Follow TV Tropes


Celebrity Masquerade

Go To

With a few exceptions, superheroes need day jobs. After all, those wonderful toys don't just grow on trees. Some can make it big as Intrepid Reporters, while others can fulfill their need to help people round the clock as Military Superheroes. The average Kid Hero goes to school instead of a day job. But sometimes, your alter ego is someone who's in the public eye.

When the superhero has a secret identity that is famous in their own right. When they are not fighting crime they are a famous rockstar, an actor, or just someone that is constantly in the public eye. Of course, this can cause the problem of someone being able to notice that the famous model and the superheroine seem to have a lot in common, especially if they have a Paper-Thin Disguise.

See also Stock Superhero Day Jobs, in which being famous is a "job" to hide his/her superhero life. Magic Idol Singer (when the Idol Singer in question is a Magical Girl Warrior) is a sub-trope. Inverted by Anti-Climactic Unmasking, where a hero is unmasked and other characters are surprised by the fact that they aren't already famous.

Sister trope of Celebrity Superhero, in which the superhero is seen as the big star instead of using it as secret identity.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Garaku Utagawa, a prolific painter, is actually an ayakashi. Since ayakashi are empowered by human recognition, Garaku's fame directly empowers him.
  • In Dancougar Nova, the Sixth Ranger turns out to be the famous Idol Singer Eida, who took up anonymous Humongous Mecha piloting in her spare time.
    • Main protagonist Aoi Hidaka is also a world famous Formula One champion was well as occasionally doing modeling.
  • Fujiko Fujio's Perman has Sumire Hoshino, a famous young idol, a.k.a Perman 3/Pako, one of the superheroes with the name "Perman". In particular, she feels that she has more freedom as a superhero than as an idol.
  • Sailor Moon
    • Michiru Kaioh is an internationally acclaimed violinist who's played in major venues around the globe. She also is Sailor Neptune, the princess from planet Neptune and fights the evil Death Busters, protecting the Earth and her future Queen, Serenity.
    • Her girlfriend, Haruka Tennoh, is a car racing champion who gets a lot of attention from the media due to her talent and young age. She transforms into the tough Sailor Uranus and defends the solar system from evil and chaos.
    • The Sailor Star Lights are a trio of magical teen idols that disguise as men in the manga and TRANSFORM into men in the anime. They use music to deliver a message to their princess which they are looking for. When in Sailor form, they fight evil Senshi and live to defeat the terrible Sailor Galaxia who tries to gather all the Sailor Crystals in the universe.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman might be the inversion of Celebrity Superhero. Bruce Wayne is nationally renowned as one of the richest people on the planet, giving him a sort of "Bill Gatesian" status in the DCU, while the Batman (depending on how far along his career is in a given story) is often dismissed as a mere urban legend.
  • In Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, Rubberduck is secretly the movie star Byrd Rentals, and Yankee Poodle is celebrity reporter Rova Barkitt.
  • When not fighting crime, Funnyman is Larry Davis, a famous Danny Kaye-type comedian in his own right.
  • Great Lakes Avengers: Ashley Crawford/Big Bertha is actually a famous swimsuit model in her civilian form. This is due to her having complete control over her body mass, so her overweight superhero form looks very different from her civilian form.
  • In Jon Sable, Freelance, famous mercenary Jon Sable has a second identity as best-selling children's author B.B. Flemm.
  • A Spy Fiction example occurs with Oni Press' The Leading Man. The story is about Nick Walker, a successful Hollywood movie actor is also a superspy working for The Agency, a secret security organization, as a Double Agent.
  • New Gods. By day, Mister Miracle is Scott Free, the world's greatest escape artist, and does a lot of work for charity.
  • As Shi, she's a martial artist and a vigilante who goes into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. As Ana Ishikawa (her civilian alter-ego), she's famous enough being an art historian and the director of Oiko Art Gallery.
  • Vixen is secretly the well-known fashion model Mari Jiwe McCabe. Now that her mask is rarely included in her costume Mari has publicly announced that she's a superhero in several of her incarnations.
  • Janet van Dyne, The Wasp, made her living as a fashion designer.
  • Various superheroines had a double life as Fanservice Models for swimsuits and lingerie as Jean Grey, Jennifer-Lynn Hayden (Jade), Arisia Rrab and Starfire (under the name of Kory Anderson).

