Sanji: Are you saying this is my fault!? If you don't want to look like my wanted picture then how about trying to change your hairstyle or your beard!? There are plenty of things you could just change, right!?The ploy where one person is mistaken for another and Hilarity Ensues. Truth in Television to an alarming degree. This was a big favorite of William Shakespeare, which means it has been riffed on by a large number of others. Shakespeare, of course, cribbed it from Greek plays, the Greek playwrights cribbed it from ... who knows? Pictures on a cave wall, maybe. Subtropes: Thoroughly Mistaken Identity.
Duval: ... AH! So I could have done that!?
Sanji: ARE YOU ALL MORONS!?
Duval: ... AH! So I could have done that!?
Sanji: ARE YOU ALL MORONS!?
-— One Piece
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- In Fairy Tail, Wendy is elated to be reunited with Jellal, who saved her as a child. Of course, since there's, like, ten Jellals running around, she's got the wrong one. It's actually a little sad, since the one she finds has amnesia, and has only been told about all the things he's done wrong in the past, so he's relieved to hear that he's been able to do good for at least one person.
- In Natsume's Book of Friends, it's a recurring plot point that ayakashi - not being terribly keen on the passage of time or human sex differences - regularly mistake Takashi Natsume for his grandmother Reiko. This usually doesn't work out well for him, as most ayakashi are looking for Reiko to settle a score with her.
- Muteki Kanban Musume: Given her constant depression, her Face of a Thug and her physical appearance, everyone takes Kayahara Sensei for an Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl onryo bent on revenge on the living. Given her enormous Guilt Complex, Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Megumi will always take her for one.
- In Kamisama Kiss Tomoe ends up confusing Nanami and Yukiji.
- This trope shows up in One Piece: Duval was originally a small-time crook until Sanji got his Wanted Poster. Through a series of unlucky accidents, the Marines couldn't get a good picture of Sanji, so they instead resorted to using a crudely drawn picture instead, much to Sanji's dismay. Because Duval looks exactly like the wanted poster picture, Marines and bounty hunters alike mistook him for Sanji and started hunting him. This led Duval to hate Sanji's guts, believing he ruined his life (Though still, as quoted above, Duval isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed). The problem is eventually solved when Sanji kicks Duval's face hard and repeatedly, which permanently alters his facial structures and makes him look like a Bishōnen. This pleases Duval so much that he immediately forgets his grudge towards Sanji to the point of actually calling him "Young Master", and has a Heel–Face Turn.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia Canada is frequently mistaken for America. That is, when anyone even notices him to begin with.
- Trigun has a pretty hilarious one in the first episode: notorious outlaw Vash the Stampede is cornered by a bounty hunter who wants the price on his head. Then a second bounty hunter shows up and mistakes the first one for Vash, followed by a coincidence making the first guy think the second is Vash - all the while the real Vash is watching the whole thing from the sidelines, still sitting where the first bounty hunter left him tied up and looking not the least bit amused.
Vash: Uh, did I miss something...?
- Fullmetal Alchemist :
- Al often being mistaken as the titular character due to him being a suit of armor and Ed's codename. This is even lampshaded in 2003 anime series episode, "The Other Brothers Elric".
Ed: No, you dolt! I'm Ed! Why does everyone think that?!
- Upon meeting Father for the first time, both Ed and Al mistake him for their dad Van Hohenheim, though they realize it's not him.
- Al often being mistaken as the titular character due to him being a suit of armor and Ed's codename. This is even lampshaded in 2003 anime series episode, "The Other Brothers Elric".
- Played for Drama in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. When she returns to her hometown Mari finds out her home has been burned down and everyone in the area died. When she goes to the mortirary she learns there is the body of a senior woman and a roughly 4 year old girl with pigtails like her daughter. She is too tramatized and scared to identify the bodies. Mirai looks for Mari's family again, and it turns out both her mom and daughter survived and are fine.
