[[CodeName The Tourist]] is a ''monster.'' After intercepting [[CodeName The Courier]] and stealing [[MacGuffin The Package]], he's liquidated [[DefeatMeansFriendship or turned]] every agent, assassin, and hitman sent to retrieve it or kill him. Every spy agency this side of the Atlantic is scouring their records, trying to discover who he is, what he knows and who he works for, but one question burns brightest: "What does he ''want''?"

To find that nice local bakery that makes the chocolate croissants.

Somehow TheProtagonist has been Mistaken For Badass, through no merit of his own other than some [[CoincidentalDodge well timed ducking]], a little [[SeeminglyProfoundFool obliviousness]], and ''a lot'' of [[ContrivedCoincidence incredible coincidences]]. He's a bumbling, perfectly normal NiceGuy that has gotten mixed up in a very real, serious, and deadly affair. Maybe he muddled his way through some SpySpeak and convinced the CIA he's the [=MI6=] operative they sent, or somehow knocked out or killed a highly lethal assassin before they made a hit, or otherwise had the MacGuffin fall on his lap. Or he's the only survivor of that nasty mess-up he was caught in, due to [[BornLucky inhuman level of luck]], maybe [[TheFool not even realizing]] [[NoOneShouldSurviveThat just how deadly]] it was. Everyone believes the InnocentBystander has no chance, so not only did The Tourist ''know'' what was going on, but he had also ''proven'' himself as the most competent of all the dangerous people involved. It helps a lot that there are several sides who will never sit together and add up everything they know about the case, but will watch each other just enough to overhear their rivals' suspicions and assume that the other side "knows something".

This guy does not just [[ActionSurvivor survive]] the attentions of those interested, but does so in a way that convinces the bad guys he's a Badass who is MadeOfIron. If someone insists he "drop the act", he'll confusedly answer he doesn't know what they're talking about, he's just [[InnocentBystander Joe Average]] and wants them to quit trying to kill him. Of course, they conclude he's using a deep cover CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass act. All things considered this is not that far from the truth.

This character can be mistaken for TheParagon of any profession that requires a lot of training and competence, not just spies but also martial artists, cops, thieves, or what not.

In the most extreme instances of this trope, the protagonist ''[[InspectorOblivious doesn't even notice what he's doing.]]'' He may kill every assassin dispatched against him with casual obliviousness, [[SpannerInTheWorks disassemble the evil plot with trivial ease]], and otherwise destroy the bad guy's evil empire without ever becoming the wiser. Sometimes, they do clue in to what's going on about half way through, but still pull through.

This can be done completely straight in an action movie or drama, with the character panicking once he realizes just what he's gotten into. On the flip side, this can be amazingly funny in a comedy by using both slapstick methods of beating opponents, and making fun of all these "professional" organizations out to get our hero.

CluelessDetective may be overestimated the same way. See also MistakenForSpies, InspectorOblivious and AndYouThoughtItWasAGame. Compare SeeminglyProfoundFool.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* This is what the '''entire''' plot of ''Manga/AngelDensetsu'' revolves around. The main character is so scary looking that everyone mistakes him for an inhuman monster, everything he does is misinterpreted as something threatening and his social awkwardness doesn't help. His "reputation" grows to the point that gang leaders challenge him to fights all the time. Fortunately, usually DefeatMeansFriendship. The kicker? He's quite possibly the most gentle, kind ActualPacifist in the world.
* Sakaki of ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'' is looked up to by fellow classmates due to her looking "cool" and "mysterious". In actuality, she's just very shy.
* Furuichi in ''Manga/{{Beelzebub}}'' is somewhere between this and ActionSurvivor. ''Yes'' his best friend is the biggest delinquent in all Japan, but Furuichi can't fight to save his life. [[spoiler:Until he got tissues to summon demons from the Behemoth Squad (and Behemoth himself) to give him their powers.]]
** This reputation both helps and hinders him. On the one hand, he's considered a ringleader of delinquents by many school officials and so whenever the ''actual'' delinquents do anything worth punishing, his name will at least come up, if he doesn't get punished as well. On the other hand, he's managed to unite several delinquent groups [[spoiler: to help fight Lord En]] and they really only listen to him because he had this reputation.
** Also, Furuichi knows that this rep is still going to bite him more than be helpful. He knows he's the ButtMonkey.
* Slightly meta example, but Rotton the Wizard from ''Manga/BlackLagoon''. When he makes his first appearance in a bar, he sits quietly in the corner, in his BadassLongcoat and CoolShades, armed with [[GunsAkimbo two]] [[CoolGuns broom-handle Mauser pistols]]. Most people, both characters and fans, thought he was the most badass motherfucker in history, based on apppearances. {{Subverted}} later in the episode, when everyone [[JokeCharacter was]] [[WideEyedIdealist proven]] to [[CantHoldHisLiquor be]] [[TheFool dead]] [[ButtMonkey wrong]].
* In ''Manga/CromartieHighSchool'', Kamiyama's clean-cut appearance as well as his choice to enter a school of delinquents initially earned him a reputation as a wolf in sheep's clothing.
