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James Bond: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned...
Q: [disguised as a Greek priest] That's putting it mildly, 007!

Religious clothing is visually arresting, and priests, nuns, and monks certainly are perceived to have an inherent moral authority. In fiction, scoundrels will dress up as a religious figure as a part of a disguise. This can be used for comedic or dramatic effect. The clothing of the Catholic Church is used for the most part, since all Christianity is Catholic in the movies. For bonus points the fake clergyperson may be inside a confessional and hear the sins of an unwitting penitent.

A villain who actually is a priest or the equivalent of it is most likely a Sinister Minister.

Compare Nun Too Holy, where a character is ostensibly part of a religious order, but doesn't seem too concerned with observing its tenets or restrictions. Either being more focused on being more fun and friendly or just outright immoral.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Baccano! Isaac and Miria dress up as a priest and a nun as one of their many, many crazy thieving schemes. Firo seems to completely buy it and apologizes for his earlier rude behavior, saying he didn't realize they were with the church.
  • In Batman Ninja, Bruce, as a Westerner in medieval Japan, creates a cover identity as a Catholic monk. With a bat-shaped tonsure.
  • At the beginning of the Black Cat anime, we see Train shooting and beating up what appears to be a priest at prayer and a bunch of nuns. Then they whip off the habits to reveal that they're actually terrorists with machine guns.
  • Bitter Virgin: Daisuke briefly impersonates a priest when his classmate Hinako comes for a confession. She drops a mother of a Drama Bomb on him (she was repeatedly raped by her stepfather, aborted the first baby and put the second for adoption, and wants to know if it's OK for her to celebrate his birthday anyway). Out of desperation, he tells her God supports her, and from then on he tries to make life easier for her without ever revealing he knows her secret.
  • Black Lagoon features The Church of Violence, an illegal arms smuggling operation disguised full-time as a church.
  • The assassin pretending to be a priest who takes Manji's confession in the first chapter of Blade of the Immortal.
  • Kei of the Dirty Pair is something of a mistress of disguise. She's used the nun disguise at least twice (interesting, since she's the "bad girl" of the Lovely Angels).
  • Sonia Shaflnarz of Hayate the Combat Butler. The characters continually call her 'Sister' despite knowing her name, and her acting nothing like an actual sister.
  • The reverend in the western (as in, with cowboys) Shōjo manga Miriam. He's not a real reverend, for one thing, having killed the real one and taken his place years ago. He's also a sexual predator who tried to take advantage of 17-year old protagonist Douglas when he took sanctuary in the church, and he works for a local crimelord. He eventually leads the protagonists into a trap... and reveals that he's the Big Bad.
  • Duo in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Justified in his backstory: he was an orphan who had been adopted by a priest that made him wear the clothes as part of leading him into becoming one himself (having been an orphan and a scoundrel adopted by a priest himself), and continued to wear the style after he had been murdered by the Alliance troops.
  • One Piece occasionally invokes this for comic effect.
    • Early in the Baroque Works arc, Miss Monday disguises herself as a nun as part of the organization's infiltration of Cactus Island. She engages in a drinking contest with Nami, but is no worse for wear because she was actually drinking tea disguised as beer (in a rare intentional use of the latter trope).
    • A minor character, Miss Catherina in the Whiskey Peak arc uses her habit to pose as an innocent civilian to catch the protagonists off-guard before attacking with her poison-spraying cross.
    • Played much less lightly with Mother Caramel, a traveling nun, miracle worker, and almost saintly mother figure who intervened in the Navy's execution of two notorious Giant pirates and who routinely takes in orphans to her orphanage in the Giant homeland. In reality, she's a greedy old crone who sells the children in her care to the World Government, Cipher Pol, or pirates. The intervention with the giants? A trick to gain protection from their people AND show the world government what she could do. Ultimately, she was killed by accident by her greatest find, Charlotte Lin-Lin, aka the Yonko Big Mom, though she doesn't know it.
  • Samurai Champloo is set during the Edo period, when Christianity was outlawed, so several episodes feature characters who are hiding their faith. The straightest example of this trope is episode 19, which features a priest (descended from Francis Xavier) leading a sect of Hidden Christians who commands his flock to produce guns, in order to to avoid hell and reach paradise. He's not a priest, nor even European; it's all a scam so he can sell the guns. He also kidnaps and threatens to kill (forcing her to marry him) at least one woman.
  • Justin Law in Soul Eater (technically not a Catholic priest, but worships Shinigami-sama, although he becomes a Sinister Minister by betraying the crap out of everyone later on in the manga. Being a man of the cloth only extends as far as wearing the cloth, it seems.)
  • Donato Porpora from Tokyo Ghoul. This infamous and sadistic Ghoul once posed as a Catholic Priest, and ran an orphanage in order to gain access to his preferred prey. While pretending to be a loving caretaker to the children, he would pretend to adopt them out and then brutally murder them — the scraps of his meals were then used to make treats for the remaining children. His entire scheme came crashing down when one of the children walked in on him butchering a corpse, and it happened to be the one child that he genuinely considered his son. This surviving child would grow up to be Investigator Koutarou Amon, who continues to have massive daddy issues.
  • Nicholas D. Wolfwood in Trigun, hired gun and man of the cloth. Though not without sin, at least he doesn't preach what he doesn't practice.

    Comic Books 
  • In Arak: Son of Thunder, Arak's ally Satyricus is a cowardly and lecherous satyr who frequently disguises himself as a monk as the robe concealed his goat's feet.
  • Astro City
    • The preeminent crime lord is the Deacon, who dresses and acts like, well, a deacon. It's not a disguise, however, but simply part of his motif.
    • It also fits well with his Arch-Enemy, The Confessor. Who is also a vampire, but... a surprisingly nice guy.
  • In Bat Lash #1, Bat disguises himself as a monk in order to infiltrate a monastery. It turns out that the monastery has already being taken over by outlaws, and all the monks there are outlaws in disguise.
