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Body Double

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Natalie Portman: Decoy! No!
Natalie's Decoy: I'm sorry, I've failed you.
Natalie Portman: How? You were my decoy. This was your job — in fact, this was your ONLY job. Frankly, I'm not sure why I'm so upset, why else did I think I was hiring you?
[Decoy dies]

When important figures feel they need extra insurance against assassins, someone takes on their appearance and role, especially in higher-risk situations. Though this is still used today by some leaders, before the advent of modern photography this was much easier to pull off, since the average person would probably not know what the leader looked like outside of a vague description or drawing, and would rely on clues from the Requisite Royal Regalia (wearing a crown, wearing a purple robe, riding in a golden carriage, etc) making any differences between the double and the real person less noticeable. In more modern works the close resemblance may be explained away by Magic Plastic Surgery or espionage agency-level disguise work, while science fiction settings may use Send in the Clones and have clones made with this purpose in mind.

This is Truth in Television; generally, the more paranoid a leader, and the more people who want to kill them, the more doubles they will have. Saddam Hussein reportedly had over 50 doubles that he used at various times, and other notorious leaders like Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler have also had confirmed body doubles. Even if doubles don't "take an assassin's bullet", their deployment will at the very least complicate any assassination plots, as the planners will get intel about the leader being in many locations at once.

Usually a job for a member of the Hero Secret Service. Related to Emergency Impersonation, I Am Spartacus. If the double is covering up for the fact that the leader is actually dead, it's an El Cid Ploy. See also Decoy Getaway for a practical application of a Body Double. See also Decoy Leader, when a leader uses someone else to pose as them, while not necessarily looking anything alike.

The term itself may also show up being used for the practice of having a stand-in for film and television actors, which includes other tropes like Talent Double, Stunt Double or Obvious Stunt Double. For other types of impersonators, see Celebrity Impersonator. Ideal for this purpose would be an Identical Stranger, but This Is Reality, and those who don't live in a genre where such a convenient person exists will just use a person who looks passably similar.

