The ploy of taking over a dead person's identity.

This can be for any number of reasons. Perhaps the character was a [[TheDrifter drifter]], with no identity of their own worth speaking of and enticed by the possibility of assuming the role of their recently deceased acquaintance. They may have promised to protect the person's loved ones, want to escape their old life, or less heroically intend to con their new "family" out of money. If anyone questions their changed appearance, accent, or other details, there's often a ConvenientlyUnverifiableCoverStory they can use to explain it away.

Usually the impostor will end up BecomingTheMask, falling in love with the life that isn't his, and be exposed. [[HappilyEverAfter Happily, though,]] he will regain the trust he lost by some act of heroism, and remain among his new loved ones. Whether it's with his own or the new name varies.

More maliciously, a villain will do this after they ''[[KillAndReplace kill]]'' the other person. A common occurrence in murder mysteries is for the killer to do this in order to throw off the time of death and give themselves an alibi. Having such an impersonation can create DramaticIrony if the audience is aware of the ploy, or a plot twist if they are not.

Occasionally the impostor will be played sympathetically, in which case they may be forced to assume the dead person's identity to escape death themselves. Or, in a subversion, they could have been misidentified after a mass-casualty incident, and refrained from pointing out the mistake due to fear of prosecution, sympathy for the dead person's loved ones (who believe the deceased "miraculously survived!"), or even amnesia.

Related to MySiblingWillLiveThroughMe. Compare TheMole, RagsToRoyalty, TheRealRemingtonSteele, PrinceAndPauper.

Contrast LostInCharacter, where a professional actor takes on a role and forgets their original self. If you don't just take the other person's identity, but also their appearance, it's ReplicantSnatching. If it's a temporary thing, a sort of masquerade where characters pretend the dead one is alive, it's an OfCorpseHesAlive situation, or the ElCidPloy. If you're a time traveler, and are doing this so [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong history stays on track]], it's YouWillBeBeethoven.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/{{Basilisk}}'''s Kisaragi Saemon is the reigning champion of this trope, due to being a MasterOfDisguise ''and'' a skilled Ninja. Of course the show being what it is, it eventually comes back to [[HoistByHisOwnPetard bite him in the ass]].
* ''Manga/{{Monster}}'''s Johan likes to steal the identity of parents' dead sons.
* Char Aznable from ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' is apparently one of these, but only in the AlternateContinuity manga ''Gundam: The Origin''. In it, we find out that the Char we know - "Casval Daikun", in hiding as "Edward Mass" - befriended [[TheRealRemingtonSteele a]] ''[[TheRealRemingtonSteele real]]'' [[TheRealRemingtonSteele Char Aznable]], a young man [[IdenticalStranger physically identical except for their eye colors]]. Due to a TwinSwitch and an assassination attempt by the Zabis, the "late" Edward assumed the identity of the late Char, using CoolShades and an equally CoolMask to help avoid suspicion. [[spoiler: He's found out quite later by his boss, LadyOfWar Kycilia, but she doesn't kill him on the spot and attempts to rope him in her own plans... which backfires ''massively'' when he '''blows her head off''' at the end of the series.]]
** Similarly, AllThereInTheManual reveals that there '''was''' a real Quattro Bageena, a pilot who died during the One Year War, and again, looked somewhat similar to Char. When Char joined up with the AEUG, he bought Quattro's ID off the black market in order to hide.
* Something somewhat like this happens in ''PrettyFace''. Masashi Rando survives a bus crash and awakens from a year-long coma to find that a talented but insane plastic surgeon reconstructed his face... based on the picture of his crush in his wallet. On fleeing the doctor's office, Rando learns that his family is gone with no forwarding info and that pretty much ''everyone'' hated him. Then he runs into his crush... who assumes he's her long-lost twin sister. He keeps up the charade because the girl ''really'' missed her sister. [[spoiler:Said sister comes back near the end...]]
* Used with quite a twist in ''Anime/MobileFighterGGundam''. [[spoiler: One of the Gundam Fighters who faces the recently mutated Devil Gundam is the Neo German Schwarz Bruder, who loses and dies. The brainwashed pilot of the Devil Gundam, Kyouji Kasshu, uses his last bits of sanity to gather DG cells, merge them with Schwarz's corpse and create a clone of himself with them, who takes up Schwarz's identity while keeping Kyouji's memories and purposes as well as his looks (the true Schwarz is much older, but his MaskPower helps keep the masquerade).]]
* Also used with a twist in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWingEndlessWaltz''. [[spoiler:When the engineers working on the Gundam Heavyarms learned that Operation Meteor entailed a ColonyDrop, they were horrified and refused to go along with it. Trowa Barton, the {{Jerkass}} son of the operation's founder ''and'' the soon-to-be-pilot of Heavyarms, threatened to turn them all in... and was suddenly shot dead by an engineer who [[PapaWolf snapped on his boss]] because [[IHaveAFamily his family was on Earth.]] At that point, the youngest of the remaining engineers stepped up and volunteered to take on the dead man's identity to maintain the cover-up and thwart the original genocidal Operation Meteor - that young man being the person known as Trowa Barton throughout the television series.]]
* [[spoiler:Shima-kun]] in ''VisualNovel/{{Clannad}} After Story'', who took the identity of the person he was close to so he can complete his last wish after he died.
* [[spoiler:Yuno Gasai]] in ''Manga/MiraiNikki''. [[spoiler:The original Yuno is the third corpse in her house, which was revealed by Akise after he DNA-tested it with her umbilical cord that her orphanage held onto.]]
** Somewhat subverted, because it actually turns out that [[spoiler: she ''is'' Yuno. She is actually the Yuno from an AlternateUniverse; as in this universe, she and her world's Yuki were the last two left in the game and decided on a SuicidePact. Things went wrong and Yuno survived, leaving her as winner of the game and the new God of Time and Space; since she couldn't resurrect her world's Yuki, she instead used her powers to create this universe, killed this world's version of herself and took her place in the game, in order to be with Yuki once again. So Yuno has been, in a sense, impersonating ''herself''.]]
* Used in ''Manga/TheKindaichiCaseFiles''. [[spoiler:A girl who became a drug addict and murdered (in self defense) the man who got her hooked nearly commits suicide off of a cliff, only to discover that another girl jumped not long before her and left her purse behind which contained the deceased girl's identification. The former-drug addict girl used the identification and plastic surgery to start a new life as a police officer.]]
* [[spoiler:Nuriko]] from ''Manga/FushigiYuugi'' taking up his dead little sister [[spoiler: Kourin]]'s identity to deal with the trauma coming from such a loss, is a classic example.
* A variation occurs early in ''LightNovel/ShakuganNoShana''. Yukari Hirai, the girl who Shana assumes the identity of on Earth, isn't just dead; rather, she ''faded away from existence''. [[TearJerker And we get to see how this happens.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Vagabond}}'', a highly fictionalised telling of the life of MiyamotoMusashi, Musashi's childhood friend Matahachi finds a certificate of swordsmanship on the body of a samurai who had been kind to him earlier. He decides at first to deliver the certificate to the samurai's family, but soon finds it easier to pass himself off as the samurai instead and live off the dead samurai's reputation. [[spoiler:Later, it turns out that the samurai was only delivering said certificate to Sasaki Kojiro, the arch-rival of Musashi. Since the real Kojiro is still out there, (and is becoming more famous by the day) and Matahachi is using his name, this eventually causes Matahachi some problems.]]
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'' has a very confusing example thanks to [[spoiler:the Zero Requiem plan devised by Lelouch and Suzaku. Short version: Suzaku [[FakingTheDead fakes his death]], takes on the identity of Zero, and kills Lelouch (the original Zero) to get rid of the source of the world's anger and suffering. Of course, most people didn't know Lelouch was Zero, and for those who did the implication of the final episode is that they catch on but go along with it.]]
* Used interestingly in a ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' case. In either the late sixties or TheSeventies, a Japanese man named Yoshifusa Yabuchi went to live in Brazil, had a Brazilian family and became both friends and associates with Dickson Tanaka, a half-Japanese/half-Brazilian man. When Yoshifusa and his wife died, leaving a young son named Carlos behind, Dickson found out that Yoshifusa's older brother Yoshichika (the patriarch of a ''very'' rich family) had also perished in Japan just few days after learning of Yoshifusa's death. Upon realizing that the Yabuchis were a BigScrewedUpFamily, Dickson decided to make sure that [[LikeASonToMe his sort-of adoptive son Carlos]] wouldn't be cheated out of his dad's share of the ''massive'' inheritance; knowing that Yoshichika's relatives wouldn't remember how Yoshifusa looked like since they were extremely young when they left, Dickson took up Yoshifusa's identity and made Carlos pass as his bodyguard, so he could observe the family closer and keep Carlos safe. His gambit worked, but at a ''very'' high price: Yoshichika's greedy SmugSnake of widow, Machiko, tried to kill Dickson in the bath and, [[BadassGrandpa as a skilled martial artist]], he killed her in self-defense.
* In ''Anime/RevolutionaryGirlUtena'', [[spoiler:Anthy impersonates the deceased Chida Mamiya to fool Mikage, who is implied to have mentally blocked out Mamiya's death (it's also suggested that Akio is using MoreThanMindControl on Mamiya too).]]
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** In Part I, Orochimaru stole the former Kazekage's identity. And [[GenuineHumanHide skin]].
