->''"There is a face beneath this mask, but it's not me.\\
I am no more that face than I am the muscles beneath it,\\
or the bones beneath that."''
-->-- '''V''', ''ComicBook/VForVendetta''

Often someone with a SecretIdentity will have an identity crisis. [[DoubleConsciousness Who are they? The "normal" person or the superhero?]] Sometimes they will have one as their real identity and the other as the construct, and sometimes they have a dual-life. Some even get into a TwoPersonLoveTriangle with [[LovesMyAlterEgo their love interest and themselves]], or [[TheMasqueradeWillKillYourDatingLife lose said love interest]] over this crisis.

One common line to suggest this is, if discussing a character's disguise or costume, [[BeneathTheMask it's suggested that the mask is the "real face", and the civilian is the disguise]].

Related to BeneathTheMask. If the identities are separate enough, can grow into MaskOfConfidence.

Seen also with undercover agents who are in danger of BecomingTheMask.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/KaitouSaintTail'' grew feelings for the detective pursuing her, but he was so obsessed with catching Saint Tail that Haneoka Meimi barely registered. In one episode, she gets so frustrated with him that she yells her secret identity in front of the whole class, and his response is "...what was that about Saint Tail?" This gets Meimi so frustrated that she jumps between wanting to give up the secret identity and just wanting to have nothing to do with him. Later, her identity finally begins to register with him, after a magic mirror that shows your TrueSelf displays Meimi instead of Saint Tail. At least until he concludes they just look alike, as Saint Tail and Meimi Haneoka act ''completely'' different, with Meimi being shy but short tempered and Saint Tail the [[LargeHam largest ham in the series]].
* Light/Kira from ''Manga/DeathNote'', to the extent that by the end of the series, Kira has abandoned nearly all of the ideals which Light used to stand for.
* Mamoru Chiba in the manga version of ''Manga/SailorMoon'' can sometimes slip into this. [[ParentalAbandonment The accident that killed his parents]] left him with no memory of them or his life before that point. It's also implied that unlike the Sailor Senshi his [[BadassNormal powers are "on" all the time]], and he doesn't transform, [[ClothesMakeTheLegend he simply changes clothes]]. [[Franchise/{{Batman}} Any of this sounding familiar?]]
** Also from the manga version, Usagi is shown being confused about which of her three identities (Usagi Tsukino, Sailor Moon, Princess Serenity) is the "real" her.
** In the manga version Minako's personality slowly changes during the run of ''Manga/CodenameSailorV'', becoming more serious and rather ruthless while sometimes changing back to the original. In the main series it's clear that Minako isn't the clumsy but well-meaning student she once was nor the legendary hero Sailor Venus is seen as but something in the middle... But it's still unclear ''what'', as [[StepfordSmiler she's extremely skilled at hiding her emotional pain]] behind a mask of ObfuscatingStupidity.
* Alto Saotome from ''Anime/MacrossFrontier'' had a variation of this; he gave up a promising career as an actor (while heir to a renowned family of such) seemingly inexplicably, with it being strongly implied in the show and directly stated in the movie as being due to a sense that his stage roles (as well as his expected role as heir to the family tradition) left him unsure as to what his own identity was.
* ''Anime/PrincessTutu'' is essentially a role assumed by Duck, predating the SecretIdentity and granted by [[RealityWarper Drosselmeyer]]. While the two are clearly the same person, their behavior is markedly different, and not just because Duck is the [[CuteClumsyGirl worst]] dancer in the series while Tutu is probably the best.
** And add in another layer that Duck is also uncertain if she's really a Bird, a Girl, or a Princess. That's three competiting identities.
* Hei in ''Anime/DarkerThanBlack'' has two identities, {{Adorkable}} NiceGuy Li Shenshung, a Chinese exchange student, and the Black [[{{Shinigami}} Reaper]], a remorseless mass-murdering assassin and spy. When he's talking to people as Li, it's easy to tell when someone hits a nerve because his eyes will go so ice-cold that he looks [[MindControlEyes mind-controlled]]. And when he's the Black Reaper, he wears a [[WhiteMaskOfDoom white]] [[MaskPower mask]]. At the beginning of the series, it seems like the Black Reaper is his true character, but it gradually becomes clear that while neither persona is the real Hei, he's actually closer to Li, but ended up stuck playing a different role due to his DarkAndTroubledPast.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'' plays with this trope when it comes to resident AntiHero Lelouch: Lelouch Lamperouge is, of course, the civilian identity he adopted to hide from TheEmpire. Lelouch vi Britannia is his birth identity, which is legally dead. And finally, we have Zero, the [[LargeHam over-the-top]] dark avenger/terrorist/freedom fighter/resistance leader persona. However, the question as to which one is real is largely subverted. Lamperouge is [[RichIdiotWithNoDayJob completely made up]]; however, it is the identity he uses with his friends and sister, seeming to be the most "real" near the end. Vi Britannia is the identity he truly hated, due to his hatred of Britannia, but it was also the one his royal sibling recognized him as. Zero, meanwhile, seems to represent his LargeHam tendencies, as well as his inner hatred and desire for justice. At times, he seems to consider Zero his TrueSelf. Near the finale he seems to come to terms with this and states "I finally know who I really am!" when he [[spoiler:kills his parents]]. He later uses the vi Britannia identity to [[spoiler:take over the world and initiate the Zero Requiem]], becoming known to the masses by that name. As [[spoiler:Emperor Lelouch]], he displays traits common to all his personas: Zero's hamminess, vi Britannia's royal bearing, and Lamperouge's (''very well'' hidden) kindness. The debate as to who he really is ended up being so divisive to fans that [[spoiler:claims to his survival or death are often attributed to which "identity" has died]].
* ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'': Vinegar Doppio has a rather unclear case of this. Despite his alter ego as [[spoiler:Diavolo]] he isn't aware of it himself but it acts as an actual [[SplitPersonality split personality]]. It's never revealed which was the original persona though it's implied that Doppio was [[spoiler:Diavolo's]] persona he used to seem inconspicuous before the two personalities split apart.
* At one point of the manga version of ''Manga/CatsEye'', the girls decide to try and draw [[SympatheticInspectorAntagonist Toshio]] into their thieving gang, with Hitomi (who is also [[DatingCatwoman Toshio's girlfriend]]) materially attempting the job with her hair dyed blonde and green contact lenses. At first she's just doing the attempts and flirting with him... But at one point Hitomi realizes that she's jealous of the blonde Cat's Eye, ''and the blonde Cat's Eye is jealous of Hitomi!'' [[LampshadeHanging Hitomi openly wonders what's wrong with herself]]...
* [[spoiler: Reiner Braun]] from ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' suffers an extreme version of this. [[spoiler: The stress and guilt of being TheMole causes him to begin slipping so far into his "Soldier" persona that he forgets it isn't real. The two identities don't appear to be that different, other than the obvious conflict of duty -- the real mission to infiltrate and attack humanity, in opposition to the false mission to defend humanity as a soldier on the front lines]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Batman}} is Batman, Bruce Wayne is mostly a construct. [[DependingOnTheWriter Maybe]].
** In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'' he realizes [[{{Gaslighting}} that his voice telling him to kill himself]] was a fake [[SpottingTheThread when it referred to him as Bruce]]. "That's not what I call myself in my head." Then Terry asks him, "What do you call yourself?" He gets a look.
-->'''Terry:''' I suppose you would. But that's ''my'' name now.\\
'''Bruce:''' Tell that to my subconscious.
** One Batman ExpandedUniverse novel implies that Bruce Wayne has, in fact, "subdivided" his mind between the two separate identities, and that the "Bruce" aspect is physically weaker than "Batman", despite Wayne's training.
