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Hugh Mann
Bob Ross lives!

"Hello, friends. I am a perfectly normal human worm-baby. You have nothing, absolutely nothing, to fear from me. Just pay no attention to me and we'll get along just fine."

"Hi, babe. Yes, I am real man. You wanna go skateboards?"

Someone has gotten duplicated/taken over/impersonated by something not human, and the duplicate is trying to pass as a main character. But they do a terrible job of it; acting in an erratic manner, forgetting names, walking stiffly, and talking in an odd dialect. They might as well call themselves "Hugh Mann" and walk around with a name-tag reading "I'm Most Definitely Not A Space Alien" - it would make for about as convincing a disguise.

Luckily for them, nobody notices at all. Or at least nobody anyone will listen to. Sometimes, it helps that the character that's being impersonated normally acts this way.

See also Clark Kenting and Paper-Thin Disguise. Compare Bad Bad Acting, and Out-of-Character Alert. May overlap with They Look Like Us Now for further laughs. Not to be confused with Funday Pawpet Show character Hugh Manatee.

Examples:

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    Advertising 

    Comic Books 
  • In an issue of Impulse, Bart has to hide the fact that his cousin Jenni is from the future, so he teaches her English with the help of books like "See Spot Run". When introduced to his friends, Jenni's first attempt at conversing with them is to ask if they've Seen Spot Run.
  • Transformers: Robots In Disguise: Yes, that Jet that suddenly turned into a tank in mid-air is a human made and driven invention and not one of the genocidal aliens that invaded the planet years ago. He demands your surrender in the name of the United Steaks of America, or whatever it's called.

    Films — Animated 
  • Absolutely ruthlessly parodied in Monsters vs. Aliens where the aliens can tell that the ancient fishman is not one of them (although they believe him to merely be a defective clone) but cannot identify a one-eyed slime monster or a six foot cockroach as not being one of them. The disguise that leads them to believe that they are mere clones? Simply their ill-fitting uniforms.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!, a Martian disguises his... her... itself(?) as a voluptuous babe to catch the attention of a horndog White House staffer (the better to gain access to the President). She walks, talks, and does everything "strangely" but he doesn't notice until she bites off his finger!!
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra:
    Kro-Bar: My wife sometimes forgets that she is not a space alien.
    Kro-Bar: Aliens? Us? Is this one of your Earth jokes?
  • Edgar, in the first Men In Black movie.
  • In The Human Duplicators, a detective gets duplicated (Surprise!) and the duplicate reports back to the original's superiors to throw them off the case. Despite his random pauses and stiff movement, they don't suspect a thing.
  • In It Came from Outer Space, altruistic aliens that accidentally crashed on Earth entrust a local science-fiction writer with holding off local scrutiny while they temporarily hold a number of local townspeople hostage and imitate their bodies to be able to move about freely in town so they can get their ship fixed. They all talk in straight-faced monotone and walk rather awkwardly.
  • The aliens from This Island Earth have really obvious rubber foreheads, and their leader doesn't even recognize the name "Mozart," before correcting himself with, "Oh, yes, your composer."
  • The Skeleton Key ends this way, although at least one person seems to suspect something might be wrong.
  • The Strangers from Dark City. By extension the whole environment they constructed . Somewhat justified in that, under normal circumstances, they never interact with awake humans.
  • In the second Cats & Dogs film, a cat (masquerading as his owner) over an intercom gives his last name as "Not-A-Cat". The humans believe him!
  • Deconstructed in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Princess Nuala, when first meeting Abe Sapien, thinks that his name is an obvious alias and that he's one of Nuada's spies, so she reads his mind to find out his real identity, only to learn that "Abe Sapien" is actually his name.
  • Done in Face/Off, when Castor Troy gets plastic surgery to look like his arch-nemesis Sean Archer, while Archer himself is undercover looking like Troy. His own wife can't tell when her husband isn't her husband, even though he's being very romantic after years of ignoring her in favour of his case. At least Archer's teenage daughter notices that something's different, but she just assumes her dad has suddenly become cool.
  • In The Country Bears, in the opening scene, the anthropomorphic bear living with an otherwise human family SUSPECTS he is adopted - and then follows this statement up with a bunch of silly and subtle reasons for suspecting it and overlooking the elephant in the room, which is of course that he's an anthropomorphic bear in the room, and the "other" son of the family, says "are you SERIOUS? THAT'S why you think you're adopted?"

