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Charlie Brown from Outta Town

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"The Boogie Woogie Man" Jimmy Valiant...
... and "Charlie Brown From Outta Town". Notice a resemblance?
"I'm not Hulk Hogan, BROTHER!"
Mr. America

So, the heel cheated in a Loser Leaves Town match, or he got in the ear of an authority figure, and now a popular face has found himself unceremoniously ousted from the promotion. The fans of the face are screaming for justice. But never fear, Charlie Brown from Outta Town, the mysterious masked wrestler with an oddly familiar build and wrestling style, is here...

Charlie Brown from Outta Town is a pretty standard angle in Professional Wrestling; the face, who's been unjustly barred from the promotion, takes up a disguise and works to get himself reinstated and take revenge on the heels who cheated him. The trope's named for the particular implementation of the angle on Jimmy Valiant; after he lost a Loser Leaves Town match, a new wrestler, calling himself Charlie Brown from Outta Town, showed up, wearing a mask, but oddly enough, with Valiant's signature three-foot beard.

These masks aren't really meant to fool anybody, just create an air of "reasonable" doubt. The heels will often complain to the authority figure that the face is skirting the terms of his contract; however, a face authority figure will remain willfully ignorant of the masked man's identity, and a heel authority figure will bemoan the masked man's "iron-clad contract" (just how somebody can sign an "iron-clad contract" without revealing his real name is never really elaborated upon). Either way, the heels are left with only one alternative; reveal Charlie Brown's true identity, and send him packing for good this time!

Eventually, Charlie Brown gets the face reinstated, clears his good name, exhausts the "leaves town" period of the stipulation, or what have you, and rides off into the sunset just as the face returns and gives a big speech thanking his "good friend" who helped him so much. The most common subversion was to have the masked wrestler in danger of being unmasked and "permanently suspended," only for the "banned" wrestler to suddenly rush to ringside and cheer him on; this of course always involved a similar-looking alternate in the mask for that match. Of course, this is the happy ending to the story, but it's not the only possible ending; in one particular case, Mr. America was finally unmasked, revealing Hulk Hogan, who was subsequently fired (though it must be noted that this subversion was not the original plan; it was an instance of Real Life Writes the Plot, as Hogan had held out for more money once his contract expired).

This trope is something of an artifact. Throughout the territorial days of professional wrestling, there were a great number of masked wrestlers up and down the card, to where announcing the debut of a "new masked wrestler" on television was not an uncommon occurrence. Nowadays, not many non-Mexican wrestlers (most luchadores wear masks, and the mask has an entirely different meaning in Mexico) wear masks, making a "masked wrestler" stick out like a sore thumb.

