Friend of Masked Self
A hero (or villain) in their civilian identity poses as their secret identity's close friend.
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.
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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