Since this trope is often part of a Reveal, be warned that there are inherently SPOILERS below.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Used at least twice in Aldnoah.Zero:
  • The plot of Amakusa 1637 heavily leans on lead female Natsuki becoming one of these for a local swordsman, Shirou. Yes, she's one for THAT Shiro, who is actually dead in this story.
  • In Ashita no Nadja, Rosemary becomes Nadja's body double and the accomplice of Smug Snake Hermann.
  • In Attack on Titan, the Survey Corps use Jean and Armin as body doubles for Eren and Historia/Krista when necessary, due to the latter's Living MacGuffin status.
  • A fairly innocent example occurs in Cardcaptor Sakura through Sakura's use of the Mirror card to stand in for her when she has to do some emergency card-catching. However, Sakura's spiritually sensitive brother Touya is fully aware that it's not really Sakura, but plays along anyway.
  • Case Closed:
    • In an early case, Kogoro is given the supposedly easy work of spying on a certain man in exchange for a large sum of money... but in a subversion, said man turns out to be a Body Double. The guy that said actor is impersonating? He's found dead some days later — and the dude who hired Kogoro not only is the killer, but he he had used Kogoro to have an alibi for said murder. Kogoro really hates being lied to, so he's understandably pissed off but has no evidence to get to him. Of course, the murderer ultimately doesn't pass through Conan's deducing skills.
    • Subverted in a Filler case in which the Body Double is the killer. She's an aspiring actress who worked as the double for a famous idol until her envy and jealousy peaked to the point of killing her boss, hiding her body, and then impersonating her until the dead woman was found and everyone believed she had committed suicide. Again, Conan easily sees through her.
    • Played straighter in the "Fake Wedding" case, in which Yumi and Takagi have to be body doubles for a soon-to-be married couple who have been threatened by a Serial Killer. Then Yumi's best friend/Takagi's girlfriend Sato switches places with Yumi, having deduced the killer's identity and fearing that he will harm Yumi... and since said culprit is soon found out and he attacks her while she's still posing as the bride, it's a good thing. Sato does this again in a later case, where she covers up for her Identical Stranger and Shiratori's soon-to-be girlfriend Sumiko Kobayashi, who is being targeted by a killer who wants to silence her because she knows too much.
    • In the "Heiji Hattori in the Vampire Mansion" case, Kazuha Touyama switches places with the maid Hikaru so she and Ran can catch the culprit that is after her.
    • In another case, Kogoro is the one who gets an impersonator: a guy named Tatsuo Mori, who looks a bit like him save for a different shaped moustache. Kogoro decides to go along with it and find out what's going on... but later Tatsuo is found dead, so he and Conan have to find out who did him in.
  • Code Geass:
    • C.C. occasionally stands in for Zero/Lelouch when he needs to keep up the Masquerade of being a normal student. Given that C.C. is also immortal, there's also a practical application of this, as if she were to take a bullet for Lelouch she could just walk it off.
    • In R2, Sayoko masquerades as Lelouch while he's off doing his Zero thing. It actually causes some minor problems for him; upon his return, he has to deal with the repercussions of Sayoko mistakenly playing him as The Casanova. That and Sayoko is a highly athletic ninja and Lelouch gets tired from running a block.
  • Played with (in both versions) at the beginning of Dance in the Vampire Bund. In both cases, a tall, voluptuous, raven-haired beauty in vampish attire is initially introduced as the Princess of Vampires. Of course, when Mina Tepes makes her first actual public appearance, her aide Vera becomes completely useless as a decoy.
  • In El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, Makoto reluctantly agrees to impersonate Princess Fatora (with whom he bears an uncanny resemblance, despite being the opposite sex) after she is captured. He's convincing enough that even Fatora's lesbian lover Aliellie is fooled... at least until she tries to get frisky.
  • One chapter of Franken Fran is about a mobster who frequently makes use of Fran's services to create body doubles. Then his latest double tries to turn over a new leaf with his company, he assassinates him, and things get a bit hectic.
  • Parodied, then played straight in Fushigi Yuugi. Hotohori needs to leave the Imperial Capital to help Miaka and the group, but since he's The Emperor he just can't go and step out. Chichiri offers to help and morphs into Hotohori with his Master of Disguise powers... but the extremely vain Hotohori is displeased because Chichiri can't flawlessly recreate his beauty. He does accept the offer after this hilarious moment, and as he goes off to give Miaka aid... poor Chichiri is bored as heck in the Court.
  • Gintama: Shigeshige has had many body doubles from when he was a child. He switched places with one to save the clan of bodyguards when he was injured.
  • In one Golgo 13 story, Golgo is hired to kill a client's double so he can fake his death. The double arranges for the real man to take his place, taking over the mob boss's life after his death. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of turning Golgo into an enemy.
  • Gundam:
    • It's not fully explained until a later series, but in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, the young ruler of Zeon, Mineva Lao Zabi, has actually been switched with a double by the end of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam by her regent Haman Khan as part of a Give Him a Normal Life, one of the few Pet the Dog moments Haman ever gets. No one knows what happened to the real one until Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, where we met her again now living under the alias Audrey Burne.
    • Dix-Neuf Noinheim from the Mobile Suit Gundam Wing sequel manga Frozen Teardrop was this for his brother-in-law, Milliardo Peacecraft aka Zechs Merquise. He was killed for it, but his sacrifice let Zechs escape safely.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, aspirant singer Meer Campbell fills this role for Lacus Clyne, though she's actually working for the Big Bad, who has told her that she'll be able to help keep the fragile peace if she poses as Lacus. Meer eventually begins to crack under all the stress and self-esteem problems, deciding that she doesn't care that she's being used to further Durandal's goals and only wants to continue to pretend being Lacus since nobody loves Meer herself. Lacus herself faces Meer and manages to talk her out of it... only for poor Meer to be shot to death while Taking the Bullet for Lacus and perish in her arms.
    • As revealed in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, this was what led to the advent of Char Aznable. The real Char Aznable was a friend of Casval Rem Deikun, the exiled son of Zeon's founder, who at the time was living under the pseudonym of Edourad Mass. Casval wanted to enlist in Zeon's military academy in order to exact his revenge against the Zabi family, and Char was instrumental to his plan as the two looked practically identical except for their eyes. Casval tricked Char into swapping identities so that he could go to the academy under Char's name while Zabi assassins killed Char under the belief that he was Casval. From that point forward, Casval lived as Char Aznable, and would take to wearing sunglasses (then later, his iconic visored helmet) to hide the fact that his eyes were blue, instead of brown like the real Char.
  • In Honoo no Alpen Rose, Toulonchamp's Batman Gambit relies on using his daughter Mathilda as one of these, acting as the stand-in for the lead female Jeudi. Jeudi herself went missing as a little girl in a horrible accident that left her mother Helene Durant with severe physical and psychological consequences, and Mathilda's mission is to make the almost blind Helene believe that she is the real Jeudi; meanwhile, Toulonchamp forces the Durant family to do whatever he wants on the threat of taking Mathilda away, which would send Helene into a Death by Despair. Unfortunately, Jeudi shows up anyway.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Diego, the dictator of East Gorteau, uses a body double for his safety, but we don't know about it until he's seen alive at the end of the Chimera Ant arc.
  • Chapter 45 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has Hayasaka dress up as Kaguya so the latter can sneak out of the house to attend a fireworks viewing with her friends. They look nothing alike, but the fact that Hayasaka spends the entire time looking out the window in the dark (plus a wig and matching yukata) keeps the other servants from realizing their ruse.
  • The "shadows" in Kyoumen no Silhouette, including Teshio, who becomes one for the heir princess Elnavista (who ironically who Does Not Like Men).
  • In Lone Wolf and Cub, each member of the Yagyu clan has their own double. One of them cheerfully commits Seppuku so that Retsudo can tell the shogun his son is dead (and show his severed head as proof).
  • In Murder Princess, the maid Milano takes princess Alita's place during an invasion and dies, causing the body-swapped Alita to take on her dead maid's name and role.
  • In one Naruto Filler episode, Ino serves as the body double for a girl named Fuku, a princess who greatly resembled her... until she started binge eating out of stress in anticipation for meeting her fiancé Chikara, and now doesn't want him to think she's fat. Ino finds Chikara obnoxious and refuses to continue setting Fuku up with her, so Naruto steps in to do things his way... inadvertently resulting in Chikara encountering the real Fuku and revealing that he's attracted to heavyset women, so everything works out.
  • Captain Kuro of One Piece hypnotized one of his crew members to think that he was Kuro. After a good get-up, Captain Morgan took him in, and Kuro was assumed captured while he went on to put together a three year long plan.
  • In Private Actress, being hired as body doubles is a rather common task for private actors like Shiho and her boyfriend/co-worker Tomoomi, so both of them do it quite frequently.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • It looks like a part of Minako's job description as Minako "Sailor Venus" Aino is being Usagi "Sailor Moon" Tsukino's body double, explaining both their extreme resemblance (Minako has the white cat) and Minako's ability to change appearance. In the manga, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, and Sailor Moon Crystal, Venus even explicitly poses as the Moon Princess before The Reveal, making this a rare case where even the person who the double is standing in for isn't aware of it, as Usagi hadn't yet recovered her Past-Life Memories. In the first season of the first anime, the Senshi thought Venus was the Princess but she denied it when asked, though in the third season she actually had to sub in for a kidnapped and temporarily depowered Moon (which was almost completely Played for Laughs).
