Sometimes related to Paper-Thin Disguise
, a plain paper grocery bag is often found to be a simple, yet effective way of concealing one's identity. In many cases, this usually involves a simple bag with a couple of eyeholes cut out, but variations exist. This usually does not occur when a person is planning a disguise, but rather, when a simple one is quickly needed.
This also seems to be commonly used as a mark of shame, whenever something embarrassing or humiliating has occurred, or for characters supposed to be unspeakably ugly. People will usually be able to recognize characters by voice, but it makes things painfully clear that something humiliating has happened.
Compare Newspaper Thin Disguise
Anime And Manga
- Zetsubou-kun (AKA Sad Sack) from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo.
- In Change 123, when Kosukegawa and Fujiko stroll through town, they get confronted by a mysterious man with an improvised bag mask. The close-up of this mask is a must-see.
- In Tenchi Muyo! GXP, Seina and his classmates were forced to wear paper bag masks to cover up the obscene-looking tattoos that appear on their faces.
- In Hayate × Blade, when Hayate and Ayana visit the orphanage (to tell them they don't need to worry about the loan sharks anymore), Hayate insists on wearing shopping bags on their heads, and introduces herself as "Famima-kamen" and Ayana as "Lawson-kamen" (named after the store chains the shopping bags were from, Family Mart and Lawson). This disguise gets seen through right away.
- A variant as they're plastic shopping bags and thus highly uncomfortable (they aren't labeled as a suffocation hazard for nothing). Much to Ayana's chagrin, especially when she goes out in one solo.
- Recently, many characters from Hetalia were given cat versions of themselves. Turkey always wears a plain white mask over his eyes, but a cat can't wear a mask—that would be silly. The feline Turkey wears one of these instead, complete with a drawn-on smiley mouth, in an odd non-disguise example.
- In A Certain Magical Index, during the Agitate Halation Arc, Touma is treated to the surreal sight of a woman wearing a Playboy Bunny outfit with a paper bag over her head. The narrative refers to her as "Paper Bag Bunny Girl". She tries to kill him on sight with a device that resembles a naginata and sprays water with enough force to slice through metal, but he quickly escapes.
- Cocoa puts one on Sharo's face in episode 7 of Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? when visiting Chiya, because of her fear of rabbits. Interestingly, Anko doesn't chase after Sharo until after she rips off the bag.
- After the Fantastic Four freed Spider-Man from the Venom symbiote, he needed a temporary costume. A spare uniform was easy, but the FF don't wear masks. Johnny provides a grocery bag, and ta-da! Introducing the Amazing Bag-Man! Unfortunately, Peter didn't know that Johnny Storm added a Kick Me Prank sign on his back and after Spider-Man stopped a crime in that outfit, he was surrounded by reporters asking if this was some kind of initiation for superheroes.
- And when he didn't have a real costume handy again, he was forced to go into action as the Bombastic Bag-Man. When you make up a distinctive adjective to describe what is basically your hobo costume, you're pretty much admitting it's going to see some serious usage.
: Bombastic Bag-Man was not my finest moment...
- Vanity Smurf uses one in The Smurfs and The Book That Tells Everything.
- Rat-Man as a young kid in an orphanarium used one to pass unnoticed to the bully who had previously threatened him. Unfortunately, he forgot to remove it during the classes...
- In Knights of the Dinner Table, B.A. sometimes forces his players to wear paper bag masks if he's worried that their facial expressions will give away information the other players shouldn't know. Brian's head is too large to fit in a paper bag so he has to wear a cardboard box.
- In Marshal Law, superpowered Serial Killer the Sleepman wears a paper bag mask with only one eyehole.
- The titular character of Le Bagman, hilariously violent amateur film, is called just "Bagman" because of this.
- The protagonist in Almost an Angel robs a burger joint of many fish burgers (he wants to feed the hungry, and he's following a bible very literally), wearing their own clown-face burger bag as a mask. Later, a reporter informs people to be on lookout for a man looking exactly like that (even donning a bag herself to demonstrate).
- Naturally, The Elephant Man does this, but with a sheet instead of a paper bag, to cover John Merrick's deformed face.
- The film Baghead. Aside from the title character, all four of the main protagonists wear one at least once.
- In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, as a kid, the Grinch once shaved after an insult by August Maywho. The results were disastrous, and he hid his face in one of these.
- In Friday the 13th Part 2, Jason Voorhees sported a sack with a single eyehole cut out for his first appearance (along with a flannel shirt and overalls). It wasn't until Part 3 that he started wearing the iconic goalie mask he's now known for.
- In the soft-core porn Flash Gordon spoof Flesh Gordon 2: Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders, the Big Bad insists his overweight wife wear a bag on her head during sex. Flesh Gordon enters the room instead and has sex with her, which doesn't bother her in the least, even when she realises who it is.
