[[quoteright:320:[[Film/TheThreeStooges http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/55_1973.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:320:[[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial Totally not The Three Stooges in disguise.]]]]

Fictional grownups have been known to disguise themselves as some pretty silly things. Bushes and trees, two-person horses that don't look anything remotely like horses, oh--and did I mention children? That's right. From time to time, TV adults like to try and fool everyone by masquerading as gigantic children. Oh, and occasionally teenagers as well.

In an attempt to blend in with their supposed age group, TotallyRadical speech patterns will nearly always be employed and the character will always end up looking like an idiot. At least to us, the viewers, that is. The other characters might not see through this [[PaperThinDisguise odd-looking, strangely out-of-date-sounding kid's "clever" disguise.]] However, they usually do.

'''Depending on the realism of the show, the adult (or even teen) in question will either:'''

* Type A) Be dressed in an exaggerated, stereotypical version of what all today's hip young teens or kids are wearing.
* Type B) Fall back on cartoonish old classics such as beanies with propellers, Literature/LittleLordFauntleroy outfits, sailor suits, and giant lollipops.

A SubTrope of AgeInappropriateDress (just a deliberate form).

Compare CatholicSchoolGirlsRule.

Compare/Contrast TotemPoleTrench.

Not to be confused with DawsonCasting (actors portraying teenagers, typically with some level of SuspensionOfDisbelief on the part of the audience).


!!Type A With Children Examples:

* Creator/EphraimKishon did this once in one of his stories (on Purim).
* [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in ''Literature/PeterPan in Scarlet''--the now grown-up Wendy, John and the Lost Boys try on their kid's clothes, [[spoiler:because doing so will make them young again]].
* Early into ''Literature/TheMysteriousBenedictSociety'' Rhonda wore a green wig and a puffy white dress in order to pretend to be a preteen. She needed to a SecretTestOfCharacter on the kids pretending to be another child. Her looks were meant to draw attention away from her age and distract the test takers in general.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In the German comedy show ''Series/Switch1997'' Bernhard Hoëcker and Petra Nadolny do this regularly.
* The actress Creator/ShirleyHenderson (born 1965) seems to specialize in this. Apart from her role in the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' films, she recently appeared in a TV production called 'May Contain Nuts' where she dressed as her 11-year old daughter in order to pass a test to get the girl into a good school. The ironic thing is that her character in ''Potter'' films, Myrtle, is actually older than her- but is a ghost, and thus still looks young.
* As part of the husband-and-wife comedy duo "The Krankies," Janette Tough made a career out of dressing up as a young boy to play "Wee Jimmy Krankie."

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': Homer tried this in "Hungry Hungry Homer" when he sneaked into Bart's class to try to get Sherri (one of the twins) to go out with Bart to the dance. Neither Krabappel nor the kids in the class pierced his disguise, and Homer managed to accomplish his goal.
* Also in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'' where Dale attempts to apply for a job as paperboy for the Arlen Bystander (God knows why). He even uses the TotallyRadical "jizzob" in place of the boring old "job." No one is fooled and Bobby instantly recognizes him.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}'' had a government inspector masquerading as a kid, who was later found out when TJ overhears a buzzing noise in the school toilets and discovers him shaving.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/WackyRaces'' episode "Scout Scatter", the Ant Hill Mob fooled the sheriff by disguising themselves as Boy Scouts.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In the nineties, some riot grrrl bands invented a style called kinderwhore. Music/CourtneyLove is the greatest example.
* Another musical example of this is Music/{{ACDC}}'s Angus Young who wears a boy's school uniform.
* Youthful-looking adults can sometimes use this to enter Theme Parks for the children's price. For example, a woman hiding the shape of her body under overalls and a baggy T-shirt. The trick, of course, is not only ''looking'' like a kid, but remembering to act like one...
* One of China's "Twenty-Four Acts of Piety" was a 70-something old man pretending to dress and act like a toddler so that his 90-something parents wouldn't feel old.
* Back in the TheEdwardianEra, one popular frock worn by little girls alongside sailor suits and Fauntleroy-style suits was the [[http://image.glamourdaze.com/2013/09/Jeanne-Lanvin-1914-Drop-waist-dress.jpg drop-waist dress]]. Flash forward [[TheRoaringTwenties to a couple of decades]] and the little girls had grown into [[TheFlapper fine young women]], they had still worn the same silhouette.


