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[[quoteright:283:[[ComicBook/FantasticFour http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/FF5_Doombot_9198.JPG]]]]
[[caption-width-right:283: Around #758, they began to sense a pattern.]]

->''"Alfred, go get that device that can tell us if someone is Clayface, a Martian, or a robot."''
-->-- '''[[Franchise/{{Batman}} Bruce Wayne]]''', ''ComicBook/TheBatmanAdventures'' #6

A character, usually one relatively high on the power scale, loses a fight. Sometimes they die, other times they're just humiliated. The point is, they just got their butt handed to them by the other guys in a largely fair fight. Is this the end of our eternal rivalry between good and evil? Has one side truly triumphed!?

Not really, no. It turns out that the truly epic character we just saw get beaten up was NotHimself. Rather, he was Actually a Doombot, either a proxy robot or an impersonator who was pretty much impossible to distinguish from the genuine article until the writer told us so at the last minute -- [[{{Retcon}} or later]].

The narrative role of this trope is obvious: it works to prevent TheWorfEffect or a VillainDecay, and also ensure that characters don't "really" die, thus allowing them to come back on next week's program. This can, nonetheless, still come off as an AssPull writ ShaggyDogStory since there are rarely ever any clues given that the character was really a doombot, nor does it have any future relevance in the story. It's also a cheap trick since the other side is denied the feat of actually taking down the formidable character. Seldom will the characters (or the audience) ask what the difference is between defeating a perfect copy of the character and defeating the character himself.

The doombot may be used as well to fix a ContinuitySnarl, or as a ResetButton of a DorkAge. The hero fought a classic villain the writer was not aware that's supposed to be dead? Easy: it was actually a doombot. Of course, the longer the period that the character was supposed to have been a doombot, the less credible the trick may be.

The trope is not simply for "it was actually a robot" plots: it must be used as a getaway resource. If the robot is a character in its own right, or if the replacement generates new plot directions, or is even the starting point rather than the outcome (for example in a detective story in a sci-fi setting), then this trope does not apply. If there is no personification, if the robot was simply a background element that nobody took in consideration, it means that [[TheDogWasTheMastermind The Dog (or whatever) Was the Mastermind]].

A semi-popular form of RetCon. Often involves by necessity RidiculouslyHumanRobots. See OpeningACanOfClones for some of the negative results that crop up when this trope is used over a long period of time. Compare FightingAShadow, BackupTwin, DecoyGetaway, CloningGambit, NinjaLog, RemoteBody, RobotMe, and RobotMaster. If the original simply comes back with little or no explanation, then it's a case of JokerImmunity.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Pulled off to astonishing effect by [[spoiler:[[BigBad Yhwach]]]] in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''.
* ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'', in multiple cases. Since lots of people are cyborgs with fully mechanical bodies it's just so easy.
** Noteworthy are the episodes when a criminal turns out to have not only one Doombot, but a whole number of them, and the one in which [[spoiler:the Major]] "dies", which is straight from the manga.
*** The interesting thing about the former is that it turns out the process of making these doombots actually killed the original. All that's left ''are'' the doombots, and they're basically indistinguishable from the original.
* Done in one occasion in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' when the good guys struggle against two very powerful villains and finally defeat them, only to find out they merely defeated inferior copies made out of animated corpses. From exchanges made beforehand, it then becomes clear that the copies only had 30% of their [[{{Mana}} chakra]] to work with.
** There was a partial example later: When [[spoiler:Kisame fought Killer Bee]], the real him was there for most of the fight but was switched with a much weaker duplicate by the end. Granted, there's a very good chance that [[spoiler:Killer Bee and the Raikage]] ''really could'' have beaten the real him together.
* ''Manga/{{Inuyasha}}'' BigBad Naraku uses this repeatedly with dolls to the point where later in the series the heroes just assume certain incarnations are fakes.
* ''OutlawStar'' does this in episode 9 when Gene is attempting to collect a bounty on the criminal Zomba. Gene wins the fight and is surprised that the guy's a cyborg and takes him in only to find out the real Zomba wasn't a cyborg. [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] immediately after when Suzuka walks out of the police station and as she's walking away some people come running up and announce that she's the one who took down the legendary Zomba (completely offscreen).
* ''Anime/DotHackSign'' does this in episode 26. Tsukasa, Subaru and Mimiru are in a secluded location separated from the others. As the three encounter each other they find themselves being hostile. Tsukasa calls out a fake Mimiru which dissolves into several small data bugs before taking them into Morganna's lair.
* In ''Manga/MegaManMegamix'', near the beginning of the ''The Greatest Enemy in History'' story arc, after [[spoiler:Copy]] Mega Man foils Dr. Wily's plans, he ''shoots him in the forehead'', only for the head to start bouncing on a spring, revealing it be a robot fake. The real Wily observed the event from his Wily Capsule, shocked at how Mega Man would shoot a human.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The name comes from Doombots which are used by writers in the Franchise/MarvelUniverse to explain how SelfDemonstrating/DoctorDoom rarely ever actually "loses" battles.
** This has been pulled so often, there's [[EpilepticTrees a fan theory]] that ''the real Dr. Doom has never appeared in a comic''. Or maybe even that ''there is no "real" Dr. Doom''.
*** There is also the possibility that Doctor Doom does exist, but not in a true physical form. He might be an electromatic source of dark energy that makes the Doombots that he takes possession of until they get destroyed.
*** The fan theory was explored in ''ComicBook/LokiAgentOfAsgard'', deconstructing it in the process and does it with such a BadassBoast, too.