** The extent to which this is true varies over time, tending to oscillate from one extreme to the other in a manner reminiscent of a CyclicTrope. As of October 2007, most current portrayals are tending away from this trope; no doubt it will change back in a few years. And given the speech about Bruce being the mask at the end of ''Batman Begins'', and the way movies tend to set the next few years of the comics they're based on, that may already be starting.
** In the "Batman RIP" storyline [[spoiler: a villain-induced psychological trauma "kills" Bruce Wayne]], and as a result, Batman [[spoiler: takes on an emergency backup persona as a garishly-costumed version of "Batman without Bruce", The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh[[note]]Unlike the Silver Age, Zur-En-Arrh is Bruce's bad memory of the movie title "Zoro in Arkham"[[/note]], and goes around Gotham beating criminals with a Bat-bat along with a (maybe) hallucinatory Bat-Mite.]]
** The idea was [[DeconstructedTrope deconstructed]] during the "[[ComicBook/BruceWayneFugitive Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive]]" storyline. In an issue leading up to the arc, Bruce was toying with the idea that while Batman can't kill, his alter ego Matches Malone can (he backed down from that). After being framed for murder, going to prison and then escaping, Batman decided to abandon the Bruce Wayne identity entirely, losing most of his compassion in the process. The rest of the Batfamily are shocked when he tells them point blank that there is no Bruce Wayne, and refuses to answer Nightwing when he asks who adopted Dick Grayson if that's true. One of the main writers for the storyline summed it up pretty well. "Somewhere in the Bat Bible, it's written 'Bruce Wayne is the mask, not Batman. Oh, and he's not crazy'. That always bugged me. If that's not crazy, then what is?".
** In ''Arkham Asylum'', when he's captured by the Joker and the inmates want to take off his mask, the Joker tells them not to be stupid; that mask ''is'' his face.
** Creator/GrantMorrison tried to establish in his [[Comicbook/GrantMorrisonsBatman Batman works]] that there is no "Bruce is Batman's mask" or "Batman is Bruce's mask" since it was that kind of thinking that nearly destroyed him just around the time that ComicBook/InfiniteCrisis was going on. So Bruce Wayne attempted to rid himself of his demons and start anew during the [[ComicBook/FiftyTwo missing year]]. Nowadays, he is both Bruce Wayne ''and'' Batman, neither less than the other, both more human than either one could be alone. One blogger (Chris Sims) cleverly pointed out that not only does Batman fight crime, but Bruce does as well through humanitarian efforts such as funding rehab centers and hiring former criminals at Wayne Tech to help them get a fresh start. Furthermore, he ''remembers'' each of them.
*** Bruce's humanitarian work really took off during [[ComicBook/BatmanNoMansLand No Man's Land]], where he actually took time off as Batman to fight congress, among other things, as Bruce Wayne. Also, this is where Dick Grayson decides to become a cop (thus fighting crime as both Dick and Nightwing) and Batman tells him [[SugarWiki/HeartwarmingMoments "You're better than me, Dick."]], saying he has made both Robin and Nightwing "an extension of who [he is]", rather than just becoming the mask.
*** This is also the path that Film/TheDarkKnightTrilogy took from the start. The playboy idiot Bruce Wayne "persona", such as it is, was a kind of on the spot bullshit maneuver Bruce used to deflect suspicion. Judging from his [[WalkingTheEarth immediately previous living conditions]], Bruce never has been that sort of man. In turn, Alfred's role in the films is to constantly remind Batman that ''he IS Bruce Wayne too'' and that he shouldn't cast that away as eagerly as he seems to be doing.
*** The ''[[VideoGame/BatmanArkhamSeries Arkham]]'' games ''seem'' to follow this as well; at the beginning of ''Arkham City'', Bruce Wayne is campaigning to have the prison closed, because he can't really do any open political activism as Batman. But the games very rarely depict Bruce Wayne outside of the batsuit, and [[spoiler:about half the times it does are actually Hush impersonating Bruce Wayne.]]
** Many would say that the truest Bruce is the detective in the cave, in costume but not the cowl, often with his TrueCompanions at his side. In public, whether as Bruce Wayne or as Batman, he has to put on an act. It's only when he doesn't need to hide either of identities that he can truly be himself.
** The first ''ComicBook/WonderWomanRebirth'' annual shows the "current" take on the Big Three's first meeting. They all lay hands on the Lasso of Truth and [[http://ladyloveandjustice.tumblr.com/post/161326813742 introduce themselves]].
-->'''Wonder Woman:''' Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Queen Hippolyta.\\
'''Superman:''' Clark Kent. Kal-El.\\
'''Batman:''' Batman.\\
'''Superman:''' Seriously? ''That's'' your name?
* A parody''/''{{homage}} of Batman, ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck'', created the identity of Drake Mallard on the fly in order to give his newly adopted daughter a somewhat normal life. There's no conflict, though, as he doesn't really act any differently, and finds being "civilian" very insipid. Fortunately his neighbors are not very bright.
** Later episodes revealed that Drake Mallard actually was his civilian identity, before he became Darkwing, but the beginning episode "Darkly Dawns the Duck" makes clear that he had not been using his civilian identity for quite some time, living full-time as a superhero. (Questions of how he does the grocery shopping, and where he gets his income, and other such mundane trivia are conspicuously never answered, and this is even at one point lampshaded.) The episode "Clash Reunion", in which the superheroic identity was invented, made it very clear that Drake Mallard was exceedingly unpopular, while Darkwing Duck was an instant success. The intensely egotistical and vain protagonist probably began neglecting his civilian identity as soon as possible for this reason, until adopting Gosalyn gave him a compelling reason to take it back up.
** The [[ComicBook/DarkwingDuck comic revival]] does answer a few of these. DW receives a stipend from S.H.U.S.H., presumably under the guise of a tester, (with all the gadgets and whatnot). When he temporarily retires, he is forced to take up a menial office job, (and isn't happy about it one bit) Launchpad probably does most of the shopping, laundry etc. [[spoiler: which eventually backfires in a BIG way]].
* Dick Grayson publicly fought "ComicBook/{{Nightwing}}" in order to legally marry his long time girlfriend Koriand'r/Starfire, as Nightwing doesn't exist on paper. It was also about his habit of dating her in various disguises. She was getting a bad reputation for "cheating" on Nightwing. Of course given how bad the Titans of that era were at keeping Dick's identity secret, one wonders why they bothered. Too bad the [[WeddingSmashers wedding was crashed]] by an ex-teammate turned evil...
* Comicbook/SpiderMan is mostly Peter Parker. The witty quips he makes when fighting supervillains are usually belied by his internal monologue about his life as Peter Parker. On occasion, though, after a particularly traumatic adventure, he has sealed himself up behind the Spider-Man persona, and once or twice, a darker persona, referred to as "The Spider", has emerged.
** Creator/PeterDavid did a series where Peter Parker was locked up and doped up in a sanitarium, where Peter came to terms with "The Spider". And it wasn't particularly darker than Peter or Spider-Man.
** "The Spider" is the nickname his RoguesGallery has given to Spider-Man whenever he's not talking and joking. This more than anything else scares the crap out of them.
** One of the scariest things in the entire Marvel universe isn't Wolverine, or Venom, or even Carnage. It's Spider-Man, [[PaintItBlack in the black costume]] ''and [[OutOfCharacterIsSeriousBusiness not talking]].''
** A few instances have suggested that Spider-Man is essentially the {{GIFT}} version of Peter Parker. Peter Parker is normally introverted and socially reserved. Spider-Man is Peter Parker with anonymity and an audience and as a result his own social restraint has been removed. Spider-Man is much more assertive and has an inability to stop telling bad jokes.
