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Actually a Doombot

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Around Doombot #758, they begin to sense a pattern...
"Alfred, go get that device that can tell us if someone is Clayface, a Martian, or a robot."

A character, usually one relatively high on the power scale, loses a fight. Sometimes they die, other times they're just humiliated. The point is, they just got their butt handed to them by the other guys in a largely fair fight. Is this the end of our eternal rivalry between good and evil? Has one side truly triumphed!?

Not really, no. It turns out that the truly epic character we just saw get beaten up was Not Himself. Rather, he was Actually a Doombot, either a proxy robot or an impersonator who was pretty much impossible to distinguish from the genuine article until the writer told us so at the last minute — or later.

The narrative role of this trope is obvious: it works to prevent The Worf Effect or a Villain Decay, and also ensure that characters don't "really" die, thus allowing them to come back on next week's program. This can, nonetheless, still come off as an Ass Pull and/or "Shaggy Dog" Story since there are rarely ever any clues given that the character was really a doombot, nor does it have any future relevance in the story. It's also a cheap trick since the other side is denied the feat of actually taking down the formidable character. Seldom will the characters (or the audience) ask what the difference is between defeating a perfect copy of the character and defeating the character himself.

The doombot may be used as well to fix a Continuity Snarl, or as a Reset Button of an Audience-Alienating Era. The hero fought a classic villain the writer was not aware that's supposed to be dead? Easy: it was actually a doombot. Of course, the longer the period that the character was supposed to have been a doombot, the less credible the trick may be.

If the robot is a character in its own right, or if the replacement generates new plot directions, or is even the starting point rather than the outcome (for example in a detective story in a sci-fi setting), then this trope does not apply. If there is no personification, if the robot was simply a background element that nobody took in consideration, it means that The Dog (or whatever) Was the Mastermind.

A semi-popular form of Retcon and a very cheap way of pulling off a No-Sell. Often involves by necessity Ridiculously Human Robots. See Opening a Can of Clones for some of the negative results that crop up when this trope is used over a long period of time. Compare Fighting a Shadow, Backup Twin, Decoy Getaway, Cloning Gambit, Ninja Log, Remote Body, Robot Me, and Robot Master. If the original simply comes back with little or no explanation, then it's a case of Joker Immunity.

Due to this trope being Spoilered Rotten, beware of unmarked spoilers


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
  • Death Note: In one of the first chapters, L uses a decoy L to trick Light into revealing the region he lives in. In the first display of how ruthless L actually is, the decoy is really a criminal who was convicted to die anyway, and the whole point is to wait for Light to kill him, after which L reveals it wasn't him. Unusually for the trope, the decoy doesn't look anything like the real L, but since Light doesn't know L's appearance at that point, it still fools him.
  • In Episode 33 of Digimon Frontier, the Fallen Angel Cherubimon sends an image of himself to assess the strength of the Chosen Children. In an unusual take on this trope, this image of Cherubimon is strong enough in its own right to No-Sell the strongest attacks of the Chosen Children and would have killed them if their newest member hadn't managed to unlock the true strength of the Spirits of Darkness right then and there.
  • Fairy Tail: Wall Eehto of Alvarez's Spriggan 12 assaults Fairy Tail alongside two of his fellow Spriggans and faces off against the Thunder Legion and Ichiya, whereupon he reveals he, much like his robotic creations, is a Machias. After a hard battle, Wall is seemingly destroyed, but manages to detonate his head and take out the Thunder Legion...and then it's revealed the real Wall Eehto was hundreds of miles away on a ship, having been controlling the robot body like a puppet so he could take out the defensive barrier the Legion were maintaining around the town. Ironically, the real Wall is a Machias himself.
  • Volume 4 of the political-drama The First President Of Japan sees an Ax-Crazy Chinese general kill China's prime minister in a coup d'etat. He then finds an actor who looks and sounds enough like the Prime Minister to be the figurehead of state while the Chinese Army does the real leadership. The plan is foiled when a Japanese intelligence analyst superimposes the impersonator's face over that of the genuine article, and finds that the two don't quite line up.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, in multiple cases. Since lots of people are cyborgs with fully mechanical bodies it's just so easy.
    • Noteworthy are the episodes when a criminal turns out to have not only one Doombot, but a whole number of them, and the one in which the Major "dies", which is straight from the manga.
      • The interesting thing about the former is that it turns out the process of making these doombots actually killed the original. All that's left are the doombots, and they're basically indistinguishable from the original.
  • .hack//SIGN does this in Episode 26. Tsukasa, Subaru and Mimiru are in a secluded location separated from the others. As the three encounter each other they find themselves being hostile. Tsukasa calls out a fake Mimiru which dissolves into several small data bugs before taking them into Morganna's lair.
  • Inuyasha Big Bad Naraku uses this repeatedly with dolls to the point where later in the series the heroes just assume certain incarnations are fakes.
  • In Mega Man Megamix, near the beginning of The Greatest Enemy in History story arc, after Copy Mega Man foils Dr. Wily's plans, he shoots him in the forehead, only for the head to start bouncing on a spring, revealing it be a robot fake. The real Wily observed the event from his Wily Capsule, shocked at how Mega Man would shoot a human.
  • Happens frequently in My Hero Academia thanks to the villain Twice, who can create temporary copies of himself or others that melt into gray goop when "killed." The opening scene of Heroes: Rising appears to have several heroes in a car chase with the League of Villains, but when Endeavor incinerates the bad guys, they all turn out to be just copies.
  • Done in one occasion in Naruto when the good guys struggle against two very powerful villains and finally defeat them, only to find out they merely defeated inferior copies made out of animated corpses. From exchanges made beforehand, it then becomes clear that the copies only had 30% of their chakra to work with.
    • There was a partial example later: When Kisame fought Killer Bee, the real him was there for most of the fight but was switched with a much weaker duplicate by the end. Granted, there's a very good chance that Killer Bee and the Raikage really could have beaten the real him together. The switch was made to save his life, not to fake his death.
  • My Monster Secret: Perverts have the ability to control wind and steam in order to make themselves sexier by giving tantalizing glimpses of their naked bodies. The most powerful, like the Charismatic Pervert, can create life-like doubles out of steam, which Shiho only discovers after she seemingly defeats her mother in a pervert contest. Asahi is the only one who finds any of this odd.
    Asahi: What even are perverts, anyway?
  • One Piece: During the Dressrosa arc, we learn about Doflamingo'ss Black Knight technique: he can make string marionettes indistinguishable from humans, resembling either himself or anyone that he wants. We find this out the hard way when Usopp breaks Doflamingo's spell over the city, and Kyros manages to actually decapitate Doflamingo in a single stroke. Shortly afterward, the real one appears behind Kyros to attack him.
  • Outlaw Star does this in Episode 9 when Gene is attempting to collect a bounty on the criminal Zomba. Gene wins the fight and is surprised that the guy's a cyborg and takes him in only to find out the real Zomba wasn't a cyborg. Subverted immediately after when Suzuka walks out of the police station and as she's walking away some people come running up and announce that she's the one who took down the legendary Zomba (completely offscreen).
  • In Psycho-Pass, Chief Kasei had an array of cyborg body doubles as it was first revealed at the end of Episode 16. Whenever it gets damaged or destroyed, there would always be another one. But the brain residing that body does not. In the movie, it turns out that the SEAUn chairman is a body double because the real one was assassinated by mercenaries hired by the Sibyl system themselves.
  • Queen Millennia: Both Yayoi and Millennium Thieves use android copies of themselves as body doubles, which come in handy if they're captured. Selene's even carries an explosive and manages to damage Larela's ship.
  • Time Stop Hero: Bahamut blows up the King of Darkness with a fireball. Just as the heroes start celebrating, his voice echoes and reveals they only destroyed an avatar and he was in another country the whole time.

