Natalie Portman: Decoy! No!When important figures feel they need extra insurance, someone takes on the appearance and role of someone else, especially in dangerous situations. Though this is still used today by some leaders, before the advent of modern photography this was much easier to pull off, since the average person would probably not know what the leader looked like outside of a vague description or drawing, making any differences between the double and the real person less noticeable. In more modern works the close resemblance may be explained away by Magic Plastic Surgery, while science fiction settings may use Send in the Clones and have the clones be made with this specific purpose in mind. This is very much a Truth in Television, and generally the more paranoid a leader the more doubles they will have. Saddam Hussein reportedly had over 50 doubles that he used at various times, and other notorious leaders like Josef Stalin and Hitler have also had confirmed body doubles. In Japan this practice was known as kagemusha (literally "shadow warrior"), and was fairly common during the Feudal Era for warlords. Oftentimes the kagemusha were convicted criminals who took the opportunity in exchange for not being put to death. Of course, given the perilous position they were in, this rarely guaranteed their ultimate survival. In a less notorious case, General Bernard Montgomery employed a double to confuse the Germans during World War II. This story became a book and a film, called ''I Was Monty's Double''. Usually a job for a member of the Hero Secret Service. Related to Emergency Impersonation, I Am Spartacus. If the double is covering up for the fact that the leader is actually dead, it's an El Cid Ploy. See also Decoy Getaway for a practical application of a Body Double. See also Decoy Leader, when a leader uses someone else to pose as them, while not necessarily looking anything alike. Not to be confused with the Real Life practice of actors using body doubles for stunts and/or nude or sex scenes. For other types of impersonators, see Celebrity Impersonator. Ideal for this purpose would be an Identical Stranger, but This Is Reality, and those who don't live in a genre where such a convenient person exists will just use a person who looks passably similar. Since this trope is often part of a Reveal, be warned that there are inherently SPOILERS below.
Natalie's Decoy: I'm sorry, I've failed you.
Natalie Portman: How? You were my decoy. This was your job — in fact, this was your ONLY job. Frankly, I'm not sure why I'm so upset, why else did I think I was hiring you?
Natalie's Decoy: I'm sorry, I've failed you.
Natalie Portman: How? You were my decoy. This was your job — in fact, this was your ONLY job. Frankly, I'm not sure why I'm so upset, why else did I think I was hiring you?
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Anime and Manga
- In Samurai Deeper Kyo has two: One for Tokugawa Ieyasu (the real ones turns out to be Hattori Hanzo) and one for Sanada Yukimura, who is actually a woman (the body double, not the guy, though it's an easy enough mistake to make).
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, aspirant singer Meer Campbell fills this role for Lacus Clyne, though she's actually working for the Big Bad, who has told her that she'll be able to help keep the fragile peace if she poses as Lacus. Meer eventually begins to crack under all the stress and self-esteem problems, deciding that she doesn't care that she's being used to further Durandal's goals and only wants to continue to pretend being Lacus since nobody loves Meer herself. Lacus herself faces Meer and manages to talk her out of it... only for poor Meer to be shot to death while Taking the Bullet for Lacus and perish in her arms.
- In Murder Princess the maid Milano takes princess Alita's place during an invasion and dies, causing the body-swapped Alita to take on her dead maid's name and role.
- Makoto in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World reluctantly agrees to impersonate Princess Fatora (with whom he bares an uncanny resemblance, despite being the opposite sex) after she is captured. He's convincing enough that even Fatora's lesbian lover Aliellie is fooled... at least until she tries to get frisky.
- In the second-to-last episode of Samurai 7, Ukyo uses other clones of the Emperor, who are all genetically and physically identical to him as his body doubles. It almost works.
- A fairly innocent example occurs in Cardcaptor Sakura through Sakura's use of the Mirror card to stand in for her when she has to do some emergency card-catching. However, Sakura's spiritually sensitive brother Touya is fully aware that it's not really Sakura, but plays along anyway.
- In Code Geass, C.C. occasionally stands in for Zero/Lelouch when he needs to keep up the Masquerade of being a normal student. Given that C.C. is also immortal, there's also a practical application of this, as if she were to take a bullet for Lelouch she could just walk it off.
- In R2, Sayoko masquerades as Lelouch while he's off doing his Zero thing. It actually causes some minor problems for him; upon his return, he has to deal with the repercussions of Sayoko mistakenly playing him as The Casanova. That and Sayoko is a highly athletic ninja and Lelouch gets tired from running a block.
- In Ashita no Nadja, Rosemary becomes Nadja's Body Double and the accomplice of Smug Snake Hermann.
- Captain Kuro of One Piece hypnotized one of his crew members to think that he was Kuro. After a good get-up, Captain Morgan took him in, and Kuro was assumed captured while he went on to put together a three year long plan.
- Played with (in both versions) at the beginning of Dance in the Vampire Bund. In both cases a tall, voluptuous, raven-haired beauty in vampish attire is initially introduced as the Princess of Vampires. Of course when Mina Tepes makes her first actual public appearance, her aide Vera becomes completely useless as a decoy.
- Dix-Neuf Noinheim from the Mobile Suit Gundam Wing novel Frozen Teardrop was this for his brother-in-law, Milliardo Peacecraft aka Zechs Merquise. And was killed for it, but his sacrifice let Zechs escape safely.
