Created By: Xzenu on August 31, 2011 Last Edited By: Xzenu on July 5, 2012

Obviously Fake Signature

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Trope
Rolling Updates * Needs More Examples

Indexes; Truth and Lies, Mistaken for Index and Contrived Stupidity Tropes.


A character make a weak attempt at forgery - either because he's immature/stupid or because he consider his audience to be. The faked signature is impossible: The real person would obviously never sign a document that way.

Compare The Con. Compare and contrast Children Are Innocent.


Examples

Comic Books
  • In FoxTrot, Paige attempts to forge her father's signature on a note to get it out of gym. She not only signs it 'Mister Fox', but she dots the i with a little love heart.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin attempt to do a parental signature for a document from school, signing it "Calvin's mom".
  • The Beano often featured a joke which inverted this trope;
    "Why is this homework written in your father's handwriting?"
  • In some Dilbert strips, Dogbert sell autographs supposedly made by famous people. In one such strip, he offers a baseball signed by Jesus.

Film
  • In Sweeney Todd, the Con Man Pirelli claim to have shaved the pope. The document that prove it is signed simply "The Pope".

Literature
  • The eponymous protagonist of Wilt is pressured (up to and including sleep deprivation) to confess a crime that he actually wasn't able to commit. So he signs it as "Tom Sawyer".
  • Moist von Lipwig once signs a document 'Ethel Snake'.
  • In the novel True Grit, Ned Pepper makes Mattie forge a signature on a check. She does it, thinking as she does it that nobody will think it's the real signature: you can tell it was signed with a stick rather than a proper writing utensil, whereas the real person wouldn't have done that.
  • Bimbos of the Death Sun Fantasy writer (and Asshole Victim) Dungannon deliberately signs books he wrote as "J. R. R. Tolkien" when an obnoxious fan admits he only wants the autograph for the resale value.
  • In Bored of the Rings, the Boggies attempts to remain undercover when signing into the inn leave something to be desired: Alias Undercover, Ivan Gottasecret, John Doe-Smith, and Ima Pseudonym.

Live-Action TV
  • In one episode of Scrubs, JD forges a basketball player's autograph for a patient finally on her way out of the hospital. Guess who walks in to take notice?
  • The excuse notes signed "Epstein's mother" (or in one case "Epstein's mother's doctor") are a running gag on Welcome Back, Kotter.
  • Parodied in a Doctor Who episode where the seventh Doctor signs a document with a question mark rather than reveal his name. And it works.
  • In an episode of Barney Miller Inspector Luger admires Wojo's signed 1936 World Series baseball and wants Wojo to sell it to him for $20. Wojo doesn't want to; but convinently, they've arrested a forger. Wojo gets him to forge the signatures on another baseball and gives that one to Luger. Where this trope comes into play is, the forger added a signature: John Hancock.
    Luger: Was he with the Giants?
    Wojo: No, um, he was one of the original Yankees.
  • In Smallville season one, this is done by a shapeshifter morphed into Lex Luthor while trying to withdraw money from his account.
  • M*A*S*H: When Klinger is made company clerk he decides to try to get out of the army by faking Potter's signature on some discharge papers. He has notepads full of "Sherman T. Potter" written on them for practice. Potter finds them, but by then Klinger has decided not to do it anyway.
  • In an episode of Hardcastle and McCormick, McCormick attempts to replace Hardcastle's Wilt Chamberlain autographed basketball which has been stolen. Not being a basketball, he signs it "Will Chamberlain" instead of "Wilt Chamberlain".

Web Original
  • One of the most famous articles on Zug is about a guy who noticed that nobody ever seemed to check signatures on receipts, so he decided to see how strange a signature he could create before it got rejected. He started doing pretty normal-looking signatures that obviously didn't match the signature on the back of his credit card, but quickly moved on to much more clearly fake things like signing with 'X', drawing pictures in the box, signing in hieroglyphs, signing as Zeus, and even writing 'I stole this card'. All were accepted. The only time it failed was in part two, when he tried to buy three large-screen HDT Vs with the signature 'not authorised'.

Western Animation
  • In the first regular episode of The Simpsons, the school counselor accuses Bart of forging Homer's signature on his admision slip because of how childish the writing is. Then he sees the check Homer just signed and is proven wrong.
  • In Sidekick, Eric has been signing his own permission slips for Maxum Man, since he's disappeared. It works, even if Professor Pamplemousse is suspicious.
    Pamplemousse: "Funny how his signature is different every time."
    Eric: "Uh, that's so that no one can forge it!"


Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • August 31, 2011
    Xzenu
    :-)
  • August 31, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    In one episode of Scrubs, JD forges a basketball player's autograph for a patient finally on her way out of the hospital. Guess who walks in to take notice?
  • August 31, 2011
    TrustBen
    The excuse notes signed "Epstein's mother" (or in one case "Epstein's mother's doctor") are a running gag on Welcome Back Kotter.
  • August 31, 2011
    TonyG
    • In the first regular episode of The Simpsons, the school counselor accuses Bart of forging Homer's signature on his admision slip because of how childish the writing is. Then he sees the check Homer just signed and is proven wrong.
  • November 4, 2011
    Xzenu
    Any suggestions for indexes and related tropes?
  • November 5, 2011
    corruptmalemenace
    There's a possible inversion in a Doctor Who episode where the seventh Doctor signs a document with a question mark rather than reveal his name. And it works.
  • November 5, 2011
    Bisected8

    @Xzenu: Indexes; Truth And Lies, Mistaken For Index and Contrived Stupidity Tropes.
  • November 5, 2011
    cityofmist
    Moist von Lipwig once signs a document 'Ethel Snake'.
  • November 5, 2011
    randomsurfer
    For a while on the various David Letterman shows whenever he'd have to sign something, he'd sign it "Regis." For example, Penn And Teller did a card trick using giant metal "cards." When they asked Dave to Pick A Card, they then had him sign it in spraypaint. He spraypainted Regis.
  • November 5, 2011
    ClockStopping
    • Truth In Television: one of the most famous articles on Zug is about a guy who noticed that nobody ever seemed to check signatures on receipts, so he decided to see how strange a signature he could create before it got rejected. He started doing pretty normal-looking signatures that obviously didn't match the signature on the back of his credit card, but quickly moved on to much more clearly fake things like signing with 'X', drawing pictures in the box, signing in hieroglyphs, signing as Zeus, and even writing 'I stole this card'. All were accepted. The only time it failed was in part two, when he tried to buy three large-screen HDT Vs with the signature 'not authorised'.
  • November 5, 2011
    foxley
    In Fox Trot, Paige attempts to forge her father's signature on a note to get it out of gym. She not only signs it 'Mister Fox', but she dots the i with a little love heart.
  • February 4, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • In the novel True Grit, Ned Pepper makes Mattie forge a signature on a check. She does it, thinking as she does it that nobody will think it's the real signature: you can tell it was signed with a stick rather than a proper writing utensil, whereas the real person wouldn't have done that.
  • February 4, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Barney Miller Inspector Luger admires Wojo's signed 1936 World Series baseball and wants Wojo to sell it to him for $20. Wojo doesn't want to; but convinently, they've arrested a forger. Wojo gets him to forge the signatures on another baseball and gives that one to Luger. Where this trope comes into play is, the forger added a signature: John Hancock.
    Luger: Was he with the Giants?
    Wojo: No, um, he was one of the original Yankees.
  • February 4, 2012
    captainsandwich
    does it have to be a fake sig, or can it be any obviously crappy forgery?
  • February 5, 2012
    Xzenu
    Hmm... I intended sigs only. But maybe include similar stuff with a soft split. What example did you have in mind?
  • June 26, 2012
    Omeganian
    There was a first season episode of Smallville, where a shapeshifter morphed into Lex Luthor and tried to withdraw money from his account.
  • June 26, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    In Bored Of The Rings, the Boggies attempts to remain undercover when signing into the inn leave something to be desired: Alias Undercover, Ivan Gottasecret, John Doe-Smith, and Ima Pseudonym
  • June 26, 2012
    SKJAM
    • Bimbos Of The Death Sun Fantasy writer (and Asshole Victim) Dungannon deliberately signs books he wrote as "J. R. R. Tolkien" when an obnoxious fan admits he only wants the autograph for the resale value.
  • June 27, 2012
    silentheartsong
    Played around with in House (as in the TV show; I can't remember how to link it right now). Cameron has an established habit of forging House's signature on answers to consult requests and the like. House catches her and calls her out on it in "Paternity," but apparently no one else ever does. Also lampshaded in "Half-Wit," when Cameron thanks him for signing the letter of recommendation she wrote out for him, saying that it saves her having to fake his signature.
  • June 28, 2012
    Xzenu
    The fake signature in House doesn't sound like a example by the description. If it's exposed as fake simply because the official signer remember that he didn't sign that paper, the it's some other trope about getting caught red handed.
  • June 29, 2012
    randomsurfer
    MASH: When Klinger is made company clerk he decides to try to get out of the army by faking Potter's signature on some discharge papers. He has notepads full of "Sherman T. Potter" written on them for practice. Potter finds them, but by then Klinger has decided not to do it anyway.
  • June 29, 2012
    Rognik
    • In Sidekick, Eric has been signing his own permission slips for Maxum Man, since he's disappeared. It works, even if Professor Pamplemousse is suspicious.
      Pamplemousse: "Funny how his signature is different every time."
      Eric: "Uh, that's so that no one can forge it!"
  • June 29, 2012
    foxley
    In an episode of Hardcastle And Mc Cormick, McCormick attempts to replace Hardcastle's Wilt Chamberlain autographed basketball which has been stolen. Not being a basketball, he signs it "Will Chamberlain" instead of "Wilt Chamberlain".
  • July 5, 2012
    NightNymph
    Played with in the episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Pt 1" of Supernatural. One of Sam's psychic aquaintances Andy wants to try to send Dean a telepathic message over a long distance and needs something of Dean's to focus his energy. Sam hands him a gas station receipt with the signature "D. Hasselhoff" written on it. Sam assures him that it is indeed Dean's signature. Amusing since for Sam such a thing is completely normal, and his facial expression and tone suggest that he finds it strange that Andy wouldn't realize the obviously fake signature is Dean's.
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