    Comic Books 

Marvel Universe

  • In Annihilators: Earthfall, Rocket Raccoon and Groot have been captured by Mojo and forced to star in one of his deadly reality TV shows. They eventually escape and Rocket shoots Mojo in the head, at which point they learn that "Mojo" is actually a robotic duplicate, built by his Major Domo to run things in the real Mojo's absence.
  • Blade: The return of Blade's arch nemesis Deacon Frost was explained by him being able to create scientific doppelgangers of himself. He can create these (vampiric) copies from other characters as well, as seen in The Tomb of Dracula where he made an evil version of Blade.
  • When the Marvel UK Dark Guard team clashes with the immortal sorceress Tyburn, they swiftly realise that she's sent a Living Weapon duplicate rather than turning up in person. That works out well for the heroes, as the duplicate's not protected by Tyburn's Deal with the Devil and its Load-Bearing Boss contingencies.
  • Doctor Doom:
    • The name comes from Doombots, which are used by writers in the Marvel Universe to explain how Doctor Doom rarely ever actually "loses" battles. This has been pulled so often, there are fan theories that the real Doctor Doom has never appeared in a comic, that there is no "real" Doctor Doom, and that Doctor Doom does exist, but not in a true physical form. He might be an electromagnetic source of dark energy that makes the Doombots and takes possession of them until they get destroyed. Of course, that would mean he actually does lose all those battles, as well as making it not this trope but Fighting a Shadow. The latter theory was explored in Loki: Agent of Asgard, deconstructing it in the process, and does it with such a Badass Boast, too.
      Doom: Not the move I would have made. Still— it's a fair question. Why do they look like me? Doesn't it create the possibility that I am one? That Doom may, at any moment, be a machine? That I am not myself? Of course it does. That is how I wish it. I once let Arcade strike a match on me, just to maintain that confusion. Think, boy. If I am ever defeated or dishonored— If I ever act in ways unworthy of myself... If I ever die... The word goes out: "It must have been a Doombot." And the reverse is true. My robots often confuse my foes—I may be a robot now, speaking these words. How would you know? How would I? What is Doom? The flesh and blood I can swap out at my convenience? The mind that can be copied into a thousand machines? No. Doom cannot fit in such small containers. I am not my body. Not my mind. I am... I am the old trunk, filled with ancient mysteries. I am the explosion in the college laboratory. I am the mask that burns with the fires of vengeance. I am the legend that unites this nation. I am the story of Doom."
    • The above speech references a rather bizarre invocation of this trope in the early eighties. During a meeting between Arcade and Doom in Uncanny X-Men #146, the former lights a match by striking it against the latter's armor. This upset John Byrne, the Fantastic Four writer at the time, who felt that Doom would've never let anyone get away with such a disrespectful action towards his person. Thus, in Fantastic Four #258, he revealed that the Doom at the meeting was a Doombot and then had the real Doom destroy it for failing to punish Arcade.
    • A doombot also appears in Runaways, but it's actually Ultron's.
    • Inverted in a 2005 Hercules miniseries, where Herc was tasked with a modern version of his twelve labors for a reality television series. One of his new labors was to sneak into Latveria and run off with a Doombot, but it's suggested that Herc screwed up and grabbed the real Doom instead (he gets credit for succeeding anyhow).
    • Early in Walter Simonson's run on Fantastic Four, he has the FF face a Doctor Doom who's wearing a new suit of armor — and who claims that every single Doom they've fought for the past 25 years of real time (since the Lee/Kirby days) has been a Doombot. Since this retcon includes things like Doom's appearance in Secret Wars (1984) and the entirety of John Byrne's run (regarded as one of the definitive eras for Doom), everyone since has assumed he was lying or a deluded Doombot himself, as there have been other Doombots that thought themselves the original.
      • For a long time, comic book fanlore claimed that Simonson had compiled a list categorising which appearances of Doom were real and which were actually Doombots, but he's since put paid to the rumour (not that it's stopped many fans from a) claiming he's fibbing about it, b) assuming that other writers who have worked on FF maintain similar lists, or c) creating such lists of their own!).
      • The first arc of The Winter Soldier comic implies that Doom actually programmes several Doombots to believe themselves to be the real Doom, to make them more life-like.
    • Hilariously, one of Doom's only defeats that never got an official Doombot retcon was when Squirrel Girl took him down (more info on her page).
    • He has, of course, taken this to the natural conclusion of creating whole armies of Doombots as well as using it for impersonation.
    • Used in Ultimate FF (in the Ultimate Marvel universe, not the main one) to explain Doctor Doom returning after his death at the end of Ultimatum; Victor Van Damme is genuinely confused when Namor says he saw him die, and when Tony says he tried to destroy the world. He reveals he had Mary Storm pose as him during his time away from Earth-1610 as a contingency plan. Additionally, the Supreme Power crossover Ultimate Power sees an actual use of this as Mary (as it's among the stories where's "Doom"'s involvement is now attributed to her, not the real Doom) uses a Doombot in the Supreme Power universe.
  • Iron Man's enemy/occasional love interest Madame Masque had had so many contradictory interpretations and seeming deaths over the years that Kurt Busiek finally declared in an issue of The Avengers that the real Madam Masque was a reclusive paranoid who interacted with the outside world mainly through Expendable Clones who occasionally went rogue and defied her wishes. One of them even became an Avenger.
  • Perhaps the most outrageous example is Marvel's "Earth A" reality, where heroes like to take vacations to the main Marvel Universe, where they tend to act in manners contradictory to their counterparts, leaving our normal heroes to clean up the mess. This includes things like She-Hulk sleeping with the Juggernaut, or the Young Avengers joining the Initiative during the Civil War. In other words, this provides a rather cheap way to retcon any previous character action that the writer disapproves of.
  • Marvel's Mephisto has sometimes been impersonated by lesser demons who imitate his form. Such demons are defeated far more easily than the virtually invincible Mephisto.
  • Happens quite a bit with Nick Fury, who has had "Life Model Decoy" robots as a standard part of his stock-in-trade ever since he joined S.H.I.E.L.D. Several 1960s stories had Nick Fury-shaped LMDs slaughtered by Hydra and other foes. They had little to no other function or characterization. A 1977 Defenders storyline was the first to introduce a Fury LMD with some individuality, and later that year the real Fury faced a LMD version of himself with independent thought and ambition. Since then several stories have featured LMDs with some degree of autonomy.
    • In a small Marvel event Over the Edge, the Punisher killed Nick Fury. Later it was revealed that it had been an android.
    • A major S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline of the 1980s "revealed" that several key SHIELD-affiliated characters had been replaced for quite some time by LMDs controlled by a HYDRA-created android, the so-called Deltite. The storyline, termed the Deltite Conspiracy, featured LMDs of Laura Brown, Nick Fury, Eric Koenig, Sidney Levine, Clay Quartermain, Jasper Sitwell, Jimmy Woo, and even Obadiah Stane (a major opponent of Iron Man). As well as an unnamed female LMD who was apparently a combination of Laura Brown, Gail Runciter, and Valentina de Fontaine. (Brown and de Fontaine being love interests of Fury, and Runciter a love interest of Captain America.)
    • Original Sin has revealed that possibly all modern day appearances by Fury have been LMD appearances. The original? Still alive, but much older. Then, it revealed that Dum-Dum Dugan was also an LMD, that the real one had been Dead All Along!
    • Even before that, Secret Warriors revealed that Nick's brother, Jake, was one of the first people to acquire an LMD, created by accident when he was retrieving the technology they were based on. It was that LMD that became the villainous Scorpio, while the real Jake was a deep-cover agent known only to his brother. This basically meant every post-WWII appearance by Jake prior to the reveal was actually the LMD.
  • Played with in the Marvel crossover Secret Invasion (2008), but instead of robots, it's with Skrulls, shape-shifting aliens. It begins with a character who is revealed to be a Skrull, who managed to stay undetected, and the whole story is about the paranoia of who else may be an undetectable Skrull. And then it got to the controversial Civil War (2006): the New Avengers were so damn sure that Stark only did the things he did because he was secretly a Skrull, and Stark suspected that Captain America's resistance to the Registration Act may had been because he was a Skrull... but no. Secret Invasion was not used as a Reset Button of anything, and did not organize or start any of the recent disasters. Stark and Rogers in Civil War were both themselves, Hulk in World War Hulk was himself (and the creature that destroyed Planet Hulk to make him go in a rampage of revenge, too), Quicksilver was himself when he stole the Terrigen crystals and started a war between The Inhumans and the human race, the Scarlet Witch was herself in Avengers Disassembled (and The Wasp, who reminded her of her lost sons, too), and also in House of M (and Quicksilver, who made her change reality, too), and so on. The Skrulls were simply in the background, trying to take advantage of the things happening, but not causing them.
    • Played with up to eleven by Quicksilver. After the Secret Invasion, he tried to clean his name of his recent disasters by claiming, in-universe, that he had been replaced by a Skrull. Of course, that was not the case, and Jarvis and Henry Pym (who were real hostages) realized that he was lying in the same page. Quicksilver's psychic daughter Luna also sees through the lie immediately, and this pretty much destroys their relationship until Quicksilver publicly recants.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man's enemy Mysterio uses this trick a lot too. Seeing as Mysterio is also fond of holograms and illusions, Spider-Man often cannot tell if he facing the real Mysterio, an illusion, or a robot, and even worse, the same often goes for a lot of other stuff he has to fight when the villain is involved.
      • This has become more complex since the original Mysterio acquired a couple of imitators who also use this identity. And they don't really get along with each other. A storyline in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11-13 (October-December, 2006) had all three Mysterios independently seeking a confrontation with Spidey, resulting in a rather complicated Mêlée à Trois scenario. With Spidey having trouble telling which is which, and further confused because the original was supposed to be dead.
      • In Spider-Men, Mysterio doesn't actually have an Ultimate Marvel counterpart. "Ultimate Mysterio" is actually a robot double he was controlling all along.
      • One reason this trick works so often is that Mysterio is a well-established technical genius. His robots are incredibly realistic, so much so that in the Guardian Devil story arc by Kevin Smith, he manages to convince Daredevil, the man who can hear heartbeats, into believing that Mysterio is dead.
    • Perhaps the most infamous usage of this trick in Spider-Man history is the first "death" of Aunt May. She peacefully died of old age in a realistic and tasteful manner; Peter and the other characters mourned her and eventually moved on. However, later editor-in-chief Bob Harras demanded that she be brought back to life. So, Aunt May was found alive and it was revealed that Norman Osborn had hired an actress to impersonate Aunt May perfectly, and kept up the charade even on her deathbed, meaning Peter (and the readers) cried over a total stranger. Even worse it contraindicated the one-shot Osborn Journal, presented as Norman's private account detailing his plans behind the Clone Saga, which had Norman specifically state he had nothing to do with May's death even if he wished he had.
    • Another famed Spidey villain who does this trick in the Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley. Despite being souped up with the Goblin Formula, he isn't stupid — he'll send out random schmoes powered up and brainwashed to do his bidding and if they die, no skin off his back. If they do good, then he's more than willing to let them keep going, but if they screw up, he'll step in personally and kill the schmook himself. Just ask Jason Macendale... oh, wait...
      • And one early issue has Roderick send an actual robot, then a brainwashed dupe, to attack people.
    • In the storyline Hunted, it is suggested that all appearances of Kraven the Hunter since the end of Grim Hunt was actually one of his 87 clones. This seemingly includes an appearance in Scarlet Spider where he tried to force Kaine to kill him and his appearances in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl where she tried to help him along with a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Super-Adaptoid is an A.I.M.-created robot which has plagued The Avengers since 1966. Because of its Power Copying abilities it is rather difficult to take down. A 1993 Spider-Man story had it serving as a Living Weapon henchman and easily defeated by a Badass Normal opponent. Which interfered with developments in other titles where the Adaptoid was revealed as the Diabolical Mastermind behind the efforts of AIM to become a power player in the world stage. As an explanation the Super-Adaptoid of the Spider-Man story was retconned to an inferior copy of the original.
  • Thanos has duplicates called Thanosi, some of which are indistinguishable from the original.note  Like Doombots, these are used (usually by Thanos creator Jim Starlin) to explain away defeats. Particularly more embarrassing ones.
    • His first appearance turned out to be a robot duplicate.
    • There was a War of the Retcons about the Thanosi and Squirrel Girl, where S.G. defeated Thanos offscreen in a Great Lakes Avengers miniseries, and the Watcher was dragged on to say "This is definitely the real Thanos" — and then in a different book some time later, Thanos casually mentions that he can create Thanosi that can fool even the Watcher. Just to make this even more ridiculous, the original story and the Retcon were written by the same guy. Of course, he visibly reels when S.G. threateningly asks what the difference is if the duplicate was completely identical to the real deal, to which he responds by leaving.
      • Squirrel Girl's entire gimmick is defeating powerful villains like Doom and Thanos, usually off-panel, with it being left ambiguous whether it was Actually a Doombot she fought.
  • Exploited and inverted by Ultron in his first appearance. A new villain called the Crimson Cowl is revealed to have a duplicate, and when both unmask, one is a robot, and the other is Avengers butler Edwin Jarvis. The twist is that the robot is the real one — Ultron had hypnotized Jarvis into acting as his Doombot, and pretended he wasn't sentient to deceive both the Avengers and his own flunkies.
  • Viper/Madame Hydra is a long-running Marvel villain who has appeared in many series. She had an out-of-character appearance in a storyline featured in Punisher War Journal #45-47 (August-October, 1992)., where she served as an ally to Daredevil, Nomad, and the Punisher. A year later, Gregory Wright wrote a story where it was revealed that Viper has been using look-alike "Pit-Vipers" to act in her name. The "Viper" appearing in the Punisher storyline was a rogue Pit-Viper with her own agenda.
  • Jamie Madrox from X-Factor is a mutant whose power lets him make duplicates of himself; he was believed to be a casualty of the Legacy Virus plague, but it was discovered later that the victim was one of his duplicates. (Still later, he claims he keeps a few of them active at all times for just such an emergency.)
  • Subverted at one point in X-Factor (2006), when the team encounters Arcade. Rictor punches him out, knocking off a face mask to reveal Arcade's just a robot... but when everyone leaves, the "robot" turns out to be the actual Arcade, who notes next time to just use a proper robot. Getting punched in the face hurts.
  • The Marvel Now iteration of X-Force revealed that Cable has been making clones of himself and sending them out. The real one is in stasis, his body being awakened long enough to gather blood for a clone. As one clone states "He dies a little for two minutes. We die everyday."
  • Professor X's first "death" in the X-Men comics was actually the shapeshifter Changeling having taken Xavier's place some issues earlier since he knew he was going to die anyways.