- Parodied, then played straight in Fushigi Yuugi. Hotohori needs to leave the Imperial Capital to help Miaka and the group, but since he's The Emperor he just can't go and step out. Chichiri offers to help and morphs into Hotohori with his Master of Disguise powers... but the extremely vain Hotohori is displeased because Chichiri can't flawlessly recreate his beauty. He does accept the offer after this hilarious moment, and as he goes off to give Miaka aid... poor Chichiri is bored as heck in the Court.
- One episode of Golgo 13 had a situation where Golgo was hired to kill a client's double so he could fake his death. The double arranges for the real man to take his place, taking over the mob boss's life after his death. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of turning Golgo into an enemy.
- One chapter of Franken Fran is about a mobster who frequently makes use of her services to create body doubles. Then, his latest double tries to turn over a new leaf with his company, he assassinates him, and things get a bit hectic.
- Detective Conan.
- In an early case, Kogoro is given the supposedly easy work of spying on a certain man in exchange for a large sum of money... but in a subversion, said man turns out to be a Body Double. The guy that said actor is impersonating? He's found dead some days later — and the dude who hired Kogoro not only is the killer, but he he had used Kogoro to have an alibi for said murder. Kogoro really hates being lied to, so he's understandably pissed off but has no evidence to get to him. Of course, the murderer ultimately doesn't pass through Conan's deducing skills.
- Again subverted in a filler case where the Body Double was the killer. She was an aspiring actress who worked as the double for a famous idol, then her envy and jealousy peaked to the point of killing her boss, hiding her body, and then impersonating her until the dead woman was found and everyone believed she had commited suicide. Again, Conan easily saw through her.
- Played straighter in the "Fake Wedding" case, where Yumi and Takagi have to be body doubles for a soo-to-be married couple who have been threatened by a Serial Killer. Then Yumi's best friend/Takagi's girlfriend Sato switches places with Yumi, having deduced the killer's identity and fearing that he will harm Yumi... and since said culprit is soon found out and he attacks her while she's still posing as the bride, it's a good thing. Sato does this again in a later case, where she covers up for her Identical Stranger and Shiratori's soon-to-be girlfriend Sumiko Kobayashi, who is being targetted by a killer who wants to silence her because she knows too much.
- In the "Heiji Hattori in the Vampire Mansion" case, Kazuha Touyama switches places with the maid Hikaru so she and Ran can catch the culprit that is after her.
- In another case, Kogoro is the one who gets an impersonator: a guy named Tatsuo Mori, who looks a bit like him save for a different shaped moustache. Kogoro decides to go along with it and find out what's going on... but later Tatsuo is found dead, so he and Conan have to find out who did him in.
- In one Naruto filler episode, Ino serves as the body double for a girl named Fuku, a princess who greatly resembled her... until she started binge eating out of stress in anticipation for meeting her fiance Chikara, and now doesn't want him to think she's fat. Ino finds Chikara obnoxious and refuses to continue setting Fuku up with her, so Naruto steps in to do things his way... inadvertently resulting in Chikara encountering the real Fuku and revealing he's attracted to heavyset women, so everything works out.
- One chapter of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has the title character's family butler recruit a small squad of body doubles for him. He is later thanked for a variety of things he didn't do, including dating one of his students.
- Michiyo Akaishi uses these this trope once in a while in her stories:
- In Honoo No Alpen Rose, Toulonchamp's Batman Gambit relays on using his daughter Mathilda as one of these, acting as the stand-in for the lead female Jeudi. Jeudi herself went missing as a little girl in an horrible accident that left her mother Helene Durant with severe physical and psychological consequences, and Mathilda's mission is to make the almost blind Helene believe that she is the real Jeudi; meanwhile, Toulonchamp forces the Durant family to do whatever he wants on the threat of taking Mathilda away, which would send Helene into a Death by Despair. Too bad that Jeudi showed up anyway...
- In Amakusa 1637, the plot heavily leans on lead female Natsuki becoming one of these fora local swordsman, Shirou. Yes, she's one for THAT Shiro. Who in this story, is actually dead.
- In Private Actress, being hired as body doubles is a rather common task for Private Actors like Shiho and her boyfriend/co-worker Tomoomi, so both of them do it quite frequently.
- The "shadows" in Kyoumen no Silhouette, like Teshio who became one for the heir princess Elnavista. You hear me, a female-looking guy must sometimes be a princess who Does Not Like Men.
- It's not fully explained until a later series, but in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ the young ruler of Zeon, Mineva Lao Zabi, has actually been switched with a double by the end of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam by her regent Haman Khan as part of a Give Him a Normal Life, one of the few Pet the Dog moments Haman ever gets. No one knows what happened to the real one until Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, where we met her again now living under the alias Audrey Burne.
- In Attack on Titan, the Survey Corps use Jean and Armin as body doubles for Eren and Historia/Krista when necessary, due to the latter's Living MacGuffin status.
- Sailor Moon
- It looks like a part of Minako' job description as Minako "Sailor Venus" Aino is being Usagi "Sailor Moon" Tsukino's body double, explaining both their extreme resemblance (Minako has the white cat)◊ and Minako's ability to change appearance. In the manga, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, and Sailor Moon Crystal, Venus even explicitly poses as the Moon Princess before The Reveal, making this a rare case where even the person who the double is standing in for isn't aware of it, as Usagi hadn't yet recovered her Past-Life Memories. In the first season of the first anime, the Senshi thought Venus was the Princess but she denied it when asked, though in the third season she actually had to sub in for a kidnapped and temporarily depowered Moon (which was almost completely Played for Laughs).