    • A popular fan theory is that this explains CereCere/Sailor Ceres's resemblance to Chibiusa: she's meant to be Chibiusa's decoy should the need arise.
  • In the second-to-last episode of Samurai 7, Ukyo uses other clones of the Emperor, who are all genetically and physically identical to him as his body doubles. It almost works.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo has two: One for Tokugawa Ieyasu (the real one turns out to be Hattori Hanzō) and one for Sanada Yukimura, who is actually a woman (the body double, not the guy, though it's an easy enough mistake to make).
  • One chapter of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has the title character's family butler recruit a small squad of body doubles for him. He is later thanked for a variety of things he didn't do, including dating one of his students.
  • In Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, Princess Syalis recruits Bussy the succubus as her body double after noticing how much they resemble each other. The training includes all of the princess's usual activities, like slaughtering ghost shrouds and even attacking high-ranking demons. The rememblance is strong enough to even fool Syalis's mother, Queen Aurora Nem Lis Goodereste during an excursion to the human capital. This is pretty much always played for laughs, as it's mostly Syalis and Bussy who are convinced they're doubles. While having the same height, build, facial structure, and similar hairstyles, their eyes, hair colors, skin tone, body language, and personalities are all quite different. Bussy can pass for the princess while wearing her clothes, addressing a crowd at a distance (lip-synching) and in the company of somebody vouching for her, but there's only one time anybody who knew either of them was clearly fooled, and it's developed that most of Syalis's family are surprisingly okay with her kidnapping so Queen Aurora was almost certainly entertaining herself at Bussy's expense and helping her get away with it.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: It's revealed in the GXP novels and later OVA series entries that Seto Kamiki Jurai Seto makes use of a woman named Kuis Panta as a double, but the two periodically sync their memories so both can be said to be Seto. They did this after Seto was injured in an accident so as not to tip off Jurai's enemies that the The Dreaded Demon Princess was out of commission. There's implication that the two are starting to undergo a Twin Desynch because Kuis is in love with Seina while Seto isn't, and the Seto seen in GXP is most likely actually Kuis due to her behavior around him.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • An early story of the 1940s comic book strip has Broadway star Rita Rollins making a huge comeback following a car accident that had people convinced she'd never dance again. When a "Phantom" disrupts her debut, Batman and Robin investigate. They're thrown to find Rita in her dressing room when she's supposed to be on stage. It turns out that the accident really was bad enough to end Rita's career, but she couldn't stand losing the spotlight, so she got a talented understudy to don makeup and pose as her for performances, and Rita could come out to take the bows. In the end, Rita accepts it's time to retire and the understudy becomes a star under her true name.
    • In the first issue of Death of the Family, Batman takes on who he thinks is the Joker wearing a red hood at the ACE Chemical Plant. He pulls the hood off to reveal Harley Quinn!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Buffy using body doubles to spread misinformation. It helps that all the doubles have her durability and healing powers as well.
  • In Cerebus the Aardvark, Lord Julius (a parody of Groucho Marx) hires several "Like-a-looks" to stand in for him (lampshading the fact that anyone with the right build, walk, fake mustache and attitude can look like Groucho Marx). It's never entirely clear who the real Lord Julius is after that, especially after a mob of increasingly absurd like-a-looks (including the Elrod the Albino!) invade the palace and all claim to be the real one. In a reprint, Sim mentioned that the story was inspired by the scene from Duck Soup in which Chico and Harpo both impersonate Groucho using greasepaint and the right props.
  • Happens once in a while in Diabolik, but with a twist: the double is almost always unwilling, being a poor shmuck that Diabolik has kidnapped and drugged up because he needs a double for himself or Eva (the willing ones are extremely rare, and Diabolik wouldn't trust them unless there are mitigating circumstances). The resemblance is normally justified with Diabolik's perfect masks or getting a lookalike (even searching them across the world), but on one occasion when Diabolik needs to fool Ginko while Faking the Dead, it's simply a stolen body who he beheaded (with a swap of the genetic samples to fool the DNA test).
  • Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom, of course, has his Doombots, which can pass for him so well that writers use this to retcon story arcs they don't care for, to the point that the practice occasionally undergoes Lampshade Hanging.
  • This is the premise of Human Target; if you fear assassination and offer the right money (or at least the right thrill), Christopher Chance will assume your identity and deal with the threat personally. The Vertigo Comics series establishes that Chance has a pathological hatred of himself that motivates him to assume others' identities.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. has created LMD (Life Model Decoys) which can fill in whenever needed. Handy for retcons as well. Nick Fury, among others, has used them.
  • Superman:
    • The Silver Age Superman used robot doubles to help him conceal his Secret Identity. These were phased out by the Bronze Age.
    • Starting in the Bronze Age and used intermittently, Batman and Superman have doubled for each other on occasion. In costume, it's merely a matter of switching outfits since they are pretty much identical in height and build. Out of costume, they're still close enough that skillful application of make-up, hair combing, and Bruce wearing Clark's glasses renders them pretty much identical. In one story, when Bruce doubles for Clark, a reporter at the Daily Planet who likes to pull cruel pranks on Clark (Clark always goes along to protect his secret identity) decides that it would be fun to humiliate Bruce/Clark and trips him while he's walking down a hallway. Clark would have gone along, but Bruce, who doesn't have to worry about his own secret identity, proceeds straight to laying down an ass-kicking.
  • Unknown Soldier: Playing body double for various Allied VIPs is a frequent task for the original Bronze Age incarnation of the Soldier. Typically, this is just the framing device for the story, and he must then track down a would-be assassin's collaborators.
  • Usagi Yojimbo:
  • In the Yoko Tsuno story "The Prey and the Shadow", a secretary named Margaret is blackmailed into becoming the double of Cecilia, her boss's unstable adoptive daughter. As time passes, she's more and more aware that something horrible will happen, but she's completely trapped in the web of lies that her boss extended around her. Once the titular Action Girl and her Power Trio spend a night in the boss's castle, Margaret confides on her so they can both save Cecilia from her "father" and free Margaret from him as well.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • The leader of the Red Claw organization the Batfamily fight against in "Grudge Match" is revealed to be the right-hand woman and lover of the real leader, Nyssa Al-ghul. An example of this trope where the person and their decoy don't look anything alike, but it still works because no one knew who Nyssa was, much less what she looked like, aside from her sister Talia, who believed she was long dead.
  • In The Horsewomen Of Las Vegas, when Charlotte Flair agreed to meet with Becky Lynch, she instead sends her Sex Slave, Summer Rae, as a double. Becky saw through it when she slowly realized that the words coming out of her mouth (Charlotte was feeding Summer lines through an earpiece) did not flow off her tongue naturally.
  • Legendarily Popular: Hunter J swoops in and snatches up her target Riolu just before Ash can reach it, and then, when she's gone, "Ash" pops and reveals Zorua. The real Ash had already found Riolu and is busy teaching him Sacred Sword in a safe location. Hunter J has instead picked up Delta Purrloin, which proceeds to float through the walls of her airship and slice all the power cables.
  • The MLP Loops: Used in one snippet to explain how the Equestria Girls Rainbow Dash can supposedly be the head of every sports team at Canterlot High, while also doing all the things the EG cast get up to. She just uses Substitute Rainbow Dashes (namely, other girls pretending to be her).
  • Pony POV Series:
    • During the Wedding Arc, the group tries to attack Chrysalis during an opera she's attending in the guise of Cadence (Chrysalis, due to knowing how things are supposed to go, managed to take over Canterlot for a few days rather than being defeated as quickly as in canon). Unfortunately for them, this was a trap and the Chrysalis they were fighting was a Changeling shapeshifted into her (though Chrysalis was still controlling them). Ironically, Cadence was using an Avatar as well, so neither of them were actually present.
    • The Mane Six have several of their allies disguised as Cadence during the Wedding Arc's Final Battle as a diversion so they can escort the real Cadence into the castle to fight Chrysalis herself.
  • Queens of Mewni: The bastard Hilda Blade bears a strong enough resemblance to Vesper the Morning Star that she sometimes poses as Vesper so the queen can have some downtime. Most notably, its alleged that it was Hilda-posing-as-Vesper that competed in a tournament that had re-admission to Elfendor University as the prize at stake. And apparently, even Vesper's husband Caspian can be psyched out into thinking they switched.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): Barry manages to create technology that replicates Christopher Chance's impersonation abilities. This is pivotal to the three leads' return to modern civilization, as it allows the League of Assassins to send three body doubles of their vigilante alter-egos months ahead of their returns, making it impossible for them and their civilian identities to be connected; indeed, throughout the first two arcs of the story, none of their loved ones, which include two experienced detectives, suspect that Oliver, Barry, and Kara are one of the three vigilantes. Even Malcolm Merlyn remains fooled, and he spends months researching for clues to the Hood's identity during the second arc. The only people to see through the ruse are Eobard Thawne (who's from the future), A.R.G.U.S. (who makes it a point to keep track of all the League's actions), and Astra and her forces (who have insider knowledge regarding the emblem on the Girl in Blue's suit).