  • Batman: Black and White: In "The Black and White Bandit", the villain disguises himself as a nun (in a black-and-white habit) for one of his robberies.
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones: In #7, dealer in stolen artifacts (and rival to Indy) McIver is running his operation out of an Italian monastery with himself and his henchmen all disguised as monks. Indy himself dons a habit to infiltrate the operation.
  • In one Ghost Rider story has Johnny Blaze army chaplain in order to get the drop on some outlaws. However, he gets buried in a rockslide and loses his memory,causing him to believe he really is the chaplain.
  • Jonah Hex: In one story, Jonah dresses as an army chaplain in order to get the drop on some outlaws. However, he gets buried in a rockslide and loses his memory,causing him to believe he really is the chaplain.
  • In Judge Colt #3, a Preacher Man raising funds for a church relief fund is revealed to be a Con Man who has been pulling the same scam in towns along the frontier.
  • The hero of the franco-belgian comic Soda is a NYPD cop who is afraid to tell his mom his job, because she has heart problems, and keeps her believing her son is a clergyman. He usually switches his clerical outfit for street clothes as soon as possible, but more often than not things conspire to force him to keep it and do his police work dressed as a priest.
  • In one Suicide Squad story, The Penguin is disguised as a Russian Orthodox priest while undercover on a mission in Russia. He also pretends to be deaf to get around language difficulties.
  • In Tomahawk #30, a bandit ambushes a clergyman travelling from Boston to perform a wedding and takes his place so he can infiltrate the settlement and set it up for robbery. In doing so, he inadvertently foils a woman's attempt to stage a Real Fake Wedding with Tomahawk.
  • Uncle Scrooge: Flintheart Glomgold dressed up as a nun in Don Rosa's The Last Lord of Eldorado. Humorously, despite having a beard, he was only discovered when he got into a fight, because the real nuns learned better style than that in their judo classes. (Scrooge wasn't fooled for an instant, though.)

    Comic Strips 
  • The unique version of the Master who appeared in the Doctor Who Magazine Eighth Doctor comic stories was initially seen posing as a street preacher in early-twenty-first-century London, and his long-term plan involved setting up a Path of Inspiration to corrupt humanity and turn them into Omnicidal Maniacs.
  • Modesty Blaise:
    • In "La Machine", the ringleaders of the eponymous criminal organisation are posing as monks and operating out of a monastery.
    • 'Father' Lamont in "Milord", who poses as a priest in order to abduct girls for a porn and snuff film ring.
    • In "The Grim Joker", the murderous Goodchild brothers masquerade as a pair of vicars.
  • In one "Homer the Reluctant Soul" storyline of Non Sequitur set in the Dark Ages, the villain was a bandit who killed a bishop and took his place, gaining his authority (which given the time period, was a lot).
  • In Terry and the Pirates, Cap'n Blaze and his gang disguise themselves as monks when they set up an opium farm inside a monastery.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Beavis and Butt-Head Do America: The two end up in a Catholic church and sneak into the confessionals, thinking they're porta-potties. They end up listening to actual confessions, telling the people inside to slap themselves for shits and giggles.
  • Heavy Metal: One of Captain Sternn's many, many crimes include selling drugs dressed like a nun.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Angel (1984): After shaving his head to disguise his appearance, The Killer dresses as a Hare Krishna monk in order get close to Angel.
  • Angels & Demons. The Illuminati killer dresses as a priest when dumping a fatally stabbed victim in the middle of St Peter's Square.
  • In Are You Being Served?, Mr. Humphries briefly disguises himself as a nun to escape Spanish revolutionary Cesar Rodriguez:
    Captain Peacock: What a charming, old-world sight.
    Mr. Lucas: Hey, you see the one at the back - I seem to recognise the walk.
    Mr. Humphries: Peace be with you, sisters.
  • In The Art of the Steal, the middleman in the deal for the stolen Gospel of St. James is called 'the Reverend' and dresses like a priest, including a clerical collar. However, there is no evidence that he is actually a minister of religion.
  • Assassins (1995). Contract killer Robert Rath (driving a stolen taxi) is searching for rival hitman Miguel Bain. On hearing that a priest wants a cab to take him to the airport, Rath instantly says "That's him", implying that it's an old assassin's trick.
  • The Bandit of Sherwood Forest: To gain access to Nottingham Castle, Lady Catherine disguises herself as the Prioress of Buxton Abbey with Robert, Friar Tuck and Little John posing as her attendants.
  • In the Pam Grier movie Black Mama, White Mama, Grier's character has escaped prison transport, still chained together with another inmate. They waylay two nuns and rob them of their habits, which they then put on on top of their prison clothes. The habits have wide enough sleeves to hide the chain connecting their wrists as long as they walk close together.
  • In Breakheart Pass, Rev. Peabody is really an undercover Secret Service agent.
  • Done twice in the Cannonball Run movies. In the first movie Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. play a pair of racers who dress up as Catholic priests, and in the second two women dressed as nuns (they're showgirls in a production who were at a restaurant, still in costume) end up accompanying two men dressed as soldiers (who are disguised for an edge talking to the police). The men slowly realize that these women don't behave quite like nuns... This is the second time Shirley MacLaine played a fake nun, the first being Two Mules for Sister Sara.
  • In Cat Ballou, Jed disguises himself as a preacher to rescue both Clay and Cat from the scaffold, using a knife concealed within his bible.
  • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle has the Angels disguised as nuns. And that's the sound of Theology flying out the window.
  • Clockwise: Brian wears a monk's habit not as a disguise, but because there is no other clothing available. He is mistaken for a monk by a woman who sees him running after Laura, and by the Porsche driver.
  • In The Con is On, the contact buying Irina's drugs is an old woman dressed as a nun.
  • Corpus Christi: Daniel, a young man fresh out of prison comes to a small town for a work-release job in a sawmill. He obtains a priest's cassock and collar, for no clear reason—to impress people? To get the occasional free meal? But when the town's regular priest, who happens to be an alcoholic, suddenly has to go into rehab, Daniel gets pressed into service as priest for the small town.