!!Type B With Children Examples:

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In "The Bully" by Creator/JunjiIto, this happens in the final panel. As is natural, considering its creator, it definitely isn't PlayedForLaughs.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The sailor suit/lollipop disguise was also employed by Bob[[note]]yes, not Joe - it was the first appearance of the Daltons, and at the end Lucky Luke killed them, so the PowersThatBe had to bring in their cousins instead[[/note]] Dalton from the ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'' comic books, in a scenario involving robbing a bank with a revolver hidden in a piggy bank
* An ''ComicBook/ActionComics'' story from UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks, titled "Fairlyland Isle", featured ComicBook/LoisLane disguising herself as a little girl, wearing a sailor suit, GirlishPigtails, and [[{{Meganekko}} glasses]]. [[http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/12/13/i-love-ya-but-youre-strange-is-that-lois-lane-or-a-little-girl-i-cant-tell-the-difference/ Details here.]]

* Film/TheThreeStooges short ''All the World's a Stooge''. As part of a weird plot by a rich guy to get his wife to stop with her goofy philanthropic projects, the Stooges are adopted by the couple as refugee children. Moe and Curly get the sailor-suit treatment-- and Larry is done up as a little girl with a big hair bow and pinafore.
* In ''Film/VForVendetta'' Evey dresses as a child prostitute to fool the minister as part of V's plan. It was made to be quite UncannyValley.
* Creator/BillyWilder's ''Film/TheMajorAndTheMinor'', in which Creator/GingerRogers disguises herself as a minor in order to get a reduced train fare. Then she meets the Major. HilarityEnsues...
* The sort-of remake ''You're Never Too Young'' has Jerry Lewis impersonating a child (with sailor suit) to elude mobster Raymond Burr and bother Dean Martin.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Not exactly a disguise, but one episode of ''Series/GilligansIsland'' had the Skipper regress back to childhood under hypnosis and he saw the other castaways as his old childhood playmates, dressed in old fashioned kiddie costumes.
* ''Series/TheGoodies'' did this when they were asked by the organizers of military style camp for children to find children for the camp. When they can't get any kids, they end up doing this.
** Also, in ''The New Office'', they wanted to get the estate agent's sympathy, so Graeme dressed as an old worker, with Tim as his wife and Bill, with footed pajamas and oversized teddy bear, as his child.
* ''Series/TheMonkees'' take turns disguised as 11-13 year-olds in "Monkee vs. Machine", ultimately to throw a SpannerInTheWorks and disrupt a toy company's product testing session.
* ''Series/NightCourt'' had Dan's boss, the district attorney, try this to fool a suicidal children's show hero. Bonus points in that the adult is either a dwarf or a midget (I don't know which is the right term). It still fails, although the costume's used as a joke later in the show.
* ''Series/ThatMitchellAndWebbLook'' featured a sketch detailing the origins of the Ku Klux Klan's uniform. In it, a tailor offers them the choice of looking scary by dressing up as pointy-headed ghosts or as little girls, because; "What could be scarier than a massive little girl?"
* ''The Creator/AbbottAndCostello Show'' featured skits with Joe Besser as "Stinky", who would get into hilarious "SpoiledBrat vs. ManChild" [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQUcmhSvE-Y spats with Costello.]]
* In the ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' "Gilly" sketches, the title character's outfit flirts with this (the others are more modern).
** Vinny Vedecci's young son dresses as a sailor.
* The kids in ''Series/ElChavoDelOcho'' are all interpreted by adults.
* In ''Series/ILoveLucy'' a pregnant Lucy is appalled at the thought of their child picking up Ricky's broken English. She declares that she will only allow perfect English to be spoken around her baby, and hires a tutor for both the Ricardos and the Mertzes. Fred Mertz takes this as "back to school" and comes to the first lesson dressed in an exaggeratedly childish outfit. Lampshaded by the tutor who notices Fred and Ethel both using the same hackneyed patterns and saying to Ethel, "You've corrupted your son here."
* One episode of ''Series/TheDrewCareyShow'' had both Mimi and Drew's then-girlfriend applying for a job in the cosmetics department, giving makeovers. One of Mimi's would-be clients was a petite, middle-aged woman who had been dressing in clothes from the children's department since childhood. Mimi lost it on her, and of course she didn't get the job.