- In Kimi to Boku Chizuru and Yuki played together one day as children. Chizuru only spoke German so the two couldn't communicate well. The next day Chizuru gave Yuki a toy of his, except in reality he had given it to his identical twin Yuuta. Years later this causes confusion because Yuuta remembers the toy but not Chizuru while Yuki doesn't remember Chizuru at all.
- Flash Thompson has a tendency to dress up as Spider-Man, and end up mistaken for him by his enemies.
- In Titans, the revived Osiris mistakes Killer Croc for Sobek.
- In The Avengers, The Falcon ditched his 90's costume after Namor mistook him for a D-list hero named Stingray.
- There was an old Legion of Super Heroes story in which Superboy and Supergirl couldn't be in the Legion anymore because a "green kryptonite cloud" is about to envelop the Earth for a few years. So they nominated a couple of replacements to take their places, named "Miss Terious" and "Sir Prize". The two wore suits that completely concealed the people inside, and it's heavily implied (and the other Legionnaires clearly believe) they're Superboy and Supergirl wearing lead armor to protect themselves from the kryptonite. They weren't. They were Dream Girl and Star Boy, two former Legionnaires who were expelled from or left the Legion due to technical violations of the Legion Code; after their actual identities are revealed, the Legion turns out to be willing to forgive and forget, modify the Code, and accept them back again. They even explain how the two (who have considerably different powers from Superboy and Supergirl) managed to accomplish things like flying and knocking out a dinosaur with one punch.
- The Cult of Bya no Kuei Arc in One Piece: Parallel Works is all about Wolfgang being mistaken for the royal prince of the island, who looks exactly like Wolfgang, save for his eye color. It gets Played for Drama when the Capricorns end up discovering the corpse of Wolfgang's doppleganger and mistake him for Wolfgang.
- In The New Retcons John Patterson mistakes Claire Thompson as a lawyer hired either by his son's mother in law or the owners of the business he invested in to attempt to force him to give up his shares in said business. He takes it much worse when Anthony accidentally reveals that she's actually his wife's illegitimate daughter and attacks his wife in response.
- Becoming Ponies has a weird twist on this. People are waking up as the characters of MLP:FIM... except they are sharing their minds with the characters, who never wake up in control. So, that's not Pinkie Pie, even though it is...
- Sepia Tock: Adventures of the Ponyville Clockmaker is based around the premise that the titular character keeps getting mistaken for a certain fictional time-traveling hero. He is somewhat resentful of this.
- In Kenshin's New Look Sano mistakes Kenshin for Kaoru because Kenshin is dressed up as Kaoru. (Despite the fact that Kaoru doesn't have red hair while Kenshin does.)
- The Bridge:
- When Mothra Lea arrives in Equestria, she's in the form a of Changeling Queen. Twilight Sparkle mistakes her for the evil Queen Chrysalis and nearly picks a fight before she's able to defuse the situation.
- Kaizer Ghidorah stops his attack on Aria Blaze after he mistakes her for Controller 011, his wife from before he was turned into a Kaiju. While the two do not look alike, they have similar eyes.
- Fate Stay Night: Ultimate Master: Servant Avenger is Jeanne d'Arc, who in canon is an Identical Stranger to Saber. However, when they first meet and Avenger's helmet is knocked off, Saber at first thinks she is her other Identical Stranger, Mordred.
- A common theme in Alfred Hitchcock movies such as North By Northwest.
- The German movie Kleine Haie is about some guys who want to be accepted at an actors' school. One of them in fact starts out as a worker who just had to deliver a chair to the school, gets mistaken for another wannabe actor, but the teachers mistake his behavior "Hey, I just want to deliver this chair!" for improvised acting. He gets the hang of it.
- The premise of Top Hat is that Dale Tremont mistakes Jerry Travis for Horace Hardwick, her friend's husband. They met when she was disturbed by his loud dancing, they hit it off and the next day she asks the hotel staff who was in the room above, they give Mr Hardwick's name (due to an error Jerry had to share his room) and point out Jerry when he comes to return the keys. Throughout the rest of the film, Dale is struggling with being wooed with her friend's husband, so she thinks... it gets even funnier since Mrs Hardwick was planning on introducing Dale to Jerry in hopes they would hit it off.
