The Mole or the Con Man takes on a fake identity in order to gain something, be it information, money, a safe place or trust. As time progresses, he grows to love his new identity and the way people treat him. His new friends prove reliable and he is struck by the contrast. He might even fall in love with another person whom he is explicitly supposed to be taking advantage of. Either way, he wants to remain in his new identity forever.
- Make a Heel–Face Turn and become The Atoner and Sixth Ranger. May involve Welcome Back, Traitor.
- Go through with the con and say, "My God, What Have I Done?" when it's all over.
Sometimes the friendship or relationship will dissolve when The Mole lets their true identity slip. For extra irony, have it happen in the process of confessing their love. ("You're so wonderful, I can't believe I was just seducing you to get the location of your secure base... whoops, Did I Just Say That Out Loud?") The usual response to The Reveal is "Was It All a Lie?" Occasionally, they will test the waters with a Trial Balloon Question.
A much darker subtrope is when the person is actually the The Mole in a villain group, but the temptation of The Dark Side gradually causes them to discard their initial good cause and become everything they originally despised. Or they grow to believe their own Masquerade a little too much and become a Stepford Smiler. Can be the result of a Secret-Identity Identity crisis.
Contrast Beneath the Mask where the audience is only given a peek. Similar in style to Amnesiac Dissonance, but without amnesia. May involve Oblivious Guilt Slinging. Compare Secret-Identity Identity, Fake–Real Turn, Romantic Fake–Real Turn and Going Native. If the character does not even respond to his old name anymore, that is That Man Is Dead. When a literal mask starts to change someone's personality, it's Evil Mask. Contrast Lost in Character, where a character who is a professional actor lives and breathes a role. Do not confuse with Becoming the Costume or Becoming the Boast. Some spoilers ahead. Compare and contrast Copied the Morals, Too, where some kind of magical or sci-fi copy of a hero turns out to also have the hero's moral code.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- One medieval legend is a very literal taking of the trope, that of an ugly man who for years wore a mask that made him beautiful until when he finally took it off, he found that his face had grown into the mask's shape, making him truly handsome.
- At least one variant of this story has an old enemy from before he began wearing the mask slip into a party the masked man is throwing and steal his mask, hoping to ruin his enemy. Instead the above realization occurs.
- In Japanese folklore, the "Sōko-Tanuki"note disguised himself as a junior monk in order to play tricks on a temple, but ended up being a genuine help — so much so that, when he was caught in his true form napping, the other monks promoted him to a page and allowed him to stay with them to reward him for his years of hard work.
- "Puss in Boots" features a talking cat who helps his poor master fool everyone into thinking he's a Lord. By the end of the story the boy is rich, well-liked and married into nobility. While mostly a story about a trickster's cleverness, one modern interpretation mulls over whether the cat's lies have technically become the truth.
- One of the best-known Stirlitz jokes has an extreme case of the trope. Stirlitz wakes up in a jail cell with a terrible hangover and can't remember whether he is in Germany or in the USSR. He decides: "If men in black come inside, then I'm in Germany and I'm known as Stirlitz. If men in green come inside, then I'm in the USSR and I'm Isayev." Men in grey come inside and say: "You should be ashamed, Comrade Tikhonov! Getting drunk as a sailor, and you a People's Actor of the Soviet Union!"
- Goddess Creation System:
- First, despite starting out the story hating the Wang Pu brothers, Xiaxi is actually fairly sad when she leaves them behind because while she certainly doesn't love them, she has grown fond of them and finds it difficult to stomach having tricked them into falling in love with her only to leave them behind.
- Second, she feels that being a Manipulative Bitch may be starting to supplant her true personality, so she occasionally goes out of her way to act on what she feels is her better nature even when it's contrary to her own needs or at least more difficult.
- In Ravages of Time, Sima Yi's plan for revenge after Cao Cao has his family purged involves his assassin Liaoyuan Huo joining "a worthy lord" and using Sima Yi's money to build him up as a rival to Sima Yi's lord Cao Caonote so that Sima Yi can work his way up Cao Cao's ranks. However, Sima Yi already admits his recognition that Liaoyuan Huo has been "want(ing) to leave this dark maze" (as Zhao Yun realized during his rescue of Zhang Lei and Sima Lang during the purge of the Sima clan residencenote ) and years later, in chapters 386 and 387 Huo turns on his teacher as an assassin after the teacher and his men take Liu Bei's wives and son hostage during the Battle of Changban, having by now internalized the name that Liu Bei gave him: Zhao Yun, styled Zilong.
