Parodied in a Coca-Cola (TM) ad. A teacher asks his class who emptied a Coke dispenser. One student slowly stands up and says: "I did it." After that, another student also stands up and says: He did it. Guess what the others do next.
A Pepsi commercial took the "I'm Spartacus" scene from Spartacus, but replaced the beginning with a bit where a Roman soldier finds Spartacus's bag lunch and asks who it belongs to. Because it includes a Pepsi, everyone starts claiming it's theirs. The soldier then decides that he is Spartacus and drinks the Pepsi.
Anime & Manga
In Code Geass the Brittanians announce that they intend to exile Zero, who wants to create a new area for the Japanese to live in. So he says he'll go along with it, but during the meeting he gets them to say that Zero's real identity isn't important and that anyone who shares his ideals is "Zero". Then, during the ceremony, after the announcement a cloud of smoke is released and when it clears, everyone—including a DOG—is wearing a Zero costume! And then a ship made out of an iceberg comes in to escort them! Reluctantly, the Brittanians allow them all to leave (primarily because the alternative would have been starting a massacre).
At the climax of season one of Durarara!! Rryugamine outplays the people who come after fake Celty by using his position as leader of the dollars to gather a massive crowd of Dollars at that spot and stop his pursuers in their tracks.
This is a true Moment of Awesome. Up until this point in the anime, people that weren't important to the plot were literally faceless and gray. When Ryugamine sent the message to everyone, the sea of gray suddenly became colored.
In Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor, when Yumiko is put on trial for tampering with Maya's pilot data, most of the main cast confess to the crime... with the final confessor being the human computer that controls the entire island - and has data to prove that all the confessions are true.
The interesting thing is that everyone has a reasonable explaination for why they supposedly did it. Soushi wanted her off the roster because he was afraid her pluckiness would cause problems, Sakura wanted to remove a rival for top pilot, Mamoru was just screwing around in the lab and accidentally changed the data, Kenji changed the data because he made a mistake trying to change his own data to get out of piloting, Kazuki didn't want her to fight, Mizoguchi was trying to look up her measurements on the computer and accidentally messed with the data etc.
Happens in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: The Yomi assassin "Spark" tries to destroy the Shinpaku HQ and demands to fight Kenichi. Since he's not there, several other members claim to be Kenichi, presumably to buy him time. Spark is not fooled.
In Kodomo no Jikan all the year six students confess to being be person who posted that they had had sex when challenged by the principal.
A variant shows up in the finale of Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, when Kyouka is threatening Ouka to kill her since she's the true child of Enka, the rest of the family stands up and declares that they are, establishing their family bonds. Even Chika tries to get in on it, even though it was known from the start that she really isn't.
Awesomely subverted in Ressentiment. Halfway through the series we're introduced to the Big Bad Ehara - an MMO player who has assembled a huge military guild and is using it to threaten both the game and the real world. All members of the guild are required to have avatars identical to his. In the final chapter it's revealed that Ehara is a monkey in a zoo who inexplicably has internet access in his cage and who has copied the face and name of the guy who usually brings him food.
Space Pirate Mito combines this with Lost In A Crowd: when the Galactic Patrol demands that Aoi, currently at school, give himself up, his classmates don Aoi masks and rush out of the building. Most of them end up captured, but they were able to buy Aoi the time he needed to get away.
A variation occurs in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. Honda/Tristan wants to tell a girl in his class that he loves her, but he's too shy to do it himself. So he gets a blank jigsaw puzzle and gets Yugi to write the message for him. Then, Jonouchi/Joey leaves the message in the girl's desk. Unfortunately, it's against the school rules, and when the teacher (who's incredibly strict, not to mention in a bad mood and looking for a student to punish) finds out, she wants to know whose puzzle it is. Yugi, Jonouchi/Joey, and Honda/Tristan all stand up and admit it, and of course, in this case, all of their statements are true.
Yugi: "I wrote the message!"
Jonouchi/Joey: "No teach, I'm the one who put the puzzle in her desk."
A villainous example in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Over a dozen people attempted in some way to try and assassinate the Chairman, all of them claiming (and legitimately believing) to be The Laughing Man. It's later explained that they were all copycats inspired by a threat from the real Laughing Man.
In the Death Note manga, Mello demands to know the identity of the one acting as L so that he can kill him if the trade for the notebook goes south, threatening to kill the hostage if they don't comply. Matsuda saves Light and his dad from that dilemma by hijacking the keyboard and telling Mello that he's the one acting as L.
Zig-zagged in an early chapter of Ooku. Shogun Yoshimune stumbles over her new robes during her first formal inspection of her new harem and hears laughter from the lines of men kneeling with their faces on the floor. When she demands to know who found her clumsiness so funny a young man in a comparatively simple outfit (falsely) confesses, which so impresses Yoshimune that she selects him to be her first bedmate from the harem... thus unknowingly sentencing him to be executed.
In the opening of the 2000 Academy Awards, Billy Crystal inserts himself into the original Spartacus scene, with the rather pragmatic "I am totally not Spartacus!"