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • One of the plot twists of Batman Begins is that the man identified as Ra's al Ghul was just a front for the real Ra's — the man who until this point had called himself Ducard. The fake Ra's is not a doppelganger but an older Asian man who would fit Bruce's preconception of what the leader of an ancient cult of ninja assassins would look like.
  • A Better Tomorrow 2 does this in the final shootout. All the Mooks wears black suits, while the main villain, Ko Ying-pui, wears white. The heroes Ken, Tse-Ho and Lung managed to corner Ko Ying-pui and empty their guns into him, only to realize that was a decoy — cue the real Ying-pui sneaking up from a corner and shooting Lung In the Back.
  • Body Double, of course. The fact is that it's actually a Spoiler Title giving away the Plot Twist! Interestingly, Brian De Palma came up with the basic idea for this movie while working with an actual body double: for Angie Dickinson in the infamous shower scene in Dressed to Kill.
  • Bodyguards and Assassins: The trishaw allegedly carrying Dr. Sun Yat-sen in the climax actually contains one of the titular bodyguards, and is planted there to misled the army of assassins into attacking the wrong target while the real Dr. Sun holds his important political meeting.
  • The main villain of Call to Arms, a ruthless warlord, is assassinated by the hero in the first 10 minutes of the film... except it's not the warlord. It's a double, and the real warlord then shows up in the immediate scene.
  • A non-action example: The Georgian movie Comrade Stalin's Trip to Africa is about a Georgian Jew who is recruited to double for Josef Stalin.
  • The entire premise of Dave is the snide President getting a mild-mannered civilian to be his body double for a function while the President is with his mistress. When the President suffers a stroke, his Chief of Staff forces Dave to keep playing the role for real.
  • In The Death of Stalin, an early background detail concerns the secret police rounding up the now-redundant body doubles of the deceased dictator. This happens in the background while the principal characters joke about their suddenly being out of work and whether they have retirement plans.
  • The Devil's Double is based on the Real Life Latif Yahia, a body double for Saddam Hussein's son Uday.
  • In the Action Prologue of Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond tracks down and kills Ernst Stavro Blofeld, right before he's going to use plastic surgery to make one of his minions look like himself as a decoy. Halfway through the movie however, Bond is shocked to find Blofeld not only alive, but living with an identical impersonator, as it turns out that the Blofeld he killed earlier was also a decoy. Blofeld admits that after Bond killed the last two decoys, further volunteers for the job were somewhat scarce.
  • The Eagle Has Landed is about a group of Nazi paratroopers who sneak into England in an attempt to assassinate Winston Churchill. The last member of the team succeeds in doing so before being shot, but after he dies, it is revealed that the Prime Minister was out of the country at a secret conference in Teheran — the man who was just killed was actually a vaudeville comedian and impressionist whose turn as Winnie was good enough that he ended up on the government's payroll. The double could have revealed this to save his life, but chose to maintain his role to the end.
  • The CEO in Exam has one for public appearances. The marketing department considered him not fit to make public appearances.
  • The Game Changer has a rather depressing example (like so many Heroic Bloodshed movies) when Zi-Hao, in his Roaring Rampage of Revenge final shootout, guns down who he assumes is the Big Bad and the person responsible for his best friend Fang-Jie's demise. It turns out to be a double, and it is said Big Bad's daughter, Qin-Qin, who serves as Zi-Hao's love interest, hoping to atone for her father's sins by dying in his place. Oops.
  • In Gate of Hell, the lead female is disguised as the queen and sent away from the royal palace, in order to lure away the rebels that are attacking the palace.
  • Parodied in Head of State when Presidential hopeful Mays Gilliam's campaign manager hires a guy who looks similar to him to precede him to all official functions. Mays half-jokes that Tupac Shakur could have used a guy like that. In the epilogue, after Mays wins, the body double is shot.
  • In Hitman, Agent 47 kills Russian President Mikhail Belicoff in a public appearance, only to discover Belicoff is still alive and well. In a twist, it turns out that the living Belicoff is actually a body double who has usurped the murdered Belicoff.
  • Iron Chain Fighter has the main villain, Black Leopard, who escaped custody, changed his facial appearance, and had a legion of his followers pretending to be him for most of the film. The titular hero's mission in the film is to hunt down Black Leopard, by killing his doubles one at a time in a series of fights — he knew whom to kill because the real Black Leopard has a tattoo of said animal.
  • Kagemusha has a convicted criminal offered the role of warlord Takeda Shingen in exchange for sparing his life.
  • The Last King of Scotland: Amin uses one to briefly to trick Nicholas when he comes to talk to him.
  • Princess of Thieves: Prince Philip has one to protect him from assassins. This pays off, as the double is killed in his place, with the enemy thinking initially that they got him.
  • Prior to the climax of Secret Service of the Imperial Court, the hero, Zhao Bu-Fan, has been marked for death by Imperial assassins, anticipating him to attend the anniversary of his mother's death by sending a number of Mooks to hide in the graveyard. Zhao's wife and brother-in-law (who got him into the mess the first place) decides to drug him, and attend the anniversary with the brother-in-law serving as a double. The brother gets killed via Off with His Head! as a result.
  • Shaolin Prince has a depressing example where the doubles are babies, during the opening scene where the two baby princes are being secretly hidden and several random babies purchased from poor families are used to mislead the villains intending on terminating the Emperor's bloodline. None of the baby doubles make it.
  • Played with in Spaceballs:
    Captain of the Guard: You idiots! These are not them! You've captured their stunt doubles!
  • Star Wars: In the prequels, Padmé does this a couple times. In the EU, it is explicitly stated that the purpose of the handmaidens is to act as bodyguards, and they are chosen to be similar in appearance to her. As Queen in The Phantom Menace, Padmé switches places with Sabé during the Trade Federation's invasion, and remains in the handmaiden role for most of the movie; the switch isn't revealed until shortly before the final battle (though they switched back for the meeting with the Senatenote ). In addition to protection, this allows them to confuse Nute Gunray during a pivotal moment. She keeps up the practice as a senator in Attack of the Clones, in which her decoy, Cordé, dies in an explosion meant for her.
  • In Vantage Point, it turns out that the President who was assassinated was actually his body double, which sucks for the guy, but is good news for the rest of the American population. Seeing as the double was shot on camera some skilled maneuvering is used when the President is revealed to be alive, so they make it look like he was only wounded. It helps that the President actually was hurt in a subsequent kidnapping.
  • The main villain of Vengeful Beauty has his cadre of Praetorian Guard disguised as himself in the final battle. All of them use the same weapon and are expert fighters, with each onscreen kill quickly revealed to be a double. Expectedly, the main villain is the last one to bite it once all his doubles are slain.