** In the Land of Birds arc the daimyo Sagi is revealed to have died some time prior. His twin sister Toki faked her own death and assumed Sagi's identity in an attempt to hunt down his killers.
** [[spoiler:Uchiha Madara]] is revealed to have been DeadAllAlong, [[spoiler:meaning Tobi]] was impersonating him. The trope becomes somewhat tangled when it's revealed [[spoiler:[[LegacyCharacter Tobi was Madara's chosen successor]] and is himself the assumed-dead Obito]].
* ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'': [[spoiler:Following Yusei's death in an alternate future, Z-ONE underwent surgery to become Yusei all but literally, including learning Accel Synchro. He then travels back in time and duels the real Yusei.]]
* Michio of ''Manga/{{MW}}'' impersonates Miho and Mika, the daughters of his targets.
* In the ''Anime/ReadOrDie'' manga, PaperMaster Ridley Wan disguises himself as Yomiko's deceased lover Donny. He does such a good job that Yomiko doesn't realize the deception until he voluntarily unmasks himself - ''after'' she slept with him. Quite impressive, when you consider that not only had Yomiko been present when Donny died, [[spoiler: she was the one who killed him.]]
* In the manga version of ''{{Bokurano}}'', while planning a newscast on Zearth, the plan is to have Anko and [[spoiler:Komo]], the former being the current pilot and the latter being the only known Zearth pilot, be shown piloting Zearth. Unfortunately, by this point, [[spoiler:Komo]], like all the other pilots, is dead, so they end up having [[spoiler:Youko]] dress up as her, wearing a wig to make her resemble [[spoiler:Komo]] and showing her from behind. It mostly goes well, apart from a few times when Anko calls her by the wrong name.
* In ''Anime/LupinIIIDeadOrAlive''. Lupin is hiding his identity during much of his time in Zufu. Disguised as the dead Prince Pannish.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Ballads]]
* In the Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} ''Literature/TheLordOfLornAndTheFalseSteward'', the false steward intends this. The young lord persuades him to let him live on the condition that he {{promise}}s to tell no one, ever, about the identity theft.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''Comicbook/{{Excalibur}}'', evil other-dimensional dictator Sat-Yr-9 vaporized Courtney Ross, her counterpart in this reality (and incidentally a love interest of Captain Britain), and then calmly stepped into her shoes. The deception wasn't exposed for quite some time.
* QualityComics character the Black Condor adopted the identity of murdered Senator Thomas Wright. Who [[ContrivedCoincidence just happened]] to look ''exactly'' like him.
* If memory serves, Franchise/{{Batman}}'s "Matches Malone" persona was swiped from a real guy who got himself killed in Bats's presence.
** Also from Franchise/{{Batman}} is Jane Doe, a definitely villainous example. She doesn't just kill her new identity; she studies them down to the last detail, perfectly recreating his or her voice, body language, and thought patterns. It would be less creepy if she was actually a shape shifter, especially since this lack of superhuman ability makes her finishing touch of ''skinning her victims and wearing them as suits'' a necessary part of her modus operandi.
* In the ''{{Firefly}}'' comics, it's revealed that [[spoiler: Shepherd Book]] did this some time before joining Serenity's crew.
* In her first appearance, the [[TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Golden Age]] WonderWoman, fresh from [[strike: Themiscyra]] Paradise Island, has a chance encounter with an Army nurse named Diana Prince, who's distraught because she lacks the funds to join her fiancee in South America. They look exactly alike, and thus, Princess Diana pretty much buys Lt. Prince's identity from her so that she can afford to, well, desert.
* A slight variation appears in the back story for {{Cybersix}}, who poses [[{{Crossdresser}} as a man]] by day because her SecretIdentity was lifted from a young boy who died with the rest of his family in a car crash. She didn't know the boy beforehand; she just found the body and realized he looked a lot like her.
* ''StrangersInParadise'''s David Qin was born Yousaka Takahasi, the son of a prominent Yakuza family and a member of one of the numerous violent teenage gangs. He accidentally killed the Chinese-American David Qin after administering a brutal, and completely pointless, beating in the street. His influential father and his lawyers got him off on all criminal charges, but a confrontation with David's sister, combined with his already considerable guilt, led to his taking David's name and [[HeelFaceTurn abandoning the criminal ways of his youth and family]].
* Isn't this technically what MartianManhunter does? By happy coincidence, his name even sounds like the dead man's (Jonn Jon'zz / John Jones).
* At the end of the ''ComicBook/VForVendetta'' graphic novel series, Evey assumes V's identity after V dies.
* False Face attempts to do this to Lady Blackhawk in order to infiltrate the ComicBook/BirdsOfPrey, but ends up having her ass kicked by her would-be victim by the end of the issue.
* In the Postboot ''Comicbook/{{Legion Of Super-Heroes}}'' continuity, [[spoiler:the CorruptCorporateExecutive Leland [=McCauley=] is murdered by the immortal Franchise/{{Batman}} villain Ra's al-Ghul, who steals his identity and considerable fortune to further his plans.]]
** Before the reboot, it was broadly hinted in one Annual that [[spoiler: Lightning Lad had actually been dead for years and that Proty had assumed his identity]]. [[CanonDiscontinuity After that annual it was never mentioned]] and the title was [[{{Retcon}} retconned]] the following year anyway.
* The modern version of the ''Comicbook/{{Spider-Man}}'' villain the Chameleon uses this. He studies, kidnaps and murders his victims before spending a day living that person's life. Quite a violent upgrade for a guy who used to simply [[MuggedForDisguise leave his victims tied up and gagged in their undies so that he could steal their clothes]].
* Happens in the second volume of ''DarkAvengers'', where the team visits a BadFuture where the world is under the control of evil versions of 616 heroes. The real [[MsMarvel Carol Danvers]] has been dead for months, but some of the superhero factions do not know this. Taking advantage of the situation, Dark Comicbook/DoctorStrange dresses Moonstone in Carol's old [[CaptainMarVell Captain Marvel]] uniform and forces her to assume the deceased heroine's identity.
* ''Batman'' villain Black Mask did this in the "War Games" arc, by adopting the identity of [[spoiler:Orpheus, who he just killed]] in a XanatosSpeedChess gambit to become Gotham's main crime lord.
* This was sometimes how the original version of the ComicBook/UnknownSoldier worked to infiltrate enemy lines.
* Used against the villain in Brian Azzarello's version of El Diablo.
* Creator/NeilGaiman explores this trope in ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', and how it can end very badly. Philip Sitz, the editor of a serial killer magazine, tried to pass himself off as the long dead Bogeyman at a convention of serial killers. It was painfully clear to anyone he spoke to that he wasn't the real Bogeyman, compounded by the Corinthian revealing the Bogeyman died three years ago. When Sitz is found out he starts claiming he came here to learn from them. So the Corinthian and two others decide to teach him. They even take turns.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fairy Tales]]
* In ''Literature/TheGooseGirl'', this is the threat the maidservant uses to extract the promise from the princess that she will not reveal the truth of the BrideAndSwitch.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* A major plot point in Creator/AlfredHitchcock's ''Film/{{Vertigo}}''.
* ''TakingLives''
* ''Mrs. Winterbourne'' is a LighterAndSofter version of the Creator/CornellWoolrich novel mentioned in the Literature section.
* In ''Film/ThereWillBeBlood'' [[spoiler:a man comes up to Daniel Plainview claiming to be his half-brother, with a letter as proof. Daniel believes the man until he notices some inconsistencies in his story. The man eventually confesses at gunpoint that he knew Daniel's real brother, who died of tuberculosis and assumed his identity. Daniel shoots the man shortly afterward.]]
* ''AceVentura: Pet Detective'': Disgraced kicker Ray Finkle ''[[GenderBender becomes]]'' Detective Lois Einhorn when s/he goes insane after missing a potential game-winning field goal kick in a Super Bowl. The ''real'' Lois Einhorn was a missing hiker, whose article about her search being called off, gave Finkle the idea to become a woman to kill Dan Marino. Unless [[FridgeBrilliance he was actually the one responsible for Einhorn's disappearance in the first place]].
* This is the premise of ''Film/{{Houseguest}}''. Sinbad is on the run from the mob and finds Phil Hartman and his family waiting to pick up his childhood friend, so Sinbad impersonates the friend and goes with them. When he's caught, it fortunately turns out that the friend grew up to be a jerk.
* In ''Film/XMen1'' & ''Film/X2XMenUnited'' this is standard operating procedure for Mystique. She impersonates Senator Kelly's aide who Magneto casually mentions "has been dead for some time" then effectively becomes Senator Kelly after his artificial mutation apparently kills him.
* Used by the murderers in ''DoubleIndemnity'' to make it appear that the victim was killed by falling from a train -- a vital component of their InsuranceFraud scheme.
* The main character in ''Detour'' hitches a ride with a man who dies soon afterward. He takes the dead man's car and identity. Of course, this being film noir, he soon encounters a [[FemmeFatale dodgy dame]] and things go from bad to worse.
* Creator/AkiraKurosawa's ''{{Kagemusha}}'' (''Shadow Warrior''). A thief is hired to impersonate a dying daimyo, and given stringent training by both the daimyo's brother and his retainers, in order to prevent the province from being destroyed by ongoing power struggles after the daimyo's death. Originally supposed to be merely a figurehead, with all power wielded by the deceased mans's retainers and family; he gradually takes on more power and responsibility, along with his personality coming to increasingly resemble that of the dead man.
