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->''"It is also possible to have a mask behind the mask."''
-->-- '''Quirinus Quirrell''', ''FanFic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality''

Why settle for a secret identity or wearing a mask, when you can let your secret identity have a secret identity and wear a mask under your mask?

This can be done by individuals or organizations, and it can be done in a physical, social or metaphorical sense. Easily combined with a GambitPileup. Popular in the world of AncientConspiracy.

Contrast SecretIdentityIdentity, where there's only one secret identity but it's becoming the person's real identity. Compare SecondSuperIdentity, when someone has more than one costumed identities
ARiddleWrappedInAMysteryInsideAnEnigma and InfractionDistraction. If pretending to be the opposite sex in one layer is part of the deception it may involve RecursiveCrossdressing.

As a Reveal Trope, expect unmarked '''SPOILERS!'''



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Kakashi in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' is a literal case -- he wears ''another mask'' under his mask.
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', Lelouch has three or four identities: Lelouch Vi Britannia, Lelouch Lamperouge, Zero, and the king of geass. The second series adds another identity, since there are two different Lelouch Lamperouge identities depending on who he says his real [[spoiler: sibling]] is. People who are close to him, like Nunnally, Suzaku, and Milly might know two of the identities, but C.C. is the only other person who knows all of them. In the last five episodes, he complicates it further by [[spoiler: pretending that Lelouch Vi Britannia is a monster]]. And like the ''Naruto'' example above, he wears a second, ninja-like mask underneath his iconic Zero helmet. [[spoiler:Doesn't stop Shirley from seeing right through it, though.]]
* In ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos'', [[spoiler: Melvin Voyager, the escaped convict from Central Prison, reveals that he is actually Ashleigh Crichton, the long-lost brother of movie protagonist Julia Crichton. Except that he actually isn't; he is Julia and Ashleigh's family's old bodyguard Atlas, with Ashleigh's face grafted over his own as part of his BatmanGambit.]]
* ''{{Medabots}}'': Hikaru Agata (Henry) with his two alter egos, the Phantom Renegade and Space Medafighter X. At one point Space Medafighter X's golden mask is cracked which reveals the white mask of Phantom Renegade. Note that Space Medafighter X's mask is EXACTLY THE SAME as the Phantom Renegades' mask, just with gold plating and different colored eyes. [[PaperThinDisguise Yet nobody suspects a thing.]]
* In ''Manga/FairyTail'''s Galuna Island arc, there is an EnigmaticMinion named Zolty, a middle-aged man always wearing a mask. At the end of the arc, after he'd revealed he was trying to [[HijackingCthulhu take control of]] the SealedEvilInACan the rest of [[ArcVillain Lyon's]] team were trying to kill, Zolty takes off his mask in private. This face, [[AnticlimacticUnmasking which is neither out of the ordinary nor anyone we've seen before]], is inconsequential because seconds later it turns out his ''entire'' appearance was a magical disguise used by someone who looks completely different--[[spoiler:namely, Ultear, the young-adult ''woman'' we had seen was part of the Magic Council.]]
* In ''Manga/HistorysStrongestDiscipleKenichi'' the fight between Diego Carlo and Ma Kensei thoroughly parodies this trope. "Laughing Iron Fist" Diego has the fighting style of a luchador and so constantly wears a mask. During his fight with with Kensei he [[TurnsRed gets mad]] and rips off his mask to reveal another mask, that of the "Angry Iron Fist". When he is finally defeated by Kensei he takes off this mask in surrender, revealing that he is still wearing a domino mask underneath to protect his modesty. Kenichi's reaction at this point is along the lines of "... seriously?"