  • In The Counterfeit Traitor, a woman is tricked into betraying herself by a Gestapo agent who pretends to be a priest taking confessions. This was based on true incidents and the woman in real life (as in the movie) was shot by a firing squad. The confessional incident might be in the movie only.
  • Dad's Army (1971):
    • According to Mr. Mainwaring, German spies have begun to disguise themselves as nuns:
      Mr. Mainwaring: For all I know, you might be a German spy.
      General Fullard: Oh, rubbish.
      Mr. Mainwaring: It is not rubbish, sir. They're being dropped all over the continent, by parachute. Some of them are even disguised as nuns.
      General Fullard: Are you mad? Do I look like a nun?
    • The Home Guard disguise themselves as choir singers long enough to catch the Nazis off guard, reveal their weapons, and save all their hostages.
  • Dobermann: The Abbot is a member of Dobermann's who dresses as a priest. There is no evidence he actually is ordained, although he tries to act like a priest.
  • Brigitte Nielsen disguises herself as a hot nun to assassinate a guy in Double O Kid.
  • Dragon from Russia has the Dark Action Girl (played by Nina Li) who disguises herself as a nun, habits and all, during a hit job.
  • In The Enforcer, Harry Callahan and his female partner go into a church during their investigation into a terrorist group. The female partner suddenly shoots a nun, having noticed that she was wearing bright red nail polish. Turns out she was also wearing a pump-action shotgun.
  • In his introductory scene in Face/Off, Castor Troy disguises himself as a priest in order to plant a biological bomb in the Los Angeles Convention Center. He then takes a little extra time to dance to a choir singing the Hallelujah chorus and grope a choir-girl.
    Castor Troy: You know, I never really enjoy the Messiah. In fact I think it's fucking boring. But your voice makes even hack like Handel... seem like a genius.
  • In Final Justice, the bad guy dresses up as a monk and hides in a church, but his cover doesn't last long after he tries to brush off a hysterical woman in the confession booth with "sure, sure, whatever you want." So the cop after him is able to spot him, leading to a painfully long chase scene with the hero pursuing the villain in a monk outfit through the streets of Malta, followed by a painfully long chase scene with the hero pursuing the villain in a monk outfit in boats.
  • The Four Musketeers (1974). Milady de Winter dresses as a nun to get into a nunnery and strangle Constance.
  • One of the cons run by cyclist/petty crook Mario Trantino in The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight involves dressing in a (stolen) priest's uniform and collecting money for an (imaginary) orphanage back in Italy. His cover is blown when the police see him "in uniform" with his arm around his girlfriend, Angela Palumbo.
  • This guise fails in The Godfather Part III as the old mafia boss recognises the assassin sent to kill his guest Michael Corleone.
  • In The Ghoul, Nigel Hartley is a thief disguised as a country parson as part of his plan to steal the jewel.
  • In Hell's Highway, a Serial Killer who dresses as a priest picks up Hostile Hitchhiker Lucinda and takes her into the desert to murder her, in what turns out to be a case of Muggingthe Monster.
  • Hitman (1998), starring Jet Li, features an assassin dressed as a priest, who carries rosary beads which doubles as a garotte wire, and hides grenades in his robes.
  • I Confess: Otto Keller commits a murder while disguised as a priest.
  • James Bond: Q dresses up as a Greek Orthodox priest (complete with false beard) in For Your Eyes Only.
  • John Wick walks into a Russian Orthodox church and casually kneecaps the priest, then shoots several mooks in the congregation. Then we see the 'priest' has tattooed knuckles and is swearing like a sailor. The church is actually a front for The Mafiya.
  • In Kind Hearts and Coronets, the Villain Protagonist Louis adopts the identity of an African clergyman in order to get close to the Reverend Lord Henry d'Ascoyne.
  • In The Left Hand of God Humphrey Bogart doubles as Father O'Shea. He even gets some divine blessing for it.
  • Mafia! (1998). "Say hello to my little friend." The very tall priest has a midget assassin hidden under his coat.
  • In the 1962 adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate, the brainwashed assassin disguises himself as a priest to assassinate the Presidential candidate of one of the leading parties of the United States.
  • In Marmoulak, Reza the Lizard, a notorious criminal, spends most of the movie disguised as a mullah while on the run from the law after escaping prison.
  • The Mask of Zorro: In his first time out in the mask, the new Zorro runs into a church for sanctuary, and the priest, an old friend of the original Zorro, hides him in the confessional booth. He find himself improvising his way through a confession with Elena, who is there to confess, well, feelings of lust for Zorro.
  • Mission: Impossible III: Ethan wears a priest's cassock while sneaking into the Vatican in order to abduct Davian.
  • In Molly (1983), Jones pretends to be a nun from Maxie's former Catholic school, saying, "Sister Carmel sent me to see how you're getting on." The truth is, he wants to find out how to force Molly to sing.
  • The Monster Club: Pickering, head of the vampire-hunting Men in Black, dresses as a clergyman in order to the son of the vampire and learn where his father dwells.
  • In Murder on Flight 502, Father Thomas Healey turns out to be convicted felon named Hoffman who is travelling on the dead priest's passport.
  • One of Robert Mitchum's most iconic roles was in the 1955 film noir The Night of the Hunter, in which he plays the "Reverend" Harry Powell, a thief, con artist, and serial killer who poses as a priest and marries his executed cellmate's widow to get his hands on the man's hidden loot, but finds himself stymied by the dead man's young children.
  • The basic premise of Nuns on the Run is that the "nuns on the run" aren't really nuns. (They also aren't really women, making this a combination of Bad Habits and Disguised in Drag.)
  • Sheldon Sands from Once Upon a Time in Mexico dresses as a Catholic priest, replete with extremely fake beard, for a confessional scene.
  • In Parker, Parker dresses as a priest during the first heist in order to persuade the security guard to open the door for him.
