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- Referenced in Welcome to the N.H.K. where the beautiful Cat Girl healer in the RPG Episode turns out to be Satou's neighbor Yamazaki, out to teach him a lesson.
- .hack//SIGN completely inverts this as being the major "twist" of the series. As well as it being a case of amnesia (sort of).
- Well, it's not really played as a twist—it's brought up early on, then rejected but only by the character in question saying "Of course I'm not a girl!" So when it's revealed that the initial theory was right all along it's not very surprising.
- A better example is Saburou from .hack//Roots. She actively claims to be female and states that she simply acts like a boy because many boys act like girls in the game when called out on it due to her male name and male way of speech. The fact that she's on this page means of course, she is male in the real world. It's even pointed out on her character design for Link where her head band is adorned with the male symbol.
- Durarara!!: Like any prepared troll, Izaya poses as a girl on the internet.
- Inverted by Celty, who poses as a guy. This is subverted in the Light Novels in that everyone in the chat had caught on to the fact that "Setton" was actually a girl since pretty much day one, and just didn't think enough of it to point it out until she mentioned a male roommate. Celty's not a terribly good liar.
- Discussed in vol 9 of the Light Novels between Bakyura and a new member, who's probably doing this, too: "she" is hinted to be Aoba. The kid's taking after Izaya fast...
- Flunk Punk Rumble (aka Yankee-kun to Megane-chan) inverts this for comedic effect.
- At the beginning of Nyotai-ka, protagonist Manaka Makoto is a nekama, a young man who, frustrated by his inability to attract the interest of women, masquerades as one on online dating sites for amusement. Hilarity Ensues when a goddess intervenes and suddenly, it's no longer just an act.
- In Ghost in the Shell 1.5 Batou is net-dating a hot young woman who's actually a ninety-year old man.
- A scene in episode 1 of Sword Art Online has a Mirror item reformatting all of the player's VR avatars to reflect their actual selves from real life. One quick scene shows a crowd of girls suddenly revealed to be mostly men using female avatars, and there is a minor Running Gag of a specific couple composed of a cute girl revealed to be a skinny man and a lean boy revealed to be a pudgy man who remain friends despite the shocking reveal, and later reunite after the end of the Incident in real life as friends.
Pudgy guy: You're a guy?
Guy in women's clothing: You lied about being seventeen?
- This happens to Kirito in the fifth light novel (where season 2 is adapted from) –- officially, his VR equipment is supposed to scan the user's brainwaves to correctly determine gender, however Kirito apparently counts as "close enough" to female that he was granted the rare effeminate male avatar but is mistaken for a female anyway. He is understandably annoyed by this.
- This was, of course, parodied in Something Witty Entertainment's Sword Art Online Abridged: "So anyway, for all of you guys who wanted to play as girls, and you know who you are, I've got a surprise for you!"
Pudgy Guy: "You're not a girl!"Skinny Guy: "And you're not seventeen!"Pudgy Guy: "I'm okay with this!"Skinny Guy: "Me too!"Off-screen Guy: "LOVE KNOWS NO GENDER!"
- In Log Horizon, there is Tetra. Most of the namesake guild knows, but Naotsugu remains oblivious.
- In Ultimate X-Men Beast gets into a relationship with a girl on a chatroom...who is actually the Blob, one of Magneto's henchmen, pretending to be a girl for kicks (a mutant genius supermodel, no less). Then Henry accidentally blabs about how Xavier brainwashed Magneto. Oops.
- Also shows up in Runaways, where a guy cross-plays as Invisible Woman and The White Queen. Made rather obvious, since he was playing up the Stripperiffic costumes. Also inverted with the only real girl among them playing Daredevil.
- In the film Closer, Dan tricks Larry into thinking he's a girl, and they have cybersex.
- Out Cold has two men who pretend to be lesbians meeting each other in a chatroom. Naturally, they have cybersex.