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* In ''ComicStrip/ThePhantom'', the secret leader of the jungle patrol is The Phantom itself -- the masked superhero identity, rather than its mundane counterpart "Mr Walker".
* ''Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}'': for a while, Matt Murdock pretended to also be his non-blind twin brother Mike, who everyone suspected was secretly Daredevil.
* ''Comicbook/MoonKnight'' sometimes did this. His original identity is Marc Spector, a onetime soldier of fortune [[TheAtoner trying to make amends]]. He also took on the [[Frianchise/{{Batman}} Bruce Wayne-ish]] identity of financier Steven Grant and - to catch up with street level gossip - cab driver Jake Lockley. As part of his multiple personality psychopathy sometimes even he didn't know who the "real" person was under all the double- and triple-personalities.
* Twice in the IntercontinuityCrossover ''Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk'' Batman wears a LatexPerfection mask ''over'' his Batman cowl. [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Batman_vs_Hulk_Page_31_4774.jpg Here's]] one of them -- he even manages to keep his extra long pointy bat-ears under the disguise. Batman has also used the same trick in older comics, including a rather infamous one where he wore a Batman cowl, over a Bruce Wayne mask, over another cowl, over his real Bruce Wayne face. All so he could pretend he wasn't Bruce Wayne, just disguised as him.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Superboy}}'' #107, Red Kryptonite makes Clark jealous of himself as Superboy. He proceeds to reveal his superpowers and starts doing his fantastic feats openly. Some out-of-town criminals who arrived in Smallville to kill Superboy with Green Kryptonite learn of this and make plans to strike Clark at his home. Eventually the Red K's effect wears off and Clark proceeds to extricate himself from the crisis [[http://www.supermanfan.net/main/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/showoff-6.jpg via the trope]]. He makes up a story explaining that he knew that the criminals wanted to kill Superboy but didn't know when they'd strike, so he posed as Clark in cooperation with the Kents to force their hand.
* More indirect than most examples, Oracle has set up false identities for each of the [[Franchise/{{Batman}} Bat Clan]] in case someone takes their fingerprints or obtains their DNA.
* One issue of ''ComicBook/YoungJustice'' had the team playing Truth Or Dare, with Impulse daring Robin to take off his mask. He did... only to reveal that he had [[CrazyPrepared put on another mask, figuring that the game would come up]].
* In one of the earliest team ups between Franchise/SpiderMan and ThePunisher, Frank gave Spider-Man some make up in case he was caught and unmasked by the bad guys.
* The Creator/VertigoComics ''HumanTarget'' series featured 2 characters who would layer on so many disguises and so frequently [[BecomingTheMask lose track of who they really were]] that it quickly became a MindScrew.
* Paperinik (a superhero alter-ego of [[ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse Donald Duck]]) had to involuntarily do this in one story. At one point he decided to demonstrate ([[AsYouKnow for no reason and to no one in particular]]) how his masks work, and too late realized that he's out of the spray that would let him take the sticky mask off. Since the mask he was trying on was one of a caricatural alien, he was forced to wear a new mask on top of this one. (Later on, however, he manages to avoid having his secret identity exposed because he was wearing this additional mask.)
* An early {{Spider-Man}} comic has Spidey caught unmasked by [[SpiderManRoguesGallery Alistair Smythe's]] surveillance camera. His solution was to make a latex Peter Parker mask (which averts LatexPerfection, as it's noticeably not quite right), return to the camera, and take off his Peter mask to reveal the Spider-Man mask underneath. It works: Smythe concludes Spidey was probably screwing with him, and doesn't follow up on trying to put a name to the face.
* During the ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' storyline ''War Games'', Black Mask assumes Orpheus's identity by applying make up over his own black mask. On top of that, he also had to wear Orpheus's helmet. [[spoiler:He did the same thing while impersonating Batman in ''War Crimes''.]]

* From ''Film/TropicThunder'': Kirk Lazarus in character as Lincoln Osiris disguises himself as a farmer. Or, if you want to get meta about it, Robert Downey Jr. playing Kirk Lazarus in character as Lincoln Osiris disguises himself as a farmer.
-->'''Downey/Lazarus/Osiris/Farmer:''' I'm the dude ''playing'' a dude disguised as another dude!
* When Dawson and Martina subdue the killer in ''Film/ShriekIfYouKnowWhatIDidLastFridayTheThirteenth'', they unmask him to reveal another mask. They continue for some time, accumulating a pile of masks on the floor, until they get to the last one and they (finally) find his true identity: [[StrangerBehindTheMask Doughy's identical cousin Hardy]].
* In ''Film/{{Charade}}'', Peter Joshua is revealed to be the victim's brother Alex Dyle, who is then revealed to be professional thief Adam Canfield, who is then revealed to be undercover government agent Brian Cruikshank (who is being portrayed by Hollywood actor Cary Grant).
* A literal version of this trope can be found in ''Film/WhoAmI'', where the hacker MRX unmasks his rival [=WhoAmI=] only to find another mask below, and another, and another.