  • A dictator has been ousted from power, and is now on the run. His lieutenants gather together all his body doubles for a briefing. "The good news is that our enemies have not found our leader. The bad news is, they have found his arm..."

  • A BattleTech Expanded Universe novel shows Joshua Marik, son of ruler of the Free Worlds League Thomas Marik, dying of leukemia on the capitol of Federated Commonwealth, New Avalon. Thomas' legitimized daughter Isis is betrothed to Sun-Tzu Liao, who has a massive chip on his shoulder towards the Commonwealth and (should the marriage go forward) would likely waste no time in mobilizing the Free Worlds' League and his own Capellan Confederation against the FedCom, distracting them from the still-present threat of the invading Clans. Victor Steiner-Davion, ruler of the Federated Commonwealth, goes through with a plan his father Hanse had initiated to replace Joshua with a body double, letting everyone think he's still alive. Notably, the plan was never for this imposter Joshua to assume the throne of the Free Worlds' League as a Puppet King, but rather just to buy time and keep Thomas Marik nominally an ally. Of course, once the plan comes to light, everyone assumes that's exactly what Victor had intended, half his own realm turns against him, and a not-so-minor war kicks up. Thomas Marik himself was an imposter installed by ComStar, with the real Thomas Marik still alive elsewhere, a fact which would have dire consequences for the BattleTech universe in the near future.
  • As detailed in BioShock: Rapture, this is how Frank Fontaine managed to fake his death. It was actually Fontaine's longtime henchman Reggie, made to look like Fontaine with surgery by Dr. Steinman, who was killed in the Fontaine Futuristics shoot-out. The real Fontaine went on to become Atlas.
  • In The Bloody Red Baron, Dracula deploys a number of decoy body doubles during the climactic battle (one of whom, in an Allohistorical Allusion, is implied to be Bela Lugosi). It backfires once the decoys start being killed, because the news that "Dracula's dead" travels faster than the news that there are decoys in play, and his troops are demoralized by their leader's apparent death (and then also bewildered by the arrival of multiple conflicting accounts of his death).
  • Occasionally used as a diversion in Butler Parker, especially in the time shortly after Parker switched his employer. Kathy Porter went as a body double in several issues of the series.
  • Cold Harbour by Jack Higgins has British intelligence pushing Anne-Marie Trevaunce to spy on the Germans. When she's killed, they get her twin sister, Genevieve, to take her place. While Genevieve does well at first, she's undone by the one detail OSS never knew: her sister had switched sides and was working for the Nazis.
  • Discworld: A man who happens to look an awful lot like Lord Vetinari is crucial to a plot to discredit the real Patrician in The Truth. A later novel in the series mentions in passing that Vetinari occasionally hires the man to stand in for him when he needs a short holiday.
  • The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins (later made into a movie) has the twist of how the Winston Churchill the Germans are trying to kill is an actor while the real Churchill is at a conference. The novel had this as the final twist at the end as a writer is going to publish it only to be informed it will be cited as fiction because records show Churchill was in Teheran at the time. He thus realizes the truth. In a sequel novel The Eagle Has Flown, the one survivor of the mission literally howls with laughter at realizing it was all for a fake Churchill.
  • In The Empress Game, Kayla is recruited to be this for Princess Isonde. However, it's not "just in case" of attack — it's for a whole gladiatorial tournament, which Isonde needs to win despite having no fighting ability. When Isonde is put into a coma by a surprise attack, Kayla has to take over Isonde's political games as well.
  • The Executioner: The novel Tehran Wipeout opens with Mack Bolan assassinating the Ayatollah Khomeini! Sure enough, this trope is in play, but the true twist is that Khomeini has been dead for years and the Iranian government is using the doubles to maintain their power.
  • Forest Kingdom:
    • In book 2 (Blood and Honor), Jordan, an actor, is hired to serve as one for Prince Viktor of Redheart, so nobody will know the real Viktor is unavailable. The transformation into an exact physical duplicate proves to be so effective that it gives him the same royal Blood as the original Viktor, granting him Viktor's fire magic and letting him pass the blood test issued by the Stone of Redheart, thus letting him become king.
    • In the Hawk & Fisher series, book 3 (The God Killer) reveals that homunculi can be illegally made to serve this role. When the sorcerer Bode's dead body is found, it's later revealed to have been just another of his doubles, and de-animating it just returned the animating spirit back into their original body.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Order of the Phoenix try to smuggle Harry from Privet Drive to a safe house by using Polyjuice Potion to transform six of them into Harry, assigning each one a bodyguard, and going in seven different directions. They're attacked by an army of Death Eaters when they leave the house, but the plan works until something gives the real Harry away (Harry using his signature "Expelliarmus" spell in the book, Hedwig trying to protect him in the film).
  • Inverted in the H.I.V.E. Series when Otto masquerades as his own clone, killing the clone and pretending it was himself who died.
  • The Honor Harrington novel Crown of Slaves opens with Berry Zilwicki being offered the job of body double for Princess Ruth of Manticore.
  • In one of Francoise Rivier and Michel Laponte's Jonathan Cap books, a dangerous plan to overthrow an Arabian Sheik depends on one of these, a Middle-Eastern Ordinary High-School Student named Jamil who is forced by the terrorist group to serve as the double to the Crown Prince (whom they plan to kidnap, kill, and then replace with the kid, whom they have trapped in a complicated web of lies to make sure he can't escape). Coincidentally, the Big Bad chooses a Parisian private clinic as its hideout since the gambit's supposed to take place during the Prince's visit to France, and a girl named Juliette is operated there... and she happens to be the best friend of Jonathan's Kid Sidekicks and nephews Alex and Nico. Used in a lighter note afterwards. Once the deal is defused and Jamil is released from his captors' control, the Crown Prince forgives him on grounds of having been Forced into Evil without any way out. Then he makes Jamil replace him during the official activities in Paris, therefore making him a full-blooded Body Double, while he goes outside to have fun with Alex, Nico and a girl named Elisabeth who had also been forced to help the group.
  • In The Leader and the Damned by Colin Forbes, one of the assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler is successful, so Martin Bormann uses a body double to maintain the Reich and his own power. Unfortunately, the double isn't interested in being Bormann's puppet, and is somewhat insane, so ends up doing all the crazy things Adolf is famous for that made him lose the war.
  • In The Machineries of Empire, Mikodez had all his siblings modded to look like him (including sex change when necessary) so that they might pretend to be him during various meetings and trips he doesn't have time or patience to attend.
  • Night of the Fox by Jack Higgins has Erwin Rommel meeting with German generals plotting to kill Hitler. To give himself a perfect cover, Rommell gets lookalike Eric Berger to pose as him touring bases. What Rommell doesn't know is that Berger has been dead for years and his identity taken by Jewish actor Heini Baum, who now plays two roles at once.
  • In one of the Otto Stahl novels by Leo Kessler (a.k.a. Charles Whiting), a double of General Dwight D. Eisenhower is used as a precaution against an attempt by SS commandos to assassinate him during the Battle of the Bulge. At the end of the novel, Otto begins to suspect that the attempt may have succeeded after all, and barely escapes with his life. As is pointed out, the real question is whether General Eisenhower was only temporarily incapacitated, or his double went on to become President of the United States.
  • In Overlord (2012), one of Ainz's servants is Pandora's Actor, a Greater Doppelganger NPC Ainz created. As a Greater Doppelganger, Pandora's Actor has the power to shapeshift into any of the 41 guildmembers of Ainz's former guild, including Ainz himself. Pandora's Actor throughout the series has filled in for Ainz to help facilitate various plans. In volume 14, the "Ainz" that fights Platinum Dragon Lord's remote armor is actually Pandora's Actor.
  • Pay Me, Bug!: In A Rake by Starlight, the coup that's been brewing against Baron Tyrelos finally comes to a head when her body double gets vaporized by a nuclear bomb during a speech the Baron herself was originally supposed to give.
  • In The Princes of the Air, Queen Rachel has several, of which at least one is an android and one is a male relative who has the same build and shares the distinctive family eye colour. At one point the protagonist goes to the palace with an important message, and has to observe several Queen Rachels before finding the one he's looking for.
  • In the second Quiller novel, the British shadow executive is sent to counter-snipe a Professional Killer out to assassinate an unnamed British royal VIP in Bangkok. It's only after he shoots his target and the VIP is kidnapped that Quiller realises he's been set up. He's just shot a double while the real killer fired from elsewhere at the VIP's driver, sending the car off the road. In this case the deception was helped by the decoy shooter firing from inside a darkened building, so he didn't have to look much like the assassin. The real assassin had also shown up in the same location earlier, as if to scout it out, to further the deception.
  • In Rakuin No Monshou, Fedom claims that Orba is acting as a body double for Prince Gil due to the danger of assassination as the royal wedding approaches. Orba sees through this excuse fairly quickly, given the political dangers of having a body double standing in for Gil so often and that Fedom's people are the only ones aware of it.
  • The Spear: Heinrich Himmler's suicide in British custody is depicted to have been committed by Feldpolizei corporal Heinz Hintzinger.
  • Near the end of Robin McKinley's Spindle's End, the characters attempt to thwart an evil fairy's curse on secret princess Rosie by having Rosie's best friend Peony claim to be the princess in her stead. Unfortunately, while everyone else is fooled, the fairy is not.
  • Star Island has Ann DeLusia, an unsuccessful young actress hired by Cherry Pye's Stage Mom to stand in for her daughter when she's too wasted to appear before the public, though the Paparazzi are only sometimes fooled. Their physical resemblance is close but not quite perfect: whereas Cherry's eyes are green, Ann is brown-eyed and disdains contacts. Ann's role is well-paying but of course utterly thankless, with even Cherry being unaware of her existence.
  • Stravaganza has this in the first book, as the Duchessa of Belleza uses different doubles for all the flashy ceremonies, such as the Marriage with the Sea. She began this procedure when she became pregnant with her daughter, Arianna. One such double thinks she can outsmart the Duchessa, rat out her secret, and throw her lot in with the di Chimici with no ill consequences; she's wrong.
  • In "The Tercentenary Incident", the ineffectual President of the United States (now part of a Global Federation) disappears in a glitter of dust, only to reappear shortly thereafter, giving belief that what turned into dust was a body double. However, two years later, former Secret Service agent bodyguard Lawrence Edwards, who witnessed said attack, tells the President's personal secretary Francis Janek that he suspects it was actually the President that was killed, and his robotic body double the one to replace him, based on his post-attack O.O.C. Is Serious Business. Unknown to him, he's completely right — only that Janek was the one who pulled the trigger.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, upon learning that the King is going to get ambushed and killed, Jean de Vrailly has the two of them switch armour (which is full plate, so you can't really see who's underneath it) and takes the should-be-killing blow for him.
  • In Worm, one of Bonesaw's tactics when being cornered is to capture civilians and modify them to look like the Slaughterhouse 9; the 9 can then use the confusion to attack or retreat. Even after the 9 leave Brockton Bay several surviving body doubles have to completely cover themselves to avoid being attacked.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: It turns out that the houses in Iraq that the Bluth company built were housing a group of Saddam doubles, though it may be that one of them was the real Saddam and a double was killed in his place.
  • An episode of The Blacklist has the team tracking a man who specializes in providing rich killers with airtight alibis. Part of this involves giving a random "actor" a big payday in exchange for wearing a special mask likeness of the killer and be photographed at specific places at the time of the crime.
  • In the Castle (2009) episode "A Dance With Death", Odette, a spoiled Upper-Class Twit, is found dead on a dancing show. However, various confusing bits such as how someone saw Odette shooting up but no drugs were in her system. It then turns out the prints match those of Barbara, a stripper who had died in a train crash a year earlier... a crash Odette barely escaped from. It finally clicks when Castle finds photos showing Odette doing court-ordered service at a soup kitchen yet able to attend a fancy brunch across town at the same time. It turns out Odette saw Barbara perform and realized that with a little surgery, they could be doubles. She thus hired Barbara to pose as Odette for stuff like community service and weekly meals with her wealthy grandmother while Odette could party like old times. When the crash happened and Odette was killed with her face horribly managed, Barbara realized that no one knew about the deal, so, as Castle puts it, "She saw her chance to go from understudy to leading lady" with no one the wiser. At first, Castle and Beckett think the killer was someone from Barbara's past blackmailing her. It soon turns out the killer was Odette's financial manager as he and Odette had conspired to kill her grandmother so they could control the fortune. When he yelled at Barbara over this, her shock made him realize she wasn't the real Odette, so he killed her to keep it quiet.
  • Chris Ryan's Strike Back: An assassination attempt on Robert Mugabe fails because of this. Turns out the whole thing had been sent up to discredit British Intelligence, which meant the body double had been set up to be killed.
  • CSI: Miami uses this twice.
    • In "Triple Threat", a wealthy real-estate developer is killed during a party with his wife (Leslie Bipp) in attendance. It turns out the developer had hired a body double for protection and that was the man who was murdered. The ironic part is that his wife was behind it with her triplet sisters, each taking turns pretending to be just one womannote  to sucker the guy in and unaware that he was still alive until the end.
    • In "Show Stopper", a singer (Lucy Hale) burst into flames during a concert and is declared dead. It turns out the real singer had quit the business and this was one of her dancers in disguise to keep the tour going. The team then has to track down the missing real singer.
  • A variant in the Forever Knight episode "Dying for Fame". The main plot involves Rebecca, a rock singer being stalked by an obsessed fan. Near the end of the episode, Rebecca is Bound and Gagged and hidden in a closet by one of her backup singers, so she can impersonate Rebecca on stage (that night's concert was on tape) and be the star herself. Unfortunately, that turns out to be the night Rebecca's obsessed fan is in the audience and pulls out a submachine gun.
  • In Legend of the Seeker, back when Darken Rahl was in charge, one of his officers found a beggar who looked remarkably similar to him and brought him to Lord Rahl with this trope in mind. Rahl almost had the beggar (and the officer) executed, claiming that the guy looks nothing like him (despite being played by the same actor). The officer has the beggar physically altered (painfully) to look just like Rahl and provide voice coaching to have him sound like the Lord of D'Hara. After Rahl's death, the beggar and the officer (who have become friends) escape and engage in cons involving the beggar pretending to be Rahl. As it turns out, Rahl had a backup plan to have his spirit be brought back into the beggar's body. This works, although the beggar's spirit is put in another man's body, much to the beggar's delight (he hated having Rahl's face).
  • In The Nevers, this turns out to be the case with Maladie, who switched places with her Psycho Supporter Clara intending to get captured and publicly executed. Mundi only figures it out after the execution when he sees three missing toes on the foot that Clara cut off herself. The fact that the original has Wild Hair and distinctive makeup helps disguise the switch.
  • The Professionals: In "Dead Reckoning", a Double Agent handed over by the Bulgarian secret police is poisoned while under CI5 protection. They suspect that his daughter did the deed, even wondering if someone did a Kill and Replace on her. Turns out the dead man was an imposter who somewhat resembled the spy and had been surgically implanted with his fingerprints years before. The daughter was convinced to play along but had no idea the imposter was meant to be killed, so her father could fake his death and continue his spying under another identity.
  • The Rookie (2018): The cops are confused when a plane crashes on a street and the fingerprints match to a millionaire imprisoned for killing his wife. They go to see him as it becomes clear something is off, especially when they ask the name of the man's wife and he starts to answer before remembering "He" isn't married. It turns out it's a guy who got surgery and $10 million so he could take the millionaire's place.
  • In Acts 44 and 45 of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, it's revealed that Takeru is a kagemusha for the true 18th head, Shiba Kaoru. He is later adopted by Kaoru and made her official successor in Act 48. Power Rangers Samurai copies this, with Jayden taking the Red Ranger role on behalf of his older sister Lauren.
  • An episode of Sanctuary (2007) set during D-Day has Watson confronting sometime enemy Druitt, who claims he is trying to help the war effort. When Watson snorts that if Druitt wanted to help, he would kill Hitler, Druitt matter-of-factly reveals he did... six months earlier at an opera. Watson realizes the Reich has been using body doubles to hide the fact that the Fuehrer is dead.
  • In Sonny with a Chance, Sonny is on a date with Chad, biking on the lot, when she suddenly sees another Chad nearby. It turns out that Chad's contract prevents him from doing stuff that might be dangerous as it could hurt his show, so he got a lookalike to be on this date. At first, Sonny understands... but then realizes that Chad has been interpreting "risk" as everything from dart playing to eating Mexican food and Chad has been using his double on almost every other date he and Sonny have had.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Ba'al creates numerous clones of himself to act as decoys, and aid in some elaborate schemes of his.
  • Supernatural: In the finale of Season 7, Dick Roman knows the Winchesters are coming to kill him, so has his fellow shapeshifting Leviathans create copies of him so they won't know which one to kill.
  • In V.I.P., the gang befriend a Cuban man vacationing in L.A. While clean-shaven, his voice and mannerisms are strikingly like Fidel Castro. His being attacked by a Cuban hit squad adds to it. Tasha meets a KGB contact who tells her that every few years Castro tests the loyalty of his inner circle. He makes it known he's going on a secret trip and then sends out a double "disguised" as an "incognito" Castro to see who takes shots at him. When attacked, the double comes up with a smart battle plan, claiming he read it in a book. The episode ends with it up in the air whether this is a double or, in fact, the real Castro taking a real vacation.