- Real Life example: the Unknown Comic, who appeared on The Gong Show and Celebrity Bullseye.
- All That's parody of The Wizard of Oz featured the Wizard gives "Dorothy's" companion Mr. McToad a bag to wear on his head. His problem being that his face accidentally scares children and animals, the bag would be a solution.
- Wiseguy: Undercover agent Vinne Terranova is Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee, but his superior Frank McPike insists that he testify behind a screen with his voice electronically altered, as he doesn't want Vinnie to blow his cover. An annoyed Vinnie goes into the bedroom, then reappears wearing a pillow case with eyeholes cut in it. "Is this how you want me to appear? Agent X?"
- On Pretty Little Liars, Aria and Ezra were angsting about how they couldn't ever go out or take a picture together. Aria solves part of this by making two brown paper bag masks with doodle faces on them, and they take a picture.
- On Mad Men, Joan's advice to Peggy on her first day in the office is to go home, put a paper bag over her head, and assess her own body in the mirror in order to decide which features to play up when dressing for work.
- The first time Numberwang is played on That Mitchell and Webb Look, the loser has a paper bag put over her head with the word "NO" written on it.
- Meta-example: When Michael Wisher was preparing to play Davros in the Doctor Who story Genesis of the Daleks, he wore one of these during rehearsals. Not as a disguise, though: he wanted to get himself used to being virtually blind in the Davros mask.
- On an episode of Married... with Children, Al got a job as the school's security guard. When he lost the job due to gross incompetence, Bud wore a paper bag over his head and wrote "I am NOT a Bundy!" on the back.
- On the third-season 2 Broke Girls episode "And the Kickstarter", Caroline uses one to conceal her identity in the video she records for her pitch for new pants on the titular website.
- The titular crazy bastard in the music video for the They Might Be Giants song "Bastard Wants to Hit Me" dons one of these when being snubbed by the narrator pushes him completely over the edge.
- In The Lonely Island video for "I Just Had Sex", one of the characters has one of these foisted on him by his girlfriend before they can get it on. Still counts as sex!
- In 1986, André the Giant was suspended by WWF but continued to appear under a mask as a Japanese wrestler called the Giant Machine. Bobby Heenan had been addressing the issue for weeks and appeared on Piper's Pit claiming to have recently signed two wrestlers from Korea. Two men came out wearing paper bags over their heads and Heenan announced "Isn't this the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen?" just before they removed their Paper Thin Disguises to do The Reveal that they were Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy, two men Heenan managed.
- A similar storyline took place in WCW around the same time. "Wildfire" Billy Rich lost a retirement match and the following week, a masked wrestler named "Mr. R" began appearing. Everyone knew Rich was Mr. R but played along to agitate Rich's heel opponent (at this time, who he was is lost to memory but it might have been Rick Rude), who happened to be the WCW Television champion. After some time, the heel and "Mr. R" battled in a TV title match and the heel unmasked Mr. R, only to reveal Brad Armstrong. Rich came out from backstage to taunt the heel, distracting the heel and allowing Armstrong to get the pin and become the TV champion. The heel tried to claim he "knew" something wasn't right as Armstrong was smaller than Rich.
- As World Championship Wrestling decayed, one spectator was witnessed wearing one of these and holding a sign saying "I'M AT A WCW EVENT."
- TNA's tag team "The Beautiful People", essentially two fully-grown Alpha Bitches, give some people the "paper bag treatment", in which they stuff a paper bag with construction paper hair and make-up decorations over the victim's head.
- Cody Rhodes handed these out at ringside to the front-row fans ("at great personal expense"), as well as placing them over the heads of his defeated opponents. It's a part of his heel gimmick, wherein he's "doing them a favor" by hiding what he perceives as their hideousness from the world. Randy Orton put a bag over Cody's head after defeating him.
- Faust from Guilty Gear wears one as a self-imposed mark of shame. There's a reason he's sometimes called "Dr. Baghead".
- Certain Mooks in No More Heroes wear brown paper bags, mostly just so that they look strange.
- Interestingly enough, used to scary effect on Persona 2 by Joker. Seriously, just look at this guy. Does he LOOK like someone you'd want to mess with?
- The Aristocrats in Rule of Rose wear paper bags on their heads while committing more nefarious deeds, presumably to distance themselves from the act, and this trait is passed on some of the Imps, as well. This is probably one of the creepiest instances of the trope in the near history.
- In The Sims 3, this is the symbol for the "humiliated" moodlet.
- In Team Fortress 2 these are available for all classes as the "Halloween mask."
- In MegaTokyo, Ed goes around with a paper bag on his head for a while after having his face blown off in an explosion, until he gets it surgically replaced.
- Iliad, the cartoonist of User Friendly, always represents himself with a paper bag on his head when he makes a cameo appearance.