- In Aflame Inferno, creatures called Tedlars can only interact with the human world by taking over a human's body, subsequently killing the human doing so. As the Tedlars usually have to live the same life the possessed humans do to avoid detection (not to mention they have access to all the humans' memories), it's quite possible that they become the human they took over themselves. However, usually Tedlars don't stay too long in one body and return to their plane of existence to 'cast off' the fake identity, avoiding this.
- It's a plot point that the Tedlar called Inferno refused to return, thereby retaining her memories as the human Jeanne de'Arc, and more importantly, the experience of becoming a mother.
- The Trans-Siberian Orchestra song "Promises to Keep" contains, in reference to the "Christmas Spirit," the lines:
And if our kindness
This day is just pretending
If we pretend long enough
Never giving up
It just might be who we are
- Melanie Safka's "The Good Guys" is all about this.
You're going to play the good guys
By singing the good guys' hymn —
You're building the halls with the outer walls
But you haven't got a thing within...
Eventually, the whole facade
Becomes more than a whim.
By starting to build on the outside
You're gonna fill up the walls within.
- In the most literal sense possible in Styx’s "Mr. Roboto" music video:
The time has come at last
To throw away this mask
So everyone can see
My true identity...
I'm Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy!
(He says as he removes his mask, but rather than a human face like before, he's become Mr Roboto)
- "Train to Miami" by Steel Pole Bathtub. A song about an undercover FBI agent investigating a cult in a rural area and becoming one of them.
- The chorus of "Give It a Name" by Jerry Cantrell:
Slowly all the roles we act out become our identity
And in the end we are what we pretend to be
- As a child, Elton John had good eyesight, but started wearing glasses in homage to his childhood hero Buddy Holly. After more than 40 years, his eyesight has deteriorated to the point that he really needs those glasses.
- Played for Laughs in the Warren Zevon song "Gorilla, You're a Desperado". A gorilla at the Los Angeles Zoo yanks the singer into his cage, steals the singer's glasses and car keys, and escapes into the world. He proceeds to be laden down with the various bric-a-brac of mundane life (including going through a divorce and seeing a therapist).
- the Mountain Goats give us "Werewolf Gimmick", about a professional wrestler who gets Lost in Character and believes he actually is a werewolf, going Ax-Crazy to the point of brutalizing his opponents in the ring and attacking someone (presumably a manager or promoter) who approaches him in the locker room to tell him to tone it down.
- According to Orthodox Christian hagiographic texts, this was the case with the Righteous Ioann of Ustyug. He was a merciless tax collector who initially received baptism and married his concubine just to avoid Torches and Pitchforks when the townsfolk had enough of his cruelty, but afterwards he gradually became a genuinely pious Christian and fell truly in love with his wife, both of them getting canonized as saints after death.
- A(n in)famous example is The Undertaker during his "Ministry of Darkness" days. During the storyline of him stalking Stephanie, many stated that Mark Calaway had gone off the deep end into believing in his gimmick and having the rest of the Ministry believing in what he now believed. After being kidnapped by the Ministry, Ryan Shamrock could only watch helplessly as her brother was ambushed & beaten by the Ministry when he tried to save her. JR and Lawler note that The Undertaker television persona has come to life.
- Chris Jericho originally set out with Christian to con Trish Stratus and Lita, respectively, into sleeping with them by being lovey, helpful heroes. Along the way, though, Jericho actually developed feelings for Trish and regretted the con, trying to talk his way out of it when the women found out. Trish was already feeling betrayed and well underway with a Face–Heel Turn by the time he got around to it, though.
- Wrestling vampire Gangrel had dental surgery to give himself real fangs.
- From the start of his Gateway career, Matt Sydal put on a facade as a cocky high flier, as he believed that would sell the most merchandise. But after becoming half of Ring of Honor's World Tag Team Champions with Christopher Daniels, he began to believe his own hype.
- This is believed to have happened to Jim Hellwig, whose original personality was taken over by Ultimate Warrior. He would even change his name to Warrior.