    Literature 
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few borderline cases. Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox both visit Earth without attracting too much attention, despite the former's badly chosen fake name and Zaphod not even trying to hide he's from space; of course, they're both basically human-looking, with just a few subtle (or not; see below) oddities. Later on, the mice offer to replace Arthur's brain with a computer, and Zaphod jokingly suggests that it would only need to be able to say "What?", "I don't understand" and "Where's the tea?" and no one would notice any difference.
    • It doesn't exactly help that Arthur blurts out "What?" on this suggestion.
    • In the game (and in the book Mostly Harmless), it is revealed that the two-headed Zaphod went to a costume party on Earth dressed as a pirate. He put a birdcage over the second head and covered it with a cloth. The head in the cage said "Pretty Polly" every now and again.
  • A more serious example would be H.P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Out of Time, in which the main character is assumed to be mentally ill during the period when a Yithian occupied his body.
  • Mostly averted by R. Daneel Olivaw of the Robot/Empire/Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, but every now and then the ten-thousand-year-old robot gets the urge to call himself something like "Chetter Hummin" ("Cheater Human") for a while. This is probably a way to evade the psychological cost of lying to humans, which is an indirect violation of the Robotic Laws.
    • Of course, choosing Chetter Hummin as one of his aliases, among other oddities, leads Hari Seldon to eventually figure out the truth, much to Daneel's shock.
  • Several times throughout Animorphs, though never involving the Yeerks, who have already an access to their own host's knowledge and personality. In one memorable mess, Jake is taken over by one (that gets access to his memories) and it plays the part almost perfectly. When his own teammates realize this, they tie him up in the woods until that alien dies of hunger- then had another alien (who doesn't have access to his memories) play the role of Jake badly, while all this is going on... To his own family's shock.
    • This is actually something of a running gag for Ax whenever he's in his human form, particularly about food. This boy enjoys eating cigarette butts and other strange stuff...
    • At one point, Ax gets asked about where he's from? After his first response ("I am from the Republic of Ivory Coast") doesn't work, Ax just lists off a bunch of World Almanac countries- until finally hearing a suggestion of Canada... At which Ax now promptly notes "I am from Canada. I am Canadese." as his reply.
    • Fortunately, they eventually get access to the Chee, who at least understand not to eat cigarette butts...
      • They did however, cleaned Marco's room with their pleasure, which is probably just as weird for him. The act irritates Marco to no end, at any rate...
      • And almost blew their cover, as the now very clean room now confused the hell out of Marco's father!
  • In the Mark Clifton short story What Have I Done?, an employment agent meets an alien who asks him to help the alien invaders with their disguises. (The agent has a superhuman ability to read people, and is the only person so far who's seen through the Hugh Mann act.) He defeats the invasion by helping them to appear as the most perfect, noble humans ever - so that real humans will destroy them out of envy.
  • In The Alien Way by Gordon R. Dickson an alien tries to secretly land on Earth and disguises himself to infiltrate a military facility. Actually he looks like a partially shaved flat-muzzled bear in a rough approximation of human clothing. Nobody stops him, because aliens have found a bait sent from Earth, and the scout has been being observed by a human telepathnote  for months. The military were ready to meet him and the human he thought he fooled with his disguise is the observer telepath. Let's say that while Dickson's aliens tend to be dumb and gullible compared to super smart humans, Rumls are probably worst of them all.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who episode called "Rose", Mickey is sucked into a trash can and replaced by an Auton. Despite the fact that he looks like a mannequin, his hair is an obvious wig, his skin is waxy, he can't drive, and he suddenly stammers in a skipping-record sort of way, Rose doesn't realize what's going on until The Doctor shoots a champagne cork through his head. Sure, she's never been very observant when it comes to Mickey, but come on...
