Hide Your Otherness
Alice is trying to fit in, but she has some kind of physical feature that makes it clear that she is not a human, or not a normal human. Thus she removes this feature.
This particular masquerading comes in two flavors. It might simply be about The Masquerade
, or it may be about her self-image
. In the first case, the Maintenance can be nothing worse than a practical nuisance. In the second case, it's usually a part of a deeper pattern of self-hatred
. Of course, these two flavors are often mixed with each other, and one might lead to the other.
May be prone to a Glamour Failure
later on; But Your Wings Are Beautiful
may come into play when that happens.
This does not include social norms for what is proper or maintenance done for purely practical reasons: Only when it's done to pass for normal or human.
Anime and Manga
- When a small boy discovers a magical fish, he adopts it and names her Ponyo. Ponyo promptly morphs into a young girl, the better to interact with the boy and his mother.
- Reki and Rakka from Haibane Renmei use a special dye to hide (and possibly slow) the fact that their wings' charcoal grey feathers are turning black. This is more than cosmetic, since it indicates that they are becoming sin-bound.
- Hellboy keeps sawing off his devil horns.
- In Fables, Rapunzel goes to the barber all the time, so she can pass as a
muggle mundy. Unlike other examples here, she is happy about being what she is (a supernatural Fable creature), it's just that The Masquerade has to be maintained.
- It is also the reason that non-human Fables generally need to get Glamors in order to pass as human. Fables that can't afford Glamors or don't care about them are sent to the Farm.
- Superman (who in actuality is Kal-El from the planet Krypton) spends his time between super-heroing as Clark Kent, mild-mannered human reporter. Though in his defense, he was raised human, and didn't learn his birth name until he was an adult. In All-Star Superman, his efforts to hide his Kryptonian heritage extend to completely altering his posture as Clark Kent.
- Similarly, the Martian Manhunter adopts the identity of deceased cop John Jones (whose name conveniently sounds the same as his Martian name, J'onn J'onzz) as his Secret Identity.
- In Runaways, Karolina initially needs to keep her fake Med-Alert bracelet on or else she lights up like a Christmas tree, due to her Majesdanian heritage. Later in the series, she becomes able to suppress the glowing effect through her own efforts.
- Strange Times Are Upon Us has a pair of time-traveling Klingons wear headscarves to hide their head ridges, allowing them to pass as black in 1859 Pennsylvania (they're at one point mistaken for escaped slaves). When Brokosh, a Lethean, decides he needs a drink, he suggests he could do the same by just telling people he's a Pacific Islander with old burn scars.
- X-Men: Professor X informs Logan that "Anonymity is a mutant's first chance against the world's hostility."
- X2: X-Men United: After Artie sticks out his dark, forked tongue at a girl who is eating ice cream, Storm chides him with "Not here."
- X-Men: The Last Stand: The film starts with a little Angel who tries to cut off his own wings in his desperation to be normal. Considering that he did successfully remove them, but he still has the wings as an adult, they must have kept growing back.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine: A young Victor Creed folds his arms behind his back to hide his claw-like nails from John Howlett.
- X-Men: First Class: Fearful of humanity's negative reaction to mutants, Charles and Hank firmly live by this philosophy. Raven was initially influenced by her foster brother, but she has already grown frustrated with concealing her blue form in public when we first see her as an adult. Professor X tells Moira, "For us, anonymity will be the first line of defense."
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: 1973 Magneto invokes this as he's shouting at Xavier, "Hiding, you and Hank, pretending to be something you're not!" Beast in particular is very uncomfortable with his blue, furry form, and he creates a serum which temporarily suppresses his mutation so that he can appear human.
- In Human Nature, the protagonist has fur. She hates herself for it. She shaves her entire body (except the head, of course) every morning, and punishes herself by choosing a man who is utterly disgusted by female bodily hair.
- In the live action How the Grinch Stole Christmas! the young Grinch is teased for his green furry appearance. He tries shaving it off but it only makes things worse.
- Scott Calvin in The Santa Clause kept shaving and dying his hair (he didn't want to look like Santa), only to have the beard grow back immediately, and the hair to go back to white.
- Evan Almighty also features a beard that won't go away, similar to The Santa Clause.
- Klaatu, the Human Alien protagonist of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and its remake spends a good chunk of the film hiding from the military by posing as a man named Mister Carpenter who's renting an apartment with a local family, he soon becomes trusting enough of the family to let them in on his secret and elicit their help in getting back to his ship and preventing The End of the World as We Know It.
- Most aliens in Men in Black do this, wearing some sort of disguise so they can pass as humans as part of a Masquerade.
- Much like the Dracula example below, Nosferatu's Count Olrok spends a good chunk of the story pretending to be an ordinary (if weird-looking) human noblemen, which is only to be expected seeing as Nosferatu is just Dracula with the Serial Numbers Filed Off.
- Like it's source material below, Blade Runner involves a number of androids, or "replicants", posing as human. There's also hints that the protagonist, Rick Deckard, who hunts down and "retires'' rogue replicants for a living, may secretly be a replicant himself, but not even the people who actually made the movie can agree on whether he is or not.