* Mara Shin of ''Manhwa/DorothyOfOz'' has a four million dollar price on her head for allegedly killing Selluriah, the Witch of the East. However, Mara is actually just a normal high school kid who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and got blamed for it because a hysterical soldier accused her of it after finding her standing over Selluriah's dead body and wearing her magical boots. It also doesn't help that she allows Abee and Number 50 to escape from some Eastern soldiers who want them dead for being Western spies, or that she helps wayward scientist Dr. Nedbar escape from [[AxeCrazy Tick Tock]] with the Witch of the South's newest and deadliest creation. Or that she travels with three supposedly dangerous escaped biological experiments, all of whom are incredibly loyal to her and will lay down their own lives to protect her. The fact that she doesn't have very good control of her powers in her witch form contributes a bit to the mess as well...
* Mister Satan ([[DubNameChange Hercule]]) from ''Manga/DragonBall''. Everyone who doesn't know the Z-Fighters assumes that Mister Satan is the WorldsStrongestMan who killed [[BigBad Cell]]. Although he ''is'' stronger than average humans, he would immediately die if he fought any of the Z-Fighter enemies (however, he always manages to survive). This status ends up being beneficial: [[spoiler: Satan asks the people of earth to lend their energy in the final battle with Majin Buu, and his status convinces all of them to do as he says, unknowingly giving their energy to Goku.]]
* ''Manga/{{Holyland}}'': Yuu just wants to be left alone. However, being forced to take down bullies that try to have their way with him leads to developing a reputation as a fearsome bully hunter and in turn leading more punks to fight him.
* In one scene of ''Anime/JuuniSenshiBakuretsuEtoRanger'', during the first encounter with the extremely powerful [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Genen the Cruel]], the other Eto Rangers have all been driven back, but Bakumaru is staring her down in a display that [[VillainRespect even gets her complimenting him on his bravery]]. After she's forced to leave, he's still in that defiant position; the others then realized that he wasn't standing up to her, he was frozen in peril and fainted standing up because [[FurryReminder he's a mouse and she's a cat]].
* Kazuo gets this in ''Manga/KenganAshura''. Due to not understanding business jargon, he acts completely unconcerned when the director of Ohma's first opponent wants to make a very expensive bet on their fight, leading that director (who is specifically mentioned as being fairly smart) to believe he has NervesOfSteel. Later on, he accidentally hits [[MusclesAreMeaningful Julius']] head with a thrown can (he didn't even see the guy) just when he was about to break Sawada's legs. Nikaido gets convinced he is extremely skilled for doing that [[ImprobableAimingSkills perfectly from a blind spot]] and later dodging his nearly invisible needle (he bowed at the exact right time to apologize for throwing the can), while Julius is surprised that the guy managed to hit him without exuding any "bloodlust".
* Despite being heavily DemotedToExtra in the ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'' franchise, people are terrified if they hear that Nanoha's magic teacher is Chief Librarian Yuuno, because Nanoha is one of the most badass characters in the multiverse and is called the "[[RedBaron Ace of Aces]]". Yuuno is actually a StoneWall with little offensive abilities.[[note]]He does has a lot of [[WeaponizedTeleportation incredibly]] [[BarrierWarrior powerful]] [[RazorFloss spells]]. The problem is that all of them are [[LethalHarmlessPowers lethal]].[[/note]]
* ''Manga/{{Mx0}}'': Through an unlikely sequence of events, Taiga starts the manga off mistaken for a genius mage capable of kicking a teacher's ass no problem, when he actually has no magic ability at all. Though in his case, it's more "Mistaken for Super" than "Mistaken for Badass", as he would never have been able to bluff/survive through the first term without being a considerable BadassNormal.
* Seiji from ''Manga/MidoriDays'' is badass but his BromanticFoil's constant rumor mongering makes it hard for Seiji to get a girlfriend.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** Most of [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Buggy's]] character arc after hitting the Grand Line. Due to his past with Gold Roger, as well as a series of coincidences and some truly desperate prisoners looking for a leader, Buggy has become something like Pirate Moses.[[note]][[http://read.mangashare.com/One-Piece/chapter-551/page011.html Literally!]][[/note]]
*** During the war, he reinforces his false reputation, by accidentally going up against the world's greatest swordsman. Luckily for Buggy, his Devil Fruit power makes him immune to swords.
*** Later he takes Blackbeard's place in the Seven Warlords of the Sea solely for the fact that his actions during the war convinced the Marines that he was pulling the same con that Blackbeard was (intentionally keeping his bounty low and staying under the radar until he's ready to make his move). Buggy mistakenly gathering a following of some several hundred of the worst criminals in the world from Impel Down was seen as just a tad similar to Blackbeard's play in the Whitebeard pirates to gain the Yami Yami no Mi. He's even got a new nickname: Genius Jester Buggy.