The DCU:

  • In one of the The Batman Adventures comics, it was revealed that the redesigned green-skinned, elfin Poison Ivy that appeared in the later episodes of Batman: The Animated Series was actually a Plant Person created by the real Ivy to keep up appearances in Gotham while she went on the lam and shacked up with Alec Holland. Disturbingly, the plant actually thought she was the real Ivy right up until the end when she fell victim to Clone Degeneration.
  • Batman: Three Jokers: The Joker's inconsistent characterization over the years is retconned as being the result of there actually being three separate Jokers. The Early-Installment Weirdness serious Joker of the Golden Age is the ringleader of their operation, while his two underlings represent the two extremes that Joker has vacillated between in recent times — goofy Silver Age prankster for one, and psychotic Monster Clown for the other.
  • Brainiac usually has an excuse in being a vastly advanced A.I. that has plenty of bodies to spare. However, The New 52: Futures End goes one step further and reveals that he is actually an Eldritch Abomination while all manifestations in canon so far have been probes sent to collect knowledge.
  • This is revealed to be the case during Final Crisis for the New Gods and Darkseid. All that Earth has ever seen is somewhat limited projections of the real gods which operate on a higher plane of reality.
  • Justice League Europe "The Extremist Vector": It turned out that the original Extremists are already dead, and that the ones seen in this story are just robot replicas. Except for Dreamslayer, who's the real deal.
  • Hugo Strange blows himself up in "The Double Life of Hugo Strange" when fighting Batman and Robin in a fake version of the Batcave under a fake Wayne Manor that's set up to make Bruce Wayne/Batman crazy by having numerous robotic clones ("mandroids") of his friends attack him and then disappear. With this setup and with Strange already having cheated apparent death before, it's not the most surprising move for him to later reappear and reveal that the one who blew up was another android.
  • The Legion Of Superheroes seemed to reveal their old foe the Time Trapper as a human male who was captured. But then a mini-series revealed this was just an agent for the real Trapper, who then executed him. Thanks to his standing as a time traveler combined with the various DCU reboots, the Trapper's "true" identity has shifted from anything from a future Cosmic Boy to a warped aged Superboy-Prime. Thus, the Legion honestly has no idea what Trapper they may be facing.
  • And then there's Prometheus, a DC villain who was created to be a sort of anti-Batman who was so intelligent and well-trained he could almost take out the entire Justice League on his own. Except that he had long since fallen prey to Villain Decay and had been reduced to just another generic baddie who gets his butt kicked by whatever hero happens to be around. The {{Justice League miniseries Justice League: Cry for Justice attempted to fix this by revealing that the real Prometheus had been in hiding since he almost killed the JLA, and the loser who kept getting kicked around all these years was an impostor, who Prometheus had killed. But now the real deal was back, ready and able to... get killed off in short order by Green Arrow. It was quite a waste, but not nearly the worst thing about that series.
    • There were hints that Prometheus would actually return in some form, as both his helmet (which contained most of his knowledge) and the lobotomized body of his sidekick, I.Q., were later shown to be missing. It seems like there was a plan that was relegated to an Aborted Arc thanks to the New 52.
  • Something similar was done with the Mad Hatter, whose appearances in the Silver Age were revealed as the result of an imposter, and the now-famous Jervis Tetch version was (re)introduced and explained in the Bronze Age.
  • Superman:
    • Super-villain Toyman's robots look like real human beings, and they are capable of deceiving even X-Ray Vision. In 2011 storyline Day of the Dollmaker, Supergirl invokes the trope when she warns Toyman that if he does not answer her questions, she will tear him apart to make sure he is not a robot.
      Supergirl: And how do we know you're even the real Winslow Schott? I've seen one of your robots before — no, two of them. One here in Gotham, the other on New Krypton. And that one had a part in my world's destruction. A small part, sure, but an important one. Your work is very well made. Impossible to tell apart from real, live human beings, even with my X-Ray vision. So please. Answer Ms. Grant's questions, or else another outburst like that will lead me to believe you're one of Schott's automatons... and I'll start probing to make sure you're real.
    • In Supergirl (Rebirth) #2, Kara fights Cyborg Superman. She wins, but she is disappointed when she discovers that it is only a drone.
      Supergirl: Of course... Another lie. Another fake. A drone. It exploded but... I barely touched it.
    • Action Comics #865 revealed that Ax-Crazy Toyman was a robot designed to fool even Superman, and the real Toyman was still a Harmless Villain.
    • Superman: Brainiac revealed that every single Post-Crisis Brainiac's prior appearance was actually a "Brainiac probe". Even Milton Fine wasn't possessed by Vril Dox's disembodied intelligence, but by nanoprobes.
    • The Earthwar Saga: When Boy Chameleon faces the leader of the Resource Raiders, he notes it is a living brain-like creature, like the former leader whom they defeated, who turned out to be a robot. The leader reveals that robot was a duplicate construct whose defeat efficiently fooled the Legionnaires into believing the Raiders had been crushed.
      Chameleon Boy: You're a living brain— like the one who led the first group of Raiders! B-but that one turned out to be a robot!
      Leader: Rest assured that I am not a robot, Chameleon Boy... That construct was merely my agent on Earth.
    • New Krypton featured a Luthor robot who did Lex's dirty work for about half of the saga.
    • Following Final Night, a revitalized Lex Luthor is arrested for the destruction of downtown Metropolis back in The Fall of Metropolis. He successfully argues that it wasn't him, but a clone of him created by Dabney Donovan to ruin his image. This is Metaphorically True as it was a clone of Luthor, but he was the clone the entire time.
    • In 52, Luthor claims that the insanity he was caught up in after losing the presidency in Public Enemies (2004) was caused by an evil, alternate dimension Luthor. He's able to present his evidence in the form of the altered body of Alexander Luthor, Jr. Steel realizes something's up, but he can't pin it down.
  • In Teen Titans the Titans' recurring foe the Wildebeest kept confusing them with his shifting goals and personality. One time, he'd be a boorish thug trying to rob a bank, while another would have him speak in a scholarly tone and a more inventive scheme. The truth eventually came out that there was an entire Wildebeest organization that always made sure only one of them was seen in public at one time, so the Titans all thought it was one guy.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Wonder Woman uses her telepathy to know which "Blue Snowmen" are actually robots she can tear through without concern, instead of Powered Armor since Byrna Brilyant made them identical to hide whether or not people are interacting with the real villain or not and help her maintain her Secret Identity. Others are never sure whether they're dealing with a robot or the real thing.
  • The miniseries Unstoppable Doom Patrol has a part where the Doom Patrol confront Metagen CEO Brian McClane, but find that they were talking to a robot double due to the real McClane being too much of a shameless coward to directly face the team.