  • In Charlie Chaplin film The Pilgrim, Charlie, an escaped convict on the run, puts on the first clothes he's able to steal. Naturally, it's a Protestant minister's vestments.
  • At the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow is having his crimes announced just before he is about to be hanged. These include "impersonating a cleric of the Church of England", provoking a smile of amused reminiscence from Jack.
  • In The Prince of Thieves, Maude helps Robin escape from the keep by smuggling him Friar Tuck's habit to use as a disguise.
  • In the Hong Kong action film Proud and Confident, the Big Bad made himself known to the audience by showing up in a priest's garb, complete with rosaries, and shooting a politician point-blank. He then goes around on a killing spree, his victims including attendants, security guards, police officers, and even The Lancer... all the while dressed as a priest.
  • The Resistance Banker. After a member of La Résistance is arrested and tortured, a nun comes into his cell to feed him and quietly offers to pass on a message if needed. Fortunately he doesn't fall for it as she's working for the Germans, whether as a fake nun or a collaborator isn't mentioned.
  • The Rising of the Moon: The third segment, "1921", has a political prisoner about to be executed during The Irish Revolution. His allies have a complex scheme to help him escape, partly involving a pair of nuns. The authorities are completely taken in by these clever fakes, but after the nuns leave, the police sergeant muses "I didn't know nuns wore high heels."
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Frank N. Furter's first appearance is disguised as a priest, watching Brad and Janet in the background of their first scene. They never find out it was him, and the audience only finds out if they recognise Tim Curry, making it usually a Rewatch Bonus unless you've been told about it before seeing the film.
  • In Robin and the 7 Hoods, Allan A. Dale poses as a minister when Robbo and his gang disguise their speakeasy as a revival meeting just before it is raided by Gisborne and Deputy Potts.
  • Kambei's introductory scene in Seven Samurai has him rescuing a child from a hostage situation by cutting off his topknot and having monks shave his head and lend him some robes. In his guise as a monk, he brings food so that the hostage-taker will lower his guard, and then rushes in and kills the hostage-taker and saves the child.
  • In The Seventh Seal, Death disguises himself as a priest to trick the knight into telling him his next move in the the game of chess for the knight's life.
  • Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend: Following a Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen incident, the three soldiers are provided with new garb by a band of Brethren. After arriving in town and determining the situation, Devlin decides it is worthwhile to continue masquerading as pacifist Brethren.
  • Deloris hides out as a nun in a convent from hit men in the movie Sister Act.
  • In Son of a Gun, armed robbers Lynch and JR disguise themselves as priests when flying back from Melbourne to Perth.
  • Spy Hard: Agent WD-40 Dick Steele makes his way into the Our Lady of the Never Had The Pickle Convent to rescue the Bond Girl of the film. He ends up stealing a habit to disguise himself as a nun.
  • Stone Cold has a climatic shootout set in a courthouse, where the main villain (as played by Lance Henriksen) is disguised as the court's priest before revealing himself. And then guns down plenty of judges, lawyers, policemen and innocent people, all the while clad in a priest's cassock.
  • At the end of the first part of 2023's The Three Musketeers, a cell of Protestant rebels infiltrate (disguised as Catholic monks and priests) and attack the wedding ceremony of Gaston de France (Louis XIII's brother) to try wiping out the French royal family. The attack is thwarted by D'Artagnan and the three Musketeers.
  • In Top Hat Bates disguises himself as a priest so he can void the marriage between Dale and Alberto. Dale is only marrying Alberto out of desperation because she wants to stop herself from loving her friend's husband- well, who she thinks is her friend's husband.
  • The Town: The gang dresses as a group of nuns for one of their heists; however, their costumes are not intended to allow them to pass themselves off as nuns as much as to hide their identities and intimidate civilians, playing up the Nuns Are Spooky aspect.
  • In Two Mules for Sister Sara, Shirley MacLaine's character dresses up as a nun while escaping from the French. It also helps her get help from Clint Eastwood's character. MacLaine would later play a fake nun in Cannonball Run II.
  • In Up the Chastity Belt, Lurkalot disguises himself as a friar in order to to smuggle Sir Coward into the castle. King Richard disguises himself as a nun to avoid being caught in the bedroom of the wife of a German knight.
  • Vet Hard: When freeing Koen out of prison, Bennie for some reason comes dressed as a priest into the prison. He is visibly nervous (it's unclear if this is because of the prison-escape action in general, or because the violent criminal Sir Swears-a-Lot Bennie has qualms about dressing as a priest) and fidgets a lot with the Christian cross on a chain he carries, which notably attracts the attention of a prison guard, who gives him a look seeming to question why a man of the Faith is treating the Christian cross so unrespectfully.
  • Violet & Daisy: Violet and Daisy disguise themselves as nuns carrying pizza boxes for the first hit (hiding their guns in the latter).
  • In The Wrath of God, Mitchum again plays a phony priest, this time a turn-of-the-century bandit in a Banana Republic south of the border. We discover that he is not really a priest when he whips a Tommy gun out of a guitar case and riddles a bar full of soldiers with hot lead. We later learn that he also carries a pistol in his Bible and a switchblade in his crucifix.

  • The favored disguise of Carlos the Jackal in The Bourne Series. He starts referring to himself as the "monseigneur from Paris" (monseigneur being used as a honorific title in the Roman Catholic Church for the chief priest of a parish) and hangs out in churches. Bit ironic for a Marxist, who later converted to Islam in real life.
  • Done by The Count of Monte Cristo in his Abbe Busoni persona.
  • One of the Jackal's disguises in The Day of the Jackal is that of a Danish clergyman.
  • Discworld
    • Done in Making Money by Cribbins, a former partner-in-crime of Moist von Lipwig.
    • Similarly, in The Truth, Messrs. Pin and Tulip dress as a priest and a "Vestigial Virgin" respectively in order to locate and dispose of a witness to their crime.
  • Dragonvarld: Grald, an evil dragon, has human servants who dress as monks and nuns to fool people. The false monks are also trained to use powerful magic against their enemies.