Parodied twice in the first MTV episode of The College Humor Show. First a rival company, having won Patrick in a bet, come to take him a way. When asked which is Patrick, Dan steps up, claiming to be him. He then nudges Sam to do the same, who refuses. Later, Rick asks who urinated in the ball pit (it was Amir), claiming that if no one comes forward, everyone is fired. Dan claims it was him and once again no one else steps up, resulting in Dan getting fired.
There is a joke making fun of this trope: so, the Roman army is about to meet the army of Spartacus in battle. The Roman commander says "If Spartacus gives himself up, no one has to die", to which the entire army yells in response "I AM SPARTACUS!". Unfortunately, the real Spartacus draws attention to himself by yelling "I AM BOB!"
Played straight in an issue of Spider-Man that took place just before Civil War, wherein Spider-Man agrees to reveal his identity in front of the Daily Bugle so long as Jonah gives him the opportunity to address New York in his paper. He wrote a long article about what he does and why he does it and shows up the next day to unmask. Gathered in front of the Bugle are hundreds of people, ostensibly there to see Spider-Man unmask, and then—someone yells "I'm Spider-Man!" Dozens of people in costumes of varying quality (including Aunt May!) take off claim to be Spider-Man, so that when Peter does do it, Jonah just yells at him to stop making jokes and take some pictures.
Following the Civil War storyline, Parker is a fugitive who gains some help from a group called Scarlet Spiders, who cast doubt on Parker's claim of being Spidey by claiming that he was a fired member of their organization, all of which claimed to work as Spider-Man.
A variation appears in Batman: Gotham Adventures #35. After a jury that includes Bruce Wayne finds a man guilty of kidnapping, he grabs a gun and holds it on his defense attorney, blaming her for the verdict. Bruce intercedes, saying that he should take the blame since he persuaded the rest of the jury of the man's guilt. Then the elderly witness says that no, she should take the blame, since she was the only one to come forward and testify against him. Then the forewoman says it's her fault, since she didn't tell the judge they had a hung jury. Then other members of the jury start coming forward and claiming responsibility. The man, confounded, decides to start off by shooting Bruce. Enter Robin.
In one issue of Simpsons Comics, Grampa becomes a vigilante (El Grampo) and when Chief Wiggum tries to arrest him, the other members of the Springfield Retirement Castle claim to be the real El Grampo. They don’t do this because they care about Grampa but because they think that pretending to be El Grampo will result in their families paying attention to them. Wiggum’s response is to shoot them all, but when he is told the amount of paperwork that would entail, makes them fight each other like gladiators. The whole thing turns out to be one of Grampa’s nonsensical stories.
The Phantom: In "Hooded Justice", the fifth Phantom is transported back in time to 12th century Nottingham where he takes on the role of Robin Hood. The Sheriff captures Maraian and declares she will be executed if Robin Hood does not present himself. The Phantom steps forward and declares he is Robin Hood. Then each of the Merry Men planted throughout the crowd claims that he is Robin Hood. The Sheriff's men attempt to arrest everyone and the confusion allows the Phantom to rescue Marian.
The Pony POV Series provides an example early on in the Dark World arc — Traitor Dash is dispatched by Discord to Cloudsdale to locate and kill a Rebel Leader, or else Discord will destroy the whole city (he was bluffing, but she didn't know that). The entire crowd present when she shows up claim to be the target, but TD is able to Sherlock Scan the leader out of the crowd, and after a brief fight kills her. However, it's one of the things Twilight's Memory Spell reminds Dash of that shows her the Dark World is worth saving, allowing her Heel-Face Turn.
Played with in The Terrible Secret Of Animal Crossing. Penny demands Billy to tell her who took her papers, or else someone from a crowd of kids gets it each time he lies. A boy in the crowd named Phillip claims it was himself. Penny takes him to the back of the house, and he gives her a gut wound with his sharpened crutch before she kills him.
The trope name comes from the famous (and genuinely moving) scene in Spartacus. The scene involves several Roman soldiers asking the slaves to identify Spartacus so they can crucify him, promising amnesty so long as they identify the rebel leader. Spartacus is about to speak, when suddenly slaves left and right begin claiming to be Spartacus. Eventually, they all say they're Spartacus, so the Romans just crucify all of them.
To be precise they crucify all of them except Spartacus and Antoninus, who they force to fight to the death (then they crucify Spartacus after he wins).
Also to give a bit more context to the whole thing, the screenplay was written by the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood 10.
That Thing You Do!. A repeated theme in the film, shouted by Guy. At first, it's him as a leader. Finally, when he's the last member of the band not to quit, it's a quiet irony - and the name of his drum solo with Del Paxton.
It's possible that the prisoners were all desperately clamoring that they were Zorro on the assumption that they would be getting out of there. It's not too much of a stretch to assume this, given the conditions of that prison.
Monty Python's Life of Brian, intentionally parodies this trope by inverting it, as the 'Spartacus' that they're looking for is the person whom they're going to set free. ("I'm Brian, and so's my wife!")
British author Terry Pratchett recounts being at a convention after having read a newspaper article that claimed his entire readership was pimply, fourteen-year-old boys named Kevin. When he told his audience this, several members re-enacted the Life of Brian scene all the way to "I'm Kevin, and so's my wife!"