* [[ComicBook/NormanOsborn The Green Goblin]] is a rare villainous example, one of the few bad guys who continues the life of a secret costumed villain long after being exposed (to the hero and readers, and then even to the in-universe public). In his case the identity problem is due to actual mental illness, as he suffers from schizophrenia, manic depression and psychotic breaks from reality, and originally and occasionally full blown [[SplitPersonality multiple personality disorder]], not to mention the odd bout of IdentityAmnesia, and this all ''apart'' from his base anti-social, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid and narcissistic tendencies. To explain:
** Norman Osborn originally was basically a bad man, a CorruptCorporateExecutive at the best of times, struggling with being a single father and his own anger problems, while engaging in barely legal activities aimed at increasing his money and power.
** The Green Goblin is his AxCrazy alter ego he originally assumed after the accident that gave him superpowers caused him to snap, and became a sort of fantasy life for him to live out his more megalomaniacal dreams in, such as controlling the criminal underworld. The Goblin is violent, sadistic, reckless and utterly psychopathic, and represents Osborn's homicidal impulses. Osborn is initially not in total control of himself as the Goblin and, if pressed (such as reminding Osborn of his son) the Goblin can manifest as a SplitPersonality who will argue with the slightly meeker Norman.
** Osborn became nicer after his first bout of amnesia; his first thoughts were to ask where his son was. He seemed shaken by his previous events even if he didn't quite remember what happened, but though he seemingly made a genuine effort to be better around people - notably supporting Peter - he could still engage in petty and morally questionable acts; in a retcon it was this Osborn (subconsciously with the Goblin) who took advantage of Gwen Stacy, and suffered from anger and stress problems that, when they overwhelmed him, resulted in [[SuperpoweredEvilSide the goblin taking over]].
** Following his record breaking 27-year ComicBookDeath, Osborn came back and this, the modern version, is generally considered to be the "real" Osborn, the man he always wanted to be - a confident, disciplined, wealthy, ruthless, sadistic power-hungry sociopath with [[VillainWithGoodPublicity a positive public image]] who swings from seeking bloody vengeance on Peter Parker, to viewing him as a surrogate son and trying to turn him to the DarkSide, to simply resigning himself to enjoying their "games" and viewing their fights as a fun hobby that saved him from a life as "just another boring industrialist". For a long time, he appears to have his mental issues more or less under control and the Green Goblin becomes basically just a costume he puts on for thrills or when he needs to get his hands dirty. However, during ''Dark Reign'', the Goblin persona starts assuming a life of its own again and he finds it harder and harder to control his murderous and maniacal urges, eventually killing subordinates for petty criticisms and even painting his face green during the final battle.
** At the end of ''Goblin Nation'', the Goblin serum is completely flushed from Osborn's body, and he ends it monologuing that for the first time in years he is entirely sane and knows exactly who he is. And Spider-Man's never faced ''that'' Green Goblin before...
* SelfDemonstrating/{{Deadpool}} has said that Wade Wilson died during the Weapon X project. Whatever remained of his shattered psyche was Deadpool. He still answers to Wade Wilson, but his grotesque appearance makes a civilian life impossible. Oh, and [[DependingOnTheWriter there's that whole thing of whether or not he ever was Wade Wilson or if that was]] [[ArchEnemy T-Ray]].
* Comicbook/{{Superman}} goes up and down the spectrum, depending on series [[DependingOnTheWriter and writer]]. During UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}}, the "real" persona seemed to be Kal-El; ComicBook/PostCrisis, it's more Clark Kent. He's always "Clark" with his adopted parents, though. A key point in the plot of ''ComicBook/KingdomCome'' is that Superman has begun to lose his humanity, becoming less "Clark" and more "Kal-El".
** One [[UsefulNotes/TheBronzeAgeOfComicBooks Bronze Age]] (i.e. after UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}}, but before the [[ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths Crisis]]) story by Creator/AlanMoore featured Superman getting infected by a Kryptonian disease. The disease causes hallucinations comprised of two figures, similar to a GoodAngelBadAngel, one of whom thought he should accept it because death comes to us all, while the other one insisted he had a duty to fight it off. The defeatist appeared as an empty suit with glasses hovering above it, and the fighter as an empty Superman costume. Both referred to him as "Kal" and to each other as "Clark" and "Superman". At the end he wakes up, insisting he invented both of them, and [[TakeAThirdOption neither are real]].
** In team-ups with Batman, it is generally accepted that Superman is the mask of Clark Kent whereas Bruce Wayne is the mask of Batman. The idea is that (implied or not, even true or not in the universe at the time) these relations reflect the divergent nature of the two. Bruce is a human that has grown to hate humanity and has symbolically abandoned it, embracing darkness. Clark Kent on the other hand is an alien that has largely embraced the ideas of humanity (in some continuities, he has gone so far as to embrace them for a lack of morality in his Kryptonian heritage e.g. in ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', many Kryptonians believe him to be weak for caring for the PunyHumans), and finds strength in the light.
** This aspect is probably best demonstrated in ''Series/LoisAndClark'' when - during a phone conversation with his parents, they warn him that he's started talking about himself in third person.
*** Notably: In the scene he refers to ''both'' Clark and Superman in third person.
*** But in another scene in ''Series/LoisAndClark'', after Lois finally understands the real relationship between Clark Kent and Superman, he says "Superman is what I can do. Clark is who I am", which contradicts the points above.
** The revised ''ComicBook/SupermanBirthright'' posits that Clark Kent ''and'' Superman are masks, and that the "real" Kal-El is "Smallville Clark", i.e. the way he acts when around his parents and close friends who know his true origins.
*** Essentially, Clark Kent, renowned reporter, is the man he must be in order to protect the secrets of Superman, who is the man he must be in order to fulfill the moral obligations he feels.
** ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' provides a new option. Superman is the real persona, but only because that's the man Jonathan and Martha Kent raised him to be.
*** Or perhaps more precisely: Superman ''is'' Clark Kent, minus the need to keep his abilities secret.
** ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' makes it pretty clear that Clark is the real identity. In "The Late Mr. Kent", when Clark Kent "dies", Superman is much more upset about it than Ma and Pa Kent.
-->'''Pa Kent:''' It's not like he's really dead Martha, he just can't be Clark anymore.
-->'''Superman:''' But I ''am'' Clark, I ''need'' to be Clark. I'd go crazy if I had to be Superman all the time!
** Interestingly, Creator/QuentinTarantino posited a rather nihilistic and controversial view of a SecretIdentityIdentity in ''Film/KillBill''; granted, it was his BigBad delivering the lines, in an attempt to convince the ActionGirl AntiHero that she's not cut out for being anything other than an assassin -- to force the exact same identity crisis on her:
--->"Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's ''[[NonActionGuy weak]]''... he's ''[[TheLoad unsure of himself]]''... he's a ''[[DirtyCoward coward]]''. Clark Kent is ''[[YouSuck Superman's critique on the whole human race]]''."
*** [[Creator/QuentinTarantino Tarantino]] [[UsefulNotes/{{Plagiarism}} largely cribbed]] this speech from Jules Feiffer's 1965 book ''The Great Comic Book Heroes'':
--->"Remember, Kent was not Superman's true identity as Bruce Wayne was Batman's or (on radio) Lamont Cranston, Radio/{{The Shadow}}'s. Just the opposite. Clark Kent was the fiction... Superman only had to wake up in the morning to be Superman. In his case, Clark Kent was the put on... The truth may be that Kent existed not for the purposes of the story but the reader. He is [[YouSuck Superman's opinion of the rest of us]], a pointed caricature of what we, the noncriminal element, were really like. His fake identity was our real one. That's why we loved him so."
*** Others accept the premise that Clark is the mask, but come to the opposite conclusion: that Clark Kent is what Superman thinks a man ''ought'' to be. Thus Clark is the "good side", and evidence of Superman's admiration for the human race, which can produce men of good character despite the lack of physical power that he has. This concept was best demonstrated in the famous [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY3dxb5OpIw Superman vs Clark Kent]] scene in Superman III, (usually agreed to be the only redeeming scene of that movie).