** This would also happen to Usopp, who accidentally unravels most of the work Donquixote Doflamingo had done over the past ten years and revealed [[VillainWithGoodPublicity his true nature]] to the entire world. Since this includes freeing all of his slaves, many of whom are incredibly strong fighters, the former slaves regard Usopp as their savior and will defend him to the death. As a result, he becomes known as "God Usopp," and Doflamingo issues a bounty of 500 million Berries to anyone who can turn him in, putting him in the top echelons of criminals in the world. When the arc ends, the World Government gives Usopp an official bounty of 200 million Berries (previously he had a bounty of only 30 million, as his masked alter-ego Sniper King), third highest among the Straw Hats, and the wanted poster retains the title "God" for him.[[note]]The fact that he was being referred to as such probably contributed to his new-found infamy and huge bounty, as according to the "[[AristocratsAreEvil Celestial Dragons]]" whose ancestors founded the World Government, ''they'' are the Gods.[[/note]]
* The ''Webcomic/OnePunchMan'' character King is a FakeUltimateHero who manages to reach S Class by being accidentally credited with the defeat of many powerful monsters (actually killed by Saitama, the main character). Bystanders credit him for the kills, and because of his dangerous appearance and reputation many bad guys fear him when he appears. In reality, he's an ordinary man who's too afraid to correct everyone's assumptions.
* In chapter 15 of ''Manga/KaguyaSamaLoveIsWar'', Kaguya sees that Shirogane is entirely immune to her feminine charms and concludes that he must have great self-discipline. He is actually too terrified of a beetle that's also in the room with them to even acknowledge her existence.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheAuthority'' story "The Magnificent Kevin": Kevin has this happen to him with a couple of foes. Most notably, as the story opens, two groups of opposing spec ops forces that he worked for converge on him in his bedroom. He is under the sheets looking at porno and notices none of this. The two opposing forces massacre each other while he is otherwise engaged. The funny part comes when it is mentioned that this sort of thing seems to happen to the assassins they send after him all the time, which causes the higher ups on all sides to send more assassins to kill someone who must have been superhuman to kill all the previous assassins, which results in a bigger massacre, and so on and so forth. Subverted in that "Kevin" probably would be a badass by normal human standards, just not in the Authority universe, and he isn't so much "mistaken" for badass as "employed by too many of the wrong people on both sides of the tracks."
* Bob, Agent of HYDRA, is mistaken for badass in ''Comicbook/CableAndDeadpool'' when he accidentally knocks out a symbiont dinosaur that he'd been trying to run away from.
* An ''Comicbook/AstroCity'' story featured Mitch Goodman, a soap opera actor playing a superhero who foiled a convenience store robbery. He rode the ensuing publicity to promote his acting career, but things turn sour when he soon becomes targeted by real supervillains.
* One from ''ComicBook/TheAdventuresOfTintin''. In a deadly game of cat and mouse between the protagonists' ship and a submarine, Captain Haddock accidentally gets the ship stuck going astern (backwards). When this results in a torpedo barely missing the ship, the villains marvel at the captain's tactical genius.
* ''ComicStrip/KnightsOfTheDinnerTable'': A series of misunderstandings has Switch convinced that Tank is a cold blooded killer you would not want to mess with.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* Mr. Black, from the ''Franchise/HarryPotter'' Fanfiction 'Make A Wish', written by Rorschach's Blot. Throughout the story, he somehow manages to convince everyone that he's: a veteran Magical Law Enforcer; the world's deadliest assassin; a rampaging and particularly creative psychokiller; a rare creature specialist; a master of stealth and evasion; a master of detection, ward, and deadly ancient spells; a member of various old organizations, rebellions, and militias; a vampire hunter; a sex god; a master archaeologist; at the very least, a 13000 year old immortal; the destroyer of countless civilizations; and finally Death Incarnate. He was just a [[NiceGuy regular guy]] on vacation. [[spoiler:[[GambitPileup Or ]][[CompoundInterestTimeTravelGambit is]] [[AllAccordingToPlan he?]]..]]
** It certainly doesn't help matters that he accidentally (not knowing Merlin and Myrrdin were the same person) refers to Merlin as a BrattyHalfPint whose sole saving grace was being a decent cook.
** [[UpToEleven It's even worse]] in some of the spin-offs other authors have done. In [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/9510186/1/Terminal-Justice Terminal Justice]] for example, Harry eventually learns that due to the mechanism behind his survival of the Killing Curse, he is in fact Death Incarnate.
* A light example from the MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic fanfic ''Fanfic/TwilightsList'': Rainbow Dash thinks that Twilight is playing it cool and has nerves of steel, asking her out flat out without any signs of nervousness or trepidation over asking her out or Rainbow Dash possibly saying no. This continues for a good chunk of the story, as Twilight is extremely calm about setting up the date, not showing any signs of anxiety, inspiring Rainbow Dash to do the same and be as awesome and play it as cool as possible. Naturally, at the end, when Twilight realizes that she went out on a ''real'' date with Rainbow Dash, she freaks out.
* Miller, from the ''MyLittlePony'' Fanfiction of the same name, written by totallynotabrony. A human wakes up in Equestria as a pegasus, and he eventually finds himself in the middle of a major drug operation, but all he wants to do is get home. Thanks to his luck (or unluck), the criminal underworld nicknames him "Miller the Killer".
** At a meeting with some griffin gangsters, he eats meat and lets his love of ground beef slip (cows are sentient in Equestria).
** His new acquaintances instruct him to kill one of his coworkers at the machining shop; he has the pony run "to make it sporting", and when Miller swoops down to try and talk things out, his "victim" trips through a pane glass window, cuts himself, and bleeds out in seconds. The other gangsters arrive on the scene to see Miller emotionlessly (Miller has not gotten a hang of all the fine muscle controls that show equine emotion) watch the other pony die after "shoving" him through a window.