- Then there's the case of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. They were involved in an angle that saw Hunter kidnapping and later marrying Steph. Several years and a kayfabe divorce later, they started dating in real life and were later married. Nowadays the couple has three daughters and is still married, with their marriage even being acknowledged in kayfabe as well.
- Kevin James performing stand-up at the Just for Laughs festival said that he really hates it when he's waiting in line and the person ahead of/behind him tries to have have a chat with him unprovoked. He suggests trying to look like you really have to take a crap and are desperately trying to hold it in as a way to get people to not want to talk to you. "Hey, it's working... but now I have to take a crap! I got a whole new set of problems!"
- BattleTech: The Wolf's Dragoons mercenary unit was originally a scout unit from Clan Wolf sent to spy on the Inner Sphere. When the main Clan force invaded, however, the Dragoons changed sides and fought for the Successor States. Though this is a little complex given that they revealed that preparing the Inner Sphere to fight the Clans was, in fact, their real mission all along, as ordered by the Khan of Clan Wolf, who was a Warden and therefore didn't support the idea to invade the Inner Sphere in the first place.
- Chronicles of Darkness:
- Promethean: The Created: The Promethean Karma Meter represents this; the better they are at acting human, the more likely they are to internalise it. Thus, they have a higher chance of succeeding in the roll to be reborn as a human.
- Demon: The Descent: This is what happens when a demon Falls. They've lived a cover story in order to fulfill the will of the God-Machine, perhaps one that had a profession, friends, even a family. But they only view such things intellectually, without any true connection. Once a demon Falls, the emotional context comes flooding in, and while there may still be some disconnect, all the elements of her Cover mean something.
- Mage: The Awakening: The Unwelcome Guest is a spiritual parasite that manifests as its victim's ideal companion, complete with enough Fake Memories to maintain the facade. It often comes to believe that its cover identity is completely real, caring for its victim to the best of its understanding while unknowingly draining their life away.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The Weapons of Legacy sourcebook has the story of Ildashurn, a Doppelgänger who once adopted the form of a kuo-toa to venture into the ocean, not knowing that the degenerate creatures are hated by nearly all other aquatic peoples. Sure enough, Ildashurn was attacked on sight by a sea elf, and the doppelganger defended himself, mortally wounding the elf. When Ildashurn read the dying elf's mind and learned the depth of the misunderstanding, the doppelganger felt guilty enough to take the sea elf's form and identity as he sought to make amends. As Sajolveun, the doppelganger embraced the aquatic elves' culture and became one of their greatest heroes, wielding a legendary trident in defense of his new homeland. But when the topic of marriage kept coming up, Ildashurn eventually ran out of excuses and had to promise to take a wife after returning from a personal quest. He fully intended to run off, but when the doppelganger reached the surface, he found that he was unable to change shape - whether due to his magical trident or divine intervention, he was now permanently a sea elf. So with a smile, he returned to his ocean home.
- In the Eberron setting, this is the basis for one of the Changeling philosophies. Natural shapeshifters, Changelings of the Passer philosophy do their best to forsake their true nature, creating an identity of another race and adopting that as their 'true being'. While they can still shapeshift, they are very uncomfortable doing so, or even reverting back into their real form, as their 'mask' becomes their true identity. The other two philosophies are similar; Seekers aim to embrace the 'ultimate form', which they believe to be an extension of the Changeling's true form, while Becomers are similar to Passers, but assume myriad different lives and identities, all equally real to the Changeling.
- The Tale of Donovan Graham: A low-life rogue pretends to be a paladin just so he could spend the night at the local temple for free instead of having to pay for a room at the inn, and ends up conscripted into a war against an invading army. His abysmal luck results in his every attempt to run away sending him blundering straight into enemy forces, which only enhances his reputation as a great paladin skilled at hunting down the invaders, and causes him to be unanimously voted as the leader of the guerrilla forces. He eventually comes to truly care about the other members of his party and ends up sacrificing himself to kill the enemy general and win the war like the heroic paladin everyone thought he was, which earned him sainthood as the patron saint of guerrillas and just causes.
- In Nomine: One possible explanation for how Alaemon became the Prince of Secrets. According to Superiors 4: Rogues to Riches, he may have been a Balseraph sent to capture the real Alaemon but who killed him by accident and took on the identity rather than admit his screwup. Being a Balseraph, he pulled off the deception so well that he even convinced himself.
