The Bavarian Fire Drill is a Social Engineering tactic where you get what you need done by acting as if you already have the authority to do it.
This is a favorite tactic of High School Hustlers, Phantom Thieves, and MacGyver-like characters. They enlist others in their Stone Soup or Fence Painting project simply by acting like they're in charge. This isn't that common with The Gadfly or The Trickster, since those characters are more likely interested in confusing the hell out of people for its own sake than accomplishing some hidden goal. In some works, all you need to do is look like you're in charge and know what you're doing to get things moving.
In order for a Bavarian Fire Drill to work, the person's claim to authority must go completely unchallenged. Even one dissenter can set off a chain reaction that causes the plan to completely unravel. The most common candidates are rebellious young people and conspiracy theorists who distrust authority as matter of course, as well as children or other people who are Too Dumb to Fool, lack the social conditioning to defer to authority, and don't understand why the loud man is being so mean and bossy. It must be noted also that the ability to pull this off successfully hinges on how trusting the people you are trying to convince are; people from countries where crime is widespread are much less susceptible to this kind of scheme, as they already have to deal with various types of scams from time to time.
When characters fall for this, it's commonly used to criticize modern culture as overly sheeplike and/or show the main character as cool, intelligent, and rebellious. The idea is that if you push the Authority Button on the drones, they'll do whatever you tell them to, no matter how absurd. A second critique is that modern culture is boring the drones aren't so much obeying, but following the excitement. So despite the fact that the employer of this gambit is deceiving people, breaking many laws, or causing a lot of inconvenience, the portrayal of their actions is usually a sympathetic one.
Often bolstered with It's for a Book or Trust Me, I'm an X. May involve deploying the Clipboard of Authority, Mugged for Disguise, Delivery Guy Infiltration, and/or Surprise Inspection Ruse. The Trope Namer is The Illuminatus Trilogy, in which the ploy is used as a metaphor for how the Bavarian Illuminati maintain their power.
Related tropes include Trojan Prisoner, where the emphasis is on the disguise rather than the bluff; The Guards Must Be Crazy, which is often how people fall for this; and Refuge in Audacity, which is often how it's pulled off. This trope can be combined with Safety in Muggles to manipulate enemies bound to respect the Masquerade into going along with the crowd...or alienating them from it. Compare Impersonating an Officer, where the person outright claims to be a law officer or other Reasonable Authority Figure. Compare Empty Cop Threat when an officer is applying pressure on a witness with white lies.
- At one point in Arakawa Under the Bridge, Shiro, wearing his Salary Man suit, uses the magic words taught by Ric to get rid of contractors inspecting the land: "Great work, that's enough for today." The contractors promptly pack up and leave, satisfied at their great work and their boss's understanding attitude.
- In Tenchi Muyo! GXP, Mitoto Kuramitsu (mother of Mihoshi Kuramitsu yes, that Mihoshi) wanders around everywhere cleaning, in one episode dragging Seina Yamada along through all sorts of odd locations, including pirate ship command decks and other dangerous locations, and doing the same thing with Seiryo Tennan in another. But, then, she's nearly classifiable as Too Dumb to Live, which is probably why nobody really seems to bother her.
- Haruhi Suzumiya in the fourth novel and the movie uses this to capture Mikuru Asahina.
Haruhi: Which one of you is Mikuru Asahina? Hi, I'm Haruhi Suzumiya, from the Student Council Information Division. Please come with me!
- Lupin III usually combines this with Latex Perfection to get the cops that were chasing him to go the wrong way.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers: Germany does this in the world conference episode. America, France, and England are arguing, Switzerland is threatening to beat up Japan, China has brought food, Russia is trying to intimidate the Baltics, and Greece has fallen asleep.
Germany: Everyone shut up! We've called this conference to solve the world's problems, not to fight about the problems of our past, and since I'm the only one who seems to know how to run a meeting, we'll follow my rules from here on out! Eight minutes each for speeches, no chit-chat about side deals, and absolutely no going over the time limit. Now, if you want to go, make sure you're prepared and raise your hand, but do so in a way that does not mock anything from my country's past!
- Akira of Eden of the East is as good at pulling these as he is with more complicated schemes. One notable example is in the first movie, wherein he gets an unhelpful cab driver to look for/return Saki's bag. Akira claims he is an officer and that Saki is a dangerous terrorist who he has taken into custody, and he suggests that there may be a bomb in her bag. He pulls this off by briefly flashing his wallet and having Saki stand with a jacket draped over her hands to suggest she was handcuffed.
- In Barefoot Gen, Gen and Shinji bang on pots and shout fire to announce that their big brother has enlisted.
- An episode of Pokémon had Team Rocket get into a radio station simply by dressing up glitzy and walking through the front door. By just saying they have an appointment, the guard doesn't stop them.
- In the first arc of Liar Game, this is how Akiyama gets back Nao's 100 million (and the 100 million belonging to her Jerkass opponent): dressing up as an employee of the Liar Game Office, showing up to 'collect' the money, and then handing it all to her when the real guys arrive. It helps that A) he had Nao constantly watch said opponent to psyche him out so he'd be less likely to ask questions, B) he made a fake version of the Liar Game cards with an earlier collection time listed while they were both busy, and C) neither of them had actually met the Liar Game officials in person beforehand.
- Virtually half of the G-8 filler arc in One Piece is a Bavarian fire drill. The crew gets stuck in a naval base and have to disguise themselves. Two claim to be the new kitchen help that the base was expecting. One disguises himself as a janitor, and is caught pretty quickly. Two others start working in the infirmary. One more starts working on ships in an attempt to get closer to their own. The biggest example has a rigmarole of one character knocking out the expected inspector, taking his clothing and his identity. Eventually, most of them are caught excluding the "inspector," who even refuses to confirm another crewmate's lies. Eventually the real inspector is caught, assumed to be a straw hat, and taken to the brig. Those already captured keep the real inspector behind bars.
- A small-scale one in the Edolas arc of Fairy Tail. Carla tells the enemy she's a princess. It doesn't keep their pursuers from chasing them for long, though it does save Lucy. It's inadvertently true, though.
- In Eikou No Napoleon-Eroica this is how the traitorous former general Malet nearly took over the French Empire: he donned his old uniform, walked in a barrack with a fake letter saying that Napoleon was dead and he had orders to take over, and started doing just that. This specific incident is historically accurate.
- This incident also shows how hard is to pull it off: when Malet goes to the home of general Hulin, this one demands to see his orders, and Malet barely managed to keep the troops' loyalty; immediately after that, he walked in the military and showed the letter to the officer on duty, who checked the date, noted it was dated from earlier than some letters coming directly from Napoleon he had, and shouted just that, getting Malet arrested by the troops that were helping him just a second before; and when Napoleon (currently in Russia) finds out, he wonders why nobody proclaimed his son heir, something that would have ruined the coup by forcing Malet to either reveal his true colours (and get shot as a traitor) or appear before the Senate, who knew that Napoleon was still alive and had the authority to have him arrested.
- Shows up from time to time in The Rose of Versailles:
- When the cunning Jeanne Valois wanted to befriend the queen for her scams she mentioned that all you need to walk past the guards at Versailles is a sword and a hat, but when she and her husband Nicholas had passed the guards and were starting their show Nicolas saw that Oscar, his commanding officer, was with the queen, and they had to run away before they would get exposed and arrested.
- Most of Jeanne's scams worked that way, with Jeanne feigning to be connected to someone important and conning money out of rich people who believed her. In fact her attempt at walking up to Marie Antoinette and befriend her came after she claimed just that to the cardinal de Rohan and realized it was too big of a lie for anyone with a lick of common sense (thankfully, Rohan was just that stupid).
- After transferring to the French Guards Oscar herself once had to pull one on her own soldiers: during a night guard her soldiers (the one unit that night that took their duty seriously) had caught Fersen loitering in the grounds of Versailles and arrested him and, after ordering his release, told them he was a general with top secret reasons for being there so they would not tell anyone of the incident and describe him. Note that Fersen, as a colonel in the Swedish regiment of the French Army, had the right of being there, it's just he wasn't in uniform and being caught there at night could have caused a scandal.
- A serial case in the Blake's 7 audio "Counterfeit". Blake bluffs his way into a scientific work camp as a new prisoner. Above ground, Avon uses the power of sheer arrogance to impersonate Space Commander Travis (a man, let us remind you, with one eye and an artificial hand). Eventually, however, they're both unmasked and Supreme Commander Servalan herself arrives to take the prisoners off the Governor's hands. They recognise her at once of course - the way she dominates the room, the white dress, the hair. It's Jenna.
- Near the end of the audio play for the Halo 2 Alternate Reality Game I Love Bees, Ronnie manages to bluff her way into getting past the guard with her admittedly low security clearance by pointing out that he's been chewing 'pick-up sticks' on duty, and that the penalty therefore is technically treason.