    • When Martha is replaced with a clone, The Doctor pretends not to notice her obvious out of character behavior. The clone doesn't even pretend to care that Martha's family is in danger, though The Doctor immediately noticed very small details and the clone's odd smell.
  • Stargate SG-1: When Sam is taken over by a Tok'ra, she acts rather odd, but no one seems to notice anything until she starts dialing up the gate. In another episode, Colonel O'Neill is duplicated by a crystal entity and everyone, even his ex-wife, thinks the entity is him even though he speaks very haltingly and suddenly acts like he's once again depressed about his son's pre-show pre-movie death. In another episode, O'Neill pretends to be a Goa'uld (although all he knows is "Jaffa Kree!") but the Goa'uld he's trying to bluff don't really buy it.
    Jacob: Who'd you say you were?
    Daniel: The, uh...great and powerful Oz.
  • In the comedy soap opera Soap, Burt was replaced by a look-alike alien Burt. Though alien Burt acted very oddly and was sex-crazed, only his wife Mary was really concerned, because the real Burt was pretty odd himself.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's close friends took the Buffy-bot for the real thing, chalking its odd behavior up to the fact that she had recently lost her mother. Buffy was nevertheless entirely unimpressed with her friends after this was discovered, probably because the robot was still practically wearing a t-shirt reading "Hello, I am a Robotic Impersonator" the entire episode.
    • Anya seemed to like the robot better than the regular Buffy, particularly after its greeting of, "Hello, Anya. How is your money?" Anya replies with a happy, "Fine! Thank you!" apparently glad that someone now cares about the money as much as she does.
    • We also have all of the demons at Xander and Anya's wedding, and Clem at Buffy's birthday party.
      • And Anya herself, when she's trying to keep the Watcher's Council from finding out she's an ex-demon:
    ANYA: Anya Christina Emanuella Jenkins, twenty years old. Born on the fourth of July, and don't think there weren't jokes about that my whole life, mister, 'cause there were. Who's our little patriot? they'd say, when I was younger, and therefore smaller and shorter than I am now.
  • An episode of MADtv has several campaign commercials for "Smith Comma John, Human Being for President", in which the candidate demonstrates his human American nature with Suspiciously Specific Denial aplenty, statements like "I am sitting next to fire. Willingly.", and introducing his wife: a golden retriever. The capper is when he partakes in the all-American activity of eating corn dogs - first sticking his hand into a deep fryer to retrieve one, and then "eating" it via the magic of visual effects: the camera stops for a moment, a bite is missing, and he pretends to be chewing, before going for another "bite". Sooo not an alien.
  • In Smallville, after being a Human Popsicle for months, Clark Kent is enraged when he returns and finds that Bizarro (this version looks exactly like Clark, except when sunlight falls on him) had stolen his identity, and no one except Chloe noticed. Chloe had no choice but to stay silent, as Bizarro would have killed her if he found out that she knew. Clark would have been fine with it if Lana had also been playing along, but she was completely fooled and had sex with Bizarro several times.
  • A That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch parodying Battlestar Galactica has Bob, the infiltrating robot. Who has a bucket for a head, and uses his clearly mechanical voice to say things like "Does not compute."
  • In The Secret Circle Melissa is possessed by a demon. Turns out, demons aren't very good actors. Apart from general weird and out of character behavior, when frustrated she broke into Evil Sounds Deep. Unusually for this trope their friend screaming at them in demon voice because they expressed reservations about her creepy plan was noticed, although the real giveaway was when the demonic snake crawled across her forehead under the skin.
  • In Zardip Zap, a series of fitness and health information videos for children, the eponymous character is an alien sent by his leaders to re-learn the secret to taking care of one's body. masquerades as a child named Zardip Pacific in order to gain information. He pulls it off rather well aside from not knowing what the organs in his own body are.