- In Surrogates, the operator of the seductive female surrogate at the nightclub that got fried happens to be a man. The characters don't treat this "revelation" as unusual or noteworthy in any way.
- In Gamer, Kable's wife, a character in Society, is being controlled by Gorge, a topless and terribly obese home dweller.
- In the "People Can Lick Too" segment from Campfire Tales (1997), Amanda's chatroom pal Jessica is actually a guy who has been stalking her for the last few days. And now he knows that she'll be alone tonight.
- Trilby and the Ghost, a short story by Yahtzee taking place in the Chzo Mythos 'verse, involves Trilby discovering a ghost who can't pass on to other realms because he's never met his japanese girlfriend Nariko face-to-face. Predictably enough, 'Nariko' is actually a southern gentleman named Frank, which only makes Trilby's job more complicated.
- Inverted in Otherland, where Salome Fredericks pretends to be a guy online in order to avoid There Are No Girls on the Internet.
- Ready Player One inverts this with Aech, who is in reality a Sassy Black Woman.
- A variant: In Animorphs, a mission requires hacking the identities of people on an apparent anti-Yeerk website. While doing so, Marco takes an extra moment to look up his online girlfriend, who turns out to be a seventy-three-year-old retired postal worker.
- Psych: Shawn and Gus pretend to be a woman in an online poker chatroom and arrange to meet one of the other players. The guy from the chatroom laments, "Man, all hot women on the Internet are guys! Only you're two guys, which is weird."
- In an episode of NCIS, McGee develops an online relationship with a girl who turns out to be DiNozzo playing a prank.
- At the end of the episode, Ziva tells McGee the truth, but since Tony had grown sick of the prank, McGee takes revenge by playing along just to mess with DiNozzo.
- In a prior episode, DiNozzo admits to having cybersex with a person called HotJugs24. The name probably should have been his first clue.
- Subverted in the 1990s Jerry Springer parody Night Stand, where two straight guys met online pretending to be lesbians revealed themselves to each other... and decided to date anyway.
- In an early Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Xander expresses suspicions about Willow's new cyber-pal.
Xander: I mean, sure he says he's a high school student, but I can say I'm a high school student.Buffy: You are.Xander: Okay, but I can also say that I'm an elderly Dutch woman. Get me? I mean, who's to say I'm not if I'm in the elderly Dutch chat room?
- Their suspicions turned out to be correct. "Malcolm Black" was actually the demon Moloch the Corruptor.
- On the Israeli sitcom Shemesh, the titular character, having recently discovered the internet, pretends to be a woman on a women only chatroom, mostly for the thrill; he stays there for the more honest intention of learning how to relate to women. Hilarity Ensues.
- An episode of Scrubs had an intern talking to a girl online only to find out it was a man. In response, he created a new account, pretended to be a girl, and got him to arrive at the hospital.
- In The Big Bang Theory, Wolowitz meets a slutty troll in an MMORPG. It's the creepy janitor at the University.
- An episode of Malcolm in the Middle has Craig give Francis a tip for free travel. Pretend to be a girl in a chatroom, flirt with a random guy from the location they want to go and then ask him to pay for a plane ticket so they can meet up. The last scene of the episode shows Francis getting off a plane and saying "Thanks" to a guy holding a flower and a card saying 'Debbie'.
- In the British sitcom My Family it's mentioned that this has happened to Nick, and most of the others think the same of his current online girlfriend. A Subverted Trope as she turns out to be a genuine... lesbian. Nick himself was the GIRL.
- In The Teaser of an episode of The John Larroquette Show John goes to an internet lesbian chatroom pretending to be a woman.
John (typing): What are you talking about?Girl 1: [something mundane]John: Sounds hot.Assorted girls: MAN IN THE FORUM! LOG OFF!! LOG OFF!!
- Flash Point: A robber with an anti-capitalism bent is desperately lonely when he meets a sympathetic girl online — she even sings a song for him. It turns out "she" is a teenage boy who really, really, really hates his stepfather and is using the robber to murder him by saying "she" is being abused (no one's being abused, he just hates his step dad that much).