  • Villains disguising themselves as clergymen or nuns is a common tactic in the novels of J.T. Edson. Examples occur in The Remittance Kid, The Sheriff of Rockabye County and Diamonds, Emeralds, Cards and Colts.
  • Used twice in the Elsabeth Soesten series:
    • In No Good Deed..., Elsabeth is forced to disguise herself in a monk's habit to escape pursuit by a corrupt abbot. She keeps the cowl raised and lets her partner, Brother Hieronymus, do all the talking to disguise the fact she's a woman.
    • In Bait And Switch, Hieronymus disguises Maerten as a novitiate to help them break into a castle. Maerten later takes advantage of the disguise to escape.
  • Enola Holmes: Subverted because she's not bad, per se, but Enola disguises herself as a nun to wander the streets of London's worst neighborhoods at night, giving food and clothing to the poor, without fear of being caught by the police - or her brothers.
  • Father Brown, either deliberately or coincidentally, has examples as Book Ends:
    • In the very first story "The Blue Cross", Flambeau pretends to be a fellow clergyman so that he can rob Father Brown of the titular item of valuable religious regalia.
    • In the very last story "The Vampire of the Village", The Vicar of a small English village turns out to be a criminal imposter. Father Brown quickly rumbles him because he doesn't know much about Church of England doctrine and displays characteristics of several incompatible church factions at the same time.
  • In the Gentleman Bastard series, the priests of the Thirteenth (the Crooked God), including the protagonist, disguise themselves as priests of the twelve more respectable Gods.
  • When the Merry Men infiltrate the leprosorium in Hawksmaid, Little John disguises himself as a priest.
  • Richard Marcinko's book Holy Terror, in which his SEAL team goes up against a plot to blow up St. Peter's Basilica. Both the Islamic terrorists and the SEALs disguise themselves as various ministers, priests, and nuns — with no shortage of snarkiness from Demo Dick about the unlikeliness of their disguises.
  • Malevil has Fulbert. Aside from a gaudy silver cross he doesn't dress like a priest and he is unwilling to discuss his credentials as an ordained holy man as well. He convinced La Roque and once they entrusted him with their weapons and food he became their oppressive Sinister Minister. Later it's revealed that he has Become the Mask and believes his cruelty and Vilmain's marauders to be a Necessarily Evil sent by God.
  • The first assassination in the opening chapter of Never Send Flowers has a killer disguised as a nun shooting a General (who is visiting the pope at the Vatican) in a scooter drive-by.
  • In the Sven Hassel novel O.G.P.U Prison, Porta and Tiny hire a hitman called "Happy Release" who dresses up like a parson, complete with "soul remover".
  • In The Orphan Train Adventures book "The Circle of Love", robber Seth Connelli dressed a preacher to escape the area of New York City. Coincidentally, a group from the Orphan Train - itself handled by the Children's Aid Society, founded by religious figures - was also on the same train.
  • Parker dons clerical garb when he opens a series of bank accounts in Flashfire.
  • The Roald Dahl short story Parson's Pleasure is about a crooked antiques dealer who tours the English countryside disguised as a parson, in order to get himself invited into people's houses and scam them out of their most valuable possessions.
  • The villains in the final installment of the Penny Parker series, The Cry at Midnight, disguise themselves as monks.
  • Phryne Fisher: Lin Chung dresses as an Anglican clergyman in The Castlemaine Murders to allow him to pass without comment in white society. Phryne finds the sight of him in clerical garb quite arousing.
  • In Sard Harker, two of the villains disguise themselves as priests to gain the confidence of the good guys.
  • Sherlock Holmes disguises himself as a Nonconformist clergyman in "A Scandal in Bohemia" and an as an old Italian priest in "The Final Problem".
  • In A Shilling for Candles, the con man Herbert Gotobed makes his first appearance dressed as a monk. It turns out that he is genuinely, though not sincerely, a member of a small religious order, which he joined with the intention of sweet-talking his way into a position of authority from which he could embezzle its assets.
  • The Sicilian, a novel by Mario Puzo. After the bandit Guiliano foils one assassination attempt, The Mafia send a hitman disguised as a priest, who tries to get Guiliano alone to "hear his confession". Guiliano laughs and points out that his sins are all over the newspapers, so what's the point of confessing them in private? His bodyguard then searches the priest's effects and finds a silenced pistol. The priest assumes that he'll be released unharmed, as the previous assassins were, but Guiliano is infuriated by this violation of the confessional and tells the hitman he's got thirty seconds to make his peace with God before he dies (in the movie the fake priest is crucified and dumped at the Big Bad's door).
  • Holo in Spice and Wolf dresses as a nun occasionally. Or more accurately, she dresses in habit that is very nun-like without actually belonging to any denomination — she wouldn't want actual Church officials to ask about her credentials. Amati refers to Holo as a "nun of convenience", having taken no formal vows or affiliated herself with any church. The novels state that women travelers do this to attempt to avoid trouble, assisted by nuns regularly hiding their denomination while traveling to avoid sectarian violence.
  • A couple of times in the Tortall Universe by Tamora Pierce. Gods being active and sometimes quite touchy in this setting, it can be risky to falsely appropriate their vestments.
    • In Trickster's Queen, revolutionaries occasionally disguise themselves as priests of the Black God since the vestments completely obscure the wearer's face. It's stated that since the Black God is the most merciful of the gods, he won't mind too much.
    • Beka Cooper does the same thing in Bloodhound when she's hiding from the Rogue and Lord Lionel. Subverted in that, while not a priestess, she does work for the Black God, so she has a legitimate right to wear the vestments — as she says when her friend worries that she's going to incur the Black God's wrath for doing so.
    • In Tortall: A Spy's Guide, advice for being seen as Beneath Notice includes that it can be useful to appear to be a beggar. There is a god of beggars, both looking after them to whatever degree and being the deity they pray to, but this god doesn't mind spies taking on beggar guise as long as any money given to them while disguised is passed on to actual beggars. This suggests that there's been an actual arrangement made.
