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Checkpoint Bluff

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These are not the droids you are looking for...
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When faced with an enemy checkpoint ahead, there are several courses of action that can be taken; one can try to bypass the checkpoint, go through it when it's unmanned (or when they're changing shifts), bribe the guards, use false papers, try to create a distraction, and so on. Another course of action is possible, but this requires a certain amount of bravado: bluffing your way through the checkpoint, often involving Dressing as the Enemy.

Subtrope to Checkpoint Charlie and The Infiltration; not related to Checkpoint. Often uses Bavarian Fire Drill techniques, which frequently work because The Guards Must Be Crazy.

Compare:

  • Trojan Prisoner, where a group tries to infiltrate an enemy-controlled area by pretending to be guards escorting prisoners.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration, where the infiltrator disguises themselves as a delivery person to get in.
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  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration. As above, except as a janitor/cleaning lady.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: As above, except the disguises are as caterers for a reception.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Von Ryan's Express is probably the best-known example, in which a British chaplain who speaks German fluently puts on a German officer's uniform. At the checkpoint, he criticizes the checkpoint commander for not wearing his uniform properly, and threatens to send him to the eastern front.
  • The Last Samurai has Simon Graham telling the Japanese soldiers guarding Katsumoto that he and some photographers are accompanying the "President of the United States" (really Algren) to photograph Katsumoto before his execution; in reality, they've brought swords and arrows disguised as photography equipment. Word of God says that this scene was a deliberate Shout-Out to the Von Ryan's Express scene.
  • A New Hope has Obi-Wan Kenobi using a Jedi Mind Trick to convince the stormtroopers that "These are not the droids you are looking for".
  • The Hidden Fortress, the inspiration for many aspects of A New Hope, has a scene where Makabe gets through a checkpoint by showing the guards one of the sticks with hidden gold. He tells the guard he found it nearby, and keeps demanding that the guard give him back the piece of gold (or at least a reward for finding it), resulting in the guards being so annoyed with him that they send him through just to get rid of him. Earlier in the film, another group try to get through a different checkpoint by waiting until the weather gets foggy, then they will slip through the fog.
  • In Godzilla (1998), Phillipe Roache and the other French secret agents disguise themselves as American soldiers by donning the right uniforms and drive a humvee up to a military checkpoint to get into the city. They convince the guard that they're "real Americans" by putting on an Elvis Presley accent and all of them chewing gum to look casual.
  • In Valkyrie, Colonel von Stauffenberg gets through a checkpoint at a sealed facility by pretending to call a field marshal, and then offering the telephone to the sergeant guarding the checkpoint, inviting him to explain to a field marshal why he's delaying one of the field marshal's officers. The sergeant declines to answer, and lets Stauffenberg through.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): As the heroes arrive at Ludendorff's castle party, Steve and Sameer bluff their way in, Steve pretending to be a German general and Sameer his driver. At the security checkpoint, they put on an act of Sameer having "lost their tickets", bickering so obnoxiously that the guard gets fed up and lets them drive through.

