Created By: Xzenu on June 5, 2011 Last Edited By: Xzenu on August 24, 2011
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Secrets behind secrets, masks behind masks

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Rolling Updates * Needs More Examples


Why settle for a secret identity or wearing a mask, when you can let your secret identity have a secret identity and wear a mask under your mask?

This can be done by individuals or organizations, and it can be done in a physical, social or metaphorical sense. Easily combined with a Gambit Pileup. Popular in the world of Ancient Conspiracy.

Contrast Secret Identity Identity, where there's only one secret identity but it's becoming the persons real identity.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Kakashi in Naruto is a literal case - he wears another mask under his mask.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch has three or four identities: Lelouch Vi Britannia, Lelouch Lamperouge, Zero, and the king of geass. The second series adds another identity, since there are two different Lelouch Lamperouge identities depending on who he says his real sibling is. People who are close to him, like Nunnally, Suzaku, and Milly might know two of the identities, but C.C. is the only other person who knows all of them. In the last five episodes, he complicates it further by pretending that Lelouch Vi Britannia is a Complete Monster.

Comic Books
  • In The Phantom, the secret leader of the jungle patrol is The Phantom itself - the masked superhero identity, rather than it's mundane counterpart "Mr Walker".
  • Daredevil did this for a while - Matt Murdock pretended to also be his non-blind twin brother Mike, who everyone suspected was secretly Daredevil.
  • Moon Knight sometimes did this; as part of his multiple personality psychopathy sometimes even he didn't know who the "real" person was under all the double- and triple-personalities.
  • Twice in the Intercontinuity Crossover Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk Batman wears a Latex Perfection mask over his Batman cowl. Here's one of them - he even manages to keep his extra long pointy bat-ears under the disguise. Batman has also used the same trick in older comics.

Literature
  • In Illuminatus!, every ancient secret is actually a cover-up for some other ancient secret. And yes, that same principle applies to pretty much every level, thus creating an infinite loop of The Reveal.
  • In Making Money, the protagonist Moist Von Lipwig (former Boxed Crook, now sort-of reformed) meets Topsy Lavish, who owns Ankh-Morpork's bank. Being a buisnesswoman, she immediatly sees him for what he is, decides he's the perfect person to keep the bank out of the hands of her evil relatives and proceeds to lampshade his relationship with Adora Bell Dearheart with this trope;
    "I suspect you like her because she can see your inner self. Or at least an inner self you've left inside just in case."

Live-Action TV
  • In Lost, Ben pretend to be the victim of a group of savages. He's actually the leader of this group of savages, which doesn't exist except as a front for an Ancient Conspiracy. However, Ben is not in control: Indeed he is the leader of this Ancient Conspiracy, but the conspiracy itself is also a front for something else, something which Ben cannot even reach, much less control.

Video Games
  • The third Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game has the following line: "I'm afraid you are neither a proud thief, nor an Ace Detective. You're a blackmailer and a murderer." This happens after Magnificent Bastard Luke Atmey says he's an Ace Detective who had a fight with the thief Mask DeMasque. When you prove that this is false, he says that Mask DeMasque attacked him from behind. When you prove that false, he says that he's Mask Demasque. The truth is that he's been blackmailing Mask DeMasque into letting him pretend to be an Ace Detective, and that he then decided to falsely confess to being Mask DeMasque in an attempt to hide the fact that he's a murderer.

Web Comics
  • In Blip, the Adversary uses in-universe Pixellation to hide his face, and wears a mask underneath that.

Web Original
  • Happens In one Megaman flash video where Tenguman and Bass get into a fight. At one point, Bass says something amongst the line of "Let's see who's under that mask", pulls off Tenguman's mask... to reveal another one. This then gets repeated for a ludricous number of masks which were all stacked on Tenguman's face.