* There was also an old Magazine/{{MAD}} parody of Radio/TheLoneRanger from its early days as a comic book, where Tonto disguised himself using the classic sailor suit/lollipop combination.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''Tumbleweeds'', a comical Western strip, featured outlaw Snake Eye and his little brother Snookie - ostensibly twelve, he looks like a malicious hulking grown man with stubble and a moustache, wearing the classic Literature/LittleLordFauntleroy outfit.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* There was a ''[[WesternAnimation/TheRenAndStimpyShow Ren & Stimpy]]'' comic where an escaped zoo gorilla tried (and failed miserably, as Ren ended up [[LampshadeHanging Hanging A Lampshade]] on the whole thing by pointing out that "kids don't wear beanies") to blend into society by dressing up as a little kid. The tell-tale propeller beanie was indeed involved in the gorilla's disguise (the rest, if I remember correctly was just shorts and a t-shirt, but it's the beanie that was the important part).
* A sight gag in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' had an extreme closeup of the Professor's face as he says that luckily there are enough lifeboats on the ''Titanic'' (yes, it was a spoof of the movie) so no one would have to dress as women and children, with a [[TheReveal Reveal Shot]] zooming out so we see that he's wearing a propeller beanie and holding a lollipop.
* Perpetual loser Oskar Kokoshka of ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnold'' used this sort of disguise, complete with a huge lollipop, in an attempt to infiltrate an audition for Yahoo Soda. It didn't work.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' called "The Laughing Fish" featured two of Joker's henchmen dressed as 1950s-era children (one with a beanie, one with GirlishPigtails) for Joker's commercial for "Joker Fish" - and they did ''not'' enjoy it. Harley played their mom.
** This is also essentially the entire schtick of villain Baby Doll, who is a grown woman [[NotAllowedToGrowUp with the body of a young child due to a medical condition]] in a '50s-style saccharine sitcom [[TwoDecadesBehind (although, going by the episode's time frame, it would have been made in the '70s--the DCAU seems to have a generally different cultural and technical history from ours)]]. Whenever she shows up in her childish clothing (including [[FanDisservice visible panties]]) it generally means she's up to no good.
* In a brief gag on ''WesternAnimation/TheMarvelousMisadventuresOfFlapjack'', a "little kid" (of the sailor suit variety to go with the show's nautical theme) asks to play a "bathroom game" with Flapjack. After Flapjack tells him, "You need to grow up," the "kid" then replies in a raspy voice, "Grow up? I'm 38 years old!" followed by a closeup of the middle aged man's face.
** The whole plot of another episode revolved around K'nuckles and Flapjack switching places to see whose life was harder. Throughout the episode, everyone mistook K'nuckles in his Flapjack costume for the real Flapjack and vice versa.
* WesternAnimation/BugsBunny's done this a few times. Sometimes all the way back, as it were.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/GoofTroop'' has Goofy going to school with Max in order to spend more time with him. He dresses in the typical sailor suit and everybody except Max and P.J. were fooled.
* A HypocriticalHumor example on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' had the Music/RedHotChiliPeppers performing "Give It Away" on [[TheKrusty Krusty]] the Clown's show in just their white underpants, leading Krusty to wonder "What could be more degrading?" - just before the camera pulls back to reveal him dressed in a sailor suit and curly blond wig and with a lollipop for the next sketch.
* Done in ''WesternAnimation/LiloAndStitchTheSeries'' in the episode "Sinker". Lilo, Jumba, Stitch, and Pleakly manage to stow away in a cruise liner to find the boat sinking experiment, Experiment #602, by dressing up as a family (with portly {{Mad Scientist}} alien Jumba dressing up as a child, complete with complete with propeller beanie, sailor suit, and giant lollipops, and 10-year old Lilo disguised as the adult).
* On the ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' episode "Pre-Hibernation Week", [=SpongeBob=] snowboards so fast he blows away a skier's clothes, revealing that he's wearing a sailor suit, a lollipop and riding a scooter. His mate looks at him puzzled.
-->"Uh, I can explain."
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheMask'', a RunningGag involves the titular character briefly "transforming" into a cartoonish stereotypical kid, wearing a sailor suit and holding a giant lollipop, to mock his enemies. While he changes his body type, his face remains the same when he "transforms", so it would still count as a use of this trope. A very peculiar one, tough.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Lolita Fashion is inspired by Victorian era children's clothing (which looked like shortened versions of adults' clothing).
** Specifically, the subcategory Sweet Lolita, with its emphasis on more childlike motifs and whites and pastels (as opposed to the darks and blacks of Gothic Lolita) is what gives the impression of this trope in play.