  • Imogen Heap's song "Bad Body Double" plays with this. The singer talks of a woman who looks a lot like her, although she's " some greys, a little extra weight on the side, and dimply thighs..." And once the lookalike finds this out, she starts stalking her, trying to look more like her. There's also the interpretation that the body double is really the personification of her insecurities about herself.
  • "The Real Hussein", a parody of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady", highlights Saddam Hussein's use of these.
    Saddam: And there's a million of us just like me, who dress like me, walk, talk, oppress like me, mustache like me, a big piece of trash like me, and just might be a piece of sh*t, but not quite me!

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In Survival of the Fittest, Ken Lawson was Burton Harris' body double — and ended up being put into V2 for his pains. Burton, of course, then managed to land himself in V3 too. Both ended up getting killed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Every Trueborn member of Dark Eldar Archon Vhane Kyharc's Kabal has been surgically altered to look exactly like him, and the lower orders wear masks of his face. In theory, this is to prevent assassinations (always a good idea with Dark Eldar), but the truth is, the aptly-named Vhane really is that much of a narcissist (he once bombarded an entire planet with a virus that gave every living thing his face).
    • The Alpha Legion of Chaos Space Marines does the same thing also exaggerating it so that each Legionnaire is the leader, the Primarch Alpharius, partly for this trope, but more to confuse opponents to who the leader is. Despite being supersolders, the Alpha Legion prefers to work as operatives and covert agents, and when they do go to battle their combat doctrine relies on a heavily decentralized command structure in combat so that each element is effectively running itself. Their greatest weapons are secrecy and deception. Lastly, the actual Alpharius had been known to pose as one of his soldiers and have them take his place. To even greater confuse the matter, Alpharius had a twin named Omegon, something unique amongst the Primarchs, and something nobody outside of the Alpha Legion knew.

