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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/TheDarkKnight http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hostages_autocontrast_532.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:"[[NiceJobBreakingItHero The SWATs are targeting the wrong people.\\
The clowns are the hostages.]]"]]

Basically the villain has hostages. TheCavalry are ready to [[BigDamnHeroes storm the fortress]] and rescue them. Suddenly the heroes (or just the viewer) realize that the villains have restrained the hostages, forced them into their uniforms, put tape on their mouths and fastened weapons to their hands. This can turn out in three different ways;

# The heroes manage to get the message across in time.
# The Cavalry end [[DownerEnding up accidentally shooting the hostages]].
# The heroes must stop The Cavalry by force.

The Cavalry are ''always'' [[IdiotBall fooled by this]] (at least, at the start, although lone protagonists have a better chance of working out what's going on in the nick of time).

Compare to FakeoutEscape, where the villain makes it look as if an escape has already happened, DecoyGetaway, where the villain escapes while the heroes are distracted by the disguised hostage, and OutfitDecoy, where clothes or the inanimate objects wearing them is used in a deception. Contrast TrojanPrisoner, where the heroes pretend to be villains with hostages so the real villains will let them go about their business and FalseInnocenceTrick for when a Villain is pretending to be a hostage.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/AngelSanctuary'' a variation of this was used against one of the supporting character's BackStory. CelestialBureaucracy questioned said character's loyalty, and had suspected he had relations with another Angel (which was [[ForbiddenFruit strictly forbidden]] and the punishment is severe), they sent him off to kill the leader of a rebel fraction in their Ghetto. Turned out the supposed leader was actually the Angel's lover - her hair was cut short, dyed red, and a gun tied to her hands so he wouldn't recognize her at first. He didn't realized this until after he shot and killed her.
* Fujiko does this to an unlucky cult enforcer in the pilot episode of ''Anime/LupinIIITheWomanCalledFujikoMine''. She dresses the thug in her dress and gags him, leading to the unlucky {{mook|s}} getting beheaded in her place [[MuggedForDisguise while she escapes in his uniform]].
* ''Anime/{{Lupin III|Red Jacket}}'' has a similar scene. After Lupin and Fujiko hijack a train, the cops think they've cornered them. Zenigata then tears off Lupin's "[[LatexPerfection face]]", revealing that he's really one of the train drivers with some tape over his mouth.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In a story in an issue of ''[[Franchise/{{Batman}} The Batman Chronicles]]'', a killer nicknamed the Mimic tries to pull this stunt on private eye Jason Bard, using his facility at imitating voices to make it sound like Bard's client is calling for help. At the last moment, Bard realizes what is going on and shoots the correct target.
* More than once ComicBook/JonahHex has captured a enemy, dressed the bad guy in his trademark jacket and hat, gagged him and bound him to the saddle before sending the horse galloping into the outlaw camp to draw fire.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Flashpoint}} Franchise/{{Batman}}: Knight of Vengeance'', the Joker pulls this on Jim Gordon, causing Jim to shoot one of Harvey Dent's kids.
* A variation occurs in the fist issue of ''Ninjak''. The title character tapes a villainess' mouth shut and tapes her hand to a sword. When her mooks arrive, they see a shadowed figure holding a weapon and open fire, killing her and allowing Ninjak to escape.
* An issue of ''[[Comicbook/TeenTitans Teen Titans Spotlight]]'' has Two-Face kidnapping Comicbook/{{Cyborg}}'s girlfriend Sarah in order to lure him into a trap. He tapes her mouth shut and dresses her up in a convincing Two-Face costume, hoping that Cyborg will accidently kill her in a fit of rage. Fortunately, Cyborg sees through the ruse at the last second.
* ''Franchise/{{Superman}}'' foe Ruin once kidnapped Superman's friend Pete Ross (whom he tricked almost everyone into believing ''was'' Ruin) and his family (his wife Lana and their child), then dressed up Pete like Ruin and made it look like Pete was about to shoot his family when a detective whose fellow officers Ruin killed appeared on the scene. Fortunately, the detective was savvy enough to realize she was being set up.