Superman II: The Vice President attempts to fool General Zod by standing (er, ''kneeling'') in for the actual President. Naturally, Zod sees right through it: "No one who leads so many could possibly kneel so quickly..."
In And Out: "I'm (x) and I'm gay!" (one gets the reply: "You can't be gay! You're a tramp!")
The Marx Brothers movie Animal Crackers does this, in a very confusing way. Someone at the party stole the painting, and everybody has a different idea who did it. People who know they didn't start taking credit to save their loved ones, or, in Groucho's case, just to be confusing, while the real culprits remain inconspicuously silent. Harpo ends up taking the rap, and then uses sleeping gas on everyone, including, for some reason, himself.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers twists the trope. When the townsfolk arrive to rescue the kidnapped girls and hear a baby crying, the six unwed girls claim in unison to be the baby's mother, leading to a sixfold Shotgun Wedding (exactly what the girls and their kidnappers/suitors wanted).
Subverted in A World Gone Mad, where the heroes offer up The Mole, claiming (falsely) that he's their real leader. The bad guys buy it, because only the Big Bad even knows there is a Mole. The grunts just think the Mole's protests that he's on their side are just cowardly last words. Further subverted later on; the grunts let the heroes go, but they realize the Mole was carrying all their food (and they're stuck in the middle of the desert).
In The Dark Knight, when Bruce Wayne is about to turn himself over as Batman to appease the Joker, Harvey Dent announces that he is the Batman, and that he wishes to be taken into custody.
Played straight in Stalag 17, when one of the POWs throws an ocarina and it splashes mud on the Commandant of the camp.
In the British Made-for-TV MovieSelf-Catering John Gordon-Sinclair recounts a dream he had in which he was Spartacus, and decided to keep quiet. And suddenly everyone was pointing at him and saying "He's Spartacus!"
From Bad Girls: "I killed Fenner!" "No, I killed Fenner!" "Actually, I killed Fenner!"
In the cult Turkish series Kara Murat, the enemy soldiers ask which one of the prisoners is Kara Murat at least once per movie. Every time, everyone claims to be him.
The Eddie Murphy / Martin Lawrence prison film Life uses this with a twist. The Warden's daughter gives birth to a Chocolate Baby, so he lines up all of his inmates and demands to know who the father is. When the inmates eventually all step forward and claim paternity, it has the added bonus of implying that the Warden's daughter has been rather busy. Not only does no one get punished, but the Warden is never seen again in the movie, presumably resigning out of shame.
From Meet Dave: After the Captain regains control of Dave from the mutinous Number Two, he asks the crew for their input regarding the decision of whether or not they should save Earth.
Number Three: I say we save Earth. I no longer feel like Number Three. My life began on this planet. I am Dave Ming Cheng!
Chief Engineer: I have 443 new friends on MySpace, and a J-date next week with Sheila Moscowicz. I am Dave Ming Cheng!
(One by one, other crew members from all over the ship declare proudly, "I am Dave Ming Cheng!"...except for Number Four, the security officer.)
Number Four: I am Johnny Dazzles, and I am fabulous! * beat* What? Not everybody has to be Dave Ming Cheng.
Inverted in Zodiac, where reporters afraid of being targeted by Zodiac, who has threatened reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), begin to wear buttons that say "I'm Not Paul Avery." The only one showed prominently is on Paul Avery.
Hilariously subverted in the opening scene of the French-Canadian film 1981. The scene is the father's recollection of a WWII incident in which a radio was stolen from the Nazis occupying his Italian town. The guard threatens to shoot an old woman unless the thief, named Benito, reveals himself. One by one, every young boy in the line steps forward. Turns out that the Italian government had given a $1 check to every family who named their son after their leader, and the community was poor enough that every boy born in the last 10 years or so was named Benito.
Used in Cop and a Half when the gangsters round up all the kids at recess searching for Devon.
Used in one of the final scenes of Radio Rebel: The principal announces that she'll expel Tara for her antics as Radio Rebel and the whole student body stands up and claims to be Radio Rebel, including, eventually, the Alpha Bitch who had mistreated Tara for most of the movie.
At the end of V for Vendetta, everyone in London dons the Guy Fawkes mask and becomes "the terrorist".
In Mrs. Winterbourne, upon a police detective informing them about a recent murder, all three main characters as well as the butler each insist that they committed the murder, giving incorrect details in the process. The bewildered detective tells them that they already have the (real) confessed murderer in back of the police car parked at the curb; she just wondered about a check with the Winterbourne name on it found at the murder scene.
The Chinese folktale The Five Brothers features identical quintuplets who each have some kind of superpower. After one of them accidentally kills a boy (in a situation that's completely the dead boy's fault) another of the brothers is immune to the execution method he is sentenced to and stands in for him. The executioners try again the next day with a different method that another of the brothers is immune to, and so on. After they all take their turn and the trick is revealed, the judge declares that this prolonged failure of executions must indicate that the first brother is innocent, freeing them.
In an interesting aside, three of the brothers' powers mirror those of the Fantastic Four: One has an "iron neck" (The Thing), and survives a beheading; one can "stretch and stretch and stretch his legs" (Mr. Fantastic), and survives drowning; the third is flame-retardant (The Human Torch), and survives being burned at the stake.
