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Twin Switch

A popular plot where two identical twins trade places, or pretend to be each other. This can be to fulfill the other twin's responsibilities, such as a test or a date, or to experience the other twin's life in a Grass Is Greener moment.

The advantage in having a twin is that one can pretend to be the other twin because of their similar or identical appearance. The disadvantage to all this, however, is that the twins in question are usually Polar Opposite Twins — the wild one must pose as the book learner to successfully fool a boyfriend on a date, or the book learner has to be a party animal to fool their friends for example.

When this situation occurs, especially in a series, An Aesop almost invariably follows. It's almost always the same Aesop every time: the twins learn that each others' lives both have their ups and downs.

One should note that in real life it is likely much less easy for twins to pull this off. They don't always have the same hairstyle, body weight, or voice.

See also Tag Team Twins for a different type of Twin Switch.

Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • Ouran High School Host Club, with the Hitachiin twins. The fact that Haruhi could tell them apart (rather easily, so it would seem) is what causes their attraction and respect for her.
    • The Hitachiins pull this particular move quite cruelly in a flashback, proving that they were way bigger jerkasses before Tamaki befriended them; they switch places to mess with a girl who has a crush on one of them, prove that she can't actually tell them apart, give her an absolutely crushing "The Reason You Suck" Speech for accidently treating them as interchangeable (which brings her to tears), then rip up her love letter and brush her off. Of course, this is more lashing out in frustration about their isolation and identity issues than because they're actually mean.
    • At one point in the anime, they dye their hair different colors so they won't be mistaken fo each other... Then switch whose hair is which color the next day.
  • ∀ Gundam had Dianna Soriel and Kihel Heim periodically switching places. Dianna originally seemed to do it as a practical joke on her attendants (being Queen doesn't give you too many chances to have fun), but it ends up going a bit far when they are separated by a war. At the end of the series, they switch again, with Kihel ruling the Moonrace while Dianna settles down in peace with Loran.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin has a much darker take, with Casval Rem Deikun and the real Char Aznable, who look identical except for their eye color. Casval, knowing the Zabi family is planning to assassinate him and correctly guessing they'll plant a bomb on the commercial space flight the boys are taking to military school, plants a gun on Char so spaceport security will detain him, then "generously" offers to switch places, thus becoming the Char we all know and love while the real one's remains are scattered through outer space.
  • Subverted with Kagami and Tsukasa in Lucky Star. On Konata's advice, Kagami temporarily unbinds her hair, while Tsukasa dons her sister's ribbons for her own Girlish Pigtails. Kagami (whose hair is longer to begin with) looks even more mature and...rather pretty. Tsukasa (whose hair is short) just looks even more childish.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni uses this as a very interesting way to further Shion's plot. The idea is first shown as playful, but as the plot furthers, it slowly becomes more horrific, to the point that Shion uses it to fool everyone into thinking she's Mion so that she can continue her bloody rampage without her or Mion being suspected.
  • In the Seinen series Monster, this is played interestingly: we know that a pair of twins were taken where one of them (accidentally) sees a killing spree, and it's thought that the kid would grow up to be a cold-blooded murderer. Later, we know that the twin who becomes a cold, malevolent serial killer was the one who hadn't witnessed the murder scenery and only heard about the massacre from the other twin's history. To make things worse, it's implied that their mother confused and gave them the "wrong" twin, which may be or may be not an honest mistake since she dressed both the same way, complete with wigs to conceal their real gender.
  • Michio Yuki and his older brother in MW. After the death of Michio, his brother makes an evil grin to the viewers, concluding that it is none other than Michio himself, and that his brother was the one who got shot by Minch, not him.
  • Taken to a an incredibly creepy level with Hansel and Gretel in Black Lagoon. They flawlessly transition into the other twin's place by switching clothes, changing their voices, and even swapping their personalities. It gets to the point where it is impossible to tell which twin is which and what gender they are at all (it is implied that parts of their body covered by their clothes have been deformed, and that wouldn't be a good indicator).
  • Tragic example in Naruto: After Hiashi Hyuuga killed a ninja(who was a visiting delegate for another hidden village) for trying to kidnap his daughter, Hinata, the ninja's village demanded Hiashi's head in compensation. The clan elders suggested sending Hiashi's twin brother and Neji's father, Hizashi, in his place. Though Hiashi objected, Hizashi agreed as a way to save his brother, prevent a war and choose his own destiny.
  • The manga series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, which is RIFE with Tomato in the Mirror moments, involves at least one classic Twin Switch...of the distinctly unfunny, taking-my-dead-brother's-place type with Fai and Yuui.
    • The omake-verse includes a lighter variant: during a treasure hunt featuring one of the twins in question and a "friend" of his, there is a black out, and when the lights go back on the twins are swapped. The second twin is later revealed to be the actual prize of the treasure hunt, having gone off to Italy years prior and just now returning in secret to his brother.
  • The Kisarazu twins accidentally pull one in The Prince of Tennis. Mizuki came to recruit Ryou, but took Atsushi instead with him for mistake. When he found out, he gave Atsushi an Important Haircut.
  • The classic 80s shoujo Cipher did this with the main character twins Siva and Cipher. They used to be actors and models together until Siva got a scar on his forehead, and now Cipher does all the modeling and acting work under the name of Siva while Cipher is said to have quit the business. By the way, their actual names are Jack and Roy.
  • Sae and Yumi from Asatte no Houkou occasionally do this.
  • An episode of D.N.Angel has twin sisters Risa and Riku Harada pulling this off, and almost being found out.
    • Happened in a recent manga chapter: Risa forces Rokuto's replacement-Riku to do a twin switch with her for the dance. They get found out by Daisuke realizing the one in front of him wasn't Risa (by personality) and by Rokuto because "Riku" revealed herself to be Risa.
  • In the second Digimon Tamers movie, Henry accidentally grabs his sister's partner Lopmon instead of his own, Terriermon. The latter was not pleased.
    Terriermon: Man, how could he think I was Lopmon?! When I get my hands on him, I'll—
    Suzie: Terriermon, momentai!
  • In Touch, Tatsuya impersonates his brother a few times, once taking his place on the baseball team when Kazuya is injured (as Kazuya is a star pitcher and Tatsuya is not yet, the idea was never for him to actually play; just to keep their players' morale up and the opposing team intimidated). At least one other time he pretends to be Kazuya to try and pick up girls, only to be scolded by Minami.
    • Tatsuya even manages to successfully pull this once after Kazuya dies. Koutarou was not amused.
  • Mixed with Identical Stranger in Weiß Kreuz. Sakura Tomoe, a Naïve Everygirl who looks a lot like her crush Ran's comatose younger sister, stashes Aya in a closet when some people come to kidnap her and takes her place. Her kidnapper, Schuldig, was not amused.
  • Hideyoshi from Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts. The guy is so girly all he needs to do is swap into a school girl uniform, take off a hairpin, and change his voice a bit and he'll look/act the same way as his twin sister Yuuko. He's so good he was able to make Class C believe "Yuuko" was degrading them and got Class C to attack Class A in episode 12!
    • Later in episode 3 of season 2, both Hideyoshi and Yuuko switch places, this time on purpose, and end up making things worse for each other.
  • Though they aren't actually twins, Ui from K-On! pulls this in the last episode of the first season. Yui caught a cold and with mere days left before their performance, everyone was getting nervous. Ui poses as Yui and steps in for Yui in their last rehearsal before the live show, but has her cover blown away when she turns out to be more in time than her sister and doesn't use the usual nicknames like Ricchan and Azu-nyan. Don't worry though — Yui gets better in time for the show.
  • Taken to an incredibly cruel length with Ayato Naoi and his twin brother in Angel Beats!. His father made him switch with his twin after the twin died because his brother was more successful. This is part of the reason Naoi's so screwed up.
  • Played for Drama and possibly deconstructed in Ashita no Nadja. When Francis Harcourt is mistaken as Black Rose, he refuses to discard his identity and fully intends to pay for his older twin Keith's acts as a Gentleman Thief. This is seen as a sign of Francis's current mental/emotional unstability, however, and not to mention Keith himself is extremely disturbed and distressed by the prospect, as it prolongues a behavior pattern that Francis has been showing ever since childhood (blame himself for any screw up Keith commited and telling others he had done it instead).
  • This is basically what kick-starts the plot of Arisa, in which Tsubasa and Arisa decide to switch places for a day and Tsubasa learns that her sister has been keeping some very dark secrets...
  • Samurai High School: Kou and Tsukiko entered Samurai High School by posing as each other. They occasionally switched back whenever Tsukiko wanted to go on a date with her crush or watch her idol.
  • During the Sports Festival of A Certain Scientific Railgun one of Mikoto's clones (10032) is mistaken for her, and dragged into a game of tag that Mikoto herself was late for. Mikoto lets 10032 play around, since the clone hasn't had anything resembling a normal life until then. She also does surprisingly well; her opponents use tactics designed to fight one of the most powerful espers in Academy City, not a clone with high-level military training and experience from over ten thousand battles.
  • Di[e]ce: Like all the other counterparts, Yuki and Ruka aren't related, but they do look exactly alike. Ruka impersonates Yuki for several chapters, with the intent of murdering his friends. Sion can tell what's happened, but does nothing; by the time Kazuki figures it out, he's already befriended Ruka. So that didn't work out as planned.