    Music 
  • The Duras Sisters eponymous track on "Masquerading as Human" describes something that's doing just that, and finding just how easy it is to do so, even when they do things like order steak with marmalade and have a deadbolt on their closet door.
  • Likewise, filker Karen Lindsey and her song "Nobody Knows I'm Really an Alien." The marooned alien cook is having a great time of it on Earth. He lives in a hippie commune (where the residents have had so many drugs they don't notice), goes to sci-fi conventions (where his looks are mistaken for a great costume), and even gets bit parts in Hollywood films (where again, no one seems to notice). It's only when he goes on a talk show to "set the record straight" that the MiB patrol shows up to cart him off.

    Podcast 
  • In two of the Sparks Nevada: Marshall on Mars episodes of Thrilling Adventure Hour, a shapeshifting alien spy from Jupiter is comically bad at impersonating Sparks and Croach in back-to-back episodes. It is complete with But He Sounds Handsome.

    Theater 
  • In Dark of the Moon, the protagonist, a witch, pretends to be a human. When asked what his name is, he says, "John... Human!" Cue bewildered remarks from the other characters.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • Jenova. If the dead facial expression and missing arms and feet weren't a tip-off, she's wired into giant, pulsating tentacles and winged appendages. But hey, if a mad scientist says she's your mother, who are you to question? Jenova proves itself quite capable of re-creating clothing (right down to Sephiroth's trenchcoat and masamune sword), so the fact that it starts out looking like a gnarled, naked woman suggests "she" abandoned all disguise once the Cetra overpowered her.
    • When the team sneaks aboard a Shinra ship disguised as Shinra soldiers, Red XIII, a red wolf-like creature, clearly has trouble standing on two legs and doesn't bother to cover his tail. Naturally, their cover is not blown. Played for Laughs.
  • One of many UFO gags sprinkled in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. During the mission "Stowaway," Mike Toreno instructs Carl Johnson to destroy a jet carrying explosives for use in the Middle East. The M.I.B. onboard the plane will spout strange phrases while attacking Carl, including: "you evolved from shrews", "this endangers everything", "carbon based buffoon", "idiotic mammal", and "the great day will come".
  • If you hide for some period in Halo, Grunts may occasionally respond with: "It's okay to come out now, this is Sergeant... Smitherson! Yeah..." Occasionally they'll play it straighter and reply as "Sergeant Humanoid."
  • In MechQuest, you'll encounter an alien NPC named Hugh Munn. Hugh did play his role as a human rather well- if not for those tacky implants on his head and blue skin...
  • In Rift, there are a group of...odd people that, should you greet them, will say things like: "Hello, fellow air-breather!" They also sell strange items.
  • Inverted in Sam & Max Hit the Road. At one point in the game, the eponymous duo put on a paper-thin Bigfoot disguise to sneak into a convention. Also subverted in that the bouncer makes it clear that he knows they're in disguise, and he's only letting them in because they did him a favor earlier. Played straight with the rest of the bigfoots, however, who don't see anything out of the ordinary, even when the bigfoot's navel starts talking.
  • One of the new classes in Super Monday Night Combat is Karl, a reconnaissance cyborg developed to infiltrate the society of the lawless Outlanders. Uniquely for this trope, Karl seems to completely buy into the idea that he is human. In-game, he'll often talk about getting goosebumps, needing a drink, or being due for a haircut. His bio mentions that he has an extreme hatred of robots and that his locker room outbursts are "just a little too perfect."
  • In LEGO Star Wars, your characters can don Stormtrooper helmets to get into restricted areas. Chewbacca is so big that he can only wear his as a hat on top of his head. Not to mention he is seven feet tall and covered in fur. The disguise still works.
  • Asherons Call bad guys the Virindi have a shaky grasp of human psychology, being an otherdimensional Hive Mind of energy beings - actually, they have a shaky grasp of the material world, period. Their best attempt at making human infiltrators, the Simulacra, finally got the physical part right, but they still address people they meet as "fellow human" and talk with unnatural Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
  • In the Soul Hackers' remake, certain demons, if you already have a member of their species in you party, will introduce themselves as "Hugh Mann", a perfectly ordinary person. Then they notice that one of their friends is with you, blowing their cover and making them run away and possibly give you something.
  • Octodad is about an octopus attempting to get through the life of a human with a wife and kids despite the fact that he is quite obviously an invertebrate creature with poor motor skills.
  • In Guild Wars 2, the Sylvari PC when under cover strays into this, saying that they had been friends with the person they're looking for since they were "tiny weak fleshlings"
  • One of the early-game enemies you'll face in XCOM: Enemy Unknown are the Thin Men, alien infiltrators that have been engineered to resemble humans. They don't do a particularily good job of it, as they have reptilian eyes, abnormally lanky limbs, and scaly, mottled faces. However, they can apparently fool civilians, considering that they frequently show up unannounced on specific rescue missions.