* In ''ComicBook/TheWarlord'' #125, the Scavenger dresses Tara in in his cloak and throws her at Morgan, making it look like she is attacking him and causing Morgan to stab his own wife.
* In Creator/{{Christopher Priest|Comics}}'s ''ComicBook/BlackPanther'' run, T'Challa's ex-girlfriend Monica ends up captured by a Reverend Achebe. The twist is, Achebe tapes Monica's mouth shut and dresses her up in a remote-controlled exoskeleton, making it difficult for T'Challa to stop the plot without hurting or killing her in the process. Effectively, it's this trope crossed with a HumanShield.
* Done by Gypsy Moth during ''ComicBook/SpiderIsland''. She uses her silk to web ComicBook/SpiderWoman's mouth shut, and then dresses up the [[BoundAndGagged gagged]] heroine in a copy of her costume. When [[Comicbook/FantasticFour the Thing]] arrives a few minutes later, he thinks Spider-Woman is actually Gypsy Moth and immediately attacks her.
* While imprisoned by the Penguin in ''Comicbook/BatmanEternal'', Comicbook/{{Catwoman}} manages to switch places with Lark, Penguin's {{Bodyguard Babe|s}}, by taping her mouth shut and handcuffing her. When the ruse works, Catwoman feigns offense and says that Lark isn't nearly sexy enough to pass for her.
* The graphic novel ''ComicBook/VForVendetta'' has a slightly different scene than in the movie: Just one guy is dressed up as V, and he is pretty much one of the bad guys (a high-ranking party member with some seriously sleazy KickTheDog moments, though no outright MoralEventHorizon crossings).
* ''ComicBook/ThePunisher'': Frank Castle does this often spray-painting his trademark skull on the chest of the unfortunate mook.
* ComicBook/TheJoker does this during ''ComicBook/BatmanNoMansLand'' to get rid of a rogue group of survivalist ex-cops. Send out prisoners painted to look like him and the admittedly-crazy leader shot them all.
* Des and the militia pull one of these in the closing scenes of ''ComicBook/{{Revival}}''. It's understated in that there's only a couple of fake targets in the field of a real firefight.
* In an old ''Comicbook/{{Wolverine}}'' short story by Creator/ChrisClaremont, Logan tries to rescue his girlfriend Mariko after she's kidnapped by a Yakuza boss. The Yakuza boss has a squad of thugs in [[PoweredArmor Mandroid armor]], and traps Mariko inside one of the suits so that she'll be killed by Logan. Luckily, Logan recognizes Mariko by her scent, and is able to avoid harming her.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* Klang does this to Pat Ryan in ''ComicStrip/TerryAndThePirates''. Having captured Pat, Klang dresses him a Japanese uniform, gags him and ties him to a post so he looks like a sentry in the fake camp the Dragon Lady is about to attack.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality'': [[spoiler:when Harry and Professor Quirrel are breaking into Azkaban to free Bellatrix Black, they stun and Obliviate an Auror who catches them. When the Auror (who none of his comrades really dared to hope was still alive) is found, the GenreSavvy head Auror immediately starts ordering various checks to ensure that the infiltrators (she doesn't know who they are) didn't pull this move. (They didn't.)]]
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12706376/8/Harry-Potter-IronWizard Harry Potter: IronWizard]]'' several of Voldemort's mooks dress an [[MindControl Imperiused]] Percy and Penelope up in Death Eater robes and masks. Harry, who has an X-ray spell on his helmet, can see that they don't have the Dark Mark and therefore spares them.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* A variation is done in ''Film/TheATeam'', with [[spoiler:Murdock substituting for the general in the final scene.]]
* In ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', [[spoiler:The Joker does this with his hostages (with their mouths taped shut, masks to hide this and weapons tied to their hands), forcing Batman to disable the police officers (although they worked it out eventually)]].