- A popular fan theory is that this explains CereCere/ Sailor Ceres's resemblance to Chibiusa: she's meant to be Chibiusa's decoy should the need arise.
- Used at least twice in Aldnoah.Zero:
- First, Princess Asseylum was apparently killed in the first episode, but the one who died was her body double and she ha managed to get away to safety, reappearing very soon
- Much later, after Asseylum is shot in the back at the end of the first season, she is in a Convenient Coma for a good part of the second one... and the one who goes around in a wheelchair and makes speeches is her half-sister, Princess Lemrina. There's also kind of a subversion: Lemrina does not look like Asseylum, so she uses holographic disguises to fix that.
- Hunter × Hunter: Diego, the dictator of East Gorteau, uses a body double for his safety, but we don't know about it until he's seen alive at the end of the Chimera Ant arc.
- In Rakuin No Monshou Fedom claims Orba is acting as a body double for Prince Gil due to the danger of assassination as the royal wedding approaches. Orba sees through this excuse fairly quickly as Fedom's people are the only ones aware of it and the political dangers of having a body double standing in for Gil so often.
- Gintama: Shigeshige has had many body doubles from when he was a child. He switched places with one to save the clan of bodyguards when he was injured.
- Dilbert had a brief strip or three where the boss turns Asok into one to avoid decisions.
- The premise of the DC character The Human Target was that he was one of these. The Vertigo series played with it by having him literally disappear into each persona he adopted, having to be broken out of the new personality with psychological triggers.
- In Cerebus the Aardvark, Lord Julius (a parody of Groucho Marx) hired several "Like-a-looks" to stand in for him (lampshading the fact that anyone with the right build, walk, fake mustache and attitude can look like Groucho Marx.) It was never entirely clear who was the real Lord Julius after that, especially after a mob of increasingly absurd Like-a-looks (including the Elrod the Albino!) invaded the palace and all claimed to be the real one.
- In a reprint, Sim mentioned the story was inspired by the scene from Duck Soup where Chico and Harpo both impersonate Groucho using greasepaint and the right props.
- In Lone Wolf and Cub, each member of the Yagyu clan has their own double. One of them cheerfully commits seppuku so that Retsudo can tell the shogun his son is dead (and show his severed head as proof).
- The in-canon Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book has her using body doubles to spread misinformation. It helps that All the doubles have her durability and healing powers as well.
- One of those was RetConned in an episode of Angel.
- Marvel's 616 Universe has created LMD (Life Model Decoys) which can fill in whenever needed. Handy for retcons as well. Nick Fury, among others, has used them.
- Doctor Doom, of course, has his Doom-Bots. Which can pass for him so well that writers use this to retcon story arcs they don't care for, to the point that the practice occasionally undergoes Lampshade Hanging.
- In the Yoko Tsuno story "The Prey and the Shadow", a secretary named Margaret is blackmailed into becoming the double of Cecilia, her boss's unstable adoptive daughter. As time passes, she's more and more aware that something horrible will happen, but she's completely trapped in the web of lies that her boss extended around her. Once the titular Action Girl and her Power Trio spend a night in the boss's castle, Margaret confides on her so they can both save Cecilia from her "father" and free Margaret from him as well.
- The Silver Age Superman used robot doubles to help him conceal his Secret Identity. These were phased out by the Bronze Age.
- In the first issue of Death of the Family, Batman takes on who he thinks is The Joker wearing a red hood at the ACE Chemical Plant. He pulls the hood off to reveal Harley Quinn!
- Happens once in a while in Diabolik, but with a twist: the double is almost always unwilling, being a poor shmuck that Diabolik has kidnapped and drugged up because he needs a double for himself or Eva (the willing ones are extremely rare, and Diabolik wouldn't trust them unless there are mitigating circumstances). The resemblance is normally Justified with Diabolik's perfect masks or getting a lookalike (even searching them across the world), but in one occasion Diabolik needed to fool Ginko while Faking the Dead it was simply a stolen body who he beheaded (with a swap of the genetic samples to fool the DNA test).
- Usagi Yojimbo: Young lord Noriyuki had one who was identical in all but voice, and he never said a word even as he was dying; two other "doubles" turned out to be dolls. Usagi hated the idea of people dying because they didn't know they were only protecting a doll even though he understood how their ignorance helped keep the "original" safe; later he used the same trick which caused someone to die trying to protect a doll because he was trying to keep the "original" safe.
- Space Usagi used the same princess-handmaiden/bodyguard trick as The Phantom Menace except that the only thing the pair had in common was that they were rabbit-women (it helped that no one on Usagi's side knew what the princess looked like).
- The Pony POV Series:
- During the Wedding Arc, the group tries to attack Chrysalis during an opera she's attending in the guise of Cadence (Chrysalis, due to knowing how things are supposed to go, managed to take over Canterlot for a few days rather than being defeated as quickly as in canon). Unfortunately for them, this was a trap and the Chrysalis they were fighting was a Changeling shapeshifted into her (though Chrysalis was still controlling them). Ironically, Cadence was using an Avatar as well, so neither of them were actually present.
- The Mane Six have several of their allies disguised as Cadence during the Wedding Arc's Final Battle as a diversion so they can escort the real Cadence into the castle to fight Chrysalis herself.