The Trope Namer is presumably Peanuts, but no relation otherwise. Compare The Real Remington Steele, which is when the "Charlie Brown" persona returns as a Legacy Character coexisting with the original.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sogeking from One Piece, who appears after Usopp left Luffy's crew when they decide to get rid of their original ship as it had fallen into disrepair. It was a gift from one of his loved ones, and he considered it part of the crew. Also, he realized his case of Can't Catch Up right about this time. This is a subversion, in that Sogeking was trying to hide his identity from the good guys; the villains had no idea who he was with or without the mask. Of course, the only people he actually fooled were Luffy and Chopper, but the rest of the crew and people he had only met once that day played along anyway. Although the from out of town part of the trope has completed, Sogeking is still around to function for a different trope.
  • Kaleido Star had a variation on this as Layla Hamilton, after Yuri Killian had taken over Kaleido Stage, decided to secretly aid Sora Naegino and her fledgling "Freedom Lights" troupe by occasionally appearing as "The Masked Star", performing spectacular feats to effectively be the main attraction of "Freedom Lights". Killian was not fooled, and wished to destroy Layla and the troupe, unmasking her at a Vancouver competition in front of her father, who would rather have Layla performing in movies.
  • Kinnikuman, being a Pro Wrestlin spoof, has a few. The best example would probably be "Mongolman", who showed up to save Ramenman's friend Brocken Jr. from having his insides sucked out by Mr. Khamen not long after Ramenman had been put into a coma by Warsman. Neptune King's Mildman & Big the Budo gimmicks were not really a case of this, as he's using them from his first appearance in the show, but they are in the context of the story, as Neptune King's supposedly a famous wrestler from long ago. Then there's the Kinnikuman Great costume that various characters have used over the years when they weren't able to wrestle under their real names for various reasons. Kinnikuman himself disguised as Channelman in his trek across America after an incident left him too embarrassed to show his (actual) face. Robin Mask came back to bedevil Kinnikuman as Warsman's manager Barracuda in the next arc, too ashamed to use his true identity.
  • A filler arc of Sailor Moon gives us the Moonlight Knight. He was very obviously the then-supposedly-depowered Tuxedo Mask, down to having the same modus operandi and rose motif. (And also looking similar, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything in this show.) In a possible subversion, he kinda was Tuxedo Mask and he kinda wasn't. When Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask was depowered, the part of his mind that was still driven to protect Usagi split off and gained a new body. At arc's end, Mamoru fused with Moonlight Knight and became Tuxedo Mask again.
  • In Speed Racer, the mysterious Masked Racer (Racer Xnote ) first appears on the racing scene shortly after Kenichi Mifune's (Rex Racer's) supposed untimely death, has a similar build, and drives exactly like him. The narrator (at least in the dub) feels obliged to remind the viewer of these facts at every possible interval.
  • The Medabots (aka Medarot) anime played with this in its second season. Because the snappily-dressed masked Phantom Renegade (in an homage to Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon) can't participate in legal battles, we are introduced to the mysterious Space Medarotter / Space Medafighter X: a snappily-dressed kid with a golden mask. The Paper-Thin Disguise was shredded to reveal the Multilayer Façade — Space Medafighter X had the Phantom Renegade mask underneath. Totally not related to the local clerk/Retired Badass Henry.
  • Parodied, as with so many tropes common to Shōnen manga/anime, in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. After Tokoro Tennosuke (Jelly Jiggler) gets disqualified from a battle after being thrown out of the coin machine it was taking place in (It Makes Sense in much as Bobobo can, anyway), Don Patch ("Poppa Rocks" in the English manga) proceeds to stick a mask on him in full view of their opponent and passes him off as a new competitor named "Masked Jelly".
  • Tiger Mask, being a series where Pro Wrestling Is Real, has quite some fun with this trope:
    • Discussed early on, when Tiger Mask recollects the story of a Tiger's Cave wrestler who didn't want to pay the organization 50% of his earnings used a different mask to wrestle and a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurred: Tiger's Cave identified him immediately from his build and style and sent wrestlers with orders to hit him exclusively in the head until he threw himself under a train. That's why, when Tiger Mask rebelled, he didn't bother to use a different mask.
    • Justified during the Maskmen World Championship: Tiger Mask knows personally five of the other wrestlers, as two of them are fellow Tiger's Cave pupils who were trained with him and three others were their trainers, but in the tournament they wore heavily concealing costumes and he never saw any of them actually fight due three being trainers and the other two quite inferior to him.
    • Efficiently Deconstructed in the same tournament with Great Zebra, alias Giant Baba: knowing how hard it is to pull this off, Baba wore a costume that completely concealed his body and subtly altered his voice and refrained from using the one distinctive part of his style, namely kicking with his giant feet, but Tiger Mask, who is formidable at analyzing and recognizing moves, recognized him anyway from his awesome strength and skill and the moment when he nearly used his signature move.
    • Inverted by Tiger Mask himself during his stint as an underground wrestler: knowing he would have been recognized anyway had he just used a different mask, he went into Tiger's Cave underground fighting arena with his mask, where the managers, believing he was a wrestler with a weird sense of humor, laughed and sent him on the ring. They quickly recognized him as the real deal once he started fighting (in fact Mr. X recognized him by the very fact he was there), but by that point their own rules prevented them from unmasking him unless he was defeated (and Mr. X showed up too late to order a check).
    • Justified in the manga with the fake Tiger Mask: for the impersonation Tiger's Cave picked a wrestler with identical build (to the point that, during their training, the coaches couldn't tell them from each other from behind) and trained him for years until he could mimick the original's style and voice to perfection, with even their weight when they finally fought being the same. And given Tiger Mask hides his identity from everyone, when Giant Baba claims Tiger Mask was with him when the fake crippled a wrestler, it was pointed out that he couldn't be sure which one was the imposter.
    • Tiger Mask W examples:
      • Played with a few little known wrestlers and It's-The-Ace, alias Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi was almost recognized, but stopped using that persona before the public could make the connection.
      • Deconstructed again when Billy the Kidman impersonated Yellow Devil: at first he wasn't recognized, but the moment he used a headbutt Daisuke realized the switch.
      • Later Kaioh Mikasa too impersonated Yellow Devil, and Tiger the Dark, as furious as he was at seeing the mask, realized the switch as soon as they started fighting by the strength difference.
      • Justified with the new Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark, as their pre-mask careers consisted literally of a single fight with each other before they disappeared from the wrestling scene for almost three years, after which they appeared with completely different styles.
      • Also Justified with Fukuwara Mask and Tiger the Great the Third, as they completely changed their styles and on-ring personas from when they fought as Keiji Tanaka and Yellow Devil, allowing them to go on unrecognized for three years. They recognized each other immediately when they fought (at which point The Third stopped pretending), but even that is Justified due them having been part of the same stable before changing gimmicks, and even then The Third managed to fool another member of their group for all that time.
  • In Skip Beat! Kyouko and Maria are planning their 'Happy Grateful Party' for Christmas Eve; right at the start, Lory enthusiastically volunteers to help them. Knowing his... propensity (understatement) for taking over events, they firmly ban him from doing anything connected to the party. After brief period of sulking, a mysterious masked figure calling himself "Daddy Long Legs" appears and volunteers to fund the entire enterprise and provide a venue. It's fairly obvious that Kyouko and Maria know perfectly well who it is, but accept this as a compromise to both keep Lory under control (as much as anyone ever can!) and actually be able to afford to throw the party, since Maria's in grade school and Kyouko's supporting herself with part-time work.
  • One of the competitors in Kengan Ashura is Sekibayashi Jun, a top pro wrestler. His managers are allowed to substitute him for someone else, once, and do so after a difficult battle... and they bring in Marvelous Seki, who looks suspiciously like Sekibayashi wearing clownish facepaint. Obviously, nobody is fooled by this, as even aside from the Paper-Thin Disguise, "Marvelous Seki" is a pre-existing persona for him.