    Web Comics 

     Web Original 
  • Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons: Minerelle is a Shardmind (a being of living crystal) passing herself off as a human through illusions, but she often seems a bit unclear about how biological creatures work and disdainful of what she does know. It's something of a running joke how readily the other characters accept her ridiculous behavior, although it helps that most other party members aren't humans anyway.
    Minerelle: "Eating is wonderful. It is great to produce saliva from your mouth and then put things down your throat so they can be digested."
    Joey: "I know exactly what you mean!" I give her a high five.
  • The girl in Seanbaby's first "Spontaneo: The Dog that Doesn't Give a Fuck story. She looks human enough, but she calls a goat a "horrible Earth creature" and insists she was raised on an "ordinary human farm", among a couple of other things. It's also not very clear what she stands to gain from impersonating a human preteen girl.
    • Seanbaby makes fairly frequent use of this joke; towards the end of this article (or whatever) is "Skks'Hhs Meathunt", who deflects questions by claiming to be "Earth sing beast, like you."

    Western Animation 
  • The Brain Slugs from Futurama play it for laughs. The slugs fool no one, but the other characters treat the infected characters like Bunny Ears Lawyers.
    • They have to, lest the slug becomes suspicious, and, in Leela's words, "assimilates" them.
    • Futurama names the trope in the episode "A Taste of Freedom". A decapodian (Zoidberg's species) infiltrates Zapp Brannigan's ship by wearing a wig, fake glasses and a mustache, and oven mitts to hide his lobster-like claws. Zapp Brannigan, of course, falls for it.
    Hugh Mann. Now there's a name I can trust.
  • "Bill Cosby" from the Trapper Keeper episode on South Park is a Terminator-esque operative from the future who takes a contemporary name.
    Oh, I see. Alright, I'll pay 100 geliga stones — uh, I mean, hu-mon dollars! — eugh, I mean dollars!
  • The Simpsons:
    • In a Treehouse of Horror episode, where Kang and Kodos attempt to sabotage the 1996 American presidential election by assuming the identities of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. In one campaign speech, Kang (as Clinton) monotonously intones "I am Clin-Ton! As overlord, all will kneel trembling before me, and obey my brutal commands!" before crossing his arms over his chest and shouting "End communication!" His staffers attribute the behavior to an "over-tight necktie".
      Marge: That's slick Willy for you, always with the smooth talk.
    • "And so, when you are sealed into your voting cubicles tomorrow, remember to vote for me, Senator Ka-(looks at campaign button) Bob Dole!"
  • In one episode of The Flintstones, The Great Gazoo creates a duplicate of Fred. The duplicate can only utter the words "Yes yes yes", separated by one second pauses. Despite this, absolutely no one notices the difference.
    • There's a second episode in which aliens produce multiple Fred clones. They can say nothing more than "Yabba. Dabba. Doo." And almost no one notices.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars had an interesting example in the episode Rookies. Commando droids pretended to be clones, but tended to speak with sort of a stilted rhythm, gesticulated wildly...and ultimately gave themselves away with "Roger, roger.". Hilariously inverted when Captain Rex (in the same episode) re-takes the base by ENDING his sentences with "Roger, roger" and fooling the droids into thinking he's one of them. In addition, he was wearing his own custom armor, which the droids never seen to have noticed.
