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Playing With: Paper-Thin Disguise
Basic Trope: A character manages to hide his identity with a disguise that shouldn't have fooled anyone.
  • Straight: Bob wants to spy on Dan, the Corrupt Corporate Executive. Although they know each other well, once Bob puts on a pair of sunglasses and a suit, Dan doesn't recognize him and tells Bob his plan.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Dan doesn't recognize Bob because he's carrying a briefcase.
    • Bob puts on his sunglasses and suit and nobody recognizes him.
    • Dan can identify everyone else on the planet (including the people he never met) even if they had put on elaborate disguises. Of course, the only one he can't identify is Bob, even without a disguise himself.
    • Bob messes up his hair a bit. No one recognizes him.
  • Downplayed: Dan is somewhat suspicious of the disguise, but ultimately decides he's being paranoid.
  • Justified:
    • Dan is blind, so Bob's disguising his voice is enough.
    • Dan has only met Bob in person once.
    • Dan is The Ditz. Anyone else would see through the disguise, but Dan is just too stupid.
    • Bob is a very good actor, so a simple change in clothing, accompanied by a change in mannerisms, can make him seem like a totally different person.
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
    • Bob only thought he'd fooled Dan. Actually, Dan was feeding him false information and laughing at him behind his back.
    • The disguise, by coincidence or design, actually does resemble an actual other person.
    • It was never Bob. It was an Identical Stranger who looks like Bob with a mustache. The reveal happens when Bob passes by the stranger, so they must be two different people.
    • It was never Bob. It was somebody else using a Latex Perfection disguise that only looked like Bob using a paper-thin disguise.
    • Bob is a public figure. His objective wasn't to fool Dan, but to obscure his true identity just enough that casual viewers won't make the connection.
  • Double Subverted:
    • At first, Dan felt sure it was Bob. But now he's not so sure.
    • The disguise, by coincidence or design, actually does resemble an actual other person — but Dan doesn't recognize Bob as that other person, either.
    • It was never Bob. While Dan laughed about the obvious "Bob", the real Bob was standing two feet away with a fake mustache and elevator shoes, pretending to laugh with Dan.
  • Parodied:
    • Bob puts on a pair of bunny ears. Dan mistakes him for a rabbit and ignores him.
    • Bob puts on a T-shirt reading "I am not Bob." Dan takes the T-shirt at its word.
    • Bob doesn't even wear a disguise, but Dan still doesn't even know who he is.
    • Bob walks in undisguised, and Dan recognizes him. Bob puts on a fake mustache right in front of Dan, and suddenly Dan doesn't recognize Bob at all.
    • Bob always wears a Hachimaki, but after he takes it off nobody recognizes him.
    • Bob can hide his identity by walking backwards.
    • Bob's literally paper-thin disguise consists of cutting the eyes and nose out of a picture of somebody else's face and taping it onto his own. Bonus points if some combination of the following applies: the subject of the original picture is famous, has a distinctly different skin tone from Bob, the picture is clearly drawn, or in black and white.
    • One person points out that he's Bob but no one listens.
  • Zig Zagged:
    • Bob is sometimes identified, sometimes not.
    • Bob constantly switches between a Paper-Thin Disguise and a convincing one.
  • Averted:
    • Bob puts on a convincing Wig, Dress, Accent disguise.
    • Bob doesn't disguise himself or try to fool Dan at all.
    • The best disguise is the one that totally hides identity, not thin coverings and other stuff like that.
  • Enforced: "We want to make sure the audience knows it's still Bob, so let's just give him a pair of sunglasses."
  • Lampshaded: "I should have known! He looked just like Bob, only wearing a cowboy hat!"
  • Invoked: Bob puts on the sunglasses and expects Dan not to recognize him.
  • Exploited: Dan doesn't see through the disguise, but someone else does and says "Hello there, Not Bob."
  • Defied:
    • Dan knows he's easily fooled by pathetic disguises, so he has everyone fingerprinted before entering his presence.
    • Bob actually puts effort into his disguise to the point that not even the audience can recognize him.
  • Discussed: "Just because nobody recognized Clark Kent in glasses and a suit doesn't mean they won't recognize you, Bob."
  • Conversed: "These kids' shows are just shameless. Even my three-year-old, Alice, can see through that disguise."
  • Implied: Bob's Paper-Thin Disguise is mentioned, but not seen.
  • Deconstructed: Bob comes from an extremely superficial society in which people recognize one another not by any fundamental traits but by surface physical appearance. The author uses the success of Bob's ridiculous "disguise" to comment on human superficiality.
  • Reconstructed: If someone were to figure out his identity, or Bob were to tell someone his identity, it will inspire a new wave of free thought and creativity.

Back to Paper-Thin Disguise

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