*** Clark may not be much, but look at what he can do. SuperSpeed helps with the deadline, yes, but ultimately he will do a Pulitzer Prize-winning interview all by himself Ė without superpowers. He has a family, and friends Ė people who know and care about him as a person, not some FlyingBrick PhysicalGod in tights (and definitely not someone who canít come up with a better name for his "comfort zone" than "Fortress of ''Solitude''"). [[FridgeBrilliance Clark Kent IS Superman's critique on the whole human race. It's about how awesome the common man can be.]] [[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome Enough for him to wish to be us.]]
---> ''[[Film/SupermanTheMovie They can be a great people, Kal-El, and they wish to be...]]''
*** It's brought to a head in ''Superman: Man Of Steel #96'', when Kem-L (manifested by the Kryptonian Eradicator program) comes to "cleanse" Superman of human infestation, calling him "Kal-El" and telling him to fulfill his legacy. The response?
-->'''Clark:''' My name is ''Clark Kent''. Get out of my home. '''[[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome Get off my planet]].'''
** In a story arc from ''Superman #296-299'', Superman finds himself with a "split-effect", leaving him with no superpowers while wearing civilian attire. He decides to spend at least a week as Clark and finds that he has more backbone -- standing up to those who antagonize him as Clark, being more romantic with Lois, and engaging in a low-gravity battle with Intergang. However, helplessly watching huge disasters unfolding was too much for him to bear. Later, he decides not to fall back on Clark as Superman, forced to be fully committed to world welfare and leaving him unable to unwind and spend time with his {{muggle}} friends. In the end, he decides not to discard either identity, and figures out the source of the split-effect in time to stop the years-long scheme of TheChessmaster trying to destroy the world.
** In the ComicBook/{{New 52}} reboot, Clark's landlady (after discovering his secret identity) asks him if he's Clark Kent pretending to be Superman, or if he's Superman pretending to be Clark Kent. He doesn't answer her.
** Michael Fleischer speculated that if Krypton had not been destroyed, Kal-El would have been more like Clark Kent. Like his dad, he'd have a brilliant mind and do extraordinary things, but might be a bit shy and diffident, unsure if he could live up to Jor-El's reputation.
* Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}:
** Back in the Silver and Bronze Ages, Kara Zor-El was torn between her responsibilities as Supergirl and her desire to be a normal woman and lead a normal life. Unlike her cousin -whose "real" person was Superman in those decades-, she thought of herself as "Linda Danvers", and sometimes she felt frustrated because she spent so long being Supergirl that she forgot what being "Linda" was like. In ''[[Comicbook/Supergirl1982 Supergirl Vol 2 #1]]'':
--->'''Supergirl:''' Besides, I could do with the time to myself... to sit back and think. It's selfish, I know, but I deserve... Whoa! There you go again, Linda!\\
There's nothing selfish about wanting to get into yourself for a while instead of thinking about the whole blasted world! I do enough of that as Supergirl ó and wasn't the whole reason for this move... to give myself space to be just plain Linda Danvers?\\
I've been Supergirl for such a long time, it seems. Not that I'd give that up for anything... but I feel like I've totally lost hold of the part of me that doesn't scoot around the universe in shorts and a cape! I've forgotten what it feels like to be just a person... Instead of a symbol!
** [[ComicBook/Supergirl2005 Post-Crisis Kara Zor-El]] was Supergirl 24/7 until her cousin warned her that she would eventually burn out and suggested that she came up with a secret identity. Kara created a civilian identity called Linda Lang, but it was merely a disguise. After [[spoiler:failing to save New Krypton]] she briefly considered giving up on being Supergirl and becoming Linda permanently.
** [[ComicBook/Supergirl2011 Post-Flashpoint Supergirl]] was given a secret identity in ''Comicbook/SupergirlRebirth''. However, "Kara Danvers" was merely a tool to socialize with humans and understand them in order to protect them better.
--->"Kara Danvers" is a tool for you to walk amongst the people you protect.
* There's a very, very fun story in JLA #51-54 where Superman's wish that the League's members didn't have "two lives" is [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor granted]] by a [[LiteralGenie sixth-dimensional wishing machine]]. Hilarity spectacularly fails to ensue, and only Wonder Woman and Aquaman are exempt due to having no dual identities at the time. [[spoiler: In the end, the aliens who gain control of the machine split them too. Aquaman finds himself in human and amphibian forms, while Wonder Woman is separated from clay, and she saves the day as the spirit of truth]].
** Clark Kent without Superman becomes truly timid and afraid of heights, while Superman without Clark loses touch with humanity ("call me Kal", changing to a Kryptonian-style costume).
** Bruce Wayne without Batman has no outlet for his rage at the corruption of the world (beating two thugs nearly to death over spray-painting his car), while Batman without Bruce has no motivation and barely speaks - beneath the mask, he has no face.
--> "Everyone figured if you split Batman and Bruce Wayne, you get a fop and a lunatic - what we didn't guess was which would be which."
** Kyle Rayner without the ring goes near-crazy without it to use for self-expression, covering his apartment with drawings that can't compare to what the ring would create, while Franchise/GreenLantern becomes a war machine without humanity and creativity.
** Wally West without Franchise/TheFlash becomes lazy and apathetic, while the Flash forgets the legacy of those who came before him.
** [[ComicBook/MartianManhunter John Jones]] freaks out when he becomes telepathically "blind", but is fascinated by no longer being vulnerable to fire (more than any other human, that is) or the LastOfHisKind.
** Eel O'Brian reverts to being a thief and thug again as his morality drains away, while ComicBook/PlasticMan loses track of everything but his clowning.
*** Eventually, it's Eel who realizes that everyone is slowly going nuts while separated and assembles the civilian identities to join back up and [[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome save the world as just six dudes]]. The message? The man behind the mask is ''both'', or it doesn't work - for example, Superman is at his truest when he's at home in Smallville being Clark Kent with superpowers.
* Christopher Chance, The Series/HumanTarget, is a private detective/bodyguard who protects his clients by impersonating them to draw any would-be killers out. However, in modern stories, he is so good at his impersonations that he sometimes forgets his own identity in the process.
* Rorschach in ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'' takes it so far that he calls his Rorschach-test-shaped mask his "face"; when he's unmasked, he screams [[spoiler:at the police]] for them to give his face back. He claims that before he had to ShootTheDog he was simply "[Walter] Kovacs pretending to be Rorschach" and now it's the other way around.
** Another indication of this is in one flashback to before Rorschach's BecomingTheMask moment, where we see him speaking normally instead of with his usual wobbly speech bubble and font. It's no wonder the [[spoiler:prison psychologist]] slowly starts to think of him as Rorschach instead of Kovacs.
* Unlike Franchise/{{Superman}}, Franchise/WonderWoman was not raised by mortals, which makes all the difference. For some time in UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}}, she was a full-time civilian. For about two decades ComicBook/PostCrisis, she had no secret identity at all. At all times, the Amazon Princess Diana is basically the real her.
* A ''Secret Wars'' spinoff had [[Comicbook/FantasticFour the Thing]] fight his Ben Grimm persona to the death.
* One of the more unique aspects of the Comicbook/XMen is that they seem to have variable degrees of separation between their "superhero" and "civilian" personae. This is intentional: being a mutant isn't exactly something they can stop doing if they want to retire, and is often explicitly used as a metaphor for real-world ethnic, sexual, and religious identities. For example, many of the X-Men don't wear masks of any sort (Shadowcat, Emma Frost, Professor X, Beast) and seem to live quite openly and proudly as mutants. Though for decades Xavier concealed the fact that he was a mutant, he never really used "Professor X" as a secret identity because, being wheelchair-bound, he wasn't a field operative and thus few outside the X-Men and their allies even knew the team had a MissionControl type leader.[[note]]Of those enemies who did know, Magneto would never have "outed" Xavier because of their long friendship, and others such as Apocalypse and Mister Sinister just didn't care.[[/note]] Others will go to some extremes to hide who they are and will adapt quite elaborate secret identities (Nightcrawler, Angel) including the use of holographic projectors to make them appear "normal." This is even reflected in their codenames, which over time have become more like nicknames than any kind of serious attempt to hide their real names. Some have just dropped them all together, while others have started using them all the time, even in private conversations or when not in costume.