There was a Caribrdn folk tale about a little girl (think her name was Anna or something like that) who found out her stepmother was going to sell her to a man. When Anna told her friends what was going on, they all agreed to dress like her and claim to be named Anna.
In a Haitian variant of the story note recorded in Kathleen Ragan's anthology Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Beloved Sisters, the girl's name was Tipingee.
Shannon Hale's Princess Academy has a form of this. The girls who were candidates to marry the prince are captured by bandits, who demand to know which is the future princess so they can hold her for ransom. (The prince actually left without making a decision, but the bandits don't believe this.) One girl speaks up and claims the prince secretly proposed to her. When another girl who hadn't even met the prince makes the same claim, the rest catch on and claim he proposed to all of them. This confuses the bandits enough that they don't dare kill anyone until they know which girl is the princess.
The short story "The Three Lime Trees", by Hermann Hesse, uses this trope. When a young man is wrongfully accused of murder, his older brother claims to be the murderer to save him and he's released. Soon, their eldest brother comes to town to do exactly the same... and the younger brother (who didn't know his siblings were taking up the blame for the "crime") returns to the courtroom and says that he was the killer, so his siblings must be released. The judge decides to leave it to God's judgement and makes the siblings plant three lime trees by their crowns, thinking that the one that withers sooner will signal who is the true culprit... so when none of the trees wither and dry, but start growing healthy and normal, the three brothers are released.
In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, when a brawl breaks out among the aspirants, their teacher demands to know who is responsible. The ones who started the fight admit it, and the rest pile in, to admit to joining. When asked if they all deserve punishment, they agree.
In Legion, all the Alpha Legion are Alpharius, at least to outsiders. Magnificent Bastardry is their hat, and having the entire legion appear virtually alike is important to much of their scheming.
Heartbeat did an episode involving some Chinese travellers poaching Lord Ashfordley's trout stream, and also teaching Peggy and David how to go about it. When the bobbies demanded to know who was responsible, everybody confessed.
This trope is perhaps the reason why all of the La Résistance members are code-named "Jacques" in A Tale of Two Cities (an early version of Anonymous, perhaps, as "Jacques" was the most common male name at the time); in private meetings, they refer to each other as "Jacques [Number Whatever]" to tell each other apart.
In one of the Phule's Company books, the new CO sent to replace Phule demands to know who made a wisecrack about him while hidden in the crowd of Legionnaires. Several of them step up and take the blame, including one of the two Sinthians (sluglike aliens)—whose name really is Spatacus.
Used by the same author in Class Dis-Mythed, when Skeeve sneaks back to Perv, a dimension from which he's been banished, to support his students' efforts to win a reality-show contest. When he's spotted by police and about to be arrested, his students first claim he's a Skeeve impersonator from the program cast; when that fails to convince the cops, they use illusions to assume their teacher's likeness and distract them as he escapes.
In Herman Wouk's The Winds of War, Leslie Slote, a diplomatic secretary from the American embassy in Warsaw during the German invasion who is timid and considers himself a coward. While traveling through German territory with other neutral diplomats an SS officer tries to separate the Jews. In a Crowning Moment of Awesome Slote berates the officer with an imperious lecture on national sovereignity rights and announces that either all of the party or none are to be treated as Jews.
In a partial subversion, a couple of the party say in effect, "Hey wait a minute, I'm not a Jew" only to be promptly repressed by Slote.
A story in 1992 Wayne's World tie-in book Extreme Close-Up by Mike Myers and Robin Ruzan. Wayne, Garth, and friends are throwing snowballs at cars; a police car pulls up and they all run away, but Garth drops his notebook with his name in it. The next day, a police officer comes to school and asks, "Which one of you is Garth Algar?" Everyone in the classroom, in turn, stands up and says "I am Garth Algar!"—al except Garth, who stands up and says "I am Spartacus!"
Live Action TV
Playing with this trope, Dog With A Blog had Avery explain the "truth" about what happened to their mother's car. It doesn't help that their talking dog did it, but they try to claim this trope (to protect said dog) until Chloe says, "I...am Asparagus," and the parents figure it out.
Played straight in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. Spock is on Romulus, secretly teaching Vulcan philosophy to a group of young Romulans. When they're caught and the authorities demand they identify Spock, they all claim to be Spock. Considering the authorities' entire goal was to get the students to give up Spock—one of those "recant or die" ultimatums—and this was more of a gesture of defiance than anything else... which is typically Romulan, not Vulcan, so one assumes the students still had much to learn.
A partial version also happens in the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Crossover, where Spock and his students are once again rounded up thanks to a traitor. Except, when threatened, it's the traitor to gives himself up as Spock and is promptly shot, having been won over by Spock's teachings (Spock knew he was the traitor all along and was trying hard to teach him in order for at least one student to survive).
Subverted in the memorable episode of The Brady Bunch in which Peter breaks a vase. The gambit fails when all the kids except Peter confess.
Final episode of Power Rangers in Space "Countdown to Destruction" played straight, which had the entire city of Angel Grove, starting with Bulk and Skull, telling the villains that they were Power Rangers. Made all the more epic, in that many of them were shown doubting the Power Rangers the night before.
