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Anime & Manga
- Zero from Code Geass ends up sort of like this towards the end. CC once dresses up as Zero so Lelouch may escape the army, and at the end of the series Lelouch wants himself to be killed as his emperor self, so Suzaku dresses as Zero and kills him in public. Also utilized early in the second season. When the Britannians wonder if this "new" Zero is the original, Lelouch gets them to say that anyone who wears the mask and carries the ideals IS Zero. Then when they announce his exile from Japan, one million Japanese don Zero costumes, and the Britannians are forced to let all of them go or risk a massacre.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; the nature of a Stand Alone Complex permits like-minded individuals to independently function as an autonomous collective (each individual essentially mimics the rest of the collective, leaving it without a real leader), as was the case with the Laughing Mannote and the Individual Eleven.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's has the masked Mysterious Protector, who is revealed to be the Lieze sisters using a disguise spell.
- In Bakuman。, the Ashirogi Muto moniker is shared between Mashiro and Akito; in this case, the idea is to avoid comments from envious people at their school like it happened late in junior high.
- Subverted with Pain from Naruto, who is actually one man called Nagato who controls six bodies at the same time.
- Future Diary has a Battle Couple who are together known as the ''7th Diary Owner".
- In Daily Lives of High School Boys, it turns out the famed Bully Hunter "Rubber Shooter" is a collective identity that belonged to a group of kids who would go around saving other kids in trouble.
- In Sword Art Online Death Gun is actually three different players working in collaboration, with one playing the in-game character while the other two carry out the real-world murders.
- Gamma eventually reveals that Lily Cure was not a singular Magical Girl but a two-girl team, except one of them had Ret Gone herself in order to prevent the other from dying at the end of their tenure.
- The Marvel Comics character The Scourge of the Underworld was an entire conspiracy collectively posing as a single vigilante killer.
- Scrier, a player in the Spider-Man Clone Saga turns out to be played by an entire mystical cult.
- The Shadow first takes on the identity of Lamont Cranston when he is out of the country, but when the real Lamont turns up, he and the Shadow both use his identity, allowing the Shadow to be seen in one place and Lamont in another.
- The DCU:
- Trident, an opponent of the New Teen Titans, was actually three separate individuals masquerading as a single villain.
- Similarly, the Crimson Fox of Justice League Europe was actually a pair of twin sisters sharing both a single heroic and civilian identity (after having faked the death of one sister).
- In The Killing Joke, the costumed villain Red Hood is actually just a mask which the members of a robbery gang take turns wearing, the better to confuse the police. (At least, if the flashback scenes are to be believed.)
- Ladyhawke, ally of Spider-Girl, is actually a pair of twins masquerading as an indefatigable superheroine who seems to be in two places at once.
- In Tangent Comics, a DC alternate world series, the Joker was three different people. You don't learn this until her second appearance; in her first, it was implied that the reverse was true, that the Joker is one woman with three civilian identities.
- Eric the Red, from X-Men, is actually several characters under an alias: Cyclops the first time, an undercover Shi'ar agent named Davan Shakari the second, and Magneto the third (when it's him, he's called Erik the Red, as in Erik Magnus Lehnsherr). It's never explained why Shakari chose to use Cyclops' old alias, since there was no connection between them.
- An unusual variant is found in Marvel's Team America, in which the team would often be saved by the mysterious Black Rider, whose identity and origin were entirely unknown. Eventually, the truth was discovered in an early New Mutants story arc, to the team's considerable shock: The Black Rider was no-one, and anyone. Team America was a projecting gestalt, able to project all of their combined abilities onto a bystander (the act of doing so somehow created the Black Rider's costume and possibly motorcycle).
- Batman foes Tweedledee and Tweedledum once got elected mayor of a small town by pretending to be one hyper-efficient candidate.
- In the beginning of his 2015 relaunch, Deadpool had a group of mercenaries impersonate him to extend his reach across the globe. Some of them looked almost identical to Deadpool, while others had a completely different physique to him. This was later somewhat averted when Deadpool had his impersonators wear color-coded uniforms to help differentiate them from yet another impostor, one who wasn't in cahoots with Deadpool and was threatening his friends and reputation.