  • Two-Minute Mysteries: Donald J. Sobol (best known as the creator of Encyclopedia Brown) wrote a short story that ended up featuring one of these as the solution. A detective is in a small cafe drinking coffee when a bank robbery occurs, and three people—a fireman, a limo driver, and a nun—come running in to escape the havoc. They all order different drinks, with the nun asking for a cup of coffee; after the hubbub ends, the three leave the cafe. The detective asks for a second cup of coffee, prompting the waiter to give him "the mug without a lipstick stain." The gumshoe quickly determines that nuns aren't allowed to wear lipstick, and realizes that the "nun" was actually an accomplice to the robbery.
  • The Wrath of God by Jack Higgins (made into the above-mentioned movie starring Robert Mitchum). Van Horne is a bank robber who goes round in 1920's Mexico dressed as a priest with a Thompson submachine-gun in his Gladstone bag. When given a choice between the firing squad and killing a local despot, he's forced to play the priest over the long term and starts Becoming the Mask. Eventually he admits that he actually was a priest, rather than just dropping out before becoming ordained as he claimed earlier.
  • This was a favourite trick of Zorro.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Airwolf:
    • In one episode, Dom and Caitlin disguise themselves as a Catholic priest and nun respectively to get inside a Latin American prison. For some reason, they also put on awful Italian and Irish accents respectively. Seriously, just because your surnames happen to be Santini and O'Shannessy...
    • In another episode a terrorist pretends to be a priest.
  • This is used in 'Allo 'Allo! multiple times.
    • Herr Flick and Smallhousen are disguised as monks and trapped in a building for several episodes.
    • LeClerc is disguised as a priest once: as to sneak in a saw to Rene and others so they can escape from prison.
    • Crabtree was disguised he could void the marriage between René and the resistance leader except it was Edith.
  • The A-Team:
    • Face wore a clerical collar as a disguise. It was somehow enough to cause people to perceive him as a Catholic priest.
    • In a Season 2 episode, Face and Murdock had to disguise themselves as nuns in order to help protect a missionary convent in Ecuador from some evil thugs.
    • In "The Crystal Skull", monks on a South Pacific island turn out to be diamond smugglers.
  • In an episode of The Avengers (1960s), three foreign assassins are the only prisoners in what appears to be a monastery, with their guards dressed as monks. The advantage of this is not discussed.
  • Barbary Coast: Secret agent Jeff Cable disguises himself as a priest in the pilot movie.
  • In 21st-century Battlestar Galactica, the Cavil-model Cylons tend to adopt priestly identities when infiltrating Colonial society. Included here instead of Sinister Minister as it seems likely that they didn't go to the lengths of actually being ordained, although it's never clearly stated on-screen.
  • After Prince Edmund Blackadder is appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, his father accidentally sends knights to kill him. He, Baldrick, and Percy evade them by dressing as nuns. This is played with when the knights also dress as nuns.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Angelus first encountered Drusilla when he was killing a priest in a confessional; she entered the other compartment unaware of what was going on, and he pretended to be the priest during her confession. It turns very creepy very fast, as she's very religious and he tries to convince her that her visions make her inherently doomed to damnation.
    • Caleb in turn started out as a genuine Sinister Minister, but Joss Whedon has confirmed that despite his outfit, this guy is definitely no longer a priest.
  • Danger 5: Hitler's Bodyguard Babes dress as nuns and priests to rob the World Bank in "The Diamond Girls".
    "Ve vould just like to deposit this week's collection."
  • Dark Winds: James Tso impersonates his twin brother, a priest, as cover while he commits bank robbery, kidnapping and murder.
  • Dead Man's Gun: In "Sisters of Mercy", the gun is stolen by a pair of Irish con artist sisters posing as nuns, who soon become the unlikely heroes of a small town under the thrall of a corrupt banker.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Time Meddler": The Meddling Monk is not actually a monk, but a time traveler bent on altering Earth's history. He keeps up the religious appearance and moniker even after he's rumbled by the Doctor.
    • "The Dæmons": The Master takes over the village of Devil's End as their charismatic new vicar, Mr. Magister.
    • In "The Time Warrior", the Doctor and Sarah disguise themselves as friars seeking alms in order to gain access to Irongron's castle.
  • The Equalizer.
    • In "The Distant Fire", a contract killer approaches Robert McCall asking him to help avert the assassination of a politician's wife, who's a former Love Interest of both men. The assassination is to be committed on the steps of a cathedral, and the killer is shown standing among the crowd disguised as a priest.
    • The terrorist in the Two-Part Episode "Blood and Wine", however in this case it's also linked to his motivation, as he hates the Church because his father committed suicide after being excommunicated. He plans to commit mass murder by serving a poison in the wine at a Catholic mass. He's opposed by his former mentor, a terrorist who had a Heel–Faith Turn and became a genuine priest.
  • Used in an episode of Family Matters, wherein Steve, Eddie, and Waldo are infiltrating a convent. Don't ask.
  • Father Brown:
    • In "The Man in the Tree", the Father Frank that the cast had been interacting with for most of the episode turns out to be an imposter wearing the real deal's stolen cassock. Though in the imposter's defense, he didn't actually intend to steal the man's identity — he stole the clothing so that he could escape from the train he was on undetected, and was forced into assuming the man's role after running into Father Brown and Mrs. McCarthy.
    • In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", jewel thief Flambeau disguises himself as a priest using a cassock that he stole from Father Brown.
  • In one episode of The Golden Girls, Sophia and Blanche fall for a Con Artist's scam at a shopping mall after asking a nun nearby for advice, not knowing that the "nun" is actually the con artist's partner. The assumption, naturally, is that a mark would trust a pleasant-looking nun, and it does work. The audience catches on after Sophia and Blanche walk away, and the nun lights up a cigarette.
  • Highlander: The Series sees this come up, quite naturally since Holy Ground is the only refuge for Immortals who don't want enemies coming for their head. Played with directly in the episode "Homeland", in which an Immortal Norseman named Kanwulf disguises himself as a local priest, committing several murders in the process of searching for an axe Duncan took from him over three centuries earlier.