* ''[[ExcitedShowTitle Die, Mommie, Die!]]'': The [[spoiler: mother's confession. They were twin sisters who formed a singing duo - unfortunately only one of them could actually sing. The singer went on to be very famous but also an abusive jerkass while the non-singer became homeless and eventually wound up in jail. The singer took pity on her and brought her to her BigFancyHouse as a maid/nanny. Nonsinger was horrified at her sister's treatment of her children, killed her, and took her identity. Unfortunately guilt and access to drugs and alcohol made her just as bad as her sister was, hence the title.]]
* ''TheMajestic'' where the character played by JimCarrey has amnesia following an automobile accident and is found in rural California, where he is mistaken for a local war hero thought dead. For most of the middle of the movie, he tries to fit into the mistaken identity role without really knowing who he is.
* A variation of this forms the basic premise of ''{{Dave}}''. Everyman Dave Kovic bears an uncanny resemblance to the sitting US President, whose handlers hire him as a body double for "security reasons" (read: to cover up the President's extramarital affairs). The President [[OutWithABang has a massive stroke]] which leaves him comatose, and his handlers coerce Dave into assuming the President's identity.
* ''Film/{{Fantomas}}'' does this often, especially in Jean Marais[=/=]Creator/LouisDeFunes movie adaptations. Usually, he's also the cause of death.
* Subverted and played straight in Ridley Scott's ''Film/RobinHood2010''. Played straight in that when [[spoiler: Robert Loxsley]] dies, [[spoiler: Robin]] takes on his identity as the messenger to avoid being killed as a deserter from the army, and also to return the crown to the royal family. Subverted in when [[spoiler: Robin takes the sword back to the late Loxley's father]] and doesn't pretend to be anything other than who he is. Then played straight again when [[spoiler: Robin pretends to be Robert Loxsley so Marion can inherit the estate after Walter Loxley's death. And, of course, to help rally the people in battle.]]
* After escaping the prison, Dr. Niemann in ''Film/HouseOfFrankenstein'' orders his [[TheIgor new hunchback assistant]] to kill a travelling showman and takes his place and uses this to get near those who got him to prison.
* ''Film/FridayThe13thPart2'' has the FinalGirl attacking Jason while pretending to be his mother.
** This scene was straight ripped off in ''Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill''.
** The final girl in ''Film/{{Humongous}}'' uses a similar method to avoid the killer.
* In ''Sommersby'' (a remake of ''The Return of Martin Guerre''), a man returns from the Civil War. Previously a {{jerkass}}, he now makes the town a better place by getting bank loans for farmers and former slaves. Then the police arrest him for murder. [[spoiler: In prison, the man confesses to his "wife" that he is actually a friend of her husband's from the army. Though the wife tries to get him confess his fraud to save himself, he responses, "And ruin this? All the loans are through me. If I tell the court I'm not your husband, the bank can recall the loans as a fraud and this town will lose everything."[[note]]The couple had also had a child together, who would be declared illegitimate if he confessed -a ''major'' thing at the time.[[/note]] So he is hanged for the crimes of the man he impersonated]].
* ''TheStepfather'' had a sequel where the titular stepfather escapes from a mental institution and assumes the identity of a random guy he saw in the obituary section of a newspaper.
* SilenceOfTheLambs: To escape from jail [[spoiler: Lecter pretends to be a wounded guard and is rushed to an ambulance. When the real guard's body drops from the elevator roof, this doubles as an OhCrap moment.]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JaGSX-3WJg See it here.]]
* In ''Imitation General'' an army general visiting an area under German siege is killed and his aide realizes that only the sight and authority of a high ranking officer can hold the trapped soldiers together. He takes the general's place even though he knows his action could save or cost lives and make or break the general's reputation. It's a comedy though so...
* In ''Barbarosa'', fugitive Karl Westover is befriended in the desert by the title outlaw, who introduces him to a Mexican clan with whom he has a tangled relationship. When one member of that family [[spoiler: ambushes and kills Barbarosa, Westover takes over his identity to honor his legend.]]
* In ''TheBridgeOnTheRiverKwai'', it's revealed that "Commander Shears" was actually an enlisted man serving under Shears aboard the USS ''Houston''. After the ship was sunk and Shears killed, the seaman (whose real name we never learn) switched uniforms with him and took his name and rank in the hope of getting better POW treatment from the Japanese.
* In ''Film/{{Highlander}}'', Connor [=McLeod=] concealed his immortality for years by assuming the identities of long-dead children.
* ''MoonOverParador'' was about an American actor hired/forced to impersonate the recently deceased dictator of a BananaRepublic.
* In ''Film/ReindeerGames'', Rudy, a car thief just out of prison, assumes the identity of his recently murdered cellmate Nick and commences a relationship with Ashley, a woman Nick had been corresponding with via letters. It's the first part of a GambitPileUp which culminates in the revelation that [[spoiler:Nick faked his death as part of a master plan with Ashley, who was already his lover on the outside, thus making this a subversion.]]
* In the horror anthology film ''Film/BodyBags'' in "The Gas Station", Anne's co-worker Bill isn't the ''real'' Bill, as she finds out. He's actually the escaped serial killer mentioned on the radio earlier on and has been impersonating the original gas station owner.
* In ''[[Film/CabinByTheLake Return to Cabin by the Lake]]'', the presumed to be dead serial killer Stanley infiltrates the film set of a movie chronicling his own life by murdering the Assistant Director JC Reddick (a nephew of one of the Executive Producers) and impersonating him for the remainder of the shoot.
* In ''Film/ToBeOrNotToBe'', after TheMole Siletsky is killed by LaResistance, Jozef Tura disguises himself as him to further thwart his plans.
* A minor character in ''Film/EdgeOfTomorrow'' is revealed to have done this, sending the his pay to his fallen friend's family.
* At the end of the film ''Film/TheDouble'', it's implied that [[spoiler:Simon]] is going to assume [[spoiler:his double James']] identity.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* A major plot twist in Creator/JohnDicksonCarr's book [[spoiler: ''The Three Coffins/The Hollow Man'']] involves this.
* Creator/AgathaChristie did it at least twice, both in [[spoiler: A Murder Is Announced]] and [[spoiler: A Holiday For Murder.]]
** In a plot twist not used for the book version of Literature/AndThenThereWereNone, [[spoiler: the Hollywood versions reveal that "Philip Lombard" is in fact Charles Morley, who came in Lombard's place after the real Lombard committed suicide upon receiving UN Owen's letter.]] This is also used for the game, where [[spoiler: you not only get Charles Morley, you also get Gabrielle Steel, who has been impersonating Emily Brent in the "villain kills another person and takes over their identity" variety.]]
** And a related plot twist was used in [[spoiler: ''The Body in the Library.'' There were actually two murders: the main victim, Ruby, and another girl of about the same age, Pamela. The murderers killed Pamela, dressed up to resemble Ruby, at a time when Ruby was known to be alive, and then identified Pamela's body as Ruby's, giving themselves an alibi for the time of death.]]
** Agatha Christie does it twice in Literature/HerculePoirot's Christmas, when Pilar and Stephen Farr are '''both''' impostors, who opportunistically decided to take the identities of Simeon Lee's grand-daughter, and his best friend's son. [[spoiler: They end up together!]]
* Creator/HPLovecraft's ''The Whisperer In Darkness'', in a way. [[spoiler: The whisperer impersonates a man using parts of his corpse, but said man is still alive as a BrainInAJar.]]
* DorothyLSayers used the short-term "throw off the time of death" variant at least twice, in ''Whose Body?'' and ''The Five Red Herrings''.
* For the malicious version, in ''[[Literature/{{Ripliad}} The Talented Mr. Ripley]]'', he kills his friend and takes his identity for a while.
* Doom of the Hills in ''Literature/DeltoraQuest.''
* Happened in one [[Literature/HerculePoirot Poirot]] novel.
* Creator/JosephineTey's mystery novel ''Brat Farrar'' has an interesting use of this trope, as it's about a young man who starts off as the malicious version, passing himself off as a member of a wealthy family who disappeared as a child, but then [[TheyFightCrime turns detective]] when he realizes that the boy he's pretending to be died and anyone not believing his charade is likely to be the murderer.
* Used in Creator/CornellWoolrich's novel ''I Married A Dead Man'', where a poor young woman who is pregnant and has been abandoned by her lover meets a wealthy pregnant woman on a train who looks similar to her along with her husband. When the train crashes and the couple is killed, the poor woman passes herself off to the husband's family as his wife.
* Benoit Notre-Dame turns out to have done this in ''A Very Long Engagement'', although he's only really taken the dead man's name, and still lives with his own wife.[[spoiler: He also turns out to have set Manech up with a dead man's identity as well; although the amnesiac Manech doesn't realize the deception, he's taken in anyway by the dead man's mother, who does.]]
* ''Father's Arcane Daughter'' by E.L. Konigsberg.
* The short story ''Improbable Impostor Tom Castro'' by Creator/JorgeLuisBorges revolves around the eponymous character's success as an impostor by virtue of being entirely dissimilar from the person he's impersonating.
* One TheWitcher short story involves a doppelgänger assuming the identity of a dead inquisitor. Nobody catches on, despite a rather radical shift in personality (they assume the man has changed due to a near-death experience and generally being old).
* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', David uses this after acquiring the DNA of [[spoiler:Jake and Rachel's cousin, Saddler]] who was in critical care. As morphing constructs the form anew from DNA, he has no injuries and is perfectly healthy. The family was overjoyed, thinking that a miracle occurred, but Jake knew better ... Whether or not David actually killed [[spoiler:Saddler]] isn't addressed, but he's definitely dead, and Rachel indicates they eventually find the body.
* In ''Literature/StarOfTheSea'', one of the principal characters kills a man and takes his identity because he believes he'll die otherwise (he's a cripple with no way to support himself). However, none of the people he convinces had ever met the real man before, and he eventually gives up the pretense and disappears when the real man's mother starts wondering why he's not answering her letters.
* An odd version of this happens in the novel ''Over the Edge.'' Gina is on a plane that gets hijacked, and the hijackers specifically call out for one passenger, the daughter of a senator. Gina is the only one on the plane who knows the girl didn't make the flight due to lost paperwork, and she bears a resemblance to her anyway, so she claims to be Karen.
* ''Literature/TheCulture''
** ''Literature/UseOfWeapons''. Book-spoiling spoiler: [[spoiler:Cheradenine Zakalwe is actually Elethiomel, the Chairmaker. He kills Cheradenine's sister and makes a chair out of her bones. Cheradenine then commits suicide and Elethiomel assumes his life.]]
** In ''Literature/ConsiderPhlebas'', the shape shifting AntiHero does this a couple of times.
* In a twist, Giles Denison, the main character of Desmond Bagley's spy thriller ''The Tightrope Men'', has been '''press-ganged''' (with plastic surgery and partial brainwashing) into playing the role of scientist Harry Meyrick. Meyrick is a brilliant jerk who "uses sarcasm as a weapon, but if you put him in a real fight he'd collapse. Denison is a quiet-spoken, civil man" who handles himself quite well in a tight situation. And neither he nor the British agents he's helping know '''who''' turned him into Meyrick's double or why.
* Done in the XWingSeries in a way that straddles this trope and OfCorpseHesAlive. The Wraiths captured a small ship and killed its captain before anyone could send a message back to the enemy fleet; hence the enemy was unaware of this. They decided to continue the ship's mission, masquerading [[TheInfiltration as the original crew]] of the Night Caller, including her [[SmallNameBigEgo wildly egotistical]] captain - if he'd stopped commanding, the enemy would've noticed.
** TimothyZahn's [[HandOfThrawn Hand of Thrawn Duology]] has a [[BigBadDuumvirate triumvirate of villains]] collectively contriving to make it look as if [[TheThrawnTrilogy Grand Admiral Thrawn]] has [[BackFromTheDead returned from the dead]]. One member handles supply, demand, and political fallout, one member composes tactics and strategy and expands on the triad's plans, and the third pulls off a very good acting job, aided by a massive subversion of WeWillNotUseStageMakeupInTheFuture. [[spoiler: The second also contributes to the script and gives details to the actor, because secretly he was ''very'' close to Thrawn. By which it's meant that he's a human clone with part of Thrawn's mind and some of his mannerisms.]]
* In ''Double Vision'', by Mary Higgins Clark, it's five years after Caroline's twin Lisa was murdered, and the killer's now after the survivor. It turned out that the killer actually intended to kill Caroline, unaware that she was a twin. When he returns to do the job properly, she manages to talk him out of it by convincingly lying to him that she really is Lisa. She explains that she had been TheUnfavourite of their parents, so when he killed Caroline, she assumed the identity of her twin sister so their grief wouldn't be as profound.
* ''The Expendable Spy'', by Jack D. Hunter, is an American agent parachuted into Bavaria in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. When his contact is killed by an air raid, he assumes the man's identity, but then finds the contact was a ''Gestapo'' agent sent from Berlin to help organize the [[TheRemnant "Werwolf"]] underground. Worse, his new "boss" gets suspicious and sends his description off to Gestapo [=HQ=] asking for confirmation that this is the hotshot they sent. Unnervingly, the response to the description is not only, "Yes, that's him," but includes a photo. ''Of the American agent''. So he's left wondering who ''in Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin'' is on his side.
* In Miyuki Miyabe's ''All She Was Worth'', detective Shunsuke Honma investigates the disappearance of his nephew's fiance Shoko Sekine, only to find that [[spoiler: the fiance had killed and assumed the identity of the real Shoko in order to avoid loan sharks. She'd also tried once before to kill another woman and steal her identity, and after disappearing was planning on doing it again.]]
* Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/DoubleStar'' starts as EmergencyImpersonation and turns into this at the end.
* In Michael Slade's ''Ghoul'', a woman kills another, then dresses in her clothes and a concealing scarf to move the body, tucked inside a large suitcase also belonging to the victim. As she destroys the body with a bath in HollywoodAcid, the investigators wouldn't even realize the victim had died at all, had the acid-bath not left a couple of undissolvable gallstones behind. [[spoiler: Even then, the killer's ruse is only foiled because a witness mentions that she had large breasts, and the victim she impersonated was poorly endowed.]]
* In ''Addie Pray,'' the basis for the movie ''Film/PaperMoon'', [[spoiler: young Addie impersonates the granddaughter of a New Orleans aristocrat, in order to help her nephew bilk her out of her fortune---and when the fortune turns out to be imaginary, Addie switches sides and helps the aristo bilk her nephew.]]
* One of the characters in DreadEmpiresFall, [[spoiler: Lady Caroline Sula]] took over the identity of the real person whose name [[spoiler: she]]'s using, and does a lot better with it than the original would have ever done.
* Ten Soon from ''{{Mistborn}}''
** [[PlayingWithATrope Played with]] in that [[spoiler:the person he was impersonating was another shapeshifter.]]
* At least twice in the NUMASeries: [[spoiler: ''Inca Gold'' and ''Atlantis Found''.]]
* In the {{Flashman}} novel ''Flash for Freedom'', Flashman finds himself working on a slave ship and at one point, one of his fellow sailors, Beauchamp Comber, is killed, and as he dies, reveals he's actually a fervent abolitionist and part of a campaign to stop the slave trade. Since Comber has connections in America and had papers that Flashman could use to blackmail his father-in-law (who financed the slave ship), Flashman ends up taking on his identity in America. Flashman being [[UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist what he is]], ultimately ends up as a wanted criminal under the Comber identity (although this means that later on, he can return to America as Flashman, British war hero, without most people connecting him with Comber).
* In ''Literature/VanishingActs'', Andrew does this when he runs away with his child Delia. Their real names are Charles and Bethany, however they manage to acquire birth certificates and identification under the names Andrew and Cordelia Hopkins, who were a father and daughter that died in a car crash. However, this happens in the late 70s and early 80s.
* The Great Impersonation by E. Phillips Oppenheim features an identical English gentleman and German spy. The mystery is whether the German killed the Englishman and is impersonating him, the Englishman is impersonating the German impersonating himself.
* In the first (chronologically speaking) [[TheLegendOfDrizzt Drizzt Do'Urden]] novel, Alton [=DeVir=] disfigures himself to assume the identity of the very recently deceased (And horrifically maimed) master wizard known as the Faceless One after his family is murdered. After twenty years under this alias, he starts to wonder if at some point some student of his will kill him and take his place, leaving an endless succession of Faceless Ones at the academy, with nobody noticing (Or, given drow tendencies, caring).
* The ''[[SweetValleyHigh Sweet Valley]]'' books used this several times. One example is the Sweet Valley University book ''Very Bad Things''. A young stalker's victim takes out a restraining order against her and transfers to Sweet Valley to escape her, so she has surgery to look like a girl from their old school (who died), assumes the dead girl's identity, and follows the guy to Sweet Valley.
* Two occurences in ''ASongOfIceAndFire''
** [[spoiler: Jeyne Poole]] is forced to impersonate [[spoiler: Arya Stark]], who isn't really dead, but the people who want to marry her off can't find the real one, and think she's most likely dead by this point.
** During the Battle of the Blackwater, Tywin Lannister has someone impersonate the highly charismatic and popular (but very much dead) Renly Baratheon (mostly by wearing his elaborate armor) in order to support her allied troops' morale and gain the smallfolk's support. Tywin being little short of a strategic genius, it works out well.
* In ''Literature/TheWalkingDeadRiseOfTheGovernor'', [[spoiler: Brian takes on his brother Philip's name and persona after he dies.]]
* In ''Literature/BioshockRapture'' it's revealed that [[spoiler:the character that players of the game know as "Frank Fontaine" actually murdered the real Frank Fontaine in order to take over his fishing business and gain access to Rapture. Though "Fontaine's" real first name is indeed "Frank" (which he lampshades), his real last name is never revealed (it's even mentioned that only a handful of of people in the ''world'' know it) .]]
* In the Indian novel ''Literature/TheWhiteTiger'': [[spoiler: Balram takes over Ashok's identity after he kills him.]] %% This comment was added automatically by FELH2. In case the wording doesn't make sense, rewrite it as you like and tell this troper.
* This is a major plot twist in ''Going Down For the Count'' by DavidStukas. [[spoiler: The eponymous count is murdered before the story starts, and the man who meets and romances Robert is an impostor trying to frame Robert for the murder.]]
* ''Literature/TheMortalInstruments'': [[spoiler:Valentine killed Michael Wayland and his infant son (using that baby to make Jocelyn believe her son Jonathan was dead) and took over Michael Wayland's identity while raising Jace (who was Stephen Herondale's son. It's complicated).]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': In an early season 2 episode, an inca mummy girl was brought back to life. She proceeded to kill and then take the name of and pretend to be "Ampata", the foreign exchange student that was supposed to stay with Buffy for two weeks.
