Fake Twin Gambit
This is where a character, for some reason or another, pretends to be their own (nonexistent) identical twin. It could be for disguise, or to see how their friends really think of them. Success rates vary. See also Twin Switch, Backup Twin. Subtrope of Invented Individual.
Examples:Anime and Manga
- Played with in Haruhi Suzumiya. Kyon and Mikuru pretend that Mikuru is "Michiru" - because the "real" Mikuru is still around (blame time travel) and "Michiru" needs to hide from herself.
- Maruko wants to do this by moving a mole in Chibi Maruko-chan.
- In Daredevil, Matt Murdock (Daredevil's secret identity) pretended to be his own non-existent twin brother Mike Murdock to trick his friends into believing that "Mike" was Daredevil, after they began suspecting his identity. This was back in the Silver Age of comics when even Daredevil wasn't a very realistic series.
- In Big Bang Comics, Ultiman is a Captain Ersatz version of Superman. However, Ultiman has worked for the government since gaining powers, and his identity as astronaut Chris Kelly is widely known... which is why he took on another identity as Chris' twin brother Carl, who works with Ultiman's superior Gen. Black and Black's secretary Lori Lake.
- A later issue reveals that there was a real, now deceased, Carl Kelly. Ultiman kept his brother's death a secret and adopted his identity because he was tired of having no private life.
- In the Swedish movie Hajen som visste för mycket (The Shark Who Knew Too Much) Joakim Plottner has spent his entire life pretending to be triplets, who hate each other and refuse to spend any time in each other's company, keeping up a gambit his mother began when he was born. Even his father doesn't know the truth.
- Mercedes Lackey's Born to Run has one mechanic doing this as a practical joke to get back at a pair of elf twin brothers, who he had thought were just one person. To top it off, his fake twin name is Skippy.
- Hercule Poirot creates an imaginary twin brother named "Achille" in The Big Four - a parody of Mycroft Holmes, in fact.
- In Raymond Chandler's essay "The Simple Art of Murder", he gives several examples of excessively contrived puzzles from the British whodunnit tradition, including a novel in which a Fake Twin Gambit is used by the murderer to effectively frame the victim for his own murder (by doing him in while he's being the twin, so that it looks like murdered his twin and then went on the run). The novel in question is The Red House Mystery, by A. A. Milne.
- The Fear Street novel Double Date has a Casanova jock trying to seduce twin sisters. They warn him that their mentally unstable triplet is on the loose and going after him and he realizes she's attacking him. It eventually turns out the triplet never existed, the twins were teaching the jock a lesson on behalf of all the girls he used in the past who are in on the scheme.
- Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan used a variation on this to cover for his "Admiral Naismith" identity, by spreading a rumor that Naismith was his clone. Between that and his real clone-brother Mark, he managed to create the impression for a while that there were three of him running around.
- Sweet Valley High: The Sweet Valley Twins did a fake triplet gambit where they invented a third sister and took turns pretending to be her.
- In 'Allo 'Allo!, after Rene faked his own death, he came back pretending to be his own twin. This received frequent Lampshade Hanging during the series.
- Jane from Coupling:
Jane: I once went on holiday and pretended to be twins. It was amazing fun. I invented this mad, glamorous sister and went around really annoying everybody. And d'you know, I could get away with anything when I was my crazy twin Jane.Sally: But you're Jane.Jane: Kinda stuck. It's a long story.
- The Janitor tries to do this in Scrubs as a prank on JD. JD isn't fooled for a second, causing the Janitor to ramp things up with more and more ridiculously phony "evidence" that he has an identical twin. In a last act of desperation, he claims that his brother is waiting for him at the bottom of the elevator, and when the doors open to reveal nobody he admits, "OK, I don't know what I thought was going to happen." It was perhaps the only time the Janitor failed to get the better of JD.
- Happens in the Tales from the Crypt story "Split Personality". A conman fools a pair of reclusive and wealthy identical twin sisters into falling for him and his invented twin brother so he can collect on their fortune. When he accidentally reveals the ruse via his own carelessness, the sisters are very upset and decide to ensure that each gets her fair share for once — with the help of a chainsaw.
- On Threes Company, Jack told Mr. Furly that he had a twin brother who lived in Texas named Austin. This leads to a hysterical scene later in the episode where he has to pretend to be both of them at the same time around Furly.
- Played with on iCarly: Sam spends an episode trying to convince Freddie that she has a twin sister (who Freddie ends up going on a date with), before finally admitting that it was a trick. And then after Freddie leaves, Sam's sister comes up in the elevator.
- Barney, from How I Met Your Mother, has been mentioned using this trope when trying to trick women into sleeping with him again after having already seduced and abandoned them. The audience has never been shown him actually doing it, but at one point an ex' assaults him while calling him by his fake brother's name, "Blarney"
- The final stage of his "Lorenzo Von Matterhorn" play was to be faking Lorenzo's death and then seducing the woman again as his brother, Julio Von Matterhorn.
- He also pretends to be a Camp Gay hairdresser and when the women he befriends wish that he was straight, he notifies them that he has a straight twin brother that they could go out with.
- In one episode, Lily stymies Barney's effort to seduce the twin of a previous conquest by claiming to have gotten chlamydia from him, then re-entering as her own supposed twin to rebuke him a second time.
- On Good Eats, when Alton's Evil Twin B.A. appears, it's pretty obvious to the audience that B.A. is just Alton in a Darker and Edgier costume, so it's Played for Laughs.
- A variation in Charmed - Paige uses magic to impersonate Glen's fiancee Jessica and goes to marry him in her place. When Leo shows up with the real Jessica, he tells the confused priest that they're twins.
- In a different episode, Prue gets a mind-reading power and believes her new boyfriend is a warlock conspiring against her. It turns out that his troubling thoughts were only due to the fact that it was really the boyfriend's twin, whom the boyfriend had sent in to meet her.
- Arrested Development: As a prank, Maeby poses as her fictional twin sister Surely (yes, it's not spelled "Shirley"). Surely is depicted as rather sick with BS and a charity is set up for a cure.
- A notable subversion happens in Adventures in Odyssey. In Edwin Blackgaard's first episode, his appearance in Odyssey was set up to look like this, but it turns out Regis IS his evil twin and Edwin had no idea Regis had been there first.
- In Uta no Prince-sama, Tokiya does this when entering the Academy in order to try to break away from his Hayato persona and debut as himself.
- In Raishon, Eli pretended to be his own twin on the night of the Halloween Event while Zyera was (unwillingly) dressed up as him.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Carlos "Los Hermanos" Verdecia is a superhero with the power to duplicate himself into thousands and thousands of copies. He's often used one of his "dupes", as he calls them, as a Fake Twin when the occasion calls for it. In one story, he turned himself into fake triplets so he could date three women at the same time.
- Angelica does this on an episode of Rugrats. She puts her hair in a bun and rolls her sleeves up, pretending to be her nicer sister Ballina. Didi of course isn't fooled but plays along anyway. The babies believe it and prefer Ballina, which greatly annoys Angelica.