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Bluff the Impostor

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T-800: [to John] What's the dog's name?
John Connor: Max.
T-800: [impersonating John's voice over the phone] Hey Janelle, what's wrong with Wolfie? I can hear him barking. Is he okay?
T-1000 impersonating Janelle: Wolfie's fine, John. Wolfie's just fine. Where are you?
T-800: [hangs up] Your foster parents are dead.

Your best friend/loved one/respected figure of authority is acting strangely and you suspect — with good reason — that they may in fact be an impostor. So what do you do? Assuming that the impostor didn't research his role perfectly, you bluff the impostor: ask a question, make a comment, say something that sounds natural to the potential impostor... but mine it with an erroneous fact or two, like a wrong name or a fictional event, and see if they repeat the mistake, or try to bluff.

Related to You Just Told Me and Spot the Imposter. May involve Spy Speak. See also Cover Identity Anomaly, Pull the Thread and Something Only They Would Say, for when the impostor says something that breaks his or her cover, intentionally or not. This is a classic way to expose a Legendary Impostor; if someone is posing as a famous figure, ask or make a statement about some little known detail of the famous person's life, and see if the impostor reacts properly. Contrast I Never Said It Was Poison and Trust Password. May involve Exasperated Perp. Compare Bluff the Eavesdropper.


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  • In the third book of the Lone Wolf series, The Caverns of Kalte, Lone Wolf meets a prisoner in the enemy's fortress, who pretends to be a merchant from Ragadorn, but is in fact a Helghast shapeshifter sent by the Darklords. The game allows asking him a few questions about the city of Ragadorn (visited by Lone Wolf in his earlier quest), and the monster gets the answers wrong. The text never points out whether he is right or not, however: it is up to the player to remember what are the correct answers from the previous book.

  • Dice Funk: Rinaldo does this to the fake lord's son by referring to a non-existent deceased aunt.

  • In the Adventures in Odyssey episode "Sheep's Clothing", a suspicious pastor asks "Paula Jarvis" (who has already slipped a few times) about the annual blueberry festival from where she supposedly grew up. He doesn't mention that they actually grow strawberries there...
  • Paul Temple and his wife Steve sometimes use this to subtly reveal impostors.
    • In "Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case", concerned for the safety of his wife, they agree on an arbitrary question/answer which only they will know, and which she can use to challenge any telephone caller claiming to be him. When Steve first uses the question, the caller really is Paul (although there's a cliffhanger before he answers, which initially makes it seem like he's an impostor); the second time is a subversion, but on a subsequent occasion, in "Paul Temple and the Conrad Case", it's successful in revealing an impostor.
    • Also in "The Gilbert Case", Steve herself is bluffed by the owner of a nightclub who mentions a "lifelong friend" of the person whose membership has allowed Paul and Steve into the club (and who is actually an undercover detective). Steve says that she knows the friend well, but finds out soon after that he doesn't exist. Needless to say, she has a mild Oh, Crap! moment when she realises she's been had, although it turns out that the owner knows about the detective anyway.
    • In a second example from "The Conrad Case", Temple speaks to Elliot France, another author, over the telephone, and congratulates him on the success of his book "Zero is Tomorrow" — "France" thanks him, but the title is actually that of Temple's next, as yet unpublished, novel.

    Myths & Religion 
  • A variant occurs in The Odyssey: Penelope uses this to see whether the man claiming to be Odysseus after 20 years really is her husband. She orders their bed to be prepared and placed outside the bedroom; Odysseus protests that this couldn't be done as he carved the bedpost himself out of a living olive tree still rooted in the ground, thus proving his identity. Making this one Older Than Feudalism.
  • The Bible
    • Samson gives Delilah false information whenever she asks about his weakness. In a subversion of this trope, Samson doesn't seem to cotton on to her plot even when the Philistines try to kill him by exploiting the exact same false weakness he just told Delilah. Eventually, he tells Delilah his real weakness anyway, which gets him blinded and enslaved.
    • Also, the Gileadite trap for Ephraimite spies in Judges 12. The Ephraimites were unable to pronounce "sh" properly, so the Gileadites used the word "shibboleth" as a password — if you couldn't make the sound correctly, and rendered the word "sibboleth", it was definitely not your lucky day...