    Literature 
  • In Gaunt's Ghosts novel Traitor General, the main characters hitch a ride on a meat wagon. The guard dogs grow agitated, but they bluff their way through by claiming it's just the meat they smell.
  • In one of Harry Turtledove's Worldwar books, a character on the run notes that there are checkpoints manned by both "Lizards" (invading aliens) and their human collaborators. When choosing which checkpoint to go through, he always chooses the Lizard-staffed ones, both because the line is shorter and because most of them can't yet tell humans apart. At another point, a Lizard gives a different human an injection of "truth serum", but because it wasn't calibrated for human physiology, it doesn't work; the Lizard lets him go because the Lizard thinks he must be telling the truth.
  • A lateral thinking puzzle has a woman in a war-torn country coming across a bridge that will lead her into the neighboring peaceful nation. There's a guard house at the exact center of the bridge, and he comes out every five minutes; it takes exactly eight minutes to cross the bridge. The woman can't get papers to escape, and the puzzle asks how she manages to successfully cross. The answer: she walks for four minutes, then turns around and starts heading back to her original destination. When the guard emerges, he sees her, assumes that she's coming from the peaceful country, and asks for her papers; when she can't produce them, she's "sent back" there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Chaser's War on Everything has a well-known stunt where they managed to get a fake motorcade into an APEC conference simply by looking official enough.
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    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, if your character is captured by Ser Cauthrien, you can pick two party members to infiltrate the Fort Drakon prison and to break them out. While some characters will have no choice but to fight their way in, the resident rogues Leliana and Zevran will have zero trouble bluffing their way past all three checkpoints, only having to fight their way out after freeing the Warden. The various methods of bluffing through the checkpoint are some of the most hilarious things in the game and generally regarded worth getting the Warden captured just to see them. Leliana and Morigan, for example, dress up as Chantry Sisters there to pray for the troops and start loudly praying about all the horrible afflictions the Maker won't inflict on the soldiers keeping them from their duties. Meanwhile, Zevran and Oghran claim to be a pair of performers sent to entertain the troops. Meanwhile, if the dog is selected, he'll just act like he's about to be sick all over the floor, at which point he and the other party member will be rushed through. If the Warden chooses to break themselves out instead of waiting one of the options is to steal a guard uniform and bluff their way through the checkpoints from the other side by joining a patrol.
  • Mass Effect 2 gives you the option of bringing Legion to the Citadel... even though its a geth and the Citadel is on high alert for a new geth invasion. The lady that does the checks thinks it's Shepard's personal VI assistant, Shephard just rolls with it and she let's them pass.
    Legion: Geth do not intentionally infiltrate.
  • Papers, Please: You play as a border inspector checking the documents of people attempting to enter the country. It's your job to keep up with people attempting to do this to you.
  • In Radiant Historia, the player's party join up with a group of performers to hop the border from Allistel to Granorg. The guards are suspicious of spies (which you are) and ask the main character to perform his act to prove he's a member of the troupe. Given the Time Travel mechanism to the game, there are 3 ways to attempt to get through, and only 1 will work:
    • Fight your way through — Leads to a Nonstandard Game Over, as you get through, but the death of the guards puts Granorg on high alert, ruining your mission.
    • Attempting to bluff — Fails, as Stocke is The Stoic and can't act convincingly.
    • The correct option is to learn sword dancing in an alternate timeline and then choose to perform that for the guards, which convinces them to let you through.
  • Halfway through Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, the heroes are forced to disguise as samurai of Mikado in order to pass through the controls of the angels and get in the city, This includes wearing fake gauntlets, uniforms and make-up to appear older (samurai are at least eighteen and most of the characters are fifteen). Amusingly, the angels only checked for the gauntlets and one of them even berates Ashahi for wearing too much make-up.
  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood: The first scene of the game involves B.J. and Richard Wesley (Agent One), dressed as Nazi officers, trying to get cleared at Castle Wolfenstein.

    Western Animation 
  • The The Legend of Korra episode "Reunion" has Bolin and Varrick, who were currently wanted for betraying The Earth Empire, traveling with some Fire Nation and Water Tribe refugees who escaped an Earth Empire prison and all need to go through a heavily secured checkpoint. They pretend to transfering the prisoners but when the gaurds ask for the papers, Varrick manages to bluff thier way through by threatening to report the gaurds to Kuvira. Once they walk through, the guard notices their faces on some wanted posters and then all hell breaks loose.

    Real Life 
  • Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith served in the RAF in WWII; at one point, after being shot down over Italy, he simply walked through a German checkpoint on a bridge.
  • As recounted in his memoir, Those Devils in Baggy Pants, American paratrooper Ross Carter was part of a night patrol caught behind enemy lines at Anzio. In order to return to friendly lines, the group decided to stand upright and goosestep straight past the Germans, figuring that any sentries would be looking for people trying to sneak back and that at the very least, the German-style marching would confuse any observers long enough for the patrol to get the drop on them. It worked.

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