** Archangel (Warren Worthington) cited Native tradition that the mask was an expression of true identity when confronted by X-Factor (former X-Men) members with an IKnowYoureInThereSomewhereFight.
** In ComicBook/UltimateMarvel, it was originally explained that their original names were (if you will) "slave names", and their codenames were effectively their new "real" names. (This reflected the continued influence of Magneto's ideology on Professor X even after their breakup.)
* ComicBook/BoosterGold is an interesting example, as his secret identity and his real identity are still Booster Gold. To the whole world, especially the superhero community, he presents himself as a selfish, bumbling fool who will do anything for fame. Secretly, he's a true and noble hero charged with protecting the timeline.
** Even before Booster took up his role as timeline defender, he lacked an alter-ego - he was Booster pretty much all the time. Of course, his civilian identity [[TimeTravel hasn't been born yet]].
* Steve Rogers is really ComicBook/CaptainAmerica, so much so that it's hard for him to be a normal person. There was an incident in one Captain America comic where Cap confided to ComicBook/{{Hawkeye}} about how uneasy the hero worship made him feel, how he was worried about being mobbed whenever he went out, etc. Hawkeye responded by pulling Cap's mask off and saying something along the lines of "Yeah, I can see how that would be a real problem, ''Steve!''" - Cap had to be ''reminded'' that he didn't have to be Captain America all the time, that he could take the mask off and just be an ordinary person.
** In effect, his costume is mostly just for protection and identification during fights rather than any sort of means to conceal his identity. Thus he doesn't see it as a mask but just something he wears.
* This happens with [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor Thor]] and his various alter egos A LOT, primarily because most of those alter egos are actual, separate entities; Donald Blake was a construct created by Odin for Thor to inhabit to learn humility, and Eric Masterson and Jake Olson were human beings whom Thor bonded with to save their lives. The only "classic" secret identity Thor maintained was construction worker "Sigurd Jarlson", essentially Thor in street clothes and Clark Kent-ish glasses with his hair tied back.
* ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} has gone through several identities. For a time it was pretty clear [[DarkAndTroubledPast he didn't know who he was]].
* Comicbook/MoonKnight, a Marvel AlternateCompanyEquivalent to Batman, created a bunch of different personas to facilitate his crime fighting, but is often depicted as mentally disturbed and unsure of his true identity.
* The Batman-is-real-Bruce-Wayne-is-the-mask idea is invoked but averted for Kate Kane in ''ComicBook/{{Batwoman}}'' #0. Her narration says the obvious idea would be that Kate Kane went on TrainingFromHell, and Batwoman returned. In fact, the confused woman who left didn't know ''who'' she was, and it was only once she became Batwoman that she felt like Kate Kane again.
* In ''ComicBook/PaperinikNewAdventures'' WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck has to make a conscious effort to prevent himself from acting as Paperinik even in civilian garb. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]], as, before ''Paperinik New Adventures'' was created, Donald invented his Paperinik alter ego [[WhosLaughingNow as a means to vent his pent-up frustration at being constantly underestimated and called an idiot]]: Paperinik is just Donald doing what he'd ''really'' want to do instead of keeping his bad temper and sarcasm in check.
* Averted by SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker: ''GoingSane'' shows him believing he killed Franchise/{{Batman}} and suddenly becoming BoredWithInsanity (Jokerís speech is painted to reflect an ArtShift from madness to sanity):
-->[[TheBadGuyWins I really did it]]. [[DeconstructedTrope ButÖ what exactly did I do? I know youíre supposed to kill the audienceóbut, after theyíre deadÖ youíre stuck.]] [[AndThenWhat If thereís no one out there in the dark to play toÖ then whatís the point? If there is no Batman to drive crazy, then whatís the point of being crazy? ]] IÖ I think Iím gonna puke. I think Iím gonna cry. But I canít cry: My make-upíll run. [[TomatoInTheMirror But itís not makeup, is it? Itís me!]] '''[[DefiedTrope No, itís not me. Not me at all. Itís a role I’ve been playing, to keep the audience amused. But the audience is gone now. The theaterís empty. And I donít have to play anymore]]'''. [[BoredWithInsanity Ah, what a lovely night. Skyís clear, airís so crisp and invigorating. But itís been a long day. I need to go find a nice hotelócheap, but niceóget a good nightís sleep. Tomorrow Iíll get up early, start pounding the pavement: I just know Iíll find a job right away]].
* ''ComicBook/TheInvisibles'' has the "Entropy in the U.K." arc, wherein TheConspiracy has King Mob captured and tries to use a psychic probe to figure out who he is - King Mob, the occult freedom fighter; Gideon Stargrave, this extravagant "fiction suit" personality; Kirk Morrison, the horror writer; or someone else. [[spoiler: It turns out that King Mob is all of these things at once, and has woven the stories together in order to lay a trap for any fucker who'd be dumb enough to enter his head.]]
** This is later weaponized against Boy in the "American Death Camp" arc, when she's taken in by people who appear to be the enemy and told she's actually a double agent - and on top of that, they show her the "masks" she's donned before, convincing her that this is just another role she was born to play. [[spoiler: It turns out to be a deep cover intervention by another Invisible cell, aimed at exposing the "true" Boy and purging her of her need for vengeance before it metastasizes into something worse.]]
* Samaritan of ''ComicBook/AstroCity'' is a FishOutOfTemporalWater with a RetGone past, so he doesn't have any identity conflicts to deal with. He does, however, use "Asa Martin" as an alias when he needs to move about in his IntrepidReporter civilian job.
* ComicBook/ThePhantom is the Phantom. That's who he is. Mr. (Kit) Walker is a secret identity he uses when he needs to move nonymously through an inhabited area (though post-Falk continuities tend to go with each Phantom being legally named Kit Walker).

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Discussed in ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'' at the very start, in an interview with the main characters. About ten minutes later it's deconstructed, when it turned out that Good Samaritan Laws and HeroInsurance just wasn't cutting it. The [[WritingAroundTrademarks Supers]] have been ''forced'' to pick an identity, and whoever chose their Super identities were denied further citizenship (at least within the United States). Obviously none of them are happy about this.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLEGOBatmanMovie'' takes the idea of Batman being the real person and Bruce Wayne as the mask to its logical conclusion and deconstructs it. Batman never stops being Batman; even at home by himself, he always wears the mask and cape and talks in the same tone of voice. He has to be forced to be Bruce for public events, but doesn't act significantly different and doesn't like it. But since Batman exists to fight crime, there's nothing for him when there's no crime to fight. No personal life, no friends or family and he can't even leave the house for his meager hobbies. The Justice League doesn't even bother to invite him to their anniversary parties. A key part of the movie is basically Batman learning to get a life.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In the ''Franchise/StarWars'' saga, the Sith Lords see their Sith personas to be their true identities and their original identities to their masks or separate entities that they have mentally destroyed.
** [[BigBad Darth Sidious]] wears a dark hood over his head to hide his identity as Senator/Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine from his Separatist conspirators. However, the real mask here is Palpatine, whose kind and noble appearance is merely public facade to hide his true nature until he wipes out the Jedi Order and turns the Republic into an Empire. From that point onwards, the newly proclaimed [[EvilOverlord Emperor]] discards his Palpatine persona completely and becomes Sidious in both thought and action, wearing his cloaked hood full time despite no longer having any reason to use it anymore. Creator/IanMcDiarmid states that [[WordOfGod Lucas]] wanted Senator Palpatine's face in the ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'' to appear the most artificial, with the implication that his post-Force Lightning face from ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'' isn't really his disfigurement but rather his real face all this time.