  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • The Pre-Crisis versions of Star Boy and Dream Girl both left the Legion (Star Boy was expelled for violating Thou Shalt Not Kill in self-defense, while Dream Girl had joined under false pretenses and resigned.) A few months later, when Superboy and Supergirl temporarily lost their powers, they nominated two new superheroes, Sir Prize and Miss Terious, to take their places. Guess who they were!
    • Sensor Girl, who was eventually revealed to be Princess Projectra, who had resigned after killing the man who had killed her husband, Karate Kid. Unusually for this trope, she kept her Charlie Brown name and costume well after her identity had been revealed.
    • This is a classic case of Executive Meddling, the original plan for Sensor Girl was her to be Kara Supergirl Zor-El I. The writer had to Hand Wave her some new powers to make the revelation fit.
  • Spider-Man got in on the act too when he was accused of murder; Peter Parker temporarily retired Spider-Man and took on no less than four new superpowered personas with technology to fake new powers (a brilliant move, as he realized a "new" superhero with similar powers showing up so soon would be blatantly suspicious, and using four identities meant that if one of them was exposednote  he'd have others to fall back on) - superheroes Prodigy and Hornet and, in a rarity for this trope, supervillains Dusk and Ricochet. The Trapster was heartbroken when he found out the real identity of his new BFF Dusk.
    • Which has an added bit of trope, Spider-Man was able to fight two of Wolverine's rogues, Roughouse the half-Troll and pseudo vampire Bloodscream, whilst changing outfits in between attacks, making them think they were fighting all four.
    • Another example from Ultimate Spider-Man. After mutants fall even further out of public favor, Shadowcat starts operating under a new name and costume as Shroud. Cleverly, she's using her existing abilities in a new way that makes her look as if she has completely different powers.
  • In one 1980s Captain America storyline under Mark Gruenwald, he was stripped of the Captain America identity by the US government and forbidden to act as a superhero by a commission whose acts were an Evil Plan by the Red Skull. His reaction? Create a new costume and identity which was dubbed "The Captain" after he stopped himself awkwardly from calling himself Captain America. The government also appointed a new Captain America, who later went on to wear the new costume as U.S. Agent.
  • In X-Statix, in an effort to stop Reality Warper Arnie Lundberg's reign of terror over his hometown, Guy Smith allowed him to join the team. But since Arnie was a wanted criminal, he had to be inducted onto the team as "Fanboy X", with his extremely-distinctive face being almost completely hidden.
  • Towards the end of Young Justice, Superboy signed the team to a contract for a reality-TV show. Robin wasn't keen on the idea of appearing on TVnote , so he temporarily abandoned his "Robin" identity in favor of a new identity as "Mister Sarcastic".
  • In Justice League Elite, in order to infiltrate an alien gang, Vera Lynn Black, the Flash, and Kasumi (herself Cassandra Cain in disguise) adopt fake identities as "Miss Morphine", "Supersonic", and "The Nothing", respectively.
  • In the inverse of a hero taking up new identity, Tony Stark, as part of his Secret Identity at the time, claims that the guy in the Iron Man armor is a different one after Faking the Dead in Armor Wars. He even goes as far as to rejoin the West Coast Avengers by posing as this someone else in the armor after the team kicked him out due to his actions during the story.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The So Bad, It's Good b-movie Grunt The Wrestling Movie after Mad Dog accidentally takes Skull Crusher Johnson's head off during a match (yeah, it's that kind of movie), he disappears for several years, only for the creatively-named masked wrestler The Mask to show up looking nearly identical and wrestling in the same style. Subverted in the movie's climax, when Mad Dog shows up to interfere in a Battle Royal being held to fill the vacant championship, to stop The Mask from taking Captain Carnage's head off the same way. The end of the movie features the filmmakers trying to figure out who the hell The Mask was if he wasn't Mad Dog.
  • The film of Speed Racer appears to subvert this with Racer X (see the above Anime post) by having X unmask in front of Speed to look nothing like his supposedly dead brother Rex. In fact, Rex underwent major surgery after faking his death.

