Created By: Aminatep on January 17, 2010 Last Edited By: FactoidCow on July 31, 2016
Troped

Friend of Masked Self

A hero (or villain) in their civilian identity poses as their secret identity's close friend.

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Trope
This trope describes the situation where a character with a Secret Identity pretends, in their civilian guise, to be friends with that identity. To put it another way, the character pretends to be friends with him/herself to keep up the illusion that the Secret Identity and the civilian identity are two separate people.

Doing this is usually necessary when the character is dropping a lot of clues. If the local hero spends a lot of time protecting Joe Shmo's family and loved ones, or Joe knows a surprising amount about the local villains, or Joe is always talking about how great the hero is, eventually someone will get suspicious. Short of revealing his secret, the best way for Joe to explain his special treatment and inside knowledge is to simply say: "Well, Captain Order? I know him. We hang out."

This strategy has some risks. One of the main reasons a hero wears a mask is to protect their loved ones. if the character's civilian identity pretends to be one of those loved ones, the hero's enemies will trip over each other trying to get to the civilian. It helps if the character frames the relationship as either casual or strictly professional, and informs everyone that they don't know who the hero is beneath the mask. Even so, there's still a chance they could wind up as Bruce Wayne Held Hostage or worse.

Doesn't literally require a Cool Mask, although it's a lot harder to pull off if the hero doesn't wear one. An Identity Impersonator can strengthen the charade.

See also But He Sounds Handsome, Loves My Alter Ego. Contrast Actually, I Am Him, where the character pulling the trick has no Secret Identity to speak of, and can only fool strangers who don't recognize them.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • In one episode of Sailor Moon, Usagi comes to a reporter (who, unknown to her, is the Monster of the Week) with a letter from Sailor Moon, claiming to be her friend.

    Comic Books 
  • Bruce Wayne often claims to have a cordial relationship with Batman to explain why the Caped Crusader shows up to his rescue so often.
  • Depending on the continuity, Iron Man is officially an employee of Stark Enterprises and is Stark's bodyguard, so Stark made the suit for him.
  • In early Marvelman strips everyone knows that in order to get a message to Marvelman you should contact Micky Moran, a copyboy at the Daily Bugle (not that one).
  • Paperinik (a.k.a. Phantomias) is a very close friend of Donald Duck.
  • PS238: "Friend" might be going a bit far, but the kids know that if they need to contact Moon Shadow they can go through Tyler.
  • Peter Parker makes his living off of this trope; he pretends to be Spider-Man's friend and sells interviews and photos of himself to the Daily Bugle.

    Film 
  • The Mask: Stanley Ipkiss tells Tina that he's a friend of The Mask, and agrees to arrange for her to meet him.
  • The Rocketeer: Cliff Secord attempts to tell Patsy that the Rocketeer would help him rescue Jenny as FBI agents suddenly arrive and arrest Cliff.
  • In the Sam Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy, Peter Parker sometimes describes himself as Spider-Man's friend and unofficial photographer.

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Adventures of Superman Clark Kent is a good friend of Superman's; if anybody needs to get a message to Supes just contact CK at the Daily Planet and he'll be sure to pass it along.
    • Superman loves the idea of Identity Impersonator in general, which usually implies at least an acquaintance.
  • On the November 13, 2008 episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert tells the audience he has a "close personal relationship" with Superman, then implies that he is Superman.
    Stephen Colbert: ...though we've never been seen together. Hmmm...[curls hair over forehead, takes off glasses]...I wonder why.
  • Clark Kent uses this trope (as usual) in Lois and Clark. One episode in particular had some reporters find Superman uniforms in Clark's closet, so Superman appeared alongside Clark (Martha took up holograms as a hobby in the episode) and explained he simply need to keep them somewhere.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The book series A Series of Unfortunate Events was supposedly written by the reclusive and mysterious Lemony Snicket. Daniel Handler, the real author, often makes appearances as Snicket's official "representative", maintaining the fiction that Snicket is a separate person.
  • When The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was adapted into a film, author B. Traven sent a friend of his, Hal Croves, to be a technical adviser on the film. Reportedly, "Croves" was actually Traven himself.

Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • January 13, 2010
    random surfer
    You recall correctly re Tony Stark & Iron Man. (Depending on the continuity,) Iron Man is officially an empolyee of Stark Enterprises and is Stark's bodyguard.