* ''Series/{{Columbo}}'', ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Columbo_episodes Prescription: Murder]]''. A psychiatrist, a wife, and a patient-turned-girlfriend.
* At least three episode of ''Series/{{Monk}}'':
** In "Mr. Monk and the Airplane", Stefan Chabrol's mistress poses as Stefan's wife Barbara on the flight after shooting the real Barbara in an airport bathroom.
** In "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas", Daniel Thorn strangles his wife Sheryl in a private elevator. Then he has his identically dressed mistress Teresa Telenko switch places with the corpse so that photographers waiting at the bottom think Sheryl strangled herself on her own scarf when getting on the elevator to go back up to the penthouse.
** In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert", singer Kris Kedder kills Stork Murray, a roadie who had threatened to expose him for copyright infringement, stuffs his body into a port-a-potty, and makes it look like he overdosed. Except he finds a pin and realizes that Stork has been off drugs for seventeen months. Aware that nobody, especially not Stork's girlfriend Kendra Frank (who is also Stork's Narcotics Anonymous sponsor), will believe that Stork overdosed after being clean for so long, he waits until the next morning, then dons Stork's bandanna and a pair of sunglasses (to hide his eyes) and visits an acupuncturist, making sure she hears him claim he's gotten over a fear of needles and he wants to find some heroin to get high, to give the appearance that Stork relapsed. He then plants a map in the real Stork's jacket pocket so as to validate that "Stork" really went to the acupuncturist. However, the impersonation falls apart after Monk recalls the acupuncturist stating that Kedder blew up a girl's beachball after his appointment and also recalls that Kedder suffers from asthma, requiring him to use a unique mint-flavored inhaler.
** In "Mr. Monk Is Someone Else," the FBI have Monk pose as a recently deceased hitman named Frank [=DePalma=], who turns out to be Monk's identical doppelganger, to thwart a potential mob assassination.
* ''Series/JonathanCreek'' has had this happen a couple of times.
* Sylar from ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' did this after killing Zane Taylor, and a couple of other times.
** This common tactic is turned against him at the end of season three when [[spoiler: after killing Nathan Petrelli and taking his form, Sylar is brainwashed by Matt Parkman into thinking he actually ''is'' Nathan Petrelli.]]
* Happens twice in the ''PushingDaisies'' episode "Pigeon". First a criminal impersonates the man whose apartment he's just crashed a hijacked crop duster into. Then later, we discover that the same criminal has been part of a two-way impersonation: he promised to keep up his cellmate's letters to his sweetheart after the cellmate died, while in the meantime the sweetheart had also died, but made her daughter promise to keep up the letters.
* Rex Buckland and Hannah Webster, the recurring villains from the first series of ''Series/{{Charmed}}'', were found to have killed and taken over the identities of the original Rex and Hannah in an attempt to get the Charmed Ones powers.
* From ''TheOffice'' (USA)
--> '''Creed Bratton''': "Nobody steals from Creed Bratton. The last person that tried disappeared. His name? Creed Bratton."
* ''TheLastDetective'' has an episode called ''Lofty'' concerning the death of a deranged beggar who is found to keep all of his World War II documentation in a cigar box, leading the police to at first think he is a particular soldier. It turns out that the soldier (who was tall and thus the original Lofty) was killed in battle and his friend, a ClassyCatBurglar and LoveableRogue before the war, had such serious PTSD that his mind was broken and he ended up as that beggar who everyone knew as Lofty. Just to note, the episode references the IronicNickname idea, in that someone nicknamed Lofty would actually be assumed to be short rather than otherwise.
* A ''Series/{{MASH}}'' episode concerns a soldier who picked up the dog tags of a Jewish friend who was killed in battle and was going to be sent home. The young man (who's actually Catholic) [[ConfessInConfidence confesses]] his deception to Father Mulcahy but insists he's going to go through with it. Ultimately, he is persuaded to give up his charade by being reminded of his friend's family who would never know the fate of their son.
* The most famous example in SoapOpera is ''La Usurpadora'' (with its several versions and remakes), who combines this trope with TwinSwitch, SeparatedAtBirth, and MagicalNanny.
** Another famous example was Argentinian SoapOpera ''[[http://www.delboca.net/spanish/tele_files/perla.html Perla Negra]]''. A young single mother named [[TheOjou Eva Pacheco]] has been made an UnexpectedSuccessor, which doesn't suit her BigScrewedUpFamily (the Alvarez Toledo clan) well; she decides to confront them and present them her baby son Charlie, born from a one-night stand with a ChickMagnet named Tomás, one of the Alvarez Toledo. Eva takes her best friend and former BoardingSchool roommate, a girl named [[{{Tsundere}} Perla]], with her as moral support... but their car crashes, Eva dies and Perla survives. By mistake, the Alvarez Toledo think Perla is actually the real Eva; Perla, an orphan [[DoorstopBaby dropped off as a baby]] in the BoardingSchool, lets them think so so she can take over Eva's identity, son ''and'' life mission [[ParentalSubstitute to protect her dear baby!Charlie]], not knowing that she's going to learn about [[MosesInTheBullrushes her own mysterious past]] [[GuileHero as she fights the Alvarez Toledo clan]] [[MamaBear for the kid's sake.]] Even more, Perla actually finds Tomás again... and since had already met when Eva was still alive (and he tried to seduce her but Perla didn't take the bait), Tomás ''already'' [[SpannerinTheWorks knows that Perla isn't Eva]], and Perla herself ''hates'' him since she believes he heartlessly dumped the pregnant Eva and has already sworn revange against him (in reality, Tomás never knew that she was pregnant). '''And this is just the start'''.
* On an episode of ''Series/ThePretender'', Jarod tries to help a man who collapsed in his room. He dies and Jarod discovers the man was a hitman. Jarod borrows his identity for a while in order to help the people he was hired to kill.
* An episode of ''[[Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit Law & Order: SVU]]'' involved a woman whose twin sister had been found murdered. It turned out that both girls had been mail-order brides, and the one they thought had been murdered had divorced her husband. The living woman then turned out to have assumed her sister's identity after the murder [[spoiler:because she was trying to buy freedom for ''another'' sister, who had also been put aside by her husband and then forced into prostitution]].
* An episode of ''Series/LawAndOrder'' had a woman killing her sister and them assuming her identity to avoid the wrath of the mobsters who had killed her boyfriend because of his gambling debts and were now after her.
* ''Series/MadMen'': This is the defining characteristic of Don Draper, the main character. Born Dick Whitman, [[SonOfAWhore his mother was a prostitute]] who died during birth and left his upbringing to his father and stepmother. He ran away to join the army, and was with a Lt. Donald Draper in the Korean War when the latter died. Immediately upon Draper's death, Whitman switched their dog tags, and assumed Donald Draper's identity (15 years as of the series' latest season).
* Before he first appeared on ''Series/DoctorWho'', Captain Jack Harkness, a 51st-century ex-Time Agent, took his name and identity from a UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo RAF American volunteer captain who was shot down when he was caught off guard in a training exercise in 1941. We don't find this out until the ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' series 1 episode "Captain Jack Harkness," in which [[spoiler:Jack and Tosh travel back to 1941 Cardiff and meet the actual Captain Jack, whom Jack falls for, the night before the real Jack's death]].
* On ''Series/{{Lost}}'', in late season 1 Kate planned to take the identity of a survivor who drowned on day 6. She never got to do it, though.
** And [[spoiler:the Smoke Monster]] does this with various people, most notably [[spoiler:Locke in a very LongCon]] and probably [[spoiler:Christian Shepherd]].
* Back in the 60's, this was the whole plot of ''The Double Life of Henry Phyfe'', a short-lived sitcom starring Red Buttons as the title character. I remember it chiefly for its theme song: "A foreign spy, A Red spy, The Number U-31, On his first day out, He's done in by a hit-and-run. 'Gotta find a man who looks just like U-31'--'WHO? ME?? Henry Phyfe'...If Henry Phyfe can keep his disguise a big mystery, This could be the greatest deception in history, With a little luck, he might even fool the enemy..."
* Used in ''{{Medium}}'' where the impersonator has been using the dead man's secret, unpublished memoir to convince the dead man's wife that he's the dead man's spirit in a new body. It backfires when the impersonator doesn't "remember" "his" affair with his sister-in-law, which he obviously couldn't put into writing.
** This might be a TakeThat to ''Series/GhostWhisperer'''s Jim/Sam arc, where the ghost of Melinda's husband Jim takes over the body of a guy named Sam and gets a nasty case of double-amnesia, with his body's medical history saying he's ''this'' person while his heart says he's another [[spoiler: He (Jim) gets better]].
* WordOfGod says Jim Profit of ''Series/{{Profit}}'' would have been revealed to be this, had the show been renewed another season.
* In ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "Face of the Enemy," a group of Romulan dissidents murder the Tal Shiar PoliticalOfficer on their ship, kidnap Counsellor Troi, and disguise her to resemble the dead officer, and force her to help them send some defectors to the Enterprise.
* In the last season of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', series villain Gul Dukat assumes the identity of the dead Bajoran Anjohl Tennan in order to exploit a past connection with Kai Winn.