It's also played parallel to the Ur Example when Astronema, who was the recipient, orders her monsters to just destroy everyone in Angel Grove. (Fortunately, the actual Power Rangers showed up in the nick of time.)
Lampshade Hanging in Stargate SG-1 episode "Insiders" where all the Ba'als claim to be the real Ba'al, and Mitchell refers to them as "Spartacus" (somewhere in the midst of the Hurricane of Puns prompted by the name "Ba'al" and the word "ball").
Done in Madan Senki Ryukendo. The people of Akebono pretend to be Ryukendo while Kenji, the actual Ryukendo, is figuring out how to break down the dome covering the city. Dr. Worm and the Mooks are confused by the Spartacus act, as evidenced by the number of question marks that appear above their heads.
In an episode of Monk where Willie Nelson is the prime suspect of a murder, Captain Stottlemeyer arrives to arrest him. His three bandmates all step forth and say, in sequence, "I'm Willie Nelson." Given who Willie Nelson is, it doesn't work so well.
Played straight in an episode of Radio Free Roscoe when Principal Waller insists that Question Mark identify himself. Robbie stands up, but before he speaks another character jumps up and says 'I am Question Mark'. Cue the entire assembly standing up and identifying itself as Question Mark.
The first season of Xena: Warrior Princess did this, in the episode "The Black Wolf". An entire village stands up claiming to be the vigilante ninja(?!) who protects them from the local warlord, and the warlord takes them all hostage against the reveal of the real thing.
In the third episode of the Legend of the Seeker, the mother of the Seeker speaks up during an inquiry and rouses her village to defy the D'Hara. Afterward, she reveals her identity to them, thus condemning herself to punishment, which inspires the rest of the women of the village also speak up and claim to be the Seeker's mother as well. Though, it turns out she's not either.
Used in an episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide about embarrassment. Suzie "blasted the pants cannon" and Ned claims that he was the one responsible but that he is not embarrassed. He then says "I am Fartacus!", causing the rest of the class to stand up one by one and make this claim.
In a slight subversion, the Alpha Bitch declares that she is totally not Fartacus...only for her to pass gas a few seconds after saying so. She reluctantly stands with the rest of the students.
Done on Grey's Anatomy when the interns are questioned over the situation that forced Denny Duquette's heart transplant. Izzie, Cristina, Meredith and George all confess to cutting his wire, one at a time. Alex says. "I'm totally innocent." The others turn on him but he points out that he wasn't even in the building at the time.
A variation appeared in the Mash episode "Operation Noselift". A plastic surgeon visits the 4077th to perform a nose job on a soldier. When Major Burns gets wind of this unauthorized 'elective surgery', he tries to find out who's had a nose job. Unfortunately for Frank, everyone in the camp chooses to wear bandages on their noses, even the camp mascot, thus foiling Frank yet again.
Happy Days had a variant where a local law enforcement official (reflecting Executive Meddling concerns) goes after Fonzie because of his black leather jacket, which makes him look like a thug. By the end of the episode, everyone is wearing one in solidarity.
Alex in Modern Family proposes this as a way for she and her siblings to get out of being collectively punished for burning the couchnote which none of them actually did, but it's actually a trick to get Luke, the dumbest of the three, to take the blame.
Combined with Lost In A Crowd, this happens in The 4400 when NTAC agents try to arrest teenaged Cult leader Grahamnote whose power is to unconsciously make everyone with whom he comes into contact worship him in "The Wrath of Graham". As his followers, who are all wearing identical hoodies, each step forward claiming to be him, the agents are so overwhelmed sorting through them that Graham manages to sneak up and use his power on them.
Spoofed in the Lexx parody of A Midsummer Night's Dream. To get Stanley out of marrying Oberon, Puck transforms himself, Xev, and Kai into identical Stanley clones. At Oberon's demands, all of them claim to be the real Puck and to be the real Stan. (Their wording and delivery makes it clear who's whom, but Oberon reasons that Stan is disguised as the least desirable prospect and winds up sealing a 1500-year vow with Titania the bearded dwarf wench.)
The Sesame Street "Monsterpiece Theater" sketch "Me, Claudius" is a parody of this: it consists entirely of a bunch of Muppets arguing over which one of them is Claudius.
In the first episode of Life on a Stick, Mr Hut demands to know who was misusing the deep fryer. Laz confesses, but then so does everyone else in the stall.
One episode of Andromeda featured patients of a doctor/war criminal who were all brainwashed into claiming they were the doctor so the real one couldn't be identified.
The Wonder Years episode "Day One" has Kevin being picked on by a tyrannical political science teacher. At one point he absentmindedly tears a sheet of paper from his notebook, violating one of the teacher's study-hall rules; the teacher whips around, demanding, "Who did that?", sees Kevin with the sheet in his hand, and begins to assign him a week's detention...when the rest of the class begin tearing sheets out of their notebooks, one by one.
Spoofed on Community, where the study group is doing well in the Model UN competition Annie's roped them into, until they fall apart due to a smelly fart that no one will admit to. After melting down a bit, Annie tries to fix things by saying she did it, but then Jeff admits it. He's telling the truth, but the others assume he's trying to invoke the trope and all proudly say that they farted too. Annoyed, Jeff comments that he "wasn't doing the Spartacus thing."
