A couple obtain a hotel room under the name of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" or some other — usually similarly bland — pseudonym. They may be married... just not to each other.
With relaxed sexual norms and most hotels requiring ID and a credit card to register nowadays, this is now mostly in Discredited Trope
/ Dead Horse Trope
See also Undercover as Lovers
and Mr. Smith
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- Played very much for drama in this Glee fanfic, where Kurt and Blaine first meet as adults. They meet because their respective husbands, who have had a long-term secret affair with each other, decide to go on vacation together, during which their plane crashes and they both die. Kurt and Blaine might never have found out about the cheating thing (or met each other), if their husbands hadn't pretended to be married when they bought the plane tickets. Thus, Blaine's husband is listed as Kurt's husband's husband on the passenger list, and the airline calls Kurt's dad instead of Kurt since they assume that Kurt died in the crash.
- Played with in No Way Out. While Kevin Costner and Sean Young are conducting a torrid affair, Young comments about the lameness of registering them as Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Costner says, "But I spelled it with a Y."
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith - But pretending to be a married couple is what brings them together and causes them to decide to use the other person as their cover.
- Lampshaded later when they begin to fight, and Jane asks her assistant to look up his hotel history, the assistant asks, "Look up what, John Smith?"
- Superman II: Clark and Lois do this for their Niagara Falls expose. This doesn't help Clark, who is already sweet on Lois.
- The 39 Steps, the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock version. "You sign, darling, the sooner you get used to writing your new name the better." (Hannay prompts her with "Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hopkinson," one of many aliases beginning with H he adopts during the film.)
- Quantum of Solace "We are teachers on sabbatical..."
- Referenced in an old joke, where a man signs his name with an X, hesitates and then draws a circle around it because "Sometimes a man doesn't want to use his right name!"
- Atlas Shrugged: Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart.
- Caravan to Vaccares: In this Alistair MacLean novel, our hero, Neil Bowman, signs into a hotel. The clerk looks at the girl he is with and says, "And this is Mrs. xxxxx?", he replies, "Don't be silly," and they go to their room. Once there, she objects to his not signing them in as husband and wife, and he tells her to look at her hands. He then points out she isn't wearing a wedding ring and that clerks notice that.
- In Agatha Christie's Partners In Crime stories, the (married) Spy Couple Tommy and Tuppence Beresford frequently use aliases during their investigations - partly because it's fun, and partly to prevent High Society from discovering that they do serious work. In one story, they get into a discussion of what alias to sign a hotel registry with in front of the desk clerk, who is stunned that anyone would be so open about it.
- In M. T. Anderson's book Feed, doing this is one of Violet's dreams. Eventually she and Titus end up actually doing this for real, and it's the emotional climax of the novel when he rejects her attempts to sleep with him.
- Subverted in The Face on the Milk Carton. The two teenage characters decide to check into a motel. The girl signs her real name note — Jane Johnson — and the clerk sarcastically says, "Big imagination, lady."
- Played with in the novel The Wheel Spins (which became the Alfred Hitchcock film The Lady Vanishes): a group of English tourists includes a couple who introduce themselves as Mr and Mrs Todhunter; there's some speculation among the other tourists about whether they're really married, which is settled by the observation that if they were up to something they'd have picked a nondescript name like "Smith" or "Brown". It turns out that they aren't married to each other, and that they picked "Todhunter" because the man's name really is Mr Brown.
- Subverted in Going Too Far by Catherine Alliott. When Polly goes to the hotel where she believes she spent the night with Sam, she checks the guest book, expecting that he would have signed them in under some nondescript name; but discovers he used their (separate) real names. This turns out to have been deliberate so he could create a false alibi for burglary.
- There is a poem (told as a memoir) that mentions the speaker having to sign into a motel like this to have sex with her college boyfriend, because at the time (probably about The Fifties or early in The Sixties) they wouldn't be able to get the room despite being both consenting adults and/or it would have caused a scandal.
- Amusingly Inverted by the Happily Married couple in Manalive. Their names actually are Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but they periodically reenact their courtship to keep their marriage fresh, during which times the wife uses whatever color of dress she happens to be wearing as a last name (Miss Gray, Miss Green, Miss Brown, etc.).
Live Action TV
- In As Time Goes By, the two main characters once signed in to a hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose Smith to keep from being too obvious.
- Twin Peaks: Nadine Hurley and her teenage boyfriend Mike.
- An episode of Golden Palace has Rose trying to keep a couple who's doing this from sleeping together. She finally drives them out of the hotel. The episode ends with another man checking in as "Mr. Smith". When Rose asks if there's a "Mrs. Smith", he responds that there is not; but there is a "Mr. Jones".
- In Keeping Up Appearances, Hyacinth and Richard spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast, and Hyacinth is exasperated by a loud couple in one of the rooms. Richard looks at the sign-in book, and sees the name of the couple: Mr and Mrs Smith. Turns out Mrs Smith is her sister, Rose.
- In Citizen Smith, when Wolfie Smith and Ken are trying to have a dirty weekend away with their girlfriends, Wolfie books them all into a hotel as 'Mr & Mrs Smith - twice!'
- Babylon 5: A variation occurs; this is the only way Marcus and Dr. Franklin can get fake IDs together on their way to Mars. It's Undercover as Lovers at the same time, which adds an extra layer of funny — honeymoon suite and all.
- In an episode of Smallville, Chloe Sullivan and Oliver Queen went on a weekend getaway and checked in a hotel as Mr and Mrs Green, which not only is a common and bland last name but also refers to Oliver's other identity.
- On Living Single, Khadija meets an old fling of hers and describes how they had checked into a hotel together under some sort of bizarre name, because Smith seems too easy.
- In NCIS Tony and Ziva went undercover as a couple who were assassins.
- In the Murdoch Mysteries episode "The Lockdown", a hotel clerk explains to Murdoch that tracking down the guests would be difficult: "We get a lot of 'Mr Smith' and 'Mrs Jones' here."
- On Midsomer Murders DCI Tom Barnaby find out his boss has been using Barnaby's identity at a hotel where he has been having an affair.
- Inverted in a The Wizard of Id strip: The couple are married and named Smith, and the wife suggests using a different name because they always get sniggered at.
- One episode of The Goon Show features a Spanish hotel where every room is occupied by Seņor and Seņora Smith.
- In the webcomic The Bare Pit, two agents check in undercover as Mark and Mary Jones.