** On a drug run, Miller encounters a hit squad of four griffins. The auspicious appearance of a hydra takes out three of them as the fourth and Miller both escape with their lives.
** The fourth griffin challenges Miller later that night, and Miller leads the chase scene... which ends with a griffin strung up dead, caught in clotheslines.
* In ''[[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/237978/how-trixie-somehow-saved-hearths-warming How Trixie (Somehow) Saved Hearth's Warming]]'', Trixie's showboating accidentally convinces one of Santa's reindeer, Vixen, that she's a badflank heroine after saving Vixen from freezing to death. This results in Vixen deciding Trixie can help her stop the BigBad and save Hearth's Warming. Trixie ''is'' fairly talented and did help the mane six stop a Diamond thief on one occasion, but not nearly as much as she likes to say she is or Vixen ''thinks'' she is.
* Xander in the crossover ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9904569/1/Stand-Ins-and-Stunt-Doubles Stand Ins and Stunt Doubles]]'' has this happen twice.
** The first time because he instructs the Avengers on how to calm the Hulk (having just learned that he lives in the Marvel universe and all the comics he read were actually him getting prophetic visions) and they mistake his comment of being an independent contractor to mean he's a mercenary, not a construction worker.
** The second time, the members of Angel Investigations are telling Chuck Norris style jokes about Xander to lighten the mood and the Pylea humans who overhear take them as actual facts.
* In a ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''/''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' crossover, an evil cult summons Gachnar the fear demon, accidentally summoning Xander (who had Gachnar in his pocket) as well. When Xander tells the cultists not to order around his pet and calmly crossing the ritual circle, Raven becomes terrified of him, assuming Xander must be a being of unfathomable power to both keep a name rank demon as a pet and ignore powerful demon binding magic. In reality, demon binding magic doesn't affect humans and he keeps Gachnar as a pet by feeding it Twinkies. ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9706397/54/More-Fragments Read Here]]''
* After winging both Karasuba and Akitsu in ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11121640/5/Birds-of-a-Feather Birds of a Feather]]'', Minato gains a reputation as the Demon Tamer Ashikabi who "battled Karasuba across the city for three days and three nights before emerging victorious and taking her as his woman".
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12302907/5/Si-Vis-Pacem-Para-Bellum Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum]]'', Mad-Eye Moody commends the Golden Trio for sitting with their backs to the wall and drawing their wands on him the moment he raised his voice. Ron wonders if they should mention that sat there by chance and drew their wands due to being on pepper-up potions, but Hermione shuts him up.
* In Fanfic/TheSagesDisciple, Crow deliberately invokes this trope by trying to make himself look far more dangerous and powerful than he actually is by doing things such as joining Caster on the front lines instead of hiding. [[spoiler: So far, he's convinced Emiya Kiritsugu that he's a high-tier Puppet Master by using Caster's mini-Wicker Men as decoys, Rider thinks that he's an oracle due to his future knowledge, and the rest of the competitors see him as a combination of Magnificent Bastard and The Wonka. The only one that has a hint that he isn't quite what he seems is Kirei.]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* WesternAnimation/{{Rango}} spun a lot of tall tales about his alleged prowess, but when the hawk attacked Dirt, Rango's wild chase and dumb luck had the townspeople assuming he was actually fighting off something five times his size and doing a great job of it.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheManCalledFlintstone''. Due to his incredible resemblance to superspy Rock Slag, Fred Flintstone is recruited by Slag's boss to impersonate him when he's injured. Fred manages to convince the BigBad the Green Goose that he's Slag, which is a problem as the Goose wants Slag dead.
* Mater in ''WesternAnimation/{{Cars 2}}'' is mistaken for a spy and spends most of the movie thinking that actual spy Holly Shiftwell is flirting with him. Holly, meanwhile, believes that Mater is a deep-cover agent.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegoMovie'', Emmet is thought to be the "Special," or the one destined to defeat Lord Business. In actuality, he's a bumbling, adorkable, normal guy.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ABugsLife'', Flik mistook the circus guys for great fighters after a bar brawl went south and [[ItMakesSenseInContext the whole place was sent rolling.]] He then proceeded to sell them as great heroes to his people, first out of actually believing it, later on to hide the fact that he screwed up. That being said, they did make a fine job at appearing like something similar to a bunch of superheroes to the ants thanks to their abilities.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The Soviet comedy film ''Film/TheDiamondArm'' tells the story of TheDitz (played by the famous Soviet clown turned comic actor Yuri Nikulin) who, due to a series of coincidences, was mistaken by a smugglers' gang for a fellow smuggler, and had diamonds hidden inside a fake injury cast on his arm by them. HilarityEnsues.
* The basic premise of the film ''Film/IfLooksCouldKill''.
* The basic premise of ''Film/NorthByNorthwest'', where the enemy agents try to put a face to the name "George Kaplan" by sending a telegram and checking to see who gets up. Unfortunately for Roger Thornhill, he waves over a waiter at the same and everybody now believes that ''he'' is George Kaplan. Thornhill figures it out relatively quickly, but has to play along when nobody believes that he isn't Kaplan.