    Comics 
  • Comic Book Example: Vivian and Constance D'Aramis actually faked Constance's death so that one could appear as Justice League Europe member The Crimson Fox, while the other acted as CEO of their family corporation. Since they had identical superpowers, they switched between the roles.
  • Tintin adventure "King Ottokar's Sceptre" where a man's twin brother switches places with him as part of the plot to usurp King Muskar.
    • Played more realistically than most instances of this trope in that the twins weren't much alike; the evil twin had to wear glasses, didn't smoke, and was a lot less absent-minded than his brother, who was near-sighted, smoked like a chimney and kept dropping his butts when he was done with them without noticing.
  • Another non-comedic example: in Detective Comics #374, Robin gets assaulted and Batman deduces that the man is responsible is boxer Jim Condors. However, upon attempting to turn him into the police, Batman is informed that Condors was in the middle of a boxing match when the assault took place. Batman later figures out that Condors had a twin brother and was able to pull a twin switch in order to get revenge on Robin for sending his brother to jail.
    • Batman Black & White featured a story where a woman faked her own death by murdering her twin sister and stealing her identity.
    • In the Blackgate one-shot, part of Cluemaster's Great Escape plan involves one of the Trigger Twins answering to both names during a emergency role-call while the other sneaks away.
  • In the Dutch Donald Duck magazine, Huey, Dewey and Louie once swapped hats to confuse the hell out of everyone, since you can usually identify who's who by their coloured caps.
  • Girls' comic Bunty ran a story in which a vain, arrogant teenage model became disfigured and had her shy twin sister pose as her for modelling jobs until the first twin's face healed.
    • The Comp, a soap opera style strip in the same comic once featured a storyline in which two characters, Laura and Becky were grounded for attending a pop concert against the wishes of their respective mothers. When Becky was asked out on a date (by a boy she couldn't stand anyway) her twin sister, Hayley, decided to go in her place. However, this backfired when Becky, who was still allowed out to go to school and run errands, appeared with the girls' younger brothers.
  • Roderick Kingsley, AKA the Hobgoblin and enemy of Spider-Man, frequently used his twin brother Daniel Kingsley in his criminal schemes. Since Daniel was a whiny, sniveling Dirty Coward, Roderick exploited this to make people think that he too was a pathetic weakling rather than the Magnificent Bastard he really was.
  • In X-Men Noir, Thomas and Robert Halloway made a game of making people think there was only one of them when they were kids. After their father died, they were adopted by different families — but when they met up as adults, Robert insisted on keeping up the game. If anything you could probably consider this an inversion; they used this trick so their singular identity could be in two places at once.
  • Zipi y Zape: The twins do this a few times, but end up getting caught.
  • A variant on this happens in the French comic, Les Passagers du Vent (The Passengers of the Wind), though it's played for drama and not comedy. The two girls, Agnes and Isabeau, aren't related (Isabeau, nicknamed "Isa," is an orphan brought in as Agnes's playmate), and while they resemble one another, they aren't completely identical. In order to play a prank on Agnes's father, who hasn't seen either of them for years, they swap clothes and pretend to be one another — and the prank works so well that he, to take care of their further education, sends "Isa" (really Agnes) off to a convent while keeping "Agnes" (really Isa) with him in the belief that she's his real daughter. Scared of being sent to convent herself, "Agnes" keeps the bluff going, and hence nobody listens to "Isa's" attempt at telling the truth. The girls end up permanently living each other's lives, leading to a very complicated love/hate relationship between them as adults.