    In The Adventures Of Superman Clark Kent is a good friend of Superman's; if anybody needs to get a message to Supes just contact CK at the Daily Planet and he'll be sure to pass it along.
  • January 13, 2010
    henke37
    Steel Donald or however it's translated.
  • January 15, 2010
    Aminatep
    Bump.
  • March 14, 2011
    Sikon
    In one episode of Sailor Moon, Usagi comes to a reporter (who, unknown to her, is the Monster Of The Week) with a letter from Sailor Moon, claiming to be her friend.
  • May 14, 2011
    QuakPenguin
    Don't forget Stephen Colbert who has a close, personal relationship to Superman though they've never been seen together...I WONDER WHY? www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/210506/november-13-2008/tip-wag---marvel-comics
  • May 14, 2011
    thegrenekni3t
    • Daniel Handler often makes appearances as the official "representative" of the reclusive and mysterious Lemony Snicket.
  • May 14, 2011
    QuakPenguin
    Paperinik(aka Phantomias) is a very close friend of Donald Duck.
  • May 14, 2011
    Premonition45
    Stanley Ipkiss tells Tina that he's a friend of The Mask.
  • August 19, 2011
    regresal
    bump
  • August 20, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I think this is related somehow to Loves My Alter Ego
  • September 19, 2011
    Premonition45
    In The Rocketeer, Cliff Secord attempts to tell Patsy that the Rocketeer would help him rescue Jenny as FBI agents suddenly arrive and arrest Cliff.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    This looks like it has potential. Someone want it?
  • February 19, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In early Marvelman strips everyone knows that in order to get a message to Marvelman you should contact Micky Moran, a copyboy at the Daily Bugle (not that one).
  • February 19, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • In the comics, Tony Stark would allow the fiction that Iron Man was his bodyguard.
  • February 19, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    In the comics, Tony Stark would tell the world that Iron Man was his bodgyguard.
  • February 20, 2016
    Jokubas
    Prince Adam in He Man And The Masters Of The Universe 1983 would claim to know his alter-ego, He-Man, and would often cowardly flee from a dangerous situation to tell He-Man that everyone else needed help, when he was just going for a secluded place to transform.
  • February 20, 2016
    DAN004
  • February 20, 2016
    FactoidCow
    Changed the name (old one was "Befriending Secret Identity"), rewrote the description, and added all the examples from the comments. This looks like a good one, I'm surprised it's been left hanging this long.

    If anyone can think of a better name than mine, let's discuss it.
  • February 21, 2016
    Koveras
  • February 27, 2016
    Antigone3
    PS 238: "Friend" might be going a bit far, but the kids know that if they need to contact Moon Shadow they can go through Tyler.
  • February 27, 2016
    MiinU
    Webcomics
  • February 27, 2016
    MiinU
    There's two Western Animation folders in the OP. The one with the Magick Chicks example should be marked Webcomics.
  • February 28, 2016
    FactoidCow
    ^ Oops. Fixed.
  • February 28, 2016
    FactoidCow
    Revised the description to remove Example As Thesis.
  • June 19, 2016
    DoctorCooper
    I sent the Lemony Snicket example to a Real Life folder.
  • June 20, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Throwing in another hat.
  • June 20, 2016
    BKelly95
    Real Life
    • When The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre was adapted into a film, author B. Traven sent a friend of his, Hal Croves, to be a technical adviser on the film. Supposedly, Croves was actually Traven himself.

    Video Games
    • In the Team Path of Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis, you meet with Omar Al-Jabbar's assistant (who looks different from the one in the Fists and Wits Paths) who agrees to let you meet Omar if you bring him proof that you're searching for Atlantis. Bring him the proof and he'll reveal himself to be Omar Al-Jabbar.
  • June 20, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ that overlaps with Actually I Am Him.
  • June 21, 2016
    Omeganian
    It appears to be the official situation in Lois And Clark. One episode even had some reporters film Superman uniforms in Clark's closet, so Superman appeared alongside Clark (Martha took up holograms as a hobby in the episode) and explained he simply need to keep them somewhere.
  • June 21, 2016
    StarSword
    Film:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=4zlxez59xrs8xr4bhfnklvwd