** Much earlier, in the episode "Duet" [[spoiler: a minor Cardassian clerk pretends to be the head of the cruelest work camp in a bid to get the Cardassians to admit to their war crimes against Bajor.]]
* Happened in an episode of ''Series/WhiteCollar''. Neal accidentally goes undercover as a hit man, and in the end it turns out that [[spoiler: the guy who hired the hit in the first place did it to prevent people finding out that the man he's pretending to be is really the man he killed over twenty years ago]].
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': John impersonates a dead Peacekeeper officer in a bid to infiltrate a Peacekeeper base and save Aeryn's life. It... didn't go so well.
* In an episode of {{Lewis}}, [[spoiler: a rock'n'roll star who was thought to have committed suicide, but whose body was never found appears to have come BackFromTheDead. Her old bandmates (and Lewis, who used to be a big fan) are overjoyed. As it turns out, however, the star in question really ''was'' dead all along, and the woman who showed up was actually her sister.]]
* Happened in ''Series/TheCloser'' episode "Living Proof", where what seems at first to be an unsuccessful attempt at OffingTheOffspring turns out to have been a result of the sisters and father of a man killed in a massacre during UsefulNotes/TheYugoslavWars finding out that the man's identity is being used by one of the apparent killers.
* The basic premise ''{{Ringer}}'', in which a woman takes the place of her dead twin. [[FirstEpisodeSpoiler Except her twin isn't dead...]]
* Technically the case in ''{{Series/Revenge}}'' as Emily (real name Amanda Clarke) continues living under the identity of Amanda (real name Emily Thorne) after she has died in order to complete her revenge plot against the Graysons.
* One episode of the remake of ''Series/RandallAndHopkirkDeceased'' took the murder mystery variant to ridiculous extremes. [[spoiler: The detectives never actually met any of the victims, because the killer pulled off ''three'' simultaneous Dead Person Impersonations.]]
** The original series had a man show up claiming to be Marty's spirit in another man's body... except since the real Marty's spirit is still hanging around haunting Jeff, Jeff knows right away he's a fake.
* In ''TheSarahConnorChronicles'', [[RobotGirl Cameron]] assumed the identity of [[spoiler: resistance fighter Allison Young]] after killing her, in an attempt to infiltrate John Connor's resistance. It is all but outright said that she failed, was captured, and reprogrammed by John. Several other terminators in the series have done the same thing, most notably the machines impersonating Greenway and Vick.
** Not to mention Weaver.
* A CoronationStreet plot had John Stape impersonate his friend Colin Fishwick after he died.
* An episode of ''Series/RedCap'' had an army officer revealed as taking the identity of a dead childhood friend. The friend had committed suicide after being bullied by a teacher; he'd murdered the teacher in retaliation and been sentenced to juvenile court. On his release the father of the deceased helped him use his son's identity to join the British army, which as a convicted criminal he would normally be unable to join.
* An interesting variation shows up in the Series/{{Castle}} episode, "A Dance With Death": Odette, UpperClassTwit, meets an indigent lookalike while on court mandated community service and hires her to do all her dirty work (mostly further court sentences). Nobody knows they're actually two people. Odette dies in a freak train accident. Her doppleganger takes over her life and all her cash, cause why the heck ''not''?
* This was the subject of an episode of ''Series/TheIncredibleHulk'', of all things; David went to work for a young woman called Renee who was apparently being "Haunted" (the name of the episode) by the ghost of her twin sister who drowned when they were little girls. [[spoiler: It turned out that ''Renee'' was the sister who'd drowned, and she had pretended to be "Renee" all these years because everyone liked her better - but years of having to repress who she really was started to get to her...]]
* The entire ''premise'' of the '60s TV show ''TheManWhoNeverWas'' - an American spy in Germany on the run from the enemy meets his exact double, a wealthy man. When the double is killed, the spy assumes his identity.
* ''Probably'' the case for [[spoiler: "Patrick Crawley"]] of ''Series/DowntonAbbey''. He has a horribly disfigured face from being wounded in UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne and a ConvenientlyUnverifiableCoverStory [[spoiler: (he claims he was mistakenly believed dead after the sinking of the Titanic, was rescued but had amnesia, then lived in Canada for a while and picked up a Canadian accent because he didn't even remember he was English)]] but his story is contrived enough that he's probably just trying to con [[spoiler: the Crawleys into accepting him as a member of their wealthy family and heir to the estate]] and only Edith believes him.
* On ''{{Bones}}'', Temperance's parents did this (or at least her father did; it's never mentioned whether her mother did this or simply changed her name) when she was a baby, in order to hide their family from the group of criminals they used to commit robberies with. In the episode this is revealed, it's even mentioned specifically that the most common way of creating a new identity is to take over the identity of a dead person who was born the same year as yourself. Temperance's father Max assumed the identity of a Matthew Brennan who died as a baby.
* In an episode of the second season of ''{{Series/OnceUponATime}}'', [[spoiler: a plot twist reveals that the present-day Lancelot has been Cora in disguise all along. She reveals she murdered him long before the events of the episode.]]
** It's revealed early on in season one that Rumplestilskin made a deal to get King George his son, Prince James. When James dies unexpectedly, and the king needs James to prevent a war, Rumplestilskin reveals that the family he got James from had twins. The king quickly grabs the twin, David, and forces him to play the role of his son. Oh, and David's nickname via Snow White? [[spoiler: Prince Charming.]]
* An episode of ''ColdCase'' involved the case of a married couple initially thought to have been killed by an accidental gas leak that caused an explosion and fire in their home, only for evidence to surface revealing that it was the result of a bomb. After interviewing the friends of the couple who had visited them the weekend before, the detectives realized that one of them overheard the supposedly dead wife saying almost verbatim something that another friend had said to them. The detectives soon realized that after enticing her ex-lover to kill her husband and her friend (they wanted to confess about a crime they had all been involved in a decade earlier), the wife fled the home and assumed her now dead friend's identity--they bore a strong resemblance to each other and the woman apparently had no other friends or family who could reveal her secret.
* ''{{Series/Justified}}'': In "Where's Waldo", we learn that the real Waldo Truth died decades before. Harold Shawn has been masquerading as Waldo for years so that he and the Truth family can collect Waldo's disability checks.
* In Season 1 of ''TwentyFour,'' Alan York, father of Kim Bauer's best friend Janet, accompanied Teri Bauer to search for Kim and Janet. When Janet ends up in the hospital, Alan goes in to see if she's up to answering questions. However when Janet wakes up, she does not recognize the man. Revealed as an impostor, [[SacrificialLamb he murders Janet]] and takes Teri to "an address Janet gave him." The corpse found in the previous episode is identified as the real Alan York, obviously murdered by the terrorists, possibly including the imposter, whose name was really Kevin Carroll. [[IHaveYourWife All of this reveals that Teri was to be kidnapped with Kim.]]
* in ''DueSouth'',Victoria Metcalfe assumes her sister's identity briefly after a car crash. She went to the morgue as her sister to ID her sister's body as hers and thus get the police off her trail.
* ''{{Series/Highlander}}'' uses this like the film. Even Duncan-the baby born Duncan Macleod died at birth, and Duncan was found at the same time. The nurse believed he was a {{changeling|tale}}, but Ian and Mary raised him anyway.
* This trope is the premise of ''Series/{{Banshee}}''.
* This is initially the premise of ''Series/OrphanBlack'', aided by the fact that [[TheDrifter Sarah]] happens to look just like Beth, who she sees kill herself. However, things get complicated. Not only does Sarah find out that Beth was a cop, she also learns that she and Beth are clones... and there are more of them out there.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest'':
** Crossing over with ImpersonatingAnOfficer, John Reese repeatedly identifies himself as Detective Stills, a DirtyCop he killed in the pilot.
** One episode featured a serial killer who assumed his victim's identity until he got bored and started looking for his next victim. He did this at least seven times before being stopped.
* As in the source books, the Battle of Blackwater on ''Series/GameOfThrones'' features "the ghost of Renly" leading a host of forces wearing the dead would-be-king's unique armor. The reveal that the man in the armor is [[spoiler: Loras Tyrell, Renly's lover]] turns it into a bit of a GrandRomanticGesture as a fulfillment of a promise to fight for him made to Renly over a season earlier.
* "{{Series/Supernatural}}" has used this a few times.
** Demons like to steal the identity of whatever body they're currently wearing. In the episode The Magnificent Seven, one of the Sins possesses the body of a hunter they just killed in order to taunt his wife. The fact that everyone knew it was an act appeared irrelevant.
** Played straight with [[spoiler:Adam Milligan,]] who dies before he's even introduced. Killed and then impersonated by a shape-shifting ghoul, the goal was to [[spoiler:get revenge on Adam's father, John Winchester. After discovering that John's been dead for years,]] the ghoul decides that Sam and Dean will make worthwhile substitutes.
** It is unclear whether the Leviathans replaced or just possessed their first human hosts, but they are shape-shifters and (just like any other shapeshifter on this show,) they need some DNA to base a new body off of. The most popular way for a Levi to get it? Eat the victim, take on their identity, continue as normal.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'', we have this played out by the devious Deathlord known as the Eye and Seven Despairs. Publicly, his wife seduced his three lieutenants and they all conspired to have him destroyed (by putting him in a coffin and throwing it into the Oblivion), and now they rule together, all three lieutenants enjoying the widow's favors. In reality, the shrewd Deathlord [[AllAccordingToPlan had expected things to happen this exact way]], so he swapped the body in the coffin with that of his treacherous wife, disguised himself as her, and he is now playing his three ex-lieutenants against one another using seduction and cruel mind games, both to make them pay and to continue controlling them. Do I need to mention he is as mad as he is cunning?
* ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' has a few examples, thanks to Obfuscate and Vicissitude, but "Melinda Galbraith," Regent of the Sabbat, is a prominent example. The ''real'' Rebecca Galbraith was found dead and rapidly decomposing by a Tzimisce drag queen fleshcrafted to look like her for a big social gather. As he'd recently been disgraced, he knew he'd be blamed for her murder, and thus stepped into her shoes. Now he's just praying no one finds out...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* The plot of ''Sizwe Banzi Is Dead'' is based on the eponymous character, living under apartheid in South Africa, switching places with a murdered man in order to be allowed to stay in Port Elizabeth.
* And of course, the musical MartinGuerre. This version makes the real Martin and his imposter friends, and the imposter truly believes Martin is dead when he unknowingly assumes his identity, including falling in love with his wife. Of course, the trouble is, Martin's NotQuiteDead...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Videogames]]
* A common strategy in the ''VisualNovel/AceAttorney'' series. In the second game, [[spoiler:there was a witness who got into a car crash with her sister. Her sister died and her face was mangled by the accident, and when surgically reconstructing her face, they mistakenly used her sister's driver's license photo. She assumed her sister's identity to escape from the consequences of her actions, including the fact that she was responsible for the crash.]]
** [[{{Meganekko}} Adrian Andrews]] never changes her identity, but models [[TheStoic her hard-boiled, no-nonsense personality]] after her "[[LesYay mentor]]" Celeste Inpax as a coping mechanism after the latter [[DrivenToSuicide commits suicide]]. When she reappears in the third game, she's reverted to what seems to be her genuine personality--[[GenkiGirl upbeat]] and [[{{Dojikko}} slightly bumbling]].
** Besides the above examples however, [[spoiler: Furio Tigre]] takes the cake. He not only took over the identity of the person he had ''just killed'', he [[spoiler: did so to stage a different crime scene in order to throw off the time of death and frame the waitress in the restaurant where the murder took place]]. He THEN [[spoiler: impersonates (badly, but the less-than-perceptive cast don't realize) the title character himself, to make sure said waitress is successfully tried due to his bad representation]].
*** This is ''inverted'' in the final case of Trials and Tribulations, where [[spoiler: the ghost of Dahlia Hawthorne, being channeled by a spiritual technique where the channeler takes on the appearence of the one being channeled, pretends to be her still-living twin sister in order to frame Phoenix's sidekick Maya for murder.]]
** This is used in ''Dual Destinies'' by [[spoiler:The Phantom who, a international spy who, for the entire game, was disguised as the already dead Detective Bobby Fulbright. Yup, the guy you took as the run-off-the-mill "explain the facts for you while having a silly personality" guy is actually an international spy/terrorist, and is the person behind most of the game's events, as well as the guy who bombed Courtroom No. 4, which the trailers and even the game events lead you into thinking Ted Tonate must have done, by rule of the series. This is probably the biggest and most "twisty" PlotTwist in the entire series.]]
* Happens with [[spoiler: Weiss]] in AgarestSenki2. [[spoiler: The real Weiss tried to kill [[{{Satan}} Chaos]], but has a doubt in the end when Chaos told him that killing him would end badly for the world. Unfortunately, Faz, who is actually Mobius in disguise has another plan, so he stabbed the two and transferred Chaos's soul inside the dead Weiss's body, and this is the Weiss you're controlling all this time.]]
* This is the modus operandi of a ''VisualNovel/{{Snatcher}}''.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII,'' Cloud, rendered mentally unstable by experimentation and trauma, and with little self-esteem before that point, takes on the life story of his best friend, Zack. In the original, it was portrayed as Cloud finally snapping for good - in the remade scene in ''CrisisCore'', it was portrayed as a conscious decision to live in Zack's honour. Either way, Cloud ends up genuinely believing that he was Zack, and the illusion comes apart in the [[HeroicBSOD most painful way possible]] later on.
** Even if it did seem to be portrayed as a conscious decision in ''Crisis Core'', you can still tell that Cloud was... unraveling.
** Similarly, Setzer of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' takes on the personality and reputation of his mentor, Daryl, after she dies. There's also Cyan, who writes letters claiming to be a woman's long-distance boyfriend after her real boyfriend dies.
* At the beginning of ''VideoGame/TheLastExpress'', the main character finds his murdered friend's body in a train carriage, and assumes his identity in order to track down the killer.
* In ''VideoGame/RondoOfSwords'', a prince is killed in the first chapter, and he requests that his BodyDouble (the main character) assume his identity, protect his sister, and save the kingdom. Depending on the path you take, the protagonist is either exposed and gains a new identity of his own or assumes the prince's life permanently.
* The original ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' has more than one example:
** The most obvious being [[spoiler:Decoy Octopus, who took on the identity of the DARPA Chief Donald Anderson after the real Anderson was murdered by Revolver Ocelot.]]
** Throughout the entire mission [[spoiler:Liquid Snake comes into contact with his brother Solid Snake under the guise of Snake's former drill instructor Master Miller. It isn't until near the end of the mission that Snake finds out that the real Miller died in his home three days prior.]]
** [[spoiler:Dr. Naomi Hunter bought the identity of another "Naomi Hunter" who disappeared in the middle east a few years prior to the events of the story.]]
* Probably the ultimate example of this is in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'', in which Link is taught a magical song that allows him to extract evil curses from the living and worldly sorrows from the dead to create magical masks. These masks allow him to shape shift into whoever they're from, so he ends up impersonating individuals of different ''species'' - the Goron hero Darmani, Zora guitarist Mikau, and a Deku Scrub boy who is heavily implied to be the [[spoiler: murdered son of the Deku Palace butler.]]
* One of the victims in the {{Sierra}} game, ''LauraBow: The Dagger of Amon Ra'' is actually impersonating a dead professor. Whom you also find as a skeleton.
* Occurs at one point in ''VideoGame/{{Siren}}''. The catch is that the game never shows you the scene where the character is murdered and replaced, so for a while you continue to play believing that the character in question is the original.
** Another catch is that the person who murders and impersonates the deceased is his identical twin.
* Countess Crey from ''CityOfHeroes'' is the "assume the identity of the murder victim" variation.
* Occurs in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilCodeVeronica'', though [[SplitPersonality it's not intended as a ploy]] and [[spoiler: the dead person in question turns out to be alive]].
* [[VideoGame/SystemShock "THE]] [[spoiler: POLITO]] [[TheReveal FORM IS DEAD,]] [[IShallTauntYou INSECT."]]
* The background story for "VideoGame/FallFromHeaven" features the Buggane, a type of demon who's preferred hunting style is to find a married couple when one of the people is away from home. It first impersonates the missing person all day, until it's in bed with the other spouse to kill them. When the distant spouse returns it does the same thing in reverse.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', if you [[spoiler:kill [[KnightTemplar Samara]] at the end of her loyalty mission, her daughter Morinth will take her place, pretending to be Samara to hide what you and she did. All but Kelly Chambers and Kasumi Goto don't ask any questions.]]
** In the ''Lair of the Shadow Broker'' DLC, [[spoiler:Liara takes the place of the Shadow Broker after you kill him.]]
*** [[spoiler: Liara figures out easily the current Broker did the same to the previous... possibly he did the same as well. There's a distinct Dread Pirate Roberts retirement style going on there.]]
* In VideoGame/TalesOfSymphoniaDawnOfTheNewWorld a single character impersonates two entirely different dead people ''at the same time'', but the second case is unintentional. It's convoluted like that.
** The [[VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia original game]] gives us [[spoiler: [[TheMole Kilia]], who killed the Governor-General's daughter (or, at least, she died without Dorr noticing) and took her form to keep tabs on Palmacosta.]]
* Can happen in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' occasionally, if a Spy backstabs the player in question then disguises as the same class as the person they just stabbed. By doing this they'll sometimes appear with their last victim's name, completing the ruse.
** With the new Spy knife [[ShoutOut "Your]] [[Disney/{{Aladdin}} Eternal Reward"]], this becomes the Spy's primary gameplay choice: The knife prevents the Spy from choosing a disguise. In return all backstabs become silent, make the body disappear, and [[KillAndReplace instantly disguise the Spy as the dead player]].
* A quest from House Hlaalu in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'' requires you to dress up as a dead person (depending on your gender) and retrieve some secret orders from House Redoran while wearing a helmet that the dead person always wore.
* ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'' does it so thoroughly that even the impersonator is convinced. Learning who the original [[AmnesiacDissonance really was]] subverts BecomingTheMask.
* ''{{Persona 2}}'' has [[EldritchAbomination Nyarla]][[MadeOfEvil thotep]] use this as a continued effort in KickTheDog.
* In ''RaidouKuzunohaVsTheSoullessArmy'', Sukuna-Hikona does this to [[spoiler:General Munakata]]. To make it worse, to make the deception ''work'', [[spoiler:he keeps driving the corpse.]]
* [[VideoGame/ChzoMythos Seven Days A Skeptic]]: [[spoiler:The protagonist]] hijacks an early victim's identity.
