Created By: hotrods4ben on August 15, 2011 Last Edited By: hotrods4ben on September 8, 2014

Unregistered Foreigner

A Fish Out Of Temporal Water, or just a foreigner, can\'t prove who they are.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs a Better Title, Rolling Updates

Alt titles: Has No Identity in the Future, Foreign Fish

Say you've been transported to the future. You may have been frozen or something, or maybe you are from another planet or even dimension. They have the population categorized and everything (a telltale sign that it's a Dystopia, or at least an Obstructive Bureaucracy world), but you don't have any records! They might fix that quickly, or you might be a fugitive since not having any identification is against the law!

See also Un-Person, may lead to them believing Time Travelers Are Spies.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Kaztano in Durarara!! is an Italian immanent illegally living and working in Japan. He gets kidnapped by a pharmaceutical company's goons for use in experimentation because illegals hiding from the government so they don't get kicked out are less likely to be missed. Kadota's gang steps in and saves him, though.
  • Saito in Zero no Tsukaima is a human from Earth who got sent into a world of magic when it was Louise's turn to summon her Familiar. Despite being Louise's official familiar, he's still known there as a commoner because he cannot use magic. Later on, it is revealed that Saito is a reincarnation of the legendary Void mage familiar Gandalfr, whose ability is to wield any weapon on contact, for as long as it is intended as a weapon.

Film
  • In Idiocracy, Joe has to get his arm tattooed with a UPC and his name, and he accidentally tells the computer his name is "Not Sure". Hilarity Ensues.
  • In The Fifth Element, Leeloo wasn't from Earth, and never formally went through any kind of process to be given identification before she escaped. Korben Dallas is ordered to take a Brawn Hilda commando with him as his cover wife on a starship. Instead, he uses the Brawn Hilda's cover Multipass for Leeloo.
  • In the Mel Gibson film Forever Young, Captain McCormick is cryogenically frozen in the 40's and then forgotten about after he is believed to have died in a lab accident. He ends up being thawed out, and when he tries to report in at the base he was stationed at, they initially believe him to be some loony and send him on his way.
    • Subverted, in that they do eventually find his records, but they had to look in a historical file to find them.
  • Averted in TRON and TRON: Legacy: Kevin and Sam, respectively, have no records when they first enter The Grid, so they are rounded up and given a Data Disc which immediately sync with them and make a set of records for them.
  • In The Terminal Tom Hanks's character has no legal ID because while he was flying in to JFK Airport his country ceased to exist.
  • The premise of Encino Man, since it's about a caveman.

Literature
  • In Ubik, Joe Chip accidentally time-travels from the far future year of 1993 back to 1939 (or maybe not, the novel is kind of a Mind Screw). When a police officer pulls him over for failing to signal before turning, Joe realizes he doesn't have a period-appropriate driver's license, so he gets a citation for that as well. Then the writing on the citation ends up being a message from Runciter.

Live-Action TV
  • Used in the Doctor Who episode "The Long Game". It's not illegal to have no ID chip, but some of the technology (public information terminals, etc.) don't work without one. The Doctor and Rose don't bother, because the Doctor can use his sonic screwdriver to hack any terminal he wants information out of, but Adam gets one fitted so that he can look stuff up without the Doctor knowing.
    • In "Inferno", the Doctor travels into an alternate history where England is ruled by a totalitarian government. When he tries to explain who he is, the authorities assume he's just being unco-operative, leading to the famous exchange:
      Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart: Your identity is being checked with Central Records. When we know who you are, the real interrogation will begin.
      The Doctor: But I don't exist in your world!
      Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart: Then you won't feel the bullets when we shoot you.
    • Averted in "The Beast Below". Not only does the Starship UK census recognise Amy as a citizen, but finds no alarm in her being, according to its own calculations, 1306 years old.

Western Animation
  • Everybody in Futurama has a career chip implanted in their wrist, and luckily Fry has no problem getting one installed.

Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • August 15, 2011
    Nora
    Should we widen this to include people from alternate universes as well? I know I've seen it happen in that context...
  • August 15, 2011
    Stratadrake
    The Un Person?
  • August 16, 2011
    Medinoc
    Leeloo from The Fifth Element?
  • August 16, 2011
    Shnakepup
    @Stratadrake - I don't think so. The Un Person specifically says it's "[w]hen some group systematically removes evidence of a character's existence", which this isn't.
  • August 16, 2011
    Micah
    This is part of the reason why Time Travelers Are Spies.
  • August 16, 2011
    jaytee
    It's worth mentioning Un Person as "related to"
  • August 16, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    Oh boy, I haven't seen The Fifth Element in a while; can I get more details?
  • August 16, 2011
    PaulA
    Used in the Doctor Who episode "The Long Game". It's not illegal to have no ID chip, but some of the technology (public information terminals, etc.) don't work without one. The Doctor and Rose don't bother, because the Doctor can use his sonic screwdriver to hack any terminal he wants information out of, but Adam gets one fitted so that he can look stuff up without the Doctor knowing.
  • August 16, 2011
    AFP
    In regards to The Fifth Element: Leeloo wasn't from Earth, and never formally went through any kind of process to be given identification before she escaped. Getting her a fake Multipass (or just her using Corbin Dallas's, I forget which) was a plot point in the film.
  • August 16, 2011
    AFP
    • In the Mel Gibson film Forever Young, Captain McCormick is cryogenically frozen in the 40's and then forgotten about after he is believed to have died in a lab accident. He ends up being thawed out, and when he tries to report in at the base he was stationed at, they initially believe him to be some loony and send him on his way.
      • Subverted, in that they do eventually find his records, but they had to look in a historical file to find them.
  • August 16, 2011
    AFP
    • Averted in Tron Legacy: Sam has no records when he first enters The Grid, so he is rounded up and given a Data Disc which immediately syncs with him and makes a set of records for him.
  • August 16, 2011
    AFP
  • August 18, 2011
    Fanra
    In regards to The Fifth Element: Leeloo wasn't from Earth, and never formally went through any kind of process to be given identification before she escaped. Getting her a fake Multipass (or just her using Corbin Dallas's, I forget which) was a plot point in the film.

    Actually, Korben Dallas is ordered to take a Brawn Hilda commando with him as his cover wife on a starship. Instead, he uses the Brawn Hilda's cover Multipass for Leeloo. The "plot point" is actually just a Memetic Mutation where Leeloo repeats, "Multipass" several times as she holds it up for the ticketing agent.
  • August 18, 2011
    LordBandanaDee
  • August 18, 2011
    Shnakepup
    I like Unregistered Person as well.
  • August 18, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    I used Unregistered Person for now.
  • August 18, 2011
    Earnest
    It should mention the out of time component somehow. Maybe Evidenceless Time Traveler, Licenceless Time Traveler, Time Traveler Without An ID?
  • August 18, 2011
    Shnakepup
    Unregistered Person works better, since this doesn't necessarily involved time travel (i.e. alternate-dimensions and the such).
  • August 18, 2011
    Earnest
    Yeah... and it's also going to be confused for a non-time travel and non-alternate dimension trope about a person who isn't registered in a country's records. This isn't to be contrary, but if this launches with that name it's going to end up in TRS because the name isn't clear.
  • August 18, 2011
    jaytee
    ^I agree. Very easy to confuse with situations like in Gattaca, where he is unregistered for reasons unrelated to being from another plane of existence.

    I vote we name it for time travel and just make a note that Tropes Are Flexible and interdimensional travel is sufficiently similar to count.
  • August 18, 2011
    PaulA
    If interdimensional travel (sideways-in-time) also counts, there's another Doctor Who example:

    • In "Inferno", the Doctor travels into an alternate history where England is ruled by a totalitarian government. When he tries to explain who he is, the authorities assume he's just being unco-operative, leading to the famous exchange:
      Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart: Your identity is being checked with Central Records. When we know who you are, the real interrogation will begin.
      The Doctor: But I don't exist in your world!
      Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart: Then you won't feel the bullets when we shoot you.

  • August 19, 2011
    AFP
    If Tropes Are Flexible, why can't we just make it about any situation where there is no proof of someone's identity (from another country, from another planet, from another time or dimension, etc.) and work from there?
  • August 19, 2011
    Generality
    Another Doctor Who example:

    • Averted in "The Beast Below". Not only does the Starship UK census recognise Amy as a citizen, but finds no alarm in her being, according to its own calculations, 1306 years old.
  • August 19, 2011
    Earnest
    ^^ Sure, the description just has to be widened quite a bit to include that this goes from mundane situations on through extremely bizarre.
  • August 20, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In The Terminal Tom Hanks's character has no legal ID because while he was flying in to JFK Airport his country ceased to exist.
  • August 20, 2011
    Prfnoff
    (Example I had written up here fits better on Time Travelers Are Spies.)
  • August 22, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    I think this YKTTW is glitching up... I can't change anything in it.
  • August 22, 2011
    benstarwolf
    I like how you mentioned being frozen but you don't have Encino Man as an example. They have a one line description of the movie on that page.
  • August 22, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    It's okay now, but I still can't change the laconic.
  • August 23, 2011
    jaytee
    I'm not so sure this should be widened to include any lack of credentials. They seem to be used quite differently. Hear me out.