- John Constantine of Hellblazer is fond of doing this from time to time.
- In Alan Moore's Top 10 series, a character who legitimately is a high and feared official uses these tactics in pursuit of a decidedly unofficial personal agenda.
- All due respect, sir...permission to use extreme force.
- Transmetropolitan: Spider Jerusalem uses one of these to see the president, busting into the men's room brandishing a crucifix and claiming to be an accredited exorcist.
- This is one of Spider's favorite tools and one of the reasons he hates fame is that he can't pull this off because people recognize him.
- He sometimes uses his fame to work to this end with the principle "follow the famous crazy person".
- Tommy Monaghan, from Hitman, pulled this off in order to gather intel and save his friend Natt the Hat. He simply went up to the last man in line on the string of Mafia goons leading Natt's apartment and pretended to be another guy sent by the boss. Upon learning 'they' were going to get Tommy next, gunfire ensued.
- In Robo-Hunter (a long-running although intermittent strip in 2000 AD) Sam Slade, the protagonist, is trapped on a planet populated by robots that imprisoned all the colonists they were supposed to prepare the planet for. It turns out that the first robot who built everything else had a very glorified view of humans, and when the first colonists showed up, they weren't the walking gods the robots expected. So they decided these were Simulated humans, or "Sims", that they didn't have to obey. Sam manages to get around by claiming to be a "Simulated Sim", complete with fake blood and all. Later, he tricks the robots in a factory into thinking he's a higher-ranking robot by wearing encoded plating from some higher-ranking robots, which he managed to destroy by convincing them to put their heads to his gun. Three guesses how he managed that...
- In Gotham Central, Jack Dunning appears in the middle of the Major Crimes Unit squadroom right at the height of an intense investigation revolving around multiple murders of young men dressed in Robin costumes. When Stacy, the receptionist, asks how he even got into the building, he explains that he just walked past the desk sergeant like he knew what he was doing and nobody said anything.
- Tintin impersonates a Japanese officer like this in The Blue Lotus. He got around not speaking with the right accent by simply not saying anything and just communicating with hand gestures and glares.
- One of Paperinik's usual tricks is this: walking in whatever place he's infiltrating while wearing some disguise, issue orders or demands, and wait for everyone to fall for it. His greatest hit so far comes from the Paperinik New Era story "Chronicle of a Return", where he used the fact the new group of Evronians had lost all their officers and was led by the only surviving sergeant to take over command of their Planet Spaceship by telling them he was an ally and that the emperor would be pissed if they bothered him just for that.
- Blacksad always carries a fake badge so he can pass as any federal agent simply by sweet talking and quick flashing of it, he tears it up in the third volume after it stops working.
- In one story arc of Nodwick Artax receives a distress call from another wizard who says she is under attack. Their attempts to enter her castle are rebuffed until Nodwick tells the guard that they are maintenance contractors there to fix the moat at which point they let in without question.
Nodwick: The Thieves' guild would be unstoppable if they invested in blue coveralls with the name "Al" embroidered on them.
- Red Robin: While Tim Drake gets away with using a general sense of purpose to get in and out of places on multiple occasions it almost backfires on him when he is properly questioned and nearly detained by a group of soldiers.
- The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers: Desperate for food, said brothers rob a convenience store this way. One of the brothers introduces himself to the cashier as "Groucho Marx, Jr" and declares that he is filming for a new Candid Camera Prank show. He sternly warns the cashier not to ruin the take. The brothers proceed to strip the entire store clean of all merchandise as the cashier stands rigidly grinning at the "hidden camera". About five minutes after the brothers pile into their car and take off, the cashier asks "Mister Marx" if that was a good take.
- Azrael: In the Road to No Man's Land arc, Jean-Paul Valley gets into the backstage of a heavy metal concert simply by donning his superhero costume and claiming he is part of the band's entourage.
- In JLA (1997), the League are trying to stop the universe from warping itself from a mad scientist's device. Martian Manhunter is searching the hall of records for clues when reality shifts to a timeline where North America is still part of the British Empire. Two guards catch J'onn but, just before he's seen, J'onn spies a portrait of the alternate-timeline King of England and morphs into him. Not only does J'onn get away with his espionage scot-free, he even enlists the baffled guards to assist him.
- In Escape from L.A., Eva pretends she's still infested by Visser One and orders the Controllers in the San Diego Yeerk Pool to fix a non-existent problem as a distraction.
- 3 Slytherin Marauders: Draco throws a tantrum and Lucius demands the Ministry workers stop whatever they're doing and assist him so that Arthur Weasley can sneak in to find evidence that Rufus Scrimgeour and Dolores Umbridge are plotting to steal Harry away from his family.
- Dirty Sympathy: Apollo manages to bluff his way into Klavier's hospital room by flashing his attorney badge to the nurse, carrying manila files, and saying that the law office sent him to have Klavier sign off some paperwork or to at least tell him who to resign to.
- In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, Dumbledore's cool insistance that clearly he wasn't doing anything wrong by intruding on a crime scene, and he really should get going home or he'll miss tea time, convinces the distraught Durmstrang defenders to let him go. Downplayed in that Dumbledore really has a lot of authority and influence, allowing him to pull this off so successfully; it was just null and void in this particular situation.
- Inspected by No.13 is probably one of the only examples where the Drillee (Harry) is faking authority that he doesn't realize he actually has, and gets away with it because everyone else knows it, by becoming the titular Inspector without realizing it.
- Kyon: Big Damn Hero: Haruhi pulls this off after Kyon is shot. Not only does she convince everyone a movie is being filmed, she manages to pass off the attackers as insubordinate actors.
- Point of Succession: Matt impersonates a police officer in order to assist in L's investigation of B. Later, Light engineers one in order to steal evidence for L's investigation in which he pretended to be from the Japanese embassy and instigated a loud, self-righteous shouting match with the police over burial rights while his accomplice broke in.
- In the Heroes/Twilight crossover "Dark Days", when Peter Petrelli and the Cullens are tracking an outbreak of the Shanti virus that has been engineered to infect vampires, Jasper basically relies on this when they have to question hospital staff about one of the victims. As he observes to Peter, hes found that if someone acts like theyre in charge of a situation humans are less likely to question it and will soon forget about the odd anomalies.
- This Bites!:
- In Chapter 18, Cross pulls channels Gunnery Sergeant Hartman to outfox a trio of Marine Mooks.
- In Chapter 32, Nami accidentally finds herself impersonating a Marine Captain and takes Drill Sergeant Nasty to the extreme as she yells at a Marine for bumping into her.
- From the same chapter, in addition to what all the other crew are doing, Sanji and Luffy outsmart a group of Marines when they run away from Vice Admiral Jonathan by yelling in a panicked tone that Jessica (Jonathan's wife) just learned he's been throwing out the meals she made him. Which is true.
- Cross had Soundbite use an approximation of Spandam's voice to order the Marines to shell the portion of the tower Spandam is in with mortars.
- Cross and Soundbite pull off an entire series of these to tie up the Buster Call ships into shooting each other.
- Uplifted: Captain Hanala'Jarva vas Devoas pulls this off at the beginning. Facing capture by the Nazis, she informs them that if the fleet doesn't hear back from them in 30 days, the Quarians will bombard humanity off the Galactic map, despite the fleet believing her KIA and having only 2 surviving crew. This results in the Nazi regime believing her to be an authorized representative of her people, a status which she takes full advantage of.
- Xendra: the Scoobies manage to sneak into a morgue multiple times (to deal with vampires before they can rise) by doing what Jonathan refers to as "Holding a clipboard and acting like they don't want to be there."
- Xendra later sets Wolfram and Hart security guards against Olaf and Glory after crashing a car into the firm's lobby by loudly yelling at them and acting like she knows protocol for attacking demons.
- This Blue Exorcist fic has Shiemi accidentally pull this on Amaimon, getting him to help her in her garden. Yukio has the appropriate reaction when he sees this—freak out, then just hang around to watch.
- In Ah, Screw It!, Harry takes over his first transfiguration lesson in the new timeline and everyone goes along with it, including McGonagall who's sitting on her desk as a cat. When Ron walks in several minutes late and Harry snaps at him to take a seat, he doesn't even question it.
- In Adventures in Dimension Hopping Spike, Harry and Tom dress up as a bishop and a couple of vicars for an attempt to take over the Vatican. They later infiltrate Wolfram and Hart in similar fashion.
Harry: You know, for a law firm run by hell, they sure have lousy security. Just dress like a lawyer, and you can walk right in the front door.
- The Self-Insert in A Twelve Step Program to Omnipotence gets into Justin Hammer's weapons expo and steals several of his suits by carrying a bag full of IT books and pretending to work on the computers present, helped by encouraging a bored security guard to leave early by promising he won't tell anyone.
- This, along with Refuge in Audacity, is Eddie B's stock in trade in Truth in Journalism. At one point, it backfires on him when the real coroner's office and forensics team show up.