- The entire premise of the comedy Dave is the snide President getting a mild-mannered civilian to be his body double for a function while the President is with his Mistress. When the President suffers a stroke, his Chief of Staff forces Dave to keep playing the role for real.
- Brian De Palma's film Body Double, of course. The fact is that it's actually a Spoiler Title giving away the Plot Twist!
- In Gate of Hell, the lead female is disguised as the queen and sent away from the royal palace, in order to lure away the rebels that are attacking the palace.
- Kagemusha, the famous Akira Kurosawa movie, has a convicted criminal offered the role of warlord Takeda Shingen in exchange for sparing his life.
- In the Star Wars prequels, Padmé does this a couple times. In the EU it is explicitly stated that the purpose of the handmaidens is to act as bodyguards and they are chosen to be similar in appearance to her. As Queen in The Phantom Menace, Padmé switched places with Sabé during the Trade Federation's invasion, and remained in the handmaiden role for most of the movie; the switch isn't revealed until shortly before the final battle. In addition to protection, this allowed them to confuse Nute Gunray during a pivotal moment. She keeps up the practice as a senator in Attack of the Clones, where her decoy, Cordé, dies in an explosion meant for her.
- The King of France does this in History of the World Part I.
- In Vantage Point, it turns out that the President who was assassinated was actually his body double, which sucks for the guy, but is good news for the rest of the American population. Seeing as the double was shot on camera some skilled maneuvering is used when the President is revealed to be alive, so they make it look like he was only wounded. It helps that the President actually was hurt in a subsequent kidnapping.
- One of the plot twists of Batman Begins is that the East Asian man identified as Ra's al Ghul was just a front for the real Ra's — the man who until this point had called himself Ducard.
- A non-action example: The Georgian movie Comrade Stalin's Trip to Africa is about a Georgian Jew who is recruited to double for Stalin.
- In the 2007 movie Hitman, Agent 47 kills Russian President Mikhail Belicoff in a public appearance, only to discover Belicoff is still alive and well. In a twist, it turns out the living Belicoff is actually a body double who has usurped the murdered Belicoff.
- Diamonds Are Forever has multiple copies of Blofeld; they all die painful deaths.
- Prince Philip in Princess of Thieves.
- The film The Eagle Has Landed is about a group of Nazi paratroopers who sneak into England in an attempt to assassinate Winston Churchill. The last member of the team succeeds in doing so before being shot, but after he dies, it is revealed that the Prime Minister was out of the country at a secret conference in Teheran - the man who was just killed was actually a vaudeville comedian and impressionist whose turn as Winnie was good enough that he ended up on the government's payroll.
- The novel the movie was based on had this as the final twist at the end as a writer is going to publish it only to be informed it will be cited as fiction because records show Churchill was in Teheran at the time. He thus realizes the truth.
- In a sequel novel The Eagle Has Flown, the one survivor of the mission literally howls with laughter at realizing it was all for a fake Churchill.
- The novel the movie was based on had this as the final twist at the end as a writer is going to publish it only to be informed it will be cited as fiction because records show Churchill was in Teheran at the time. He thus realizes the truth.
- The Devil's Double, based on the Real Life Latif Yahia, a body double for Saddam Hussein's son Uday.
- Played with in Spaceballs:
Captain of the Guard: You idiots! These are not them! You've captured their stunt doubles!
- The Last King of Scotland Amin uses one to briefly to trick Nicholas when he comes to talk to him.
- Parodied in Head of State, where Mays Gilliam is running for President. His campaign manager hires a guy who looks similar to him to precede him to all official functions. Mays half-jokes that Tupac could have used a guy like that. In the epilogue, after Mays wins, the body double is shot.
- Inverted in the H.I.V.E. Series, where Otto masquerades as his own clone, killing the clone and pretending it was himself who died.
- Crown of Slaves by David Weber and Eric Flint opens with Berry Zilwicki being offered the job of body double for Princess Ruth of Manticore.
- Mary Hoffmans' Stravaganza has this in the first book, as the Duchessa of Belleza uses different doubles for all the flashy ceremonies, such as the Marriage with the Sea. She began this procedure when she became pregnant with her daughter, Arianna. One such double thinks she can outsmart the Duchessa, rat out her secret, and throw her lot in with the di Chimici with no ill consequences. She's wrong.)
- In one of Francoise Rivier and Michel Laponte's Jonathan Cap books, a dangerous plan to overthrow an Arabian Sheik depends on one of these, a Middle-Eastern Ordinary Highschool Student named Jamil who is forced by the terrorist group to serve as the double to the Crown Prince (whom they plan to kidnap, kill, and then replace with the kid, whom they have trapped in a complicated web of lies to make sure he can't escape). Coincidentally, the Big Bad chooses a Parisian private clinic as its hideout since the gambit's supposed to take place during the Prince's visit to France, and a girl named Juliette is operated there... and she happens to be the best friend of Jonathan's Kid Sidekicks and nephews Alex and Nico...
- Used in a lighter note afterwards. Once the deal is defused and Jamil is released from his captors's control, the Crown Prince forgives him on grounds of having been Forced into Evil without any way out. Then he makes Jamil replace him during the official activities in Paris, therefore making him a full-blooded Body Double, while he goes outside to have fun with Alex, Nico and a girl named Elisabeth who had also been forced to help the group.
- Near the end of Robin McKinley's Spindle's End, the characters attempt to thwart an evil fairy's curse on secret princess Rosie by having Rosie's best friend Peony claim to be the princess in her stead. Unfortunately, while everyone else is fooled, the fairy is not.