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Pathfinder adventure path Shattered Star has a written-in example in book 2, Curse of the Lady’s Light. Thanks to an instant-death trap interacting weirdly with a clone spell, it is possible for a player character to end up inhabiting the body of a clone of Runelord Sorshen, and the main antagonist of this book is a demon who has shapeshifted into Sorshen and genuinely believes she is Sorshen. If a player uses this to their advantage and attempts to impersonate Sorshen to bluff the Gray Maidens working for the demonic Sorshen, but they fail a Bluff check and thus arouse the Gray Maidens’ suspicions, they ask “Sorshen” what happened to the magic shields she promised. If the player impersonating Sorshen indicates that they believe such a promise was made, or if they fail a second Bluff check, the Gray Maidens confirm their suspicion that the Sorshen they are addressing is an imposter and attack.

  • In The Bat, Brooks claims to be the new gardener, but does not seem to know that rubeola, alopecia and urticaria are not in fact hardy perennials.
  • Inverted in Death And The Maiden. Housewife Paulina recognizes her houseguest's voice as that of her unseen captor when she was a political prisoner. Paulina's husband Gerardo doesn't believe she is correct; he gets her to tell him the detailed story of her captivity, torture, and rape, then feeds it to the other man, Roberto, so that Roberto can deliver the "confession" Paulina claims will satisfy her. However, Paulina suspected the men planned such a ruse, and she deliberately peppered her account with minor inaccuracies. After Roberto makes his statement, Paulina announces that he has corrected those details, and she is more convinced than ever of his guilt. The play never actually reveals whether or not Roberto was truly Paulina's captor, though the film adaptation makes it explicit that he was.

    Visual Novels 
  • Late in Tsukihime, in a moment of uncharacteristic brilliance, Shiki inserts an incorrect detail into the story of how he received the ribbon he promised to return to its owner when he left the Tohno mansion. Hisui does not spot the detail, however, which lets Shiki figure out the Twin Switch, and that the twin who watched him from the window is actually the Stepford Smiler Kohaku. Since the reader already knows the truth from one of the previous routes, it is not a big surprise, but it does alter how the story unfolds after that point.

    Web Comics 
  • Basic Instructions recommends this over Kill Us Both when dealing with an Evil Twin, as it has less of a chance of backfiring.
  • Casper uses this on "Komi" in Darken. It works, but Casper finds himself in a less than ideal situation as a result.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Agatha uses this tactic to sound out whether Othar is the real deal. (He is.)
    • Later, the Heterodyne's seneschal Carson von Mekkhan uses a variant on the same trick to test whether Agatha really has a Heterodyne heritage or not. (She does, but her performance fails to entirely convince him.) Eventually Agatha got tired of the questions and started telling him things that only a real Heterodyne should know, which caused him to end the interview and move on to the next stage of confirming her heritage.
  • In General Protection Fault, Nick uses this to confirm whether he's dealing with the real Ki or not shortly after he's been kidnapped into what turns out to be the Negaverse. Nega-Ki gets the name of a place in an unfinished novel of Ki's wrong, which proves to Nick she's not his Ki.
  • Played with in a comic from Wondermark.
  • Narbonic:
    • Madblood uses this to prove that the disguised Dave isn't really him from the future.
    Dave: Yes, Lupin of the past, I've long ago solved all your petty problems.
    Madblood: Ah, good! You can tell me how to correct the degradation of 500th-generation molecular cascade patterns on my liguid-crystal microcircuitry!
    Dave: Should I save us some time and admit I'm not actually you?
    Madblood: That'll do nicely. I have no idea what I just said anyway.
    • Later on, Helen immediately spots Madblood (disguised as Dave) as an impostor, and decides to mess with his head by pretending she and Dave had an affair, which Madblood is forced to play along with.
  • In Visseria, done by a nameless guard to Jack after he casually mentions a nearby residence that he's supposedly leading the guard to.
    Guard: The Jaerock Boarding House?
    Jack: That's the one! ... Is something wrong?
    Guard: There's no such thing as Jaerock Boarding House.