- Legend of the Five Rings: This has been the fate of more than one Scorpion spy. In fact the sourcebook "Secrets of the Scorpion" notes that the spymaster who trains these men sometimes cries quietly in the night after having portrayed a brave and noble hero, beloved by many. He assumed the role by murdering the hero and living their life for five years, during which he performed true feats of heroism to maintain the cover. He has never impersonated anyone ever since.
- Unknown Armies: Personamancers base all their magic around pretending to be other people (or screwing with other people's self-identification). They charge their magic through pretending to be other people. Here's the catch: to gain the power for such an act, they have to really believe they're somebody else, at least a little. And gaining recognition as themselves kills their power. One of the quickest ways to gain power is to pretend to be somebody else into a mirror for one hour. Do that every day for years and eventually, you start to buy it...
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Eldar once created a Chaos God from their excesses; in response, one of their surviving factions, the Craftworlders, follows a life of strict discipline called the Path. Each Craftworlder focuses on one role at a time — poet, artisan, warrior, seer, etc. — and cultivates a new personality based on that vocation, which can be set aside and returned to later. In the Aspect Warriors' case, part of their training is the construction of a figurative "war mask" allowing them to fully embrace their violent tendencies when needed and avoid being consumed by them, which must be mastered before the warrior is allowed to don the actual war mask of their armor. Despite such precautions, some Eldar become trapped on their current path, so that seers become Farseers obsessed with reading and altering the future, or a warrior becomes an Exarch who lives only to battle and train others for war, forgetting their past life and taking the name of the first to wear their armor.
- Defied by the Harlequins, who take very strong precautions to ensure that this doesn't happen, especially to those whose designated part in the performance about the Fall of the Eldar is Slaanesh. Though, The Warp being what it is, "becoming", in this context, could very well be literal.
- Bertolt Brecht's Man Equals Man is made of this trope. The plot centers on harmless everyman Galy Gay, who runs into a group of British soldiers on the way home from the market. Because they don't want to be punished for losing group member Jeraiah Jip while out drinking, they ask Galy Gay to take his place for roll call. When that's done, the group leader decides to completely change Gay's personality just for the lulz. One fake elephant, staged funeral, and castration later, the new Galy Gay/Jeraiah Jip is enthusiastically leading a savage attack on rebel forces in Tibet. (In the meantime, the old Jeraiah has assumed the place of an oracle at the temple where he woke up hung over.)
- Charlie Baker from The Foreigner. By the end of the play, Charlie has become the Foreigner to the point that he remains in character around Froggy, the one character who knows he really speaks English.
- In The Importance of Being Earnest Jack pretends to be another person (his own brother) named Ernest while in the city, and Algernon pretends to be Jack's fictional brother Ernest while visiting Jack's relative Cecily. Both end up actually having to become men named Ernest when their love interests both want them to actually be named Ernest.
- In Martin Guerre, Arnaud du Thil is initially reluctant to assume the identity of his friend Martin, but as the musical progresses he grows to love Martin's village, life, and especially his wife Bertrande. By the time he is put on trial for 16th century identity theft, he seems to really consider himself 'Martin Guerre' and even sings a reprise of Martin's song, 'I'm Martin Guerre.'
- In Giulio Cesare in Egitto by George Frederic Handel, Cleopatra plans to seduce Caesar so that he would help her overthrow Ptolemy; however, she ends up genuinely falling in love with him.
- The Music Man is about a con man who, despite himself, ends up having a very beneficial effect on the people of a little town and falls in love, and ends up feeling obliged to actually try and make good on his promises.
- Between Tsukihime and Melty Blood, Meido Kohaku goes from sinister Chessmaster with no emotions who is planning the downfall of the Tohno family through drugging them to really being the lovable goofball she pretends to be, who possibly makes robots and rides around on a broom in her spare time.
- Note, however, that the robots and broom-riding may have been influenced by Tatari, and she's STILL trying to play everyone like saps. She's just more...nice...about it.
- In Hisui's route it's revealed that Kohaku was becoming the mask, and just followed through on the plan anyway because Kohaku had no idea what else to do. In Kohaku's own route, the mask starts to crack when Shiki pays attention to her and she reveals she honestly has no idea how she really feels anymore, so she leaves for a little while and becomes/reverts back to a very sweet, kind person.