  • In the book that chronicles the history of Deltora, Adin, the blacksmith, has a vision of uniting the seven warring tribes to drive off the evil presence in their land by combining the power of the tribes' magic gems into a magic belt. He realizes that he has little chance of convincing his own people - "a prophet is not respected in his hometown" you know - so he heads off and convinces two or three other tribes to hand over their stones and lend their support to his mission. When he returns to convince his own people, he comes as a mysterious stranger, and his words - along with the other gems - convince his people to believe his story. Then a child reveals him to be just the blacksmith they've known since birth. The politicians rise up against him - why would Fate hand a cool destiny to this uneducated lout? But the common people step up and point out that, if they were willing to hand over their national treasure to a stranger in the night, they should be more willing to do so now that they know who is asking, know that he's never been a self-important or fanciful man.
  • A variant occurs twice in Ivanhoe, firstly where the title character shows up for a tournament as the Disinherited Knight and wins without revealing his identity, second when King Richard takes the field in unadorned black armor to hide his identity.
  • In Worm, after Armsmaster is put under house arrest by the PRT and almost killed by Mannequinn, Dragon takes him under her wing and restyles him as Defiant. To anyone paying attention to capes, the switch is blatant, but it's a PR move that keeps a useful asset from effectively being permanently retired.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The X-Files episode "William" uses a variation on this trope. A severely burned and disfigured man appears with information about the alien conspiracy, claiming to have been sent by Agent Mulder, who at the time was on the run from the conspiracy. When a DNA test shows that he's a match for Mulder, it's assumed that he actually is Mulder scarred beyond recognition (and in order to have Mulder appear in the series without David Duchovny's presence), until at episode's end it's revealed that he is in fact Mulder's long assumed dead half-brother Jeffrey Spender.
  • In the U.S. version of The Office season 7 finale "Search Committee", Dwight interviews for the vacant Regional Manager job disguised as "Jacques Souvenir", a burn victim with his hands and face covered in bandages. According to his resume, he's a former Assistant to the Regional Manager in a French paper company that burned to the ground. After a bit of baiting, Jim and Jo see through the ruse, and Dwight takes off the disguise to their mock-shock.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • As mentioned, it has been used many, many times in wrestling: Dusty Rhodes became the Midnight Rider, Bruiser Brody became Red River Jack, both Brian Pillman and Barry Windham, at different points, became the Yellow Dog, and Hulk Hogan became Mr. America.
    • A rare female version, Peggy Sue, was hired by the Honky Tonk Man as a deep-cover bodyguard. Usually it was just Sensational Sherri, disguised under a wig and poodle skirt, having lost her job following the deactivation of the women's title (twice revived 1993 and 1998). Her task was to masquerade as Honky's roadie while lobbing distractions at his opponent. Honky's agent, Jimmy Hart, also dressed up as "Peggy" on the occasions that he was banned from ringside.
    • Subverted by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. When he was (kayfabe) fired he simply showed up, fought his way into the building, publicly humiliated Vince McMahon and eventually annoyed the Chairman until he got his job back.
    • In a slight variation, Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett took turns playing the Blue Blazer, as heels, after Owen quit because he "injured" Dan "The Beast" Severn; their motivation for this was never revealed, due to Owen's untimely death. Strangely the Blazer also used several of Severn's moves, and the fact that he and Owen had faked his injuries implied that the Beast might have been under the mask sometimes.
      • At one point during the angle, Owen Hart's former partner Koko B. Ware did a run-in to help "prove" Owen wasn't the Blue Blazer. For those who don't know, B. Ware is African American and the Blue Blazer garb does not conceal this.
      • While working as Sweet Brown Sugar in Memphis, Koko had done his own version as Stagger Lee.
    • When Edge and Christian lost a third WWE World Tag Team Title match in a row against the Hardy Boyz, they were denied any more title matches until the Hardys lost the tag team titles. So then Los Conquistadors (who were in fact an actual tag team in the late 80's played by longtime jobbers José Estrada and José Luis Rivera) challenged the Hardys using the same in-ring tactics as Edge and Christian. The Hardys complained that the Conquistadors were Edge and Christian in disguise, but the two had hired local jobbers (Christopher Daniels and Aaron Aguilera, dubbed "Rick" and "Sparky") so that the four could be seen at the same time. Once the Conquistadors won the titles, they allowed Edge and Christian to challenge for the titles. But, during the match it was revealed that these Conquistadors were the Hardys in disguise. This can be the only time in WWF/E history that a tag team has technically lost the titles to themselves.
    • In 1986, after André the Giant was suspended for no-showing, a new Japanese tag team was introduced called The Machines made up of the masked Super Machine (who looked and sounded like the Masked Superstar) and the Giant Machine. The weird part about this is, since there were not that many giant Japanese wrestlers, the WWF promoted the Giant Machine as potentially being All Japan Pro Wrestling founder Shohei "Giant" Baba; ironically, Andre would have his final run teaming with Baba in AJPW. In fact, the angle The Machines were involved in was about Bobby Heenan trying to prove that Giant Machine was André the Giant. This team eventually included such mysterious members as Hulk Machine and Piper Machine, as well as Big Machine (Robert "Blackjack Mulligan" Windham), Animal Machine (George "The Animal" Steele, real name William James Myers) and Crusher Machine (Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski).note  Super Machine later went on to be Ax from Demolition, interestingly enough.
    • Hogan/Mr. America. No-one aside from Hogan and his absolutely closest ally took it seriously. And it ended with not even Hogan taking it seriously; after a show went off the air, he lifted his mask and raised a finger to his mouth, telling the audience not to tell McMahon. The next week it was shown that despite the show being off the air, cameras were still rolling, and Hogan was fired. As mentioned above, this was a case of Real Life Writes the Plot; the original plan was for Hogan's Charlie Brown From Outta Town gimmick to continue for a while longer. People who attended other WWE SmackDown! tapings from that time have said this after-show unmasking routine for the benefit of the live audience, once the cameras and the heels were gone, was a regular occurrence.
    • A more recent, heel example happened when Paul Burchill feuded with the Hurricane; Burchill was trying to prove that Hurricane was really Gregory Helms (which isn't this trope, Hurricane is a superhero gimmick with a secret identity), so they had a match with the stipulation that if Burchill won, Hurricane would unmask, if Hurricane won, Burchill would retire. Hurricane won, and a week later he was assaulted by a masked villain known as The Ripper (as in General Ripper, whom Burchil was a Fan Boy of in OVW, or maybe Jack because he's British). A week after that, The Ripper returned with a valet known as "The Beautiful Nightmare" (his "sister" Katie Lea in an even less convincing mask) but Hurricane won again, de-masking Burchill and sending him home. Sort of a lost opportunity, really; Burchill was an outstanding performer, and the angle was so ridiculous that it couldn't help but be funny.
    • In a slightly different take on the trope, John Cena was "fired" from The Nexus (and, in the storyline, WWE) after a complex series of events. To fill in for Cena on his house-show dates, Cena's Mexican cousin Juan Cena was signed. However, the new superstar never appeared on WWE television (he was usually used in main events and house shows to "send the crowd home happy"), and his entrance music was suspiciously familiar to most WWE fans. Additionally, Cena mentioned on Twitter that he intended to purchase tickets for his replacement's first match.
      • The Raw after he left WWE, the real John Cena showed up instead of Juan. Eventually, after Wade Barrett re-hired him, the character was completely scrapped aside from a one-off appearance with Lucha House Party.