- The Leader and the Damned by Colin Forbes. One of the assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler is successful, so Martin Bormann uses a body double to maintain the Reich and his own power. Unfortunately the double isn't interested in being Bormann's puppet, and is somewhat insane, so ends up doing all the crazy things Adolf is famous for that made him lose the war.
- A man who happens to look an awful lot like Lord Vetinari is crucial to a plot to discredit the real Patrician in The Truth. A later novel in the series mentions in passing that Vetinari occasionally hires the man to stand in for him when he needs a short holiday.
- Occasionally used as a diversion in Butler Parker, especially in the time shortly after Parker switched his employer. Kathy Porter went as a body double in several issues of the series.
- In The Empress Game, Kayla is recruited to be this for Princess Isonde. However, it's not "just in case" of attack — it's for a whole gladiatorial tournament, which Isonde needs to win despite having no fighting ability. When Isonde is put into a coma by a surprise attack, Kayla has to take over Isonde's political games as well.
- In The Princes of the Air, Queen Rachel has several, of which at least one is an android and one is a male relative who has the same build and shares the distinctive family eye colour. At one point the protagonist goes to the palace with an important message, and has to observe several Queen Rachels before finding the one he's looking for.
- In The Bloody Red Baron, Dracula deploys a number of decoy body doubles during the climactic battle (one of whom, in an Allohistorical Allusion, is implied to be Bela Lugosi). It backfires once the decoys start being killed, because the news that "Dracula's dead" travels faster than the news that there are decoys in play, and his troops are demoralized by their leader's apparent death (and then also bewildered by the arrival of multiple conflicting accounts of his death).
- In The Traitor Son Cycle, upon learning that the King is going to get ambushed and killed, Jean de Vrailly has the two of them switch armour (which is full plate, so you can't really see who's underneath it) and takes the should-be-killing blow for him.
- The Executioner novel "Tehran Wipeout" opens with Mack Bolan assassinating the Ayatollah Khomeini! Sure enough this trope is in play, but the true twist is that Khomeini has been dead for years and the Iranian government is using the doubles to maintain their power.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Order of the Phoenix try to smuggle Harry from Privet Drive to a safe house by using Polyjuice Potion to transform six of them into Harry, assigning each one a body guard, and going in seven different directions. They're attacked by an army of Death Eaters when they leave the house, but the plan works until something gives the real Harry away (Harry using his signature "Expelliarmus" spell in the book, Hedwig trying to protect him in the film).
- In The Machineries of Empire, Mikodez had all his siblings modded to look like him (including sex change when necessary) so that they might pretend to be him during various meetings and trips he doesn't have time or patience to attend.
Live Action TV
- Ba'al on Stargate SG-1 created numerous clones of himself to act as decoys, and aid in some elaborate schemes of his.
- Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: in Acts 44 and 45, it's revealed that Takeru is a kagemusha for the true 18th head, Shiba Kaoru. He is later adopted by Kaoru and made her official successor in Act 48.
- Power Rangers Samurai copies this, with Jayden taking the Red Ranger role on behalf of his older sister Lauren.
- In the Castle episode "A Dance With Death", Odette, a spoiled Upper-Class Twit is found dead on a dancing show. However, various confusing bits such as how someone saw Odette shooting up but no drugs were in her system. It then turns out the prints match those of Barbara, a stripper who had died in a train crash a year earlier...a crash Odette barely escaped from. It finally clicks when Castle finds photos showing Odette doing court-ordered service at a soup kitchen yet able to attend a fancy brunch across town at the same time. It turns out Odette saw Barbara perform and realized that with a little surgery, they could be doubles. She thus hired Barbara to pose as Odette for stuff like community service and weekly meals with her wealthy grandmother while Odette could party like old times. When the crash happened and Odette was killed with her face horribly managled, Barbara realized that no one knew about the deal so, as Castle puts it,"She saw her chance to go from understudy to leading lady" with no one the wiser.
- At first, Castle and Beckett think the killer was someone from Barbara's past blackmailing her. It soon turns out the killer was Odette's financial manager as he and Odette had conspired to kill her grandmother so they could control the fortune. When he yelled at Barbara over this, her shock made him realize she wasn't the real Odette so he killed her to keep it quiet.
- Turns out that the houses in Iraq that the Bluth company built were housing a group of Saddam doubles. Though one on of them may be the real Saddam and a double was killed in his place.
- Chris Ryan's Strike Back. An assassination attempt on Robert Mugabe fails because of this. Turns out the whole thing had been sent up to discredit British Intelligence, which meant the body double had been set up to be killed.
- In Legend of the Seeker, back when Darken Rahl was in charge, one of his officers found a beggar who looked remarkably similar to him and brought him to Lord Rahl with this trope in mind. Rahl almost had the beggar (and the officer) executed, claiming that the guy looks nothing like him (despite being played by the same actor). The officer has the beggar physically altered (painfully) to look just like Rahl and provide voice coaching to have him sound like the Lord of D'Hara. After Rahl's death, the beggar and the officer (who have become friends) escape and engage in cons involving the beggar pretending to be Rahl. As it turns out, Rahl had a backup plan to have his spirit be brought back into the beggar's body. This works, although the beggar's spirit is put in another man's body, much to the beggar's delight (he hated having Rahl's face).
- CSI: Miami used this twice.