-->'''Doom:''' Not the move '''I''' would have made. Still-- it's a fair question. Why '''do''' they look like me? Doesn't it create the possibility that I '''am''' one? That Doom '''may''', at any moment, be a '''machine?''' That I am not '''myself'''? Of course it does. That is how I '''wish''' it. I once let '''Arcade''' strike a match on me, just to '''maintain''' that confusion. '''Think''', boy. If I am ever '''defeated''' or '''dishonored'''-- If I ever act in ways '''unworthy''' of myself... If I ever '''die'''... The word goes out: "It must have been a '''Doombot'''." And the '''reverse''' is true. My robots '''often''' confuse my foes--I may be a robot '''now''', speaking these words. How would '''you''' know? How would '''I'''? [[ContemplateOurNavels What is Doom?]] The '''flesh and blood''' I can swap out at my '''convenience'''? The '''mind''' that can be copied into '''a thousand machines'''? No. Doom cannot '''fit''' in such '''small''' containers. I am '''not''' my body. '''Not''' my '''mind'''. I am... I am the '''old trunk''', filled with ancient '''mysteries'''. I am the '''explosion''' in the '''college laboratory'''. I am the '''mask''' that '''burns''' with the fires of '''vengeance'''. I am the '''legend''' that unites this '''nation'''. I am the '''story''' of '''Doom'''."
** The "Arcade" incident mentioned above, by the way, was retconned into being a Doombot (who was shortly thereafter destroyed) decades before the above speech, which supports the speech's message about how you can ''never be sure.''
** A doombot also appears in ''ComicBook/{{Runaways}}'', but [[spoiler: it's actually Ultron's.]]
** {{Inverted}} in a 2005 ''[[ComicBook/IncredibleHercules Hercules]]'' miniseries, where Herc was tasked with a modern version of his twelve labors for a reality television series. One of his new labors was to sneak into Latveria and run off with a Doombot, but it's suggested that Herc screwed up and grabbed the real Doom instead (he gets credit for succeeding anyhow).
** Early in Walter Simonson's run on ''ComicBook/FantasticFour,'' he has the FF face a Doctor Doom who's wearing a new suit of armor -- and who claims that every single Doom they've fought for the past 25 years of real time (since the Lee/Kirby days) has been a Doombot. Since this retcon includes things like Doom's appearance in ''ComicBook/SecretWars'' and the entirety of Creator/JohnByrne's run (regarded as one of the definitive eras for Doom), everyone since has assumed he was lying or a deluded Doombot himself, as there have been other Doombots that thought themselves the original.
*** For a long time, comic book fanlore claimed that Simonson had compiled a list categorising which appearances of Doom were real and which were actually Doombots, but he's since put paid to the rumour (not that it's stopped many fans from a) claiming he's fibbing about it, b) assuming that ''other'' writers who have worked on FF maintain similar lists, or c) creating such lists of their own!).
*** The first arc of [[ComicBook/BuckyBarnes The Winter Soldier]] comic implies that Doom actually programmes several Doombots to believe themselves to be the real Doom, to make them more life-like.
** Hilariously, one of Doom's only defeats that never got an official Doombot retcon was when ComicBook/SquirrelGirl took him down (more info on her page).
* Invoked in ''ComicBook/UltimateMarvel'' to explain Dr. Doom returning after his death at the end of Ultimatum; [[spoiler: the "Doom" that Ben Grimm killed was actually Mary Storm disguising herself as Doom. This turns a ContinuityError -- Doom's crushed head spraying blood and brainmatter, despite early assertions that Doom [[ChromeChampion no longer has organic organs or fluids in his body]] -- into FridgeBrilliance and a subtle clue.]]
* In a small Marvel event ''Over the Edge'', ComicBook/ThePunisher killed Comicbook/NickFury. Later it was revealed that it had been an android.
** Happens quite a bit with Nick Fury, who has had "Life Model Decoy" robots as a standard part of his stock-in-trade ever since he joined ComicBook/{{SHIELD}}. Several 1960s stories had Nick Fury-shaped [=LMDs=] slaughtered by ComicBook/{{HYDRA}} and other foes. They had little to no other function or characterization. A 1977 [[ComicBook/TheDefenders Defenders]] storyline was the first to introduce a Fury LMD with some individuality, and later that year the real Fury faced a LMD version of himself with independent thought and ambition. Since then several stories have featured [=LMDs=] with some degree of autonomy.
** A major ComicBook/{{SHIELD}} storyline of the 1980s "revealed" that several key SHIELD-affiliated characters had been replaced for quite some time by [=LMDs=] controlled by a HYDRA-created android, the so-called Deltite. The storyline, termed the Deltite Conspiracy, featured [=LMDs=] of Laura Brown, Nick Fury, Eric Koenig, Sidney Levine, Clay Quartermain, Jasper Sitwell, Jimmy Woo, and even Obadiah Stane (a major opponent of ComicBook/IronMan). As well as an unnamed female LMD who was apparently a combination of Laura Brown, Gail Runciter, and Valentina de Fontaine. (Brown and de Fontaine being love interests of Fury, and Runciter a love interest of ComicBook/CaptainAmerica.)
** ''ComicBook/OriginalSin'' has revealed that [[spoiler:Possibly ''all'' modern day appearances by Fury have been LMD appearances. The original? Still alive, but much older.]]
*** Then, it revealed that [[spoiler:Dum-Dum Dugan was ''also'' an [=LMD=], that the real one had been DeadAllAlong!]]
* In the Franchise/MarvelUniverse, BigBad ComicBook/{{Thanos}} has duplicates called Thanosi that are indistinguishable from the original. Like Doombots, these are used (usually by Thanos creator Jim Starlin) to explain away defeats. Particularly more embarrassing ones.
** His ''first appearance'' turned out to be a robot duplicate.
** There was a [[ArmedWithCanon War of the]] {{Retcon}}s about the Thanosi and ComicBook/SquirrelGirl, where S.G. defeated Thanos offscreen in a ''ComicBook/GreatLakesAvengers'' miniseries, and the Watcher was dragged on to say "This is definitely the real Thanos" -- and then in a different book some time later, Thanos casually mentions that he can create Thanosi that can fool even the Watcher. Just to make this even more ridiculous, the original story and the RetCon were written by the same guy.