* ''Le Grand Blond avec une Chaussure Noire'' (''Film/TheTallBlondManWithOneBlackShoe'') has TheDitz played by Pierre Richard first mistaken for a spy, then used as a decoy by the only agency that knew he isn't... and everyone's cluelessness continued into the sequel ''Le Retour Du Grand Blond''.
** It was remade as ''Film/TheManWithOneRedShoe''.
* Pierre Richard plays an unemployed comic actor in ''Film/TheUmbrellaCoup'', who is invited to play an assassin, but enters a wrong office and gets confused for a ProfessionalKiller by TheMafia. And HilarityEnsues.
** He doesn't find out what's going on until the very end of the film. Even when [[spoiler:the real killer assassinates the target and gets shot by police]], the actor thinks it's all a game.
* ''Film/SawI''. "Mistaken for a hitman" variant.
%%* Subverted in ''Film/LuckyNumberSlevin'' ...and that's enough about that.
* Probably the ''point'' of Inspector Clouseau ''Franchise/ThePinkPanther'', less so in [[Film/ThePinkPanther2006 the 2006 remake]] since Dreyfus manages to finally get through to him and he has that whole self-doubt part before he gets back into action. Creator/PeterSellers' Clouseau would never have caught on to that.
* Another "mistaken for a hitman" variant occurs in the original ''Film/ElMariachi'', which has the title character, a musician, mistaken for an assassin who carries a guitar case full of weapons who is out to kill the local drug lord.
* ''Film/TheMan'', with Creator/SamuelLJackson and Eugene Levy.
* A major plot point in the western ''Film/TheManWhoShotLibertyValance''. Tenderfoot lawyer Ransom Stoddard kills the notorious outlaw [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic Liberty]] in a gunfight, making him a local hero. [[spoiler: Except it wasn't really Stoddard...]]
* ''Film/TheStupids'' features ''a family'' like this foiling an arms deal between corrupt military officials of multiple nations. The family patriarch Stanley Stupid alone manages to inadvertently defeat at least three assassins.
* ''Film/CarryOn'' films:
** A plot driver in ''Film/CarryOnCleo'' where the escaped slave Hengist Pod is concussed hiding under a table while his badass neighbor, Horsa, takes out a squad of legionnaires and makes good his escape. With all the witnesses dead the authorities assume Hengist is the badass swordsman and he is made personal bodyguard to Julius Cesar... Hilarity ensues.
** Another example in ''Film/CarryOnCowboy'' when a stagecoach carrying Marshal P. Knutt and a young woman [[note]]Annie Oakley traveling incognito[[/note]] is attacked by outlaws. He shoots wildly while she kills them all and then lets everyone, including Marshal (yes, that's his name) believe he did it. He is mistaken for a lawman because of his name (he actually fixes drains) and is recruited to deal with a problem that some "rats" are giving the town.
* ''Film/ThreeAmigos'': The entire plot is based on this. Three actors are mistaken for actual heroes and somehow manage to beat the bad guys.
* The 1968 Disney movie ''Never a Dull Moment'' starring Dick van Dyke. This one used the "mistaken for hitman" version.
* ''Kiler'', a Polish comedy, is about an innocent taxi driver named Jerzy Kiler, mistakenly arrested as a professional hitman, then sprung out by a mobster who needs his services. Deciding he needs to play his part until he can clear his name and outsmart the mobster, Jerzy looks for inspiration by renting movies like ''Film/TheProfessional'', ''Film/TaxiDriver'', ''Film/{{Psy}}'' and others. HilarityEnsues.
* A lot of Creator/DannyKaye movies involve this, especially ''The Kid from Brooklyn'', where a milkman is mistaken for a prizefighter, right down to the well-timed ducking slapstick. Also, ''Film/TheCourtJester'', in which Kaye's character impersonates a jester, unaware that he is also an assassin. A series of well timed coincidences convince everyone he is the ruthless killer they believe he is. Also, ''The Inspector General'', based on ''The Government Inspector'' (see Theater, below).
* ''Film/GalaxyQuest'': Actors in a Franchise/StarTrek {{Expy}} are mistaken for their characters.
* The protagonists in ''Film/TropicThunder'' were mistaken for real soldiers by the drug lord. It didn't help that Tugg played with a real severed head and made the onlookers think he has no fear of death.
** Amazingly, they manage to take on said drug lord in multiple skirmishes while firing ''blanks''.
* The plot of the Chris Farley movie ''Film/BeverlyHillsNinja''.
* The "Wetwork Man" in ''Film/HorribleBosses''. The protagonists think he is a ProfessionalKiller. He actually [[spoiler:[[ExcrementStatement urinates on people for money]]]]. This is why you should not hire assassins off the internet.
* The 1997 comedy ''Film/TheManWhoKnewTooLittle'' starring Bill Murray. The main character thinks he is acting as a spy in street theatre, but is mistaken for the real thing. Highlights include being seen innocently sharing a sandwich with a cop, leading to the assassins thinking he has law enforcement ties.
* Don Ameche plays Gino in "Film/ThingsChange", a humble shoe shiner who is mistaken for a wealthy and powerful Mafia don after being hired to take the fall for an actual Don.