- Raised by Jägers: Gil once again uses his old "mimmoth inspector" routine, this time to get close to Agatha's medical lab under TPU.
Construct: You got a badge or somethin', boy?
Gil: Why would I need a badge? What possible reason would anyone have to impersonate a mimmoth inspector?
Footnote: The answer would shock and confuse decent upstanding folks.
- For the Glory of Irk: One occurs when the protagonists infiltrate Irk. Several of the Irkens enter the capital on a scouting mission and use CB to link themselves together so that they can pass for being the Control Brains' brainwashed puppets. Meeting another group that actually is, they bluff about having new orders that will get them past the group and where they need to go. The brainwashed Irkens see through it, so Q creates a distraction to allow them to escape.
- Vow of the King: Yoruichi infiltrates the Second Division barracks by donning a Stealth Forces uniform and walking right in while "looking far too busy to deal with people questioning what she's doing".
- In one scenario of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, you march into a chamber in the titular mountain... filled with skeleton workers. You are given the option to fight them, flee, or tell them you're their new boss and get back to work. The last option have a 2/3 chances of a desirable outcome, and the book even lampshades by saying "skeletons aren't known for being too bright".
- In Shrek 2, Shrek gets into the Fairy Godmother's factory by claiming to be from "the Union".
Shrek: We represent the workers in all magical industries, both evil and benign. Are you feeling at all degraded or oppressed?
Secretary Elf: [perking up, pushes away speakerphone] Uh, a little... we don't even have dental.
Shrek: [to Donkey, disgusted] They don't even have dental. Okay, we'll just have a look around.
- Subverted in Titan A.E. when Preed tries to bully the guard to the slave pens by pretending to be a slave trader. The guard shows he's smart and not just Dumb Muscle by pointing out all the flaws in the masquerade, forcing Stith to knock him out. Preed hangs a final lampshade on the subversion with the comment, "An intelligent guard. Didn't see that coming."
- In Hoodwinked! this is how The Wolf is able to infiltrate the villain's lair by pretending to be a building inspector for evil geniuses to make sure everything is up to code; he even has the complete disguise of button-up shirt, tie, hard-hat, glasses and clipboard.
- In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), the rescue party enters Canterlot by delivering a cake as a Trojan Horse which they claim was ordered by the Storm King himself to celebrate his victory and which he's going to be angry if he doesn't get.
- In The Boss Baby, when a flight attendant asks Tim and the Boss Baby to explain their presence as the sole passengers in first class on the Elvis Convention flight to Las Vegas, they claim to be the captain's kids. Not only does it work, but they also throw their own little party by getting the flight attendant to bring them stuff like a piñata when she asks if there's anything they need. Later, when disembarking, they address the captain as "Dad" before slipping away.
- Frozen (2013): This is the reason why no one realized Prince Hans is an usurper until it's too late: since everyone in Arendelle is panicking after the snow begins to fall, and it's not obvious who should have authority, as Elsa bailed out after her ice powers were exposed and Anna left to find her so Hans calmly takes charge on Anna's instructions. He acts like he has the whole situation under control, and people obey him as a result. Since the quickest way to become a leader in a crisis situation is usually to just behave like one, Hans has that down to an art. Others might not care until realizing his claims are decidedly dodgy.
- Bruce Wayne does this when he escapes from Blackgate Prison in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. Having stolen a uniform and orchestrated a Prison Riot, he starts yelling orders at the guards, who hasten to obey as he seems to be in charge. This leaves him a clear path to escape.
- In Robots, Rodney and Fender are able to sneak into the Annual Bigweld Ball without an invitation by disguising themselves as the esteemed noble Count Rodrick Von Brokenzipper (formerly Count Velcro) and his servant, respectively, and proceeding to make a show of how they're expected to be at the party. When Tim the Gate Guard initially refuses them entry upon finding out that they aren't on the invite list, Fender, on behalf of Rodney's Silent Bob disguise, fusses up a huge storm before both attempt to leave, while Tim nervously backtracks his statement and allows them entry.
- In Accepted, Bartelbee is able to sneak into a college frat party by wearing a suit and pretending to know the fraternitys members.
- In Bank Shot, Ballentine stages this steal a set of mobile home wheels and the truck towing. Staging a series of minor traffic accidents, Ballentine—dressed as a traffic cop—starts giving instructions to everyone to disentangle the mess. By the time he is done, and everyone has driven off, the truck drivers realise someone has driven off with their truck.
- In The Beast Master 2, an atom bomb big enough to destroy the world is stolen by the main villain. He steals a general's uniform, security papers and memories, then walks right in to the secure military base, being allowed past the gate and all the way up to the bomb itself before being so much as questioned despite the fact that he has a leather patch fixed over half his face.
- A favored tactic of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop: his usual tactics include flashing his police badge around too quickly for anyone to see that he's out of his jurisdiction (the films take place in Beverly Hills and he isn't a Beverly Hills Cop) and claiming to be one of a variety of other important figures.
- In the first film, a security guard catches him in a warehouse where he isn't supposed to be, so what does he do? Yells loudly for the guard to come over, and then asks him for a match (which the guard provides). He then flashes his badge and demands to see the supervisor.
- Eddie Murphy first pulled this stunt off in 48 Hrs., and would do so again in The Golden Child.
- The protagonist and his Girl Friday in Big Fat Liar seem to do this every five minutes or so throughout the movie.
- In Big Trouble in Little China, Jack and Wang bluff their way through the front office of the Wing Kong Exchange by pretending to be telephone repairmen, walking right past the guards without being stopped by keeping up a stream of fake phone jargon. Jack is carrying an unplugged desk phone on the assumption that this will lend some credibility.
- Black Crab. After almost crippling herself bringing a biological virus through enemy lines to the laboratory on Odo, Edh realises she's made a terrible mistake and they have to destroy it. Nylund points out that they have no weapons, but Edh points out that they are now decorated heroes, so they're able to bluff their way to the door of the laboratory before the guards seriously attempt to stop them.
- In Black Sunday, Lander uses the confusion caused by an engine fire to get his own ground crew to load the bomb he intends to use on the Super Bowl crowd onto the base of the Goodyear Blimp.
- Jake Blues in The Blues Brothers buys time to get away from a gig gone bad by flashing a pack of cigarettes like a badge and claiming to be a union representative.
- Boiler Room: This is used by the J.T. Marlin stockbrokers, who are operating a "pump-and-dump" stock fraud scam. They are told to pretend whomever they want to be as long as they carry the bluff. The firm also uses a fancy-sounding name to hide the fact that they're just a bunch of conmen who hang out at seedy places, dress shabbily, and act like rowdy frat boys. One scene involves a trainee claiming to be in the business for 22 years when he's just a young adult out of college, while another shows a senior broker claiming he's the firm's owner to an arrogant client. Truth in Television as real-life boiler rooms use similar tactics to rob people high and dry of their money.
- In Bowfinger, the titular character gets his film Chubby Rain greenlit by acting like he's already assembling the cast and crew, to the extent that his main star actor doesn't even know he's in the movie (the majority of the crew are told that the actor is avoiding breaking character).
- This is an important part of Frank Abagnale's con schemes in Catch Me If You Can. Near the beginning of the movie, Frank pretends to be the substitute teacher for the French class at his new high school. It took a week for the faculty to catch on, during which time he already held a parent-teacher conference and was planning a field trip. He also talked his way out of an arrest by FBI agent Carl Hanratty by posing as a member of the Secret Service. Amusingly, this is a case in which reality was more awesome, in that he escaped from prison by impersonating the same FBI agent that arrested him. Truth in Movies—Frank Abagnale, the real man the film is based on, filled the spots of several highly-skilled positions (doctor, priest, teacher, pilot, etc.) over the course of his life. Amazingly enough, this trope didn't apply to his short "career" as a lawyer; Abagnale studied, took the bar exam, and passed, and thus wasn't "pretending" to be a lawyer at all (although he only passed that one by redoing the same exam until he eliminated all his mistakes).
- Cloud Atlas: Involving the Bar Brawl at the end of the 2012 story. Cavendish and his co-conspirators manage to throw off their captors for good in a pub in Scotland by appealing to this trope. The Scots Rugby team have just lost a televised match against England, and the escapees turn the patrons' built-up anger against the mostly English hospital staff (by saying that the latter are trying to claim 'dominion' over them).
- The titular character from Colonel Kwiatkowski is running an entire slew of schemes based on pretending to be a fictional colonel and a vice-minister of security. Nobody expects this level of audacity, while Kwiatkowski acts in such nonchalant way it fools everyone, including a real vice-minister.
- Charlie of The Deal manages to keep the film production constantly moving forward by acting like he knows the exact right next step and alternately banding everyone together to act as one and getting them to fight each other.
- In The Devil's Rejects, Captain Spaulding commandeers a car by giving the driver the line "I've got to borrow your car, ma'am. Official clown business." This backfires, so he has to headbutt her and steal the car. Also scares the shit out of her son.