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIVBlackFlag'' has Edward Kenway as a pirate who ends up killing an Assassin and taking his identity. It turns out that the Assassin was defecting to the Templars, so Edward is more than happy to play along, seeing an opportunity to get rich. Then the Templars figure out the truth, the other Assassins find him, and Edward ends up becoming the real thing. Bonus points for being able to pull it off for that long, having never previously heard of either the Assassins or the Templars.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Torg from Webcomic/SluggyFreelance employs this in a 2010 arc in which a group of supervillains assemble on an island to buy some kind of superweapon. [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Crushestro]] kills another villain called the Time Czar in front of all of them, and later on Torg disguises himself as him. Leading to this statement:
--> Torg: "I er.. Timetravelled from before you killed me! And I'm ''not'' looking forward to it!"
--> Everybody else: "..Time travel's confusing."
* In Webcomic/DominicDeegan Dominic's [[spoiler:older brother Jacob]] makes his dramatic first appearance through this trope on poor [[spoiler:Vilrath]]. Apparently a magic glyph tattooed on one's skin continues working ''even if someone else is wearing it!'' Thankfully it is later confirmed that [[spoiler:Vilrath]] was in fact dead and the necromancer wasn't manipulating a still-living skinsuit. Squick.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', [[spoiler:[[TheEvilPrince Geraden]]]] takes the identity of [[MajorlyAwesome Oswald Flynn]] who died in an earlier battle. He discards the false identity after he has gathered enough followers to take over Port Dunross from the [[DirtyCommunists Proninist Party]].
* Variation: In ''SurvivalOfTheFittest'' version three, a character named Ken Lawson appears. It is revealed in his profile that he was Burton Harris from v2, except he was the ''real'' Burton Harris, and the one that died in the previous game was the real Ken Lawson, his best friend. Burton hadn't wanted to go on the school trip, and convinced Ken to go in his place. Due to the fact that they looked almost identical to each other, Ken was able to successfully pass himself off as Burton, only to be abducted and die in the game. Burton then took Ken's identity and moved across the country, trying to start up anti-SOTF movements in Ken's name. He never forgave himself for the identity-swap, not even when [[spoiler:he died by accidentally burying himself alive]].
* In ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', Pretender, a body snatcher, does this with [[spoiler:[[FlyingBrick Alexandria's]] brain-dead, invulnerable body, in order to fight against the Endbringers.]]
* In ''Literature/{{Hitherby Dragons}}'', [[http://imago.hitherby.com/2007/01/the-cougar/ The Cougar]], The Bureau replaces people with agents meant to hunt down bad children.
--> ''This isn’t your life. This isn’t who you really are.''
--> ''You are not this Pa.''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Happens with Principal Skinner in ''TheSimpsons'', who is actually Armin Tamzarian. There is an episode where "Skinner" is revealed to be an old war buddy of the real Sergeant Seymour Skinner (voiced by Martin Sheen, which is [[ActorAllusion funny]] because he was in ''Film/ApocalypseNow''), and assumed the sergeant's identity to keep Skinner's mother Agnes from being alone after her real son was thought to have died in the war. When the real Skinner moves in, people start missing the "old" Skinner (even his mother, who preferred the easily domineered Armin over the naturally independent Seymour), culminating in Seymour being driven out of town and a judge giving Armin Skinner's identity. [[StatusQuoIsGod And it]] [[SnapBack never comes]] [[NegativeContinuity up again]].
** Except in a ContinuityNod LampshadeHanging of the show's rampant use of the ResetButton.
*** A few of them.
** Also in The Simpsons, when Krusty opens a Klown Kollege and Homer becomes a Krusty. Homer nearly kills a costume character at Krusty Burger and the mob starts trying to kill Homer for Krusty's debt.
* In the fifth season of ''[[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]]'' (2003), it is revealed that Oroku Saki, the Shredder, had taken both identities from a man-turned-demon in ancient Japan.
* On ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'', Dale often uses the name Rusty Shackleford as an alias, claiming it was the name of a dead kid. Turns out the real Rusty Shackleford is very much alive, and wants Dale to stop using his name.
* Music/{{Gorillaz}}'s Phase 3 guitarist Cyborg Noodle is a replacement for original-flavour Noodle, who vanished and was presumed dead at the end of Phase 2. [[spoiler:Real Noodle is back. The two haven't met onscreen yet, except for the "Family Portrait" poster design which depicts them posing with Murdoc and 2D.]]
* Zeta the robot from ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'' and later ''WesternAnimation/TheZetaProject'' was programmed to be this way, but his A.I. eventually evolved into an actual personality and he decided he no longer wanted to continue killing and imitating his victims.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheRaccoons'': In order to cheat Cyril Sneer out of half of Sneer Industries, Sid Leech posed as Cyril's long-lost brother Simon.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Reino Hayhanen, the incompetent fellow-spy of Rudolf Abel, was an ethnic Finn from the Soviet Union. A certain man had been born in the US but grown up in Finland, eventually dying. Hayhanen was smuggled into Finland (truck with a false bottom), where he lived for two years as the dead man. He applied for and got the dead man's passport--since the dead man had been born in the US, this allowed Hayhanen to enter and live in the US as a citizen.
* A slight twist: in WWII, a [[TheManWhoNeverWas counterintelligence plot]] was conceived by the British, to feed the Germans false information regarding the invasion of Southern Europe. It revolved on making it appear that a plane, en route from Britain to their North African Army HQ, had crashed off the coast of Spain, and a messenger carrying a bag with some highly confidential papers floated ashore, drowned. To turn the corpse they obtained to that end into a "real" person that could stand scrutiny by enemy investigators (both in Spain, and possibly agents in Britain too), the person behind the plot, Captain Montagu, took on the identity of the messenger on several occasions.
* A man named Jeffrey Howe was murdered and his body cut into pieces so his killers could [[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8456886.stm take his identity and home]] (after he decided to stop them being TheThingThatWouldNotLeave).
* On May 15, 1591, Tsarevich Dmitri Ivanovich, son of Ivan IV and half-brother of then-Tsar Fedor, died of a mysterious knife wound. Rumor initially had it that he was killed by Boris Godunov, father-in-law of Fedor and basically the ruler of Russia (Fedor had...problems), who wanted to become tsar after the childless tsar died. Anyway, the rumors go away, Fedor dies, and Boris becomes tsar. This goes well for him until around 1600, when in the midst of famine and a lot of social tension, a man in Poland claims to be Tsarevich Dmitri, gathers an army, and invades to kill the "usurper". Civil war ensues. Eventually, "Dmitri" takes the throne, but within a year he is killed by a conspiracy of boyars under Prince Vasili Shuiskii. Yet, rumors come out that "Tsar Dmitri" survived, the civil war restarts, and then another man claims to be "Tsar Dmitri." He is killed. Then ANOTHER man claims to be the now-thrice-murdered tsar. Then he is killed, Mikhail Romanov is made tsar, and the rest is history.
* A common past technique for creating a fake identity in the U.S. was to learn the name and birth date of a child who died in infancy fifteen years earlier, then apply for a Social Security number under that name, as if the kid were getting his or her first summer job. Not used so much nowadays, as federal and local demographic databases can more easily synch up and spot the discrepancy, and there are stricter guards on infant death certificates.[[note]]It used to be that ''anyone'' could get a child's death certificate with just the name and birth date, and the information on ''that'' enabled the scammer to obtain the birth certificate.[[/note]]
** A similar trick was used in Britain to provide suitable cover identities for undercover police officers infiltrating supposed terrorist organisations, most of which turned out to be largely harmless environmental activists on closer examination when some documents were leaked to the media. The children's next-of-kin were ''not'' pleased.
* One of the most famous real life cases is the story of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Guerre Martin Guerre]], which has inspired a number of [[MartinGuerre fictional works.]] The real Guerre abandoned his family, and several years later, a man returned claiming to be him. Things went well for a while, but then that man was accused by his in-laws of being an impostor. In this case, things went wrong because the real Guerre was still alive and returned, and the fake one, actually named Arnaud du Thil, was sentenced to death.
* The Borges Tom Castro story described under the Literature heading is a retelling of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tichborne_claimant Tichborne claimant]] incident. A man (real name Arthur Orton, AKA Tom Castro) claimed to be Sir Roger Tichborne, the disappeared heir to a wealthy and aristocratic English family.
* Many people have been disqualified from military service over the years due to medical conditions, most of which aren't all that serious. One (quite illegal) way around this is to enlist under a false identity. The person you're trying to impersonate need not actually be dead, though if not, it certainly helps to get his assistance before attempting a stunt like that.
* After the Russian Revolution and murder of the Romanov family, it was rumored that [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anastasia_Romanov Grand Duchess Anastasia]] had somehow survived and/or escaped. For years, many people disputed this, and several claimed to be her, the most notorious impostor being [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Anderson Anna Anderson.]] After several DNA tests, the remains of all four Grand Duchesses had been accounted for, thereby proving that none escaped.
* One major avenue of Medicare fraud in the US (and no doubt having variants in other countries) is to steal many beneficiary identities and run them through fake procedures in scam mills. [[http://www.fbi.gov/atlanta/press-releases/2011/doctor-pleads-guilty-to-billing-medicare-and-medicaid-for-counseling-sessions-with-dead-patients Sometimes, the identities used are of dead people]].
* A man in Brooklyn put on a ruse as his own dead mother which looks like BlackComedy material. He fared pretty well too, until [[http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-fake-mom-20120522,0,7407899.story he decided to take out a lawsuit under her name]].
[[/folder]]

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