    Web Original 
  • When The Angry Video Game Nerd and The Nostalgia Critic do battle, the Critic finds himself hopelessly outgunned by all of the Nerd's NES accessories and, while cowering behind a box, tries to save himself by claiming he's the Nerd's brother. The Nerd immediately sees through it and challenges him to say their mother's name.
    Critic: Of course I know the name of our mother! Uh, Eliza... be— (Gun gets shoved in his face) OH BLAME A GUY FOR TRYING!
  • In Defenders of Stan, Butt-Monkey Stan has a death ray pointed at his jerkass brother, Ted, and said brother's evil robot clone. Stan says, "I love you, Ted." The robot clone says that he loves him too while his brother laughs and calls him gay.
  • Minilife TV: In "The Vampodcast", Zach disguises himself as a zombie to gain access to the Burton Night Club, a monster-exclusive club, to help Snowball the vampire with his podcast. When they interview Arnold the Butcher Zombie, Arnold accidentally electrocutes Zach by spilling some water on the microphone, which causes him to react in pain. Arnold points out that zombies aren't supposed to feel pain and throws his mug at Zach to get him to react in pain again.
  • Not Always Romantic features a story where one woman and her sister use this to catch her husband's ex in a lie.
    • Not Always Right's main archive has this lovely story, where a scammer tries to claim they weren't delivered any of the items they ordered. The cashier follows along until calling them out at the end.

    Real Life 
  • In World War II: A variation for those on watch both used and inverted this system: The guard would state "The Land of the Free," to which an American would reply "And the Home of the Brave." Then the guard would state "The Terror of Flight," to which a German would reply as "And the Gloom of the Grave"... Every American soldier would know the first verse of their national anthem, but only a spy trying too hard to pass as one would know the third verse.
  • Similarly, German soldiers would allegedly wish people "Good luck" at checkpoints or gates in English, in order to single out Allied troops Dressing as the Enemy. It's so hardwired into us to respond in kind that Allied troops would spontaneously blow their cover by responding with "thank you" or "you too" also in English.
  • El Al security guards ask similar questions of the airline's passengers. For example, they might ask if the passenger saw a sporting event that didn't actually happen. If they say "yes" it's a good sign they're hiding something.
  • To shortstop this trope, India-based workers who do tech support for American companies will sometimes have current weather information or sports information up for whatever American city they claim to be in.
  • Psychological inventories often include questions asking if the person is a fan of made-up people to see if the person is lying or not bothering to read the questions.
  • In 1994, a woman named Shellie Kepley became concerned because she could not reach her father, Paul Gruber, despite the fact that he continued to send her greeting cards for various holidays and events. However, she had noticed that his signature was different. The next time she called him and left a message, she reminded him of her son's upcoming birthday, as well as the money he had promised. Sure enough, she promptly received a card with a check for $25. However, this only confirmed her suspicions that something was wrong, as it was NOT her son's birthday, nor had she asked him for any money, both of which her father would have known. Police eventually found that a local handyman, Darryl Kuehl, had befriended Gruber before murdering him to gain access to his bank account and was keeping up the illusion of him being alive by continuing to pay his bills and send letters and cards to his family.


    Anime & Manga 
  • Death Note: L does this to Light quite a bit to see if he slips up by saying something only Kira would know. For example, showing him three suicide notes Light had some criminals write and seeing if he can find the secret message Kira inserted into them to taunt L, who has intentionally given Light the notes in the wrong order. However, Light is also a supergenius, and quickly figures out what L is up to, and hence doesn't expose himself (by putting the notes into the right order or being surprised when L introduces a fake note to the mix). It takes a bit for Light to realize that the fake note makes sense, and L ends up being slightly more suspicious of Light than he was before the test.
  • In YuYu Hakusho the heroes are told that one of them was replaced by an impostor who knows everything about the replaced person making this trope unusable. Though Yusuke still tries asking Botan her three sizes. Because, of course, she'd never told him.
  • In Cat-Eyed Boy, the title character shapeshifts himself into the form of a young boy to tease him. When the mother discovers this, she demands to see a birthmark she claims the boy has, and Cat-Eyed Boy assumes it's an example of this... so is the one of the pair not to have the very real identifying birthmark. Oops.
  • Bakugan: Gundalian Invaders. Suspicious of Jake's sudden escape from Kazarina, Shun tests him by mentioning the operation Jake participated in an earlier episode. He correctly replies that he didn't take the major role (Dan and Shun did). However, Jake was in fact brainwashed by Kazarina; she kept his memory intact.