** Despite being christened as [[FallenHero Darth Vader]] in ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'', Anakin Skywalker acts as if he's still the Jedi Knight that fights for his loved ones and the restoration of peace to the galaxy, treating his new Sith persona as a temporary means to an end. It's only after he got horribly scarred in a duel with Obi-Wan [[DespairEventHorizon and later learned that he indirectly killed his wife Padmé]] that the fallen Jedi embraces Darth Vader as his one and only identity, even going as far as [[ThatManIsDead declaring that Anakin was dead and that he destroyed him personally]]. His son, Luke, vocally disagrees with him, sending Vader into an identity crisis in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'' until he sacrifices himself to save his son from the Emperor's wrath, thus [[DyingAsYourself spending his last moments as Anakin Skywalker]].
* In the first live-action ''Film/SpiderMan1'' movie, there is a scene where the demonic Green Goblin and his human identity (the guy who wore the suit) talk to one another. There is only one man in the room...
* In ''Film/TheLongKissGoodnight'' Geena Davis' character is an amnesiac schoolteacher. Turns out she was really an assassin with a head injury who ended up believing her cover. As she is much happier as a schoolteacher than an assassin it could be seen as a subconscious choice to live the mask.
* In the film version of ''Film/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'', Lucius Malfoy protests his loyalty to Voldemort, saying that the face he presents to the masses is the real mask, and that his Death Eater mask is his true face.
* Some reference material for ''Franchise/IndianaJones'' raises the question of whether his "real" self is the mild-mannered (yet charismatic) professor Dr. Henry Jones, or the globetrotting adventurer Indiana Jones. Although neither identity is really a secret from the world or ostensibly separate from the other (he still conducts "archaeology" as Dr. Jones either way), it's implied that even he isn't sure.
** In ''Series/TheYoungIndianaJonesChronicles'', Indy first puts on his trademark hat when he stops hanging back from danger and moves to challenge it head on.
* V from ''Film/VForVendetta'' may apply, with the rare case that we never learn his original identity. Still he is very clear that the V mask is his true face:
-->'''V''': There is a face beneath this mask, but it's not me. I am no more that face then I am the muscles beneath it, or the bones beneath that. \\
... \\
'''Finch:''' Who was he? \\
'''Evey:''' He was Edmond Dantes. And he was my father... and my mother. My brother. My friend. He was you... ...and me. He was all of us.
* The question is begged of Bruce Banner in a deleted scene from ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'': "Are you a big guy that gets all little, or a little guy who sometimes blows up big?" Banner himself is unsure of the answer.
* This is a recurring theme in the ''Film/IronMan'' films. Interestingly, while everyone else insists that Iron Man is just the suit of armor Tony wears, Tony Stark is insistent that he and Iron Man are one and the same. The [[Film/IronMan3 third film]] goes as far as to contrast Iron Man and Tony Stark less in terms of the mask and more in terms of overall behavior: Iron Man is a hero who tries to make things better for the world, and Tony Stark is a partying narcissist who makes things worse for himself and the world as a whole, [[CreateYourOwnVillain often by carelessly inspiring or enabling others to become villains.]]
* ''Film/ManOfSteel'' brings a possible ''third'' interpretation into the Superman mythos: Clark and Superman are one and the same, with minimal effort taken to make each identity distinct. Clark's disguise is paper-thin because it's all he ''needs'' it to be since most people really don't think Superman ''has'' a secret identity.
* Discussed in ''Film/KillBill'' where Bill points out that Clark Kent is actually the secret identity of Superman and not the other way around. Superman has to put on a show of being Clark Kent, but beneath the surface he's Superman all the time.
-->'''Bill''': Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. [...] What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.
** Ironically, this was written during the era where DC was most adamant about Clark Kent being the person and Superman being the secret identity. During this period, Clark was a bestselling author and [[NumberTwo Perry White's natural heir as leader of the ''Daily Planet'' newsroom]].

* In ''Literature/SuperPowereds'', Roy and Hershel are a very strange special case. Hershel is physically normal, but can change into Roy (originally because of stress, later by drinking whiskey), while Roy has SuperStrength and a distinctly more forceful personality. For a long time Hershel felt useless, as though he was just useless dead weight that Roy had to drag around.
* In [[Creator/RobertAHeinlein Robert Heinlein's]] ''Literature/DoubleStar'', an actor on the rocks is hired by a kidnapped politician's (whom said actor does not particularly agree with) aides to impersonate him until he can be rescued, more and more [[BecomingTheMask becoming the politician]] as time goes on. Just after the politician is rescued, [[spoiler:he dies from the after effects of his kidnapping, prompting a DownerEnding where the actor must sacrifice his own life to uphold the ideals he has now come to support]].
* From the Literature/XWingSeries, there is Wraith Squadron's [[spoiler:Lara Notsil]] again. In this case, rather than being a result of past trauma or a secret superhero identity, her problem stems from a very real conflict between who she wants to be be, and who [[spoiler:her Imperial intelligence instructors have trained her to be]]. The rigorous, cruel methods used by her teachers, the constant assertions to assume her roles flawlessly because nothing else was of consequence, and the dictum to abandon everything, including emotional attachments, that would interfere with her fulfilling her mission is enough to [[spoiler:mentally unbalance her for a time.]] Not only does there come a point when she is (briefly) no longer certain who she is, [[spoiler:Lara or Gara Petothel]], but she even finds herself [[spoiler:missing Kirney Slane, a practice identity from her early days at the Academy, because Kirney's life was so much simpler and more carefree. This same identity is later adopted by her when her identity is exposed and she must take refuge with Zsinj, because she views Lara as having "died".]]
* In the ''Literature/{{Dexter}}'' novels, Dexter refers to the drive inside him to kill as his ''Dark Passenger.'' In the third book, [[spoiler:the Dark Passenger is revealed to be a demon possessing Dexter. When it temporarily leaves his body, he is unable to kill.]]
* Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold's ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'': Until things came forcibly to a head in ''Literature/{{Memory}}'', Admiral Miles Naismith of the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet had respect, love, and quite a bit of power. Unfortunately he was also Lt. Miles (Lord) Vorkosigan, Barrayaran Imperial Security; bound by duty, oaths, and blood to a backwards world where many still regarded him as a twisted little freak that should have been euthanized at birth. It did not help that he had fallen hard for one of the few people that knew the whole story and who, for all that she loved him back, ''still'' saw life as Lady Vorkosigan to be something akin to a death sentence.
-->'''Miles Vorkosigan:''' Dammit, sir, what would you have of me? The Dendarii are as much Barrayaran troops as any who wear the Emperor's uniform, even if they don't know it. They are my assigned charge. I cannot neglect their urgent needs even to play the part of Lieutenant Vorkosigan.\\
'''Captain Galeni:''' ''Play the part'' of Lieutenant Vorkosigan? Who the hell do you think you ''are''?
** Not to mention Miles' mother's comment that the personality of "the little Admiral" is key to keeping Miles, not sane (she explicitly doesn't believe he is sane) but FUNCTIONING.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** The clowns of the Fools' Guild tend to regard their painted faces and squeaky noses as their "real" faces. Discovering this becomes an important plot point in one of the City Watch novels.
** In ''Discworld/{{Maskerade}}'', the character who's secretly the [[Theatre/ThePhantomOfTheOpera Opera]] [[CaptainErsatz Ghost]] gains an immense amount of confidence and sheer grace from wearing the mask and not appearing as himself. In the end, [[spoiler: the witches [[MagicFeather convince him]] he now has a permanent, invisible mask, and he becomes an entirely different person permanently. Too bad "BecomingTheMask" means something else, because it would fit here perfectly.]]
%%%%%* Though none of them wear actual masks, several of the Literature/SeekersOfTruth are this way, especially the Wizard. When the Seekers are disbanded, and half of them stay on with the city to train the new SWAT cops.