- Enter the Eagles: The art thief, Lucy, while infiltrating a Prague art museum by posing as an applicant for a cleaning job, uses this method to dispose of other candidates by pretending she is the head cleaner, and announcing that cleaners are required to have knowledge of the Chinese language, citing increasing number of Chinese tourists as reason. The other applicants immediately leaves, complaining that nobody told them beforehand about this new rule, and when the real head cleaner shows up, Lucy is the only applicant left.
- In Fletch, Fletch often pulls off bluffs and impersonations at the drop of a hat. His sheer gall is usually enough to convince people. Usually.
- In Flightplan (2005), this is how the kidnapper pulls off the girl's disappearance without anyone noticing.
- Attempted ultimately unsuccessfully in Ghostbusters II. When the team wants to investigate the spot in the middle of a busy street where Dana's runaway baby carriage stopped, they simply dress as construction workers, set out traffic cones, and begin digging. When questioned by police as to what they're doing and why, feigned indignation at having their work interrupted and a quip about some jerk of a city official "making us work on a Friday night!" is enough to at least temporarily allay suspicion. Unfortunately for the guys, the police are sufficiently Genre Savvy to follow up with a few inquiries, and when they return, don't buy the act a second time.
Venkman: Hey, what, you boneheads are gonna come and roust me out again? I've got three thousand phones out on Greenwich Village. I got about eight million miles of cable I gotta check. You gonna come and shake my monkey tree again?!
Con Edison Supervisor: What are you talking about, buddy? The phone lines are over there. (points to the other side of the street)
- A version of this is pulled in the movie Hackers, where the male lead talks a guard on night watch at the local TV station into handing over the number to the modem by claiming to work in accounting. Words like "BLT drive" are exchanged.
- Mildly in Heat, where McCauley merely needs to look and sound like he belongs in order not to be challenged by the hotel staff. And also done right at the beginning of the film to steal an ambulance.
- In I'm Not Rappaport, when a woman complains to Nat Moyer on the huge increase in price on a piece of meat from one week to the next at the grocery store, he goes back there with her. He claims to be an agent of the United Consumer Protection Agency, or UCPA (pronounced "ook-pah") established by the Mayor's Advisory Council on Consumer Affairs and uses a pen to change the price on the tag. He soon has a large crowd of people clamoring around him to change their prices as well. When the managers at the store demand to speak with his supervisor, he gives them the number for his mother. When they put him on the phone with her and she tells him that it's the last call she's going to take from him about something like this, he hangs up the call. He then claims that he's been summoned to emergency elsewhere, leaving the store and shouting "Costumers! Consumers! Protest before you yourselves are consumed! Put down your shopping bags, abandon your carts, and pursue the prices you deserve!" Later deconstructed when it's revealed that this type of thing is something that Nat does regularly and it all tends to fall apart when people start to seriously question it in the aftermath.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
- Indy attempts to bluff his way into the Nazi-occupied castle by saying he's a Scottish lord interested in viewing the tapestries. He tries ordering the butler away with an irate and impatient attitude, but unfortunately the butler isn't buying it for a second, so Indy just has to knock him out.
- Indy manages to get away with beating up and hurling a suspicious SS officer out of a zeppelin by wearing a ticket taker's outfit and flatly telling all of the passengers, "No ticket" in English, without bothering to mimic a German accent. Everyone immediately pulls out their tickets and frantically wave them at him lest they be the next one.
- In Jack of the Red Hearts, the titular character specializes in these, which is how she gets a relatively high-paying job as the babysitter of an autistic girl despite having no qualifications whatsoever. She tells Donna Graham, the babysitter who was supposed to be hired, that the girl's parents have already hired someone else, then asks for her resume "in case she doesn't work out." She then walks into the house, introduces herself to the girl's mother as Donna, and makes up everything else Kay wants to know on the spot.
- James Bond:
- In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond donned a lab coat, grabbed a clipboard and masqueraded as "Klaus Hergesheimer, G Section" (whom he had met earlier) to explore the secret installation where the Kill Sat was being created. It works until the real Hergesheimer walks into the room that Bond has just exited.
- In The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond attempts to masquerade as the villain, Scaramanga, to a Thai entrepreneur—by pasting a third nipple on himself and hanging out proudly by the pool. He's gambling on the idea that that the entrepreneur and Scaramanga have never met in person, and that the entrepreneur would only know Scaramanga by his identifying physical oddity. The plan works, but then Bond gets found out and used for practice by a Thai krabi krabong school. Turns out, Scaramanga was right there as he's not just a hired assassin, but is in a business partnership with the entrepreneur.
- Played with when General Ourumov steals the GoldenEye keys. He does actually have the authority to access them, as Bond notes later, but bluffs his way around his obviously unsanctioned visit by pretending it's a surprise inspection, getting the base commander to happily turn over the keys as part of the test. Ourumov then lets Onatopp gun down the entire staff, except for Boris Grishenkowho'd gone out for a cigaretteand Natalya Simonova, who was hiding in the kitchen's cupboard the whole time instead of the ceiling vent Onatopp fired at.
- Natalya Simonova pretends to be a teacher at an IBM showroom and blags her way into getting a private room with a test model of a new IBM computer, complete with a modem which she then uses to contact Boris Grishenko, unaware that he, too, is working for Ouromov and Onatopp.
- The World Is Not Enough: The bad guys have kidnapped and killed an elderly official from Russia's Atomic Energy Authority, planning to replace him to aid their theft of plutonium. Bond kills and replaces their replacement (fooling the bad guys into getting him transport), and successfully bluffs his way into the nuclear disarmament site that is going to be robbed. The subversion comes from the fact that Dr. Christmas Jones, the film's Girl of the Week, saw straight through it and let Bond through while she grabbed security. She arrives just as Bond is trying to foil The Dragon's real theft.
- Spectre: Using a ring bearing the SPECTRE insignia he pried off from a SPECTRE mook before killing him, Bond masquerades as a high-ranking member of this Illuminati-esque Nebulous Evil Organisation in order to gather intel on its leadership. Works well until Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld calls him out and actually allowed it to occur in order to lure 007 to his death. Bond quickly bails out once his cover was blown.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger pulled this in Jingle All the Way, showing a fake badge and ordering cops around during the raid on Santas' counterfeit toy factory.
- A recurring gag in Buster Keaton films is for Keaton's character to start acting like a traffic cop.
- In The Last Samurai, the guards stationed around Katsumoto's house have this routine pulled on them by interpreter Simon Graham, who convinces them that Tom Cruise is the President of the United States.
Algren: The President of the United States?
Simon Graham: Sorry. I think I'm going to be sick.
- A favorite tactic of K in Men in Black; it's even lampshaded in the novel: act like you're in charge and everybody will act like you are.
K: Damn, what a gullible breed.
- In the remake of Ocean's Eleven:
- Rusty Ryan pulls this, rescuing Basher from arrest by barging onto the scene and acting like a detective, taking charge of the arrest and getting rid of the officer by ordering him to go find someone who didn't exist.
Rusty: Go find Griggs, tell him I need to see him.
Rusty: JUST FIND HIM, WILL YA?
- A number of team members posed as the SWAT team sent to secure Benedict's vault, faked an assault on the intruders, then trooped out of the casino in plain view, concealing the money in their equipment and ammo bags.
- Rusty Ryan pulls this, rescuing Basher from arrest by barging onto the scene and acting like a detective, taking charge of the arrest and getting rid of the officer by ordering him to go find someone who didn't exist.
- In The Paper, Michael Keaton claims (and demonstrates!) that all you need to get into any building in the world is a clipboard and a confident wave.
- In Once Upon a Spy, Tannehill saves Chenault from Big Bad Marcus Valorium and his mookss by suddenly entering from the elevator dressed as a tour guide and leading a tour group. She encourages the tourists to swarm Valorium and ask him for his autograph, and then absorbs Chenault into the group and takes him with them as Valorium orders them to leave.
- In Parker, Milander and his crew stage a fake fire at the auction, then turn up dressed as firefighters. This allows them to take control of the situation, exclude everyone else from the scene, and then loot the auction before the real firefighters turn up.
- In Pitch Black, Riddick's captor lets the other crash survivors believe he's the equivalent of a federal marshal, but is a drug-addicted mercenary, out to collect the price on Riddick's head.
- In Race to Witch Mountain, Dr. Friedman pulls one of these on the people studying the spaceship to get them to leave.
- In The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer, the titular character managed to successfully become part of an advertising agency by going in with a clipboard, looking like he knew what he was doing and saying he was with "efficiency", and everyone perfectly buys it!
- During the climax of the first Rush Hour, Carter manages to get the civilians to evacuate the LA Convention Center by claiming that they had just gotten reports of a bomb threat at the center, allowing no chance for innocent victims to be caught in the crossfire during his and Lee's showdown with the Junto Syndicate.