  • Knight Rider: In the 2008 movie, Sarah Graiman is accosted by a security guard during her escape from a pursuer. KITT warns her that the guard may in fact be a fake, and Sarah tells the guard about where she was going — except all of the locations she lists don't exist. The guard — who is a fake — catches on, however.
  • Ocean's Eleven: Terry Benedict, the owner of the casino the gang are trying to rob, tries this on Linus, who's disguised as a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission. It doesn't work, since Linus also has a Voice with an Internet Connection feeding him info.
    Benedict: You new at the commission?
    Linus: Been there about two years.
    Benedict: I know Hal Lindley over there; you work with him at all?
    Linus: (Beat) Not since he died last year.
  • In Catch Me If You Can, Frank (posing as a lawyer) claims to have been taught by a professor who also taught his girlfriend's father, and her father asks what the professor's dog's name was. Frank, smelling a trap, replies simply that the dog had since died. The father remains suspicious.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, when Balian meets his father's knights, one of them tries to discern if he really is his son. After mentioning the height, the knight goes on about the eye color of his liege, which is promptly corrected by Balian, thereby proving that he did the research, at least.
  • In Die Hard, John encounters Hans alone on one of the upper floors. Hans quickly pretends to be an escaped hostage, speaking in a convincing American accent instead of his usual British (well, German-ish). John introduces himself, glances at a nearby office directory and asks Hans for his name. In this case, Crazy-Prepared Hans gave a name from the directory, Bill Clay. John still somehow sees through it — a deleted scene shows he recognized the watch Hans was wearing, because it matched some of the other terrorists.
  • A variation in My Cousin Vinny. During the climax, Vinny puts his girlfriend Mona on the stand as an expert witness. The prosecutor demands to test her claim as an automotive expert. He asks her a question about a specific feature on a very specific model of car, and she protests that it's a "bullshit" question. He assumes it means she's faking her expertise and tries to call her out on it. She responds that the model of car he was asking about didn't have the feature he asked about at all, then names the closest model that would actually have the feature and answers it correctly.
  • Coneheads: Beldar and Prymaat Conehead are aliens from the planet Remulak, though they tell everybody that they come from France. So, as INS agent Gorman Sneedling meets them, skeptical of their claims, he asks a question in French, prompting Beldar to answer perfectly fluently, thwarting Sneedling's suspicions (at least, for the time being).