- In "Triple Threat," a wealthy real-estate developer is killed during a party with his wife (Leslie Bipp) in attendance. It turns out the developer had hired a body double for protection and that was the man who was murdered. The ironic part is that his wife was behind it with her triplet sisters, each taking turns pretending to be just one woman to sucker the guy in and unaware that he was still alive until the end.
- In "Show Stopper," a singer (Lucy Hale) burst into flames during a concert and is declared dead. It turns out the real singer had quit the business and this was one of her dancers in disguise to keep the tour going. The team then has to track down the missing real singer.
- Supernatural. In the finale of Season 7, Dick Roman knows the Winchesters are coming to kill him, so has his fellow shapeshifting Leviathans create copies of him so they won't know which one to kill.
- Punky Brewster is sent back to Fenster Hall orphanage after Henry (her foster dad) collapses following the burning down of his photography studio (multi-part story arc "Changes"). Margaux dresses up as Punky and Punky as Margaux so she can visit Henry at the hospital.
- Imogen Heap's song "Bad Body Double" plays with this. The singer talks of a woman who looks a lot like her, although she's "...got some greys, a little extra weight on the side, and dimply thighs..." And once the lookalike finds this out, she starts stalking her, trying to look more like her. There's also the interpretation that the body double is really the personification of her insecurities about herself.
- The Real Hussein, a parody of Eminems "The Real Slim Shady" highlights Saddam Hussein's use of these.
Saddam: And there's a million of us just like me, who dress like me, walk, talk, oppress like me, mustache like me, a big piece of trash like me, and just might be a piece of sh*t, but not quite me!
Role Playing Games
- In Survival of the Fittest, Ken Lawson was Burton Harris' body double — and ended up being put into V2 for his pains. Burton, of course, then managed to land himself in V3 too. Both ended up getting killed.
- Warhammer 40,000: The Dark Eldar Archon Vhane Kyharc takes this Up to Eleven- every Trueborn member of his Kabal has been surgically altered to look exactly like him, and the lower orders wear masks of his face. In theory, this is to prevent assassinations (always a good idea with Dark Eldar), but the truth is, the aptly-named Vhane really is that much of a narcissist (he once bombarded an entire planet with a virus that gave every living thing his face).
- The Alpha Legion of Chaos Space Marines does the same thing also exaggerating it so that each Legionnaire is the leader, the Primarch Alpharius, partly for this trope, but more to confuse opponents to who the leader is. Despite being supersolders, the Alpha Legion prefers to work as operatives and covert agents, and when they do go to battle their combat doctrine relies on a heavily decentralized command structure in combat so that each element is effectively running itself. Their greatest weapons are secrecy and deception. Lastly, the actual Alpharius had been known to pose as one of his soldiers and have them take his place. To even greater confuse the matter, Alpharius had a twin named Omegon, something unique amongst the Primarchs, and something nobody outside of the Alpha Legion knew.
- The titular king in Henry IV, Part 1 has a number of doubles during the climactic battle.
- In the Video Game//Metal Gear series, this happens several times.
- In the first Metal Gear Solid, Decoy Octopus takes on the appearance of several different people, and has to be psychologically evaluated after each one to return to his core personality. In the Fan Comic The Last Days Of FOXHOUND, set prior to the game, Revolver Ocelot expresses disappointment at Decoy Octopus' decision to stop impersonating him, because it meant that there was no longer a 50/50 chance that someone out to get him would kill Octopus instead.
- In an early version of the Metal Gear Solid 2 story, the events of the Plant Chapter were supposed to take place while Solidus Snake was still in office as the U.S. President. The events would've kicked off with the assassination of Solidus Snake's body double, allowing him to fake his death.
- In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain this is the endgame twist. The player character in The Phantom Pain is not Naked Snake who was the protagonist in the previous prequels (including Ground Zeroes), but rather an MSF Medic (the same one who extracted the bomb from Paz in the closing sequence of Ground Zeroes) who become his double. While Naked Snake builds up the nation of Outer Heaven off-screen, Venom lead the Diamond Dogs in order to build up his legend in your own way, in addition to seeking retribution the events of Ground Zeroes. By the end, Naked Snake acknowledges that Venom is just as worthy of the title as he is, and it turns out that Venom did become the Big Boss of the original Metal Gear, whereas Naked Snake is the Big Boss in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
- After the first chapter of Rondo of Swords, the player learns that the main character, Prince Serdic, is in fact a double of the actual Prince Serdic.
- There are two cases of this in Fire Emblem. First is Samto from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, body double of Navarre, second is Shanam from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (cameo) and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (made playable), body double of Prince Shanan. The difference is that Shanan specifically asked Shanam to be one; Samto is just an average mercenary who kept getting mistaken for the legendary Navarre and eventually decided to roll with it to get hired.
- The playable version of King Lion in Savage Reign and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum is actually a body double (referred to as a "shadow") of the real King Lion.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops' first level has the player unknowingly assassinating Fidel Castro's body double.
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Hades has a body double whom he uses to host a meeting with several KVA supporters/officials. The team sent in to assassinate him don't figure this out until after the imposter has been shot, and right before a bomb goes off in the room they're in.
- Used for Sakaki Joushiro's backstory in the Samurai Shodown games (more exactly, Warrior's Rage). With a twist, though! The body double was not him but his girlfriend Karen, an Action Girl who posed as a princess's double... but was killed by the Big Bad Oboro. Joushiro got wrongfully blamed for all of it and now he's a runaway.