  • Kingdom Adventure: Pokum at one point needs to sneak into Lumia Castle to retrieve a magic book. Fortunately for him, there are monks who work in the castle's library with typical In the Hood clothing, and who've taken a vow of silence, so all he needs to get inside with no one the wiser is a brown hooded robe and a little distraction.
  • Knightmare: One of Lord Fear's plans involved disguising himself as the monk Brother Strange to trick a dungeoneer. At first he told Sylvester Hands to do it ("Take this old habit - it's the only dirty one you haven't got"), but Hands was too dim to understand the plan, so Fear decided to do it himself.
  • In the Knight Rider episode "The Ice Bandits", Michael infiltrates a monastery that diamond thieves are using as a front for a clinic that specializes in plastic surgery.
  • In the opening of season 2 of Lazy Company, Adolf Hitler and Charles de Gaulle (his hostage) dress up as nuns to pass through an American checkpoint, moustaches and all. It works in that it gets Hitler close enough to the soldiers that he can shoot them without resistance.
  • Leverage:
    • Nate dresses up as a Catholic priest in "The Wedding Job". It is interesting because he was actually studying to be a priest at one point before becoming an insurance cop and later thief.
    • We also get Hardison as a priest and Parker as a nun in "The Beantown Bailout Job".
    • "The Miracle Job" features a variation on this: Nate is trying to help out an old friend, now a Catholic priest, against that friend's will. The friend demands Nate see him in the confessional so they can talk in private about what's going on. Nate goes along with it — but sits in the priest's side of the box. After their conversation is over and the priest leaves, Nate lingers in the priest's half long enough that the mark's assistant comes in to give his confession, which allows Nate-pretending-to-be-the-priest to push the assistant towards publicly exposing the mark later in the episode.
  • In the MacGyver (1985) episode "The Assassin", the (male) assassin Piedra dresses up as a nun to try and assassinate an archbishop. It's a double whammy since Mac has dressed up as the archbishop.
  • In "At Bertram's Hotel" in the ITV series Marple, Canon Pennyfather turns out to be a Nazi war criminal in disguise.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "A Sacred Trust", Jones disguises himself as a nun in order to trap a murderer.
  • In the Mission: Impossible episode "The Cardinal", the Big Bad has taken over a monastery as part of his scheme for power. His soldiers are disguised as monks, and his Major is disguised as a nun.
  • In the first episode of Mork & Mindy Mindy thought Mork was a priest lost in the woods. Turned out he was wearing a regular black suit with white shirt and tie, but he put it on backwards.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "The Sicilian Encounter", MI6 agent Michael Hagerty poses as a monsignor to infiltrate a Mafia wedding.
  • Earl and Randy from My Name Is Earl are shown in a flashback in a jail dressed as a priest and a nun, presumably after they were arrested for committing a crime in those outfits. (By the way, both are men—so yes, Randy was a man crossdressing as a nun.)
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 has fun with the Final Justice example listed above.
    Mike: Guess he's a felonious monk.
    Crow: [disgusted sigh]
  • The New Adventures of Robin Hood: In "The Road to Royston", Robin saves a beautiful young woman, Gwynedd, disguised as a nun, on the road to the town of Royston. She has been searching for him to enlist his help in saving her sister, Bernadette, who is to be hanged if she does not allow herself to be married against her wishes to Drugo, the henchman of the evil Baron Royston.
  • In The New Avengers episode "The Eagle's Nest", a group of Nazis disguise themselves as monks.
  • Prison Break's Carmelita/Sister Mary Francis is apparently a prostitute who wears a nun disguise.
  • Emerson, Chuck and Ned disguise themselves as "Vatican investigators" to look into the murder of a nun in the Pushing Daisies episode "Bad Habits". Emerson adopts the pseudonym "Father Mulcahy" (as from M* A* S* H) while Chuck calls herself "Sister Christian" (a reference to the song). Note that their rather obvious aliases are partly responsible for their being discovered, in an excellent example of the intended deceived not being as thick as the protagonists thought.
  • The Sandman (2022). Constantine swops clothes with Rick the Vic to preside over a wedding when one of the betrothed is suspected of Demonic Possession, by giving the exorcism in the guise of a wedding vow in Latin.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In "The Siege", Kira and Dax have to get into the Bajoran Chamber of Ministers despite the planet being in the midst of a coup, with hostile soldiers searching for them. They dress as monks of the Vedek order because they have religious immunity and so won't be detained.
  • In the Queen of Swords episode "Honor Thy Father", the Queen disguises herself as a nun to break two prisoners out of jail.
  • Sydney and Nigel dress up as monks/nuns in Relic Hunter.
  • Sister Boniface Mysteries: Combined with Disguised in Drag in "My Brother's Keeper", when Sister Reggie hides her brother Alfie, who is on the run from the police, in the convent by dressing him in a nun's habit.
  • In Wild Boys, the bushranger Captain Moonlight masquerades as Preacher Scott in order to gain access to polite society.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "The Mauretania". A Bolshevik agent pretends to be a priest to get close to a Russian count for an assassination attempt.
  • Traveller Classic adventure "Action Aboard: Adventures on the King Richard". The space pirate Nightshade masquerades as a nun to infiltrate the starship King Richard.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The 4th edition rulebook says that not even the Imperium's Ecclesiarchy is safe from the threat of mutation, saying that even the robes of a preacher or cardinal can hide arms covered in whispering, drooling mouths.


    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Altair exhibits this in the trailer for Assassins Creed: he kills somebody, then quietly shuffles with a group of monks that are dressed like him. The guards can't find him. This is also done in the game itself to move quickly but undetectably. This is addressed in-game later, by a paranoid leader, who starts accusing monks of supporting the assassins due to their similar wardrobe helping said assassins move through towns easier. Though the robes do look similar, one wonders how the guards don't notice the 10 lbs of knives and other sharp implements that are stuck all over the outside of the outfit. Even more hilarious is the fact that the paranoid guy kills a real monk while Altair is in the crowd. Not paranoid enough, it would seem.