  • Discworld
    • Interesting Times: Rincewind, trying to hide his foreign origins on the highly-xenophobic Counterweight Continent, is asked by a suspicious restaurateur about a specific man on a specific road. He quickly declares he's never heard of the man or the road... only to find out the man is a high-ranking government official that everyone would need to deal with and the road is the main street through the capital. It works out, however, as the restaurateur is the local equivalent to CMOT Dibbler and is quite pleased to meet a foreigner.
    • In Night Watch, Vimes has to impersonate his (now dead) mentor John Keel in the past. His knowledge of Keel, combined with his knowledge of the events at the time and some information from the Monks of History, lets him answer the interrogating officer's questions better than the officer himself could. The interrogator assumed that the impostor is a criminal, so he starts off with questions meant to trip up a civilian and not someone who actually served as a policeman during that time. Before he can try more personal questions Vimes has him so browbeat that he does not realize that Vimes says the wrong amount when speaking of his promised wages. Vimes uses this to get more pay and a higher rank.
  • In Jean M Auel's Earth's Children books, Ayla is asked about the leader of the Mamutoi tribe which she tells them she has been adopted into, but she knows the fake name (Lutie) for what it is and gives the correct information ("Tulie").
  • In The Long Goodbye, when a woman is giving a confession that Marlowe doubts, she talks of dumping a suitcase full of incriminating evidence in a reservoir and Marlowe asks her how she got it over the fence. She blusters about adrenaline and then Marlowe reveals that there is no fence. After she breaks down he admits that he's never been there and really doesn't know about fence or no fence. He just thought she was lying.
  • In Stephen Fry's Making History, the agents try to crack Michael's story by asking him if the man he claimed to see on a train had a white or gray beard. He says that the man was clean-shaven, which turns out to be the correct answer.
  • In Isaac Asimov's The Union Club Mysteries, the protagonist subtly interrogates a possible spy by playing a word-match game. After several iterations, the protagonist uses a phrase from the third verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner"; the spy promptly gives the phrase that immediately follows it. The protagonist concludes that, since real Americans only know the first verse (except himself, because he knows everything), the other man is actually a spy who was trained a little too well. (Asimov was a huge proponent of knowing the entire National Anthem.)
  • In Trainspotting, at a job interview Renton claims to have gone to a posh secondary school, which the interviewer also went to. The interviewer then asks him if a particular teacher is still teaching there. Renton, sensing a trap, simply laughs and says "God, you're taking me back now!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an early episode of Burn Notice, Michael Westen tries to get close to a Con Man named Quentin, and as part of his cover ID he claims that after Quentin got out of prison Michael wound up sharing a cell with Quentin's former cellmate, Paco, and it was Paco who recommended that Michael work with Quentin someday. When Quentin tests Michael's cover ID, he asks about Paco's prison wine, and Michael replies "Paco doesn't drink. What are you trying to pull on me?" He and Sam lampshade this and how Michael had a Gut Feeling that Quentin was testing him and just took a shot in the dark.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • When Tom Servo's evil pod clone shows up, Crow tries to discern which Servo is the real one by asking about the type of condiment Crow poured into his shoes — despite Servo having no feet — the previous week. The real Servo forgot, and the fake one correctly guesses "Was it... Ketchup?"
    Servo: Damn, you are me!
    • Mike pulls it off by asking about Servo's collection of boxer shorts. Pod!Servo thinks this is another trick, until Servo rattles off his entire inventory in enough detail to drive the clone away in fear and "self"-loathing.
    Crow: Frankly, I don't see why we need any Servo at all.
  • In Prison Break, Charles' first conversation with Michael is along these lines when Michael claims to have known his wife, but fails to trip him up.
  • There was a scene, possibly from the short-lived '90s TV series Probe, in which the hero is trying to figure out which of two men is a Soviet spy, by quizzing them about obscure sports trivia. He unmasks the spy because the guy had prepped too thoroughly for his mission and was too knowledgeable.
  • In Medium, when Ariel's body is possessed by the spirit of a murdered woman, Joe tries to pull this trope by suggesting an idea for her birthday party, and deliberately giving the wrong month. However, the woman in Ariel's body is prepared by now (not in the least because in a fit of desperation, Allison suggested, in front of "Ariel", that Joe ask her something only the real Ariel would know) and knows when Ariel's real birthday is (presumably from looking at her student ID). She calls him on his error, and he covers up by claiming that it's hard to keep track of everyone's birthday when you have three kids.