!!Type A With Teenagers Examples:

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In a rare example of adults ''not'' successfully "passing" as teenagers, the two homunculi from the ''Manga/BusouRenkin'' manga, Tai and Chi, attempt to pass themselves off as high-schoolers and fail miserably in their attempt. Not only are they obviously too old, but they end up looking completely ridiculous and deformed-looking (and one of them is trying to pass himself off as a girl, too).
* In a less serious context, Weda (and Ashio) in ''Anime/HareGuu'' definitely does not pass as "Wendy, 17 years old". Probably because everybody in the class immediately recognizes her as a mother of their classmate Haré.

* The whole premise of the movie ''Film/NeverBeenKissed'', in which, amazingly everyone is fooled and believes that Drew Barrymore is in fact a teenager. Probably because the other teenagers were [[DawsonCasting Dawson Cast]] as well.
** Spoofed in ''Film/NotAnotherTeenMovie'' with an 80 year old in her place. Again: no one notices.
* Something very similar happens with the early Eva Longoria film ''Snitch'd'', in which a man in his 30s goes back to high school, pretending to be a teenager. Again, everyone is fooled.
* This is also done in the 1987 movie ''HidingOut''. A stockbroker is testifying against a mob boss who was into some insider trading. There are death threats, so until the trial the stockbroker shaves off his beard, gives himself highlights and goes to high school. Once again, everyone is fooled, including his own family members.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Psych}}'' had an episode with [[spoiler:one of these guys as the perp]].
* ''Series/{{CSINY}}'' had a darker version of this. It turns out that a teenage high school student who was accused of raping a fellow student [[spoiler: was really in his 30s and his "father" was his similarly aged accomplice. They both gang-raped said girl and murdered a teacher in whom she confided. Unfortunately for them, their victim was the daughter of a [[VigilanteExecution minor character...]]]]
* In ''Series/StrangersWithCandy'', a cop in his thirties tries to infiltrate the school drug trade, mostly by wearing a t-shirt and a backpack and badgering the students about weed. No one is taken in, although for some reason they never pass comment on the main character, a high school student in her forties who never even attempts to dress like a teenager.
* Franchise/LawAndOrder had two cases that were both inspired by the one of Treva Throneberry.
** ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'' had a rather serious case, with [[spoiler: a teenage girl who two boys literally fought to the death over... only it turned out she was in her late 20s, and had been passing as a high-schooler for ''years'' in an effort to reclaim the childhood she'd been denied. Then again, that meant she had to deal with a ''lot'' of statutory rape charges...]]
** The original ''Series/LawAndOrder'' had a similar case where a woman was changing her name and resetting her age to 16, bringing statutory rape charges to block her attempted murder charge. the Investigation eventually revealed she had done thing at least four times and was actually at least 29!
* Appears in an episode of ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' when Lily and Robin attempt to infiltrate a high school prom in order to see a band perform. Despite Barney's advice on how to pass as "today's kids" (i.e. dress as sluttily as possible), they don't fool anyone.
* In ''Series/OnlyFoolsAndHorses'', Rodney Trotter has to pretend to be 14 years old to enjoy a Spanish holiday in "The Unlucky Winner Is...".
* ''Series/TwentyOneJumpStreet'', an 80's police drama, was about a group of young-looking narcotics officers assigned undercover in high school, led by none other than Creator/JohnnyDepp. It was a vehicle for and one of the earliest examples of DawsonCasting. TheMovie {{Lampshades}} the ridiculousness of the premise.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Friends}}'' Joey attempts to get an acting job playing a 19-year-old. He wears his underpants pulled high up over his jeans and a backwards cap, and tells Chandler, "Sup with the whack UsefulNotes/PlayStation SUP". Unsurprisingly, he does not fool anyone.
* ''Series/ThirtyRock'': Creator/SteveBuscemi shows up as a private detective hired as a strike buster. A flashback shows his attempt to infiltrate a high school as one of the students. His [[http://skateandannoy.com/blog/2013/03/fellow-kids/ ludicrous appearance]] has [[MemeticMutation gone memetic.]]
* This was revealed to be the part of the MO of the killer in the "It Takes A Village" episode of ''Series/ColdCase''. The man's petite stature and childlike voice, coupled with wearing baggy jeans and sweatshirts enabled him to pass for a teenager, thus easily luring his victims away.
* ''Series/{{NTSFSDSUV}}'': There's an episode where Trent and Piper go undercover in a high school to uncover a plot to blow up the school. Their disguise as teenagers is laughably unconvincing and hamfisted. At one point Trent runs into two other teenagers who are really an undercover magazine reporter and [[Film/BackToTheFuture a guy from the future who is trying to ensure that his parents will conceive him]].
-->''[[LampshadeHanging Ok, are there any REAL kids in this school?!]]''