Used together with Lost In A Crowd in The City Hunter: the hero arranges for fans of the City Hunter to gather outside the prosecutor's office at a certain time, all wearing black masks. The deception doesn't last long, but does provide him cover to sneak in and out (almost) unnoticed.
A variation appears in BadGirls. Larkhall is in the midst of a police investigation after the murder of Fenner, the sadistic wing governer. His killer, Julie J, can't cope with the guilt any longer and confesses to the crime. Her friend, wanting to protect her, claims that Julie J is lying, and that she is the real killer. Seeing this, another prisoner stands up and claims to be the real killer, followed by another, then another, until almost the entire wing is claiming to be the killer, due to their shared hatred of the tyrannical governer.
In the episode VOW OF SILENCE of The Sentinel, one of the monks had before he joined the community been a labor organizer who had turned State's Evidence on the mob. A group of hit men had tracked him down and had the monks corralled. When they asked who was "Jackie Kozinski", all of the monks claimed to be him.
Happens in House of Anubis where everyone decided to claim they were the ones who took the key to the attic in order to protect Nina (Who did actually confess after everyone else honestly said it wasn't them, leading for Fabian to jump up and claim he had lied and she was actually just covering for him.) In the end Victor simply punished everyone, including someone who wasn't even involved in the scene to pretend they took the key in the first place.
On the Soap OperaPort Charles, a sleazy reporter has come to the hospital having somehow found out that one of the staff members is HIV-positive. As he begins harassing the employees, including, unbeknown to him, the very nurse in question, one staff member after another begins to identify themself as the one with HIV.
Done in Season Eight of Waterloo Road. Barry Barry begins to sexually harass Miss Diamond, even breaking into her house and stealing her underwear. When he reveals this during a sexual health class, she slaps him without thinking. Barry, in an effort to get her fired, tries to make everyone in the class publicly admit they saw it happen. They respond by each coming forward and saying they were the one who slapped Barry.
Miss Diamond still ends up resigning though.
The Fugitive TV series: "Nightmare at Northoak" ends with a variation of this: Inspector Javert Gerard accuses a small-town sheriff of having helped Kimble (who'd rescued several of the town's children from a burning school bus) to escape from the local jail while awaiting extradition, and threatens to bring him before a grand jury for aiding and abetting a fugitive. The sheriff's wife then steps forward to confess to it, and Gerard tells her she'll have to be arrested...leading to a whole roomful of townspeople standing up one by one and "confessing" to him. Gerard, knowing when to fold them, only leaves silently with all the dignity he has left.
Aida has one of the other Nubian slaves claim to be Aida to prevent the real Aida's capture.
Forgotten Realms lore has one of these, too. Such is the mystery of Phlambror's death. "He was murdered by an enraged husband, and no one was ever punished for the crime despite the garthraun arresting a man red-handed (literally bloody-handed, over the body). As it turns out, no less than four hundred men came forward to claim that they'd slain Phlambror."
The Alpha Legion of Warhammer 40,000 do this all the time. Even to their allies. Perhaps especially to their allies, since no one even knows who their allies are. "I am Alpharius." "I am Alpharius." "I am Alpharius." "We are legion, and we are one." This is turned Up to Eleven in the Horus Heresy novel "Deliverance Lost" where it is revealed that they use this trope on themselves. No one, not even in the Legion itself knows who the real Alpharius is.
It doesn't help that the Legion has identical twin Primarchs, who both subvert Large and in Charge.
The Warhammer army book for the Skaven relates a tale that's a direct parody of the Trope Namer. In it, a Skavenslave named Scabbicus launches a slave revolt against his Skaven rulers. When the rebellion is put down, the slaves are promised amnesty if they give up Scabbicus. Ten thousand slaves immediately point Scabbicus out - after which they're all executed anyway, of course.
This trope is known in Spanish as "Fuente Ovejuna", after a famous play of that name and the real history behind it by Baroque Spanish play-writer Lope de Vega where, after the mob murder of a villainous aristocrat who oppressed them, all the inhabitants of the titular town /men, women, kids, old people, etc. stand up to King Ferdinand of Aragón and Queen Isabella of Castilla in that way ("Who killed the Commander?" "Fuente Ovejuna did it, Milord!").
In Way of the Samurai 3, this occurs near the end of one of the endings, after you take Osei Suzuku's place to save Takatane Village. Before being executed at Lord Shuzen's hand, though, Osei shows up, claiming her (correct) place as an heir to the Sakurai clan. Then Munechika Umemiya shows up, claiming to be another heir (he's the former chief vassal). Then, one by one, each of the other villagers and Ouka clan members there claims to be an heir to the Sakurai clan. At the end of the whole thing, Shinnosuke Umemiya, a Sakurai loyalist biding his time in Shuzen's service, laughs and claims he is one more heir. The expression on Kirie Masatsugu's face when hearing this is priceless. True to the original, Shuzen orders everyone killed, even after it is pointed out he will have no one left to rule over if he did.
