Created By: Aminatep on January 17, 2010 Last Edited By: FactoidCow on February 29, 2016

Friend of Masked Self

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

Name Space:
Page Type:

Up for Grabs, Needs More Examples, Needs Trope Image.

This trope describes the situation where someone 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 hero spends a lot of time protecting their family and loved ones, or they know a surprising amount about the local villains, or they're always talking about how great the hero is, eventually someone will get suspicious. Short of revealing their secret, the best way to explain their special treatment and inside knowledge is to simply say: "Well, Captain Order? I know him. We hang out."

This strategy has some risks. After all, the main reason 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.

Often paired with Identity Impersonator to strengthen the charade. Compare But He Sounds Handsome, Loves My Alter Ego.


    open/close all folders 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Real Life Example: The book series A Series of Unfortunate Events was supposedly written by the reclusive and mysterious Lemony Snicket. Daniel Handler, the Real Life author, often makes appearances as Snicket's official "representative", maintaining the fiction that Snicket is a separate person.

    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.


    Western Animation 

Community Feedback Replies: 24