*** Squirrel Girl's entire gimmick is defeating powerful villains like Doom and Thanos, usually off-panel, with it being left ambiguous whether it was Actually a Doombot she fought.
* ComicBook/SpiderMan's enemy Mysterio uses this trick a lot too. Seeing as Mysterio is also fond of holograms and illusions, Spider-Man often cannot tell if he facing the real Mysterio, an illusion, or a robot, and even worse, the same often goes for a lot of other stuff he has to fight when the villain is involved.
** This has become more complex since the original Mysterio acquired a couple of imitators who also use this identity. And they don't really get along with each other. A storyline in ''Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man'' #11-13 (October-December, 2006) had all three Mysterios independently seeking a confrontation with Spidey, resulting in a rather complicated MeleeATrois scenario. With Spidey having trouble telling which is which, and further confused because the original was supposed to be dead.
** In ''ComicBook/SpiderMen'', [[spoiler:Mysterio doesn't actually have an UltimateMarvel counterpart. "Ultimate Mysterio" is actually a robot double he was controlling all along.]]
* Perhaps the most infamous usage of this trick in Spider-Man history is the first "death" of Aunt May. She peacefully died of old age in a realistic and tasteful manner; Peter and the other characters mourned her and eventually moved on. However, later editor-in-chief Bob Harras ''demanded'' that she be brought back to life. So, Aunt May was found alive and it was revealed that NormanOsborn had hired an actress to impersonate Aunt May perfectly, and kept up the charade even on her deathbed, meaning Peter (and the readers) cried over a total stranger.
* Another famed Spidey villain who does this trick in the Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley. Despite being souped up with the Goblin Formula, he isn't stupid - he'll send out random schmoes powered up and brainwashed to do his bidding and if they die, no skin off his back. If they do good, then he's more than willing to let them keep going, but if they screw up, he'll step in personally and kill the schmook himself. Just ask Jason Macendale... oh, wait...
* Marvel's Mephisto has sometimes been impersonated by lesser demons who imitate his form. Such demons are defeated far more easily than the virtually invincible Mephisto.
* ComicBook/IronMan's enemy/[[DatingCatwoman occasional love interest]] Madame Masque had had so many contradictory interpretations and seeming deaths over the years that Creator/KurtBusiek finally declared in an issue of The Avengers that the real Madam Masque was a reclusive paranoid who interacted with the outside world mainly through {{Expendable Clone}}s who occasionally went rogue and defied her wishes. One of them even became an Avenger.
* This is revealed to be the case during ''ComicBook/FinalCrisis'' for the ComicBook/NewGods and {{Darkseid}}. All that earth has ever seen is somewhat limited projections of the real gods which operate on a higher plane of reality.
* And then there's Prometheus, a DC villain who was created to be a sort of anti-Batman who was so intelligent and well-trained he could almost take out the entire Justice League on his own. Except that he had long since fallen prey to VillainDecay and had been reduced to just another generic baddie who gets his butt kicked by whatever hero happens to be around. The [[Franchise/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica Justice League]] miniseries ''[[Comicbook/JusticeLeagueCryForJustice Cry for Justice]]'' attempted to fix this by revealing that the real Prometheus had been in hiding since he almost killed the JLA, and the loser who kept getting kicked around all these years was an impostor, who Prometheus had killed. But now the real deal was back, ready and able to...get killed off in short order by ComicBook/GreenArrow. It was quite a waste, but not nearly the worst thing about that series.
** There were hints that Prometheus would actually return in some form, as both his helmet (which contained most of his knowledge) and the [[{{Lobotomy}} lobotomized]] [[EmptyShell body]] of his sidekick, I.Q., were later shown to be missing. It seems like there was a plan that was regulated to an AbortedArc thanks to the Comicbook/{{New 52}}.
* Professor X's first "death" in the ''ComicBook/XMen'' comics was actually the shapeshifter Changeling having taken Xavier's place some issues earlier since he knew he was going to die anyways.
* InvertedTrope: By Creator/GeoffJohns was the revelation in ''ComicBook/ActionComics'' that AxCrazy Toyman was a robot designed to fool even Superman, and the real Toyman was still a HarmlessVillain. (A HarmlessVillain who was still ''indirectly'' responsible for Adam Grant's death, but still...). Also, every other previous incarnation deviating too much from Johns' Toyman? a robot did it...
* Geoff Johns invoked this ''very same trope'' the ''very next issue of'' ''ComicBook/ActionComics'' where every single appearance by {{Brainiac}} in the PostCrisis DCU, prior to Johns' "Brainiac" storyline was actually a "Brainiac probe". Even Milton Fine wasn't possessed by Vil Dox's disembodied intelligence, but by nanoprobes. It seems no trope was too overused in Johns' quest to bring back the Silver Age into the Superman saga.
* Viper/Madame Hydra is a long-running Marvel villain who has appeared in many series. She had an out-of-character appearance in a storyline featured in ''Punisher War Journal'' #45-47 (August-October, 1992). Where she served as an ally to ComicBook/{{Daredevil}}, Nomad, and ComicBook/ThePunisher. A year later, Gregory Wright wrote a story where it was revealed that Viper has been using look-alike "Pit-Vipers" to act in her name. The "Viper" appearing in the Punisher storyline was a rogue Pit-Viper with her own agenda.
* In one of the ''ComicBook/TheBatmanAdventures'' comics, it was revealed that the redesigned green-skinned, elfin Poison Ivy that appeared in the later episodes of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' was actually a PlantPerson created by the real Ivy to keep up appearances in Gotham while she went on the lam and shacked up with [[Comicbook/SwampThing Alec Holland]]. Disturbingly, the plant actually thought she was the real Ivy right up until the end when she fell victim to CloneDegeneration.