* In ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}'', every ancient secret is actually a cover-up for some other ancient secret. And yes, that same principle applies to pretty much every level, thus creating an infinite loop of TheReveal.
* In ''Discworld/MakingMoney'', the protagonist [[ConArtist Moist Von Lipwig]] (former BoxedCrook, now sort-of reformed) meets [[CoolOldLady Topsy Lavish]], who owns Ankh-Morpork's bank. Being a businesswoman, she immediately sees him for what he is, [[spoiler: decides he's the perfect person to keep the bank out of the hands of her evil relatives]] and proceeds to {{lampshade}} his relationship with [[ILoveYouBecauseICantControlYou Adora Bell Dearheart]] with this trope.
-->'''Lavish:''' I suspect you like her because she can see your inner self. Or at least an inner self you've left inside just in case.
* Undarl in ''[[Literature/TheElminsterSeries Elminster: The Making of a Mage]]'' was a [[spoiler:Malaugrim who pretended to be a Yuan-Ti]] posing as an aspiring Magelord who wants to prove himself and join [[TheMagocracy the magical oligarchy]] of Athalantar on good terms. Which is how he was given the task to destroy one of the legitimate heirs they don't control, [[DoomedHometown along with the whole village]].
* The Creator/AgathaChristie novel ''Towards Zero'' includes one set of obvious clues that point to a particular person having committed the murder. However, the killer anticipated that the police would see through these clues, so left a different, less obvious set of clues that pointed to a second person having committed the murder. The killer figured that once the police had run across one set of faked evidence, they would be unlikely to believe that the second set was also a fake.
* ''Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar'': When the protagonists of the ''Winds'' trilogy need to hide their [[BondCreatures Companions]] -- blue-eyed, white, [[SapientSteed intelligent]] {{Cool Horse}}s that always stand out in a crowd and can't take dye -- from a foe who can easily sense and pierce illusions, they simply layer one illusion over another. When the enemy mage peers through the illusion of high-bred horses and sees a pair of broken-down nags, he chuckles to himself and doesn't bother to look further, believing the horses' owners are simply hiding their neglect from potential buyers.
* In the ''Literature/RevelationSpaceSeries'' novel ''Chasm City'', the protagonist is shocked to discover that, due to a MemoryGambit, he himself has a Multilevel Facade: [[spoiler: he had the memories of Tanner Mirabel implanted to cover the identity of notorious armsdealer Cahuella, which is itself an alias hiding immortal MagnificentBastard (and mass murderer) Schuyler Haussmann.]] AmnesiacDissonance from the MemoryGambit assists him in BecomingTheMask.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* In ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Ben pretends to be the victim of a group of savages. He's actually the leader of this group of savages, which doesn't exist except as a front for an AncientConspiracy. [[spoiler:However, Ben is not in control: Indeed he is the leader of this AncientConspiracy, but the conspiracy itself is ''also'' a front for something else, something which Ben cannot even reach, much less control.]]
* Parodied on ''Series/PoliceSquad'' when Frank pulls off a woman's [[WigDressAccent wig]] and reveals he knows who she really is. He then does it several more times, describing different identities she's apparently lived under, while pulling off multiple wigs.
* In ''Series/JackOfAllTrades'', under the mask of the Daring Dragoon is... another identical mask!
* In the Chinese drama ''Series/NirvanaInFire'', when the hero first returns to the capital to begin his revenge plot, he introduces himself as "Sir Su" a mere visiting scholar. When his enemies get suspicious, they do a background check and discover his "real" identity, the powerful Mei Changsu. This prevents them from thinking to dig deeper and discover his actual Secret Identity, the presumed dead traitor Lin Shu.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* In Wrestling/{{CMLL}}, The second El Bronco (or at least the second El Bronco to work in CMLL as there have been ''many'') was unmasked by Black Warrior to reveal another mask underneath. That's right, El Bronco was Spider-man! Further confusing things, a third Bronco later debuted in CMLL and has been seen at the same time as Spider-man.
* 80's {{tag team}} The Killer Bees would wrestle under masks and do the 'switching gimmick behind the ref's back' known as 'Masked Confusion' to gain the advantage[[note]]Notable in that they were a {{face}} tag team and TagTeamTwins is usually a heel tactic.[[/note]] In one match, their opponent got pissed off and tried to remove this advantage by yanking off one of the Bee's masks, only to reveal he was wearing another mask under it.
* At Wrestling/{{WWE}}'s The Bash in 2009, Wrestling/ReyMysterioJr fought against Wrestling/ChrisJericho in a [[HumiliatingWager Mask vs Title]] match. Rey losing would mean that he'd have to surrender the right to wear his mask. During the match, Jericho tried to remove Rey's mask to leave him open to a finisher (the loss of a mask [[WeaksauceWeakness is considered shameful]] to a MaskedLuchador), only for Rey to have been GenreSavvy and wear an extra mask underneath, allowing him to win the Intercontinental Championship.