* The title character does this in ''Film/{{Darkman}}''. After capturing one of the villainous mooks, he duct-tapes the man's mouth shut and then dresses him up in a realistic mask, making him resemble the hero.
* In ''Film/EnemyAtTheGates'' Germans dress a captured Soviet soldier as a German signaller and send him to the battlefield to sink a cable. Unfortunately enemy signallers are priority targets for snipers and the poor sob gets shot by his comrades. The German sniper uses the kill to pinpoint the location of the Soviets.
* This kind of thing was done to the BigBad in ''Film/FXMurderByIllusion'', though the "hostage" was a bad guy trying to kill the protagonist seconds before.
* ''Film/InsideMan'' has a variant, in which the thieves make the hostages wear the same uniform as them, but with the full knowledge of the police outside. This keeps the police from interfering at first. [[spoiler:It also lets most of the robbers blend into the crowd of freed hostages and escape after the robbery is complete.]]
* A variation occurs in the film ''Film/MasterAndCommander'' when [[spoiler: at the end Aubrey realizes, from an offhand comment by Maturin, that the doctor on the ''Acheron'' had died some time before the final battle, so the "doctor" who told Aubrey the captain had been killed had ''been'' the captain, so was in a position to organize the captured French sailors and retake the ship. It also pays off the foreshadowing seen earlier in the film that the audience, and Aubrey, never see the French captain's face clearly.]]
* In ''Film/MissionImpossibleII'', there is a rare example of [[spoiler:the hero pulling this on the villain, with the aid of a couple of LatexPerfection masks]].
* A grim variant occurs in ''Film/MissionImpossibleIII'', where Ethan's girlfriend is apparently executed by the {{big bad}} at the climax. We later learn that the victim was really [[spoiler:the {{big bad}}'s female mook dressed up like the girlfriend, with her mouth taped shut to prevent her from revealing the ruse]].
* Subverted in ''Film/QuickChange'' (1990). Grimm (Bill Murray) robs a bank while dressed as a clown. He takes everyone inside hostage and demands getaway vehicles. [[WrongGenreSavvy Police Chief Ratzinger thinks Grimm will dress some of the hostages as clowns and take them out to the vehicles in a group so police snipers can't target him.]] Grimm actually has something else in mind: [[spoiler:He and two confederates inside the bank will pretend to be released hostages (with the cash taped to their bodies under their civilian clothes) and escape while the cops are concentrating on the bank; the scheme nearly fails when Grimm neglects to remove one spot of white greasepaint from his neck, but his girlfriend (also a "hostage") discreetly rubs it off]].
* An ([[AntiHero anti-]])heroic example: in the ''Film/VForVendetta'' film: [[spoiler:The police shoot a hostage because they're all wearing V masks.]]
* The villain gets the protagonist to do this twice in ''Film/PokerNight'' by gagging people, sticking his mask on them, and then putting them in the line of fire.
* In the thriller ''Film/{{Resurrection}}'', the killer is chased through the rain by two detectives who split up before he captures one of them and dresses him in his own disguise with a gun taped to his hands so the other cops will shoot him. The killer gets away, though the captured detective survives despite needing to have his shattered leg amputated.

* Mabuse uses this to trick Moran into shooting an agent of Box Brothers in a bank in Switzerland in ''Literature/TheHoundOfTheDurbervilles''.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The season 3 finale of ''Series/{{CSINY}}'' had balaclava wearing Irish terrorists do this to some police officers that they had captured. Adam, who, along with Danny, had earlier been ambushed and held hostage by the terrorists, manages to free himself and stop another squad of police officers from firing on their comrades in the nick of time.
* Occurs at the end of an episode of ''Series/{{Millennium}}''. The villain is a serial killer called the Avatar (based on the Zodiac Killer) who wears a burlap sack over his head to mask his face. He kidnaps a woman, and hero Frank chases him to his lair. After being injured by the Avatar, Frank chases him through the house and manages to corner the killer, who's pointing a gun at him. At the last moment, Frank realizes something's wrong, and doesn't pull the trigger. Turns out the "Avatar" ''is'' the hostage, who's been tied up, gagged, and posed with a gun in her hand. The real Avatar uses this opportunity to escape.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Medium}}'', the bad guy released an hostage through a back door with a balaclava on his head and a gun taped to his hand. The police shot him dead. Fortunately, it was {{all just a dream}}. A prophetic one, but the main character managed to save the victim when it happened for real.