- The entire plot of the comedy The Man Who Knew Too Little is that Bill Murray's character picks up the wrong phone call and thus everyone involved in a massive spy adventure assumes he's a deadly agent. He, in turn, is under the impression that this is all a massive role playing game and his antics thus come off as the acts of an invincible super-spy. Amazingly, neither he nor the other real spies ever figure the mistake out.
- The Big Lebowski: A pair of thugs rough up The Dude. They do this because they're looking for one Jeff Lebowski, who The Dude has the same name as. A long stretch of strange events ensues.
- In A Song Is Born, Frisbee mistakenly thinks gangster Tony Snow is Honey Swanson's father, because she calls him by the slang term, "daddy."
- In Le Million, Michel goes to find petty thief Grandpa Tulip because Tulip is in possession of a very important coat of Michel's. The cops wind up arresting Michel, thinking that he is Tulip. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Mystery Date, people keep confusing Tom for his older brother, Craig. That's because Craig engineered the situation to create an alibi.
- The plot of Lucky Number Slevin is kicked off by Slevin being mistaken for his friend who he's staying with for a while by two separate mob bosses his friend owes a massive debt to and being forced to work for both.
- Bachelor Mother is a Screwball Comedy that revolves around a young woman being mistaken for the mother of a Doorstop Baby abandoned at a family home. As no one believes her story, the woman eventually begins saying that she abandoned the baby because she had nowhere to turn and the father was physically abusive. She takes in the baby, develops a bond with him, and eventually adopts him.
- Happens twice in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The first time is intentional - two con men show up at the home of a recently deceased man, claiming to be his brothers who live in England. This fools the foolish townspeople for some time, until the real brothers show up. The second plays the trope much straighter: Huck just happens to unknowingly show up at the house of Tom Sawyer's aunt hundreds of miles from home, who just happens to be expecting Tom for a visit. Luckily, when Tom shows up, he plays along and poses as Sid Sawyer, Tom's own younger brother.
- Well, younger cousin; Sid's mother is Tom's Aunt Polly - the one he's visiting is his Aunt Sally who has never seen either of her nephews. So when a preteen boy shows up at her house she automatically assumes it's the one she's expecting. Tom being Tom, he thinks this is a great joke/adventure, and turns it into a game in which he makes up all the rules.
- Poor Nick Carter. In Year Zero, he is mistaken for both the Backstreet Boy and the founding partner of his law firm.
- Caster, AKA Gilles de Rais/Bluebeard, of Fate/Zero thinks Saber is Joan Of Arc, and kinda flips out when she tells him otherwise. He assumes that she's lost her memory and decides to commit mass murders to 'restore' his beloved Jeanne d'Arc.
- In Cornell Woolrich's novel "I Married A Dead Man", two pregnant women (one happily married traveling with her rich husband and the other unmarried and running away in shame) visit a bathroom on the train. The married woman nearly drops her heirloom wedding ring down the sink so she puts it on the other woman's finger for safekeeping while she washes up. The train derails, the married couple are both killed and the single woman is mistaken for the other woman. She only finds this out in the hospital after giving birth and plans to tell the truth but finds herself in an increasingly complex web of lies, leading to blackmail and murder.
- This is a major source of drama in Star Darlings. Around 50 percent of wish missions end in failure, usually due to misidentifying the wisher or misidentifying the wish. Sage mistook a Wishling who wanted her classmates to attend her party as the one she was supposed to help, when it was actually a person behind her. Libby has this happen with the wish itself. She mistook Ava's wish as wanting to win the class election when she actually wanted to stay friends with her campaign rival, Kristie.