     Fan Works 
  • In the Axis Powers Hetalia fic Seven Little Killers, America and Canada switch places repeatedly in the story. For example, in the hostage scene, "America" kills Vietnam and Finland, while "Canada" protests. Their intention? Both of them are framing the other for the murders... but they're working together to do it.
  • In the Tales of the Abyss fanfic. Reflections, Asch, who never joined Van, and Luke, who never cut his hair tend to do this a lot. it's also a major plot point in parts of the story.
  • In the Ranma ½ fanfict Equal Halves, note  Ranma and Ranko do this so that Ranma can practice talking to Akane without it becoming a shouting match. They even get the idea from seeing The Parent Trap on TV.
  • In Boy Scouts ½, When twins Kirstin and Nicole Porter are involved in a production of Romeo and Juliet, half way through Nicole foists her role of Juliet upon Kirstin, so that Kirstin might get to kiss Aaron, the boy she likes, who is playing Romeo.
  • The Weasly twins from Harry Potter often switch places. Parodied amusingly in this strip on deviantart.

    Film 
  • Most of the plot of The Parent Trap and its many remakes. Twin girls were separated as little kids, accidentally meet at summer camp and switch their respective parent with the plan to reunite the family.
  • New York Minute:
    • Played with in the Olsen Twins vehicle where both twins are on a train and one gets thrown off for not having a ticket. The conductor then finds the other twin and assumes she has snuck back on, refusing to believe they are twins.
    • Played straight later on in the movie where one twin is meant to give a speech but is lost in New York and the other twin decides to take her place and improvise. Thankfully her sister arrives before she can truly mess up.
  • The Jackie Chan movie Twin Dragons, featuring twin boys who had been Separated at Birth. One is a formal, polite pianist and the other is a rough, street thief who knows how to fight. At one point, they accidentally switched places and another time, they did it on purpose to fool the enemy.
  • Start the Revolution Without Me involves two different mismatched sets of twins getting mixed up with one another.
  • A premise of separated twins was used in the Bette Midler/Lily Tomlin film Big Business, and much earlier in the Laurel and Hardy film Our Relations.
  • In She's The Man (based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night below), the entire plot is about this.
  • In the Softcore film Video Vixens (about an Adult Film awards show) one of the films is about a serial rapist who turns out to be twins - one twin would go out raping while the other is his alibi, having been seen doing some mundane activity at the same time.
  • In Kagemusha, Shingen Takeda's younger brother Nobukado is often used as the daimyo's Body Double to fool his enemies and even his own army about Shingen's whereabouts. Thus at the beginning of the movie Nobukado has taken Shingen's place at the head of the army besieging a fortress. When the job becomes too much for him, Nobukado happens to come across a condemned criminal who resembles his older brother even more than he himself does...
  • Serenity: Smugglers Fanty and Mingo do this when meeting people, probably to throw them off guard. Mal isn't fooled. According to him "Fanty's prettier".