* Played with in the Marvel crossover ''SecretInvasion'', but instead of robots, it's with Skrulls, shape-shifting aliens. It begins with a character who is revealed to be a Skrull, who managed to stay undetected, and the whole story is about the paranoia of who ''else'' may be an undetectable Skrull. And then it got to the controversial ComicBook/CivilWar: the New Avengers were so damn sure that [[Comicbook/IronMan Stark]] only did the things he did because he was secretly a Skrull, and Stark suspected that ComicBook/CaptainAmerica's resistance to the Registration Act may had been because he was a Skrull... but no. ''Secret Invasion'' was not used as a ResetButton of anything, and did not organize or start any of the recent disasters. Stark and Rogers in ''Civil War'' were both themselves, Hulk in ''ComicBook/WorldWarHulk'' was himself (and the creature that destroyed ''PlanetHulk'' to make him go in a rampage of revenge, too), {{Quicksilver}} was himself when he stole the Terrigen crystals and started a war between ComicBook/TheInhumans and the human race, the ScarletWitch was herself in ''Comicbook/AvengersDisassembled'' (and TheWasp, who reminded her of her lost sons, too), and also in ''ComicBook/HouseOfM'' (and Quicksilver, who made her change reality, too), and so on. The Skrulls were simply in the background, trying to take advantage of the things happening, but not causing them.
** Played with up to eleven by Quicksilver. After the Secret Invasion, he tried to clean his name of his recent disasters by ''claiming'', in-universe, that he had been replaced by a Skrull. Of course, that was not the case, and Jarvis and [[ComicBook/AntMan Henry Pym]] (who were real hostages) realized that he was lying in the same page. Quicksilver's psychic daughter Luna also sees through the lie immediately, and this pretty much destroys their relationship until Quicksilver publicly recants.
* Perhaps the most outrageous example is Marvel's "Earth A" reality, where heroes like to take vacations to the main Marvel Universe, where they tend to act in manners contradictory to their counterparts, leaving our normal heroes to clean up the mess. This includes things like ComicBook/SheHulk sleeping with the Juggernaut, or the ComicBook/YoungAvengers joining [[Comicbook/AvengersTheInitiative the Initiative]] during the Civil War. In other words, this provides a rather cheap way to retcon any previous character action that the writer disapproves of.
* A fairly literal example from ''Big Bang Comics'' -- Ultiman hints that he has never actually met his archenemy Cortex, and that Cortex commits all his crimes by way of a series of robotic doubles. This isn't a secret on Cortex's part, and he tends to destroy the doubles himself by having them self-destruct upon their capture.
* The Super-Adaptoid is an AIM-created robot which has plagued the Comicbook/TheAvengers since in 1966. Because of its PowerCopying abilities it is rather difficult to take down. A 1993 Spider-Man story had it serving as a LivingWeapon henchman and easily defeated by a BadassNormal opponent. Which interfered with developments in other titles where the Adaptoid was revealed as the DiabolicalMastermind behind the efforts of AIM to become a power player in the world stage. As an explanation the Super-Adaptoid of the Spider-Man story was retconned to an inferior copy of the original.
* In the fan-loved "Fragments of Autumn" issue of ComicBook/PaperinikNewAdventures, [[RobotGirl Lyla]] accidentally shot a policeman.Since droids were recently given legal rights,she was [[DeconstructedTrope put on trial for that,rather that just going through a check up]]. However it was revealed that the policeman was actually another robot and that the whole incident was staged by a corrupt politician.
* The return of Comicbook/{{Blade}}'s arch nemesis Deacon Frost was explained by him being able to create scientific doppelgangers of himself. He can create these (vampiric) copies from other characters as well, as seen in ''Comicbook/TheTombOfDracula'' where he made an evil version of Blade.
* The latest iteration of ''ComicBook/XForce'' revealed that [[spoiler:Cable has been making clones of himself and sending them out. The real one is in stasis, his body being awakened long enough to gather blood for a clone. As one clone states "He dies a little for two minutes. We die everyday."]]
* {{Exploited}} and {{Inverted}} by {{Ultron}} in his first appearance. A new villain called the Crimson Cowl is revealed to have a duplicate, and when both unmask, one is a robot, and the other is [[Comicbook/TheAvengers Avengers]] butler Edwin Jarvis. The twist is that the robot is the real one - Ultron had hypnotized Jarvis into acting as his Doombot, and pretended he wasn't sentient to deceive both the Avengers and his own flunkies.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* Examples from Fanfic/{{the Calvinverse}}:
** Calvin ''[[WrongGenreSavvy thinks]]'' Retro is this in ''Fanfic/RetroChill'', and spends some time trying to undo his "disguise".
** [[spoiler: The CreepyMonotone clones]] in ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries''.
* ''Fanfic/ThinkingInLittleGreenBoxes'': Don't worry, that was just the [[ComicBook/{{SHIELD}} Life Model Decoy]] of [[spoiler: Cedric Diggory.]]
* In the ''FanFic/FacingTheFutureSeries'', [[WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom Vlad Plasmius]] has a tendency to use his [[SelfDuplication duplication power]] to make quick escapes.
* [[BigBad General-Admiral Makarov]] from the ''Fanfic/PonyPOVSeries'' apparently has a habit of doing this to avoid assassination attempts. [[spoiler:He also does it after being defeated by Cadence and shot in the head by Dima.]] Justified as [[spoiler:he's a RealityWarper capable of replacing himself with a robotic copy at will, and a ParodySue who uses this for it's normal narrative effect of avoiding admitting he was beaten.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Good guys can use this trick too. As seen in ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'', Padme did this all the time as Queen of Naboo, disguising herself as one of the Queen's handmaidens while a bodyguard (Sabé) disguised herself as the Queen. And she was ''not'' the first Queen of Naboo to do this. Her head of security Captian Panaka designed the strategy, and it was used by her predecessor (and presumably, her successor).