* In ''Film/TheBigLebowski'', a private eye who has been following the Dude is very impressed, assuming that his encounters with the kidnappers and dealmakers means he's been "playing one side against the other" and is "in bed with everybody" rather than being yanked around by the various parties and screwing things up in his own drug-fueled haze.

* Admiral Metternich per Pelasgiamus from ''Literature/ASymphonyOfEternity'' is this trope in spades in space! He's a dirty coward who constantly tries to avoid battle and in doing so lands in the thickest of it, only for him to survive by virtue of winning the day. Not help by the fact that when he's afraid his red eyes blaze away, making those around him mistake that for battle lust. Combined with the fact that he actually is a very competent ''strategist'' and tactician he is a genuine ''military maverick'' who combined with a tendency to avoid battles, with his entire fleet, and come up with plans that focus on winning without fighting, at the very least facing the opposing fleet only with an overwhelming advantage to his side or distracting and bating on a large enemy force while others win, all with a minimal struggle or no battle at all makes him one of the most feared and successful officers in the Imperial Navy, a case where he's both the coward and the hero and the same time. So much so that he is made a Captain directly from civilian life and manages to become a Rear Admiral in less then three years! Unfortunately for him because of his astonishing victories he's sent into even more dangerous zones of war.

* Brazilian writer Creator/LuisFernandoVerissimo wrote a short story about a loser who ends up kidnapped by some thugs who mistake him for a Mafia boss and plan to kill him. He eventually reasons that it was more thrilling than anything that ever happened in his life, and asks for some champagne (something he had never tasted) before getting murdered.
* The novel ''PestControl'' has Bob the Exterminator, an elite international assassin. Only he's just an environmentalist bug exterminator looking into symbiotic methods for pest control, and the people he "killed" really did die in a series of coincidental and unrelated accidents. The only way he managed to survive was due to luck, help from an actual international assassin named Klauss, and thorough knowledge of New York's heavily armed crazy people that are no danger unless provoked.
* In ''Literature/ANightInTheLonesomeOctober'' by Creator/RogerZelazny, a bunch of magic-users preparing for the imminent ritual confrontation mistook one bystander -- though not exactly ''"innocent"'' -- for a participant. Massive scheming ensued. They (or at least their {{familiar}}s) learned he never was in their game too late for it to matter.
* One of the protagonists of a detective comedy series by Leo Gursky is TheChewToy, a poor [[HenpeckedHusband henpecked]] AbsentMindedProfessor pharmacologist ''so'' modest, naive, painfully honest law-abiding and, well, ''absent-minded'' that once he's entangled in something, most strangers refuse to believe he ''can'' really be this much of TheDitz. Once he stumbled upon a BriefcaseFullOfMoney and tried to return it to the rightful owner [[spoiler:nearly getting killed several times by various people, including both the old owner and the guys who had to receive the money]]. Another time he picked up a ringing "discarded" cellphone [[spoiler:and ended up impersonating a [[VideoGame/{{Hitman}} Agent 47]] {{expy}} before he understood he was in ''big'' trouble and had to play along just to survive..]].
* Lenny in ''Literature/TheStingrayShuffle'' drives erratically because he is high on marijuana. The ex-KGB agents following him mistake his driving for elite evasion techniques, and assume he must be former CIA or Mossad.
* "Literature/TheBraveLittleTailor": "Seven in one blow!"
* Literature/CiaphasCain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, believes this of himself. While untold billions think that Cain is an amazingly skilled badass, brilliant orator, and all-around star of the Imperium, Cain himself thinks he's a cowardly nonhero but seeks to perpetuate the accidentally-achieved image because the backlash for failing to do so would be catastrophic.
** The inquisitor who provides the footnotes of the novels and knows what Cain is really like believes this is a inversion; she acknowledges that Cain is one of the best swordsmen she's ever seen and that one of Cain's flaws (that is unknown to him) is his cripplingly low self-esteem when it comes to positive traits that he genuinely has. Then again, [[UnreliableNarrator said inquisitor is also very likely his lover]]. Ultimately, the reader comes up with their own opinion on the subject, but any conclusions drawn are likely to fall somewhere in-between heroic and semi-heroic.
* Harry Flashman in the ''Literature/{{Flashman}}'' novels by George Macdonald Fraser. Although many characters met by the protagonist know him (or come to know him) to be a cad and a coward, his reputation among society at large is that of a brave and honorable man.
** Flashman ''lives'' for this trope. He can run away from a battle and hide in a cesspool, then show up weeks later and be hailed as a hero for being the lone survivor. He encourages this sort of thing, but all he really has to do most of the time is keep his mouth shut.
* Rincewind of Literature/{{Discworld}} ends up like this in ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'', thanks in part to being ShroudedInMyth due to a book based on his misadventures written by Twoflower from the first two books, but also because of his strange tendency to survive otherwise fatal situations. People think it's because Rincewind is some kind of powerful and wise wizard, but it's mostly a combination of being favored by The Lady and his own attempts to remain a breathing coward.