    Literature 
  • Variation in the Song of the Lioness books: Alanna is to be sent to the convent to receive instruction in the proper behavior of a noblewoman and wants to be a knight; her twin Thom is supposed to go to the palace to be a page, but wants to learn magic (taught at the convent). Instead of switching identities, Alanna dresses as a boy and the two switch destinations.
  • Marilyn and Carolyn from The Baby-Sitters Club did this once while Mallory was babysitting.
  • Castor and Pollux from Robert A. Heinlein's The Rolling Stones took each other's places in one semester of high school. Instead of each being burdened with two time-consuming classes, they split it up to each take one class twice. The Aesop occurred in deep space, when the twin who'd taken history instead of advanced math had to spend all his leisure time playing catch-up in that essential spaceman's discipline.
  • The 'one twin dies and the other takes up their life' variant is actually fairly common in mystery novels. A brilliant usage appears for example in Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced. There were twins involved, but the Dead Person Impersonation plot was done by a lady who was a younger sister of the deceased.
  • The Twin Switch plot was used in mystery novel Elephants Can Remember.
  • Fred and George Weasley in Harry Potter have a habit of trading places or names for a joke in both the books and the movies.
  • In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the twins Aureliano Segundo and Jose Arcadio Segundo swap themselves around constantly during childhood, resisting all attempts to distinguish them, because they find others' dismayed reactions to be amusing. Their family has two traditional male names which are used repeatedly down through generations, each of which comes to imply a different set of personality traits; of course, Jose Arcadio becomes more like an Aureliano (silent, disconnected from reality, embittered, a fighter for lost causes) and vice versa (Aureliano is cheerful, charismatic, generous, an epically Big Eater), until both the audience and the members of their family are led to believe that they swapped permanently at some point. They both seduce the same woman; one ends up keeping her as a concubine. During adulthood, they grow VERY dissimilar, but slowly return to their former state until they die at the exact same time, upon which the bodies are mixed up and accidentally buried in the wrong graves.
  • The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain. It's essentially what happens, although it's combined with an Identical Stranger. Those who switch places are Street Urchin named Tom Canty and Prince Edward VI of England.
  • In the fifth book of the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne's House of Dreams, the titular Anne meets a woman named Leslie, whose past is a tragic one. To make it worse, her once cruel husband, Dick, is now a helpless, brain-damaged man after coming home from a sea voyage, forcing her to have to take care of him for 11 years. You learn later in the book that he has a cousin named George that he looks exactly the same as, however, because their parents had been two sets of twins who married one another...
  • The book series Double Trouble is all about this trope with twin sisters Sandi and Randi, usually with the switch being imperfect and them being found out. It gets cranked up a notch with the Triple Trouble books that feature their identical cousin Mandi.
  • Central to the resolution of one of the The Cat Who... mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun. A couple has adult twin sons, David and Harley. One night, Harley and his wife Belle are murdered when someone breaks into their home. It's eventually revealed that it was actually David and Belle who were murdered; Harley and David's wife Jill, who were having an affair, had planned the whole thing so they could be together without anyone realizing. The twins' parents figured it out and were utterly destroyed - the mother had a stroke over it.
  • In The Roman Mysteries, Gauis poses as his twin brother Marcus (who has been shipwrecked), in order to convince the bankers who want to foreclose on Marcus's home that Marcus is in good health and should get more time to pay off his loan.
  • In Dido And Pa by Joan Aiken, aristocratic siblings Simon and Sophie swap places so the latter can politely attend a meeting with an advisor while the former hunts wolves. It's never made quite clear whether the two are twins, and even if they were they couldn't be identical. The ruse only works in any case so long as the person they're fooling isn't really paying attention, and Sophie gets into hot water when her disguise is rumbled.
  • Halt from Ranger's Apprentice switches places with his twin in book eight of the series.
  • Invoked in A Tale of Two Cities to get Charles Darnay out of prison. Sydney Carton (not actually his twin but a look alike) forces Charles' accusors to admit they can't identify him since he looks identical to Sydney.
  • Lisa and Lottie is a novel by Erich Kästner that was the basis for The Parent Trap.
  • This was done an insane number of times in the Sweet Valley High series and its various spin-offs. In one book, an Identical Stranger tries to pose as Elizabeth, but Elizabeth's best friend doesn't believe it for a second and thinks that Jessica, Elizabeth's twin sister, is the one pretending to be her.
  • Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire recalls how she used to switch places with her twin brother Jaime when they were children, often for a whole day. And now you may imagine Jaime Lannister in skirts.
  • One of the CHERUB Series bonus stories, aptly named "The Switch", has nearly identical twins Connor and Callum switch places as part of a mission. The fact that Real Life twins are rarely perfectly identical is acknowledged, and a makeup artist is used to make the two boys look even more alike.
  • In Never Send Flowers, David Dragonpol has an identical brother, whom he switches places with when his insanity takes hold on him. He uses this switch to delude authorities to think that he's dead.