* Part of the Franchise/{{Godzilla}} series (more specifically ''[[Film/GodzillaVsMechagodzilla Godzilla VS Mechagodzilla]]'') has Anguirus being beaten up by what appears to be Godzilla, managing to scrape off a little bit of flesh and revealing some kind of shiny material underneath, but later ''another'' Godzilla shows up while the first one was attacking a refinery. The second Godzilla hits the first with his atomic breath, blowing off a large chunk of the first one's skin and revealing it to be a [[EvilKnockoff robotic doppleganger]]. The doppleganger sheds the disguise entirely, revealing it to be an alien-controlled [[EvilKnockoff Mechagodzilla]]. Mechagodzilla then [[CurbStompBattle unloads its weapons on Godzilla, utterly decimating him.]] [[SerialEscalation It doesn't help that Mechagodzilla seems to have a penchant for]] BeamSpam.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* In order to maintain Cthulhu's aura of menace and mystery, some stories and fan theories say that the Cthulhu that was driven back to sleep in the original short story "Call of Cthulhu" was merely a Spawn of Cthulhu instead of the Real [=McCoy=].
* The new {{Foundation}} trilogy novel ''FoundationAndChaos'' has an interesting version of this when RidiculouslyHumanRobot Dors shoots a similar style of robot, since Dors believes said robot is fundamentally damaged. it turns out the robot she shot was a remote-controlled duplicate of the real robot.
* IsaacAsimov's "The Tercentenary incident". In 2076, the tricentennial of the United States, the country is ruled by a populist jerk, who is quickly losing support. He began to shake people's hands in the street, and suddenly explodes, becoming a pile of dust. Then he showed up at the balcony, and pointed that it was is a malfunction of his protocolar robot duplicate. He gave the "Tricentennial adress" (much better than his usual style) and strengthened the unity of the federation. And two years later... a guy shows up with very sound reasons to suspect that the president has been murdered that day, and that the robot, posing as human, has been acting as president since then.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' / ''{{Angel}}''
** Used with the Buffybot, a robot replica of the title heroine. A good example is the end of season 5, where Buffy apparently gets decapitated by the Big Bad, Glory. Lo and behold, the real Buffy then reveals herself, showing the first one to be a fake.
** Season nine opens with Buffy's arms feeling funny. Later in the series we see a shot of Andrew working on a robotic arm, then in a fight Buffy's arm is torn off to her horror. When it turns out that it's a robotic arm, remembering how upset she was when there was a robot version of her before, Buffy\robobuffy gets even more upset.
*** Becomes ComicallyMissingThePoint when she finds out she's a robot after her arm is ripped off and goes to confront Andrew about it. Instead of explaining why she's a robot he seems to be only concerned about getting her a new arm. Later when Buffy and Spike are angry at him because what she's been through because of it, he still thinks they're referring to her having lost the arm.
** In Season 6 of ''Buffy'' the Scoobies use the Buffybot to make the underworld think that the Slayer is still protecting Sunnydale. When a vampire accidentally discovers this, it provokes immediate RapePillageAndBurn by demon bikers.
** The first time Willow gets her mitts on Warren in Season 6 of ''Buffy''. Fizz crackle pop.
** An instance of this appears on ''Angel'', as well. A cyborg uses a {{Glamour}} to imitate [[spoiler: Wesley's father]]. When the cyborg threatens Fred, Wesley shoots it dead, revealing its true nature. Unlike most cases of this trope, the duplicate was not operating on behalf of the original.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'': System Lord Ba'al inherited Asgard Cloning Technology from his old master, Anubis. This let the writers kill him at least once almost every time he appeared after that. One episode revolved around SG-1 tracking down the lot of them. Or did they? [[spoiler:Turns out, they didn't. Either that, or he just made more clones afterward.]]
** Also on ''Stargate SG-1'', in the season 4 episode ''Double Jeopardy'', SG-1 finds out that their robot clones from season 1's ''Tin Man'' have been going on their own adventures. The second indication that SG-1 isn't really SG-1 is when Carter was surprised to be referred to as a Major rather than a Captain.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': Unbeknown to the audience, [[spoiler:Aeryn Sun]] is swapped with a biomechnical replica to hide the real one's abduction. John Crichton doesn't awaken to the situation until the "bioloid" inadvertently fails at a TrustPassword. Crichton draws a gun on her and, during an increasingly-agitated round of questioning, the faker tries to draw hers as well. Crichton blasts the side of her head off, [[RoboticReveal revealing her inner components]] for all to see.
* ''Series/{{Doctor Who}}'': An interesting variant occurs in "A Good Man Goes to War" [[spoiler: when it is revealed that the baby Melody Pond the Doctor and his allies have just rescued is a [[DoppelGanger Ganger]]]].
** Ultimately, this trope is the driving force behind the entirety of [[spoiler: new season 6, as the over-arcing plot concerns the Doctor dying at River's hand being a fixed point in time. Fortunately, at the half-season mark they meet a group of people who specialize in robots that can imitate people...]]
*** [[spoiler: Which turns out to be a misdirection as the Doctor escapes his death by using a Teselecta, an actual robot impersonating the Doctor, aligning quite well with the trope]]
* ''Main/{{Smallville}}'': [[spoiler:Lana Lang]] is caught in a car bombing, with enough DNA evidence to confirm the death, in season 6 finale. In the next season it is revealed that it was actually [[spoiler:her clone created by Lex.]]
