.
  • In Animorphs, Ax pretends to be a delinquent.

Ax: You do not know me, but I am a juvenile delinquent. I do not trust authority figures, I probably will not graduate from high school, and statistics say my present rowdiness and vandalism will likely lead to more serious crimes. I am a dangerous fellow, and I am causing mayhem in this store.

  • In The Birthday Ball, Princess Patricia Priscilla, while in disguise as a commoner, repeatedly insists that she's just a humble peasant.
  • In Brandon Sanderson's unpublished novel Mythwalker, the character Ix constantly reaffirms that he is in fact human, while all of the characters know he is a shadowling.

Ix: I am confused. This is not a good thing, because when we humans are confused we are not happy.

Live-Action TV

  • In Saul of the Molemen, Saul skins a moleman and uses the skin as a disguise to infiltrate the moleman village. He spends the day shouting, "Grunt grunt! I'm a moleman, just like you!". No one catches on, but Saul gets beaten up anyway because the moleman whose skin he wore owed money to others.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • "Doppelgangland": Willow (well, Season 3 Willow, anyway) pretending to be her vampire duplicate was doomed to failure. "I killed her. And sucked her blood, as we vampires do." She lasts all of five minutes before the others catch on. And her vampire duplicate is equally pathetic at passing herself off as the human Willow—though far more successful, because she's talking to the ever self-absorbed Cordelia. "Why don't you let me out, 'cause I'm... so helpless." In fact, there's an enormous distinction between Willow, vamp Willow, Willow posing as vamp Willow, and vamp Willow posing as Willow.
    • On the other hand, the Scoobies were completely oblivious to the true nature of the BuffyBot in her first appearance, despite stilted dialogue along the lines of "I wouldn't keep a secret from you, Willow. You're my best friend. You're recently gay." Buffy was understandably irritated.
    • Yet another Buffy example: when Faith exchanges bodies with Buffy, she spends about three minutes practicing saying "Because it's wrong!" very emphatically and with different inflections in front of a mirror. It's amusing. She later says this seriously in a case of Becoming the Mask.
    • Spike once attempts to disguise his vampness with a horrible American accent. Made even funnier when you realize it's American James Marsters pretending to be British pretending to be American badly. And both the characters Giles and Spike have changed accents over their lives: Both Giles and Spike come from well-educated families, both adopted low-class accents in early adulthood (with Spike sticking with his, and Giles reverting to a posh accent when his rebellious phase ended). The actor who plays Giles actually has a lower-class accent, and the American Marsters used that accent as a model for Spike's.
  • Angel also played on this in the episode "Guise Will Be Guise", in which Wesley found it necessary to impersonate Angel. When his cover was blown, he tried horribly to keep up the facade.
    • A certain amount of Fridge Logic applies to the beginning of the first season, where Doyle's Irish-ness is a major part of his character, and yet Angel steadfastly retains his assumed California accent, and never so much as acknowledges that he is, in fact, Irish as well. This may be a mercy, since the flashbacks to the life of 'Liam' prove that David Boreanaz cannot fake accents at all.
  • In the first episode of the new Doctor Who, Rose's boyfriend Mickey is clearly replaced by a (mobile) plastic replica. Rose begins to wonder what's the matter with Mickey when he keeps addressing her as "sweetheart/babe/babe/friend/sugar/sweetheart".
  • Firefly: Simon acting as Mal's boss in "Jaynestown" is like this.

Simon: Yes? (playing up role) I mean, I make the decisions around here, uh-- employee... (to Foreman) I employ him. He is a person I employ. I'm the boss.

    • It gets Lampshaded when Wash sarcastically asks when Simon became such a cunning master of disguise.
  • In the Blackadder Goes Forth episode "Major Star", Kate pretends to be "Bob". She says, "Oh no, sir, I'm not a girl! I understand cricket! I fart in bed! Everything!" in a breathy, high voice. Blackadder is the only person not fooled by the ruse.
    • Further subverted in the episode "General Hospital" where Blackadder is asked to root out a German spy in the hospital, in which there is a patient with an outrageous German accent who intently listens to conversations with a binoculars and a notepad... who turns out to be a British spy who picked up "a teensy veensy bit of an accent".

"Smithy, you haven't seen any suspicious looking characters hanging around have you?" "Nein!" "Nine?! Cap's got his work cut out then!"