- Tokugawa Ieyasu uses multiple body doubles while on the run in Samurai Warriors during the Battle Of Mikatagahara as five of his retainers pretended to be Ieyasu so he can escape. Often a Tear Jerker scene as he was against such an idea and swore to unite Japan so sacrifices like these will never have to be made ever again.
- Suikoden V has Roy serve as this for the Prince after he loses their duel. It comes into play several times, with one of Roy's most awesome moments coming only if the player really screws up. While Roy bears an uncanny resemblance to the Prince in both face and body type (so long has he wears a good wig to conceal their different hair color), and can even convincingly copy the Prince's unique fighting style, but his Large Ham tendencies are a distinct flaw.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, a small rebel faction's Zany Scheme to capture President Vinzer Deling alive succeeds...only for him to turn out to be an undead body double who TaLKs liKE TorGO.
- Subverted and played for laughs in Bangai-O, with one boss character. A few levels after Gai is defeated, Riki and Mami encounter a doppelganger of him that was raised to fill in as the Cosmo Gang's substitute leader, to the point that no one remembers who he is anymore. Said "doppelganger" happens to be a furry, green creature that sports a hairstyle vaguely resembling Gai's, glowing eyes, and a cigar. Naturally, Riki isn't fooled.
- The Deception series love having the villains sent these into your dungeon before themselves.
- In Final Fantasy VI, the wandering gambler Setzer sends a calling card to the Opera House, professing his intention to kidnap the opera singer Maria. The party needs to get on his airship to make their way to the Imperial continent, so they have Celes (who, strangely enough, looks a bit like Maria) act as a decoy and sing her part in the opera that night. She manages to fool Setzer until after he kidnaps her.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, the Body Double of the President of Zheng Fa, conspiring with Blaise Debeste, Patricia Roland, and Sirhan Dogen, kills the true president and takes his place. The truth is not discovered until after the double himself is murdered, twelve years later.
- In the first Assassins Creed, Robert de Sable has Maria Thorpe impersonate him at a funeral after he (correctly) guesses that he's on the Assassin's hit list. Additionally, had he not done that Desmond would have never existed, as Altair and Maria end up marrying and conceiving Desmond's ancestor.
- In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, the "Doppleganger" character is a body-double for Jack. His real name is Timothy Lawrence, who took the job out of desperation because of his crushing student debt, and was surgically altered to look and sound like Jack (with implications that they also implanted a bomb in him that would explode if he ever tried to get the surgery reversed). However, he is very much his own person, and while he is required by law to act and talk like Jack (and even has a contractual clause that forbids him from using his real name), he proves to be far more morally sound compared to the real Jack, especially after he jumps off the slippery slope halfway through the game.
- In Borderlands 2, the player is required to kill a body double of Jack in order to snatch a piece of Jack's DNA for a disguise. Unlike the above however, this one is just a regular Engineer mook using a holographic disguise, and doesn't sound at all like the real Jack.
- In Jeanne d'Arc, Jeanne's childhood friend Lianne is forced to do this for Jeanne after she disappears and is believed to be dead. Ultimately, Liane is the one who is burned at the stake, much to Jeanne's horror.
- Last Alert: Chairman Steve uses one to speak for him at a corporate banquet. It doesn't really matter much since Guy Kazama blows up the double in the same cutscene he's introduced.
- Far Cry 4: Pagan Min has one named Eric, who apparently isn't even really (half) Asian; just a white Australian guy with hair loss, high cheekbones and a lot of plastic surgery. Pagan mostly uses him to pose as him for portraits and statues in his stead, probably out of sheer laziness. Ajay only finds out after he's killed Eric, at which point the real Pagan calls him up to taunt him.
- In Reflections on the River, depending on what route is taken, it may be revealed that the real Princess Yanyu is perpetually ill, and that the protagonist has actually just kidnapped a body double named Huineng. By that stage, Huineng is actually getting depressed about being considered so expendable. In one of the endings, however, the real Yanyu dies, and the king and queen have to beg Huineng to assume the role permanently.
- In Dishonored 2, Duke Luca Abele has a body double living within his personal estate. If you can find him he'll agree to replace the duke by taking his medallion and have the real one arrested, telling the guards that his "body double" went mad and believes he's the real thing. Luckily, he proves to be a far better ruler than the real thing.
- In The Elder Scrolls series' backstory, the more "heretical" tales of Tiber Septim's life state that he was served by a powerful Mysterious Backer known only as the Underking, believed to have possibly been the ancient Nordic king and Shezarrine, Wulfharth Ash-King. In addition to protecting Septim (then known as the Breton Hjalti Early-Beard) in the form of a great storm, the Underking is also believed to have been able to impersonate Hjalti, allowing them to conquer and govern in two places at once.
- In Drowtales, it's revealed in chapter 30 that the "Val'Sharess Diva'ratrika" seen in a parade is actually a double. Slightly different than most examples in that the double isn't there to protect Diva — it's to hide the fact that she's been dead for 16 years, and it was her own daughters that did it. Needless to say, the real Diva, who in fact is Not Quite Dead and took over the body of her servant, is pretty shocked to hear that "she's" holding a parade. After a 15 year timeskip both the Sarghress and Vloz'ress clans put a large amount of effort into assassinating the various doubles that have been brought out since in an attempt to publicly expose the deception, with Kiel'ndia Vloz'ress succeeding in killing one and having it publicly announced, in a chapter appropriately titled "End of Charades".