- The Protagonist of Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds belongs to a posthuman race of "Angels", complete with wings. To go among normal humans, he underwent extensive surgical modification including removing the wings, but he has to keep having them amputated with increasing frequency, as they always grow back. Furthermore, his eyes begin to turn an unnatural shade of blue if he goes too long without maintenance...not the iris, the entire eye.
- Cory Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. Mimi has wings. Attempting to be 'normal', she has her boyfriend cut them off every time, but they keep growing back.
- In The Iron Teeth, Blacknail the hobgoblin keeps his large horns filed down. He misses the intimidating look of the horns, but filing them off lets him pass as human with just a hooded cloak, and that offers possibilities too fun to pass up.
- Count Dracula poses as an ordinary human nobleman for most of the first half of the story, as part of his evil plot to get some Londoners to nosh on.
- Biological androids are commonplace in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and one of the core plot threads involves rogue androids posing as human to evade capture (or because they prefer being human), aided by the fact that they are physiologically indistinguishable from the genuine article. The only way to know for sure is a special test to see if they have empathy, which androids supposedly lack though it becomes increasingly clear that this isn't true.
Mythology And Folklore
- Farscape: D'Argo's son Jothee tries to cut of his Luxan nose since he was ashamed to be part-Luxan and thought his father had abandoned him. This doesn't really help hide his otherness, though, since he only succeeds in scarring his face and he still has plenty of other Luxan features.
- Doctor Who:
- The Doctor regularly poses as a human when visiting Earth, or at very least, doesn't bother to correct people who mistake him in order to save time. Considering his aggressive quirkiness, tendency to take charge of any situation he finds himself in, habitual off-hand references to his personal interactions with long-dead historical figures, and the fact that he rarely bothers adopting a cover name rather than just going by "The Doctor", blending in probably isn't high on his list of reasons as to why.
- In the two-parter "Human Nature/Family Of Blood", he actually turns himself biologically human and gives himself false memories in order to hide from an enemy who, for once, could actually tell the difference between humans and Time Lords.
- In various Star Trek series, Rubber-Forehead Aliens occasionally have to pass for human, usually because of time travel. For example, in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Spock wears a headband to conceal his pointed ears. And in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, occasionally Major Kira has had to wear false skin to cover her Bajoran nose ridges. Also in Star Trek: The Original Series, Spock hides his pointy ears with a hat.
- The X-Files episode "The Unnatural" concerns a small-town baseball player who is actually a Grey Alien who chooses to live as a human due to his love of the game.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- In the "Past Tense" two-parter, Jadzia Dax, a Trill, tells 21st century humans that her spots are tattoos, while Kira Nerys, a Bajoran, simply puts a bandage over her nose to pass for human.
- In "Trials and Tribble-ations", Worf wears a bandanna over his head to hide his forehead ridges when the crew of Defiant travels back in time to "The Trouble with Tribbles".
- 3rd Rock from the Sun revolves around a team of alien researchers (and Harry) posing as a human family in order to study mankind. Hijinks Ensue.
- Most versions of the Men in Black urban legend have them displaying peculiar traits that lead witnesses to believe they are something else (usually aliens) masquerading as human beings, but given their elusive nature, this is never confirmed.
- Many Conspiracy Theorists, such as David Icke allege that various assorted world leaders and public figures are actually The Reptilians shapeshifted into human forms so that they can secretly control the masses and advance the goals of whatever Ancient Conspiracy it is that they happen to belong to, as evidenced by the fact that their pupils kinda look like vertical slits when photographed from certain angles.
- Demons, angels, and gods posing as human are common enough in mythology and mythology-derived fiction to have their own tropes.
- Many mythical creatures, such as the Japanese jorogumo or the Welsh morgen, disguise themselves as beautiful (often nude) women in order to attract men, usually luring them to their deaths.
- In Celtic mythology, The Fair Folk will sometimes abduct human infants and replace them with infant (or sometimes elderly) fairies, attempting to pass the replacements, known as Changelings, off as genuine human babies so the parents won't notice that their child had been stolen. Depending on the story, the changeling might wither and die within a short period, become a threat to the family, be easily found out and dealt with accordingly, or be raised as a human, not finding out its true nature until its well into adulthood.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Yuan-ti purebloods appear mostly human with minor reptilian features and primarily work as infiltrators against non-yuan-ti societies.
- In X Com Enemy Unknown, Thin Men look like unnaturally lanky humans wearing suits and sunglasses, similar to the stereotypical Men in Black depicted in other media (see above). Some traits hinting at their alien origins are present, such as colored spots on their neck, and the way they can stretch their body when falling from great heights. In X Com 2, it is revealed that Thin Men were actually Vipers disguised so they can blend in with other humans.
- Mass Effect:
- Fallout 4 introduces "Synths", synthetic humans manufactured by the institute with all the internal functions that are outwardly indistinguishable from real human beings. Many of them pose as humans, either by Killing and Replacing innocent wastelanders to further the goals of the shadowy organization known as the Institute, or by creating new identities in order to evade capture after escaping the Institute (where they're basically slaves). Naturally, Blade Runner shout-outs abound.
- Blake from RWBY is a Faunus. Unlike most Catgirls, she has no tail and two sets of ears (one human and one cat) as Faunus are only born with one animal trait. She hides the cat ears under a large bow to pass as human.