    In a science-fiction/time-travel/interdimensional travel context, when a person is questioned about his id or his "papers," it's used to imply a dystopic setting, likely with some kind of totalitarian regime intent on keeping tabs on its citizens. Even when played for laughs (like Futurama), the humor comes from the dissonance between how we see the mandatory ID (frighteningly dystopic) and how the characters see it (utterly mundane).

    In non-sci-fi/fantasy settings (or at least in The Terminal, which really seems to be the only odd one out right now), the lack of ID is more indicative of an Obstructive Bureaucracy. I don't think Encino Man is an example either (although, bear with me, I haven't seen it in over a decade), does his lack of ID ever become an issue?
  • August 23, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    • Kaztano in Durarara is an Italian immanent illegally living and working in Japan. He gets kidnapped by a pharmaceutical company's goons for use in experimentation because illegals hiding from the government so they don't get kicked out are less likely to be missed. Kadota's gang steps in and saves him, though.

    EDIT: just realized this trope isn't what I thought it was. Either expand the trope or change the name. It's way to general for "future only", and doesn't indicate that all.
  • August 23, 2011
    Discovery
    Yeah, the title really needs to be changed. When I first read it, I was sure it was about an illegal immigrant or something like that.
  • August 23, 2011
    MetaFour
    Literature
    • In Ubik, Joe Chip accidentally time-travels from the far future year of 1993 back to 1939 (or maybe not, the novel is kind of a Mind Screw). When a police officer pulls him over for failing to signal before turning, Joe realizes he doesn't have a period-appropriate driver's license, so he gets a citation for that as well. Then the writing on the citation ends up being a message from Runciter.
  • August 24, 2011
    judasmartel
    Saito in Zero No Tsukaima is a human from Earth who got sent into a world of magic when it was Louise's turn to summon her Familiar. Despite being Louise's official familiar, he's still known there as a commoner because he cannot use magic. Later on, it is revealed that Saito is a reincarnation of the legendary Void mage familiar Gandalfr, whose ability is to wield any weapon on contact, for as long as it is intended as a weapon.
  • August 25, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    Alright, some other titles...
  • August 27, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    Bump. Any ideas?
  • September 30, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    Bumping, because this died for a while. Since this would get quickly tossed into TRS, what should we do to it?
  • September 4, 2014
    DAN004
    WISE FWOM YO GWAVE!
  • September 4, 2014
    StarSword
  • September 4, 2014
    StarSword
    Video Games:
    • After coming Back From The Dead in Mass Effect 2 Shepard has some trouble the first time s/he visits the Citadel, because s/he's legally dead. C-Sec Captain Bailey notes that ordinarily Shepard would have to run around to various agencies for several days to get the problem sorted out, but he makes it go away with the push of a button on grounds that the DNA scanners have already verified the undead Spectre's identity.
  • September 4, 2014
    Astaroth
    • When The Order Of The Stick visit the Empire of Blood during their investigation of Girard's Gate, they arrive via their cleric Durkon casting a Wind Walk spell rather than by crossing the border control points properly. As a result, when Roy and Belkar are involved in a tavern brawl, the guards arrest them for not being able to provide appropriate paperwork.
  • September 4, 2014
    DAN004
    Uh, what's the relationship of this trope and "illegal immigrants"?
  • September 4, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^^ Then Durkon discreetly goes outside the city and goes back in through customs.
  • September 7, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Comic Books
    • The Runaways have been dealing with problems related to this trope for years due to later members Victor (who's classified by SHIELD as "Ultron tech"), Xavin (a Skrull refugee), and Klara (who is an immigrant from the 1900s in several senses of the word.) It got especially bad for them during Civil War, where SHIELD declared that Victor, Xavin, and Karolina were fair game for harsh combat measures, including aerial bombardment and rendition.
    • The Eternals on Earth used to be carefully monitored by SHIELD, but this monitoring fell apart after Sprite changed reality to convince all the Eternals on Earth that they were mere mortals. After regaining their powers and memories, the Eternals keep getting harassed by Tony Stark for violating the Super Registration Act by not registering. Eventually, Zuras points out that Stark can't force the Eternals to do anything because they're A) foreign nationals, and B) fully capable of shrugging off anything that SHIELD might send after them, and Stark decides to drop the whole thing.
  • September 8, 2014
    Arivne
    Film
  • September 8, 2014
    Chabal2
    Subverted in the Blake And Mortimer story "The Diabolical Trap". When sent back in time to the Middle Ages, Mortimer is asked who he is, and he dazedly answers "Philip Mortimer, of London". The medieval Frenchmen are all too happy to believe him so they can hang him.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=zyo1tpnfgown7f51f12nu7kr