  • Played straight in Battlestar Galactica. During Simon's first appearance, he spends his entire first scene insisting to Starbuck that he's human, even using the trope name (with "Cylon" in place of "Villain", of course). Starbuck's too disoriented to notice, but the audience... isn't.
    • Word of God tells that they figured the audience would pretty much guess that Simon was a Cylon. So instead of trying to hide him being a Cylon, they tried to build up the suspense by making it unclear what Simon really intended to do with Starbuck and what the "hospital" actually was.
  • The Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch where Hitler, Himmler and Von Ribbentrop survived WW 2 and moved to Britain. They all speak in German accents and say things a Nazi would say, but repeatedly insist that they aren't Nazis. Luckily for them, the British people they meet aren't very bright. They seem to be making a parody of small ultra nationalistic parties that keep insisting that their ideology is not fascist, no sirree. See it here.

"Mr. Bimmler": (While introducing himself) Was head of Gestapo for ten years. (Sits down, but realizes what he said and quickly stands back up.) Ah... Five years! (Sits down again, but is nudged by "Hilter" and, panicked, stands back up.) No, no! Nein! Was not head of Gestapo at all! Ha ha! I make joke!

    • Also from Monty Python, in the Mr. Neutron Sketch: Captain Carpenter, from the top-secret agency FEEBLE must disguise himself to go on a mission to the Yukon. His disguise? A large sign which says "Nothing to do with FEEBLE".
    • And from "The Cycling Tour":

Pither: Who are you?
1st Man in Black Suit with Sunglasses: Well, we're not secret police, anyway.
2d MiBSwSG: That's for sure!
3d MiBSwSG: If anything, we are but ordinary Soviet citizens with no especial interest in politics!

  • In several Saturday Night Live sketches, Greg's co-host would like to make it very clear that Greg Is Not An Alien. Greg then proceeds to speak as if he's learned all his lines badly by rote, hiss and trill in obvious panic when splashed with water, and grow a frill around his neck, and is heavily implied to eat the guests on their sports talk show.
  • Played with in one episode of That '70s Show, when the guys try to smuggle Fez back across the Canadian border (because he misplaced his green card), Eric tells the others: "Remember, we've got nothing to hide", at which point two mounties come over and say "Well, around here, we don't say we've got nothing to hide, if we've actually got nothing to hide, eh?"
  • In the first episode of season 3 of Stargate SG-1, O'Neill uses this to try and convince SG-1's captors that he was still implanted by Hathor's Goa'uld larva. Although in this case he knew it wouldn't work for very long, he just needed to buy time for The Cavalry to arrive.

O'Neill: Jaffa! Cree!
Hathor's First Prime: Tel'mak Goa'uld, cree tak?
O'Neill: You heard me! I said cree, dammit!
Daniel Jackson: Jack?

  • A rare non-comedic example in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Garak, an ex-member of the secret police of a facist state (And in no way feels guilty about what he did) is nothing more than a simple tailor. Given his talents Garak could avert this trope and easily fool everyone around him about who he is, but he simply doesn't care to. He never comes right out and explains why he bothers with the facade, but the most likely explanation is so that he can maintain plausible deniability while keeping himself available should anyone wish to use his talents.
  • A clumsy case was Morgana from Merlin. When she returns to Camelot in series three, she spends most of her time smirking evilly to herself (in public) and interacting with her friends and family in a cloying, faux-sympathetic way (that was completely unlike the Morgana of the first two series). The audience isn't fooled for a second, but everyone else is completely taken in.

Video Games

  • In Star Control II, one of the many Planet of Hats species in the game comes under the mind control of a malevolent being, who stiltedly attempts to impersonate their particular Hat when encountered by the player. Naturally, the player is expected to not be stupid and investigate.
  • This is the key mechanic for an entire level in Psychonauts, "The Milkman Conspiracy", where the player must collect objects being used by a series of trenchcoat-clad "government operatives" plumbers, road crew workers, gardeners, housewives, grieving widows, and assassins, among other, increasingly unlikely roles, and use them as a Paper-Thin Disguise.
    • The G-men tend to use the props in very interesting ways too. The gardeners do a sword-swallowing routine with their hedge clippers and the grieving widows play invisible golf with their flowers. Sample dialogue:

"I am a Sewer Worker. The finest sewers are found in Paris, France. Although I often smell of excrement, I perform a valuable public service."
"I am a Telephone worker. I can listen to any conversation that I want to -- but I do not because of my sense of professionalism."
"I am a Housewife. In time my husband will desire me less sexually... but he will always enjoy my pies."