* Kent Allard, better known as Radio/TheShadow, has several of these -- most famously Lamont Cranston.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'': The spy's arsenal is effectively this. You can disguise as your enemy, only to turn invisible once your enemies catch on, or use a backup watch that creates a dummy of your character while you turn completely invisible instead of taking fatal damage. The Your Eternal Reward knife causes you to instantly steal the identity (but not the abilities) of the player you kill with it, allowing you to combo a series of stealth kills while harnessing near-seamless combos of disguises.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}''. Hoo boy. [[spoiler: The mysterious masked man called "Wiseman" who fights in Fei's style, the mysterious DarthVaderClone Grahf who hunts him, and Fei's own father are all actually the same person. And to make things even more complicated, said person is actually the remnants of one of Fei's past lives, who is currently [[DemonicPossession possessing]] his father.]]
* In ''VideoGame/NancyDrew: Ransom of the Seven Ships'', [[spoiler:Jamaican Johnny Rolle]] is revealed to be [[spoiler:Australian John Poole]], who later is revealed to be [[spoiler:Dwayne Powers, a previous culprit who wants to prove he still has acting skills. And get back at Nancy for ruining his life]].
* In the ending of ''VideoGame/{{Halo}}'', there is a scene where the Master Chief takes off his helmet, but part of the ship obscures his head. If you move the camera so that you can get a good look, you can see that under his helmet is [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mkiRQVkERg another helmet]].
** This variant on the trope is actually very common in video games, since it takes a lot less effort for the art team to simply cut out a character's helmet for use as a prop and then hide their head with clever camera angles than it does to make a new model for the uncovered version of that character. For other examples, see Tali in ''MassEffect2'' or Vanitas in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep''.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* The third ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' game has the following line: "I'm afraid you are neither [[spoiler: a proud thief]], nor [[spoiler: an Ace Detective]]. You're [[spoiler: a blackmailer and a murderer]]." This happens after MagnificentBastard [[spoiler: Luke Atmey says he's an Ace Detective who had a fight with the thief Mask [=DeMasque=]. When you prove that this is false, he says that Mask [=DeMasque=] attacked him from behind. When you prove that false, he says that ''he's'' Mask [=Demasque=]. The truth is that he's been blackmailing Mask [=DeMasque=] into letting him pretend to be an Ace Detective, and that he then decided to falsely confess to being Mask [=DeMasque=] [[ConfessToALesserCrime in an attempt to hide the fact that he's a murderer.]]]]
** Done quite literally in ''[[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies Dual Destinies]]'' with the phantom, an international assassin who can perfectly mimic anyone. He wears [[LatexPerfection mask upon mask]] to the point that he's forgotten his own identity. His list of fake identities include [[spoiler: Detective Bobby Fulbright, when you initially catch him, as well as every other culprit in the game, several witnesses and defendants, Prosecutor Blackquill, and most disturbingly, ''Phoenix Wright himself!'']]
* From ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'' we have [[spoiler:Beatrice, who not only has several different versions of her from different arcs and different time periods (her mother and grandmother also had the name Beatrice) but is also the same person as Shannon and Kanon. And to top that off, the three of them are just idealized personas created by Yasu.]] Flowcharts have been made in order to explain it.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Blip}}'', the Adversary uses in-universe {{Pixellation}} to hide his face, and wears a mask underneath that.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'': Tarquin disguises himself as Thog by wearing a face-concealing helmet and copying Thog's style of HulkSpeak. Roy quickly figures out that he isn't fighting Thog and [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0852.html yanks the helmet off]] to see who's underneath... only to reveal that Tarquin is ''also'' wearing a purple balaclava with "Nope!" written across the forehead. Ironically, the complexity of the facade pretty much confirms their genre-savy suspicion that it was Tarquin after all.
* Parodied in a ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' guest-penned filler arc [[http://www.sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/20000416 here]].
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', Elliot's [[SuperGenderBender superheroine]] spell has not one but three alternate civilian alter ego forms (each with distinctive personalities and clothes) in addition to the super one. This allows him to avoid having to reveal either his true identity or [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2011-06-03 his most discreet alter ego form to those he doesn't trust fully]] while still having a form with a largely normal appearance to fall back on. Unfortunately for him, this form is the '''least''' discreet in terms of personality as [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2011-06-07 this]] and the following pages demonstrate.
* Invoked and subverted in a ''Webcomic/ZeroPercentDiscount'' [[http://zeropercentdiscountcomic.tumblr.com/post/124693731933 parody]] of ''Scooby Doo'': Fred takes off a skeleton mask, but assumes there might be another mask under it. He decides to check with a knife.
-->'''Fred:''' [[GoryDiscretionShot Wow, gang, look!]] He really is a skeleton!