  • One of the more famous wrestling versions occurred during the heyday of Memphis wrestling, circa 1983, when Koko Ware (he didn't have the "B" in those days) was chased out of Memphis, only to be replaced by masked badass Stagger Lee (who was arguably more popular than his unmasked persona).
    • Junkyard Dog actually did the exact same gimmick (and the same name) just a year or so before in the Mid-South wrestling scene, then did it again for a big run in 1984. Mid-South, being more detail-oriented and realistic under promoter Bill Watts, put its own spin on things. For the first run, when challenged by the promotion's heels about Dog's suspension, Watts quickly pointed out that the promotion had many masked men, and he knew none of their identities (even going so far as to mention that their checks were sent to P.O. boxes). When Dog returned as Stagger Lee again in 1984 (teaming with Watts to take on the Midnight Express), the announcers pointed out that he had never been officially suspended (he had vowed to leave the promotion for 90 days if he couldn't win the promotion's main title in a match) and that the mask was a way to both keep his word and help his friend Watts.
  • Mick Foley. Have a Nice Day!
    • In the 1998 Royal Rumble, Mr. Foley showed up as Cactus Jack, got eliminated, showed up again as Mankind, got eliminated, and showed up YET AGAIN as Dude Love! The trope was downplayed by explaining that Foley had multiple personalities and that each, apparently, counted as a separate entity — the "Three Faces of Foley".
    • To date, Mick Foley is the only wrestler able to switch personas on-the-fly and people still believe that he is a genuinely different character. For example, about a week before the 2000 Royal Rumble, Triple H scoffs at Mankind... Mankind takes his mask off, Triple H still laughs at Mick Foley... Mick Foley removes his shirt, Triple H shits bricks at the sight of Cactus Jack.
  • Seven years after her defeat at WCW's Bash at the Beach 2001 and sentencing to a mental hospital, Daffney resurfaced on TNA as "The Governor", a Sarah Palin impersonator hired to punk The Beautiful People. (TBP, as vapid narcissists, were fan girls of Palin's husband) In Daffney's case, this was a combination of subterfuge and a mental illness, as she flits back and forth between personalities (she had appeared once before that in TNA as the happy go lucky "Shannon" but wasn't outed).
  • The TNA Impact! video game inverts the trope — in the story mode, you play as the former masked wrestler Suicide, who, after getting screwed out of the world championship, badly beaten, and left for dead in Tijuana, gets Magic Plastic Surgery and comes back to TNA without a mask for revenge.
    • TNA are now (May 2009) running a similar angle on their TV show, with the Motor City Machine Guns trying to prove that Suicide (yes, TNA used a real wrestler to portray an original character from their videogame) is actually Christopher Daniels. The truth is... complicated, but the short form is that Suicide was going to be Frankie Kazarian, but when he was injured Daniels took on the role, but Kazarian took the mask back just as this angle began.
      • This was quietly dropped after Daniels and Suicide appeared in the ring at the same time, and the mask was passed to a third person (Kiyoshi) and many others. It would finally be played straight again when Austin Aries stole the mask, leading the "legit" at that time Suicide (TJP) to go by Manik to distance himself from Aries.
      • On a related note, in 2020, TJP dusted off his old Manik persona (now with a different mask) in order to compete for the X Division Championship, as TJP had been banned from receiving title matches after a loss to Rohit Raju.
    • Speaking of Daniels, it became a Running Gag for Chris to be fired via the Feast or Fired Match briefcase and come back via another persona. After the first time he came back as Curry Man, then after he was fired Chris filled in for the injured Kaz. He finally came back as simply "Daniels" (which even he didn't understand why), at which point they finally gave up.
  • Puerto Rican wrestling company WWC ran this angle with a wrestler named Pulgarcito (Spanish for a male version of Thumbelina), who was actually a big fat guy who hailed from the town of Ponce. After he lost his loser leaves town match, he returned under the name Pedro Ponce, wearing the same outfit and a mask. After Pulgarcito was reinstated, they aired a vignette with Pulgarcito driving his alter ego back to Ponce.
  • One week after The Miz was fired from Raw (thanks to special guest Jeremy Piven) after losing to John Cena, a pole match was made where the winner would grab a contract and become a new Raw Superstar. The participants were the returning Eugene and Calgary Kid, a masked Canadian wrestler (after all, the show was in Calgary). After Calgary Kid grabs the contract, he attacks Eugene and tears off the mask to reveal... The Miz.
    • A bit of a subversion, as it wasn't that obvious that The Miz was under the mask until after the match when he used the Skull-Crushing Finale on Eugene before unmasking.
    • This was part of Sgt. Slaughter's run as the guest host of Raw, where he showed disrespect towards Canada and proved the United States superior.
    • Ultimately, Eugene was released a week later, and The Miz later became WWE Champion.
  • In the state of Florida (reprised in Jim Crockett's WTBS-based NWA territory from a suspension), Dusty Rhodes lost a "Loser Leaves Town" match to Kevin Sullivan. Just as Rhodes had left, a mysterious new superstar, The Midnight Rider, came onto the scene, looking awfully similar to Rhodes. Sullivan and heel manager James J Dillon were not impressed, and tried to get Bob Geigel (the NWA president) to suspend Rhodes, using a promo as videotaped evidence. Sadly for them, Geigel told them to get better proof, and the Rider would team with good friend Magnum T.A. to win the tag team titles, only losing them after the Rider had to unmask. The Rider even won the NWA World Heavyweight Title from Ric Flair, but had to forfeit it after Geigel informed Rider that he would have to choose the mask or the title. Eventually, Rhodes was reinstated after the stipulation had expired, and brought several Midnight Riders to ringside for one of his many matches with Flair.
  • In Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Jim Cornette was able to get face Commissioner "Bullet" Bob Armstrong fired from the company. Cornette, as only he could be, was happy as a pig in slop about it. However, less than a month later, a new wrestler debuted under a mask called "The Bullet" who walked like, talked like, and wrestled like Armstrong, even coming out to Armstrong's entrance music "Bad to the Bone".
  • Played straight AND subverted with "El Gran Luchadore." When the late Eddie Guerrero was fighting John "Bradshaw" Layfield for the WWE Championship Title, the supposed "champion of Mexico" was making guest appearances on Smackdown. Then El Gran Luchadore attacked JBL in the ring, pulling off all of Guerrero's moves and then declaring (in a voice that sounded a lot like Eddie) that he and Eddie were very close. The next week, Eddie and JBL were fighting for the title in a cage match - until Luchadore came out... and helped JBL win the match! Luchadore was then unmasked and revealed to be - Kurt Angle, who was supposed to be permanently confined to a wheelchair due to an assault by Big Show weeks earlier.
    • Amazingly enough, this angle resurfaced on Smackdown over a decade later with the Smackdown Women's Champion Alexa Bliss wrestling against "La Luchadora" (really a masked Becky Lynch). Over the next few weeks Becky gets attacked by two La Luchadoras, one being Alexa and the other a returning Mickie James.
  • After Chris Hero sent "Very European" Claudio Castagnoli out of CHIKARA, popular masked tag team Los Ice Creams became a power trio with the addition of newcomer "Very Mysterious" Ice Cream.
  • After Jennifer Cruz cheated to send half of the Fly Girls, Niya, out of WSU at Breaking Barriers II, Niya got a chance to get her job back against CHIKARA wrestler Saturyne. But she lost. Then Ezavuel Suarez showed up...(ironically Saturyne declined further work with WSU but Hania The Howling Huntress, who was just like her sans mask, popped up.) While the fans supported Suarez, Niya turned heel after unmasking, as she mistakenly believed she had everyone fooled, when they were really just spiting Cruz.