* The Creator/JohnLeCarre novel ''Literature/APerfectSpy'' is about a character (somewhat of an AuthorAvatar) who gets early training from a con artist father and for a time applies those skills as a agent, but eventually falls apart because of all of the different personalities he had maintained
* The Bradley Denton short story [[http://www.bradleydenton.net/books.htm We Love Lydia Love]] featured a man who is bribed to form a relationship and then break up with a singer-songwriter, in the hope of getting her to write a new album fuelled by the breakup (that's how she rolls). He has a chip in his head, ''containing the consciousness of her dead lover'', intended to make it easier for him to fake being her perfect man. After a while, [[spoiler: he begins to identify as much with the dead lover as with himself, and decides to stay that way and spend his life with the singer.]]
* Cantra, of the ''Literature/LiadenUniverse'' books, was raised as part of a society of assassins who used {{Secret Identity Identit|y}}ies to infiltrate their targets. In ''Crystal Dragon'', she [[spoiler:becomes so subsumed in her role as a scholar that she cannot treat her companion as human and furthermore nearly dies in a knife fight (dissertation defense is SeriousBusiness for these scholars) because she's locked away all of her reflexes]].
* Edmond Dantes in ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'' was so changed by prison that as the Count, he doesn't look at all like the idealistic NiceGuy he used to be and has some ThatManIsDead toward his earlier self. It is also odd is that Dantes creates other personas: Busoni, an intellectual and pious Italian priest who seems to be modeled after Faria who tutored him in prison, and Lord Wilmore, an eccentric British philanthropist who is an enemy of the Count. Thus, Dantes essentially divided the different parts of his personality into different identities, and his main identity as the Count represents his darker side. He ultimately ends up showing some kindness and mercy (after one of his revenges went too far), and at the end of the novel signs a friendly letter as "Edmond Dantes, Count of Monte Cristo", thus reconciling the identities.
* Silk, the artful thief from ''Literature/TheBelgariad'' and ''Literature/TheMalloreon'', has cultivated a wide range of alternate identities, each with its own name, personality and unique quirks. At one point he says that he probably lost track of his TrueSelf years ago. Even his birthname and identity has become a facade. This is apparently true of his entire country, or at least the Diplomatic Corps (and it's not safe to assume those peasant farmers you just passed on the road blind stinking drunk and smelling of pig dung are not actually in fact in the diplomatic corps, stone cold sober, and bearing the title "Duke" in some other identity).
* Radio/TheShadow's real name was Kent Allard in the pulp stories, where "Lamont Cranston" was one of many disguises (as well as an IdenticalStranger who grants Allard the use of his identity). The radio series simply shaved off one instance of "Identity".
* In ''Literature/EndersGame'', Valantine worries for a few days about whether she's starting to adopt some of the views she's pretending to have as Demosthenes. Then she decides that maybe that's okay, and uses it as an argument in one of Demosthenes' essays.
* ''Literature/{{Worm}}'':
** Vista mentions in [[http://parahumans.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/sentinel-9-5/ Chapter 9.5]] ([[ADayInTheLimelight her chapter in the Wards arc]]) that she feels less like herself out of costume than in.
** Bonesaw ultimately comes to see the conflict between "Riley" and "Bonesaw" as the conflict between her humanity and her passenger. [[spoiler: After the Slaughterhouse Nine are defeated, she rejects the name Bonesaw and goes by Riley.]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' revealed a very similar backstory for [[spoiler: Sarah]], as was the case in ''The Perfect Spy'': her father was a con man who ended up in prison after scamming some dangerous people. Even as an outcast high school student she had become involved in these cons and used a number of fake identities, but following the father's arrest, she was approached by the CIA whose extensive training resulted in the very different character in the show.
* ''Series/ElChapulinColorado'' has no secret nor civil identity, and in one episode is outright stated that Chapulín Colorado ''is'' his real and legal name. WordOfGod also says that he ditched any semblance of civil identity long time ago; he is El Chapulín Colorado full time. Because this is a HalfHourComedy AffectionateParody of superheroes, the implications are never explored.
* An episode of ''Series/CriminalMinds'' featured an ConArtist who began killing his marks because he started suffering breakdowns between his fake personas and his real identity at inopportune moments, causing him to make mistakes that the victims noticed.
* Played with on ''Series/{{Cheers}}'' when Norm starts a small housepainting business and hires three guys to be his workers. The workers end up being lazy slackers and Norm is too nice to yell at them or fire them. He creates an imaginary persona for himself, "Anton Kreitzer" a mean, dictatorial BadBoss who only communicates through phone or through Norm to to get his workers to stop slacking off. He goes so far as to rent an empty office and hiring a secretary for Kreitzer. When the workers get angry and try to confront Kreitzer about his harsh treatment they find the empty office. They come to the conclusion that Norm the nice guy was fake and that Kreitzer is the real identity!
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Creator/StevenMoffat era treats the Doctor's self-given title as, simultaneously, a goal they strive to live up to and the closest thing to a true name they have.
** In "The Name of the Doctor", the Doctor tells Clara his true name: "The Doctor". He had a name before that, but that's not who he is anymore.
** In "The Beast Below", when Eleven believes his only choice is to either lobotomize the titular Beast to spare it pain or release it, killing the populace of London riding on it through space, he says he'll have to find a new name because after that, he won't be The Doctor anymore. This theme is revisited in "The Day of the Doctor" with [[spoiler: the War Doctor, a regeneration between his Eighth and Ninth personas, who had to do things in the Time War that were so terrible he couldn't continue calling himself The Doctor.]]
** Taken further in the Twelfth Doctor's era, where he says he's just a man in a box telling stories - but if he tries very hard, then on a good day, he's the Doctor. Then we get this exchange when his patience ''really'' runs out.
-->'''Ashildir / Me:''' I know the Doctor. The Doctor would never --\\
'''Twelfth Doctor:''' ''The Doctor is no longer here!'' You are stuck with ''me!''
* [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Lewis Lovhaug]] presents this as an interpretation of the ''Series/PowerRangersDinoThunder'' episode "[[BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind Fighting Spirit.]]" Dr. Thomas Oliver has been a Power Ranger for a total of five years, with six different power sets and [[Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers on]] [[Series/PowerRangersZeo four]] [[Series/PowerRangersTurbo different]] [[Series/PowerRangersDinoThunder teams]], and, especially given that his tenure as a Power Ranger ''began'' as a BrainwashedAndCrazy SuperpoweredEvilSide SixthRanger, might have a hard time figuring out ''who he is'' outside of the context of being a Power Ranger.

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* At times, storylines will cross the line into acknowledging kayfabe and refer to wrestlers losing themselves in their characters. During The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness phase, WWF did interviews with the [=McMahons=] where they refer to him as Mark and worry about what he's become.
* Likewise, they did a series of interviews with Dustin Runnels (who wrestled as Golddust) and his then wife Terri, who went by Marlena in WWF. This led to him leaving her during one interview and becoming the even more bizarre Artist Formerly Known as Golddust.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The first ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' has Decoy Octopus, an operative of FOXHOUND capable of imitating other people perfectly, even going to the length of ''draining their blood and putting it in his own body''. He has to go through psychological conditioning after every mission, due to the extent he "becomes" the other person.
** In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', a repeated theme is Solid Snake's namelessness - villains accuse him of 'not having a name', and Snake implies as such when Meryl asks him for his real one. His desire to live a normal life is symbolised by him introducing himself as his real name, David, to Meryl/[[GayOption Otacon]] [[MultipleEndings depending on the ending you get]]. [[WhatCouldHaveBeen In the original draft]] of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'', Otacon was to call Snake 'Dave' when the two of them were in private, but that was dropped for good, leading to the impression that Snake still thinks of himself as 'Solid Snake' and not as David. [[spoiler:His mother]] calls him David in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4'', and according to the ''MGS Database'' [[spoiler: he has the people around him start to call him David after the game's events]].