     Live Action TV 
  • Sister Sister far too many times to mention. (In the first few seasons, Tia wore a mole to make her look identical to Tamera, but the mole was off by senior year, and was even talked about.)
    • Funnily enough, the girls have mentioned that this doesn't work for them in real life. They once tried it for laughs (faking the mole with mascara) and all their friends immediately recognized them.
    • Actually Inverted in one episode—both sisters make plans to go out with a boy, who accidentally asked both out thinking that they were the same person. The three-person date was naturally a bit awkward.
    • Subverted in another episode where one of their friends asks Tia why she's coming out of Tamera's classroom, blowing their cover. They switched so that Tia (the smart one) could take a test for Tamera.
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, many times in the earlier episodes. However, they haven't used it as much now that the one twin is clearly thinner and slightly taller than the other one.
    • Lampshaded in one episode, when Zack suggested that one of them should take the place of their middle-eastern friend Sanjay at a ceremony that Sanjay didn't want to attend.
    Cody: Great! Except he looks nothing like us! *to Sanjay* His plans only work for twins.
  • Two of a Kind, starring the Olsen twins; they even managed to fool their father, who you'd think would remember that one twin was left-handed and the other wasn't.
  • Most episodes of The Patty Duke Show, albeit the same actress played both twins with the help of Nerd Glasses and a Scottish Accent.
  • A grisly and totally non-comedic Twin Switch was the basis for an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: A woman sees her twin sister murdered in front of her, then covers it up by posing as her, fooling everyone, including the murdered twin's husband and daughter, until the murdered twin's bones were found three years later.
  • Another non-comedic example: A man murders his twin, then takes over his twin's life on Diagnosis: Murder.
  • Parodied in Degrassi Junior High. A girl has to leave her date early, so she has her twin sister take her place half-way through. It's all for nothing, because the boyfriend is too busy hitting on another girl to notice.
  • An episode of Tales from the Crypt has a fake Twin Switch. A man falls in love with a pair of beautiful twins, but they tell him that they promised each other that they'd only marry another set of twins. So he replies "But I do have a twin!", and makes up a story that he and his "twin brother" switch places every month, with one of them staying home and the other going on a business trip. So in this way he can date both twins, by doing a fake Twin Switch with himself at the end of the month. Of course, this being Tales from the Crypt, the twins find out eventually, and solve the problem with a chainsaw.
  • Matthew pulls this on NewsRadio when his twin brother Andrew came to visit. Trouble is, they didn't look alike, because they really weren't twins. In fact, they weren't even blood brothers; Matthew was adopted but never caught on.
    • In a subversion of Matthew's normal stupidity, at the end of the episode it is revealed Matthew has known all along they weren't twins, but went with it because it is Andrew who was adopted.
  • One of the many things the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation makes extremely creepy. In the episode "Pirates of the Third Reich", the Neo-Nazi killer responsible for the murder of Lady Heather's daughter killed his twin for deciding to remain an adherent to the Jewish faith, then took his place at a sleep study clinic so he could gain access to victims for concentration camp-style experimentation.
  • An episode of Barney & Friends where the kids discover the girl they've been playing with is in fact two girls. This editor was fooled (the only way to tell them apart was their hair bangles...and I was five at the time).
    • And a season later, Ashley and Alyssa became part of the cast. Interestingly, not all of their episode appearances were together.
  • Dennis the Menace (UK) where he discovers he has a twin who looks just like him. He uses this to his advantage: have the twin talk to Sergeant Slipper whilst he is catapulting everyone with tomatoes (thus getting him out of trouble because Slipper claims "Dennis" was talking to him), making others around Beanotown think they've gone potty, and at the end the twin ends up doing Dennis's washing up after he sneaks out after tea (he had told his twin to wait outside whilst he went to check the coast was clear).
  • In one episode of Home and Away, Kirsty got Laura to take her place during an exam. Unfortunately for them, Dan had seen everything.
  • These twins from the British Big Brother (not the last, the one before, just to state facts more clearly: 2008) actually did that to their boyfriends. They took the other's boyfriend to the bedroom and indulged in foreplay and fondling and then swapped back and scolded them. So hot yet so wrong.
    • The Australian Big Brother had a set of twins pretend to be one person. One twin would spend some time in the house while the other would be in his own room with books and TV and such. At any time Big Brother felt like, they would swap over, with only a couple of minutes to update each other on what was happening in the house. They managed to keep it up for two or three weeks until one of the twins cut himself in an accident.
      • The American edition did this too with Adria and Natalie. In season 5, Project Do Not Assume, it was assumed that Cowboy and Nakomis were the twist because they turned out to be half-siblings. However; it was then revealed that someone else had a sibling in the house and they were pulling one of these. It was then revealed that to be Adria and Natalie, who switched places in the diary room until the reveal. There was also some brilliance from the crew, because it could have also been Diane or Drew, since they both had a twin sibling outside the house.
  • There's an episode of Coupling in which Patrick relates a story in which he'd been unknowingly dating twins for some time, to the point of near-complete exhaustion.
    Patrick: Yeah, it would have been worse if they'd been identical...
  • A sinister version of this occurs in the season one finale of The Worst Witch television series, where Miss Cackle's evil twin "Agatha" locks her sister in a cupboard and proceeds to masquerade as her to launch her revenge against Cackle's Academy.
  • Katie and Emily switched in one episode of Skins, so that Emily could sit Katie's exam while she was sat at home moping. All of the teachers were fooled, but none of their fellow students.
  • An episode of Fringe had characters played by Shawn and Aaron Ashmore pull this one off — one twin presumed dead actually frozen in amber while the other assumes his identity for years.
    • This is a variation in that one twin had developed into The Atoner because of his twin's status, and was developing a procedure to wake him up. He eventually gets Fringe division to freeze him in amber so that the formerly frozen twin could step back into his life without a hitch.
  • Kitchen Nightmares had an episode where twins owned the failing restaurant and the first action upon meeting Gordon Ramsey was for the one up front to shake his hand then go back, get his brother and pretend they were or weren't the same person.
  • Korean drama series You Are Beautiful (and its Japanese remake Ikemen desu ne) is based around a girl taking her twin brother's place as a member of a rock group while he is having surgery abroad.
  • The main plot of Ringer.
  • Also the main plot of The Lying Game.
  • One episode of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency had a case involving identical twins trying to share one dentist's degree. One was considerably less talented than the other.
  • Castle pulls this off with two women that aren't even related in "Dance with Death", thanks to Magic Plastic Surgery and an untimely death on a train.
  • The Saturday Night Live sketch "Mirror Image" had two sisters, played by Amy Adams and Kristen Wiig, try this to divide schoolwork. The plan falls through, though, due to Wiig's character looking fatter, acting dumber, and behaving more crudely than Adams'.
  • In an episode of Northern Exposure Joel's streetwise never-before-metnioned twin brother Jules comes to town and wants to pull the twin switch for old times sake. Joel agrees on the condition that Jules not actual conduct any of Joel's business as a doctor. Then Joel gets arrested for a Three Card Monte scam and Jules has to fill in.
  • Orphan Black features several clones all played by the same actress. Naturally, there are several instances where one clone impersonates another. There's even one scene where one clone impersonates a clone who is impersonating another clone. These scenes are played for both drama and comedy.
  • In the fourth episode of the fifth series of Misfits, Rudy One impersonates Rudy Two, the other aspect of his Literal Split Personality, in order to investigate who is responsible for Rudy Two's mysterious rapid aging. Due to the difference in their personalities, this is very difficult.

