Alice and Bob need a disguise. Maybe they're detectives, maybe they're spies, or maybe they're just on the run from the law. For whatever reason, the disguise they decide to adopt requires that they pretend to be a couple. Hilarity Ensues
This may be a sign of Unresolved Sexual Tension
between them; alternately, it can be used to highlight the lack
of tension, by showing just how unnatural it feels to have them play the role. Either way, expect a huge amount of bickering and an agreement not to use tongues.
Compare the rather briefer Fake-Out Make-Out
, which may become necessary at some points.
See also Smithical Marriage
, The Beard
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Anime and Manga
- In Full Metal Panic!, Wraith and Lemon do this while they gather information for Tessa in Russia. There were definitely deeper feelings on Lemon's part, though Wraith is harder to read.
- A flashback arc in the Rurouni Kenshin manga, and the anime's prequel OVA, revolves around Kenshin in his assassin days posing with a young woman named Tomoe yukishiro as a married couple (more exactly, a herbalist/medic and his wife recently "arrived" to a tiny mountain village) to avoid Shinsengumi detection. It grows into real love just in time for things to end poorly.
- Hei and Yin from Darker Than Black pose as newlyweds in order to hide out at a resort while on the run in the Gaiden OVA.
- Trigun: Millie Thompson and Nicolas Wolfwood perform this, but in a twist it's not to protect themselves; it's to hide an escaping slave by hiding her under Millie's dress, with her posing as a pregnant woman. Millie and Nicolas then stroll along, pretending to be a happy expecting couple as the slave's pursuers pass them by.
- Subversion In Pokémon: Upon learning that James was an heir to a large fortune and could come upon that inheritance just by marrying, Jessie initially suggests that she and James falsify a wedding to each other in order to steal the inheritance. But then they learn that James already had a betrothed and really, really did not want to cross paths with her...
- In the Gundam manga Char's Deleted Affair, Char and a young Haman masquerade as newlyweds on vacation when visiting the colonies from Axis, to check up on the situation with other Zeon remnants in the Earth Sphere. This trip is the source of that picture from Zeta Gundam that apparently shows them as a couple. In actuality, Haman had a huge crush on Char when she was younger, but he never reciprocated, which... got her a little upset to say it politely.
- Ghost in the Shell has a variation. A wealthy businessman being targeted by a thief actually Section 9 is hosting what amounts to a very high-class Robosexual party. In order to get inside without arousing alarm, Aramaki and the Major attend, with the Major posing as Aramaki's Sex Bot, since she has a full-body prosthetic, making her essentially indistinguishable from an android. Aramaki, being a high-level government official with numerous connections, is able to go as himself without arousing suspicion. It is quite clear that the Major does not like this plan.
- Spice and Wolf shows the two main characters Lawrence, who is a traveling merchant, and Holo, a female wolf spirit taking on the form of a teenaged girl, use this excuse. Lawrence when asked about who Holo is will typically respond with either "my lover", or "my wife", so he doesn't have to explain that she's actually a wolf spirit. This brings Holo no end of amusement as she likes to tease him. By the end of the series this is no longer an excuse as they become Happily Married for real.
- James Bond examples:
- The first Austin Powers movie did this, complete with clueless Austin using the inappropriate pseudonyms Richie Cunningham and Oprah.
- The Fourth Protocol. The KGB agent played by Pierce Brosnan picks up his 'wife' (actually a female military scientist) from the airport, and suggests they share the bed as per their cover story (he's been getting rather frustrated thanks to a flirtatious neighbour). She tells him to get lost, but they end up sleeping together anyway after a sweaty session assembling an atomic bomb.
- Lois and Clark in Superman II. They pose as a honeymooning couple to expose a corrupt hotelier.
- The Evil That Men Do. The hitman protagonist insists a woman and child accompany him, as a family draws less attention from the authorities. Unfortunately this backfires when the child is captured by the bad guys.
- In Get Smart Max and 99 are supposed to use this as their entry cover into Russia, but they're made by Giant Mook Dalip before they even leave the plane.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: While on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. and doing some hacking in a mall, Cap and Black Widow pretend to be fiances looking up honeymoon sites.
Apple Employee: Congratulations, where you guys thinking about going?
Steve: (glances at computer screen) ...New Jersey.
- The Oathbound series by Mercedes Lackey:
- Kethry and Tarma pretend to be lovers on a few occasions. They're actually Heterosexual Life-Partners, but there's enough Les Yay between them that they pull it off.
- Talia and Kris did the same to fool possible spies during their diplomatic mission to Hardorn in Arrow's Fall. Having once had a just-friends sexual relationship, they were able to be very convincing about it.