  • The titular king in Henry IV, Part 1 has a number of doubles during the climactic battle.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed, Robert de Sable has Maria Thorpe impersonate him at a funeral after he (correctly) guesses that he's on the Assassin's hit list. Additionally, had he not done that Desmond would have never existed, as Altair and Maria end up marrying and conceiving Desmond's ancestor.
  • Subverted and Played for Laughs in Bangai-O with one boss character. A few levels after Gai is defeated, Riki and Mami encounter a doppelganger of him that was raised to fill in as the Cosmo Gang's substitute leader, to the point that no one remembers who he is anymore. Said "doppelganger" happens to be a furry, green creature that sports a hairstyle vaguely resembling Gai's, glowing eyes, and a cigar. Naturally, Riki isn't fooled.
  • Borderlands:
    • The "Doppleganger" character in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! is a body-double for Jack. His real name is Timothy Lawrence, who took the job out of desperation because of his crushing student debt, and was surgically altered to look and sound like Jack (with implications that they also implanted a bomb in him that would explode if he ever tried to get the surgery reversed). However, he is very much his own person, and while he is required by law to act and talk like Jack (and even has a contractual clause that forbids him from using his real name), he proves to be far more morally sound compared to the real Jack, especially after he jumps off the slippery slope halfway through the game. The "Handsome Jackpot" DLC of Borderlands 3 reveals that Timothy actually survived past Jack's death and has been stuck in an abandoned casino built by Jack where he's hunted down by the survivors due to both his appearance and the fact that he has a VIP Pass grafted to his hand that can grant anyone full access to the casino's systems.
    • In Borderlands 2, the player is required to kill a body double of Jack in order to snatch a piece of Jack's DNA for a disguise. Unlike the above however, this one is just a regular Engineer Mook using a holographic disguise, and doesn't sound at all like the real Jack.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops: The first level has the player unknowingly assassinating Fidel Castro's body double.
    • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Hades has a body double whom he uses to host a meeting with several KVA supporters/officials. The team sent in to assassinate him don't figure this out until after the imposter has been shot, and right before a bomb goes off in the room they're in.
  • The Deception series loves having the villains sent these into your dungeon before themselves.
  • In Dishonored 2, Duke Luca Abele has a body double living within his personal estate. If the player can find him... he'll agree to replace the duke by taking his medallion and have the real one arrested, telling the guards that his "body double" went mad and believes he's the real thing. Luckily, he proves to be a far better ruler than the real thing.
  • Once you kill the tyrant Dong Zhuo roughly halfway into Dynasty Wars, you realize you just killed a double and the real Dong Zhuo is getting away on horseback.
  • The Elder Scrolls: In the series' backstory, the more "heretical" tales of Tiber Septim's life state that he was served by a powerful Mysterious Backer known only as the Underking, believed to have possibly been the ancient Nordic king and Shezarrine, Wulfharth Ash-King. In addition to protecting Septim (then known as the Breton Hjalti Early-Beard) in the form of a great storm, the Underking is also believed to have been able to impersonate Hjalti, allowing them to conquer and govern in two places at once.
  • Far Cry 4: Pagan Min has one named Eric, who apparently isn't even really (half) Asian; just a white Australian guy with hair loss, high cheekbones and a lot of plastic surgery. Pagan mostly uses him to pose as him for portraits and statues in his stead, probably out of sheer laziness. Ajay only finds out after he's killed Eric, at which point the real Pagan calls him up to taunt him.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, the wandering gambler Setzer sends a calling card to the Opera House, professing his intention to kidnap the opera singer Maria. The party needs to get on his airship to make their way to the Imperial continent, so they have Celes (who, strangely enough, looks a bit like Maria) act as a decoy and sing her part in the opera that night. She manages to fool Setzer until after he kidnaps her.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, a small rebel faction's Zany Scheme to capture President Vinzer Deling alive succeeds... only for him to turn out to be an undead body double who TaLKs liKE TorGO.
  • There are two cases of this in Fire Emblem. First is Samto from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, body double of Navarre, second is Shanam from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (cameo) and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (made playable), body double of Prince Shanan.
  • In Jeanne d'Arc, Jeanne's childhood friend Lianne is forced to do this for Jeanne after she disappears and is believed to be dead. Ultimately, Liane is the one who is burned at the stake, much to Jeanne's horror.
  • Last Alert: Chairman Steve uses one to speak for him at a corporate banquet. It doesn't really matter much since Guy Kazama blows up the double in the same cutscene he's introduced.
  • In Love Nikki - Dress Up Queen, the titular Nikki pulls this for her Identical Stranger Bai Jinjin, when her dad's envoys try to kidnap her back into her rich home and take a hold of some very important items that she supposedly took with her when she ran away.
  • Used several times in Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid, Decoy Octopus takes on the appearance of several different people, and has to be psychologically evaluated after each one to return to his core personality. In the Fan Webcomic The Last Days of FOXHOUND, set prior to the game, Revolver Ocelot expresses disappointment at Decoy Octopus' decision to stop impersonating him, because it meant that there was no longer a 50/50 chance that someone out to get him would kill Octopus instead.
    • In an early version of the Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty story, the events of the Plant Chapter were supposed to take place while Solidus Snake was still in office as the U.S. President. The events would've kicked off with the assassination of Solidus Snake's body double, allowing him to fake his death.
    • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, this is the endgame twist. The player character in The Phantom Pain is not Naked Snake who was the protagonist in the previous prequels (including Ground Zeroes), but rather an MSF Medic (the same one who extracted the bomb from Paz in the closing sequence of Ground Zeroes) who become his double. While Naked Snake builds up the nation of Outer Heaven off-screen, Venom Snake lead the Diamond Dogs in order to build up his legend in your own way, in addition to seeking retribution for the events of Ground Zeroes. By the end, Naked Snake acknowledges that Venom is just as worthy of the title as he is, and it turns out that Venom did become the Big Boss of the original Metal Gear, whereas Naked Snake is the Big Boss in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
  • After the first chapter of Rondo of Swords, the player learns that the main character, Prince Serdic, is in fact a double of the actual Prince Serdic.
  • In Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die, Keigo Kyogoku employs a body double to commit suicide when his coup fails at the end of chapter 8, allowing Kyogoku to summon Musashi as part of his evil plan.
  • Used for Sakaki Joushiro's backstory in the Samurai Shodown games (more exactly, Warrior's Rage), with a twist: the body double was not him but his girlfriend Karen, an Action Girl who posed as a princess's double... but was killed by the Big Bad Oboro. Joushiro got wrongfully blamed for all of it and now he's a runaway.
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu uses multiple body doubles while on the run in Samurai Warriors during the Battle of Mikatagahara, as five of his retainers pretend to be Ieyasu so he can escape. Often a tearjerker scene as he was against such an idea and swore to unite Japan so sacrifices like these will never have to be made ever again.
  • The playable version of King Lion in Savage Reign and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum is actually a body double (referred to as a "shadow") of the real King Lion.
  • Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts: One of your targets employs a body double who carries a dead man's switch: if you shoot the double first, then the target will be alerted. If you search the body of your other main target for the level, you will find out that the target doesn't smoke.
  • Suikoden V has Roy serve as this for the Prince after he loses their duel. It comes into play several times, with one of Roy's most awesome moments coming only if the player really screws up. While Roy bears an uncanny resemblance to the Prince in both face and body type (so long has he wears a good wig to conceal their different hair color), and can even convincingly copy the Prince's unique fighting style, but his Large Ham tendencies are a distinct flaw.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon reveals that Joon-gi Han from Yakuza 6 has one whose real name is Yeonsu Kim — although it wasn't by choice, as Yeonsu's father drugged him and forced him to undergo plastic surgery to get on his good graces.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Gyakuten Kenji 2, the Body Double of the President of Zheng Fa, conspiring with Blaise Debeste and Patricia Roland, hires Professional Killer Sirhan Dogen to kill the true president and takes his place. The truth is not discovered until after the double himself is murdered, twelve years later.
  • In Reflections on the River, depending on what route is taken, it may be revealed that the real Princess Yanyu is perpetually ill, and that the protagonist has actually just kidnapped a body double named Huineng. By that stage, Huineng is actually getting depressed about being considered so expendable. In one of the endings, however, the real Yanyu dies, and the king and queen have to beg Huineng to assume the role permanently.