- One chapter of Little House on the Prairie has Laura and her mother going out one winter night to milk their cow. They had a lantern but the light wasn't too strong. They saw a large figure by their gate and, mistaking it for their cow, Laura's mother told it to move and even slapped it on the shoulder. It turned out to be a bear, though it didn't act aggressively.
- Our Miss Brooks: Several times, naturally Hilarity Ensues:
- In "Red River Valley", Mr. Conklin, Harriet, Walter, Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton confuse state board official Mr. Jones with Deacon Jones, the "Hillbilly Heifetz" and leader of a square dance troupe.
- In "Fargo Whiskers", Mr. Conklin believes school official Fargo is a disguised Walter Denton.
- In "Head of the State Board of Education", thanks to Stretch Snodgrass' bungling, Miss Brooks and company accuse the man with the eponymous title of being an unemployed park bench loafer.
- In The Adventures of Superman episode "Night of Terror" the crooks are expecting another called "Baby Face" to help them deal with Lois Lane and a female innkeeper. When Jimmy Olsen arrives, he gets mistaken for "Baby Face" and keeps up the charade as long as possible to help the women.
- An episode of House featured a sort of "torn from the headlines" mystery in which he spends the entire episode treating a woman who survived a building collapse but horribly maimed and unable to communicate. He keeps finding inconsistency after inconsistency with her condition, medical records, and patient history (as provided by her fiance and mother) but assume that his "everybody lies" motto explains things one way or another. In the end, House realizes the woman was misidentified, they figure out who she really is, and they save her life just in time using the correct medical history.
- In the Leonardo episode "The Betrothal Ball", set at a Masquerade Ball, Lisa and Angelina, daughter of the Duke of Pisa, are wearing identical dresses and masks. Lorenzo has insisted he and Leo wear matching outfits, and at one point they swap masks. Every possible point of confusion is covered, first Played for Laughs (as Mac agonises to "Lorenzo" about how Lisa loves Leo, and Leo asks "Lisa" about it) and then Played for Drama (when Lisa gets kidnapped instead of Angelica.)
- The entire premise of Princess Returning Pearl. Xia Zi Wei is a long lost illegitimate daughter of the Emperor Qian Long who comes to Beijing to find her father. To get to her father, she must climb a cliff to get to where he is hunting outside the palace one day, but since she was too weak to climb the cliff, she entrusted her story and objects proving her identity to her sworn sister Xiao Yan Zi, asking her to relay the message on her behalf. Xiao Yan Zi manages to get into the hunting ground but before she could speak to the emperor, she was accidentally shot with an arrow by one of his sons...The emperor seeing the objects on her, immediately assumes she is his daughter instead and a whole lot of mixups ensues, leading to a whole complicated plot.
- Happens a lot in Power Rangers, it seems. The plot goes like this: the current Big Bad wants the Monster of the Week to ambush and kidnap one of the heroes, but it just so happens that said hero has arranged for a friend or current love interest to meet with him or her somewhere, and when the monster shows up, guess what happens? (Of course, you could probably blame the Big Bad for this more, for simply not giving a better description.) The first time would probably have been when Madame Woe grabbed Billy's girlfriend Maude when Rita intended her to grab Billy, but it wouldn't be the last time.
- An interesting twist in "Secret Admirer'; Frasier mistakes himself for the object of Maris' affections when it is actually Niles who is supposed to receive the gifts.
- In the Pilot of Supernatural, there is a non comedic example. Mary mistakes the man next to her son's crib for her husband, only to walk downstairs and find her husband asleep in front of the television.
- The attempted murder of Invader #3 by Manny Fernandez during a 1989 CSP match came about because the latter mistook 3 for Invader #1, who had killed Bruiser Brody.
- Shakespeare's plays:
- The Merchant of Venice — Explores the differences between outer appearance and inner reality, putting almost every character in a disguise at one point or another.
- As You Like It — Shakespeare had a lot of fun with utterly changing the meaning of the dialog by letting the audience in on who was really speaking, but leaving the characters unaware.