- In Single & Single by John le Carré, Oliver Single and his bodyguard/minder Aggie travel to Berne using his alias Hawthorne, with Aggie using the name of his ex-wife. When they believe they've been spotted by the bad guys, the switch to another pair of pre-arranged identities—a married couple again—before making an unscheduled and unauthorized escape to Istanbul.
- In Perry Mason, the title character and Della Street disguise as a couple with a baby in the "Case of the Deadly Toy", to hire a babysitter they need to question.
- In The Dresden Files, that's how Red Court Vampires frequently operate. Pretending to be a married couple makes it easier to deal with law enforcement agencies, your actions are considered less suspicious and people generally trust you more.
- In the Sword of Truth series, Jennsen and Sebastian use this technique while at the People's Palace. Jennsen seems to be fine with Sebastian's suggestions, until he decides that she should pretend to be pregnant, as well.
- Dusty Fog and Belle Boyd pose as husband and wife in The South Will Rise Again by J.T. Edson.
- X-Wing Series: When Rogue Squadron infiltrated Imperial Center in various disguises, some of them posed as lovers, most notably Corran and Erisi.
- In Honor Harrington, Victor and Ginny use this as a cover on multiple occasions.
- The setup for Fish and Chips is that FBI partners Zane Garrett and Ty Grady must pose as a married couple on a Caribbean cruise, pretending to be two of the partners in an art smuggling ring. Unknown to everyone else, Zane and Ty are already lovers, but are having trouble with the emotional side of their relationship; being forced into public demonstrations of love and affection wrenches them both in to a new understanding of how they might feel about each other.
- In Lee Nez: Surrogate Evil, Lee and Diane use this during an operation to catch a particularly vile scumbag named Newton Glover. It's helped along by the fact that by this point in the series the two of them actually are lovers.
Live Action TV
- Guybrush and Morgan in Tales of Monkey Island: The Lair of the Leviathan have to fake being a married couple for Coronado de Cava so he would help them, as they were all trapped within a giant manatee and Coronado was neurotic and thought that Guybrush wanted something with the Voodoo Lady.
- In Metal Gear Solid 4, Roy Campbell and Rosemary pretend to be wed to one another (much to the disgust of most everyone else, considering Roy is old enough that Rose could pass as his daughter) to protect Rose from being used as a hostage against her actual boyfriend Raiden by the Patriots.
- It's mentioned in Street Fighter Alpha that Charlie Nash and Chun-Li have done this in the past.
- In Gaia, the thief Viviana and her reluctant ally Ilias pretend to be engaged in order to avoid arousing suspicion. The blatant Foe Yay is only increased since she didn't see a need to tell him beforehand.
- in The Red Panda Adventures, The eponymous Red Panda and his sidekick pose as a married couple in Episode 8: "Curse of Beaton Hall" to explore the mystery. They do so badly due to Unresolved Sexual Tension and their somewhat snark master-servant relationship. This is given a shoutout in Episode 49: "Nightshade" where after they were married in the prior episode in their civilian identities, an enemy agent comments on how flimsy their disguise as a married couple is, right down to his sidekick still referring to him as "Boss."
- Happens briefly in the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Headband" with Sokka and Katara, the latter even pretending to be pregnant. This being a Nickelodeon show, the Squickiness of their actually being brother and sister is not addressed.
- In The Legend of Korra, Korra and Mako go undercover in order to infiltrate an Equalist gathering. Considering they do become the Official Couple at the end of the season, this is almost certainly intended as Ship Tease for them. Nevermin that they decide to stay as Just Friends two seasons later.
- An episode of South Park that portrayed all the major players of the 2008 US Presidential Elections (with the exception of Joe Biden) as a gang of ludicrously high class thieves, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama were portrayed as this. They really hook up at the end.
- In one episode of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, Sprx and Nova have to pretend to be a married couple in order to trick the Elevator Monster into taking them to wherever it is taking people to. He seems quite happy about it, she doesn't.
- Inverted on Young Justice, when Superboy and Miss Martian go undercover as brother and sister despite all the Unresolved Sexual Tension in their relationship. Icicle Jr. is naturally quite Squicked when they start making out.
- In one episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Ahsoka needed an exuse for why she was with Lux, when he went to make a deal with the Death Watch, and she got involved. She claimed she was his betrothed.
- Phineas and Ferb pulls a reversal of this trope in "Tales from The Resistance" with the Alternate Universe versions of Doofenshmirtz and Charlene. They're Happily Married but pretending to be divorced.
- In his book The Greatest Battle (on the Battle for Moscow in World War II) Andrew Nagorski interviewed two former members of an NKVD special forces unit who were ordered to go Undercover as Lovers (in the belief that a married couple would draw less attention) who, despite their initial awkwardness, ended up getting married for real.