  • In Bruno the Bandit, Queen Xantippa once uses a double to get out of attending a party celebrating her engagement to Bruno.
  • Charby the Vampirate: The prince of Eldenlon has a body double who has made no attempts to recreate some of the prince's very noticeable injuries which he picked up in the same incident that killed his previous body double.
  • Darths & Droids: The Player Character Senator Amidala gets blown up by a Booby Trap in the first scene of Episode II due to a vindictive player, so the Game Master crossly retcons it to be a body double who died.
    Amidala: Can I buy a few more of these Schrödinger decoys?
  • It's revealed in chapter 30 of Drowtales that the "Val'Sharess Diva'ratrika" seen in a parade is actually a double. Slightly different than most examples in that the double isn't there to protect Diva — it's to hide the fact that she's been dead for 16 years, and it was her own daughters that did it. Needless to say, the real Diva, who in fact is Not Quite Dead and took over the body of her servant, is pretty shocked to hear that "she's" holding a parade. After a 15-year Time Skip, both the Sarghress and Vloz'ress clans put a large amount of effort into assassinating the various doubles that have been brought out since in an attempt to publicly expose the deception, with Kiel'ndia Vloz'ress succeeding in killing one and having it publicly announced, in a chapter appropriately titled "End of Charades".
  • The Order of the Stick has several for Xykon, one of whose head Belkar uses as a weapon for a short time. This is also something of a subversion, as the doubles look like Xykon simply because they're all skeletons.
  • The Silver Eye: Walter's curse turned Thoth St. Claire into a perfect doppleganger of Bhatair Hollingsworth, the king of a faraway land. Bhatair somehow convinced Thoth to play the part of the king while Bhatair traveled. It was Thoth who was decapitated and chopped to pieces in the arena attack, not Bhatair, though the curse did transpose many of the injuries onto Bhatair.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, when Torg or Riff want to get out of something, they have robot doubles which Bun-Bun and Kiki (due to their small size) can operate from the inside to impersonate the real Riff and Torg. Bun-Bun also has Mr. Sock-Lop, a sock puppet that looks just like him, which he brings out whenever he wants to avoid Kiki's overenthusiastic hugs.

    Western Animation 
  • In All Hail King Julien, Julien decides to hire a body double to handle a potentially risky dangerous meeting with the crocodile kingdom, but due to the body double's low self-esteem from constantly being mistaken for Julien, he tries to take Julien's place instead.
  • The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan: In the episode "To Catch a Pitcher", star baseball player Boo Blue (a loose stand-in for Oakland A's star Vida Blue) is kidnapped by some thugs — or so it seems. When the Chan Clan arrive to rescue him, they find he's a lookalike planted while the real Boo Blue was safe and secure in another location.
  • In American Dad!, Stan Smith has a body double issued by the CIA. It gets squicky when the body double starts dating Stan's daughter Hayley.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "The Laughing Fish", Batman disguises himself as one of the Joker's targets and has the actual target wear a spare Batsuit. It doesn't work; the Joker sends in the target's cat, who recognizes its human and delivers a dose of Joker venom.
  • Danger Mouse: When Danger Mouse is held captive by the motorcycling Mongols in "The Spy Who Stayed in with a Cold", Master of Disguise Agent 57 changes himself into DM and bluffs the Mongols into a mass retreat.
    DM Agent 57: [to the Mongols] You're outnumbered two to 7,643, so you'd better untie me now before I come down there and do it myself!
  • Kim Possible: In "Attack of the Killer Bebes", Ron uses his "Movie Magic Kit" to impersonate Kim's dad so that the Bebes kidnap him instead.
  • The Metalocalypse episode "Dethdoubles" has Dethklok be given body doubles. The band ends up treating their doubles like best friends, which their manager discourages, since their entire purpose is to be killed in Dethklok's place. The doubles end up being horribly burnt and disfigured by a volcanic eruption of hot coffee, forcing Dethklok to retire their doubles.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Rainer Wolfcastle has one who looks 100% like him but with a different voice and without the accent.
    • In "Homie the Clown", Homer is a licensed lookalike for Krusty (similar to Bozo's licensees) and unknowingly becomes mistaken for him when the latter is being targeted by the mob.note 
  • In some incarnations of Transformers, Megatron has one named Megaplex.

    Real Life 
  • North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il is strongly speculated to have had a double. One journalist went so far as to suggest that the real Kim died in 2003. Though now that he is actually/officially dead, we will likely never find out.
  • After Boris Yeltsin left politics, there were some theories about how he actually drank himself to death in 1999 and the Yeltsin that lived until 2007 was a body double.
  • Allegedly, Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary aka Sissi often asked one of her hairstylists, a German lady who bore quite the resemblance to her and had similar long hair, to replace her in several official acts.
  • The whole Paul is dead theory thrives on this.
  • Adolf Hitler is said to have had a variety of doubles, particularly on big speeches and propaganda marches. While not 100% certain, it would explain why over 40 assassination attempts failed on him.
  • Josef Stalin also said to have at least four body doubles, and one of them, Felix Dadaev, came forward after the fall of the Soviet Union to tell his story.
  • Believed in some cultures to be the purpose of bridesmaids, who are dressed similarly to the bride in order to disguise the actual bride from potential kidnappers (or demons, depending on the interpretation.)
  • It was speculated that Sister Lucia dos Santos, the only Fatima Visionary who lived until adulthood, was replaced by one of these in The '60s so she would neither keep the famous Third Secret of Fatima locked away, nor lie about it.
  • Republican candidate is convinced his opponent is dead and using a body double as a stand-in.
  • M.E. Clifton James and Keith "Tex" Banwell were both this to Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, employed to confuse the Germans during World War II. This story became a book and a film, called I Was Monty's Double.
  • A rare non-human example was pulled off by Seabiscuit's handlers. His trainer Tom Smith, notorious for being a Troll to the press, purchased Seabiscuit's otherwise identical half-brother Grog (both foaled from the same sire, Hard Tack) and on multiple occasions brought out Grog when he knew the press would be hanging around to report on and photograph training sessions. On the few occasions Smith would uncharacteristically allow the press to sit on the back of the horse for bragging rights, it was usually Grog they sat on instead. And once they started to catch on, Smith would occasionally use the real Seabiscuit just to keep them guessing. To this day, there are some photos where no one's entirely certain if the depicted horse was really Seabiscuit or if it was actually Grog, and Smith took the truth to his grave. Besides trolling the press, Grog was also used in the more traditional way of confusing potential assailants since due to the high stakes of the races he participated in several rivals attempted to sabotage or injure Seabiscuit.
  • As recounted in Laura Hillenbrand's book, the above tactic was also pulled off by another team during a race. A horse called Stagehand was entered into a race alongside his brother Sceneshifter, who was identical to him in appearance, and Seabiscuit's jockey George Woolf was told that Stagehand's jockey would be wearing a white color cap to differentiate the two horses. During the race he carefully followed the white-capped jockey's horse and eventually used their burst of speed to move to the front, only to realize too late that the rival team's jockeys had switched their caps prior to the race and the real Stagehand had been waiting in the wings behind both of them and burst past them for the win.
  • In Sengoku-Era Japan, it wasn't uncommon for a Daimyō to have a Kagemusha (影武者, Shadow Warrior) to keep order in their castles while out on a campaign. Kagemusha were often trusted retainers to their lords who would take the fall in a siege. Some were convicted criminals who took the opportunity in exchange for not being put to death; of course, given the perilous position they were in, this rarely guaranteed their ultimate survival. Those mentions of Tokugawa Ieyasu in other folders above are based on old rumors that Ieyasu died a bit too early and his Kagemusha had to take his identity.
  • Harmonia, princess of Syracuse (Sicily) was a tragic example. She was at risk of being assassinated by the mob alongside the entire royal family, but some lookalike girl was willing to pretend she was Harmonia instead. Harmonia went into hiding but witnessed personally from behind a cover how the substitute girl was killed. Devastated by grief, she then (according to different sources) either committed suicide or willingly submitted herself to the assassins and was killed.


Harry's Plan

Harry has a plan when Voldemort shows up.

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