- In the same vein as Deadpool, Spider-Man and Captain America are both working this shift post-Avengers Standoff. While Peter Parker and Miles Morales were always working together prior to the events, Standoff will have Steve Rogers return to his title as Captain America and allow Sam Wilson to continue to operate as Cap as well. Downplayed in that none of them are pretending to be each other, they're just sharing the codename and the ideals it represents (which Clint Barton and Kate Bishop have been doing for years now).
- An early Black Orchid story, in the days before her origin and secret identity had been established, seemed to reveal that "Black Orchid" was actually a team of around half a dozen women who took turns in the suit when their respective skills were called for. It turned out that these women were actually a collective Costume Copycat, and they were defeated in the end by the real Black Orchid.
- A Growing Affection has a variation on the Twin Switch, triplets who pretend to be twins, but freely switch as to which triplet is pretending to be which twin.
- In "Christmas in Kansas", part of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts series, Clark Kent mentions having written an article about a thinktank who have come to "the completely plausible, unassailable conclusion" that Batman is really five people collaborating.
Film — Live-Action
- Hot Fuzz: Turns out the local version of Neighbourhood Watch did it.
- In the Richard Pryor film, Moving, his twin sons pretend to be the same child at school.
- The big twist in The Prestige is that Alfred Borden and his "assistant" are actually twin brothers who take turns being the public face of Alfred Borden.
- The Ghostface killer in the Scream series was more than one person.
- In Bimbos of the Death Sun, after the police declare the mysterious Chip Livingstone to be the prime suspect in the murder of Appin Dunganon, several people (including some of the convention staff) reveal that Chip is a Collective Identity because they don't want to obstruct the investigation.
- Discworld: The Opera Ghost in Maskerade is two people. ("You recognize him because he's wearing a mask? Think about what you're saying!") There was no agreement involved, however - the villain of the book co-opts the "Ghost" persona, planning to let the original Ghost take the fall for his crimes.
- In the Illuminatus! trilogy, John Dillinger was actually a set of identical quintuplets, explaining how he could pull of his legendary bank robberies and escapes.
- The titular outlaw in Jackaroo by Cynthia Voight is an identity used by multiple characters. Some of them actually try to live up to the Robin Hood-esque legends about the character; others... not so much.
- In Ben Bova's novel The Multiple Man the President of the United States is actually a set of seven cloned siblings. Each of the clones is a specialist in one area of the job; the one who specialized in the "making friends and winning elections" part is the one most often seen in public.
- In The Shadow Campaigns, this is the true nature of the Steel Ghost. An enigmatic Desoltai chieftain who always wears a trademark metal mask and dark robes, he's considered to be one of the greatest military minds in the world. In actuality, "he" is a fabrication; lots of Desoltai leaders have copies of the Ghost's outfit and therefore "he" can always be made to appear to take credit for any victory while avoiding being tied to any defeats, and "his" uncanny knowledge is actually the result of the Desoltai tribes communicating with each other using specialized lanterns that can shine for miles across the desert. As Janus points out, this is the sort of trickery one should expect when dealing with a man whose sole identifying feature is something that hides his identity.
- In some of the novels, Bernardo also wears the Zorro costume in order to distract and mislead pursuers. Bernardo Has also been known to play the part of Zorro to divert suspicion from Diego while he has an alibi (Such as being imprisoned or questioned on suspicion of being Zorro). Zorro's friend and sometimes love interest/accomplice Lolita Pulido has also donned the mask.
- In Isabel Allende's novel, Zorro starts as Diego's Secret Identity, but ends up as the Collective Identity of him, Bernardo (that Diego trained in swordmanship when he realized that Bernardo would not be deterred from doing this) and Isabela de Romeu (who butted in when Diego was arrested under suspicion of being Zorro while the Big Bad kept Bernardo under surveillance. Diego was unable to convince her to desist, and she would become Zorro from time to time).
- "Alfie" the highwayman in Below was invented by Harry to make it harder for authorities or bounty hunters to track him and his men down. Different men play the part of Alfie at different times, with different features and sometimes even letting slip a glimpse of false tattoos or scars. (Harry's missing eye, however, is always kept concealed.) The others all use false names that frequently change. As a result, Alfie is a Living Legend with no consistent description.