    • Happens more literally in Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood where the Templars have infiltrated the Catholic Church in a bid for power over the people. Many of your targets are high up "holy" men; culminating in you beating up the Pope.
  • Bayonetta dresses up as a nun in the beginning of the game... and kills angels while still wearing that outfit. And after beating the game, you may buy the outfit as an alternate costume.
  • Conquests of the Longbow has Robin Hood disguise himself as a monk in order to infiltrate a Corrupt Church or two.
  • Teague Martin of Dishonored was a highwayman who sometimes disguised himself as an Overseer (the setting's equivalent of clergy), before becoming one full-time. Since he does the work of an Overseer, but Overseers can only be raised from childhood, it's debatable whether he can be considered a 'real' Overseer or not.
  • In one chapter of Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, your character discovers that the old church he is visiting to see a religious relic is actually home to a cult that worships an ancient evil.
  • The first Gabriel Knight game has Gabriel Knight wear a black shirt, and a priest's collar, and mousse his hair in order to convince an old lady he's a priest. Never mind that if he shows up without said shirt or collar, the lady won't recognize him, even though he might later on pull the trick anyway, not even taking into account the moussed hair thing. It's a good thing she's blind as a bat.
  • Hitman:
    • In one of the missions of Blood Money, this is an option — you're infiltrating a "hick" wedding in the swamps of Louisianna, to assassinate the groom and the father of the bride (leaving the bride with a healthy inheritance, one might perceive). One of the more showy (if unwise) ways to execute the groom is to take out the priest, steal his clothing, and then call the 'dearly beloved' together for the final ceremony... and then pull out a gun in the middle of the ceremony. Ideally right after the "Till death do you part" bit. (This will get you involved in a dangerous gunfight, since most of the guests are armed, but has the advantage of confirming your suspicions - the bride will be heard saying "Well, FINALLY!" when you gun down her groom.)
    • The sequel Absolution has a trailer featuring a hitsquad of female assassins called The Saints who wear nun habbits as disguise. They take these off when going into combat wearing latex fetish outfits with insanely high-heeled platform boots underneath, keeping their veils on. As if to make fun of this, the trailer shows them quickly being taken out by the main character. To add insult to injury later trailers try to play up how badass and dangerous the woman are including showing them fighting in a jungle in those outfits. However, like the original trailer, they are not really dangerous in the game either.
  • Though not a Christian example, Rao from Ōkami is a cross between this and Ms. Fanservice when it's revealed that the real priestess Rao is dead, and Ninetails assumed her form to infiltrate Sei-An and obtain the power of Himiko's crystal ball.
  • The Acolyte class' costume in Ragnarok Online.
  • Saints Row: The Third has a DLC outfit called The Bloody Canoness, which is a sexed-up nun outfit worn by a character in an in-game TV show.
  • In the first Shank game, Angelo appears to be a Sinister Minister. But in the prequel co-op campaign, we learn he never actually was a priest. He just killed one nonchalantly, took their clothes and then posed as said priest. When Shank enters his church, one of his goons is also dressed like a nun.
  • Skullgirls has Double, who usually appears outside of combat in the form of a nun. When the fight starts, she pulls herself inside-out to take her true form.
  • A slight twist on the trope occurs in Sleeping Dogs (2012) where the main character, Wei, infiltrates a Shaolin monastery by disguising himself as a monk, and talks his way past the real monks by spouting Ice Cream Koans at them.
  • In Summertime Saga, Sister Angelica is a nun with a warped idea of penance involving religiously-themed BDSM. After being offered a job by Father Keeves to work at the church, Consuela is convinced she's really a demon and refuses to work there.

    Western Animation 
  • An interesting case of this trope appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, where Batman disguises himself as a priest at the beginning of one episode. To sit in at the deathbed confession of a sick mobhead to learn the name of the man hired to kill his parents, Joe Chill.
  • In Frisky Dingo: Stan and Simon insist on wearing Nun outfits for a Zany Scheme just so they could call it "Operation Bad Habit". Killface is not amused.
  • Gravity Falls: Though not technically an example, "Sock Opera" has a scene where Dipper (at the time, possessed by Bill Cipher) dresses as a reverend for Mabel's sock-puppet musical to get closer to the journal.
  • The Simpsons: Parodied in "Gone Maggie Gone". After Homer inadvertently lets Maggie be adopted by a group of nuns, he and Lisa travel to their convent to get her back. Homer declares that there is absolutely no way he is going to disguise himself as a nun to enter...and Lisa says that's fine, as she's going to do it herself. Homer is taken aback and reveals that he already has the costume ready to go.

    Real Life 
  • During the Cold War, an East German Romeo spy seduced a NATO interpreter and convinced her to steal secrets. However she started feeling guilty and wanted to confess the affair and her espionage. So the Romeo put her in touch with a colleague disguised as a priest, who of course absolved her of sin.
  • The Grimaldi family, who established the nation of Monaco and still rule it, trace their claim to the territory from an incident in 1297 when Francesco (François) Grimaldi arrived from Genoa with an army, and they all dressed up as monks. When the keepers of the Monaco fortress welcomed them in a spirit of Sacred Hospitality for men of the cloth, Grimaldi and his men drew swords and violently seized the fortress. The Monaco coat of arms, featuring sword-wielding monks, commemorates the event.
  • Grigori Rasputin, advisor to Tsar Nicholas II, presented himself as a monk but never held any official position within the Russian Orthodox Church. He is widely considered responsible for the downfall of the Romanov dynasty through his manipulation, supposed faith healing of Tsarevich Alexi's hemophilia, and bad advice framed as prophetic visions.


Video Example(s):


Zorro At The Confessional

Zorro hides in a church and has to pretend to be a priest when Elena arrives to confess her sins.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BadHabits

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