    • There's also Crispin Whytehead, the inmate running the asylum, who explains that he is an orderly, not an impostor.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Furio Tigre's impersonation of Phoenix consists of having spiky hair and declaring himself to be Phoenix Wright. Despite his otherwise completely different appearance, his noticeable accent, and his wearing a fake attorney's badge made of cardboard, he fools an entire courtroom, including a judge, prosecutor, detective, and defendant who are all familiar with Phoenix. Phoenix himself is, of course, not amused.
    • Godot easily saw through him. He just felt like screwing with Phoenix.
    • There's a possible Lampshade Hanging on this, after hearing the excuses Tigre gave to Maggey ("He said he took a trip to Hawaii"):

Phoenix: I can see why he managed to fool everyone.

  • The Cubi sisters in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Constantly giggling and sabotaging your efforts to rescue 'them', but since it's a But Thou Must! situation you can't just leave the little brats to rot.
  • At one point in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, a shape-shifting ghost called Doopliss, but it won't help you assumes Mario's identity and runs off with all of his party members. Aside from a few party members pointing out his somewhat different personality, they buy his impersonation without question. (In a Mythology Gag, Mario is a Heroic Mime in this game, while the ghost loudly proclaims that he is Mario and shouts phrases from Super Mario 64 to prove it.)
    • Somewhat justified in that Doopliss did the Martian Manhunter trick mentioned above and changed places with Mario when they defeated him, leaving Mario unconscious and going back to town with the others. Being a doppleganger, he has a perfect disguise, at least until he opens his mouth.
      • And Mario's appearance changes as well. He turns black and shadowy.
    • There was also the parts in chapter 5 where Lord Crump disguises himself as a sailor in the crew headed for Keelhaul Key. Despite how ludicrously obvious his disguise is, nobody but the player notices anything suspicious about him.
    • There's also the parts of the final chapter in the third game where Merlon and Merlee both show up in Castle Bleck at different times, despite the fact that the last time you saw either of them, they were in a different dimension and had no apparent method or reason to go to where you found them. In this case, they were definitely not a shapeshifter.
  • In Sam and Max Freelance Police: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball, Ted E. Bear's Mafia-Free Playland and Casino is a Mob-themed Chuck E. Cheese's-esque arcade/restaurant that doesn't seem to try very hard to convince the outside world that it's not a front for the Toy Mafia.

Ted E. Bear's is oodles of fun
Slots and sandwiches and poker and guns
And look, no mobsters, nary a one,
Just you and me and Ted E. Bear!

    • Max's fake Final Speech from the same episode, which is so long, overblown and such a Cliché Storm that it's painful. He even 'dies' several times only to wake up again and add more to it, to the (unsuspecting) villain's annoyance.
    • Also General Skun-ka'pe acts like this when you first meet him.
  • Not a villain, in Super Robot Wars the pilot Rastel Feinschmecker is Most Definitely Not Elzam Branstien or Rai's brother. May overlap with The Goggles Do Nothing, as he tries to use them to Clark Kenting. No one is fooled.
    • He's definitely not a villain.
  • Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal had Ratchet going undercover with the Tyrrhaguise, and loudly proclaiming himself to be "certainly not a Lombax". Yes, he's a Lombax.
  • This guy is totally not a spy.
  • A sign in Mahogany town in Pokemon Heart Gold and Pokemon SoulSilver helpfully informs you that the building it is situated next to is "Just a Souvenir Shop. Nothing Suspicious about It. No Need to Be Alarmed."
    • When you talk to the shopkeeper, he'll feel the need to make it clear that the breeze in the shop is just your imagination and is not coming from any kind of hidden underground hideout. Then he offers you stuff to buy.
  • In Thief: Deadly Shadows, Garrett has the option on listening in on an illicit deal under negotiation. One of the parties is a thug pretending to be him, who fulfils this trope to the letter.

Thug: Anyway, with all that thievin' I do, I ain't got times for no baths or nothin'.
Garrett: So that's the famous Garrett. Guess he's not as good-looking as I'd heard.

  • Laverne disguising herself as a tentacle in Day of the Tentacle says things like "Hello! I'm a tentacle!" No one sees through the disguise, despite the obviously human head, arms and legs.
  • In Magicka we have Vlad, who is most definitely not a Vampire.
  • In Rift, the inhabitants of Lakeshore in Freemarch are doing normal human things because they are normal humans (and most definitely not Deep Ones).