* The ''Manhwa/DorothyOfOz'' example above was cribbed from ''Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz'' where the Munchkins assumed that Dorothy must have been an insanely powerful Munchkin sorceress to call up a storm and squish the East Witch with her house. Compounding this misunderstanding was that Dorothy was the size of a adult Munchkin and wearing her blue and white gingham dress. In Oz, Munchkins favor blue, and ''only'' magic users wear white. That's ''why'' they [[GonnaNeedMoreX called the North Witch for help.]]
* Invoked by Rand in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'': Tam gave him a [[MasterSwordsman heron-marked]] sword at be beginning of his adventures, but he had next-to-no training. Throughout the first book everyone he met openly doubted that someone so young could be a blademaster, but troublemakers didn't want to risk being wrong.
** It is also averted when in less than a year [[spoiler:he actually earns the title when he defeats a genuine Blademaster in combat.]]
* A common theme in Creator/TomSharpe novels, especially some of the Wilt series in which Wilt comes to the attention of the police who investigate him, find nothing but are sure they're missing something, and so investigate the entirely innocent school teacher more and more urgently until they eventually make a career-ruining mistake which they blame on Wilt outsmarting them rather than themselves getting obsessed over nothing.
* In ''Literature/EthanOfAthos'', the eponymous Ethan is a mild-mannered [[UterineReplicator Reproduction Center]] manager who is trying to find out what happened to the shipment of donor eggs he ordered. Unbeknownst to Ethan, a runaway biological experiment called Terrence has hidden a genetic {{McGuffin}} in the shipment. When Ethan turns up looking for the eggs, the agents who are looking for Terrence assume that Ethan is part of the conspiracy, especially after Ethan meets Elli Quinn, [[ActionGirl who is an actual operative]] employed by the agents' enemies.
* In the Literature/HonorHarrington book ''The Short Victorious War'', Lieutenant Commander Avshari, a communications officer and self-proclaimed tactical ignoramus holding what was supposed to be a milk run watch on the bridge of the dreadnought ''Bellerophon'', manages this after Admiral Pierre's battlecruiser squadrons have the bad luck to come out of [[FasterThanLightTravel hyper]] within point-blank range of the ship.
* [[Literature/HarryPotter Harry Potter]] thinks this happens, and not without reason; his ArchNemesis Voldemort [[StrangeMindsThinkAlike thinks the same thing about Harry]]. He's famous for having supposedly defeated the Dark Lord as a baby, something he doesn't even remember, and the Dursleys have made him think he's "a waste of space" even with the magical accidents that happened around him as a child. Subverted over the course of the books, where he and Ron take on a troll to save Hermione when they're eleven, and Harry [[spoiler: thwarts Voldemort twice and survives a third encounter with him, while casting a perfect Patronus at the age of thirteen]] It comes to a head where he gets angry at Hermione and Ron for asking him [[spoiler: to teach illegal Dark Arts and bringing up these deeds]] since BeingGoodSucks and he believes he only got lucky. Then gets subverted when [[spoiler: all the people interested in the DA bring up these deeds]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BurnNotice'' did an episode about a doctor being harassed by a drug dealer so Michael and crew make it look like he's ex-Special Forces.
* A huge part of the premise of ''Series/{{Chuck}}''. [[spoiler:Once Chuck starts becoming competent as a spy in his own right, Awesome starts getting this, just for being close to the spyjinks and looking more the part.]]
* In the Series/{{Leverage}} episode "Recap/LeverageS03E11TheRashomonJob", everyone on the team (working independently, before the pilot) became convinced that the head of security at the museum they were trying to rob was a clue-tracking ''badass''. Turns out he was a bumbling idiot who just happened to bump into every member of the crew and deliver some non sequiturs that freaked them right the hell out.
* The ''Series/{{Monk}}'' episode "Mr. Monk is Someone Else" has Monk going undercover as his doppelganger, an infamous hit man named Frank [=DePalma=], to thwart an assassination. In a meeting with a group of mobsters, he leans over to straighten Tommy G.'s tie and everyone reacts like he's making a threat. Monk (being Monk) really did just want to straighten out the tie.
* This looks like it's what's going on in the ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' "Dentistry sketch" until the very end, where the character reveals that he actually ''was'' a member of the BDA.

* In ''Webcomic/HarkAVagrant'', Fat Pony is [[http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=127 mistaken for a hitman]], and a successful hitman at that, despite being nothing more than a pony.
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' has Moloch von Zinzer, veteran armor crewman and ActionSurvivor. The results of his devotion to the cause of "not being killed" were [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20080917 taken as evidence]] of some secret knowledge:
--> '''Violetta''': ''You've'' [[McNinja trained in the way of smoke]]?\\
'''Moloch:''' Nah. Mom always said that stuff'll kill ya.\\
'''Violetta:''' But...but you ''are'' one of us, only you're in ''disguise'', right?\\
'''Moloch:''' 'fraid not.\\
'''Violetta:''' ''No!'' You must have some secret knowledge!\\
'''Moloch:''' Sure. I know, deep in my heart, that I really, really, ''really'' don't want to get munched by that thing.\\
'''Violetta:''' Chapter sixteen of the Yellow Codex! Who sent you!?\\
'''Moloch:''' Nobody ''sent'' me. I don't ''have'' any "secret knowledge." [[ActionSurvivor I just don't want to die]].\\
'''Violetta:''' I don't believe you! That's ''cheating!''