- The Order of the Stick has several for Xykon one of whose head Belkar uses as a weapon for a short time. This is also something of a subversion, as the doubles look like Xykon simply because they're all skeletons.
- Charby the Vampirate: The prince of Eldenlon has a body double that has made no attempts to recreate some of his very noticeable injuries which he picked up in the same incident that killed his previous body double.
- In Sluggy Freelance, when Torg or Riff want to get out of something, they have robot doubles which Bun-Bun and Kiki (due to their small size) can operate from the inside to impersonate the real Riff and Torg. Bun-Bun also has Mr. Sock-Lop, a sock puppet that looks just like him, which he brings out whenever he wants to avoid Kiki's overenthusiastic hugs.
- In Bruno the Bandit Queen Xantippa once used a double to get out of attending a party celebrating her engagement to Bruno.
- In Worm one of Bonesaw's tactics when being cornered is to capture civilians and modify them to look like the Slaughterhouse 9; the 9 can then use the confusion to attack or retreat. Even after the 9 leave Brockton Bay several surviving body doubles have to completely cover themselves to avoid being attacked.
- In All Hail King Julien, Julien decides to hire a body double to handle a potentially risky dangerous meeting with the crocodile kingdom, but due to the body double's low-self esteem from constantly being mistaken for Julien, he tries to take Julien's place instead.
- On American Dad!, Stan Smith has a body double issued by the CIA. It gets Squicky when the body double starts dating Stan's daughter Hayley.
- In The Simpsons, Rainer Wolfcastle has one that looks 100% like him but with a different voice and without the accent.
- On another occasion, Homer was a licensed lookalike for Krusty (similar to Bozo's licensees) and unknowingly became mistaken for him when the latter was being targeted by the mob.note .
- In some incarnations of Transformers, Megatron has one named Megaplex.
- Batman: The Animated Series: In "The Laughing Fish", Batman disguises himself as one of the Joker's targets and has the actual target wear a spare Batsuit. It doesn't work; the Joker sends in the target's cat, who recognizes its human and delivers a dose of Joker venom.
- Kim Possible: In "Attack of the Killer Bebes", Ron uses his "Movie Magic Kit" to impersonate Kim's dad so that the Bebes kidnap him instead.
- To protect Timmy from the Eliminators in The Fairly OddParents! movie Wishology, Jorgen transforms himself into Timmy and lets them capture him so the real Timmy can escape because, since Timmy's The Chosen One, only he can defeat the Darkness.
- Punky Brewster dresses up as Margaux Kramer for a party at a rich kid's mansion after Glomer's facial formula turns Margaux's face into a glomley face (episode "Pretty Ugly").
- North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il is strongly speculated to have had a double. One journalist went so far as to suggest that the real Kim died in 2003. Though now that he is actually/officially dead, we will likely never find out.
- Similarly, after Boris Yeltsin left politics there were some theories about how he actually drank himself to death in 1999 and the Yeltsin that lived until 2006 was a body double.
- Allegedly, Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary aka Sissi often asked one of her hairstylists, a German lady who bore quite the resemblance to her and had similar Rapunzel Hair, to replace her in several official acts.
- The whole Paul is dead theory thrives on this.
- Adolf Hitler is said to have had a variety of doubles, particularly on big speeches and propaganda marches. While not 100% certain, it would explain why over 40 assassination attempts failed on him.
- Believed in some cultures to be the purpose of bridesmaids, who are dressed similarly to the bride in order to disguise the actual bride from potential kidnappers (or demons, depending on the interpretation.)
- It was speculated that Sister Lucia dos Santos, the only Fatima Visionary who lived until adulthood, was replaced by one of these in The '60s so she would neither keep the famous Third Secret of Fatima locked away, nor lie about it.
- Republican candidate is convinced his opponent is dead and using a body double as a stand-in.
- M.E. Clifton James and Keith "Tex" Banwell both were this to Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery.
- A rare non-human example was pulled off by Seabiscuit's handlers. His trainer Tom Smith, notorious for being a Troll to the press, purchased Seabiscuit's otherwise identical half-brother Grog (both foaled from the same sire, Hard Tack) and on multiple occasions brought out Grog when he knew the press would be hanging around to report on and photograph training sessions. On the few occasions Smith would uncharacteristically allow the press to sit on the back of the horse for bragging rights, it was usually Grog they sat on instead. And once they started to catch on, Smith would occasionally use the real Seabiscuit just to keep them guessing. To this day, there are some photos where no one's entirely certain if the depicted horse was really Seabiscuit or if it was actually Grog, and Smith took the truth to his grave. Besides trolling the press, Grog was also used in the more traditional way of confusing potential assailants since due to the high stakes of the races he participated in several rivals attempted to sabotage or injure Seabiscuit.
- Also as recounted in Laura Hillenbrand's book this was pulled off by another team during a race. A horse called Stagehand was entered into a race alongside his brother Sceneshifter, who was identical to him in appearance, and Seabiscuit's jockey George Woolf was told that Stagehand's jockey would be wearing a white color cap to differentiate the two horses. During the race he carefully followed the white-capped jockey's horse and eventually used their burst of speed to move to the front, only to realize too late that the rival team's jockeys had switched their caps prior to the race and the real Stagehand had been waiting in the wings behind both of them and burst past them for the win.