Web Comics

  • Order of the Stick
    • Nale disguising himself as his twin brother Elan. Though his repeated statements of "I'm Elan" don't raise any eyebrows since that is deemed in character for Elan. Nale's high bluff skill also helps. Example:

Sabine-as-Policeman: He was just speaking to me, a police officer, about his brother Nale's treatment in prison.
Nale-as-Elan: Right! Because I am Elan, and I am foolishly and inexplicably merciful to enemies who would gladly butcher me, against the better judgement of my allies.
Vaarsuvius: Hmmm. Well, that certainly is one of your more puzzling qualities. Very well.

On the other hand, immediately after that exchange, Vaarsuvius reveals that he's noticed that the two had been making out (incidentally, Sabine's "police officer" form was male).Also...

Nale-as-Elan: I'm Elan!
Vaarsuvius: Yes, so you have told me no less than seven times in the last hour.

    • Previously, Belkar the halfling got on stilts to disguise himself as a human.

Belkar: Hello, fellow Medium-sized creature! How are you enjoying being Medium-sized, like me, on this lovely day?
Paladin: Just fine, thanks for asking!

Celia: My Dark power? Right! Right. Because I'm totally a necromancer, and not a sorcerer who didn't happen to take any necromancy spells...

Illusion of Belkar: We are all here right now, and definitely not somewhere else.

Antimony: We are looking for a particular robot. A... fellow robot. Because we are also robots.

    • ...Because clearly she's a robot...

Antimony: Also robots never lie.

Demon-Jame: Yes, I am your friend. I run a non-demon restaurant here in your space-time manifold, of which I am a native.

  • In these Eight Bit Theater strips, Warmech is Most Definitely Not a Robot. And Red Mage, for his part, is Most Definitely Not a Monster.
  • This Amazoness! strip. Ekphobippe is a master of disguise.
  • In El Goonish Shive, all you have to do to convince everyone that you're a normal, everyday human being is to wear a T-shirt that says so on it. In fact, Tedd's father makes a living covering up supernatural or alien entities in such a manner, as seen, for example, here.
    • This is parodied in a fan-made comic centered around the fans who are represented as avatars with nametags over their heads. One strip involves two characters chasing after Dan. Note that Dan represents himself as an anthropomorphic squirrel. A guy who looks suspiciously like Dan in real life shows up holding a "NotDan" tag over his head and points them in the right direction. In an earlier strip, the comic's Card-Carrying Villain manages to deceive two detectives with a fake name tag.
      • Sorry Mister Smith. We thought you were a different person who uses the same avatar.
  • Jymre of Hitmen for Destiny is probably the worst shapeshifter of all time. He doesn't bother to try to act like the people he's impersonating, and when questioned, he panics severely.
  • This Penny Arcade strip features a Most Definitely Not a People-Possessing Ghost.
  • In Dorothy Gambrell's guest strip for Scary Go Round, The Boy shows Erin some kind of unidentifiable... thing he's found. He keeps it behind a shed, with a sheet over it, and a handy label on the sheet which reads: "nothing".
  • In The Last Days of Foxhound, Ocelot and Mantis try to pass off an unwilling Octopus as Liquid for a possession scheme by Liquid's ghost (It Makes Sense in Context) by ODing him on Liquid's blood and having Mantis brain-scramble him into thinking he's Liquid. Although the intention differs, the result fit the trope perfectly as Octopus starts rambling about how he beats up all the enemy people and hates dominant genes.
  • This VG Cats strip.

"Aeris": More drivel. I am a normal flesh unit filled with meat. Now let us go home and absorb precious nourishment from the sun. Err... I mean have dinner. APPLES! Yes. Normal apples. Normal.

CT: D --> What do you make of it
CT: DThis wretched misbehavior
TC: fUcK mAn, I aM sO mOtHeRfUcKiN sAlTy AbOuT aLl ThAt BuSiNeSs YoU sAiD!
TC: FuUuUuCk, Im LiKe AlL mOvInG mY mOuTh AnD tHe WiCkEd NoIsE iS cOmInG oUt In ThE fRoNtIeSt WaY pOsSiBlE.
TC: aNd It'S gOiNg At YoUr DiReCtIoN, cAuSe ThAt'S tHe DiReCtIoN tO fUcKiN bE aNgRy At!