  • Frequently used heroically by Scooby-Doo, who seems to get away with impersonating the bad guys' own human and/or monstrously-disguised henchmen with ease, despite being 1) a terrible actor, 2) impaired by a speech impediment, and 3) a freakin' Great Dane.
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a clone of Master Shake is created and sent by the Plutonians to impersonate him, but is horribly deformed, calls himself "Major Shake", and loves to give blood (whereas Master Shake thinks donating blood is part of a pyramid scheme run by Dracula and his night slaves). Frylock pretty much immediately figures out that "Major Shake" isn't really Shake, and hilarity ensues.
    • The hilarious part is that "Major Shake" is a seemingly normal, decent, average person, whereas Master Shake is a sociopathic obnoxious Jerk Ass. Major Shake also looks like a slightly melted version of Master Shake, wearing red high heeled shoes to make up for the height difference, and with a jambox melted into his side.
      • And he doesn't actually have any mission or agenda, and is rather confused about what the heck the Plutonians are hoping to accomplish.
    • Also Frylock, after he murdered Ray (the boyfriend of a girl he liked) and grafted his exploded body parts onto himself in a horrifying mashup with an exposed brain covered with a big novelty cowboy hat. It's every bit as disturbing as it is unconvincing..
  • In an episode of The Tick, Arthur was cloned by their alien neighbor. The clone was greenish and could only say "I Arthur", yet he fooled the Tick (not that it's very difficult with him). When he found both the original and the clone, he told them to say something only the REAL Arthur would know. Arthur delivered a lengthy anecdote about a personal incident they had once, which convinced the Tick... while the clone said "I Arthur", which ALSO convinced the Tick, since he couldn't find any fault in the statement.
  • In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Imitation Krabs", Plankton tries to infiltrate the Krusty Krab inside a Mr. Krabs robot. The robot is clearly made of sheets of metal with visible rivets, runs on wheels, has a sputtering exhaust in the back, and talks in Robo Speak, in Plankton's voice no less. SpongeBob, of course, is completely fooled. Squidward sees through the ruse immediately, but plays along after robot Krabs give him the day off.
  • Zim from Invader Zim is... not a very convincing human, to say the least. Luckily, Earth is filled with morons and apathetic people who won't listen to Dib.
    • And Dib's sister, who is just Genre Savvy to see that Zim is far too incompetent to have much chance of success and so doesn't give a damn.
  • Inverted on Galaxy Rangers where humans on Tortuna usually have to pass themselves off as some other alien species like Lumwumps or Zanguils. Justified in that any human caught on Tortuna gets sent to the Queen and their souls ripped out...
  • In Gravity Falls, Mabel meets a new boyfriend who calls himself "Normal Man" - Mabel presumes he meant Norman - who acts very off. Though Dipper believes he's a zombie, he's actually a bunch of gnomes.
  • In the American Dad! episode "Da Flippity-Flop," Klaus tricks Stan into switching their bodies. After claiming that years of studying his behavior will allow Klaus to impersonate Stan, all he does is say "Hi!" and Francine and Hayley immediately know what's happened.

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