* In ''Series/{{Fargo}}'', Malvo tricks the cops into wasting their time and killing [[spoiler:[[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness Don Chumph]]]] this way: he uses [[DuctTapeForEverything duct tape]] to gag, tie him to an exercise wheel, and stick an unloaded shotgun in his hand which was pointed at the front door. He draws the cops' attention by firing a rifle at some cars outside, leaves, and then a tripwire makes the rifle fire more once the SWAT team arrives. When the team entered the front door, the light was in their eyes, so all they saw was a silhouette of a man holding a shotgun. Since the exercise wheel kept him propped up even after being shot, the ''entire squad'' continued firing continuously for several seconds until they could see he was dead.
* An absolutely horrifying example in ''Series/{{Whitechapel}}'', series 4, when an escaped serial killer known for wearing a creepy mask takes a young man who is roughly the same height and weight as him, tortures him, ''sews his mouth shut so he cannot speak'' then tapes the mask to his face. He then attaches a fake but realistic-looking gun to the young man's hands with wire, and sends him out into a police fight. One of the detectives realises something is up as the "killer" is whimpering in pain, but before he can intervene the young man is shot dead by snipers, after the actual killer deliberately spooks them. Only then do the police realize what they've done.
* An interesting variation is used in ''Series/BurnNotice''. After their attempts to defuse a hostage situation result in them [[NiceJobBreakingItHero accidentally becoming accomplices]] (someone pulled a gun and Mike took it away from him), Mike and Sam need to find a way out of the situation. After discussing trying this based on an urban legend, and the fact the cops haven't seen the hostage-taker, they manage to convince one of the two hostages (who just found out the other one, her boss, is really a sleazy con artist) to name the other as the gunman. Mike then engineers a situation where said sleazeball is able to take his gun back, and when the cops burst in the plan works without a hitch. Though the negotiator is kind of curious why somebody blew open a safe full of ill-gotten money...
* A similar variation occurs on ''Series/{{Leverage}}''. Nathan is about to con a corrupt judge out of thousands of dollars when the bank is robbed and the robbers take everyone hostage when the police arrive. The robbers turn out to be father and son who are only robbing the place to get money to pay off some thugs holding the father's wife for ransom. The judge figures out that he is being scammed and when he disarms the robbers, he uses the gun to shoot Nathan. When the cops storm the bank in the end, the team has arranged things to look like the judge was the sole robber and hostage taker. All the witnesses back them up since the judge is reviled by everyone and the cops will not investigate further since they hate his guts as well. Planted drugs also didn't help the judge's image.
* In the ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'' episode "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The Gang Gets Taken Hostage]]", the [=McPoyle's=] make the gang put on their signature bathrobes and briefs (in Dee's case it's an over sized Garfield t-shirt) because "it's far too obvious who the hostages are in this situation".
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'':
** Someone pulls this on Clark after he's begun officially superheroing. The rest of the episode is devoted to him needing to develop his "Kryptonian intuition" to avoid this sort of thing, something he could've done just by x-raying the "gunman," although he had no reason to suspect him.
** Another episode has [[DragonLady Roulette]] dressing up a bound-and-gagged Lois Lane in a replica of her costume in order to trick ComicBook/GreenArrow into shooting her.
* On ''Series/{{Psych}}'' (episode "Ferry Tale") escaping convicts on a ferry surrounded by the police [[spoiler: take prisoners inside and pretend to shoot them. When the police raid the boat and take two wounded "hostages" to one of their boats they discover too late that two of the criminals are in fact convicts.]]