Western Animation
  • In The Justice Friends, Krunk tries to take off the mask of Major Glory - only to reveal several layers of masks beneath it.
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • June 5, 2011
    Goldfritha
    Ancient Conspiracy loves this.
  • June 5, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • Daredevil did this for a while - Matt Murdock pretended to also be his non-blind twin brother Mike, who everyone suspected was secretly Daredevil.
    • Moon Knight sometimes did this; as part of his multiple personality psychopathy sometimes even he didn't know who the "real" person was under all the double- and triple-personalities.
  • June 5, 2011
    Bisected8
    This is implied in Making Money by a Cool Old Lady to Moist.
    "I suspect you like her because she can see your inner self. Or at least an inner self you've left inside just in case."
  • June 6, 2011
    Damr1990
    • see also Thirty Xanatos PileUp for when there are diferent factions trying to destroy the others facades while keeping their owns
  • June 7, 2011
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Might want to mention not to be confused with Secret Identity Identity or Secret Secret Keeper

    the Secret Identity trope/index might help
  • June 15, 2011
    1774689
    Lampshaded in The Justice Friends when Krunk tries to take off the mask of Major Glory, only to reveal several layers of masks beneath it.
  • June 15, 2011
    MetaFour
    • In Blip, the Adversary uses in-universe Pixellation to hide his face, and wears a mask underneath that.
  • June 16, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Kakashi also says "You have to look underneath the underneath"!

    This kind of sounds like that 4chan joke. "Hey, I heard you like to hide your identity! So I put a mask in your mask so you can hide while you hide!"
  • June 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Twice in the Intercontinuity Crossover Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk Batman wears a Latex Perfection mask over his Batman cowl. Here's one of them - he even manages to keep his extra long pointy bat-ears under the disguise.
  • June 25, 2011
    OmarKarindu
    The Batman example was absolutely routine in Batman's comics until into the 1980s.
  • June 26, 2011
    TBeholder
    Mask Under Mask?
  • July 10, 2011
    Xzenu
    Trope is not limited to masks. :-)
  • July 10, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    ^ It's a metaphor.
  • August 22, 2011
    neobullseye
    Would this trope also include a literal mask under another mask?

    If so, i once saw this Megaman flash video where Tenguman and Bass get into a fight. At one point, Bass says something amongst the line of "Let's see who's under that mask", pulls off Tenguman's mask... to reveal another one. This then gets repeated for a ludricous number of masks which were all stacked on Tenguman's face.

    A similiar thing happens in a Scooby-Doo episode, where after the monster is unmasked to reveal guy X, Fred immeadiatly pulls off another mask to reveal guy Y. (I forgot the details, i'll add them later when i can find them)
  • August 22, 2011
    SonicLover
  • August 22, 2011
    Tifforo
    In Code Geass, Lelouch has three or four identities: Lelouch Vi Britannia, Lelouch Lamperouge, Zero, and the king of geass. The second series adds another identity, since there are two different Lelouch Lamperouge identities depending on who he says his real sibling is. People who are close to him, like Nunnally, Suzaku, and Milly might know two of the identities, but C.C. is the only other person who knows all of them. In the last five episodes, he complicates it further by pretending that Lelouch Vi Britannia is a Complete Monster.

    The third Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney game has the following line: "I'm afraid you are neither a proud thief, nor an Ace Detective. You're a blackmailer and a murderer." This happens after Magnificent Bastard Luke Atmey says he's an Ace Detective who had a fight with the thief Mask DeMasque. When you prove that this is false, he says that Mask DeMasque attacked him from behind. When you prove that false, he says that he's Mask Demasque. The truth is that he's been blackmailing Mask DeMasque into letting him pretend to be an Ace Detective, and that he then decided to falsely confess to being Mask DeMasque in an attempt to hide the fact that he's a murderer.
  • August 22, 2011
    Bisected8
    So is Making Money not an example then?
  • August 23, 2011
    Xzenu
    @Bisected8: Hmm, it probably is. But could use a bit more information.

    @neobullseye: It most certainly does. That's actually how this trope got started. I was working on No Face Under The Mask, and someone wanted to add the Western Animation example from The Justice Friends.
  • August 23, 2011
    Bisected8
    How's this then;

    • In Making Money, the protagonist Moist Von Lipwig (former Boxed Crook, now sort-of reformed) meets Topsy Lavish, who owns Ankh-Morpork's bank. Being a buisnesswoman, she immediatly sees him for what he is, decides he's the perfect person to keep the bank out of the hands of her evil relatives and proceeds to lampshade his relationship with Adora Bell Dearheart with this trope;
      "I suspect you like her because she can see your inner self. Or at least an inner self you've left inside just in case."
  • August 24, 2011
    Xzenu
    Thanks. Added.
  • August 24, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    Is this trope prone to Unreveals?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hj8d6uyc3hlc9r7vk55ae5h5