* ''The Mentalist'': Protagonist Patrick Jane tracks down [[spoiler: and kills his almost-lifelong nemesis, serial superkiller "Red John", season ends.]] The next season begins, and, hey, what do you know: [[spoiler: that guy Jane shot? He was actually just a boring minion of Red John's, or maybe even only an unrelated copycat.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Roleplay]]
* In Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG, [[LEGOAlphaTeam Ogel]] was killed [[RuleOfThree three times]] during the FinalBattle and yet ''still'' managed to survive. Wondering how? [[spoiler:Each time Ogel apparently died, it was actually one of his Skeleton Drones in disguise, as a reference to the March/April 2001 issue of LEGO Mania.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering''
** Gerrard thinks he has defeated Volrath, but it turns out to be a shapeshifter, as depicted on the card [[http://www.magiccards.info/query?q=!Scapegoat Scapegoat]]. (Volrath later turned out to be a shapeshifter himself, so you have a [[ShapedLikeItself shapeshifter pretending to be a shapeshifter]].)
** [[spoiler:Nicol Bolas]] pulls this trick at the end of ''Literature/TestOfMetal''.
* In ''Tabletopgame/{{Warhammer40000}}'', famous Necron Trazyn the Infinite almost never walks onto a battlefield himself, preferring to set up a small team of body doubles in his stead. The body doubles [[{{Troll}} are rarely willing volunteers]], we should mention, [[InvoluntaryShapeshifter often not even aware that Trazyn has uploaded himself inside them until his previous double has been felled]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom2'', one of Dr. Doom's {{Victory Pose}}s is of five Doombots swooping down from the sky to partake in some evil chortling. Obviously, this calls into question whether the victorious Doom was even the real one.
** It's probably only a Doombot if he loses... or the next writer disagrees with how the battle went.
* ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' pulls this early on, when building up Lynx as the BigBad, before the party finally fights him...a third of the way through Disc One? Don't worry, after you beat him, he turns into a strange mix between a cat and a [[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons Displacer Beast]], and the ''real'' Lynx reveals that it was Actually A Shadow. There was no way he was going to risk fighting against Kid, who was so hell-bent on finding him.
* Robotnik pulls this stunt after you first defeat him in ''VideoGame/SonicHeroes'', regardless of which team you play as. Subverted when the robot [[VoluntaryShapeshifting melts into goo, then reforms]] into Metal Sonic, revealing the whole thing to be a ploy.
* ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros1'': In the original game you beat Bowser every four levels. However, each time but the last "Bowser" just turns out to be a different mook in disguise.
** This returns in ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DLand'', with the fake Bowsers being a Goomba (World 1) and a Magikoopa (World 5) with Tanooki Suits.
** In the fangame ''SuperMario63'', the Bowser in the Koopa Clown Car you fight [[spoiler:before ascending the Meteor Tower]] is a robot.
* ''VideoGame/LuigisMansion'' The "Bowser" towards the end of the game is clearly a mechanical decoy (though fairly accurate/lifelike) used by King Boo with his magitek on it. Therefore, King Boo is a ''[[HijackedByGanon boss]]'' in disguise here. This idea may very well be based on the fake Bowsers from SuperMarioBros.
* In ''VideoGame/StreetsOfRage 3'', at the end of stage 5, you fight [[BigBad Mr. X]] much like you did in the previous two games, but he is revealed to be a robot. Given that the back story of the Western version is about robots replacing important public figures, you already fought a robot Axel in stage 3, and there are three more stages after stage 5, it didn't come as a huge surprise.
* The Magic Emperor's first boss battle in the various remakes of ''VideoGame/LunarTheSilverStar''. Actually not the case in the original; you fight the real thing in your first fight with him and then leave him for dead, then one scene later and reveals he's alive and [[OneWingedAngel turns into a monster]] for the final fight.
* ''VideoGame/StarFox64'' has this happen during the standard ending: the BigBad you just killed was actually his robot duplicate. The true ending has you battle the real BigBad.
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', [[MadScientist Mekgineer Thermaplugg]] was [[{{Retcon}} recently revealed]] to have done this (Zalazane too, with HollywoodVoodoo), but after a final assault, [[spoiler: Thermaplugg is still alive. Zalazane is dead, though. Right?]].
** [[spoiler: Zalazane is not only dead, but was explicitly dragged off to voodoo hell or whatever. He ain't coming back.]]
* Dr. Wily has pulled this on multiple occasions, to the point that ''VideoGame/MegaMan9'' lampshades it.
** Wily's first instance of this is in ''VideoGame/MegaMan2'', where he appears to morph into an alien, but it's just a holographic projection.
** In ''VideoGame/MegaMan3'', after you defeat the SpiderTank boss in the penultimate stage, Wily is thrown from the machine as usual, but it turns out to be a decoy.
** Sigma has also done this frequently, coming back inexplicably in a arsenal of different forms- until his current defeat in ''VideoGame/MegaManX8''. Justified by the fact he is a living virus and can exist as a digital entity, then integrate into a new body at will. In ''X8'' Lumine, a seemingly gentle Reploid director, forcefully states at the Sigma is gone for good, standing over his broken remains- only to reveal his [[FaceHeelTurn ''true'']] intentions a half-second later. Some time in the distant future, this is disproven: Sigma still lives on in viral form. However, with the end of the Maverick Wars, his programming was forcefully and permanently deleted by the antivirus program of the Mother Elf.
** Subverted in ''VideoGame/MegaManZero 4'': [[spoiler: Both Dr. Weil and Zero (although debatable) die, but live on as individual Biometals in the ''VideoGame/MegaManZX'' series]]. Double Subverted if you count [[spoiler: Model Z's sacrifice]] in ''ZX Advent''.
* In ''[[JetSetRadio Jet Set Radio Future]]'', a story arc has team member [=YoYo=] betray the entire group. Or so the Golden Rhinos would have you think, as they kidnapped [=YoYo=] and built a robot clone and loosed him on Tokyo to wreak havok.