- In the 1987 film The Secret of My Success, whiz kid business school graduate Brantley Foster is given a charity mailroom job by his uncle when the company he was supposed to go to work for goes under on his first day. He becomes a mid-level executive in his uncle's company simply by taking over an unoccupied office, requisitioning supplies, and getting a secretary from the company pool. He plays the part so well that no one catches on to what he's doing. It helps that his mailroom job lets him go anywhere in the building unnoticed, talk to almost anyone, and observe the workings of the corporation in a way that the other executives can't.
- The Dutch World War II epic Soldier of Orange features one of the ballsier examples, when a Dutch Resistance member is able to infiltrate a German officer's party in a British Royal Navy officer's uniform, because it looks similar enough to a Kriegsmarine one "...at a distance". At one point, he bluffs his way right through a German roadblock by looking the guards in the eyes sternly. They are left wondering about the meaning of that strange, crown-like emblem on his hat.
- Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love: While checking out special needs schools for their autistic son Raun, Barry gets sick of the PR nonsense they're being fed and leads Suzie into a staff-only area. He avoids suspicion by acting impatient and looking at his watch.
- In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Scotty and McCoy, who are trying to build a giant water tank, barge into a Plexiglas manufacturer on an "invited tour" which the manager knows nothing about, prompting Scotty to go on a tirade, demanding to see the owners until the manager offers to conduct their tour personally. They pull another one later in the film, using a fake medical emergency to get past two guards at a hospital.
Leonard McCoy: This woman has acute post-prandial upper abdominal distension!(The guards let them in.)James T. Kirk: What did you say she's got?Leonard McCoy: Cramps.
- Star Wars: In A New Hope, when some Stormtroopers are breaking into the control room they're hiding in, C-3PO and R2-D2 simply hide in a nearby closet: when the troopers discover them, 3PO claims they were locked in by the intruders. He gets away with it, since droids are Beneath Notice.
- In Taken, Bryan Mills blusters his way into the office of an Albanian white slavery ring by claiming to be a policeman — and once inside, demanding bribe money from them to keep the police off their backs.
- Accidentally invoked and taken to its ultimate extreme in Israeli comedy film Te'alat Blaumilch (translation: The Blaumilch Canal; English title: The Big Dig) in which a lunatic escapes from an asylum and starts digging up a major road. When it comes to official notice, he is given every assistance possible, despite numerous complaints. Hilarity Ensues, especially when they reach the sea.
- Tenet opens with the CIA team led by the Protagonist infiltrating the Kiev opera siege by waiting till the local anti-terrorist team turns up, putting on the relevant insignia and then charging in with all the other black-clad Gas Mask Mooks. They do the same thing in the Freeport heist by posing as first responders.
- The 1941 film They Met In Bombay, starring Clark Gable, had his character, dressed as a British officer, ordering soldiers he finds on the street to follow him. Eventually he is sent by the British army into battle against the Japanese. His performance is such that he is awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions, at which point they find out that not only is he not in the army at all, he's a notorious jewel thief who disguised himself as an officer as part of a scam.
- The Three Stooges: In "Square-Heads of the Round Table", the Stooges manage to escape from a medieval dungeon and trap the jailer in their cell. When some guards come in to investigate, Moe tells them "See what that guy wants!", which distracts the guards long enough for the Stooges to run away.
- Top Gun: Maverick: Maverick and Rooster's plan to steal the F-14 is to waltz into the enemy base and act like they're pilots from the enemies' side, with Maverick even telling Rooster to walk instead of running around and looking confused so that they look like they belong. Later, when they're in the air, a few enemy pilots spot them and assume that they're on their side, which Maverick decides to play along with, but it's foiled quickly when the enemy pilots realize that Mav and Rooster can't recognize their hand signals.
- What's the Worst That Could Happen?? features several of these by professional thief Kevin Caffrey in his attempt to steal his girlfriend's ring back from media tycoon billionaire Max Fairbanks. The two most notable include Kevin and his partner sneaking into Max's private penthouse suite by posing as an Arabian prince (with a Holiday Inn towel around his head); and in the climax a literal example when Kevin's crew starts a phony fire allowing Kevin, disguised as a firefighter, to run right up to Max and steal the ring.
- In Wonder Woman the heroes need to infiltrate a party hosted by General Luddendorf so they can locate his stash of chemical weapons. To do this, Steve Trevor dresses up as a German officer and has Master Actor Sameer play the role of his bumbling Turkish chauffeur who lost his invitation. Their arguing ends up causing such a traffic jam that the German guards wave them through rather than deal with sorting out the mess.
- Played for Laughs in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The '70s Xavier tries this on a couple of guards in the Pentagon, but lacks the somber gravitas of his future self. Logan listens with exasperation as Charles rambles in an unconvincing fashion, eventually losing patience and knocking out the guards.
Logan: Oh, I'm sorry. Are you finished?
- The Yes Men is a documentary of a group of activists who went around the world pulling off stunts like these, getting to hold speeches at all sorts of institutes, universities, and getting on news broadcasts. Selection of topics their Straw Man alter egos supported are recycling "human waste" into food in the third world, and reinstating slavery for the benefit of the clothing industry.
- In The Hunt for Red October, the defecting officers get the crew off of the submarine by pretending to have a reactor accident which supposedly contaminates all the breathing air aboard so that the only "safe" action for the crew is to abandon ship. Then when American warships arrive, Captain Ramius "bravely volunteers" to take the officers below and scuttle the Red October so that the Americans can't capture her.
- Bleak Expectations: During series 4 the main characters manage to get into one of Big Bad Mr. Benevolent's operations by dint of Pippa Bin pretending to be Mr. Benevolent himself, by dint of putting on a big cloak, and a pitch-perfect imitation of his voice. It works, and the guards allow her in, even after one notes that Mr. Benevolent looks amazingly like a woman in a big cloak today.
- In The Men from the Ministry Hamilton-Jones pulls this off when he attempts to halt the redecoration of the Ministry that's endangering the pigeon-nest at the window ledge. He has April call the Traffic Director of Scotland Yard and claims to be the "Duke of Bridlington" from the Office of State Occasions. He then claims that the Sultan of Yuwait is planning on a state visit tomorrow which includes a trip to the House of Commons and that the Director must have obviously heard about it unless he was lazy at his job. Traffic Director, being the slacker that all public servants in the show are, naturally swallows the claim and HJ manages to get Scotland Yard to halt all traffic near Whitehall for a couple of days, allowing the pigeon chicks time to learn how to fly.
- Early in the Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition adventure Tyranny of Dragons, one of the ways for the heroes to get into the Cult of the Dragon's camp is to walk straight through it, without even attempting to hide their identities or acting like they're going to be stopped. This will work this one and only time because the camp is already disorganized, and because the cultists don't expect anyone to be so brazen as to just walk in. This will only get them so far, though; the previously-faced Duel Boss Cyanwrath is there, and if the character who fought him is recognized, the jig is up.
- Mage: The Awakening: The Blank Badges Legacy have the power to use their Occultation score, which normally shields them from attention, as Status in any mundane social situation. So long as the Blank makes some effort to fit in, people assume that they're someone important, then forget them afterwards.
- This is how most cheating in Munchkin (and Illuminati, as an optional rule) is accomplished. Simply do whatever the hell you want and act normal. The rules specify that you can cheat all you want and it's allowed as long as the other players don't catch you.
- This is explained in detail in the Shadowrun sourcebook, Cutting Aces, though it's referred to as the Bolivian Fire Drill there.
- In Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung, Hagen calls the Gibichung vassals to the wedding by bellowing about danger and woe. It ought to be mentioned here that Wagner was a Bavarian (by residence, at least, though a Saxon by birth).
- Inverted in Nikolai Gogol's The Inspector General via Mistaken for Special Guest when the townspeople were expecting an authority figure in disguise.
- In Guild Wars 2, if you selected the right storyline as an asura, a part has you trying to gain access to a laboratory. You are given the option to proclaim loudly that a bomb is going off, and therefore you must evacuate all personnel. Alternatively, you can warn the krewe about ear-reduction surgeons in the nearby area, to the same effect.
- In 7 Days a Skeptic, Dr. "Jonathan Somerset" is actually a completely different person; the main character posed as him to get onto a spaceship. Especially notable in that the main character is Malcolm Somerset, Jonathan Somerset's son, which means Malcolm managed to successfully pose as a man much older than himself, just by acting like he was supposed to be there.
- In the Ace Attorney series, specifically in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, you meet a man in a hospital who claims to be the hospital's director. The illusion falls apart very quickly, however, as it rapidly becomes apparent that he's just a lecherous mental patient who swiped the director's lab coat, looking for an excuse to gawk at/fondle female patients/nurses. He's not trying very hard, though; he even admits it to you at one point. Eight years later, in Apollo Justice, he's still at it.