  • A fairly literal example from Big Bang Comics — Ultiman hints that he has never actually met his archenemy Cortex, and that Cortex commits all his crimes by way of a series of robotic doubles. This isn't a secret on Cortex's part, and he tends to destroy the doubles himself by having them self-destruct upon their capture.
  • Judge Dredd: Judge Death went missing after having ruled over all of Mega City One during "Necropolis". Dredd later encounters what appears to be Judge Death in a museum, but it's just a robot made in his image and not the real deal.
  • In Mass Effect: Redemption, Liara manages to track down and shoot the reclusive Shadow Broker, only to realize that what she just shot was a humanoid-shaped communication device.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid, Lord Drakkon sneaks into Corinth with the intent on taking out the team, taking their powers and taking over the domed city. In his act, he encounters Dr. K and makes the mistake of mentioning how she created the Venjix Virus, which caused the situation her world is in, actually being proud of it. This pisses off Dr. K so much that she goes in for the kill and strikes him down, revealing him to be a robot. What's frightening is that she didn't know and didn't care if that was the real Drakkon or not; he praised her for the biggest mistake of her life and she was not having it.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: When they think they caught Mirake Tekasko, the Big Bad of "Robots Bestiajos", it's revealed to be yet another of his robots with a rather...creative and unorthodox self-destruct mechanism.
  • In the fan-loved "Fragments of Autumn" issue of Paperinik New Adventures, Lyla accidentally shot a policeman. Since droids were recently given legal rights, she was put on trial for that, rather that just going through a check up. However it was revealed that the policeman was actually another robot and that the whole incident was staged by a corrupt politician.
  • Revolution (2016)'s plot escalates when during a confrontation between the Autobots and G.I. Joes, R.O.M. murders several Joes, including General Colton. However, they were actually Dire Wraiths: but neither side knew this and the Joes go out for Cybertronian blood and Optimus wants to capture and punish R.O.M. for his actions. Thus showing the danger of Doombots when no one knows they are doombots.
  • Subverted/Averted in a (Warren times) Vampirella story, where your mad scientist of the week produces Vampirella clones. No advanced fanboy bookings, please — the angered real Vampirella killed them all to prove that there is no substitute, and that was it. Astonishingly, none of those clones ever resurfaced in the Harris/Dynamite era. Perhaps because no writer ever bothers to read the Warren comics.

    Fan Works 
  • Examples from The Calvinverse:
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Thanks to her Golems that can look just like her, be possessed by her, and only lose some magical capacity if she dies while possessing them, Ami has survived numerous assassination attempts and surprise attacks with nothing more than a scare for both herself and her would-be killer.
  • Thinking In Little Green Boxes: Don't worry, that was just the Life Model Decoy of Cedric Diggory.
  • In the Facing the Future Series, Vlad Plasmius has a tendency to use his duplication power to make quick escapes.
  • General-Admiral Makarov from the Pony POV Series apparently has a habit of doing this to avoid assassination attempts. He also does it after being defeated by Cadence and shot in the head by Dima. Justified as he's a Reality Warper capable of replacing himself with a robotic copy at will, and a Parody Sue who uses this for it's normal narrative effect of avoiding admitting he was beaten.
  • Ian/Nate from For The Mission rarely speaks in person after he reveals his true mission to the guild. From then on, he uses Substitute clones as communication, receiving the memories from them after the fact. He's put so much introspection and detail into their construction that they'll make the same decisions he would.
  • Three More Things!: After Valmont dissolves their partnership, Daolong Wong takes to hiding in the Shadow Realm and sending out magical copies of himself to handle missions while he's safely ensconced away from the danger.
  • In this Marvel Comics parody, the trope namer reveals himself to be a Doombot...and then it's revealed that this applies to every hero on the scene (except Hawkeye, who complains about being the only one who actually showed up for work).
  • Darth Vader: Hero of Naboo:
    • When Darth Sidious seemingly kills Darth Plagueis, it turns out to be a Force illusion.
    • Done again later when Plagueis is fighting Sidious and notices that his apprentice isn't reacting like he should; he quickly discovers that "Sidious" is a droid wearing a holographic disguise, which is soon joined by a whole squad of them.
  • Subverted in FIRE! (DarkMark). When the Fantastic Four find Doctor Doom's body, the Human Torch cannot believe it is the real deal. Nonetheless, the Thing cuts off his "Maybe it's a robot or an android or..." ramblings, stating he can recognize a corpse when he sees it.
    Human Torch: "Maybe it's a robot. Or an android. Or..."
    The Thing: "Or, nothin'. I smelled enough corpses in the War, Torchy. I know the scent. That's a dead body. That's Dr. Doom."
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: In Chapter 19, Aldrich uses several of his robots equipped with holograms of his appearance to show up at both his election day rally and a fight with the Enemy Mine against him, while he safely observes everything from a third location. Similarly, Lex uses the Hard Light tech Aldrich provides him as part of their alliance in order to be present at the fight without actually being there.
  • Star Wars: The One Canon: The Thrawn killed at the Battle of Bilbringi towards the end of The Thrawn Trilogy was a clone controlled by the original Thrawn. The original Thrawn was exiled to Peridea.

    Films — Animation 
  • Incredibles 2: Thanks to handy mind-control goggles, the Screenslaver, aka Evelyn Deavor, makes an innocent pizza delivery guy out to be the Screenslaver during the attack during Elastigirl's TV interview, resulting in her being able to act as Mission Control for Helen during the incident, making her seem innocent at the time.
  • A rare heroic example occurs in the first installment of The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour. Mr. Crocker has seemingly defeated Jimmy Neutron and his Mini-Mecha, and lands the finishing blow only to discover it was a robotic double with Cosmo & Wanda pulling a The Man Behind the Curtain. The real Jimmy was off making repairs to Fairy World's Cosmic Keystone the entire time.
  • Megamind: In the final battle against Tighten, Megamind rescues Roxanne but is killed — only to be revealed as Minion wearing a holographic disguise.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Devil's Double is the story of Uday Hussein forcing Latif Yahia to become his body double.
  • In Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond's nemesis, Blofeld, has started using Magic Plastic Surgery to turn his henchmen into such uncanny body doubles of himself that neither Bond nor the audience can tell them apart from the genuine article.
  • Comes up in the rather cruel Twist Ending to The Eagle Has Landed. The man the protagonist shot dead just before being gunned down himself was not the real Winston Churchill, but a comic actor who specialised in celebrity impersonations, hired by the Ministry of War to help prevent German intelligence from learning that the Prime Minister was out of the country for the Yalta Conference.
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla has Anguirus being beaten up by what appears to be Godzilla, managing to scrape off a little bit of flesh and revealing some kind of shiny material underneath, but later another Godzilla shows up while the first one was attacking a refinery. The second Godzilla hits the first with his atomic breath, blowing off a large chunk of the first one's skin and revealing it to be a robotic doppleganger. The doppelganger sheds the disguise entirely, revealing it to be the alien-controlled Mechagodzilla.
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later ends with Michael Myers being decapitated by Laurie Strode. Halloween: Resurrection reveals that was actually an EMT who Michael dressed in his clothes to deceive Laurie.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home's ending uses a unique form of this, revealing the Nick Fury and Maria Hill in the movie to be Skrulls shapeshifted to their image and put to work by the real Nick Fury, which explains their bad, bad decisions in trusting the villain throughout the entire movie in hindsight.
  • Appears in Star Wars, ironically only by the good guys:

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Foundation And Chaos by Greg Bear: Dors shoots a Ridiculously Human Robot under the belief that said robot is fundamentally damaged. It turns out the robot she shot was a remote-controlled duplicate of the real robot.
    • "The Tercentenary Incident": In 2076, the tricentennial of the United States, the country is ruled by a populist jerk, who is quickly losing support. He began to shake people's hands in the street, and suddenly explodes, becoming a pile of dust. Then he showed up at the balcony, and pointed that it was is a malfunction of his protocolar robot duplicate. He gave the "Tricentennial address" (much better than his usual style) and strengthened the unity of the federation. And two years later... a guy shows up with very sound reasons to suspect that the president has been murdered that day, and that the robot, posing as human, has been acting as president since then.
  • In order to maintain Cthulhu's aura of menace and mystery, some stories and fan theories say that the Cthulhu that was driven back to sleep in the original short story "The Call of Cthulhu" was merely a Spawn of Cthulhu instead of the Real McCoy.
  • Domina: The fey do this as a standard practice. They use remote-controlled bodies called homunculi to interact with the world, and don't particularly care if one gets killed. At one point a changeling mentions that fighting a homunculus is more difficult than normal people, because the fey don't have to worry about staying alive. So they can make suicidal moves that no one sees coming.
  • Subverted in John Dies at the End. Dave's enemies have been replacing people around him to mess with him. He eventually learns that Dave himself is the doombot, and the real men has been dead for a couple of days.
  • In the backstory of Shadow of the Conqueror, Dayless the Conqueror faked his death by leaving a body double on his flagship, fooling everyone into believing that he was on it as it exploded, while he made a Villain: Exit, Stage Left.
  • Villains' Code: Doctor Mechanical often operates his Powered Armor by remote when he needs it for something non-essential, such as giving instructions to new villains. The older villains often leave the suit behind, then walk up to a more comfortable lounge where the real Doctor Mechanical is waiting. Actually, the real one rarely appears at all; even out of his suit, most of his appearances are robotic duplicates. Even better, the neural nanites he uses to control the duplicates are so efficient that he can pilot multiple duplicates at once, allowing him to save a lot of time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the finale to the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Simmons is seemingly killed, only to be revealed as an LMD.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel:
    • Used with the Buffybot, a robot replica of the title heroine. A good example is "The Gift", where Buffy apparently gets decapitated by the Big Bad, Glory. Lo and behold, the real Buffy then reveals herself, showing the first one to be a fake.
    • Season 9 opens with Buffy's arms feeling funny. Later in the series we see a shot of Andrew working on a robotic arm, then in a fight Buffy's arm is torn off to her horror. When it turns out that it's a robotic arm, remembering how upset she was when there was a robot version of her before, Buffy\robobuffy gets even more upset.
      • Becomes Comically Missing the Point when she finds out she's a robot after her arm is ripped off and goes to confront Andrew about it. Instead of explaining why she's a robot he seems to be only concerned about getting her a new arm. Later when Buffy and Spike are angry at him because what she's been through because of it, he still thinks they're referring to her having lost the arm.
    • In Season 6 of Buffy the Scoobies use the Buffybot to make the underworld think that the Slayer is still protecting Sunnydale. When a vampire accidentally discovers this, it provokes immediate Rape, Pillage, and Burn by demon bikers.
    • The first time Willow gets her mitts on Warren in "Villains". Fizz crackle pop.
    • An instance of this appears on the Angel episode "Lineage". A cyborg uses a Glamour to imitate Wesley's father. When the cyborg threatens Fred, Wesley shoots it dead, revealing its true nature. Unlike most cases of this trope, the duplicate was not operating on behalf of the original.
  • In Episode 8 of Dark Matter (2015), Six (with the help of Expendable Clone service advertised four episodes prior) finally meets face-to-face with his treacherous former employer, The General. Turns out The General used the same trick to command his underlings in person.
  • Doctor Who: An interesting variant occurs in "A Good Man Goes to War" when it is revealed that the baby Melody Pond the Doctor and his allies have just rescued is a Ganger.
    • Ultimately, this trope is the driving force behind the entirety of new Season 6, as the over-arcing plot concerns the Doctor dying at River's hand being a fixed point in time. Fortunately, at the half-season mark they meet a group of people who specialize in robots that can imitate people...
  • Farscape: Unbeknown to the audience, Aeryn Sun is swapped with a biomechnical replica to hide the real one's abduction. John Crichton doesn't awaken to the situation until the "bioloid" inadvertently fails at a Trust Password. Crichton draws a gun on her and, during an increasingly-agitated round of questioning, the faker tries to draw hers as well. Crichton blasts the side of her head off, revealing her inner components for all to see.
  • In the first episode of the 4th season of The Flash (2014), Clifford De Voe/The Thinker uses an android warrior, Samuroid, to lure Team Flash into pulling Barry out of the Speed Force. The robot also provides a neat way to cover the tracks. De Voe utilizes the Samuroid a few more times in the season, mainly as a means of distraction.
  • On Gilligan's Island, when Gilligan dreamed he was a spy, he was shot by Mr. Howell (the Big Bad of the dream, playing an Expy of Blofeld), and was revealed to be a robot. Then the "real" Gilligan walked in, saying he suspected something was amiss and so, sent his robot double in first.
  • The Mentalist: Protagonist Patrick Jane tracks down and kills his almost-lifelong nemesis, serial superkiller "Red John", season ends. The next season begins, and, hey, what do you know: that guy Jane shot? He was actually just a boring minion of Red John's.
  • Smallville: Lana Lang is caught in a car bombing, with enough DNA evidence to confirm the death, in Season 6 finale. In the next season, it is revealed that it was actually her clone created by Lex.
  • Stargate SG-1: System Lord Ba'al inherited Asgard Cloning Technology from his old master, Anubis. This let the writers kill him at least once almost every time he appeared after that. One episode revolved around SG-1 tracking down the lot of them. Or did they? Turns out, they didn't. Either that, or he just made more clones afterward.
    • Also on Stargate SG-1, in the Season 4 episode Double Jeopardy, SG-1 finds out that their robot clones from Season 1's Tin Man have been going on their own adventures. The second indication that SG-1 isn't really SG-1 is when Carter was surprised to be referred to as a Major rather than a Captain.
  • In the Star Trek: Discovery short "Escape Artist", Harry Mudd ends up in the hands of a Tellarite bounty hunter, who plans to turn him over to a Federation ship for a reward. Mudd spends most of the video unsuccessfully trying to trick the Tellarite, but the bounty hunter is far too clever for that. He transports with Mudd to a Starfleet ship, only for the captain to take them to a room, where they're holding half a dozen other Mudds. Apparently, someone's been selling android copies of Mudd to bounty hunters for half the reward money. The culprit turns out to be the real Mudd, who's making a fortune on the scam. The androids he's selling are completely unaware that they're not the real deal.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Himitsu Sentai Gorenger: The Gorangers attempt to attack or take hostage the Black Cross Fuhrer in a few episodes only for it to be revealed to be a disguised mook or an illusion when the cloak is removed. One time they actually did attack the real Fuhrer only for him to blind them with a flash of light and escape when the cloak was ripped off. Although the final episode reveals that it wouldn't have mattered if they had successfully attacked the real Fuhrer because he is insanely strong and nearly immortal to everything except his one Weaksauce Weakness.
    • Don Armage, the Big Bad of Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger is killed several times with no effect. Tsurugi claims that he killed Don Armage in the past and is confused when he hears that Don Armage is still the leader of Jark Matter in the present. To solve the mystery of how he is still alive The Kyurangers travel back in time and kill him again in the past but find that the present hasn't changed when they return. They later kill him again in the present and guess that he must have the ability to make copies of himself. It turns out that he not only can make copies of himself, but can also revive himself by possessing other people's bodies if his real body is destroyed. The version that Tsurugi killed actually was the real Don Armage but he revived himself by possessing Quervo, and the others the Kyurangers fought were copies. In the present, the real Don Armage in Quervo's body is at Jark Matter's base in the Crux system.
    • Carantula is killed in episode 36 of Mashin Sentai Kiramager, only to turn up alive in the next episode where it is revealed that Yodonna had earlier used her power to split people into 5 parts on him so only one aspect of Carantula actually died while the rest merged back together. This ends up having consequences later in the series as it made him less cruel and he found it more difficult to design new monsters, which leads to him betraying Yodon later.

  • When Pink Floyd performed The Wall live, the backing musicians went on first to perform "In The Flesh?", all of them wearing masks to look like the members of the band. Once the song was over, the real band came onstage.
  • The late MF Doom, appropriately enough, given he was styled after Doctor Doom, used to use stand-in performers, sometimes in secret, at his concerts.

  • In Dino Attack RPG, Ogel was killed three times during the Final Battle and yet still managed to survive. Wondering how? Each time Ogel apparently died, it was actually one of his Skeleton Drones in disguise, as a reference to the March/April 2001 issue of LEGO Mania.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The high-level spell Simulacrum can be used to make a quasi-real copy of any creature that even has some of the powers of the original, so it's perfect for this.
  • In Exalted, this is one of the powers available to the Solar Exalted who focus in crafting; they can retroactively reveal that the person their enemy just killed was actually an artificial simulacrum.
  • Golden Heroes, White Dwarf magazine #73 adventure "The American Dream". When the supervillain Jackson Stone is finally captured, he gives a defiant speech and then explodes, revealing that he's a booby-trapped android replica of the real Stone.
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • The Sentinels of the Multiverse villain Biomancer is fond of pulling this trick - as he specializes in creating "fleshchildren" (alchemical clones of people, usually superheroes), it's not much harder for him to make one of himself. His Incapacitated side shows the heroes discovering that the Biomancer they just defeated is actually another fleshchild.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, famous Necron Trazyn the Infinite almost never walks onto a battlefield himself, preferring to set up a small team of body doubles in his stead. The body doubles are rarely willing volunteers, we should mention, often not even aware that Trazyn has uploaded himself inside them until his previous double has been felled.
    • Warhammer 40,000 also has the Warlord trait of the Alpha Legion, a Heretic army, 'I Am Alpharius'. If your Warlord is killed, you can immediately designate a different Alpha Legion character in your army as the True Alpharius, and this can be repeated until there is no longer anyone from Alpha Legion left alive.
      • The rationale being that Alpha Legion is so secretive that even they don't know what their plans are meant to achieve, and their primarch can blend in perfectly with any unit.