    Fan Works 
  • The Boys: Real Justice: Bruce Wayne's celebrity billionaire status (and how it could lead to someone learning his secret identity) is brought up twice:
    • He points out to Clark while the League's exploring Earth-7 that while Clark Kent, Diana Prince, and John Jones aren't well known in either reality, someone from their Earth would likely point out that Bruce Wayne was seen there. Hence his use of his third alias, Matches Malone, while exploring Earth-7.
    • While in Gotham, the Boys (mostly Frenchie) learn a little bit about Batman and the most powerful people in Gotham. Because Bruce is famous, Frenchie does some digging and comes to the conclusion that Wayne is secretly Batman. Luckily, the Bat has a back-up plan for if this ever happens; have a shapeshifter pose as Bruce Wayne and be seen with Batman, disproving any claims that they're the same person note .

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Eternals, Kingo poses as a Bollywood actor - to be precise, he's posed as five generations of actors by the time Sersi, Ikaris, and Sprite approach him while trying to assemble the full team of Earth-based Eternals.
  • Deconstructed at the end of Iron Man, where Tony Stark has to explain the fact that the flamboyant, world-renowned Millionaire Playboy CEO of Stark Industries sure has a lot of Powered Armor and property damage around him and his company. At the press conference, he soon realizes that nobody's buying his cover story about it being his bodyguard and that all he's doing is digging himself deeper, so he just comes clean and admits that he's Iron Man. In the sequels, him being a superhero becomes a major part of his public persona.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hannibal of The A-Team, for a given value of superhero. Even though his "hero" identity is a wanted fugitive, we learn that he is also still pursuing a career as a low-profile monster movie actor (naturally, he can only take roles where he wouldn't show his face).
  • Ace Ukiyo, the titular Kamen Rider Geats, is a famous celebrity known as "Star of the star of the stars", while his identity as a Kamen Rider is unknown to all but a few.
  • Minako Aino from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is the Idol Singer of the moment. At the peak of her career as one of the trendiest pop stars of Japan, she still has to fight the forces of evil under her Sailor V persona and later as Sailor Venus.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Sapphire from Champions is a pop singer whose superpowers manifested during a kidnapping attempt at one of her concerts. Fans have described her as "J-Lo with superpowers".
  • Mage: The Awakening: A Weirdness Censor and the threat of Paradox force mages to keep their supernatural powers secret, but they can take points in the "Fame" merit all the same — one NPC mage is even an Expy of Tom Cruise. Curiously, famous characters are actually harder to target with Sympathetic Magic, as their public persona obscures their personal identity.
  • Shadowrun: Jackpoint personality Kat O' Nine-Tails has a day job as a famous musician that she uses as cover for her 'Runner activity. She points out the trouble with trying to maintain a lifestyle in the public eye while simultaneously operating below the radar, and suggests that other 'Runners who want to work in the entertainment industry would be better off working as roadies, backup dancers, or special effects team members as those get you the same traveling options without nearly as much risk of being recognized.

    Video Games 
  • Many Bruce Lee clones in Fighting Games are known for being movie stars. Characters like Fei Long and Kim Dragon enter tournaments to show off their martial arts skills and show the world that what they do aren't just action stunts.
  • Splatoon
    • Callie and Marie in Splatoon are two of Inkopolis's premier pop singers, and also Agents 1 and 2 of the New Squidbeak Splatoon.
    • In Splatoon 3, Deep Cut, consisting of Shiver the Octoling, Frye the Inkling and Big Man the Manta Ray, are Splatsville's most famous idol singers and performers who also run the Anarchy Splatcast on battling stages. They also moonlight as bandits who steal treasure. This causes them to run into the New Squidbeak Splatoon and mistakenly believe they're trying to find treasure before them. However, the trio's banditry is to help out the less fortunate in Splatsville.
  • Jacky Bryant from Virtua Fighter (and Guest Fighter in Dead or Alive 5) is a Jack of All Stats: A famous race car driver and model from a rich family who also uses Jeet Kune Do as his fighting style.
  • Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat is a famous actor, loosely based on Jean-Claude Van Damme.

    Visual Novels 
  • Two examples in Villainous Nights. Wolf is secretly Duke Vale, CEO of a big tech company, and Cat is Andi Kim, social media superstar. Both are secret identities, but in Andi's season 3 she goes public. Lorelei also used to be a superhero who worked with megastar Scarlet Brighid for Optimus. The high proportion of celebrities in the group is parodied in Lorelei's route when the MC meets the other characters. She's shocked and delighted to meet Duke Vale and Andi Kim! ...and then Renzei takes off his mask and all she can say is 'yeah I don't know who this guy is.'

    Western Animation