Created By: moocow1452 on December 11, 2011 Last Edited By: moocow1452 on December 17, 2011

Secret Identity Theft

Your super-identity has been taken, and someone's joyriding it around.

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Trope
As opposed to Costume Copycat or Legendary Impostor, Secret Identity Theft involves a character losing his super identity against his will, and another guy taking up the mask. May be a temporary problem of the day if the guy is a baddie, or the start of a Legacy Character if the guy wants to help out.

Examples:
  • Robin from Teen Titans has his Red X persona for when he needs to get his hands dirty, but the costume gets stolen from him and Red X becomes his own villain.
  • John Henry Irons's niece, Natasha, becomes the new Steel after her uncle gave her the Never Be a Hero speech. Obviously it didn't take, but John set his equipment up to respond to her commands, so he had this in mind.
  • In the new run of Ultimate Spiderman, Peter Parker was killed in a jailbreak of the Sinister Six, and Miles Morales happened to be the only kid with spider powers around to take up the mantle.

Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • December 11, 2011
    Damr1990
    • On the Teen Titans Cartoon, Robin once pretended to be a Criminal Called "Red X" to get Closser to Slade, it failed(slade knew it was him the whole time) fast foward a few Seasons,and it got stolen, acording to raven by "Anyone smart enough to find the suit, and dumb enough to take it for a joyride". however this new red X could be considered relatively harmless(letting aside the suit is powered by Unobtanium) as he's just a regular theif, and eneded just becoming a minor villian latter on with a little ammount of Worthy Opponent to Robin
  • December 11, 2011
    Maxaxle
    Most comic book protagonists have had imitators. More specifically...
    • The Dark Knight features multiple Batman-inspired gunmen who attempt to stop a set of similarly-skilled criminals in the beginning, though the real Bat Man stops them and ties them all up when he finds them.
  • December 11, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • December 12, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi

  • December 12, 2011
    Stratadrake
    @OP: No YKTTW is ever self-explanatory, you must include a formal definition.
  • December 12, 2011
    LeeM
    Non-superhero example: in the Thunderbirds episode "The Imposters" International Rescue is impersonated by another secret organisation. Which wouldn't be so bad, if the imposters didn't happen to be crooks trading in on IR's image.
  • December 13, 2011
    PaulA
    Looking at the examples that have appeared so far, I think a distinction needs to be made between cases where the impostor copies the identity, so that the real person and the impostor are active at the same time, and cases where the impostor steals the identity, leaving its proper owner unable to use it.

    The former is already covered by Costume Copycat and Legendary Impostor. The latter might work as trope, but there haven't been many examples of it yet.
  • December 13, 2011
    Bisected8
    • There are some Real Life legal versions of this;
      • "Domain Name Squatting" - when some reserves a domain name in the name of a particular company or organisation so they can force them to buy it off them (the clever ones actually use it for something plausable). Laws are being introduced to crack down on the practise but its been a major headache (particularly for small business owners who fail to predict their own success and get beaten to reserving the domain) for much of the 2000's.
      • Trademark laws also make this possible, albeit extremly difficult (luckily). In theory if someone can register a trademark on something (not to be confused with a copyright, which covers much less and is automatically granted in many juristictions) then they have exclusive rights to it, even over-riding people and companies who've been trading under the name before the one with the trademark. In practise there are safeguards to stop this being abused (e.g. they can still be disputed and retracted even after being granted as long as the holder hasn't been using it for a certain amount of time and the disputer has a good case that they deserve the rights to it) and the laws regarding protecting trademarks and copyrights practically demand that holders employ Disproportionate Retribution through the courts (else they risk losing their claim to it as well).
  • December 13, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    @ PaulA I'm thinking this trope should be entirely as you suggested: taking a secret identity and ruining its reputation (say, by committing a crime and leaving a false trail incriminating the secret identity).

    Best example off the top of my head is the first Descoine outing in Remington Steele, in which Steele is framed for a hit-and-run "accident" that comes to look like murder. If memory serves, the episode is entitled "Steele Frame".
  • December 13, 2011
    Bisected8
    I think impersonting the hero to frame them would fall under Costume Copycat.

    But in case it doesn't;

    • Sonic The Comic had an arc where Tails was impersonated by a leaf themed supervillain with a helicoptor rotor that gave him the same sillouette (although the difference is obvious up close). Although it's never stated if he was trying to frame Tails or it was an unexpected bonus.
    • The Spider Man villain The Chameleon did this pretty much the first time he encountered him in the comics. Twice in fact (first by framing him, and then, when Spidey chased him down and cleared his name, and then, in an attempt to escape custody, dropped a smoke bomb, disguised himself as a police officer and pretended that he was being attacked by Chameleon as Spiderman). Venom gets in on the act too, sometimes (although in some stories people recognise him as a fake because of his larger build).
  • December 13, 2011
    Duncan
    Non-superhero example: in The Importance Of Being Earnest, Jack pretends to be his imaginary younger brother Earnest when he's in the City, so he can have fun without tarnishing his respectable reputation he has as Jack in the Country. His friend Algernon hears about this, and shows up at Jack's country house pretending to be Earnest.
  • December 14, 2011
    moocow1452
    OP here, I was thinking along the lines of the Red X example when I launched, where the hero is prevented from putting on the costume and someone cashes in, but if it's one of those things that's Too Rare To Trope, I guess we could just put the examples in one of the other pages.
  • December 14, 2011
    Stratadrake
    There's also the opinion that we have multiple concepts being suggested as examples here, which is one of the reasons you must always include a writeup to define your trope by.
  • December 16, 2011
    moocow1452
    Okay, write up completed. Going for round two.
  • December 17, 2011
    nman
    • The entire premise of Batman Beyond is a Legacy Character who starts out with this trope. Bruce Wayne has not been the Batman for decades, due to him having a heart attack (as well as violating his own morals by having to use a gun) which leaves him unable/unwilling to parade around in his costume. Then Terry steals the Batsuit and goes around as Batman to beat the shit out of gangs.
  • December 17, 2011
    MidnightRambler
    IIRC, the Green Goblin does this in the first Spider-Man film.
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