- Usually, the Hood on Arrow is Oliver, but on occasion it's Dig (when Oliver needs to interact with him or be obviously not in the same place as him).
- The four brothers in Himitsu No Hanazono work together as the mangaka Yuriko Hanazono.
- In Human Target, it turns out that Chance's name isn't Chance: the identity of Christopher Chance has been handed down for years.
- Seen in one episode of Jonathan Creek where the mention of a character being "not Superman" leads Creek to realise that there are two men with one identity, the logical inverse of Superman's identity tactic.
- In Pretty Little Liars, the mysterious villain "A" is actually a large group of people. To date, only one member of this group has been definitively identified and she has since made a Heel–Face Turn. However, two main characters also used the identity while briefly acting as double agents and to top it all off, there is pretty strong fan theorizing that a second group is using the identity to oppose the first group. It's a confusing series.
- By the middle of season six, things are a bit clearer. There seems to have been one definitive "A" replacing the original, while another villain was killed whilst using the "A" identity. "Red Coat", who was assumed to be "A", turned out to be someone else entirely, except then "A" did start using the Red Coat identity, sharing it with one of her allies, with at least some agreement from the original Red Coat. Then the new "A", after apparently being cured, gets killed by, er, "A"?
- The brief TV Series Zorro And Son is actually about an older Don Diego training his son, Don Carlos, to take his place.
- The Bella twins started in the WWE as just Brie Bella, who would be losing a match, then duck under the ring where her twin sister Nicole would be waiting to beat down the heel and take the victory as Brie. Strangely enough (or maybe not because...it's Professional Wrestling) they were treated as a Face not a Heel even though they were obviously cheating. Once they were "outed" as being really two people they became Tag Team Twins.
- Forgotten Realms being a Gambit Pileup setting, it's no wonder there were such cases as team Xulla.
- Given the presence of Clone spells and the like, it is possible to have multiple people who are the same person with one identity in D&D.
- In Warhammer 40,000, many members of the Alpha Legion use the name of their Primarch, Alpharius, instead of their own. Some of them even undergo surgery and psychological indoctrination to more closely resemble him. Additionally, thanks to their gene-seed, some of them don't even need to!
- In the Horus Heresy novel Legion Alpharius was revealed to be one Primarch in twin bodies. His twin's name is Omegon.
- To confuse matters even further, it's vague as to whether Roboute Guilliman actually did kill Alpharius, or if he just killed Omegon or even some random Alpha Legionnaire posing as Alpharius.
- El Vago, the people's hero of Castille in 7th Sea, is actually an organisation with various members donning the white mask as needed - which has had the interesting side-effect of inspiring people who aren't part of the organisation to take up the mask themselves in Castille's defence.
- In Aviary Attorney the famed Viridian Killer of the 1830 revolution is speculated by a private investigator to have been more than one person, since sightings don't quite match up otherwise. The brothers Romulus and Remus, to be precise.
- The Gray Fox in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is thought to be immortal, but in fact is a succession of master thieves wearing the same magical mask. Much like many other titles in the Elder Scrolls series, if you complete the Thieves' Guild quest line, you can take the cowl for yourself, becoming the Gray Fox.
- Her Story: The "woman" are twins, with one of them being snatched by the barren midwife and raised as her own. One being interviewed reveals how she was forced to adopt her sister's identity after the midwife died so she could go to school.
- In Mass Effect, this is Barla Von's opinion of the mysterious Shadow Broker, the most powerful Knowledge Broker in the entire galaxy - he feels that it's simply impossible for one person to run such an operation. Mass Effect 2, however, reveals that it is just one (super-intelligent) guy, who's been running the show since he killed the original Broker 60 years ago. And is, in turn, killed and replaced by Liara. As there's no way of knowing if the "original" Broker really was the first, one could argue Barla Von was right all along.
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has Big Boss himself. In a tape left to his body double "Venom Snake", he mentions that he considers them both to be "Big Boss", and that they have built their legend together.
- The Black Raven from Professor Layton and the Last Specter is actually all the children of the marketplace.