Townsend: ...I told them it should say "Not Property of the Mobian Inquisition".
Morth: Yes, because that would have fooled me completely.

Zakmar: Welcome to our very typical hyu-man domicicle, my co-homo sapiens.
Marx: Will you give it up, they're on to us already.

Tempts Fate: Sigh. You gotta be kidding me.

Web Original

Billy: We're meeting now for the first time.

    • Also, it doesn't actually fool Hammer, who just waits until Penny's out of earshot to make it clear he knows.
  • Metaleeto impersonating a criminal:

"Rest assured, I love crime and also don't shower."

  • In I Don't Need Your Civil War, Hulkling infiltrates as a SHIELD agent a super-human prison to kidnap Hank Pym, and while there he salutes SHIELD commander Maria Hill with "Hello. Not a spy."
  • MSF High Forum: While Xadan doesn't quite fall under this trope, he uses pretty much the same use pretty thoroughly. He's Obviously Evil, but trying to act as a mentor.
  • There is no Evil Atheist Conspiracy!
  • There's a reaction image for this.
  • Mocked here. The problem with Internet today? Not the excess of clueless, cringeworthy shills at.
  • in the Netflix original series The Dragon Prince Rayla, a Moonshadow Elf and Callum, a Human, have on separate occasions decided to disguise themselves as human and elf, respectively, to blend in with the local population. However, their attempts to pass themselves as human or elf turn out like this in practice.

Western Animation

  • Codename: Kids Next Door shows us just how stupid the world's worst villain, the Toilinator is, by having an off panel story about how he was fooled by Numbuh 1 whose disguise was just a t-shirt that said "I'm not Numbuh 1."
    • When the KND operatives played a game of tag to decide who'd be their leader, (Numbuh 13 was the only one who wanted the mantle but the others wouldn't let him have it) Numbuh 4 hid himself in a box that had a written message stating he wasn't there.
  • Justice League Unlimited,' The Flash posing as Luthor, as mentioned above. Two people seemed to have caught on, but kept it to themselves for their own reasons (Gorilla Grodd, who wanted to see him squirm, and Tala, who liked "new" Lex better. Especially in bed...). The rest assumed that their leader had fried his brain trying to Mind Probe Grodd.
  • Futurama provides a few examples:
    • The episode "Fear of a Bot Planet":

Guard-bot #2: Be you robot or human?
Leela: Robot... we be.
Fry: Uh, yup. Just two robots out robot-ing it up!

    • Subverted in another episode which features Flexo, Bender's identical brother who only differs in having a goatee. Fry and Leela then find a Bender-like robot who constantly hides his chin behind a pullover or a map, so they assume it is Flexo.

Fry: Hey Bender!
Robot: Yes, it's me... Bender

The twist is that it really is Bender.
    • Used in another episode featuring Flexo, in which Bender tries to impersonate him, going out of his way to "act" and "sound" like Flexo—the joke being that, different catchphrases aside, Flexo and Bender already sound and act like each other.
      • No, the real joke is that he is trying to seduce his girlfriend as Flexo because he jealously suspects that she secretly loves Flexo (her ex), but only succeeds by acting nothing like Flexo at all, doing all the things she loves to do (like dancing) even though she keeps pointing out that he -- "Flexo"—hates those same things and thats partly why they broke up. Bender eventually reveals the ruse but fails to realise that she could hardly have been falling for Flexo when he had to not act like Flexo at all.

Bender: "You love him so much you even love anyone pretending to be him!"
Angleene: "Maybe I love you so much I love you no matter who you're pretending to be."
Bender: "Oh, how I wish I could believe or understand that!"