    Video Games 
  • Aqua Jack ends with you storming into the main villain's office and shooting him to shreds, only to realize it's a robot double. The villain then appears on a video screen to taunt you, and the game suddenly ends.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin: The very end reveals that the Caulder who has been orchestrating the entire game's events is actually a clone... one that murdered the real Caulder some time ago.
  • Baldur's Gate III: When you come across Elminster, the most famous wizard in all of Faerun, his level is stated to be merely 1 (and creature type construct rather than humanoid). Of course, he is much more powerful than that in reality. If you actually attempt to fight him then it will dissolve into water upon defeat, revealing that it's actually a simulacrum that Elminster sent in his place.
  • Battle for Wesnoth: Upon destroying a lich for the first time in The South Guard, the heroes assume that they have destroyed the one behind the undead menace, but whatever the branch you choose, their ally will tell them that the defeated lich is just a phantom of the real one.
  • Chrono Cross pulls this early on, when building up Lynx as the Big Bad, before the party finally fights him...a third of the way through Disc One? Don't worry, after you beat him, he turns into a strange mix between a cat and a Displacer Beast, and the real Lynx reveals that it was Actually A Shadow. There was no way he was going to risk fighting against Kid, who was so hell-bent on finding him.
  • Chrono Trigger lets you do this retroactively. When Crono gets killed by Lavos, the death was very much for real, but there's a minigame you may have already played at this point that lets you win clones of your characters, and with the Time Egg, you can go back to the event and swap the killed character with a clone. Famously, this is an optional sidequest, despite the killed character being the main character.
  • Lord Nemesis in City of Heroes has so many mechanical duplicates of himself running around that when fighting his minions, it's not uncommon to find multiple enemies named Fake Nemesis in the same building, or even in the same patrol.
    • There's even a bug that can occasionally result in a group of enemies composed solely of a half dozen or so Fake Nemesis.
  • Crash Fever: The Jeong Dojeons fought in other Gun Long Clan quests were fakes. The real one is killed during the events of Below Morning Glories in a last-ditch attempt to take down the opposing forces.
  • Destiny 2: During the Leviathan raid, you confront Emperor Calus, mighty leader of the Cabal Empire! Then you damage him a bit and his skin and body parts flake off, revealing you're actually fighting a robot duplicate of Calus. After the battle's over, the real Calus speaks through the duplicate to praise your combat skill and encourage you to use the Leviathan to keep training, at which point it's shown that he has a massive storeroom filled with nothing but Calus Doombots, hence the weekly raid reset.
  • Devil May Cry 4: His interactions with Nero, Agnus and Dante in cutscenes imply that Sanctus is wearing the one specific Alto Angelo armor that's leading all of the other Angelos and The Savior. But when Dante blasts said armor with his handgun, it's revealed to be completely hollow just like the rest of the Angelo armors. Dante then figures this out and lampshades it. Soon enough, it's revealed that Sanctus is indeed not in the armor itself, but inside the gigantic Savior.
    Dante: The true form must be inside...
  • The Game Over sequence in Evil Genius opens with your avatar being wheeled into the morgue... and then their face slides open, revealing a bomb with its timer rapidly approaching zero. Your plans may be foiled, but you've still got one last surprise for the Forces of Justice!
  • At one point in Far Cry 4 you kill Pagan Min, only to almost immediately be chastised over the radio by the man himself for killing his Body Double Eric.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VIII the SeeD and their clients the Timber Resistance get the opportunity to kidnap the President of Galbadia (who at this point is thought to be the Big Bad) and do so. However, this "president" is not just a decoy, but an undead construct created by the Sorceress Edea to trick the Timber Resistance.
    • In 'Dissidia Final Fantasy'', if you play as Shantotto and lose a battle, she will disappear, leaving behind one of her enchanted dolls in her wake. The implication is that you were merely controlling one of her simulacra while the real deal was presumably off performing research elsewhere.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In the first game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, Big Bad Gharnef creates two clones of himself during his chapter. Stat-wise, the clones look identical to the real Gharnef, and the game acts as though they're immune to non-starlight damage, but they really aren't. The real one could be any of the three (it's random, and changes every time), but the player will know a clone when they kill it because they don't have death quotes. They also all appear to be carrying the Falchion, but two of them are fakes... which, interestingly enough, also follow this trope: their stats show up the same as the real one, but when dropped they turn out to be just an ordinary Steel Sword.
    • In New Mystery, the Legion fought as the boss of Chapter 6x turns out to be just a clone. Marth and Co. won't fight the real Legion until 12x... where he's accompanied by an entire army of Legions. There are three 'boss' Roros with slightly higher stats, and a whole bunch of mook Legions. The mooks spawn constantly until the real one does, which could be any of the three 'boss' versions. (like Gharnef, it's random) This trope is also discussed in-story, it's implied Legion has taken this to such extremes even he doesn't know which of his clones is the real one anymore.
    • The Japanese version of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn also says that The Black Knight that Ike defeated in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was a "ghost" created by malfunctioning warp powder. The English localization, however, thinking that was ridiculous, changed it to an instance of I Let You Win using existing canon and characterization.
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake, Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, also use this, but in the "Hand Wave for the player winning what's supposed to be a Hopeless Boss Fight" form. Desaix, the game's Starter Villain, appears on the map in an early chapter with stats normally too high for you to beat at that point. If the cast somehow does manage to defeat him, his Number Two Slayde reveals he was actually a Body Double. It's likely this is only true if the player beat him, since the body double isn't mentioned anywhere else.
  • In the G.I. Joe arcade shooter, the first battle with Cobra Commander is really a robot knockoff.
  • Used frequently by Arfoire/Magiquone in Hyperdimension Neptunia. After learning the truth about their Recurring Boss Arch-Enemy (whose name had been unknown to them up until The Reveal), Neptune and her friends learn that she had been using clones to distract them while her plan to Take Over the World went into motion.
  • In Jet Set Radio Future, a story arc has team member YoYo betray the entire group. Or so the Golden Rhinos would have you think, as they kidnapped YoYo and built a robot clone and loosed him on Tokyo to wreak havok.
  • In the Game Boy version of Kid Dracula, the first Garamoth you fight turns out to be a robot being piloted by an alien.
  • Klonoa Heroes: Densetsu no Star Medal: Joka in his first boss fight is revealed to be a clone. Klonoa and Pango promptly lose to his true form in the following cutscene.
  • In Guilty Gear -STRIVE-, this is how That Man, aka Asuka R. Kreutz operates in psychical tasks, creating stand-in clones called "bits" to do his bidding since he's too tired to do most things. This even extends to his playable version, Asuka R#.
  • The Big Bad of The King of Fighters 2000 is Zero, an utter bastard who murdered a man to steal his identity, nuked a city to oblivion with his Kill Sat, and did this all to overthrow his employers and become a tyrant in his own right, thankfully getting killed off by K' and co. in the end. Sounds like a nasty piece of work, right? Here's the catch - that was Clone Zero. Original Zero, who debuts in the following game, is a far more nobler person, even if he is working for NESTS.
  • The first fight with King Dedede and Meta Knight in Kirby Fighters 2. It turns out that they were just a pair of shapeshifting Waddle Dees, most likely sent by King Dedede and Meta Knight to test Kirby and his buddy's skills.
  • This ends up becoming a plot point in The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie where clones of Arios MacLaine, McBurn, and Rufus Albarea are running around wrecking havoc while their true selves are trying to fix things. All three are actually playable with Rufus being the Breakout Character of the game.
  • Luigi's Mansion: The "Bowser" towards the end of the game is clearly a mechanical decoy (though fairly accurate/lifelike) used by King Boo with his magitek on it. Therefore, King Boo is a boss in disguise here. This idea may very well be based on the fake Bowsers from the mainline Super Mario Bros. platformers.
  • The Magic Emperor's first boss battle in the various remakes of Lunar: The Silver Star. Actually not the case in the original; you fight the real thing in your first fight with him and then leave him for dead, then one scene later and reveals he's alive and turns into a monster for the final fight.
  • In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Mission 3-5's Epic Boss is not just one, but three Doombots. And the trope gets lampshaded by the characters, to boot.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom 2, one of Dr. Doom's Victory Poses is of five Doombots swooping down from the sky to partake in some evil chortling. Obviously, this calls into question whether the victorious Doom was even the real one.
  • The arcade Light Gun Game, Mechanized Attack has a difficult battle where you fight the terrorist leader (in an armoured vehicle, and then a Jet Pack) and after you defeat him, the game informs you that's the wrong villain. The true terrorist mastermind is currently a Brain in a Jar controlling a series of turrets you'll confront at the end of the next level.
  • Mega Man
    • Mega Man (Classic)
    • Mega Man X
      • Sigma has also done this frequently, coming back inexplicably in an arsenal of different forms — until his current defeat in Mega Man X8. Justified by the fact he is a living virus and can exist as a digital entity, then integrate into a new body at will. In X8 Lumine, a seemingly gentle Reploid director, forcefully states at the Sigma is gone for good, standing over his broken remains — only to reveal his true intentions a half-second later. Some time in the distant future, this is disproven: Sigma still lives on in viral form. However, with the end of the Maverick Wars, his programming was forcefully and permanently deleted by the antivirus program of the Mother Elf.
      • Also from X8, the justification for the traditional Boss Rush this time around is that they are New Generation Reploids mimicking the eight main Bosses, transforming back into generic humanoid forms once defeated. Sigma himself at the end of the same level is also a New Gen Reploid, with the real one waiting at the Moon instead.
    • In Mega Man ZX Advent, Prometheus betrays and seemingly murders Master Albert for all the suffering he put him and his sister Pandora through in the penultimate level. After Grey/Ashe fight Prometheus and Pandora, however, it's revealed "Albert" was all along just a dummy body the real one worked through his entire time as both a member of the Sage Trinity and with all his interactions with his creations. There's actually Foreshadowing for this in one of the earlier levels, where Grey/Ashe are in a lab where they find Prometheus and Pandora's capsules (labelled DAN-001 and DAN-002), and then find another capsule further in labeled "Prototype" (DAN-000), which Albert reveals is his serial number and himself the genuine article.
  • Metal Gear Solid V seems to have retconned Metal Gear into this: The Big Boss you kill in the first game is Venom Snake.
  • Metal Slug:
    • In Metal Slug 3, it's revealed that General Morden was actually a disguised alien and that the real Morden has been kidnapped by the Martians.
    • In Metal Slug 4, it's revealed that the Morden and Allen O'Neil you've been fighting are robots created by the Amadeus Syndicate, presumably to trick the Rebel Army into fighting for them. The last level has you fighting a small army of Morden robots.
  • Milon's Secret Castle: In the final level, you have to defeat Maharito. However, there are several rooms. One has the real Maharito and the others have fakes. You have to defeat the real one to win the game, and which room has the real one is randomized. The fakes are actually lesser enemies disguised as him. Making it worse is that all of them can harm you.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The GameCube version of Mortal Kombat: Deception retcons Shao Kahn's apparent death at the beginning of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance into that being a clone in order to explain his canonical GameCube-exclusive playable appearance. (Additionally, the other exclusive character, Goro, was then rescued by Kahn in the battlefield where he was left for dead — in the PS2 \ Xbox version, he only cameos in Konquest mode).
    • A trick that Shinnok also uses in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon to survive Armageddon. Not that it matters, because the last act of Armageddon is an in-universe Continuity Reboot into Mortal Kombat 9.
  • Neo Contra: Once Master Contra is defeated, he turns out to be a machine. The real Master Contra is actually the facility itself, Project C.
  • Persona 5: After learning that Akechi is planning to betray them and kill Joker, the Phantom Thieves quietly create a counter-plot by tricking Sae into taking Joker's phone and showing it to Akechi, Futaba then activates the MetaNav, bringing both to Sae's Palace, around the identical-looking police station next to the casino. In the end, Akechi unknowingly ends up killing Sae's cognitions of the guard in the interrogation room and Joker.
  • In Chapter 8 of Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die, Keigo Kyogoku's death during the failed coup at the Great Imperial Theater actually turned out to be a body double so he can resurrect Musashi.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, the final fight with Gideon turns out to be an example. Overlaps with Clipped-Wing Angel in that after beating the robot, the real Gideon goes down in a single hit.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: The boss fight with Lady Butterfly starts with you fighting an illusion of her. Once you kill it she reveals herself for real.
  • In Sonic Heroes, the Egg Albatross and Egg Emperor boss fights for all four teams end with the reveal that the Dr. Eggman piloting them was just a duplicate, which breaks or melts into goo. It would be a subtle hint that Eggman isn't the Big Bad, except that in one of those cutscenes, Metal Sonic is seen forming from the puddle of goo that "Eggman" left behind, making it a subversion of the trope and also spoiling the surprise a bit.
  • Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge: Since everything past the introduction level takes places in Murderworld, the bosses (Apocalypse, Juggernaut, etc) are all just robotic impostors built by Arcade.
  • In Spider-Man: The Video Game, all battles with Dr. Doom turn out to be against Doom's robot duplicates.
  • Star Fox 64 has this happen during the standard ending: the Big Bad you just killed was actually his robot duplicate. The true ending has you battle the real Big Bad.
  • In Streets of Rage 3, at the end of stage 5, you fight Mr. X much like you did in the previous two games, but he is revealed to be a robot. Given that the back story of the Western version is about robots replacing important public figures, you already fought a robot Axel in stage 3, and there are three more stages after stage 5, it didn't come as a huge surprise.
  • Super Mario Bros.: In the original game you beat Bowser every four levels. However, each time but the last "Bowser" just turns out to be a different mook in disguise.
    • This returns in Super Mario 3D Land, with the fake Bowsers being a Goomba (World 1) and a Magikoopa (World 5) with Tanooki Suits.
    • In the fangame Super Mario 63, the Bowser in the Koopa Clown Car you fight before ascending the Meteor Tower is a robot.
  • The Hell King Gordon fought in Super Robot Wars BX was an illusion created by Viscount Pygman.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Dead Ringer allows the Spy to create a fake corpse to fool the enemy team.
  • During the fourth Ty the Tasmanian Tiger installment, Ty comes across Fluffy, who was apparently brought back to life after the third installment and is now evil again. Ty is even shocked about this. But, after the boss fight, it turns out that this is not the same Fluffy that sacrificed herself at the end of the third game, but rather a robot of Fluffy.
  • In Unleash the Light, the Squaridot who's threatening to take back George turns out to be a Squaribot that the AI of Hessonite's Warship programmed while holding the real Squaridot captive. After the Crystal Gems defeat it, the AI takes over as the real boss of the Peridot DLC.
  • In Vanquish, you fight with seemingly two Victor Zaitsevs, one red and the other blue. After killing the first one, no matter which, Zaitsev will say you killed the wrong one. Unfortunately, Zaitsev was never there to begin with; they are both just doombots.
  • Watch_Dogs: The Bad Blood DLC pack reveals that the deadmau5-style DJ/hacker Defalt that Aiden chased down and potentially killed in the main story was really a double, hired by the real Defalt while he worked behind the scenes.
  • In World of Warcraft, Mekgineer Thermaplugg was revealed to have done this (Zalazane too, with Hollywood Voodoo), but after a final assault, Thermaplugg is still alive. Zalazane is Dragged Off to Hell, killing him for real.