- In Fate/hollow ataraxia, Avenger/Angra Mainyu, the Greater-Scope Villain of the original visual novel, spends so much time impersonating/being Shirou Emiya and living out his life during the "Groundhog Day" Loop with his friends and seeing the good and bad that he ultimately decides to perform a Heroic Sacrifice for all of their sakes to end the loops.
- As part of Robbie's secret identity in The Eden of Grisaia, he married a storekeeper's daughter and inherited their soba shop. She's actually a CIA agent who pretended to marry him as part of her cover and then grew more serious about it. Good thing too, otherwise she might never have learned what Yuuji was like after getting out from under the thumb of Heath Oslo and simply shot him.
- In one ending of Reflections on the River, Huineng, who has been impersonating the ill Princess Yanyu on behalf of her parents, is asked to assume the role permanently after the real person dies. Huineng is hesitant — she has fallen out with the king and queen, whose priorities and hesitation is to blame for the aforementioned death. However, it's for the good of the kingdom, so she accepts.
- Romantic variant happens in backstory of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations. Iris started dating Phoenix when he was in college to get certain necklace her sister needed, but over time genuinely fell in love in him. Trope is Downplayed since Iris was always a Nice Girl and the reason she tried to get the necklace this way in the first place was because her sister's original plan to get it was to kill him and Iris wanted to prevent that.
- Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow: In Tsubaki Kusunoki's path, it's revealed that Tsubaki set himself up as a Honey Trap to seduce the Player Character Saori and then use her as an Unwitting Pawn, to gain a foothold within the Nagasaki Vigilantes. But when he willingly reveals his plan and is harshly called out by Saori herself, he also admits that he has fallen in love with Saori for real.
- Nekojishi: It turns out that Leopard Cat was a predatory yaoguai who had eaten the souls of many animals and humans before, including the real Yan Shu-Chi, and when this is revealed in his True Ending, at first he's adamant that he only ever saw Liao as food. However, in the end he realizes that he really had come to like Liao and now wants to be in a relationship with him.
- In Higurashi: When They Cry, identical twins Mion and Shion accidentally did a permanent Twin Switch years ago when Mion (born Shion) was given a yakuza tattoo. The two siblings had to begin acting like one another, despite being polar opposites. For the most part, Mion has learned to be One of the Guys and Shion is fine being a Girly Girl, but occasionally Shion's more tomboyish side shows and Mion secretly has a feminine side (and a complex about her boyishness).
- In one of the Normal Endings for Spirit Hunter: NG, Kaoru confesses that being forced to put on a smile for her idol work for so long has started to have an effect on her, and left her unsure as to how much of her is genuine and how much is an act.
- In the NSFW comic Demon King GF by Twitter artist PeaCh88, Alvida the Demon King has been defeated by the Hero and his party. She begs for mercy, and the Hero agrees to spare her if she becomes his wife. Alvida accepts, plotting to lull the Hero into a false sense of security and murder him once his guard is down so she can get back to her evil schemes. Instead, she falls in love with him for real. They settle down to raise a family and go on to enjoy seventy years of wedded bliss.
- Dominic Deegan: This is in part why Stunt spent the bulk of the comic as a Straw Misogynist. He already had a dim view of women due to his father's upbringing. When he was attempting to stay in Urban Eddie's gang after running away from home, he played up that aspect in order to sound like a tough guy and prove his worth. He kept it long enough to become the jerkass he was at the start of the comic.
- An inverted example occurs with Anevka in Girl Genius. After being damaged in an experiment as a young girl, her body is stuck in a nutrient tank and attached to a Clank that allows her to interact with the outside world. At least, until her brother reveals she died years ago; the Clank ended up developing its own personality and came to believe it was Anevka. In other words, the mask became her.
- After Joel from Housepets! was turned into a dog named King by Pete partly to teach him a lesson and partly because Pete needed a convenient avatar for his cosmic game (of D&D), he starts off hating it and everything about it. In time though, he starts enjoying it so much (especially after falling in love with a dog called Bailey) that when offered a choice he recognises that his new life is better than his old one and decides to stay as a corgi.
- The "bad" version happened in the backstory of Juvenile Diversion: Courtney "infiltrated" the cheerleaders to get revenge on them, then promptly became just as much of a bitch as them.