  • Leverage: Sophie is nearly outed when the mark asks her if she's familiar with a certain person. Nate smiles and tells her (on her earpiece) to reply that the man is dead, which satisfies the mark. This is a bluff on Nate's part, though, as Hardison only confirmed the information several seconds later, which would've been too late for Sophie. For her part, Sophie tries to be as vague about it as possible, invoking Never Say "Die":
    Sophie: I'm so sorry. It was a beautiful ceremony.
  • Blackadder Goes Forth: In "General Hospital", Blackadder does this when hunting a German spy in WWI. He unmasks the spy by asking the suspect if her boyfriend had been to one of the great universities: Oxford, Cambridge, or Hull. Any real Briton would have known that only two of those are great Universities — as General Melchett remarks, "That's right! Oxford's a complete dump!" Anyway, it goes fine until it's revealed that the suspect wasn't the spy after all.
    • Again in Blackadder's Christmas Carol, when Pigmot asks the future Blackadder if he vanquished the Nibble-Pibblies, and the General replies "No, because you just made them up."
  • An episode of Fringe has Peter and Olivia infiltrating a black market biological weapons deal with an NSA agent who's been working the case feeding Olivia information through an ear bud to get around testing questions about people they should know if they are who they say they are. But Peter — who doesn't have an ear bud — is eventually asked where he met a particular individual. Olivia, with the agent's help, chimes in that they would have met at Oxford but when asked exactly where the two met neither Olivia nor the agent can help. At which point Peter, being well-traveled and brilliant, completely improvises a description of the scenario using his knowledge of restaurants in the area.
  • "The Mind of Stefan Miklos" episode of Mission: Impossible had foreign spy Simpson try to determine if the man he was talking to was really Stefan Miklos. Rollin, impersonating Miklos, not only corrected Simpson's false statements but then feigned irritation that Simpson, who was being investigated, had the gall to test Miklos.
  • In the Angel episode "The Shroud Of Rahmon", Angel acts like a Fan Boy to an incoming vampire and asks, "What's the password?" When the other guy says, "Password? There is no password." Angel stakes him, muttering, "Good, just checking," and goes on to impersonate him.
  • Star Trek:
  • In House, Taub pretends to have started playing racketball regularly with Wilson, but House is almost certain he's lying and quizzes him on the sport. It's almost a double subversion in that House knows that Taub knows House is applying the trope (see the example below), but since Taub's answer was correct, he hasn't really caught him out.
    Gregory House: Is a Z shot an offensive or defensive shot?
    Chris Taub: Both.
    Gregory House: You suspected that was a trick question.
    Chris Taub: But I could have said neither.
    • There's a double subversion in another episode when House suspects Cuddy is feigning interest in an artist.
      Gregory House: Do you prefer the pop stuff or the Venezuelan stuff?
      Lisa Cuddy: That's a trick question.
      Gregory House: Yes, but you don't know how it's a trick question.
  • In Arrow, during a flashback to his time on the island Oliver, impersonating one of Fyers' soldiers, is subjected to this with Fyers asking what boat he came in on, knowing that every soldier who comes to the island does so by airplane. Subverted in that Oliver manages to beat the bluff, but Fyers is actually already aware of who he is anyway.
  • In a Key & Peele sketch, a Nazi officer "tests" our two leads to see if they are "Das Negros" hiding somewhere in the neighborhood with some truly bizarre and baseless "tests" that they show no real trouble with. However, as he is about to leave again, it seems like one of them, alias Baron Helmut Schnitzelnazi, might actually be in trouble when he asks about his fellow Schnizelnazi relatives from another part of the country, and about Aunt Frieda in particular.
    Officer: How's your Aunt Frieda?
    Baron Helmut Schnitzelnazi: Aunt Frieda? She... is... still... [guessing] ...fat?
    Officer: I don't recall her being fat. [ominous beat] But who looks like they did in college anyway?
    • ...and he leaves for real shortly afterward. Apparently he just thought he'd ask.
  • In Charmed, when Piper is possessed by a demonic spirit, the possessing spirit cannot access any of Piper's memories but can communicate with the real Piper's consciousness when looking at a reflective surface such as a mirror. The real Piper takes advantage of this by repeatedly withholding key details or intentionally feeding the spirit false information in attempts to trick her into blowing her cover. It finally works when Piper tricks the spirit into addressing her boyfriend, Leo, by the wrong name, tipping him off that she isn't the real Piper. However, the spirit catches on quickly and knocks Leo unconscious before he can take any action against her or alert the other sisters.