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheNonAdventuresOfWonderella'', Dr. Shark jumps both age and species barriers by trying to dress as a human teenager.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the pilot episode of ''WesternAnimation/CloneHigh'', Principal Scudworth and Mr. Butlertron try to sneak into JFK's party -- dressed as completely outdated teenagers. Surprisingly, they fool no one.
* The toad licking episode of ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' where Peter goes undercover in Meg's school as teenager Lando Griffin, and not only fools everyone but becomes the most popular kid in school.
** And then later inverted in a different episode, when Stewie, the ''1-year-old baby'' of the Griffin family, does pretty much the exact same thing as Peter.
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/TheJetsons Rockin' with Judy Jetson]]'', George got arrested for doing this while looking for Judy.
* The magazine editor Val in ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'', though this was more because she ran her own magazine supposedly appealing to teens - and never stopped trying to act like one despite clearly being at least thirty. Most people weren't fooled, though they tended to suck up to her anyway.
* In ''WesternAnimation/SymBionicTitan'', One of General Steel's soldiers, Stevens, sneaks into Sherman High undercover, pretending to be a student. The fact that he's OlderThanHeLooks helps, but he still tries using outdated slang including quoting the "Wassssssssupp?!" commercial.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': Mr. Burns once tried to convince the elementary school to sign over the rights to the recently discovered oil deposit beneath the school, by dressing as the teenage Jimbo and using what he thought was modern slang. Since nothing Burns does is ever modern, it's a wonder he even got the outfit right. Principal Skinner wasn't fooled.
-->'''Burns:''' (''dressed as Jimbo'') Well, me and my fourth form chums think it would be quite ''corking'' if you'd sign over your oil well to the local energy concern.\\
'''Skinner:''' Uh, Mr. Burns. (''Burns gasps'') It was naïve of you to think I'd mistake this town's most prominent 104-year-old man for one of my elementary school students.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* TruthInTelevision: At least two adults were convicted for fraud after being being caught after months of pretending to be high school students.
** [[http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/10703617/detail.html Charles Daugherty aka Storme Shannon Aerison.]] A black man (born intersex and assigned the gender male) pretended to be a white teenage girl... ''and actually got a modeling job''.
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treva_Throneberry Treva Throneberry]], who used several aliases through almost 10 years. Each time she made herself pass as a teenage girl who was sexually abused and ran away from home, then threw tantrums when people started to suspect, and then disappeared.
* Either Internet predators or the FBI agents trying to catch them posing as teenagers.
* A lot of you know that one parent who tries to keep up with their teenage kids, or just never changed their teenage wardrobe after growing up.
* Sometimes cops or FBI agents will disguise themselves as teenagers to infiltrate a school so they can catch and charge teenagers who sell or use drugs.
* DawsonCasting is when an adult actor portrays a far younger character.
* Very common in {{cosplay}}, especially of the anime/manga variety. Many cosplayers are adults, and many popular anime characters are in their teens, leading to this trope; depending on the character, this can also fall into Type A with children or overlap with WholesomeCrossdresser. With the right makeup, it can be surprisingly effective.