    Music 
  • There was one Vocaloid song made by mothy, where Rin was an evil princess and Len her servant, since they were separated from each other. Since Rin was doing terrible things and was a tyrant, soon she was overthrown, but before they could get to her, Len forced Rin to flee, while he disguised himself as her, and was punished in her place. The sequel done by Len, "Servant of Evil," tells his side of the story and elaborates on it. And then the last instalment was Rin's message of regret, which was basically about how she regrets what happens.
  • There was another song Monochrome Ward, where it appears that Len was a failed experiment and the doctors wanted to get rid of him. Rin, who was the successful part of the experiment, chooses to switch places with him and died in his place, where Len would live.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE's Brie Bella debuted by winning matches by disappearing under the ring after she's been beaten up for a while and then "mysteriously reappearing" completely unfatigued to pick up the win. This was revealed to be a ruse with her twin sister Nikki.
    • They frequently won matches this way even after the ruse was revealed. In one match Eve Torres was feeling Genre Savvy and had the referee draw an X on Nikki so she couldn't switch. Ironically Brie won the match anyway.
    • This backfired spectacularly when Nikki defended her Divas' title against Layla. Towards the end of the match, Nikki switched with Brie but Layla managed to pin her. Meaning Nikki lost her title without even getting pinned.
    • They tried this again against the Funkadactyls, but after they won with this, a sharp-eyed referee sees through this and reverses his decision. They were not happy.
  • Long before the Bella Twins, referee twin brothers Earl and Dave Hebner were part of one. At The Main Event match between Hulk Hogan and André the Giant in 1988, "Dave" counted a pin on Hogan, even though his shoulders weren't on the mat. After the match, Dave and Earl (the imposter) were shown arguing with each other. The whole idea was that it was all arranged by 'The Million Dollar Man', Ted DiBiase (Andre's manager for the match) as part of his scheme to become WWF Champion.
  • During his WWE tenure, Kurt Angle was also apt to pull this with his brother Eric. This would often play out with Eric coming out first dressed as Kurt (but not removing the hood from Kurt's entrance warm-up jacket), and when his opponent would go up to approach Eric thinking it to be Kurt, it would cue an ambush from the correct Angle brother.
    • In TNA, Kurt would do this trick with Mixed Martial Arts fighter Frank Trigg, who looks similar to him.
  • The Dudley Boyz did a complete parody of this with Bubba Ray and Devon doing the switch in the middle of matches while the then commissioner Paul Heyman claimed he couldn't tell the difference. Aside from at least a 50 pound difference, one is black and the other is white.
  • The Basham Brothers did this all the time too. Like many of the entries here, they weren't even related...they just looked similar.
  • Parodied in a tag match involving The Bella Twins mentioned above against Jillian Hall and Maryse. Jillian tried to pull the switch swapping places with Maryse...only to have the ref order her out of the ring. Not only do they not look like twins, they weren't even wearing the same outfits.
  • Irish indie wrestlers Kasey and Leah Owens do this occasionally though Leah has shorter hair and they have different tattoos. If Leah ever shows up wearing hair extensions then you can bet they'll try it. Once it even worked when the two of them were wearing different outfits.

    Theater 
  • William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, involving a set of twins both named Antipholus, and their servants, also twins, both named Dromio. This, in turn, is based on a play by classical Roman playwright Plautus, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
    • Twelfth Night as well. Viola thinks her twin brother Sebastian has drowned, and disguises herself as him (well, sort of) to go and serve Orsino. So of course things get crazy when Sebastian shows up.