* [[BigBad Zenith]] in ''WebComic/CommanderKitty'' mistakes [[HeroicWannabe CK]] for a being genius even greater than her target [[TheAce Ace]] after managing to [[http://www.commanderkitty.com/2010/07/18/tactical-genius/ "compromise her plan"]] (by showing up in the wrong place at the right time).

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Used as a RunningGag in ''Series/{{Noob}}''. In the protagonist's faction, we have [[StupidGood Sparadrap]], very friendly, but also [[TheFool incredibly lucky and oblivious]], with a tendency to mix up attacking and healing spells, not to mention a quite big MagicStaff starting Season 2. In the enemy faction, [[PlayerKilling Dark Avenger]], who keeps mistaking Sparadrap's attempts at friendship alternating with accidental damage on his avatar and [[CoincidentalDodge coincidental dodges]] for a strange but effective fighting strategy. The two have an uncanny tendency to run into each other. When Dark Avenger [[spoiler:had to get written out of the series]], all the creator had to do was to [[DeconstructedTrope take the situation to its logical conclusion]].
* A bit downplayed with Gervas Klarenfeld in Literature/DeadWest; the narrator, originally just a commoner journalist gets mistaken as an aristocrat, almost constantly. The confusion is fueled further by his name, which he shares with a legendary (aristocrat) master spy, the Hound of Maria Theresa, and his HeroicBuild. He really is a commoner, with no ties to said spy, and with no PsychicPowers, but since the master spy had the power to avoid detection and read minds, and Gervas is quite skilled in ColdReading (and eavesdropping), he cannot convince most people that he is a commoner. The only characters who believe him are the Porcelain Doctor and the Beast, since they reason he has nothing to gain by lies. And even the Beast thinks that he might have some of the Hound's blood.
* In Season 11 of ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'', we find out that rumors have spread about the Reds and Blues being some of the greatest soldiers in the galaxy. [[WeAreStrugglingTogether This]] [[DysfunctionJunction isn't]] [[ArmedFarces the]] [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits case]], [[CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass most of the time]].
* Thanks to LetsPlay/{{Sips}} jokingly spreading rumours and photos of him in airsoft gear circulating round the web, Smiffy of LetsPlay/HatFilms has been mistaken for a real soldier in the Territorial Army[[note]]which doesn't even exist any more and was replaced by the Army Reserve[[/note]] by both fans and people in the LetsPlay/{{Yogscast}}.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' called "Buster Baxter: Cat Saver", Buster saves a cat from being caught in a tree (by happening to be holding an ice cream cone with fish sticks in it), causing eventually the whole town to laud him as a hero after the event gets published in the local newspaper. He lets it go to his head, but eventually is humbled after he isn't able to duplicate the incident without the ice cream, only to then save his friends from a runaway piano, starting the whole cycle over again.
* Sid the Squid, a bottom level criminal {{mook}} in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' was credited with offing Batman because they saw him knock Batman into a fuel tank which exploded. Lots of people wanted a piece of the guy that took out Batman, while ComicBook/TheJoker was furious that some no talent nobody took out Gotham's number one vigilante. [[spoiler: [[BatmanGambit Turns out Batman faked it and used Sid's new found rise to prominence to bust a drug cartel that Sid was a level zero flunky for]]]]. He benefits at the end when [[spoiler: he shows up in prison with a reputation as the guy who ''almost'' took out Batman and (with Batman's help) put one over on the Joker.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/DuckDodgers'' is a poster boy for this trope, though he is ''occasionally'' competent.
* ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales1987'':
** There's an episode where Launchpad was recruited to fill-in for an injured spy. In fact, some of the elements that appeared in this episode later were used in ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck''
** Launchpad is mistaken for the real Darkwing after a "Darkwing Decoy" plan backfires and he is caught unmasking by the press. Darkwing, thanks to his [[{{Pride}} massive ego,]] is not pleased with Launchpad's new found fame.
* There was a ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle'' story, ''Bullwinkle's Testimonial Dinner'', where Bullwinkle sent his shirt to be cleaned at a Chinese laundry in Shanghai. Said laundry was being used by Boris and Natasha as a transfer point to smuggle an atomic bomb wristwatch. The man who was supposed to pick it up was to identify himself by saying, "Perhaps you would rather I be John Phillip Sousa." Bullwinkle ends up saying that exact phrase when the clerk remarks that he's got a funny name.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' this happens to Homer multiple times. In an early episode, he gripes about conditions at the power plant and is appointed, as the new union leader, to negotiate for the workers to Mr. Burns while they strike. Mr. Burns thinks Homer a "worthy opponent" until he offers Homer a generous deal to step down as leader, and Homer celebrates by imitating one of ''Film/TheThreeStooges'' in Mr. Burns' office.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'' episode ''Bombad Jedi'', Jar Jar Binks is mistaken for a Jedi in a Separatist-occupied city because he slipped which led to him dodging an attack and he was wearing a cloak. The guards were none too bright. [[HilarityEnsues Hilarity]] (and heroism) ensues.
** This helped [[RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap decrease his Scrappy-ness]] since he instantly realized that they thought he was a Jedi and ran with it, instead of doing everything completely by accident like in the films. He was clearly trying to channel Obi-Wan with his acting.