  • In Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case, Temple and his wife agree on a question/answer which only they will know, and which she can use to challenge any telephone caller claiming to be him. In a later series - "The Spencer Affair" - they decide to use it again, but unfortunately, the bad guys have bugged their conversation. When 'Temple' next telephones, 'he' even goes so far as to remind her to use the secret question, which is then answered correctly.
  • In one episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, Patsy Straightwoman attempts to enter the special caff on ferries that's only for lorry drivers by pretending to be a lorry driver on her way to Portugal. The lorry drivers guarding the door are not convinced, but are particularly clueless about testing her ("What colour is your lorry?" "Blue." "Ooh, some lorries are blue."), culminating with:
    Lorry driver: If you're going to Portugal, you must know my friend ... Pedro?
    Patsy: Yes. I do.
    Lorry driver: Well when you see him, tell him Steve says hi.
    Patsy: Will do.
    Lorry driver: Ha! You just gave yourself away, little lady. My name's not Steve!
    Patsy: Okay, but how could I possibly have known that?
    Lorry driver: Argh, I should have lied about Pedro's name! I keep doing this! Okay, in you go.

    Video Games 
  • In Baldur's Gate, there is a quest that involves the player character doing investigations for Aldeth Sashenstar in his offices under the pretense of being his childhood friend. One of his business partners whose behaviour you are there to investigate (and who is himself in fact a doppleganger impostor) asks you whether, if you were Aldeth's childhood friend, you were friends with Dabron as well. Since Dabron is in truth Aldeth's real brother, it's showing ignorance that will give you away at this point, not that it makes a difference for the plot. It's not clear whether this is intended as a subversion, since the doppleganger could simply be straightforwardly trying to catch you not knowing what it's talking about...
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, this can be avoided during the KGB infiltration mission where Bell and Adler disguise themselves as Soviet soldiers in order to break into a vault and steal a list of sleeper agent names. While making their way to the vault, a young Imran Zakhaev who is looking for the mole who helped both soldiers infiltrate, enters the elevator they are in and asks them two questions. If Bell answers correctly, Zakhaev exits at the next floor with no problems. But if Bell answers wrong, then the trope gets played straight with Zakhaev attacking both soldiers. During another playthrough of the level, Bell and Alder can avoid answering questions simply by knocking him out.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Imitation Krabs", SpongeBob quizzes Mr. Krabs and an obvious robot impostor (complete with smoke-spewing exhaust pipes and clanking gears) operated by Plankton on three things "only the really real Mr. Krabs would know". The first two questions are things that anyone who frequents the Krusty Krab would know (like "How much does a Krabby Patty cost?") so the imposter jumps in with the right answers. The last question is completely bizarre and nearly impossible to follow so Mr. Krabs fails on it, "exposing" him as the fake. Of course, it is SpongeBob.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a hilarious Double Subversion in "The Awakening":
    Impostor: Actually, we're from the Eastern fleet. We have orders to deliver some cargo.
    Commander: Ah, Eastern fleet. (sarcastically) Well, nice of Admiral Chan to let us know he was sending one of his ships our way.
    Impostor: I'm sure Admiral Chan meant no disrespect, sir.
    (the commander accepts this; but later...)
    Commander's aide: Sir, Admiral Chan has been on leave for two months at Ember Island.
    Commander: What?! Why doesn't anyone ever tell me anything?
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Bad Replicant", The Plutonians replace Shake with a badly deformed clone called "Major Shake" in a plan to deterraform the planet. Both Frylock and Meatwad aren't taken in by the clone's appearance, and Frylock asks Major Shake if they're interested in doing a blood drive since the real Shake considers blood drives to be a pyramid scheme ran by Dracula, with Major Shake casually explaining the whole situation after that.
  • Briefly subverted in The Transformers episode "Masquerade", where five Autobots disguise themselves to resemble the Decepticon car-based team, the Stunticons, and thwart Megatron's plan. The real Stunticons escape and confront their duplicates, but Megatron is smart enough to call for the Stunticons to combine into Menasor, figuring that the Autobot fakes won't be able to do the same. The real Stunticons immediately comply, while the Autobots...merge to form their own Menasor, much to everyone's confusion. The writers were being clever here, as the team of Autobots disguised as the Stunticons includes Mirage, an expert with holograms, and Windcharger, whose special power is his ability to control magnetism. Windcharger therefore 'links' the Autobots together in the rough shape of Menasor, at which point Mirage disguises them as a copy of the real thing. It works, up until Soundwave reminds Megatron that the real Menasor will be able to access the Stunticon's own special powers and weapons.
  • In G.I. Joe: Renegades, Zartan impersonates Duke shortly after gaining his trademark ability. Roadblock, recalling a long story he told in the beginning, asks them for a detail about it. Unfortunately, Roadblock's story was so mind-numbingly boring that no one was paying attention, and both Dukes look at him and say they have no idea what the answer is, at the same time. Shortly thereafter, Snake Eyes, who can tell the difference because Duke and Zartan have different heartbeats, appears from nowhere and kicks the impostor in the face.


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Alternative Title(s): Bluff The Imposter


That's Not Sally

Robotnik captured the real Sally and made a robot duplicate to find Knothole. Even though the duplicate was good on imitating her, its inability to be a mother figure to Tails clued him in that this was not the Sally he knew. Tails told Sonic that it was not Sally, but Sonic thought Tails had a nightmare. Later, Sonic does the secret handshake with her and didn't correct him when he turned the thumbs up to a thumbs down, exposing her as a fake.

How well does it match the trope?

4.82 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImposterForgotOneDetail

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