- Kevin & Kell has a pretty mild example when Fiona chose to disguise herself as her boyfriend Rudy to avoid paparazzi. Unfortunately, she started to act like Rudy as well: moody, lazy, irresponsible. Rudy had to literally knock the disguise off her by acting responsible. Fiona later vowed to avoid this trope so much by choosing to disguise herself as someone with as much work ethic as herself. (Since she chose Lindesfarne, it works...but she starts craving bugs.)
- A shorter example was one strip where a group of predators fell into the rabbit warren, forcing them to disguise themselves as rabbits until they find a way out. At least one of them ended up spending the rest of his life there, growing old and marrying and still wearing that rabbit disguise.
- There's an interesting mental disorder in Mary Sue Academy called Character Shock Syndrome Sue. It's where a Mary Sue become the character they portray. Jessica Pluto suffers this.
- In The Order of the Stick, Belkar pretends to be more of a team player after his Heroic Comedic Sociopath routine gets him cursed and almost kicked out of the Order. It slowly becomes real Character Development thanks to Mr. Scruffy, his Loyal Animal Companion and Morality Pet, showing him what it's like to care about others. When Durkon is killed and reanimated by a vampire that had attacked Belkar, Belkar is genuinely horrified, and left deeply guilty about Durkon's Last Request that he and the Order not be harmed.
- Subverted in Room of Swords, where the Cockroach King's friendliness in his identity as Don Santiago seems to have been nothing but extremely good acting.
- It's eventually revealed that the Cockroach King is so good at pretending to be a nice guy because his past self, Don, really was a nice guy. Unfortunately, by the start of the series that man is long dead.
- In Sticky Dilly Buns, Ruby disguises herself as the rather "sketchy" guy "Rudy" while helping Dillon with a Zany Scheme. It soon seems to do her confidence some good, and she specifically claims that "Rudy" is rubbing off on her. Even if it merely serves as an excuse for her snarking at Dillon, she perhaps manages more and sharper snarking than usual — and then she uses that confidence to save a distressed Dillon from an annoying guy, at a little personal risk and despite the fact that she doesn't especially like Dillon.
- This◊ comic about Team Fortress 2 details the life of a RED Spy who became stuck beneath enemy lines following the defeat of his team, and how he went on to start a family and grow old, all under the guise of a generic BLU soldier.
- In Tails Gets Trolled, there's this line:
- I'm the Grim Reaper: This is the case for both Scarlet and Chase. She initially only saw him as a means to uncover her past and was more than willing to kill him, and he only used her to solve Case X and become a detective again and was more than willing to kill her if need be. However, she genuinely began to see him as a friend, and as time went on he felt more guilty about using her. After she takes a bullet for him and reveals herself as a grim reaper and they team up, they are very upfront about seeing each other as friends.
- Who Made Me a Princess: The current Athanasia started acting as a cheerful Daddy's Girl for her survival but eventually, she finds herself starting to see her father, the supposed Big Bad of the original Athanasia's tragic story, as her family and parent after going through a long, slow process of Defrosting Ice King.
- For the trolls on 4chan /pol/, some of them started as 'ironically' nazis, until people who did believe such things started to believe they were in good company.
- Played for Laughs in BuzzFeed Unsolved. Shane realizes with horror in "The Restless Spirits of Waverly Hills Sanatorium" that he is a ghost hunter.
- In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Team Four Star adapted the background that Alexander Anderson had in Angel Dust, the manga that Hellsing Ultimate's author had written before he wrote the latter, in which Anderson had been formerly a mob courier running drugs who was forced to hide out as a priest to avoid the pursuit of law enforcement. As a priest, he found life far more fulfilling than as a drug runner, and then when a vampire attacked the town he fully embraced the role, grabbing a holy blade and slaying the vampire, which would start his career as a professional demon hunter.
- Jreg: In jris video "Post-Irony, Meta-Irony, and Post-Truth Satire," Jreg brings up a hypothetical case of someone initially pretending to be homeless ironically, finding themselves enjoying the lifestyle, and starting to live on the streets because of it as an example of post-irony.
- Dramatic Detective of LIS_DEAD admits in the comments of an early post that he identifies himself more closely with some of his aliases than the name his own mother gave him.