  • Santina Marella. Santino Marella had some issue where he was trying to out-Diva the WWE Divas, and then his very masculine-looking "sister" Santina invaded and won the Divas battle royal at WrestleMania 25. This was a subversion because Santino was still active the whole time and getting ridicule from wrestlers who weren't buying the charade, and because Santina was later fired in a (obviously pre-recorded and edited) scene that made it look like Santina and Santino were two separate people all the time.
  • Melissa Anderson at one point was appearing in TNA as two separate people - Alyssa Flash and Raisha Saeed (under a burka and veil) and this carried over into the Indian TV show Ring Ka King. There was even a match booked as Alyssa Flash against Raisha Saeed, though it was extremely obvious that it was a man under the veil playing Raisha. In the next episode, Melissa was clearly playing Raisha again.
  • After Billy Boy foolishly agreed to and then lost a wager match to Gran Apache that resulted in Billy being unable to come near Gran Apache's daughter Fabi or the son Billy Boy had with her, a new Masked Luchador known as Alfa debuted for AAA. He was quite talented for a "rookie" and credited his skill to instruction given to him by Gran Apache. This worked on his ego better than even Alfa could have anticipated, Alfa was soon invited to meet the Apache family. Seeing how well he got along with Gran Apache's grandson Marvin, Alfa was deemed "good enough" for Fabi...
  • TNA inverted this with Chris Parks, who plays the masked Abyss, unmasking and playing Abyss's "brother" Joseph Parks while still playing Abyss in Ring Ka King.
  • The Mysterious and Handsome Stranger was really Archibald Peck (or rather, a time-displaced version of him) in CHIKARA. Also, Ricochet returned as Helios, fooling nobody.
  • WWE's FCW promotion had British wrestler DJ Gabriel (real name Steve Lewington) as "Mr. FCW," from "Parts Unknown, FL."
  • With S.C.U.M. forced to disband in Ring of Honor following a Steel Cage Warfare match, Rhett Titus didn't have the initial luck to return to active competition in the promotion as other members of the stable did. However, months later, a suave masked man entered a tournament for newcomers and achieved enough success in it to find a place on the roster despite losing. Despite a majority of the heels in Ring of Honor such as Truth Martini and R.D. Evans (who looks suspiciously like Archibald Peck...) believing him to be Titus, none of them have been able to conclusively prove it. Perhaps the only person to know with any proof is Matt Taven, who appeared under the mask in the guise of Romantic Touch in an attempt to play mind games with Martini and his client Jay Lethal.
  • As a one-time thing on WWE NXT, Sami Zayn 'disguised' himself as a Masked Luchador (i.e. he was wearing his El Generico outfit, which he hadn't done in WWE before or since) in order to compete in a match that he was barred from. Longtime NXT champion Bo Dallas pulled something similar later when he was "banished" from NXT, by donning a mask and returning as "Mr. NXT".
  • After Jeff Hardy was banned from TNA's Lethal Lockdown event, he decided to show up anyway, dusting off his old gimmick, Willow the Wisp (which he had never used before in TNA, at least).
  • When Steve Corino was suspended from his Ring of Honor commentary job for attacking BJ Whitmer, he was replaced by Mr. Wrestling III, a masked man with an identical voice and a license for all of Corino's catchphrases. The Mr. Wrestling Wikipedia entry was even altered to throw off Whitmer.
  • And because this trope absolutely adores Christopher Daniels, it happened to him again in Ring of Honor. After being suspended for a month after striking a referee, Curry Man showed up at a live event to challenge Roderick Strong for his Television title.
  • Another NXT example had "The Drifter" Elias Samson be fired from the brand, only to come back the following week under a mask as El Vagabundo — the Spanish translation of his previous Red Baron. Other than the mask, he was wearing the same outfit and even carrying the same guitar around as usual. Oney Lorcan ripped Samson's mask off mid-match before defeating him, and he was promptly ejected from the arena when the match ended.
  • Around February of 2016, a new rookie masked luchadora billed as "Maria Maria" was given a shot on a Sparkle Showcase, which eventually led to three matches in SHINE wrestling but not much else. The next year, perennial title contender Allysin Kay was flat out denied a title shot from singles champion LuFisto, who requested a rookie get it instead, and Kay in turn rejected an offer to participate in the Nova tournament to crown a second singles champion, stating that should have gone to a rookie. So Kay sat out the Nova Tournament, and suspiciously, so did Maria Maria, who gave her spot to Dynamite Didi Cruz and won a three way featuring three other rookies eligible for a shot at LuFisto with a very uncharacteristic discus lariat... although after Kay revealed that yes, she was posing as Maria Maria, LuFisto was saved from Kay by another Maria Maria, an equally uncharacteristic Maria Maria, who had the crowd chanting "Who’s that ginger?" (it was Brandi Lauren, who really wanted that title shot Kay got).
  • In March of 2016, Bandida set her sights on LLF's Extreme Cinturón Campeonato, leading to then title holder Princesa Maya giving her a shot on the grounds Bandida would retire if she lost. Well, Maya lost the belt much later to Estrella Explosiva but during October of 2017, around Halloween, a new Luchadora known as "Lady Steel" started making waves.
  • Played with in Dramatic Dream Team spinoff promotion Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling. In a somewhat (by DDT standards anyway) straight example, Yuka Sakazaki took a sabbatical from the promotion in order to get stronger after a string of poor performances in the tail end of 2016. However, taking her place would be her previously unknown "twin sister", the masked luchadora Mil Clown. After around six months, Mil Clown announced that her sister would be coming back, but she would be leaving to go back to their home of Magic Country.
    • A somewhat less straight example in the case of Saki Akai. In TJPW she eventually left for Paris and came back as a self-absorbed woman obsessed with beauty now calling herself Saki-nami. She was accompanied by her maid, a young girl named Martha who was definitely not male wrestler Masa Takanashi. She eventually became a megalomaniac and renamed herself again to Saki-sama while renaming her team to SIN Biishiki-gun (and eventually to NEO Biishiki-gun) and her stable grew to include Yukio Saint Laurent, her personal doctor (and not DDT wrestler Yukio Sakaguchi dressed up as Black Jack). While Martha and Yukio Saint Laurent left, they were replaced by Azusa Christie, formerly know as Azusa Takigawa, who Saki-sama kidnapped and brainwashed into being her personal nun in order to spread the gospel of Saki-sama. In DDT (and other joshi promotions), however, she still performs as Saki Akai, with Saki-sama essentially being treated as an entirely different person.
  • After winning the #1 contendership match for the Raw Tag Team Championships on his own, Braun Strowman was required to get a partner to challenge for the titles. The week before Wrestlemania 34, he was confronted by the reigning champions The Bar, who demanded to know his tag team partner. Braun agreed and left to go fetch his 'partner'... who turned out to be Braun Strowman in a different shirt and glasses named Brains Strowman.
  • After Josephus was suspended from the NWA for throwing powder in Colt Cabana's eyes during an episode of NWA Powerrr, vignettes narrated by Josephus' spiritual advisor began airing for a mysterious masked wrestler known as the Question Mark. As the Question Mark proved an immediate hit upon debuting and continues to be far more popular than his unmasked identity, it fairly quickly averted the trope and turned into Acting for Two.
  • As this section shows, this trope has a long and proud history in kayfabe...but it's even happened in real life.
    • After having his career "terminated" in 2012 following the NOSAWA Rongai scandal of AAA, Takuya Sugi continued to appear on the smallest of shows in smallest of venues under very covert identities before making an official return in 2017.
    • In 2019, CM Punk revealed after doing so in one show that he had been making appearances under a mask in indie promotions for years, even after claiming to be done with professional wrestling for good.
  • One of the weirdest variations occurred in 2022. A new wrestler named Ezekiel debuted, claiming to be the younger brother of Elias (who had left after burning his guitar the year prior). The weird part is that Ezekiel doesn't wear a mask, but is just the same wrestler clean-shaven, with a different hairdo, and sporting Ultimate Warrior-style armbands and trunks instead of jeans. Only Kevin Owens seems to see through the act.