    Web Animation 
    • During the fight between Dr. Eggman and Dr. Wily, after Metal Sonic knocks the latter out of his Wily Machine, Wily begs for mercy, but Eggman simply stomps on him with his Death Egg Robot. That "Wily" appeared to be a mere dummy, with the real Wily in a new Wily Machine.
    • Doctor Doom himself does this during his fight against Darth Vader. It should not surprise anyone that Vader defeats the Doombot, thus prompting the real Doom to show up and fight.
    • When Lex Luthor returned, he actually invokes this trope with one of his Lexbots to buy himself time to don the Warsuit. It becomes funny in a meta sense when you consider the fact that the guy who he uses this is against is none other than the above-mentioned, Trope Namer Doctor Doom. Even Doom himself remarks on it.
      Doctor Doom: A mechanical replica?
      Lex Luthor: It's called a Lexbot, you knuckle-dragging buffoon.
      Doctor Doom: Its design is rather ingenious. Not as ingenious as mine, of course.
    • During the fight between Batman and Iron Man, Batman (in the Hellbat suit) manages to easily overpower Tony's Model Prime armor and tears him in half... revealing that it was empty and AI-controlled, with the real Tony Stark greeting him with the Godslayer Armor and his Iron Legion.
  • RWBY: Cinder and Neo have a fight in a bar, mostly evenly matched, until Cinder takes the fight outside and "Neo" shatters on the street. Neo's Semblance allows her to make solid illusions that shatter like glass. Then Cinder spots the real Neo, sporting a different outfit and scars.