- An epic example in Gossip Girl. The titular blogger turns out to be Dan Humphrey.
- On Catfish: The TV Show, this has happened several times. The show, based on the documentary of the same name, follows Nev Schulman as he profiles people who are in extensive online relationships with people they've never met.
- Zig-Zagged in one How I Met Your Mother episode. Ted dated a girl he met while playing World of Warcraft. Ted was playing a cute night elf, while the girl was playing a burly warrior.
- Played for drama on Home and Away when Spencer is targeted by an online predator, posing as a teenage girl, who lures him to his hotel room.
- On the Internet; men are men, women are men, and children are FBI agents.
- This is the idea behind Frogg Marlowe's song "Ain't No Women":
I got the "ain't no women in Second Life" blues.
- After setting up a date with a girl he met online, the protagonist of the song "On My Knees" by Heaven's Gate finds out she's actually a man.
Hello champ, my name is Jack!
- In the song "Chiksilog" by the Filipino band Kamikazee, one male Ragnarok Online player was distraught when he discovered that the "girl" he met online turned out to be Camp Gay.
Newspaper Editorials (Colonial Era)
- Overheard in a city chat on World of Warcraft: "Welcome to the internet, where the men are men, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents."
- A study from the Daedalus Project shows 45% of female World of Warcraft characters are actually played by females.
- Interestingly enough, even though women make up about one-third of the playerbase, the number of male and female characters in-game is almost exactly fifty-fifty. The reason for this is that approximately one-third of male players use female avatars, whereas only ten percent of female players use male avatars.
- In the comedy column "Ask A Faction Leader," someone asks Chronormu (whose model in-game is a female gnome) about her masculine name. Chromie responds by explaining that she is actually a he in his dragon form, and only uses a female form to interact with mortals because "if you had to spend multiple hours each day running around performing thankless corrective tasks on Azeroth, wouldn't you want to do it as something fun?"
- This is used as a joke in Hearthstone with the Master of Disguise card, which shows a female blood elf. The flavor text?
Master of Disguise: She's actually a male tauren. People don't call him "Master of Disguise" for nothing.
- A study from the Daedalus Project shows 45% of female World of Warcraft characters are actually played by females.
- Any player of any online RPG may cite that their acronym aptly describes their population: Mostly Men Online Role Playing Girls.
- These days this has been somewhat muddled, as close to 50% of the MMORPG players are starting to be women (apparently they are among the most popular "real" video games among the female populace), but often play as men due to either sexist character designs or horny teenagers hitting on them.
- Played straight and subverted in one of its oldest forms. On the Original TinyMUD, back in 1989 there were only male characters. Then within about 3 weeks, a bunch of women showed up. about half of them was a single, actual teenage girl, Claire. Almost all the rest were played by guys.
- In this Penny Arcade comic strip, Gabe explains to Tycho how he is being "paid to infiltrate forums and regurgitate press releases as a trusted source". He informs him that he is posing as Shelly Yu/Missfit<3, a "tween" who enjoys games, making friends and "just having fun" and trusted member of the IGN Boards.
- There was also one strip in which Gabe where he warns against "roleplaying" with others to Tycho's niece, mentioning that he'd done some odd things with night-elf ears during such.
- Francis from Pv P plays a female character named Catfight in City of Heroes. When asked why, he says, "If I'm going to be staring at an ass in tights all day, it might as well be a nice ass."
- Much earlier in the story, Francis also pretends to be a girl called Sasha online.
- Jade was once a member of an "all-female" gaming group, when she went to their first face-to-face meeting she learned that literally every other member was a man
- Before the first Tomb Raider game came out, the main developer gave this as the reason why the main character was made female.
- Interestingly enough, Brian Clevenger from Eight Bit Theater also once said the same thing in regards to the same game almost word for word.