     Video Games 
  • In Total Overdose, the Good Son is injured in an undercover investigation and in order to salvage the operation, gets the Bad Son sprung from jail to take his place. Different as night and day works in this case, as Ram is far more capable of acting the psychopathic criminal for underworld rep.
  • Siren: Late in the game, Shiro kills his twin Kei, and takes his place, though the cutscene in which it happens is deliverately ambiguous, making it look like Shiro has killed himself. You can still play as 'Kei', but he has Shiro's items and voice actor.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, Basch's twin brother Noah, A.K.A. Judge Magister Gabranth, impersonated him and killed King Raminas in order to set the stage for the Archadean take over of Dalmasca. In the end, Basch impersonates Noah as Judge Magister after he dies in order to keep the peace between Archades and the newly freed Dalmasca.
  • Tokimeki Memorial 2 and 4 has examples of Twin Switch with Miho and Maho Shirayuki, and Tadashi and Rui Nanakawa. The first set are identical twin sisters who are Polar Opposites, with Maho as the shadow sister, and you'll need to spot the differences in order to know who is who during dates, if you want to score Maho. The second set are brother and sister twins, and the only way to formally get to know Rui and be able to date her is to spot her a few times during her Twin Switch sessions.
  • Pulled off nicely in Nancy Drew Warnings At Waverly Academy with Kim and Rachel. Because their guardian wasn't able to take care of them, Kim and Rachel got themselves accepted into a boarding school...but only under one name, so they pulled this on the faculty. And they actually did a very good job at this, since even some of the players were fooled when The Reveal came. Side by side, it's pretty easy to tell Rachel from Kim - Kim has a lock of hair going down the left side of her face - you actually do see and interact with Kim during the game, and if one looks closely when she doesn't seem to recognize you, you can see that you're talking to Kim. Also when they stand side-by-side, you can see that one of the twins is taller than the other It also turned out well for them because despite that they were expelled, the alumnae said that their scheme was so they could get a good education and should be rewarded, so the faculty paid for their tuition and room and board.
  • Ami and Mami Futami in The Idolmaster do this as part of their idol career. The only people that know they're actually a pair of twins is the staff of 765 production. Subverted in the second game when Mami grows her hair out and goes solo.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 has a very unusual blend of both this and Dead Person Impersonation, when Solid Snake is framed for the destruction of the tanker in the prologue, but 'died' in the accident. The reality is that the body in Solid Snake's coffin is actually Liquid Snake minus the arm that was salvaged to replace Ocelot's own severed limb. Since they are twins, the DNA match done after they exhumed 'his body' in the Plant chapter matched, thus they believed Solid Snake to be dead.

     Visual Novels 
  • The end of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials And Tribulations contains a rather complicated example of a Twin Switch. After discovering that innocent nun Iris, who looks identical to Phoenix's murderous ex-girlfriend Dahlia, is actually Dahlia's twin sister you assume that they were pulling off a Twin Switch as part of their plan to murder the victim, Elise Deauxnim. By the end of the case, it turns out that Iris had really been part of the plan to foil Dahlia's murder plot, which had actually been directed at Maya Fey. At the end though, the story drops one more bomb — the real Twin Switch had taken place 5 years earlier, when Phoenix had supposedly been going out with Dahlia. Iris had switched with Dahlia during almost her entire relationship with Phoenix, to keep Dahlia from killing him and had subsequently fallen in love with Phoenix — meaning that she was the one that Phoenix had really loved all along. Which provides a much better reason for why Phoenix — who is not normally portrayed as being quite that stupid — had been so stubborn in refusing to believe that "Dahlia" never really loved him during the trial 5 years earlier. But wait, that's not all! Midway through the case, Dahlia (resurrected by Maya for reasons that really take too long to explain) swaps place with Iris locking her in a cell, which was convenient considering Iris was the one everyone was relying on to open the cell, meaning if she hadn't been called to the witness stand, the real Iris would have died while her sister used her position to seal her case.
    • Another Twin Switch happens in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All in the backstory for Case 2. This was the killer's motive for murder, because she had switched places with her sister after her death. So when the victim tried to have her spirit channeled, she killed him to keep the fact that she wasn't dead from getting out.
  • Done in CLANNAD with Ryou and Kyou at the end of Kyou's route. Interestingly enough, they're not identical twins and you can tell them apart by looking. Tomoya was pretty stressed by that point, though, so it's hardly surprising.
  • The maid Kohaku pretends to be her twin younger sister Hisui (in a manner which is not at all comedic) a number of times in Tsukihime. She even switched places for a sex scene! As it turns out, they've also pulled off one gigantic Twin Switch (of sorts) while the protagonist Shiki was away, causing him to mistake who was his Forgotten Childhood Friend. Contact lenses help with this, as they have different color eyes—blue for Hisui, gold for Kohaku. Interestingly enough, Kohaku herself doesn't seem to have realized that she's swapped roles with Hisui since they were children. This makes her think that Shiki has forgotten who gave her the ribbon whereas he was simply confused about which twin was which.
  • In Symphonic Rain Torta pretends to be her twin sister Arietta to stop Chris from remembering that Arietta was actually comatose due to an accident.
  • In Little Busters! this is an important plot point in Haruka's route.
  • The Sonozaki sisters on Higurashi: When They Cry are called "Shmion" because their Twin Switches cover all bases from comedic to dramatic, reinforcing the confusion as to who is who (you eventually find out). They even loved pulling this off in their childhood. Just to make it more complicated, the switch became permanent when they (unwittingly) switched on the day Mion was marked with the demon on her back. As a result, the real Shion became Mion, and vice-versa.
  • In Dangan Ronpa, the mastermind switched places with her twin sister before the game even started. She then had her sister killed to create the illusion that "she" was dead. Late in the game, once the protagonists learn the identity of the missing "sixteenth student", she uses the corpse to fake her death(under her original identity) and frame them for it. In this case, though, they were fraternal twins, and part of the deception depended on the other students not knowing what she really looked like outside of airbrushed magazine covers.
  • In 428: Fuusasareta Shibuya de Maria Osawa lets herself be kidnapped in place of her sister Hitomi, who the kidnappers were really after.

    Webcomic 
  • In Drowtales, Kel'Noz says that he and his sister Mel'arnach used to do this all the time with a nostalgic smile.
  • In Keychain of Creation, Secret suggests Karen and Marena do the Twin Switch to get Karen with Ten Winds, because Karen is interested in Ten but very poor at romantic interaction, while Marena is awesome at that sort of thing. Marena smacks her upside the head for such a stupid suggestion, since those plotlines never work.
  • Kevin & Kell has Kell and Sheila swapping for kicks when they were kids and later when Sheila covers for Kell while her leg heals. Subverted in that they're cousins.
  • This happens in Transmission at least once, where one of the twins steals the other's date for the night and the lady doesn't even notice.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Elan's twin brother Nale shaves his goatee and takes Elan's place in the party.