[[folder: Web Original ]]
* Happens in the flash video [[http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/188383 Mega Man and the Pompous Robots]], during a fight between Tenguman and Bass. At one point, Bass says something amongst the line of "Let's see who's under that mask", pulls off Tenguman's mask... to reveal another one. This then gets repeated for a ludicrous number of masks which were all stacked on Tenguman's face.
* ''Fanfic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality'':
** With Draco:
--->''Just pretend to be pretending to be a scientist.'' Draco didn't have words to describe exactly what was wrong with Harry's mind (since Draco had never heard the term depth of recursion).
** Which leads to:
--->Draco ''had'' heard the word 'recursion' by this point, and he knew a Harry Potter plot when he saw one. (Unfortunately Draco had not heard of autoimmune disorders, and the thought did not readily occur to him that a clever virus would begin its attack by creating symptoms of an autoimmune disorder so as to get the body to distrust its own immune system...)
** Then there's Harry and Snape:
--->'''Snape:''' I cannot help but wonder if that is the Cloak of Invisibility.\\
'''Harry:''' Oh, possibly. I trust you realize the implications, if it is?\\
'''Snape:''' You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you, Potter? A rather clumsy try at fishing.\\
Either Severus was in fact modeling Harry as a one-level player, which made Severus himself two-level, and Harry's three-level move had been successful; or Severus was a four-level player and wanted Harry to think the deception had been successful.
** Comes up in relation to Quirrell's true identity.
--->'''Harry:''' The obvious next thought is that this 'David Monroe' person died in the war after all, and this is just someone else pretending to be David Monroe pretending to be Quirinus Quirrell.\\
'''[=McGonagall=]:''' That's obvious? Dear Merlin...\\
'''Moody:''' Really, boy? I'd say that's a little... paranoid. Not paranoid enough!
* In ''TerrainOfMagicalExpertise'', d-buggers is revealed to be Tigerlilly, who is revealed to be the Mysterious Red Cat, who is revealed to be Kizuna.
* In ''Series/{{Noob}}'', [[TheCracker Tenshirock]] at some point gives Gaea his CoolShades, on which he had transferred data she wanted from him. By the time Gaea looks at his face, presumably to see what he looks like without them, he's wearing entirely new CoolShades.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'': "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy" had a villain hired to obtain Batman's cape and cowl. When he ultimately succeeds, Batman reveals a second mask underneath the cowl to protect his identity. The villain, bemused, leaves. After all, he was only hired to obtain the cape and cowl, not to expose Batman's secret identity. [[spoiler:And Batman was the guy who hired him in the first place.]]
* ''DogCity'' had an episode about a "masked vandal". When that vandal is caught, the mask is pulled off to reveal Miss Kitty, but Ace realizes it can't be her because she's never caught. He then proceeds to pull off another mask, revealing Baron von Rottweiler, then his henchman, then more people, and ultimately [[spoiler:Eliot Shag]].
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory The Justice Friends]]'', Krunk tries to take off the mask of Major Glory - only to reveal several layers of masks beneath it.
-->'''Major Glory:''' When I say secret identity, I ''mean'' secret identity.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'': [[spoiler:Amon is lying about his mask covering burns from a firebender, but he wears makeup under it just in case he loses it or wants to "prove" he isn't lying.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyBravo'' episode "Bravo Dooby-Doo", a crossover with ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo'', the villain turns out to wear multiple masks on top of each other. The masks are, in order: two ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooWhereAreYou'' characters, Bigfoot, Creator/DonKnotts, and [[Creator/HannaBarbera Joseph Barbera]] ("[[BitingTheHandHumor Who's that?]]"). The gang shouts in surprise-like unison each time they reveal a new mask.
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitansGo'': Beastboy attempts to remove Robin's mask, only to find more and more masks underneath it. In a couple days time, the whole tower is filled with masks. [[spoiler: And then his actual face turns out to be a mask too.]]