- A fair amount of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanbase started out as Internet trolls who started pretending to be obsessive fans of the show just to get other people confused and/or irritated. It's My Little Pony; what teenage boy or man could possibly enjoy such a series? Well, as the trolling went on, the majority of them started to find all the little Parental Bonuses and Shout Outs, and of course, Lauren Faust's contributions to the show, making it fun to watch even for the parents of the target demographic (girls aged 5-10). The trolls started legitimately liking the show. Some even stopped their pony-themed trolling out of respect.
- In a The Onion web video, I, Despot, an undercover journalist infiltrates a bloodthirsty reign of terror in Bahrain as the dictator himself.
All told, I exterminated over 200000 of my own people, in a campaign of tyranny and murder. The mainstream media may have forgotten the terrors I forced my people to endure, but I'm still haunted by their screams... and by one disturbing question: If the world did nothing when I did this once, would it still say nothing if I did it again?
- Pirates SMP: Eloise starts off the series as an undercover journalist claiming to have been a pirate all her life, but has eventually grown to love the adventure that comes with living on the Faction Isles. It's deconstructed in that when she realizes this on Day 113, she starts having an identity crisis over whether she even wants to continue with journalism anymore, worrying that no one will accept her as a bona fide pirate since she didn't come here with the intention of being one.
- In Plague and Treachery on the Oregon Trail, it's revealed that Susan was a British spy sent to overthrow America from the inside, but she eventually came to love the family she created as a cover, and abandoned her assignment.
- The /PrequelMemes subreddit on Reddit was started as another place to mock/ironically like the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. Much to the mods' surprise, it soon flooded with users who actually like the PT, and the sub became one of the most famous on the site and is now a hub for PT fans, playing a big part in the improved reception of the prequels.
- In RWBY Qrow and Raven Branwen were born to the Branwen bandit tribe, and entered Beacon Academy not to train as Huntsmen, but to learn how to fight against Huntsmen (because people tend to take exception to being raided and hire huntsmen to defend against bandits like the Branwens). Raven ended up returning to the tribe, but Qrow abandoned it and became a huntsman for real after Ozpin accepted him despite his bad luck semblance.
- While everybody in Suburban Knights is trying to stay in-character, several of them do so with more... commitment than others. Allison Pregler claims that she should be useless in battle because of her character choice, Paw Dugan tries to gather rage from everybody (including the trees), and Phelous seems to have gone right off the deep end. MarzGurl also seems to be joining the throng, what with speaking only in Japanese, scenting the air and biting the Critic on various portions of his anatomy. In the end, Phelous reveals he was just acting and Lupa said "fuck it" and joined Angry Joe in shooting things with a machine gun.
- In Survival of the Fittest version three, this happened to Dominica Shapiro, who initially joined the group SADD on the off chance their plan would work, with the intent on a double cross if not, but gradually became more and more part of the group properly.
- Sword Art Online Abridged uses this in Episode 10 to explain how a couple of Heroic Comedic Sociopaths can form a family. Kirito and Asuna's Fourth-Date Marriage is the result of Kirito blurting out a proposal to fill an awkward post-coital silence and Asuna being so wrong-footed that she accepts, and afterward neither of them are willing to "blink" first and admit that the whole thing was a terrible idea. So when an amnesiac Yui shows up she's adopted by the two as a way to raise the stakes in this game of matrimonial chicken, yet Kirito and Asuna quickly bond with the Little Miss Snarker. By the end of the episode she apologizes for tricking them by faking her amnesia just so she could explore their extremely dysfunctional relationship, and says she wishes she could be their daughter - which is exactly what Kirito and Asuna have come to view her as. And Kirito and Asuna ultimately decide that they were stupid for rushing into marriage, but want to stay together anyway.
- When she got turned into Vriska in We Are Our Avatars, Nichole has attempted several times to convince people she's the actual Vriska for fun, and as a result has gained a lot of Vriska's habits such as the speech quirks and the obsession with levels. However, she's astonishingly terrified of becoming a "8luh8luh Huge 8itch" like Vriska, and is constantly asking people to keep her in check to prevent her from going off the deep end.
- Wannabe Heroine Taylor, the protagonist of Worm starts off joining the Undersiders due to a combination of looking evil and the heroes needing information on them. Over time her disillusionment with the heroes and the friendship she finds among her team complicates things, and she decides to stay with them. Interesting in that it's a hero to villain example, although most of the superheroes and supervillains have Grey-and-Gray Morality.