- Team Fortress 2 has this as a game mechanic. Being a Spy consists entirely of pretending you're supposed to be there until you decide to shiv somebody. Consider this: spies carry around a device that shorts out Engineer buildings. When disguised as an Engineer, you can look as if you're carrying a wrench, even if you're ready to shoot somebody in the head. Most Engineers spend the better part of their time loitering around their sentries and dispensers whacking them furiously with their wrench, even when nothing is happening. Unfortunately, a Spy can't pretend to swing his wrench without losing his disguise. So the end result is that most Engineers are wise enough by now to just Spy-check anyone near their stuff.
- An exaggerated example is when a disguised Spy charges up to an enemy medic shouting for healing. Many medics will just start healing (or maybe even ubercharging you). There are even achievements for doing this.
- Another is disguising one's self as a Heavy and grabbing an enemy Medic, a few Soldiers and Demomen or whoever else, and lead a charge into your own base...only to have them get mowed down by sentries that they assumed weren't there as they weren't firing on you. Bonus points if the Medic blows his Ubercharge on you in the attempt.
- Example. Overlaps with Suspiciously Specific Denial.
- Example of a Spy leading an Ubercharge.
- And another. "Oh my gawd you're a SPY!!"
- Used by Francis in Left 4 Dead at various times, even though he doesn't really need to. "Most people will do anything if a cop tells them to."
- In the Sacrifice comic, he attempts to pass off the looting of a television by pretending to be a cop gathering evidence. To an actual cop.
Francis: ...and that's why I'm going to prison.
- In the Sacrifice comic, he attempts to pass off the looting of a television by pretending to be a cop gathering evidence. To an actual cop.
- Mass Effect 2:
- Thane's loyalty mission requires Shepard to sneak into a restricted area of the Citadel. When s/he gets caught, one of the Renegade interrupts has Shepard start yelling about how there is a bomb in the area that's about to explode...and the guy believes them. Even Shepard laughs at how easily it worked.
- The other Renegade interrupt has Shepard knocking the guy out.
- The Paragon version has Shepard claiming that s/he's a health inspector on a surprise visit. The witness then quickly decides that it's not their problem.
- Saints Row:
- In Saints Row 2, you pull this, pretending to be a repairman in order to break into police HQ. It doesn't work out very well, though.
- It works out somewhat better in Saints Row: The Third, where you disguise yourself as one of the Nyte Blayde villains in order to kidnap Josh Birk (the actor who plays Nyte Blayde). The Boss, however, is quick to blow their cover once they're inside by punching Birk in the face, knocking him out.
Viola: Very subtle.
Boss: I know, I just... really wanted to punch him.
- This is one way of infiltrating several facilities in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines.
- Hitman, on occasion. Some levels, you don't need to get a disguise, because your suit already blends in enough.
- In Heavy Rain, playable character Scott Shelby really isn't a private detective investigating the killings. He is the killer, getting rid of evidence against him. In one ending, the charade falls apart when the woman he was romancing (the mother of one of his victims) called the other victims' families and realized none of them had hired him, contrary to his claims.
- In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, you gain entry to Kaocho Palace by telling the guards that you're the Adepts the king was expecting. You are, though you didn't know that at the time.
- You also convince the Kaocho generals that the king sent you to help sack Ayuthay (he asked you to do so, but you refused); backfires when the people of Ayuthay overhear this discussion and are understandably upset that you got into their sanctuary.
- Deus Ex Universe
- Adam can do this a couple times in Deus Ex: Human Revolution: first to a pair of non-security workers in the FEMA base, then to the guards in the Tai Yong Medical building. Both times you have to pick the right dialogues for it to work, otherwise they just attack you.
- Adam can do it again in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and its DLC:
- In the main game, Adam can convince the Palisade Bank's account manager to give him access to restricted areas - immediately after the man has rebuffed his request to open an account - by claiming to be a security auditor conducting a surpise inspection/penetration test. The account manager buys it completely.
- Happens unintentionally in A Criminal Past when the Penthouse's chief guard mistakes Jensen for a high level member of Junkyard* because of his many rare and expensive augmentations. Adam takes advantage, demanding detailed info on criminal operations within the prison, which the guard supplies without question.
- Played with in Papers, Please. Recurring visitor and smuggler Jorji attempts this multiple times, initially by acting like he can just walk in and later with an ostentatiously fake passport, which has "ENTRY OK" pre-written in the visa stamp box. The correct choice as far as the player is concerned is to subvert the trope by rejecting him, but the trope can also be played straight if the player lets Jorji through anyway at the cost of a citation.
- In Perfect Dark Zero's first mission, you literally trip the fire alarm to clear the nightclub of innocents. Later, to shut down enemy communications stealthily enter the Big Bad's palace, you use a voice changer to pass yourself off as a male guest or repairman. Pick the wrong dialogue, and your cover is blown. Don't forget to take out the Insecurity Camera at the front door before entering. You can pull a similar trick in the Laboratory Rescue mission to get the guards to stand down, but it doesn't work on all of them.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, during the "Diplomatic Immunity" quest, an Altmer Dragonborn wearing Hooded Thalmor Robes has the unique option to simply walk around the Thalmor Embassy unhindered, as well as ordering people to get out of their way when questioned. Almost everyone is scared enough of the Thalmor that they'll scurry to do whatever you say.
- In [PROTOTYPE], the Patsy skill allows you to claim any member the military is you, and the other military in the room will gun that guy down on the spot. You can also call in airstrikes by consuming certain military officers, even if the target is a military base, but this has to be replenished by consuming more when you use it up.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, this is a favorite tactic of the Smuggler class, who are able to charm and convince people of practically anything even if they're standing in a room filled with dead bodies.
Corso Riggs: One day you have to show me how you do that.
- When caught by Imperial guards wandering around a secret facility on Nar Shaddaa, the wise and diplomatic Jedi Consular suddenly affects an Imperial accent and begins to throw their weight around, acting like a stereotypical Sith Lord. This comes completely out of nowhere and, more surprisingly, works.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, one option for pulling off the "Bureau Raid" mission is an extended, literal version of this. The mission: Retrieve some incriminating computer files from the FIB's West Coast headquarters. The plan: Michael infiltrates the building in advance disguised as a janitor to plant firebombs in strategic locations, meets up with Franklin and two hired gunmen, sets off the bombs, then leads the entire crew back into the (now burning) building disguised as firefighters to retrieve the containment drive that all the FIB's important files get moved to in an emergency.
- The "subtle" approach for completing "The Big Score" involves Michael and Trevor disguising themselves as security guards to infiltrate the Union Depository vault and remove four tons of gold bullion right under the government's nose.
- In the much earlier mission, "Friend Request", Michael has to infiltrate the Lifeinvader headquarters and place an explosive device in a prototype smartphone. Lester advises him to buy some fashionable clothes, hang around the backdoor, and "act entitled". It works. Granted, seeing how the employees of Lifeinvader are supposed to be caricatures of employees at Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter, there's not exactly much going up on top.
- Fitcher invokes this to save Riou in Greenhill in Suikoden II. When Riou and his party arrive in the town square and see Jowy leading a campaign to find Greenhill's mayor Theresa, Pilika rushes towards Jowy and the party is exposed to the Highland Army. Fitcher then shouts out to the masses that Riou is a wanted criminal and has a very high bounty on him, which triggers a riot and allows Riou and the others to escape while the Highland Army fends off the mob.
- Shadowrun Returns (in its core campaigns) offers several opportunities to pull these using the Etiquettes system, particularly the Corporate and Security etiquettes.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, teen mercenary Selphie and two of her companions set out to stop a Galbadian missile launch. With the correct player input, they accomplish this by disguising themselves as Galbadian soldiers, rolling up to the missile base in a stolen military vehicle, and trooping around following whatever orders they're handed until they're given free access to the base's power generator, the missile launchers, the missile guidance system, and finally the base's command room itself.
- One sidequest in Pillars of Eternity has the party infiltrate an evil aristocrat's keep. Entering the second floor from one direction lets them find priestly vestments for Dressing as the Enemy. When the high priest doesn't recognize them, a Player Character with sufficient Resolve can respond:
Player Character: What? I don't have time to entertain your lack of perception. Off with you!
High priest: I... I did not mean to offend. Please, continue with your duties.
Aloth: We were fortunate to get away with that once. I doubt we can count on such luck again.
- Players of Mechwarrior Online have noted that in a randomly matched team of players, if one player on the team assumes authority and sounds like he knows what he's doing, the other players will often fall in line and go with his plans, despite having no real reason to do so. It helps that most players have personally witnessed that working in teams almost always yields better results in this game.
- The Saboteur: Unlocking Tier III of the Sabotage perk allows Sean to walk into any Nazi fortification while in disguise and plant dynamite on anything, such as the base of a watchtower or the side of a flak cannon, for instance, in full view of the guards without alerting anyone (until the dynamite actually goes off of course), apparently as a result of this trope.