- In Megatokyo, this is used - in a rather twisted fashion - during a flashback. Piro plays an MMO with a male character, starts chatting with him outside the game, and eventually starts to wonder if 'he' isn't actually a girl... eventually, he seizes on an opportunity to ask him for a picture. He gets it, and sure enough, 'he' is a cute girl, whom he starts to fall in love with. Then she dumps him by revealing that she's actually a guy, the picture was fake, and she was just playing with him for kicks. The twist? The picture was real, and she really IS a girl. Exactly why she pretended to be a G.I.R.L. is, as yet, unknown, but Piro is still pissed at her for pulling that stunt...
- Also, Piro himself is cross playing, and out of the flashbacks, Miho tells him that she sometimes believed he was really a girl.
- Both inverted and played straight in Something*Positive. Branwen manages to convince an entire forum that she's a man, causing all the female forum-goers to fall in love with her. Upon learning of this, Davan decides to further troll the forum by pretending to be female and posing as Branwen's male persona's lover.
- Although this seems like a major Jerk Ass move, it also helped those women to move on, rather than pine for a relationship that could never be. Some of them had been waiting for years for Branwen's male persona to return.
- This strip in The Noob has quite a few of them.
- in Goblins, Drowbabe is one according to Minmax.
- In Sequential Art, Art tells Pip the girl he met on his fave MMO can't possibly be a real girl, because There Are No Girls on the Internet, see? It's lampshaded in that "Fern" actually is a girl.
- The somewhat well known Team Fortress 2 comic 19/F/Medic◊.
- From Plus EV: Corbin knows this trope. See here.
- Got a nod in the joint That Guy with the Glasses/Mystery Science Theater 4000 riffing of the Chinese Dragon Ball movie. "Oolong" shapeshifts into "Bulma" to get the "Dragon Pearl" from "Roshi"; the riff is "You know, this is an accurate depiction of most Internet relationships: one's really a guy, one's really a really old guy."
- HotDiggedyDemon, the guy behind Jerry, quotes June from another series of his on his Newgrounds bio, giving off this impression.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: Tricking people into cybersex by pretending to be a girl is one of Yami Bakura / Florence's hobbies. Then he ends up doing it with Marik completely by accident.
- Ian plays a female character in the Statless And Tactless group's RP sessions. It's presented as harmless.
- In Brazilian website chargesdotcomdotbr, there was a story featuring a character nicknamed "Espinha", who entered a chatroom for lesbians and scored a date. When he went to talk to a friend for an advice on how to tell his date the truth, he learned his friend (also a male), was his date.
- Discussed in 'Lets Drown Out Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood', where Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw encouraged the viewers to go on a chatroom and be someone completely unlike themselves, such as a pregnant teenage black girl, to see the exciting side of roleplaying. This was also implied when Gabriel wondered about the time when Yahtzee was scamming players in World of Warcraft by pretending to be a lady.
Yahtzee: It's surprising how many people haven't figured it out.
- Harry Partridge's animated musical fan video, "Back to Tamriel," ends with him settling down with a gorgeous, well-endowed "elf mademoiselle." As The Stinger, he asked her if she's a woman in real life, to which she replies, in the most masculine voice imaginable, "Yes."
- Following the Ashley Madison dating site scandal, it became known that a huge percentage (in the range of 90%) of the alledged female users looking for infidelities in their site were actually the company employees creating false profiles and sending fake messages to atract the money of hopeful men.
- Fan Fic writer and former internet Troll Monica Gilbey Bieber is this. His real name is James.
- The (male) creators of a neural-net evolutionary-algorithm checkers-playing program wanted to test their software against real players, so they created an account on Microsoft's online gaming portal The Zone. To make sure they'd get plenty of responses, they used the account name Blondie24.
- Football player Manti Te'o had an online relationship with a G.I.R.L. posing as a (fictional) Stanford University student named Lennay Kekua; in real life, "Lennay" was a gay man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who could convincingly imitate a female voice.
- A basic tactic used by internet police to single out and target potential pedophiles on the internet forums and chat rooms. (see "Jokes")