open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Naruto, Tobi puts on the happy-go-lucky Tobi persona even when he's far away from his partner Deidara when he's forced to flee.
- Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena, full stop. Not only does she fools Utena and the Student Council, but even Akio himself, whom she has absolutely nothing to hide from gets fed up by her constant fašade at one point. Every time she is shown alone she act the exact same way, at some point she is in her bed wondering why she's been so tired lately [[spoiler when she has been acting as Mamiya with Mikage resulting in double "work" for her]] and there was absolutely no-one with her, no Utena nor even Chu-chu.
- Finn from Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne does this. Especially jarring when she gives her monologues about the evil of Access and Sinbad while being The Mole all along.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, this begins to happen to Lady Une when her Saint Une persona seeps into her personal time, but is a sign that she is Becoming the Mask.
Films — Animation
- That moment in Frozen when Hans smiles like he's quite taken with Anna, right after they first met. On the edge of a deserted market in the water under a boat when no-one is watching.
Films — Live-Action
- In the Bruce Willis/Halle Berry thriller Perfect Stranger, Berry's character is snooping around Willis' apartment looking for evidence of who the killer is (unbeknownst to the audience, it's her). When she finds evidence that seems to indicate that it's Willis' character, she becomes visibly scared. Apparently this is because the ending was changed to make her character the killer, all logic be damned.
- In Dragon Bones, Ward kept his Obfuscating Stupidity cover even when alone, or at least did nothing more suspicious than reading books — the local Friendly Ghost and Genius Loci, Oreg, who can see everything that goes on in the castle, was surprised when Ward showed signs of intelligence while talking to him. Justified in that one of Ward's strategies is to keep his face looking stupid, which is easy to do — apparently, some expressions that look merely neutral on other people's faces look stupid on Ward, due to his brown, cow-like eyes.
- Exceedingly common in Goosebumps books, particularly books where the main character was a monster all along.
- Renata Kleber, a.k.a. Marie Sanfon in Murder on the Leviathan is a master of disguise who doesn't drop the act even in private and even in chapters told from her POV.
- Invoked by Littlefinger in A Song of Ice and Fire, who suggests staying in character at all times, in case someone unexpectedly enters a room.
- In one Lord Peter Wimsey story, Lord Peter goes undercover to infiltrate a criminal gang. He stays in his cover personality even when alone, to ensure he doesn't accidentally slip out of it when he isn't.
- In the New Jedi Order novel Rebel Dream, two intelligence agents, Voort "Piggy" saBinring and Sharr Latt, both Wraiths, argue about whether Jaina Solo should resort to this. (She's not The Mole, but she's pretending to be a goddess because of reasons). Piggy believes she can drop the disguise when she's around those she trusts implicitly, whereas Sharr thinks she should keep it up all the time.
- In Angel, Knox acts puzzled when a large sarcophagus gets delivered to his lab. Turns out he not only knew it was coming, he ordered it, for it contained the essence of his god. Given the nature of his employer, this was presumably for the benefit of any surveillance cameras (or more supernatural forms of monitoring) that might be watching him even while alone.
- The Reveal that Boyd was the head of the Rossum Corporation in Dollhouse creates several examples of this. In an interesting variation, one example had him stay in character for a Doll in a Flash Forward... whose mind he would soon wipe anyway. This is an example of the writers not having decided that he was The Mole yet, which led to internal inconsistencies with the flash forwards.
- In season 2 of Dexter, Maria Laguerta is scheming to get her superior fired by pretending to be her friend when she's having marital difficulties. However, when a fight between her superior and her fiancÚ occurs while Laguerta is in the office, Laguerta curses to herself (before she's spotted by them). Given the later reveal that she orchestrated the fights between the two, this was perfectly according to her plan.
- The Gossip Girl finale revealed that Dan Humphrey had been running the gossip blog through the entire series. This means that whenever he reacted to a shocking Gossip Girl blast while alone, he was just reacting to something he himself posted.
- In the first season of 24, Nina sniffs out a fake FBI agent at the hospital, tries to get his fingerprints but fails, and then takes Teri and Kim out of the hospital to a safehouse. In the finale, Nina is revealed to be a mole working for the bad guys. No-one else noticed the fake FBI agent, so there was no-one for her to impress.
- Invoked and examined in-depth in the final season of Burn Notice, which revolves around Michael's attempt to infiltrate a terrorist organization. The trope is played completely straight, and the voice-over often points out the difficulties of being undercover 24/7 (illustrated as Michael slowly loses touch with his real self and priorities over the course of the season).
- Masters of Horror: In the episode "Family", a happy couple move in next door to a Serial Killer Villain Protagonist who is later revealed to have murdered their daughter and everything was part of a plot to get revenge on him. However, despite their knowledge of his true nature they seem to take no caution whatsoever, still acting completely blissful and don't discuss their plan even when they're not in his presence.
- Doctor Who: In "Time-Flight", why the Master maintain his cover as Kalid, including the strange mystical chanting, while alone is anyone's guess.
- The Last Days of FOXHOUND, a comic starring the Quirky Mini Boss Squad from the first Metal Gear Solid, essentially had to do a retcon to turn Ocelot, the series' Magnificent Bastard, into this. Early in the comic's run, Ocelot was clueless about the Patriots, and while dangerous, was on occasion easily overpowered by his psychic/psycho teammate Mantis. Then Metal Gear Solid 3 came out during the comic's run and revealed that Ocelot had been working for the Patriots at least since the 1960s. The comic's creator, Chris Doucette, had to change everything into Ocelot pretending that he knew less than he did in order to become The Mole to multiple sides on behalf of the Patriots.
- In The Order of the Stick, the High Priest of Hel maintains the pretense that he is simply Durkon turned into a vampire, rather than a separate character possessing Durkon's vampirized body (primarily by copying Durkon's accent) even when no-one can actually hear him. Panel 5 of this strip, for example. Given the nature of the comic, maintaining his cover to the readers could be a valid in-universe motivation.
- Many of the fake ghosts and monsters in Scooby-Doo remain in character when alone, even though it is of no possible advantage for them to do so.
- In an episode of Archer, ISIS is being infiltrated by an enemy agent going by Conway Stern. At one point when he believes himself to be alone, he mutters to himself, "Conway, what have you gotten yourself into?" His last line in the episode was, in fact, him saying that it was not his real name. Then he came back years later, and it turns out "Conway" was his real name.
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Green Goblin spends the second-to-last episode cackling to himself and reciting lines from A Midsummer Night's Dream (and rhyming even when he isn't). This would make sense if the Goblin was insane, as in most continuities, or Harry, who is mysteriously absent from his school play at this very moment, but in the next episode we learn that neither is the case here.
- A Rare heroic (Anti-Heroic?) version occurs in Avatar: The Last Airbender. When Iroh and Zuko are hiding as refugees, Iroh comments he can't find any spark rocks to start a fire to make tea. As a Firebender and in the privacy of his own home, this shouldn't be an issue. He still goes to the neighbor and borrows a set, rather than bend the fire. Of course, given that he had suspiciously warm tea at the start of the episode and Zuko berated him for doing such, it could be that Iroh learned his lesson. Turns out, he was Properly Paranoid as well.