- In the Nancy Drew game Warnings at Waverly Academy, twin sisters share an identity so they can both attend the exclusive school which only one of them could actually register for.
- In one of the three Special Episodes of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky Sunflora must go on a mission to capture an outlaw, a Haunter who is said to be invincible. She eventually discovers that there are actually three Haunter, and when one of them is knocked out, another replaces him while the other takes the fainted one to safety. With the help of Loudred, Sunflora manages to have all three of them arrested.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations the three legs of the vigilante thief Yatagarasu turned out to represent three different people. Calisto Yew, a defense attorney, scoped out targeted buildings. Byrne Faraday, a prosecutor, infiltrated the targeted buildings in order to steal incriminating evidence of illegal activities. Detective Tyrell Badd covered up Yatagarasu's activities by being "assigned" to investigate him. In the end though, Calisto was The Mole, working for the criminal syndicate that the latter two wanted to bring down. At the end of the game Kay speculates on finding two other young beauties to be her partners, since previously she'd taken on the name of Second Yatagarasu on her own.
- Umineko: When They Cry:
- Beatrice and especially Clair have a lot of this going on ("Oh, I am one yet many"). Some of it is Legacy Character-based. Other aspects are less so. By the end of the game, there have been at least twelve or so different characters who could lay claim to being Beatrice (and Clair by extension) in some way.
- A less complicated example is "Tooya Hachijō", the author of Episode 3 to 6: they are a woman (Ikuko Hachijō) and a man (Battler, renamed Tooya after he lost his memories).
- In the world of A Modest Destiny the superhero Crimson Blade is actually an identity that's shared by several hundred people. This discovery terrifies the vampire Lord Fluffy.
- Batman: The Animated Series:
Two-Face: The way I figure it, Gordon's got a bunch of them stashed someplace, like a SWAT team. He wants you think it's one guy, but...Joker: Oh, you're always seeing double.
- In the spin-off movie Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, the title character is actually three different people.
- During "Almost Got 'Im", the villains swap their ideas about who Batman really is while playing poker. This is Two-Face's suggestion.
- In an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, Tortoise Beats Hare, Bugs is wondering how it could be possible for the Tortoise to beat the Hare in Aesop's fables. As The Other Wiki puts it, 'Bugs is left wondering if he's been tricked; then all ten turtles approach and reply, "Hmmm...eh, it's a possibility!"'
- In the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command episode "Shiv Katall", Emperor Zurg calls upon the titular hitman to track down agents who've gone rogue. Turns out Shiv is a role shared between Buzz and Commander Nebula to help defectors start new lives.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In "The Mysterious Mare Do-Well", the eponymous mare is in fact actually four different mares. Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and (briefly) Fluttershy. Twilight Sparkle provides her magic, Fluttershy flight, Pinkie her prophetic Pinkie Sense and Applejack her massive strength to create the impression Mare Do-Well is a super-strong, future-predicting Winged Unicorn (a fashionable one, since although Rarity never masqueraded as the Mare she did make the outfit).
- And in "Ponyville Confidential", Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle work for the school's newspaper as its gossip columnist, "Gabby Gums".
- Tex Avery, director of the above, used the same gag for the Droopy cartoon Northwest Hounded Police. And in the first Screwy Squirrel short, it is revealed at the end that there were two Screwys (and two dogs as well).
- Star Wars Rebels: As revealed in "The Antilles Extraction", the Rebel informant(s) Fulcrum is this. The one in season 1, Ahsoka Tano, was the original, and came up with the identity. By the time of the show, there are an unknown number of agents operating under the codename. Season 3's Fulcrum II turns out to be Agent Kallus. Supplementary material reveals that Rogue One's Cassian Andor also worked as a Fulcrum.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Fool on the Ed", the cul-de-sac is apparently being terrorized by a "prank master" that is playing elaborate jokes on the kids, causing the Eds to become paranoid over being his next victims. It turns out there was no prank master; the other kids pretended to be pranked to mess with their heads.