- Twelfth Night — Malvolio, Orsino, and Olivia all find themselves doing things they wouldn't ordinarily, by trying to act as the person they are mistaken for.
- Measure for Measure — The Duke uses disguise to reveal the truth about Angelo's character. This also provides comedy when Lucio speaks of the Duke to the Duke while unaware of the Duke's identity.
- The Comedy of Errors — The entire play is built around the chaos two pairs of long-separated identical twins cause when they coincidentally end up in the same town.
- Julius Caesar — Following Antony's effective speech, an Angry Mob forms up to find and kill Caesar's murderers. They run into a poet named Cinna, the same name as one of the conspirators, and beat him to death despite his loud and repeated protests that they have the wrong man.
- The Lieutenant of Inishmore reveals at the very end that that cat shown dead — definitely dead — on stage at the beginning was not Wee Thomas, but a random stray. The thought of Wee Thomas having been killed is what sparked off the plot.
- In The Most Happy Fella, Tony mails Rosabella a photograph of his handsome young foreman Joe. Rosabella is shocked to discover on her wedding day that "Tony" is actually Joe and she's marrying an old man, but she goes through with the wedding anyway because she has nothing else to fall back on.
- A funny meta example, fans of Yume Nikki stumble onto this Youtube channel, thinking it's the same Kikiyama who made this game.
- Happens in Chrono Trigger near the start of the game when Marle goes to the past and is mistaken for her ancestor, Queen Leene.
- Forms a major plot point in the final battle in Hellsinker as Garland mistakes the protagonists as Amber's owner.
- The plot of Napple Tale begins with a novice Grim Reaper accidentally collecting the heroine, Pōchi, when he was actually set for...a kitty named Pōshe. Pōchi then has to go on an adventure to get back home.
- In Final Fantasy X-2, Yuna and her friends initially mistake a recording of Shuyin for one of Tidus because they look so similar. Shuyin mistakes Yuna for his dead lover Lenne because she's wearing Lenne's old clothes that house her sleeping spirit. Later, Yuna tries to pretend to be Lenne to get Shuyin to stand down, but he sees through the attempt and goes berserk.
- God of War: Ghost of Sparta: This game reveals a prophecy that a "marked warrior" will bring about the downfall of Olympus; when Kratos was a child, Athena and Ares thought that Kratos' brother Deimos was the warrior in the prophecy because of his strange birthmarks. In reality, the marked warrior is Kratos himself, the mark in question being the ashes of his family that are permanently affixed to his skin.
- Kirby: Triple Deluxe: Taranza mistakenly believes that King Dedede, not Kirby, is the hero of Dream Land simply because Dedede is the king. He only finds out his blunder after Kirby defeats him.
- In Shovel Knight: wandering traveler Reize mistakes Shovel Knight with Black Knight after hearing rumors of a knight with a shovel terrorizing villages, it's only because Black Knight also uses a shovel.
- From Sonic the Hedgehog series, Amy Rose mistook both Shadow and Silver for Sonic in their respective debut games. At least it served to make her an ally of both characters, prompting them to help in the final battles.
- In GEOWeasel, Jimbob, and later on, Nar, are mistaken for Weas and arrested, even when the cops are comparing their faces to Weas's wanted poster.
- Occurs in this And That's How Equestria Was Made! strip, with Spike mistaking the sea serpent from The Elements Of Harmony for his crush, Rarity.
- In Sinfest, Death is blamed for Michael Jackson's death. So he disguises himself -- and is taken for him.
- In Bob and George, the Author revives Dr. Light -- and as a recolor, gets taken for Megaman.
- There were rumors on his campus that Yoon Sung from Welcome To Room 305 was a crossdresser. Those sightings were of his twin sister, Yoona.