Robin goes looking for Greg Killmaster at ILM in Shortpacked!, and a bunch of guys claim to be him when she yells that she wants to have "five million of his babies." The real one, of course, is nowhere to be found.
In the South Park episode "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow", Stan's attempts to confess "I broke the dam" cause the other townspeople to falsely confess the same; misinterpreting this as symbolic (as in they are all responsible) instead of literal (he took a joyride in a boat and crashed into it). They continue this into the credits as he is getting increasingly specific (and profane) about what he meant and still be ignored until he closes the episode with "Aw, fuck it!"
Also played with in "Lice Capades"; after Kenny is subjected to a "sock bath" after being found to have had lice, Kyle admits that he was the one with lice, then Stan and Cartman do the same — then Mrs. Garrison shows up and tells them they all had lice, and everyone gives Kenny a sock bath anyway for lying about not having lice.
Done oddly in the Futurama episode "A Tale of Two Santas", where a one-eyed mutant, a delivery boy, a ditz, and a handful of others all claim to be Robot Santa in order to save Bender from death — Zoidberg goes even further (and completely misses the point) by claiming to be Jesus. This prompts the executioner's line, "None of you are Santa! You're not even robots! How dare you lie in front of Jesus?!"
The title of this episode refers to Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities," which played it straight with Sydney Carton standing in to be executed in place of his lookalike, Charles Darnay.
Parodied in Undergrads: Gimpy sets up a string of pranks against his tyrannical RA, under the guise of G-Prime. When his RA threatens punishment on the entire dorm unless the real G-Prime confesses, the trope is played out. The subversion comes when Gimpy doesn't understand that they were doing it as an act of solidarity, and assumes they are trying to steal the credit and glory. One student even claims to be Spartacus.
From an episode of The Fairly OddParents, Timmy starts a radio show under the name "Double T". Vicky then steals his identity to badmouth the parents of Dimmsdale. When an angry mob of parents show up at the radio studio, a bunch of other kids all claim to be Double T, and the parents reason that they cannot ground them all.
Played with in Canadian show Radio Active, when Ms. Atoll demands to know the identity of the mysterious "DJ X". The plan backfires when DJ X himself fails to claim that he is DJ X, thus singling him out as DJ X.
Spoofed in Johnny Bravo when the titular character was hurled back to Ancient Rome he questioned a guy and that guys says "I'm Spartacus" prompting people who are behind him to shout the same thing, just for publicity.
In Kappa Mikey, there is a character named Spartacus where if a group of people start doing this ("I'm Mikey!"), he pops out of nowhere to exclaim " I Am Spartacus!!"
In Recess, when Spinelli accidentally calls the teacher mama, her friends all do the same thing in order to alleviate the humiliation, eventually leading to the whole class calling her mama. Also, in one episode Mikey rips his pants and his friends do too in order to save him from being the only one embarrassed.
In yet another episode, when Spinelli's first name is revealed to be Ashley, the other Ashleys force her to join them. To save Spinelli, the others all claim their names are Ashley too, and demand membership.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Headband", Aang hosts a secret dance party for a bunch of fire nation students, they are discovered and the teacher orders the guards to capture "the one with the headband". This feat soon becomes impossible as everyone attending soon ends up wearing a headband.
In a flashback in "The Southern Raiders", it's revealed that Katara's mother, Kya, claimed to be the waterbender the Fire Nation was looking for in order to protect Katara. She ends up dying for it.
Spoofed in a Family Guy cutaway. During the climactic scene, after two people claim to be Spartacus, Peter ruins it by casually ratting out the real Spartacus.
Parodied on ChalkZone when a futuristic villain, Craniac 3, discovers the magic chalk and wants it for himself. He takes it from Rudy, but upon learning he can't use it, he demands which of the trio is "The Great Artist". When Rudy is incapacitated at the moment, Penny claims she is the Great Artist, only for Snap to claim afterwards that he is the Great Artist. Craniac 3 just decides to take all three of them.
A possibly apocryphal but funny case of accidental Spartacus-ing set off by a misunderstanding is recounted here.
Occured in Vietnam in the case of a legendary US Marine sniper named Carlos Hathcock, who had a trademark in the form of a white feather he wore in his bush cap. The vietcong hated him so much they eventually started sending entire squads just to hunt him down. Knowing the devastating effect losing Hathcock would have on morale, marines in the area took to wearing white feathers of their own to deceive the enemy soldiers.
Many people on Facebook listed Hussein as their middle names in solidarity with Barack Obama after Fox News and others raised a stink over him having a "Muslim" middle name. On the other side of the political spectrum, there were all those John McCain supporters and Joe the Plumber.
In the (possibly apocryphal, but usually treated as fact) story of Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the Major League, his Dodgers teammates responded to threats on Robinson's life during a game by all wearing his jersey — number 42, which has since been retired out of respect.
There's an apocryphal, but widely believed I Am Spartacus from World War II. In Nazi Germany and its occupied areas, Jews were forced to wear gold stars for identification. The story has it that when the Nazis attempted to impose this measure on occupied Denmark, King Christian X began to wear a gold star in solidarity with his nation's Jews, and so many Danes began following his example that it became impossible to tell the Jews apart. While this isn't true in fact, it's true in spirit—there was a widespread movement among ordinary Danes to defend the Jews, and for the first few years of occupation, the Danish government refused to impose or enforce any discriminatory measure against the Jews. When the Nazis decided to get tougher, the Danes were so successful at hiding and evacuating them that of around 8,000 Danish Jews, the Nazis only managed to capture about 450, of whom 400 were eventually rescued.