- The Simpsons: In "The Book Job", it's revealed that the Angelica Button books, like all teen lit novels apparently, were written by a team of ghostwriters using a fake name and that the "author" is an actor hired by the publishers. This gives Homer the idea to put together his own team (comprised of himself, Bart, Patty, Principal Skinner, Moe, Professor Frink and Neil Gaiman) to write a novel and eventually make Lisa the "author".
- Andy Kaufman's lounge singer alter-ego, Tony Clifton, was often played by friend Bob Zmuda or Andy's brother if Andy and Tony had to appear together at the same time (like their Rolling Stone cover). Bob Zmuda still makes appearances as Tony.
- The respective authors of The Hardy Boys (Franklin W. Dixon) and Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene) are not a single person. The series are "ghostwritten," with different authors using the same House Pseudonym.
- Fujiko Fujio, the manga artist responsible of Doraemon and similar works, is actually two people: Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motō Abiko. When the collaboration broke up in 1987, each artist continues to use the Fujiko Fujio moniker, but adds an identifier to avoid confusion — Fujiko F. Fujio (Fujimoto), and Fujiko Fujio (A) (Abiko).
- Sci-Fi author Jack McKinney, most well-known for the Novelizations of Robotech, was a pen name for the team of James Luceno and Brian Daley. (After Daley's death, Luceno wrote a few novels solo as McKinney.)
- They call themselves Anonymous. They are hackers on steroids, treating the web like a real-life video game. Sacking websites, invading MySpace accounts, protecting freedoms or disrupting innocent lives depending on your viewpoint and if you fuck with one, you fuck with all of them
- Nicolas Bourbaki, the greatest French mathematician who never existed.
- Occasionally, the inker for a comic will be listed as M. Hands or a variant. This is a shorthand for "Many Hands", used when multiple inkers are required for a rush-job and none of them want the credit.
- Red Dwarf is the work of Grant Naylor - that is, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.
- The dance crew Jabbawockeez wear iconic white masks, hoodies, and all-encompassing uniform outfits to avoid one dancer standing out from the rest of the crew. The intended result is a faceless collective, allowing audiences to appreciate the performances as a whole.
- Mangas made by "Akira Himekawa" are actually made by two women whose real names are unknown.
- CLAMP is a group of four women who write manga together. Unlike most examples there has never really been an attempt to hide this, with most manga containing chibi depictions of the authors on the back covers.
- Nico Tanigawa, the author of the manga No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, is a pen name for a writer and artist team.
- The mystery writers Fred Dannay and Manfred Lee had two collective identities: Barnaby Ross and Ellery Queen. For extra amusement, they pretended the two were rivals.
- Roderick Jaynes is credited as an editor on all of The Coen Brothers' films, and Joel and Ethan like to keep up the Running Gag of talking about him like he's a real person despite it really being a fake name to get around guild restrictions on shared editing credit.
- In Dungeons & Dragons novels, Richard Awlinson, the author of the Forgotten Realms series The Avatar Trilogy, and T. H. Lain, the author of the novels featuring the 3rd edition iconics, were both collective identities. The reasoning behind this was apparently to ensure the series would be shelved together in bookshops.
- Erin Hunter, author of the Warrior Cats, Seekers, and Survivors series, is a collective pen name for six different women: Vicky Holmes, Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui Sutherland, Gillian Philip, and Inbali Iserles.
- James S. A. Corey, author of The Expanse is actually two people, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.
- Eando Binder was the pen name of two brothers, Earl and Otto Binder.
- Sports mascots in full body-suits are often portrayed by multiple performers, often fans of long standing who volunteer for the honor.
- Macy's department store has a huge crowd of children wanting to see Santa every year. They have a complex network of branching paths which allows them to have several Santas working at once without any children ever seeing more than one of them.
- Disney parks' Meet-The-Princess events actually make use of several actresses at once, bringing each party of guests to meet "the" Disney Princess in question in separate, identically-themed audience chambers. If they didn't, the waiting lines would be a lot longer and the actresses' much-needed breaks couldn't be arranged as smoothly.
- Jay Ward and Bill Scott, creators of Rocky and Bullwinkle and other cartoons, used the collective name of Ponsonby Britt, O.B.E. in the credits of their shows. This was because ABC wanted an "executive producer" for Rocky and His Friends and the two were already credited as "producers".