    • The Brain Slugs are one-eyed, fist-sized slugs, who can take control of a person's body, but only by externally attaching to the heads of their victims. As if this weren't obvious enough, they speak of their host in the third person constantly. No one is fooled by this (except Fry, initially), but everyone pretends to be, because it's easier to just humor the slugs.
    • A Decapodian (Zoidberg's people) spy goes by the name "Hugh Mann". Only Zapp Brannigan is fooled.
      • Who is, of course, in complete personal control of the entire Earthican defence network...
    • Leela, when disguised as a man to sneak into the army, spends a good amount of time in the beginning reminding people that she's "a man". When asked her name, she even tries to work it into her pseudonym: "Lee La Man... lemon... Lee Lemon!"
  • Robot Chicken: In an A-Team spoof, Face attempts to infiltrate the criminal underworld by announcing "Greetings. Is this where the thugs and/or criminals hang out? Because I too am a thug and/or criminal." He is recognized immediately.
  • In an episode of Rocko's Modern Life, Heffer tries to sneak into a nightclub for elk by putting on a pair of fake antlers and telling the bouncer "I am an elk. I have antlers." The bouncer quips "You want a prize?" before letting him in.
  • Earthworm Jim: Whenever Evil the Cat made an appearance that required him to wear a Paper-Thin Disguise, he would always reassure whomever he needed reassuring that he wasn't a cat... Since this was Earthworm Jim, it did, of course, always work.
  • Subverted in an episode of Out of Jimmy's Head. When Sonny unveils his Jimbotron, a robot double of the protagonist Jimmy, it looks like a sub-B-grade science fiction movie robot with an unconvincing wig and one of Jimmy's shirts, which barely fits it. Sonny also has it say things like "If I'm not Jimmy, why would I steal one of his shirts?" It spectacularly fails to fool anyone except Jimmy's idiot father, and even he had to be missing his contacts.
  • In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 Splinter and Shredder's minds are accidentally swapped. Splinter manages to bluff his way through, after almost being found out when he doesn't sufficiently insult and belittle Shredder's two idiot minions Rock Steady and Be-Bop. Shredder, on the other hand, has far less success.
  • Danny Phantom: Danny does this when overshadowing his father in "Parental Bonding".
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart barely convinces a group of children from Shelbyville that he is one of them. "No, not in my mouth! ...Uh, is what that kid would say." To be fair they don't have a clue who he is even after his reveal.

Bart: It's me, Bart Simpson. (confused looks) From Springfield!

    • In a Halloween Episode, Homer suffered an accident and Moe took advantage to trick Marge into thinking Homer left her. To further convince her, Moe gave her a letter saying it was written by Homer using his(Moe's) caligraphy. The letter was a forged (and exaggerated) confession of homosexuality.
  • Invader Zim invokes this trope by necessity in order to maintain his Paper-Thin Disguise. ("I'm human! Yep, human, human, human. Just look at my neck!") Only his nemesis Dib and Dib's sister Gaz ever notice. In the episode "Abducted" however, he encounters a pair of even stupider aliens who have even worse disguises and invoke the trope even harder - they abducted Zim because they actually thought he was a human! (And then abduct Dib because they think he's a weasel.)


  • One episode of The Tick (animation) involves a shoddy green clone of Arthur who says nothing but "I Arthur". Naturally, the Tick can't tell them apart.
  • An episode of Ben 10 Alien Force features an alien with a copied Omnitrix stuck in Ben's form. When he first attempts to pass himself off as the real Ben, he says stuff like "Yes, it is I, Ben Tennyson. Escort me, Ben 10, to my domicile."
  • In Transformers Animated, when Wasp disguises himself as Bumblebee (and makes Bumblebee look like Wasp), his disguise is compromised by his penchant for talking in the third person, and his habit of calling Bumblebee 'Bumblebot'. The same happens to Bumblebee, except because of his lack of third-person speaking. Naturally, no-one notices.
  • Family Guy:
    • "Hello hebrews and shebrews, what a glorious Jewish day..." Also followed immediately by: "They tried to rip me off, but I 'us'ed them down to half price" (Jewish man runs up and kicks Peter in the crotch.)
  • In the Bump in the Night episode "Not of This Boy's Room," Bumpy accidentally ends up on an alien spaceship. He asks one if they are planning some kind of invasion, whih the alien denies.
  • In Timon and Pumbaa, the two title characters have done a Totem Pole Trench a few times, but each time, Timon had a habit of stumbling over his words forgetting that they are supposed to be one person.
  • Similar to the above example, on and episode of Ed Edd and Eddy, when the Ed's tried to fool the Kanker Sisters, Eddy said "We're doing a survey," instead of "I'm doing a survey."
  • In Pinky and The Brain, Brain is mistaken for Napoleon Bonaparte and gladly plays the part, but it takes him a while to get used to the idea.

Brain: I'm happy to be... Napoleon—uh, here, and if you need... Napoleon for anything, ask me, for I am him.