    Web Comics 
  • Parodied in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. Dr. McNinja is fighting Dracula on Dracula's moon base (don't worry, it makes even less sense in context), and after setting up a decoy of himself to fool Dracula grabs him and is about to destroy him by exposing him to sunlight. Then, of course, it turns out it's actually a Draculabot — goodness knows when the switch was made, and going back in the story to look for a likely spot only makes it look less plausible. Oh, and since he jumped off the moon in a spacesuit while holding on to the Draculabot, he then has to surf it down to Earth, which counts as kind of extreme even by his standards.
  • Towards the end of Bob and George, Bob kills Dr. Wily. Or rather, he kills one of the many robotic clones Wily leaves scattered around his fortress on the off chance a deranged psychopath breaks in and attempts to kill him.
    Wily: It worked, didn't it?
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Pretty much anytime something really bad happens to a Buu, there are more fragments of it lying about.
  • El Goonish Shive: Abraham would Never Hurt an Innocent, so when he faces Fox, he is careful to use a powerful but rare non-lethal item... at which point she dissolves into nothingness, because she's just a summon. Abraham sighs. The problem is that when he faces Nanase in her Guardian form, he assumes she's another summon, and therefore sees nothing wrong with immediately resorting to lethal force.
  • Least I Could Do mocked the hell out of this trope during their Crisis Crossover parody arc: Rayne gets killed off more than once, and every time, "It's cool. Was a clone."; after a while, his roommate decides to give it a try by snapping Rayne's neck; turns out he was the real Rayne, who gets quickly replaced by a clone who spent a year in a prehistoric cave with Batman.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Dr. Schlock has had inflatable, robot decoys deal with dangerous people in his place many times, particularly as he's become more paranoid over the years.
    "How do you know if it's the real him or not?"
    "If he's brave and bold, he's an inflatable decoy. If he's scared? Could be him."
    • It also works to his disadvantage at one point when he loses control of such an artificial Remote Body just when it was supposed to do something vitally important.
  • In Trigger Star after defeating Black Licorice, Avocado convinces the others that it was a Doombot since it was way too easy. It wasn't.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Used and then inverted in the Season 7 finale of Archer. Archer and his robot double head off to confront Veronica Dean, and one is shot and left to drown in her pool — but due to the fact that Archer and Robot-Archer were wearing identical clothing, and only one Archer is in the scene, it's unclear which it is. When the police and ISIS show up to the scene, the "real" Archer appears, claiming that the Archer in the pool is merely his robot double. However, when he tries to propose to Lana, he (Robot-Archer) malfunctions due to his programming not being able to understand love, and it's revealed that the Archer in the pool is, in fact, the real Archer.
  • In an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Superman and Batman captured Lex Luthor early in the episode. It turns out that Lex Luthor is actually a Lexbot.
  • The Bots Master: Big Bad Paradim is the Corrupt Corporate Executive of a robot-making megacorp who is more often than not Crazy-Prepared, so of course during one moment when he seems to be cornered, his skin melts off to reveal it was just a robot double... set to explode.
  • In the first season finale to Filmation's Flash Gordon, Ming appears to die in classic Disney Villain Death fashion, but the corpse is revealed as a Ming-bot, and the real Ming flies away cackling that he will regain his throne and have revenge. The implication, at least, is that it was the real Ming who had lost a fight with Flash a few minutes earlier, but that he had pulled the switch when he and Flash were briefly separated.
  • Used in Gargoyles by the primary antagonist, David Xanatos, who loves a Mind Screw. Not content with the basic disposable-robot fake out, he invented variations. In one, the robot was provided with a full-face helmet and assumed identity (in other words, first the other characters thought The Reveal was that it was Xanatos, and then it turned out not to be.) In the other, the robot wasn't of Xanatos but of one of the gargoyles' other regular adversaries, to throw them entirely off the scent as to who was behind an abduction. Mind Screw, remember.
  • George of the Jungle: One episode started with Villain of the Week Dr. Gizmo being taken to prison but it turns out it was a machine. In the end, he tried the trick again but the Super Chicken distracted capturing him was another one. The real Dr. Gizmo was captured by the real Super Chicken.
  • Two episodes of Inch High, Private Eye featured a mad dollmaker as a villain. In the first, sold clockwork manikins to department stores that would rob them. In the end, he's arrested but a failed escape attempt reveals that they only caught a robotic duplicate. Due to the prevalence in Robotic Reveal in the cartoons of the era the main characters never even consider the possibility that the real guy is still at large... until he comes back with robotic duplicates of the main character and his boss, and successfully ruins their reputation.
  • Loonatics Unleashed: Otto the Odd utilized plenty of these in his second appearance, enough to fall well into the realm of Crazy-Prepared and some I Know You Know I Know.
    • This trope is flat-out abused by Tweetums in the series finale.
  • Rick and Morty: The end of season 3 seemed to suggest (though not confirm) that Beth Smith had abandoned her family to travel the world/universe/multiverse to find herself while Rick created a clone of her programmed with all her memories and personality to take her place so no one would be the wiser and allow Beth the option to return to the family if she so desired. See A.I. Is a Crapshoot for more.
    • Later the season 4 finale reveals that Rick did end up cloning Beth resulting in two versions of her, one that stayed behind to raise her family and one that went off to have adventures. However, both Beths believe they're the original and both of them have bombs implanted in their necks, which Rick claims would transmit the memories of the Clone Beth into the original before vaporizing the clone. The end of the episode reveals not even Rick knows which one's the original. The decision Beth made in "The ABC's of Beth" was her forcing Rick to choose whether he wanted her to go or stay and be a part of his life. Rick intentionally removed the labels from the clone and the original then randomized them, leaving it up to chance so he wouldn't have to make the decision. Then he deleted the memory of him doing it. It's now impossible to know which is the clone and which is the original, and everyone in the family left before Rick replayed the memory because none of them care which is which.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, whenever Quentin Beck/Mysterio is captured or defeated, it always turns out to be an illusion or a robotic double.
  • Fittingly enough, Doctor Doom used this trick on Spider-Man (1981) in the episode "The Doctor Prescribes Doom", where Spidey confronts Doom at the end of the episode, only for it to turn out to be a robot double that explodes.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, several of Plankton's schemes to steal the Krabby Patty formula involve this:
    • In "Frozen Face-Off", his plan to distract SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs with a ski race had him build a robot of himself to compete while the real Plankton snuck into the Krusty Krab uncontested.
    • His huge assault on the Krusty Krab at the beginning of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water ends with him giving Mr. Krabs his last penny and sulking near the Krusty Krab sign for 20 minutes. Mr. Krabs then finds that the Plankton outside was a robot and the real Plankton was inside the penny, which Mr. Krabs put in the wall safe with the formula. Upon Krabs realizing he's been had, the robot does a victory dance.
    • In "Plankton Retires", he reveals that his claim to retire was another plan to get the formula and that the Plankton at the retirement home was a robot to distract SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs while he breaks into the Krusty Krab. As it turns out, the SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs at the retirement home were also robots and the real ones were still at the Krusty Krab as well. The episode ends with the robots deciding to live their own lives instead of helping in Krabs and Plankton's pointless war, then they hang out together until they explode.
  • Used on more than one occasion in episodes of Super Friends to explain how the latest scheme by Lex Luthor didn't actually work, since the heroes were being represented by robotic duplicates. Raises the question of why the Legion of Doom doesn't bother with autopsies, or why they throw away their latest superweapon the minute the Super Friends "appear" to be dead.
    • Challenge Of The Superfriends had another example of good guys using this trick. The Legion of Doom found out about a sealed away weapon that could act as a lethal death ray to the heroes and tricked Superman into breaking the vault open. (That's right, this episode suspended the show's Never Say "Die" policy.) The Legion of Doom was apparently then able to decimate the heroes mercilessly, often in front of terrified citizens. When it seemed all the heroes had perished and the villains had achieved complete victory, Luthor saw no further need for the thing, and casually threw it away. A terrible mistake. A day later, the Superfriends reappeared, and after pulping the villains, revealed that they had been hiding in their satellite base (presumably a sort of precursor to the Watchtower) while using android duplicates created by Superman in the Fortress of Solitude to make the Legion believe they had been killed. Once Luthor threw it away, the Apache Chief went into the sewer in protective clothing and destroyed it, permanently. (Of course, when you think about it, the Legion of Doom should have been suspicious when they seemed to win so easily...)
  • Seeing as Doom himself is the Big Bad of The Super Hero Squad Show, Doombots appear on the show rather often.
  • Slade used this trick a lot in Teen Titans (2003), using an android duplicate of himself to both fight the Titans and deliver the occasional taunt from a remote location. The episode "Haunted" is the most dangerous example, proving that Slade could be a downright deadly threat to a hero's life and sanity without being there at all (This time it was a drug-induced hallucination, not a robot). At least one is rigged to explode if defeated, and most have monitors behind their masks to facilitate last-minute megalomaniacal gloating.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • In "O.S.I. Love You" it's revealed that the Sovereign is not really David Bowie, but rather a shapeshifter acquaintance of his.
    • In "Past Tense", several characters are abducted from the funeral of a friend from college. The friend reveals that he faked his death just so he could nab them all at once and take revenge for past slights. After they get free and attack him, they discover that it was a robot double. The trope is subverted by the twist ending when it turns out that the original had actually died before the plot kicked off.
      Dr. Venture: So, what, he programmed his robots to hate us too? ... Well, that makes about as much sense as anything else today.
  • In the Young Justice (2010) episode "Welcome to Happy Harbor", Miss Martian shockingly executes Bromwell Stikk, the pilot of the Mister Twister mecha. We quickly discover that Stikk himself was an android built to resemble the real pilot, and that he had a built-in camera meant to spy on the kids. She guessed it was an android because she couldn't read its mind.
    • The young T.O.Morrow seen was actually a robot, the real one was an old man who's hooked on life support.

    Real Life 
  • Dictators usually have an array of body doubles and impersonators working as the target of assassination attempts. Hitler himself managed to survive 42 assassination attempts through a combination of this trope and a ridiculous amount of luck (due to the number of Contrived Coincidences that managed to thwart an attempt in one way or another).
  • Minor league British actor, and wartime Army Pay Corps Lieutenant, M. E. Clifton James, who bore an uncanny resemblance to General Montgomery, was used by British intelligence to pose as the General (he was recruited by David Niven, no less) and spread false information about the impending D-Day landings. In I Was Monty's Double, the 1958 movie made about the story (known as Hell, Heaven Or Hoboken in the US) there are several attempts made by the Germans to kill or kidnap James whilst he was in Gibraltar and North Africa. In reality, Hitler vetoed such plans until he could be sure that the information "Monty" was spilling was accurate.
  • Most actors generally do not jump off of cliffs or allow themselves to be run over by cars — that is what Stunt Doubles are for. Usually.
  • American rapper MF Doom has been known to send impostors to concert events for which he is on the bill.
  • German electronic musicians Kraftwerk allegedly had concerts done by robotic doubles. No doubt it would have been most easy with this band, but more probably it's a legend.
  • Frank Dux, inspiration for Bloodsport, has claimed that the reason his stories sometimes contradict each other or cannot be verified is that he often uses doubles for public appearances, and sometimes they don't get the story straight.