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs actually tried to get coach Roger Neilson to do this when they fired him on March 1, 1979 live on television and then tried to save face by rehiring him two days later on the condition he wear a paper bag over his head while on the bench and be labeled as "The Mystery Coach." Neilson took the job back but refused to wear the bag; he was fired again at the end of the season.
  • The football team at St. Louis high school Cardinal Ritter tried to do this with running back Bill Jackson, who received a suspension for the first game of the 2019 season after he was ejected from the 2018 finals. For that one game he was suspended for, he took the place of another player on the roster and played the game under his identity and jersey number. It didn't work, as Jackson's tattoos were still clearly visible, and the scheme resulted in the suspension of the entire Cardinal Ritter coaching staff and the end of the school's 2019 football season, which was 7-0 when the scandal broke.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Conversed in Rowan Atkinson's sketch "The Actor's Art", where, as narrated by his Straight Man Angus Deayton, Atkinson acts out an Elizabethan version of this plot where The Good King goes off to war and is erroneously declared dead, then comes back incognito to take his throne back from his evil brother who usurped it while he was gone.

    Video Games 
  • In Guilty Gear, the first game, Guilty Gear: The Missing Link, has an insane, 9 ft. tall, skinny-as-a-rail, evil doctor named Dr. Baldhead. The sequel, Guilty Gear X, and all subsequent games have an insane, 9 ft. tall, skinny-as-a-rail, and good doctor named Faust, with a paper bag on his head. Characters who know about Dr. Baldhead make the connection, though.
  • In Hitman: Absolution, one of the targets moonlights as a pit fighter who is scheduled to face an out-of-state challenger, "The Patriot." The Patriot can be subdued as he's taking a powder, allowing 47 to don his luchador mask and tights. This also allows 47 to beat the target to death in the ring, in front of a cheering crowd, and simply walk out of there with none the wiser.
  • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the character Devdan does not return, despite the fact that every character from Path of Radiance returns except for Largo, who lost an arm between the games and can't fight anymore. Instead, a character who looks and acts the same and receives bonus stats from data transfer if Devdan would receive them is included, who is named Danved. Though the plot never clarifies it, it can be safe to assume that they're the same person.
  • Played for Laughs in Metal Gear Solid 2. After the Tanker chapter, Snake is presumed dead, with his body fished from the bottom of the ocean. Raiden runs into Iroquois Pliskin, Lieutenant Junior Grade Navy SEAL, who happens to look exactly like Snake, and is played by the same guy. The game makes it as obvious as possible that this guy is Snake, while having several characters aggressively claim that Snake is definitely dead. When Pliskin reveals that yes, he is Snake, you can practically hear Hideo Kojima laughing at you for believing Snake really was dead. The name he used for his alias was an even more obvious Shout-Out to S.D. "Snake" Plissken, not to mention that Iroquois literally means Snake.
  • In Bushido Blade 2, Black Lotus from the original game reappears — fighting for the opposite side — as Highwayman, complete with Domino Mask. Seeing as he's still basically an Irish ninja in both games, no one who knew him as Black Lotus is fooled for long.
  • Street Fighter IV's third revision, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, features a new character by the name of Oni... who bears a large resemblance to recurring character Akuma. Many quickly assumed that Oni was merely a new Super Mode for Akuma, and while Capcom didn't say much on the subject, the Japanese bio for Oni would confirm that he is indeed Akuma, only as a literal demon instead of a metaphorical one. How he assumed such a form is currently unknown, with many suspecting that he trained to the point that the Satsui no Hadou overtook his body. This is seemingly supported by the non-canon crossover DLC in Asura's Wrath, which sees Akuma give into the Satsui no Hadou and transform into Oni when he's on the verge of defeat against Asura.
  • If there is a masked or semi-masked character named after the Buddhist monk Tenkai in a Warring States-based game (such as Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams or Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes), expect them to be at least rumored to be this trope for either a character named after Akechi Mitsuhide or a relative of said character. This is taken off the popular theory that Tenkai was this for Mitsuhide in real life.
  • Tekken:
    • Lee Chaolan is nowhere to be found in Tekken 3 or Tekken 4, but in 4 there is a guy named Violet who looks almost exactly like him, only with dark purple hair. He also wears sunglasses that can be knocked off during a fight. And he has Lee as an unlockable alternate costume. Lee wasn't fooling anybody, and dropped the act for Tekken 5. This particular case is justified in that Lee had been exiled from the Mishima Zaibatsu on the threat of death in 2 after being defeated by Heihachi. Though he abided by this for Tekken 3, his curiosity was piqued by a recent attack on G Corporation by the Zaibatsu in 4 and he decided to investigate, leading to the creation of his Violet alias to protect his identity. It's still a pretty terrible "disguise", and Lee decided to say "screw it" for all games after.
    • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 brings us the female wrestler Jaycee. J.C. would be Julia Chang's initials. Within the story it's a reasonable disguise, as Jaycee is a Legacy Character. The person whose mantle Julia is taking up, however, never appeared in-game before that point, so it's not much of a disguise to the players.
  • After doing the Hijacked by Ganon bit in the fourth and fifth Mega Man games, Mega Man 6 introduced a new villain named Mr. X, who was Dr. Wily with a fake beard.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, early into the World of Ruin, the player runs across a group of thieves being led by a man named Gerad. Gerad looks and acts just like estranged party member Edgar (albeit with different clothes and different hair color), but Gerad denies being him until a boss fight, where he reveals himself as Edgar and rejoins the group.
  • 3 Count Bout has two of these. One is Raiden/Big Bear's rival Big Bomberder, a brutish heel who tried to turn face by wearing a mask and calling himself Gochack Bigbomb. The other is the sadistic knife-wielding Blubber Man, whose face persona is the masked Blues Hablam (who is still not above pulling out a knife).
  • In the original Tales of Destiny, Leon Magnus died after betraying the party, and his Swordian Chaltier seemed to be lost forever. In the second game, a mysterious swordsman fitting Leon's description wearing an odd and thin mask and wielding a talking sword shows up out of nowhere, following and protecting Kyle (Leon's nephew) on a few occasions before being offered to join the party. Kyle names him "Judas".
  • The King of Fighters:
    • King of Dinosaurs, the "new" Masked Luchador in The King of Fighters XIV is quite obviously Tizoc (last seen in 2003 and XI) in a new costume—one that mostly retains his red color scheme, at that—trying to be a Heel (he's pretty prone to slipping into Face thinking during his attacks). Terry, for one, isn't remotely fooled by the getup and compliments him on his new outfit and gimmick. It doesn't help that, despite his moveset being overhauled, two of Tizoc's trademark moves are still employed by King of Dinosaurs: Justice Hurricane and Big Fall Griffon (though they've been renamed Zetsumetsu Hurricane and Super Zetsumetsu Hurricane). Tizoc is basically doing this due to an off-screen loss to newcomer Nelson: he wants a grudge match, but that's not appropriate behavior for a Face.
    • The King of Fighters XV introduces us to Krohnen: a blue-haired, yellow-wearing man with ties to NESTS. Hey, remember K9999, a blue-haired, yellow-wearing blatant ripoff of AKIRA's Tetsuo Shima with ties to NESTS that showed up in 2001 and 2002 before never being heard from since? Turns out they're one and the same; Ángel outright calls him K9999 in their team ending with Kula. Justified by the fact that in-universe NESTS agents want him dead for secession and out-universe his original design was grounds for a lawsuit.
  • SNK Gals Fighters has Miss X, the organizer of the Queen of Fighters tournament who is very clearly a crossdressing Iori Yagami. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy brings back Miss X as a DLC character, but because other male characters have been gender-bent to fit in the roster, Miss X now appears in both crossdressing and gender-bent forms.
  • In Hearts of Iron IV, if Germany enters a civil war which the Nazi Party loses, this can happen to Adolf Hitler in various ways if a few specific conditions are met:
    • After Hitler is presumed dead, a man named Señor Hitler can show up as a Fascist leader in Argentina, without any facial hair but featuring Cool Shades and a nice hat.
    • Alternatively, if the United States enters a second Civil War with the Confederacy as the victors, then a German architect named Adam Hilt will offer himself as Douglas MacArthur's replacement.
    • If you are playing as Germany itself, then a few years after Hitler's presumed death you can get an event in which you recruit a new spy: either Achim Hund (Hitler with a bigger moustache) or Andrea Hund (Hitler in drag).
  • Parodied in Puyo Puyo 2, where if the player does well enough, the Final Boss, Satan, is replaced by the True Final Boss, Masked Satan. The first thing Arle does in the pre-battle cutscene is point out that he’s just Satan wearing a Cool Mask, to which he insists otherwise.
  • In Yakuza Kiwami, Kiryu can occasionally encounter a mysterious fighter known as Hannya-Man, a fearsome figure that stalks West Park. It's obviously Goro Majima wearing a hannya mask and a tuxedo , with the only difference that he's far less talkative than usual, as his hair's the same and he wears his eyepatch on his mask. Sure enough, Kiryu recognizes him, but is legitimately creeped out by his behavior.