"I'm amazed at how often the phrase "Heinrich told me to do this" actually works."
- In Kathy Rain, the titular character manages to get the private number of a former high official of the Air Force by using a phone at the local police station and yelling at the operator that he is sexist for even doubting that she might have the right to get the information. He complies immediately.
- At one point in Tales of Vesperia the party is being pursued by the Imperial Knights when they find their path being blocked by the Schwann Brigade. Not having time to fight their way through, Raven calls the Brigade to attention, giving the party time to run past while the Brigade stands there saluting. Later on its subverted when Raven is revealed to be Captain Schwann in disguise, meaning the Brigade was responding to the voice of their commanding officer, not just anybody yelling out orders.
- Girl Genius:
- One of Theo DuMedd's methods of getting into a lab on Castle Wulfenbach without suspicion was claiming to be "Mimmoth exterminators". He claimed it worked every time, though the only time the reader is shown him attempt it, he just happened to walk in on Gil experimenting.
- Sparks with control over minions tend to use a supernaturally amplified version of this, where claiming authority causes most people to accept that authority. The strongest sparks can even occasionally do it to people that are entirely aware that it is happening. Sparks themselves are not immune either, as (according to mad social scientist Dr. Mittelmind) the burden of having to fight for dominance and take charge is one the Sparks are subconsciously eager to pass on, and so once a sufficiently powerful Spark has made it clear they're the boss, others will fall in line.
- Mob Psycho 100: Reigen Arataka pulls this off unintentionally. When his student goes missing, he tracks him to the headquarters of evil esper organization, Claw, who - unbeknownst to Reigen - have abducted Mob, his brother, and several other psychic children (Reigen just thinks they're "some shifty group"). The guards demand to know who he is, but Reigen replies that he's run out of business cards and is only "here to talk things over with my subordinate"; they end up assuming that the subordinate he's referring to is their commander, meaning he must be the shadowy, rarely-seen leader of Claw. (It helps that the guards are already very confused and jumpy from Mob breaking in earlier to find his brother, and Claw's higher-ups don't normally treat the Mooks well, so they're eager to get on his good side.) The misunderstanding is continued on the other side of things by the fact that none of Mob's friends have ever seen Reigen, either, though it's clear that, at some point, he realizes what's going on and rolls with it as an attempt to get them all out of there safely - and by time the truth is revealed, he's won over the guards enough to get them to desert.
- Metroid: Third Derivative had a space pirate shooting a pillar for two or three comics, under the pretense that shooting is like holding a clipboard: everyone just assumes you're doing something productive.
- In PvP, Brent, after discovering that working at an Apple store won't get him a free iPhone, walks outside and tells everyone waiting in line on the opening day that they'll need to move a few feet back. After they do, he walks into the open space at the front of the line and quits his job so that he's first in line. This might have worked better if this plan hadn't required he then stand in front of several outraged customers until the store officially opened.
- A later storyline features a guy managing to successfully convince Brent and Cole that he was the Devil by telling them things he couldn't (or at least, shouldn't) be able to know about them, before revealing that the whole shenanigan was actually a sales pitch, trying to get Cole to hire not-the-Devil to improve their computer security.
- Sticks, a minor character in Goblins, pulled one of these during his backstory. Sticks is an orc who was imprisoned in Brassmoon, but managed to escape the prison with the help of another orc named Hawl and an ogre named Boulder. Coincidentally, their jailbreak coincides with a siege of Brassmoon by Greyblood orcs, and Sticks bluffs a guard into thinking he and his companions have been polymorphed so they can infiltrate the orc army.
- In Schlock Mercenary, Tagon's Toughs tried to do this while evacuating a building they needed to demolish. It didn't work—at first, until they got creative by either firing plasma weapons at the ceiling or telling people that the coffee guy's taking the day off tomorrow so he's closing early.
- Lampshaded in The Order of the Stick: Tarquin is so smart that he gives all soldiers a book so that they know how to avoid this.
- In Drowtales, a light elf tells a group of assassins to stop. He then explains to the people they were attacking that he doesn't have the authority, but they listen to him anyway because they're so used to following orders, while still in earshot of the assassins.
- In Freefall, when Florence goes missing in Ecosystems Unlimited:
- In The 10 Doctors, the Daleks mistake the Sixth Doctor for someone called "The Keeper", and he decides to play along. (It helps somewhat that the more-recognizable Fourth Doctor is along to deflect suspicions.) When a high-ranking Dalek demands that Six verify his claims, Six immediately accuses the Dalek of being an enemy Dalek spy with a quick paint job (helped by the fact that the Dalek's gold embossments look out of place, although they are legitimate) and demands that he verify his identity by explaining who "The Keeper" is supposed to be.
- Naps the phreaker from S.S.D.D. used to tap celebrities' phone lines and sell the information to the press for a living. Much laternote , he wrote a lengthy passage about how a phone repairman's outfit made him invisible.
- In Godslave, Turner uses to fake a fire alarm and empty the museum before his fight with Edith.
- This is how Atshi and Shimei get past the soldiers guarding their school in Anecdote of Error. Shimei tries a simple lie that theyre visiting the town, which the soldier rejects because classes are still in session. So Atshi jumps in and says their teacher specifically asked them to get supplies, and the soldier accepts this, and lets them through. In reality, the girls are sneaking out to where the bad guys are rumored to be hiding out, in order to help Luntsha.
- xkcd strip #699 "Trimester": "Did you know you can just buy lab coats?"
- Fatebane's favorite tactic in Associated Space.
- Epic Tales has a story in which Shadow Hawk goes up to a cop, from behind so that the cop doesn't see him, and begins asking what's going on, in his most commanding voice. The cop answers his questions, and only after Shadow Hawk says that he can take care of the villain does the cop turn around to see who he's been giving information to.
- Attempted by Gaven in The Tale of the Exile, who poses as a cook to avoid a manhunt. It backfires when a customer complains and all the other cooks put the blame on him, since he's the one nobody knows and thus is an easy scapegoat.
- The Bastard Operator from Hell has used this numerous times, often with very fatal results for his victims. He refers to it as "putting a (l)user in dummy mode".
- Tried writ large by General MacArthur's military junta in the Alternate History timeline Reds!: A Revolutionary Timeline. It backfires spectacularly.
- Blog of a Kind Psychiatrist describes a manic paranoid patient, who suffers yearly relapses, when he inspects police stations in search of corruption. He just walks inside early in the morning, briefly shows some ID, chides the policemen for some minor transgressions (garbage, untidy uniform, not looking brisk, etc.), says he was sent to inspect their patrols, and demands a car. Usually, policemen dare to demand closer inspection of his ID only several minutes later, sometimes after already finding him a car with a driver. He ends up in a mental hospital, of course. But, since he lives in a big city, there's still many stations where he isn't known.
- In Twig, Sylvester is able to convince the headmistress of the Mothmont preparatory school that Radham Academy is requesting that she institute a quarantine by leaving her an anonymous note in her (locked) office, signed in his own blood to lend it the requisite dash of melodrama.
- Courier's Mind: Rise of New Vegas: The Courier does this to break into the Solar Power facility by impersonating an NCR officer, shouting Drill Sergeant Nasty phrases at the door guard until she lets him in.
- Half in the Bag: After reviewing Us, Mike reveals that his own experience with the "Hands Across America" charity event ended with one of these. As a child, Mike was participating in the human chain along a sidewalk when a scruffy man stepped out into the street and announced that everyone in the chain needed to move forward. The people dutifully stepped into the road, whereupon the man took off running, and the participants suddenly found themselves in the middle of oncoming traffic.
- During one of Spoony's Counter Monkey videos, he encourages players to try this out every once in a while (but not every time, as the DM will eventually get tired of it and have it not work) when having to infiltrate something, citing one time his character broke into an enemy stronghold through the front door using the "Bardic Knock Spell", a.k.a. just knocking on the door and killing whoever opens it.
- Viktor from Arcane is introduced as Heimerdinger's assistant at Piltover's Academy, but according to the writers, he was never formally admitted there; his parents saved up enough money to buy him a uniform, and he just showed up at the Academy one day while pretending to be a student. It worked so well that by the time he was found out, Heimerdinger was impressed enough to make Viktor his assistant.
- Occurs in the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Boiling Rock: Part II", when Sokka, dressed as a rookie prison guard, convinces an actual guard to release all of the prisoners into the yard...during a lockdown. Of course, he uses the Warden's "authority" as backup...
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade is really good at this.
- A particularly weird example on Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos. "I have to take your bike! It's an emergency—I'm Chuck Norris!" It works pretty damn well.
- In the Storm Hawks episode "A Little Trouble", Finn, disguised as a Cyclonian maintenance tech, evades capture when he accidentally steps on another tech's head by helping him with what he was working on. Then the squad is admonished by a passing supervisor for standing around when they should be working. No one ever notices until the Dark Ace recognizes their faces and points it out.