It's also said that when some Nazis asked a mayor and a priest in a town in Greece to turn over a list of all the Jews in town, they turned in a list bearing only their own names.
When Prince Harry announced his intention to serve in Iraq, there was understandable concern about him making his unit a prime target. In response to this, the many soldiers started wearing T shirts that said 'I'm Harry".
The Trope Namer is very often parodied at motorbike rallies, generally after dark. Depending on the general mood at the time (and exactly how late it is), the initial "I'm Spartacus!" can be met with various obscenities, or enthusiastically taken up, generally morphing into "I'm Spartacus, and so is my wife!", and even "I'm Spartacus' wife!"
There is a Medieval subversion and inversion. When the French king invaded Italy he met an Italian Prince, and both had Swiss mercenaries. As it was not considered appropriate for Swiss to slay Swiss, the "Italian" army gave way and the prince was smuggled away dressed as a soldier. The French general found what they were up to and paraded them offering gold to whomever would reveal "who was Spartacus". At first none of them revealed who it was, but finally one tattle-tale stepped forward and revealed the prince. This man, whose greed apparently was greater then his wits, later returned home to Switzerland where he was executed by the goverment for bringing disgrace on his comrades.
Eric, son of Kirk, Douglas tried his hand at stand up. It did not go particularly well, and he was being heckled rather nastily. Finally he snapped and shouted at the heckler "You can't heckle me! I am Kirk Douglas' son!". The heckler got to his feet, and shouted back "No! I am Kirk Douglas' son!" Pretty soon the whole audience is on its feet joining in.
The Talmud in tractate Sanhedrin brings a couple of I Am Spartacus stories. It's kicked off by a story in which Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel brought together seven judges to declare a leap year but eight showed up and he demanded to know which one wasn't invited. This one isn't an example because one person simply took the fall for the real culprit, but it's followed by two examples:
Rebbe was teaching and smelled garlic. He hated the smell of garlic (and everybody knew it, so there were no excuses), so he announced "Whoever ate garlic, leave." Rabbi Chiyya got up and left, but he was Rebbe's prized student and was obviously not the culprit - so one by one everyone else got up and left too, to save the real one from embarrassment.
A woman came to the school run by Rabbi Meir, and stated that she had had relations (of a type equivalent to a binding marriage contract) with one of the students but didn't know which one. Rabbi Meir himself wrote her a bill of divorce, followed by every single one of his students, thus ensuring the divorce took place without embarrassing the student in question.
Escort ships (the naval kind, not the Bodyguard Crush kind) often carry blip enhancers so that on radar they appear to be the ship they're escorting. In practical terms, that means that enemy ships that are aiming by radar will shoot at them instead of the ship they're protecting.
On a flight to Canada, two members of Monty Python almost simultaneously stood up and shouted "I'm passenger Johnson" in response to a request to see said passenger. This started a chain reaction. Then they arrived and rode the luggage carousel. The flight crew was glad to see them leave.
During an incident in the Polish-Soviet War some Polish prisoners all stripped to their undershorts so that the Russians couldn't tell officers from enlisted.
In one subversion, Genghis Khan had just won a clan war in which a horse had been shot out from under him. Ghenghis lined up the captives asked,"Which one of you shot my horse." One man boldly said, "I did." Then Genghis rewarded him. To elaborate, Khan was raised in a world of unending cycles of revenge. His revolution in part consisted of uniting the Mongol people by having a genius for finding people of talent, putting them in high position, and making them loyal to Khan and the law rather than clan. Conquered clans were embraced into the fold, the men divided and dispersed into multi-clan bands, and the whole lot loyal to the Khan and the idea of a unified people. Soon afterwards, the world learned to be terrified of a people who, one generation earlier, had considered a coat of animal furs to be a sign of great wealth.
Comedian Lee Evans once did a brilliant joke about just saying "I am Spartacus" in response to every question asked by the people on those annoying phone calls you get when people try to sell you shit you don't want or need.
This is why privacy advocates encourage everyone to use encryption whenever possible. If only a few people use it, crypto draws unwanted attention from the authorities.
Terry Pratchett once gave a talk where he mentioned the newspapers still had a stereotype that the typical Discworld fan was a fourteen-year-old called Kevin. At the end, an old lady stood up to say "I would just like to say that I'm Kevin." Cue the rest of the audience going "No, I'm Kevin!", including the inevitable "I'm Kevin, and so is my wife."
A bit of a variation in the sense that the "Spartacus" was never even there: At the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic convention Canterlot Gardens, one panel was for brony musicians. Before the con started, every musician apparently agreed to introduce themselves as Alex S (a brony musician who couldn't make it to the con). Cue the first words spoken to be "Welcome to the brony musician panel; we are all Alex S" and everyone jumping in to agree, saying things like "And I'm Alex S" or "Are you sure? Because I'm pretty sure I'm Alex S".