- In the Garfield and Friends episode "Mistakes Will Happen", Garfield and Odie are watching the intentionally mistake-filled episode of Garfield And Friends itself, Mistake Will Happen. At one point in it, Garfield and Odie overhear Jon planning to scare them using a ghost costume as punishment for walking in the woods alone. However, an escaped convict sees him after he bumps into a tree, and is worried that there might be people, so he uses the costume to scare away any people. Garfield and Odie spot him thinking he's Jon, and Hilarity Ensues.
- Dan gets mistaken for a homeless guy. In front of a Shakespeare dinner theater, no less.
- The Simpsons
Homer: But I keep telling you I'm not a pilot!Man: And I keep telling you you fly boys crack me up!
- Homer got mistaken for a pilot after he was found drinking at a bar where that was required. He flips a switch on the plane and it smashes into the runway.
- When waiting by his car in "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" a man drops off some change. Homer tells him he isn't a bum. More people give him change so Homer decides to just accept it. When he then asks a woman for spare change she ignores him, causing Homer to call her a cheapskate.
- The Powerpuff Girls mistake the Professor's brother with a sasquatch.
- Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: In Bash Johnson: 11th Grade Ninja'', Bash is mistaken for the ninja and gets all the adulation and is almost killed by McFist's robo-apes.
- During Randy's fiest run-in with Catfish Booray, Randy introduced himself as "Reginald Bagel", leading Booray to believe that to be the Ninja's true identity. It's revealed in a later episode there is a boy named Reginald Bagel and the Ninja has to protect him from McFist.
- In Steven Universe, during the events of "The Return", Jasper believes that Steven is Rose Quartz, because Steven uses Rose's shield and her abilities. As Rose and Jasper are both shape-shifting aliens from a species that does not normally reproduce sexually (or even naturally), the possibility that the human kid using her powers and wearing her Gem is her child doesn't occur to Jasper.
- There is an episode where, while visiting a small European country, Kimber is mistaken for their princess and kidnapped. She is almost assassinated by the princess' evil cousin.
- Ba Nee is a Vietnamese orphan. She is the only one who believes her father is still alive, but she only knows that he has red hair. In one episode she mistakes a man for her dad despite protests. It turns out he is too young to be her father however they stay friends nevertheless. Ba Nee is reunited with her dad in the finale.
- People often don't realize how huge a problem eyewitness mistaken identification is. If there is one criminal in a population of 5000, and a witness is 99% reliable, that still results in 50 false positives.
- This problem is somewhat more recognized in medical practice. False positives from an apparently reliable test for a rare disease will swamp the actual afflicted ones, unless some kind of pre-screening removes most of the healthy. If the disease affects one in a thousand tested persons, and the test is 99% reliable in rejecting healthy persons, then the false positives will outnumber the diseased persons at least ten to one.
- This happens every time you think you see an acquaintance who actually turns out to be a complete stranger. Can be embarrassing at parties.
- Or if you mistake a stranger for a celebrity... That can be very awkward.
- One particular example occurred in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics, when Steve Parry, a British former Olympic swimmer then reporting for the BBC, was mistaken for Michael Phelps, an American Olympic swimmer in Beijing who had beaten the record for most gold medals won in a single Olympics that year. Hilarity did indeed ensue.
- Brazilian engineer Jean Charles de Mendez, resident in Britain at the time, was mistaken for a wanted terrorist on the 22nd of July 2005. The Metropolitan Police chased him through the Underground, dragged him off the train, pinned him down and shot him in the head execution-style. It was two weeks after the July 7th bombings, and the police had a "shoot to kill" mentality.
- There is this Japanese musician who uses a very fancy hairstyle on stage ever since journalists had tried to interview an assistant after her concert instead of herself and she realised that Westerners cannot tell one Japanese apart from another.
- In a lighter example, Area 11 were once mistaken for Enter Shikari when they went to the after-party of a Japanese gig. They turned up to the party first, causing ecstatic fans to start buying them drinks for the first hour, although the group did not realise this had happened at first. Not long afterwards, Area 11 realised the mistake that had been made, making it even more confusing when Enter Shikari turned up for real.