- Millie in Ozy and Millie once wore one to hide her teal hair elastic. Ozy questioned her judgment of which was more shameful.
- Wonderella dons one of these in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella to hide from her past self. Her past self notices the chick in the brown bag mask but instead of trying to figure out who's under it, just draws a penis on it.
- Stan, the main character of June, always wears a bag mask. His eyes, nose and mouth are occasionally seen, so what exactly is he hiding?
- In The Fairly OddParents, Chester's father, Bucky McBadbat, wears a bag on his head because of his shame at losing a major league baseball game.
- Notoriously reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon was depicted this way in two episodes of The Simpsons.
- In an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot, Jenny hides under a paper bag when she gets robo-pimples.
- Ugly Bob from Terrence and Philip is forced to wear one, because, he's so damn ugly!
- "How to Eat with Your Butt" has Butters' being forced by his father to wear one because of the "stupid" face he made in his school picture, even though his face is normal (implying that Butters' father thinks his son's face is stupid by default).
- The Movie of The Powerpuff Girls has Mojo Jojo wear a paper bag as a hat when he's "Hobo Jojo" to cover up his mutated brain.
- An episode of the TV series has Bubbles wear a paper bag after Professor Utonium reveals her bed-wetting problem.
- In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, Candace dons a paper bag to hide the skin condition caused by her parsnip allergy (which also gave her the voice of a male blues singer!).
- When Sylvester is beaten by Hippety Hopper (a baby Boxing Kangaroo) yet again, his son (if he's along) wears a paper bag over his head as he feels he cannot show his face in public due to the shame of having a father who gets beaten up by a "mouse".
- In the Veggie Tales episode "Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah's Umbrella", Larry wears one (with a little frown face drawn on it) on the countertop, due to being ashamed after some kids in another booth at Burger Bell laughed at him for praying over his food. After the episode ends, he still has the bag on, but now it's smiling. Bob gets quite a shock when Larry has no idea that there even was an emotion on the bag, and an even bigger one when it changes emotions by itself!
- An earlier instance of this happens in the Larry-Boy spin-off series The Cartoon Adventures of Larry-Boy episode "The Good, the Bad, and the Eggly", where Larry-Boy and Dark Crow wear these (and pajamas) after their original costumes were reduced to over easy eggs.
- In Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius wears a bag over his head after he gets a bad haircut.
- The Futurama episode "The Thief of Baghead" features actor Langdon Cobb, who is considered the finest actor of his time despite never appearing without a paper bag over his head. He claims that it's so his beautiful face would not distract from his acting, but in reality it's to hide the fact that he's from an alien species whose appearance robs the witness of its lifeforce, which Landgon feeds off.
- Played with in Adventure Time when a cow had a a brown bag tied around her udder, which is revealed to have a weird looking face on it.
- In the Ed, Edd n Eddy Valentine's Day special, Ed wears an assortment of paper bag masks throughout the episode, ostensibly to disguise himself from girls (especially the Kanker Sisters).
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Sheriff Stone dons one to conceal his identity after he loses his job in "Dead Justice".
- In the Robot Chicken sketch "Put A M.A.S.K. On It", Matt is a Chubby Chaser looking for the right woman. "Darlene" notes that everyone else has a mask and asks if she gets one as well. Matt assures her she does and then puts a bag over her head.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Just The Two Of Pus" had Sperg wear one over his face to hide his acne because people wouldn't stop screaming when they saw him.
- The U.S. Acres segment "The Monster Who Couldn't Scare Anybody" of Garfield and Friends had a monster wear one over his face because his parents were ashamed of his "ugliness" (he looked like a human child), to make them proud he decided to try and scare people to no avail, when Roy Rooster learns this he sets him up with Wade, but Wade knocks himself out because Roy told him of his arrival before he has a chance to see him, eventually they are attacked by Orson's brothers and the monster takes off the bag in an attempt to scare them and it actually works, it turns out they were afraid of him because he was a dead ringer for a sausage salesman and they know sausage is made from pigs.
- At Mephit Furmeet 5, an attendee concealed his identity in the cheapest fursuit ever—a mouse mask made from a bag and a rope through the belt for a tail. At the end of the conference, the attendee's identity was revealed: none other than Dr. Samuel Conway, AKA Uncle Kage, chairman of Anthrocon.
- Fans of sports teams who are on a particularly painful losing streak will wear brown bags over their heads at games to express dissatisfaction at the way a team is being run to denote shame rather than the desire to conceal one's identity for nefarious purposes. For example, for a period in the 1990s, the New Orleans Saints, a National Football League team, had notoriously lousy teams. Their fans took to calling them the "Aints" and wearing paper bags over their heads. The Detroit Lions have gotten a lot of this since 2002.
- Shia LaBeouf wore such a mask, with "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE" written on it, during the Berlin premiere of Nymphomaniac.