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Nailbat from ''Webcomic/AntiBunny'' identifies more strongly as the masked hero than as his original identity of Mors, so much so that he sees himself as Nailbat in his own mind. By the end of the story he's entirely cut ties with anyone who once knew him before.
* Elliot from ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' as a part of superhero [[strike:genre parody]] StockSuperpowers package spell got a superhero[[GenderBender ine]] [[VoluntaryShapeshifting form]] and three extra [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2010-12-15 identities]]: [[strike:a boring cliché, an annoying cliché and an attention whore cliché]] [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2010-10-22 mild-mannered]], [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2010-12-15 angsty]] and [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2011-06-06 party animal socialite]] "alter egos". Earlier it was established that TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody, but it only mattered as hormonal changes in [[GenderBender opposite sex]] and "[[HelloNurse Female v.5]]" forms. It's also established that Elliot can override the personality changes if he concentrates.
* PlayedWith in ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja''. He's always a Doctor and a ninja, but when he got a [[GatlingGood large number of]] [[JustAFleshWound flesh wounds]], he was shown as having two separate personas.
* Both Evil Spinnerette and Mecha Maid from ''Webcomic/{{Spinnerette}}'' refer to their normal names as their "given" names, though Spinnerette still considers her superhero self the fake identity, though that is starting to unravel, as she can no longer comprehend life as a normal human [[spoiler: to the point she'd rather ''die'' then be human again.]]
%%* The first major plot point in ''Webcomic/CodeCrimson'' involves the discovery that the main character is in fact a Secret Identity Identity.
* In ''Webcomic/DumbingOfAge'', Amber/Amazi-Girl is practically portrayed as on the edge of a full-blown dissociative identity disorder. She has been known to lash out at her {{Secret Keeper}}s for calling her by the "wrong" name, and on one occasion when faced with a choice ToBeLawfulOrGood, decided that Amazi-Girl might have to do the lawful thing[[note]]Inasmuch as punching people you have a grudge against for underage drinking is "lawful"[[/note]], but maybe Amber was allowed to do the good one.[[note]]Helping someone she didn't hate who'd been underage drinking - but if Amazi-Girl had done that, she'd have to admit to herself that upholding alcohol law was not the reason she targeted Sal.[[/note]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Literature/SailorNothing'': Himei fears her new DarkMagicalGirl Sailor Nothing persona could remain dominant even when she's not transformed, that Shoutan Himei will also become ''nothingness''.
* From the ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'': Achilles is, for all intents and purposes, the only identity Joshua Wilson has anymore. The same can be said for his siblings, all of whom (like Achilles) are the children of DiabolicalMastermind Lord Doom.
* The Red Panda, of ''Podcast/RedPandaAdventures'', is scornful of the man he once was, a millionaire playboy who was so bored he picked up superheroing for a lark... and ended up BecomingTheMask when he realized how empty his life had been. Kit Baxter's understanding of this side of the Red Panda is his given reason for why she was accepted as his sidekick when she revealed she knew his identity and wanted in, rather than hypnotizing her into forgetting about it.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/MiraculousLadybug'', Adrien has revealed [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17XDreXvzEM in supplemental material]] that his Chat Noir persona is more authentic than his repressed civilian self. So when Marinette says she prefers Adrien (the mask) to Chat (the real him), you can imagine the blow to his ego.
* WesternAnimation/{{Jem}} often realizes that she is "jealous of herself" and has to be manipulated by her own supercomputer into maintaining her SecretIdentity.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'': As mentioned in the Comic Books section, it's shown at the end of season one's "Shriek" that Bruce has it all figured out.
-->'''Bruce Wayne:''' The voice kept calling me Bruce. In my mind, that's not what I call myself.
* Interestingly the DCAU seems a little vague on the subject. For instance, whenever Bruce/Batman was feeling particularly depressed (such as in the ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "Hereafter"), he'd lose the deep "Batman voice" and revert to the soft style of speaking he always reserved for "playing" Bruce.
* In ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'', Punch is an Autobot who masquerades as a Decepticon named Counterpunch to gain information. In the Dreamave continuity, he starts suffering blackouts as Counterpunch; it is likely that if Dreamwave had not gone bankrupt, Punch's character arc would have involved such a situation.
* ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck'' has the titular character the real persona, while Drake Mallard is a made-up. It's a little more complicated: later episodes reveal that he WAS Drake Mallard before becoming Darkwing, but until he adopted Gosalyn he had been neglecting his civilian identity. Considering that the main character is rather egotistical, it was probably in no small part due to the fact that Darkwing Duck was much more popular than Drake Mallard.
* ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'': Miss Martian wants to be known by her shape-shifted "Megan" persona, and definitely not [[spoiler: as a white Martian.]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* TruthInTelevision. Some musicians and artists are known to have issues about losing their identities in some fictional construct.
** This is one of the plot points in ''Film/ManOnTheMoon'', a {{biopic}} of Creator/AndyKaufman. Another infamous example is Creator/PeterSellers, who stated "There was a me, but I had it surgically removed" on the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSJc72OC7Dg Muppet Show]]. See AlterEgoActing.
** In fact, Sellers' fascination with [[Film/BeingThere Chance the Gardener]] stemmed from this. Preferring to lose himself in characters to set aside his own personal flaws and make audiences, those close to him, and himself happy, Sellers was quite understanding of Chance's situation as someone who made others happy solely by reflecting what others wanted.
** According to some who have worked with him, satirist Daniel Whitney is slowly vanishing behind Creator/LarryTheCableGuy (which has also gone from being a satirical character he did at the end of his stand up routines to being the whole thing and losing the satire). Talk about NightmareFuel...
*** It's very telling that even in an interview with ''60 Minutes'', Whitney appeared in character as Larry--somewhat muted from his on-stage behavior, but still very much Larry. Either Whitney is dedicated to the pretense that Larry the Cable Guy is who he really is, or the [[http://youtu.be/QIWO5LgUZ28 Dan Whitney of his initial stand-up career]] was the real pretense, and he's a better actor than anyone gives him credit for.
*** One concerning thing is that when he voiced Mater for ''Cars'', he requested to be (and was) credited as Larry the Cable Guy, not Daniel Whitney.
** Music/DavidBowie stated in interviews that he was terrified of the possibility of completely becoming [[Music/TheRiseAndFallOfZiggyStardustAndTheSpidersFromMars Ziggy Stardust]]. He stopped adopting such specific stage personas in 1977, after -- with the "help" of his cocaine addiction at the time -- the heartless Thin White Duke of ''Music/StationToStation'' came close to consuming him.
* "Witty Ticcy Ray", a Tourette's sufferer (including a limited degree of HollywoodTourettes) in ''The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat'' believed he had to fight off his disorder from eclipsing his real personality.
* Former professional wrestler The Wrestling/UltimateWarrior changed his name from Jim Hellwig to Warrior after leaving wrestling. Almost all the wrestlers who worked with him recounted him as being an [[{{Jerkass}} egotistical asshole]] even outside the ring. But all those wrestlers mostly worked with him after he'd gotten famous. The people who'd known him before recounted that Jim Hellwig was a nice, soft-spoken friendly guy. Wrestling/JimRoss suggested that he'd ended up fighting his in-ring persona, and the persona won. As he got more famous, the moments where he was Jim grew less and less.
* In ''Beyond the Mat'' Wrestling/VinceMcMahon says of [[Wrestling/JakeRoberts Jake the Snake]]: "I was never able to tell the difference between Jake Roberts the performer and Jake Roberts the person, because frankly I never knew which one I was talking to. I don't know that they're not the same."
* Wrestling/ElSanto lived in his wrestling mask his entire career, going so far as to have chinless masks that allowed him to eat while costumed. He briefly removed the mask ''just once'' in an interview to bid goodbye to his fans. He was even buried in it.