* On the 1970's anthology show ''Series/PoliceStory'' they had an episode which was the pilot for ''Series/SWAT1975''. A killer brings out his hostage [[spoiler:and the commander orders his snipers to shoot the "hostage" because he sees a glint of chrome on the killer that he realizes are handcuffs meaning they have switched roles. Of course if the glint was from a handgun ... but that is never mentioned]]
* Inverted during the hostage crisis in season 5 of ''Series/TwentyFour'' when Jack notices one of the supposed hostages being handed something by one of the terrorists. The otherwise perfectly inconspicuous looking man is wearing a bright yellow tie, a pretty crappy choice when you want to blend in.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': In "The Witch's Familiar", Missy attempts to trick the Doctor into shooting Clara by placing her in a Dalek casing.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2'': [[spoiler:In the 80's timeline, Raul Menendez captures Alex Mason, then fools Woods and Hudson into shooting Mason, believing him to be Menendez.[[note]]Whether or not Mason is killed, however, depends on where the player shoots him.[[/note]]]]
* In the intro level of ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemAkaneia Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon]]'', the enemies do this to an archer. However, because it's an intro level, it functions more as a demo of how to recruit enemy units than a real challenge. [[WhatTheHellPlayer You can still kill him and the game will indirectly call you out on it]] before unlocking the path anyway, actually skipping the SomeoneHasToDie moment with Gra's troops. Funnily enough, this can actually be beneficial in some cases, like if the player has already lost a unit (as having one more fallen unit than you're mandated to at the prologue's end grants you the archer that some consider superior), and [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential you can force him to be the sacrifice anyway immediately after recruiting him]]. Referring back to poor Gordin's gagged introduction in the prologue is actually a bit of a [[RunningGag Running ]][[AccidentalPun Gag]] throughout [[NeverLiveItDown the rest of the Archanea remakes.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', [[EvilTwin Nale]] switches outfits and [[BeardOfEvil facial hair]] with a semiconscious Elan and makes it appear that "Nale" was about to sacrifice "Elan" when the cops and the rest of the Order show up. Elan is then jailed, and Nale travels with the Order until they figure it out.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', [[Recap/AvatarTheLastAirbenderZukoAlone "Zuko Alone"]]: It is mentioned that the Fire Nation did this with Earth Kingdom prisoners-of-war.
* {{Inverted|Trope}} in the ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'' episode "Omens Part Two," when {{Catfolk}} King Claudus learns that invading {{Lizard|folk}}s are holding Panthro, his friend and best General, in a HostageForMacGuffin. Rather than acquiece, Claudus promptly [[DitchTheBodyguards ditches his bodyguards]] to cut a rapid path to Panthro, who he successfully rescues. Panthro then stabs Claudus InTheBack, and reveals himself to be SorcerousOverlord and series BigBad Mumm-Ra, in illusory disguise.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'', Star Sapphire does this to a British reporter named Georgette Taylor. She uses her power ring to immobilize Taylor and encase her in a Star Sapphire costume, and then sends her flying off into the distance. Batman and GreenLantern waste time trying to capture the fake Star Sapphire while the real one carries out her nefarious scheme.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10 Omniverse}}'': After escaping from his prison in Plumbers HQ, Zombozo disguises Jerry as himself and leaves him in his cell tied up. Ben and Max find out about this and Ben as Wildmutt tears off the disguise.
--->'''Max:''' No wonder I haven't been getting my mail lately.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'': Sedusa once traded clothes with Miss Bellum and claimed to have captured "Sedusa" to trick the girls, who fortunately wouldn't believe Ms. Bellum would singlehandedly defeat Sedusa.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Sad RealLife example: The memoirs of a WWII soldier whose unit was pursuing some demoralized German troops through the Italian countryside. At one point, the Germans (who turned out to be deserters) forced two unlucky Italian farm wives out to check for an ambush, dressed up in German uniforms. The unfortunate women were shot from long range by the unknowing [=GIs=], and the Americans ramped up their pursuit in outrage over being tricked into killing hapless civilians.