* In ''VideoGame/ScottPilgrim'', [[spoiler: The final fight with Gideon turns out to be an example. Overlaps with ClippedWingAngel in that after beating the robot, the real Gideon goes down in a single hit.]]
* Lord Nemesis in ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' has so many mechanical duplicates of himself running around that when fighting his minions, it's not uncommon to find multiple enemies named Fake Nemesis in the same building, or even in the same ''patrol''.
** There even a bug which can occasionally result in a group of enemies composed solely of a half dozen or so Fake Nemesis.
* The [[NintendoGameCube GameCube]] version of ''VideoGame/MortalKombatDeception'' retcons Shao Kahn's apparent death at the beginning of ''VideoGame/MortalKombatDeadlyAlliance'' into this in order to explain his canonical [=GameCube=]-exclusive playable appearance.
** A trick that Shinnok also uses in ''VideoGame/MortalKombatArmageddon'' to survive Armageddon. Not that it matters, because the last act of Armageddon is an in-universe ContinuityReboot into ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9''.
*** It's actually been suggested that, due to Quan Chi's involvement in the plot of ''9'' (despite not being one of the characters from the original trilogy) and [[spoiler:TheStinger (where Shinnok appears and discusses future plans with his underling, setting up the new continuity's version of ''VideoGame/MortalKombat4'')]], Shinnok's status as one of the few survivors of Armageddon allowed him to [[spoiler:pull a Raiden and send a message to his past self (and likely with much greater clarity than Dark Raiden did), allowing him to play TheChessmaster using Quan Chi as his proxy.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Vanquish}}'', you fight with seemingly ''two'' Victor Zaitsevs, one red and the other blue. After killing the first one, no matter which, Zaitsev will say you killed the wrong one. [[spoiler:Unfortunately, Zaitsev was never there to begin with; they are both just doombots.]]
* In the UsefulNotes/GameBoy version of ''VideoGame/KidDracula'', the first Garamoth you fight turns out to be a robot being piloted by an alien.
* In the ''VideoGame/GIJoe'' arcade shooter, [[spoiler: the first battle with Cobra Commander is really a robot knockoff.]]
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAkaneia'' does this twice. In the first game, BigBad Gharnef creates two clones of himself during his chapter. Stat-wise, the clones look identical to the real Gharnef, and the game ''acts'' as though they're immune to non-starlight damage, but they really aren't. The real one could be any of the three (it's random, and changes every time), but you'll know a clone when you kill it because they don't have death quotes. They also all appear to be carrying the [[InfinityPlusOneSword Falchion]], but two of them are fakes... which, interestingly enough, also follow this trope: their stats show up the same as the real one, but when dropped they turn out to be just an ordinary Steel Sword.
** In ''New Mystery'', the Roro you fight as the boss of Chapter 6x turns out to be just a clone. You won't fight the ''real'' Roro until 12x... where he's accompanied by [[UpToEleven an entire army of Roros]]. There are three 'boss' Roros with slightly higher stats, and a whole bunch of {{Mook}} Roros. The {{Mooks}} spawn constantly until you kill the real one, which could be any of the three 'boss' versions. (like Gharnef, it's random) This trope is also discussed in-story, it's implied Roro has taken this to such extremes even ''he'' doesn't know which of his clones is the real one anymore.
* In ''VideoGame/MarvelAvengersAlliance'', [[spoiler:Mission 3-5's Epic Boss is not just one, but ''three'' Doombots. And the trope gets lampshaded by the characters, to boot.]]
* Used frequently by [[spoiler:[[BigBad Arfoire/Magiquone]]]] in ''VideoGame/HyperdimensionNeptunia''. After learning the truth about their RecurringBoss ArchEnemy (whose [[MyNameIsQuestionMarks name]] had been unknown to them up until TheReveal), Neptune and her friends learn that [[spoiler:she]] had been using clones to distract them while [[spoiler:her]] plan to TakeOverTheWorld went into motion.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' the [=SeeD=] and their clients the Timber Resistance get the opportunity to kidnap the President of Galbadia (who at this point is thought to be the BigBad) and do so. However, this "president" is not just a decoy, but an undead construct created by [[ManBehindTheMan the Sorceress Edea]] to trick the Timber Resistance.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Towards the end of ''BobAndGeorge'', [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/070702c Bob kills Dr. Wily]]. Or rather, he kills one of the many robotic clones Wily leaves scattered around his fortress on the off chance a deranged psychopath breaks in and attempts to kill him.
-->'''Wily''': It worked, didn't it?
* ''LeastICouldDo'' mocked the ''hell'' out of this trope during their CrisisCrossover parody arc: Rayne gets killed off more than once, and every time, "It's cool. Was a clone."; after a while, his roommate decides to give it a try by snapping Rayne's neck; turns out he was the ''real'' Rayne, who gets quickly replaced by a clone who spent a year [[FinalCrisis in a prehistoric cave with Batman]]. [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs No, really.]]
* In ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' Dr. Schlock has had inflatable, robot decoys deal with dangerous people in his place many times, particularly as he's become more paranoid over the years.
* In TriggerStar after defeating [[BigBad Black Licorice,]] Avocado convinces the others that it was a Doombot since it was way too easy. [[SubvertedTrope It]] [[http://www.triggerstar.com/index.php?strip_id=1030 wasn't.]]
* Parodied in ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja''. Dr. McNinja is fighting {{Dracula}} on Dracula's moon base (don't worry, [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext it makes even less sense in context]]), and after setting up a decoy of himself to fool Dracula grabs him and is about to destroy him by exposing him to sunlight. Then, of course, it turns out it's actually a Draculabot -- goodness knows when the switch was made, and going back in the story to look for a likely spot only makes it look less plausible. Oh, and since he [[CharlesAtlasSuperpower jumped off]] [[ExaggeratedTrope the moon]] in a spacesuit while holding on to the Draculabot, he then has to surf it down to Earth, which counts as kind of [[RuleOfCool extreme]] even by his standards.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* After Bowser loses a minigame during a VideoGame/MarioParty 6, upon returning to the main map, he gloats about how he's going to punish the losers, then acts shocked that nobody lost. The LetsPlay/MarioPartyTv group joke that they must have fought a 'Bowser bot' instead.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Seeing as Doom himself is the BigBad of ''WesternAnimation/TheSuperHeroSquadShow'', Doombots appear on the show rather often.