  • An episode of Two Stupid Dogs has Little Dog freaking out over a cat and trying (in vain) to wake up Big Dog so he could scare the cat off. As part of a plan to get rid of the cat by himself, Little Dog got himself a cat puppet:

Little Dog: Hey, cat! Hey! Look at me! I'm a cat, not a puppet! And we can be friends, you can trust me, because I'm a cat, not a puppet... and definitely not a dog.

  • An episode of Taz-Mania featured two spies who dressed themselves as tourists from Cleveland. Practically every conversation they had included some mention about the place.
  • In Phineas and Ferb episode "Not Phineas & Ferb", Irwin tricked his brother Albert by having Baljeet and Buford dressed as Phineas and Ferb. Buford, who was dressed as Ferb, mentioned being a Britton that doesn't talk a lot.
  • In The Fairly OddParents episode "Timvisible", Francis the bully held a tradition of beating all other boys during last day. One of his victims put on a pink dress and a blonde wig to avoid it. That boy stated he was a girl, whom Francis would beat if he were a boy but won't because he was a girl or something like that. Does any troper know the correct line? Francis saw through the lame acting and removed the wig. The boy then pleaded that he was still wearing a dress but it didn't work.
  • In the Captain Caveman and Son segment of The Flintstone Kids, Captain Caveman "hides" his home's location by posting a sign stating "This is NOT Captain Caveman's Secret Hideout".

Real Life

  • Tourists. Their "I ♥ NY" T-shirts give them away every time.
    • Especially in Tokyo.
    • Lampshaded in CSI: NY. When they find a victim wearing such a shirt, they immediately assume it's a tourist. They are right (although he was actually wearing it because he spilt coffee down his shirt and was there to rescue his daughter from a brothel rather than sightseeing). In a subversion, Danny mentions he wanted one as a kid (when he got one, it got him beaten up at school).
    • If they don't wear "I ♥ NY" T-shirts, the accent will reveal the truth.
      • And even if you don't hear them speak, you'll know them anyway, because they'll be the ones constantly staring up at the "really tall buildings". Most residents and even frequent visitors have long since ceased to be impressed.
    • The New York Times Magazine once ran a list of tips for passing as a New Yorker. One of them advised, "Profess no knowledge of where the Statue of Liberty is."
    • In San Francisco the tourists wear "San Francisco" sweatshirts not because they're trying to pass as locals but because they learned (typically at Fisherman's Wharf) that the wind off the ocean is no warm breeze, even in midsummer.
    • The quickest way to tell who is a tourist in Seattle is to look for the people with umbrellas. Most rain in Seattle is so light and so constant that locals don't even bother, apart from a hood or hat.
      • Most of the rainy Pacific Northwest has this; the natives either have raincoats which they never take off, or no raincoat at all, depending on the day's weather.
      • Another way to tell if someone is a tourist in Seattle is to ask them if they've been to the Space Needle. Most of us haven't.
    • The shirts that sport the motto "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go to Montreal" are only seen in two places: worn by tourists visiting Montreal and in the front window of the stores who sell them to said tourists.
      • Another tip for spotting a tourist in Montreal: during the winter, they are the ones who show horror at snowstorms that pile up anything less than a full foot of snow on the ground. True Montrealers have a word for a 12 inch snowfall: Tuesday.
  • This picture. Definitely, absolutely not a telemarketer.
  • Everyone in Britain just assumes anyone who calls themselves a Canadian is an American who doesn't want to admit it.
    • Until they say about, or out, or shout, or something. Then we've got them!
    • Instead Canadians wear American flags on their head. IN AMERICA!
    • The old joke (told even in Canada) goes like this:

How can you tell there's an American in Europe? He goes around insisting he's Canadian. How do you know there's a Canadian in Europe? He goes around insisting he's not American.

  • Lots of "Japanese" restaurants outside of Japan (well, at least in Europe) are teppan-yaki and involve ridiculous kimonos and food-dropping games with a chef playing with food while cooking it. The kind of restaurant you can't find anywhere in Japan.
    • Teppan-yaki restaurants did originate in Japan. They're just far more popular in the west than they are in their home country.
    • Many Japanese restaurants aren't even run by Japanese people, but by Korean or Chinese businessmen as a successful attempt to cash on the growing popularity of Japanese sushi, sashimi... etc.
  • In an inversion a spy in England, when asked what his profession was by friends and neighbors would answer "I'm a spy." Because nobody believed him, the ruse worked.