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->''"Mr. Burns, it '''was''' naive of you to think I'd mistake this town's most prominent 104-year-old man for one of my [[DawsonCasting elementary school students]]."''
-->-- '''Principal Skinner''', ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
The opposite of LatexPerfection, and often a special case of WigDressAccent. A character that the other characters ''should'' recognize (or at least recognize as out of place) dons a disguise and is treated as neither recognizable nor conspicuous. This disguise is so completely transparent that the audience wants to shout "For the love of God, it's ''him!''"
The external reason for the flimsy disguise may be that the creators want to signal the presence of a disguise to the audience before the other characters catch on (a sort of ReverseWhodunnit). Sometimes, the character may also be a SpecialGuest the director wants to get their money out of.
All the same, you often get TheReveal staged in such a way to make it clear that the director really thought [[ViewersAreMorons you wouldn't have worked it out by now]]. For the more perceptive viewers, it's a case of TheUntwist.
This trope differs from the general case of WigDressAccent in that a WigDressAccent disguise is always plausible. PaperThinDisguise also includes the element of being staged as if the disguise really is convincing, which is not generally present in WigDressAccent.
While this is not quite a DiscreditedTrope, these days Paper Thin Disguises are parodied as often as they are used seriously. The trope is still an important dramatic convention in live theater and opera productions -- where a really good disguise would render the character unidentifiable from the cheap sets...and be beyond the scope of the prop budget to boot -- but is usually employed along with some kind of nod to audience acknowledging the absurdity. Children's shows still employ this trope regularly without any parody element.
This can sometimes be exaggerated for comedic effect. For example, you can wear bunny ears and become indistinguishable from a real rabbit, or pretend to be an ancient statue by simply [[NobodyHereButUsStatues standing still in a specific pose]].
Also See ConspicuousTrenchcoat, NotAZombie, NewspaperThinDisguise, ClarkKenting, MrSmith, HughMann, HoldingBothSidesOfTheConversation, CharlieBrownFromOuttaTown, and MostDefinitelyNotAVillain. Can overlap with HijackedByGanon from time to time. Contrast with FullBodyDisguise.