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • Both Donald and Douglas, and Bill and Ben on Thomas the Tank Engine have impersonated each other at times.
  • Particularly egregious on All Grown Up!, where Lil forces her brother to impersonate her for a date she doesn't want to keep.
    • Happened quite often on the original show, where the only way anyone could tell the two apart was Lil's hairbow.
  • Four times the fun with the titular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the 2003 cartoon, where they all stood in for the same turtle while trying to teach a one-time character named Arnold how to be a ninja. The twist is that the character was actually a child-Casey Jones - his real first name is Arnold. Arnold Casey Jones.
    • Which doesn't work out as well as you'd think, since in the 2003 series each turtle had a unique skintone and facial features. Arnold even comments that there's something different about them each time.
  • A nasty example on Galaxy Rangers. Jackie Subtract, a Criminal Mastermind in the show's Rogues Gallery had a twin named Aiden. Aiden was a harmless Gadgeteer Genius who wanted nothing to do with his brother's criminal life. Unfortunately, Jackie decides he's going to fake his death by killing his twin and stealing Aiden's identity.
  • This turned out to be the explanation for Droopy's Offscreen Teleportation in Northwest Hounded Police
    Wolf: Say, I wonder if there could've been more than one of that guy...
    (pan to the hall outside the cell, where a small army of Droopies is standing)
    Droopies: What do you think, bub?
  • In the Centurions episode "Return of Cassandra", Hot Witch Cassandra Cross' Evil Twin Lilith imprisons her sister and impersonates her as part of one of Doctor Terror's schemes. It's not a perfect impersonation — viewers who saw "That Old Black Magic" will immediately notice that "Cassandra" is acting a bit different and that her magic is red instead of blue.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Tortoise Beats Hare", Cecil Turtle and nine identical relatives pull this on Bugs Bunny "all through the picture".
  • Bender attempts this in one episode of Futurama. He falls in love with a fem-bot named Anglene, and later finds out that she was once married to Flexo, another robot nearly identical to himself. He suspects that Anglene is still secretly in love with Flexo, so he poses as Flexo and invites her out on a date. Bender (as Flexo) tries very hard to seduce her, and she finally comes around after believing that her ex has truly changed. Then Bender reveals himself, calling her a cheater (despite her loving Bender even through his disguise), and she winds up back together with the real Flexo.
  • Polly Pocket and her cousin Pia pulled this in "2 Cool at Pocket Plaza".

     Real Life 
  • Television shows have been known to hire twins to play a single child character (like the Olsen Twins on Full House) to get around child labor restrictions and have a backup if one is cranky or sick.
  • The Manchester United defensive pairing, Fabio and Rafael Da Silva, are pretty much made for this. The only way the team staff and management can tell them apart is the fact that one of them is married, and thus wears a ring - and they have been known to swap it. Presumably with the wife's consent...
  • There was a story where a pair of twins had trouble passing their driving exam when they were teenagers. So, one took the written exam for both of them while the other took the driving test.
  • NHL, the Sedin twins. Read here.
    • Once during the twins' second season, when Henrik was kicked out of a face-off circle, he skated around and went back to take the draw without the linesman being the wiser.
    • Crawford recalls once airing out Henrik between periods for blowing coverage on a face-off. Then the coach stormed into the dressing room, where Daniel stopped him and said he was the one who had erred. Henrik had never said a word.
  • Meet Mr. Raj, a Malaysian man caught smuggling marijuana. The penalty for this in Malaysia is hanging, and they even had DNA evidence to prove Raj did it. Then came in Raj's identical twin brother, and all the pair had to do was accuse the other twin of smuggling the drugs. With no way to distinguish between the two, the police were forced to let them both go.
  • Baseball player-turned-MMA fighter/boxer Jose Canceco once tried to get out of a fight by having his identical twin brother Ozzie pretend to be him. It didn't work out because people noticed Ozzie has different body tattoos than his brother. As noted in the article, Ozzie has also stood in for his brother at autograph signings.
  • Astronauts Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly are the only twins (and only siblings) to have flown in space, both as commanders of Space Shuttle missions. Scott Kelly also commanded the International Space Station from November 2010 to March 2011. At one point, a space shuttle flight to the ISS commanded by Mark Kelly was scheduled to launch within this window. Aside from being the Twin Commanders In SPACE, the two astronauts had hinted during interviews that they were considering invoking this trope. Unfortunately, the shuttle launch ended up being postponed to May 2011 and the opportunity was lost.
  • Former major league player Tom Brookens has a twin brother, Tim, who was also a ballplayer (but never made the majors). In spring training, Tim and Tom would sometimes switch identities, even suiting up in each other's uniforms. (Tim is believed to have played at least one exhibition game disguised as Tom.)
  • During practice for the 1969 Indianapolis 500, Mario Andretti suffered burns to his face. So his twin brother Aldo filled in for the official front row picture session. Allegedly some of the drivers were fooled.

Twin DesynchTwin TropesTwin Telepathy
Switch Out MoveSubstitution TropesUnfortunate Item Swap
To Know Him I Must Become HimIn Another Man's ShoesWelcome to My World
Twelfth Night AdventurePlotsTwo-Timer Date
Twerp SweatingComedy TropesTwo Faced Aside
The Prince and the PauperImageSource/Animated FilmsThe Princess and the Frog

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