  • In Not a Villain, shortly after the avatar Bloody Mary is banned from the Game for killing her teammates, a new avatar named Jane who has a very similar design and uses the same special attack shows up in the qualifiers to join. Waterman tries to get her kicked out for this reason, but fails because she wasn't technically breaking the rules: her punishment was only being forced to make a new character, not being banned entirely.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons once did a hilarious subversion of this basic trope in "Fear Of Flying". After Homer was banned from Moe's Tavern, a man who looks and sounds suspiciously like Homer wearing a top hat, suit, and fake mustache and who goes by the name "Guy Incognito" shows up and asks Moe if he may "trouble Moe for a drink." Moe roughs up "Guy" and throws him out of the bar; at which point a dejected Homer walks by and is shocked to see that Guy looks exactly like him! He is soon distracted by a dog with a puffy tail, however.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants did a similar subversion, where SpongeBob is trying to get into a tough guy bar. Shortly after someone tells him that only people with cool haircuts get in, somebody looking just like SpongeBob with a pompadour shows up, claiming that he's a drifter who just blew into town. After the bouncer Reg tries to pull off the drifter's pompadour, thinking that he's SpongeBob in disguise, the real SpongeBob shows up wearing a rainbow-colored clown wig.
    • They repeated that gag again in the episode with Pearl's slumber party, this time with Girly Teengirl from Farawayville, who like the drifter before her, is mistaken for SpongeBob.
  • Ditto Family Guy, when Peter took a free sample of sausages, followed by two lookalikes (one wearing what looks like silly glasses with a fake nose, one with a stereotypical Samurai hairstyle and Japanese accent) who also take samples. The exasperated employee explains after the second one that they're free, and he doesn't have to keep disguising himself to get more - to which the samurai Peter asks "what are you talking about?", at which point the real Peter and the other lookalike also come back for another free sample.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Bunny Hugged", Bugs Bunny is the mascot of Ravishing Ronald, who gets curb-stomped by The Crusher. Seeing his "bread and butter" in danger, Bugs takes up the mantle of the Masked Terror to fight in Ronald's behalf.
  • The Backyardigans: In "Blazing Paddles", Pablo the Ping Pong Bandit defeats Sheriff Uniqua in a ping pong match, causing her to be exiled from Ping Pong Mesa. She later returns, disguising herself with a mask and calling herself "The Pink Fury", in order to rematch Pablo.


Video Example(s):


Kinnikuman - Mr. Barracuda

Warsman's cruel manager, Mr. Barracuda, is revealed to be the thought to be dead Robin Mask.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CharlieBrownFromOuttaTown

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