* Used on more than one occasion in episodes of ''WesternAnimation/SuperFriends'' to explain how the latest scheme by SelfDemonstrating/LexLuthor didn't actually work, since the heroes were being represented by robotic duplicates. [[FridgeLogic Raises the question]] of why the Legion of Doom doesn't bother with autopsies, or why they throw away their latest superweapon the minute the Super Friends "appear" to be dead.
* In the first season finale to Creator/{{Filmation}}'s ''WesternAnimation/FlashGordon'', Ming appears to die, but the corpse is revealed as a Ming-bot, and the real Ming flies away cackling that he will regain his throne and have revenge. The implication, at least, is that it was the real Ming who had lost a fight with Flash a few minutes earlier, but that he had pulled the switch when he and Flash were briefly separated.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}}''. [[spoiler: In the final battle against Tighten, Megamind rescues Roxanne but is killed—only to be revealed as Minion wearing a holographic disguise.]]
* Slade used this trick a lot in ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'', using an android duplicate of himself to both fight the Titans and deliver the occasional taunt from a remote location. The episode "Haunted" was the most dangerous example, proving that Slade could be a downright deadly threat to a hero's life ''and'' sanity without being there at all [[spoiler: (''This'' time it was a hallucination, ''not'' a robot).]] At least one was rigged to explode if defeated, and most had monitors behind their masks to facilitate last-minute megalomaniacal gloating.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'', whenever Quentin Beck/Mysterio is captured or defeated, it always turns out to be a robotic double.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'', Superman and Batman captured Lex Luthor early in the episode. It turns out that Lex Luthor is actually a Lexbot.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' episode "Welcome To Happy Harbor", Miss Martian [[WhatTheHellHero shockingly executes Bromwell Stikk]], the pilot of the Mister Twister mecha. We quickly discover that Stikk himself was an android built to resemble the real pilot, and that he had a built-in camera meant to spy on the kids. She guessed it was an android because she couldn't read its mind.
** The young T.O.Morrow seen was actually a robot, the real one was old man who's hooked on life support.
* ''WesternAnimation/LoonaticsUnleashed'': Otto the Odd utilized plenty of these in his second appearance, enough to fall well into the realm of CrazyPrepared and some IKnowYouKnowIKnow.
** This trope is flat-out ''abused'' by Tweetums in the series finale.
* Two episodes of ''WesternAnimation/InchHighPrivateEye'' featured a mad dollmaker as a villain. In the first, sold clockwork manikins to department stores that would rob them. In the end, he's arrested but a failed escape attempt reveals that they only caught a robotic duplicate. Due to the prevalence in RoboticReveal in the cartoons of the era the [[WrongGenreSavvy main characters]] never even consider the possibility that the real guy is still at large... until he comes back with robotic duplicates of the main character and his boss, and successfully ruins their reputation.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/GeorgeOfTheJungle Super Chicken]]'': One episode started with VillainOfTheWeek Dr. Gizmo being taken to prison but it turns out it was a machine. In the end, he tried the trick again but the Super Chicken distracted capturing him was another one. The real Dr. Gizmo was captured by the real Super Chicken.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBros'': In "O.S.I. Love You" it's revealed that [[spoiler:the Sovereign is not really David Bowie, but rather a shapeshifter acquaintance of his]].
* ''WesternAnimation/ChallengeOfTheSuperfriends'' had another example of good guys using this trick. The Legion of Doom found out about a sealed away weapon that could act as a lethal death ray to the heroes and tricked Superman into breaking the vault open. (That's right, this episode suspended the show's NeverSayDie policy.) The Legion of Doom were apparently then able to decimate the heroes mercilessly, often in front of terrified citizens. When it seemed all the heroes had perished and the villains had achieved complete victory, Luthor saw no further need for the thing, and casually threw it away. A ''terrible'' mistake. A day later, the Superfriends reappeared, and after pulping the villains, revealed that they had been hiding in their satellite base (presumably a sort of precursor to the Watchtower) while using android duplicates created by Superman in the Fortress of Solitude to make the Legion believe they had been killed. Once Luthor threw it away, the Apache Chief went into the sewer in protective clothing and destroyed it, permanently. (Of course, [[FridgeLogic when you think about it]], the Legion of Doom should have been suspicious when they seemed to win so easily...)
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life]]
* Dictators usually have an array of body doubles and impersonators working as the target of assassination attempts. Hitler himself managed to survive 42 assassination attempts through a combination of this trope and a ridiculous amount of luck (due to the number of ContrivedCoincidences that managed to thwart an attempt in one way or another).
* Did you thought that famous actors would jump from cliffs or be stomped by cars? No way! That what {{Stunt Double}}s are for. [[NoStuntDouble Unless there are none]].
* Part of military strategy involves disguising one thing as another in order to steal a march on the enemy. For example, as part of the Raid on St Nazaire in WWII, the British destroyer ''Campbelltown'' was disguised as a German frigate (hoisting its flag before firing, of course).
** Two special mentions for pirates and guerrillas. Unlike fictional portrayals, pirates did not fly the Jolly Roger flag: they concealed their true nature by flying flags of known countries, to get near other ships without suspicion. Guerrillas try to balance their lower military strength by concealing themselves among the civilian population.
* American rapper {{MF Doom}} has been known to send impostors to concert events for which he is on the bill.
[[/folder]]

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