- This came as a surprise to the others, because, in a much straighter version of the "don enemy uniforms to infiltrate their base" strategy, they were trying not to be seen, and the uniforms were a flimsy backup in case they were spotted. It had never occurred to them that pretending to be maintenance techs might work.
- Done earlier in the episode "Gale Force Winds". Part of Aerrow's plan to save Dove from a Cyclonian prison was to have him and finn dress up as maintenance workers there to fix the boilers (which they themselves sabotaged earlier to give them cover to fly in undetected). Initially subverted when a pair of guards don't buy it, but played straight after Junko knocks them out, and he and Piper steal their uniforms.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy:
- In the Beach Episode, Edd manages to get Johnny out of his spot at the swimming hole simply by blowing a whistle, which makes Johnny leap up and do a swan dive, assuming he's trying out for swim team. Eddy calls it brilliant after the fact.
- In the beginning of "Urban Ed", the Eds try to scam Johnny with a game of Calvinball where part of the rules is giving them money. It almost works:
Eddy: That's home plate, and here's the banana!
Eddy: Now put the quarter in the jar! Put in the jar, quick!!
Johnny: (Beat) ...Nice try, Eddy.
- The Mad Hatterbot in Futurama's insane robot asylum episode did this. Other characters do it too, but mostly without success. A more low-key example of this is how the Planet Express crew got into the Central Bureaucracy in "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back."
- In one of the episodes of Wacky Races, Dick Dastardly and Muttley use a fire engine horn and the other racer's respect for authority to pass right by them to the front of the pack. Dastardly even calls it the "Old Phony Fire-Engine Routine".
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Of all the characters to pull this off, especially those with Force powers, C3P0 manages to get a pair of Battle Droids to stop guarding a room he was trying to get into by warning about an incoming Jedi and just continuing to walk on past them when they dash off. The same episode features Jar Jar Binks being mistaken for a Jedi because of his robe and he plays the role for all it's worth.
- Family Guy:
- Peter and Lois get caught by police at a teenage drinking party ("Aren't you two a little old to be drinking illegally?"). Peter tells Lois to "Look over there!" and the cops to "Run!". The cops run away.
- Peter convinced a hotel desk clerk that he was Mel Gibson and just didn't look like himself because he had gained weight for an upcoming role.
- Quagmire also pulls this on Jillian, telling her that he was a boob inspector and she let him in the apartment because he had a warrant (actually a Snicker's wrapper).
- An episode of South Park spoofing 24 had various federal agencies busting into Kyle's room, taking over control of the situation, to where the first agency head would claim "I'm in command here!" the other would state "Not anymore you're not!" Towards the end, after becoming a running gag, Kyle arbitrarily says "Not anymore you're not!" to the last guy, prompting him to go "Aw, snap..." and walk away.
- Phineas and Ferb:
- Mad Scientist Dr. Doofenshmirtz once tried to take over the Tri-State Area by simply...going on the TV and announcing that he had taken over the Tri-State Area. The mayor (his brother) wasn't fooled, but the government agency charged with fighting him went into an absolute panic.
- Phineas and Ferb's own techniques could be seen as a form of this: the boys don't consider their projects inappropriate for a pair of ten-ish-year-olds to do, and, since they act accordingly, adults just sort of assume there's nothing wrong with it either. (It probably helps that they also get building permits.)
"Aren't you a little young to be [insert latest project here]?
"Yes, yes I/we am/are."
- A sort of reverse Bavarian Fire Drill happened in one episode: Candace discovers that the boys have built a truck stop on the roof of the RV the family rented. In the middle of her "you guys are soooo busted" rant, she starts working at the diner without even really thinking about it, and makes it all the way through the song sequence before she realizes what she's doing. She BFD'd herself!
- Looney Tunes:
- This is a key weapon in Bugs Bunny's arsenal. Notable examples include tricking the Sheriff of Nottingham into buying real estate on the Royal Rose Garden (Rabbit Hood), convincing Elmer Fudd that he needs a fricasseeing rabbit license to shoot him (Duck! Rabbit! Duck!), and restraining Marvin the Martian in a straitjacket by claiming that his spaceship has struck an iceberg and putting him in a "life jacket" (Hasty Hare).
- Another master of the trope is Foghorn Leghorn, whose tactic is to not let his victims get a word in edgewise.
- In the Daffy Duck cartoon Daffy Dilly, Daffy is a novelty salesman trying to get past the snooty butler of a sickly millionaire so he can cheer the millionaire up. Daffy eventually gets rid of the butler by accusing him of trying to off his boss in order to get his hands on the fortune. Daffy's hard-boiled police detective impression is so convincing, he intimidates the butler into skipping town: "Just to show I'm not all copper, I'll give you a ten-minute head start!"
- Subverted in G.I. Joe: Renegades, where Scarlet's attempts to use this to get Duke out of a local police station fail miserably. (To be fair, it's not that she isn't convincing; it's just that all her targets actually follow the protocols that are in place to prevent that sort of thing.)
- Bill uses this in King of the Hill when, after stealing a tank while drunk then attempting to return it to the base, he is pulled over by the cops. At this point, Bill's arm is in a cast, he's wearing nothing but his boxers, and he smells horrible. Using a full-on drill instructor voice, he commands them to get back in their car and pretend they never saw a thing. He even gets a date out of the female of the duo.
- The Simpsons:
- Bart walked right into a TV studio.
Guard: Do you work here, little boy?
Guard: Well, then, go right in, sir!
- In "The Great Money Caper", Homer and Bart try grifting and are successful for a while until a man who says he is from the FBI arrests them for fraud. He actually has a Colgate Cavity Patrol badge, takes their bag of cash, and drives off.
- In "Trash of the Titans", Homer was able to get backstage into a U2 concert by carrying a sack and claiming to be the "Potato Man" with an Irish accent. The guards ask where he's been.
- In "The Frying Game", as Homer was leaving work, he came across Mr. Burns and without skipping a beat told him to "cover for me". Mr. Burns, without question, promptly sits in Homer's chair, kicks his feet up, has a bite of Homer's doughnut, and pretends to work if anyone spots him.
- Bart walked right into a TV studio.
- In an episode of Rugrats, a pair of seemingly-legit regulatory officials audit a bank's security. In one of their characteristic adventures, the babies accidentally trip the silent alarm. It's only revealed when the cops show up that the duo are, in fact, notorious bank robbers.
- In the episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends where Wilt, Ed, Coco, and Bloo compete for a vacant room, the four friends challenge each other to complete various goofy tasks, a fast-running challenge that Bloo eventually moves to the kitchen, where Frankie takes advantage of the Calvinball-esque pace of the contest by just shouting at them to do several of her housekeeping chores competitively, in a manner following this trope.
- In Gravity Falls episode "A Tale of Two Stans," Stan's just-returned long lost brother Ford pulls this on the government agents swarming the Mystery Shack after wiping their memories by giving them a "very real report" about an undocumented meteor shower elsewhere and demanding all their data on the Pines case.
Ford: Well, what are you waiting for, a kiss on the cheek? GET OUTTA HERE BEFORE I HAVE YOUR BUTTS COURT-MARTIALED!
Agent Powers: (still disoriented) Uh, yes, sir. Apologies, sir. (whistles to call off the SWAT team)
- The Hair Bear Bunch disguise themselves as tree surgeons tending to an allegedly sick tree in "Ark Lark" as an attempt to escape the zoo. Bubi even diagnoses the tree with having "delirium tree-mens and aching acorns."
- The Dick Tracy cartoon "The Venetian Bind" has Sketch Paree and the Mole disguised as doctors tending to the wife of Venice's mayor in an attempt to steal the last statue in the city (they had stolen all the others).
- Pinky and the Brain has an inversion of this as a staple.
Guard/Secretary/Whoever: Aren't you a little small for <insert fake job here>?
The Brain: Actually, we are genetically-altered lab mice bent on world domination.
Guard: [Beat, begins laughing] Oh you social types crack me up every time! Go on in.
- Steven Universe: In "That Will Be All", Sapphire lies that she saw a vision of Blue Diamond wanting more humans for the zoo. Blue Diamond agrees with this after hearing Sapphire's story.
- Frequently used on Scooby-Doo by Shaggy and Scooby, with varying degrees of success. As Shaggy explains to a "replacement" he's training in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, you can only use it briefly to distract the villain to buy escape time. When the "trainee" asks if you can't just use it to get the bad guy to go away or give up, Shag leans on the Monster of the Week and asks him if he'd buy that, to which the monster shakes his head "no".
- In the first episode of Inside Job (2021), Brett bluffs his way past numerous secret service guards by knowing what fraternity they went to in college, and therefore knowing the secret handshake (since he applied to every single fraternity at Yale and thus knows all their handshakes). When he tells the guard to take a break, the guard lampshades the trope by saying he doesn't know if it's because Brett has so much confidence or if it's because Brett is also a straight, white, male, but the guard trusts him completely.