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"I am Alpharius."
Slogan of the Alpha Legion, Warhammer 40,000

I Am Spartacus — as a lifestyle. The inverse of the classical Secret Identity. Rather than one character with multiple identities, sometimes authors will flip this around and have multiple people with one identity.

Twin Switch is a variation of this trope. A Sister Trope to Together We Are X. Contrast Secret Identity and Two Aliases, One Character. Legacy Character is a more specific related trope, where the identity is passed on from person to person. Identity Impersonator is when a second person temporarily adopts the identity in order to have Secret Identity and Public Identity appear together. See also Amalgamated Individual, where multiple deeds are ascribed to a single person. Not to be confused with The Dividual, where the multiple characters having one identity is more permanent and treated as an idiosyncrasy rather than a plot point. Also loosely related to Dead Person Impersonation. See also Together We Are X.

Given the nature of this trope, spoilers abound in the examples below.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bakuman。, the Ashirogi Muto moniker is shared between Mashiro and Akito; in this case, the idea is to avoid comments from envious people at their school like it happened late in junior high.
  • Done twice in City Hunter:
    • When an enemy hitman complains that his challenge to Ryo, the manga's namesake City Hunter, has been interfered by Ryo's partner Kaori, Ryo explains that he had challenged City Hunter and that the name actually indicates Ryo and Kaori together.
    • In the late chapters Ryo explains that originally the City Hunter moniker was used by Ryo and him whenever they worked together in the US, and that entitles him to the name when he moves to Japan too. Ryo protests because they're now in Japan... But as he recently had a fight with Kaori she's currently working with Mick, and she, by Ryo's own admission, is part of the Japanese City Hunter.
  • Zero from Code Geass ends up sort of like this towards the end. CC once dresses up as Zero so Lelouch may escape the army, and at the end of the series Lelouch wants himself to be killed as his emperor self, so Suzaku dresses as Zero and kills him in public. Also utilized early in the second season. When the Britannians wonder if this "new" Zero is the original, Lelouch gets them to say that anyone who wears the mask and carries the ideals IS Zero. Then when they announce his exile from Japan, one million Japanese don Zero costumes, and the Britannians are forced to let all of them go or risk a massacre.
  • In Daily Lives of High School Boys, it turns out the famed Bully Hunter "Rubber Shooter" is a collective identity that belonged to a group of kids who would go around saving other kids in trouble.
  • Future Diary has a Battle Couple who are together known as the ''7th Diary Owner".
  • Gamma eventually reveals that Lily Cure was not a singular Magical Girl but a two-girl team, except one of them had Ret-Gone herself in order to prevent the other from dying at the end of their tenure.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; the nature of a Stand Alone Complex permits like-minded individuals to independently function as an autonomous collective (each individual essentially mimics the rest of the collective, leaving it without a real leader), as was the case with the Laughing Mannote  and the Individual Eleven.
  • At one point in Kekko Kamen Satan's Toenail finds out that Chigusa Yuka, one of the people suspected to be Kekko Kamen, is actually the identical twins Chigusa and Yuka, and obviously concludes this trope is in action... Only for Kekko Kamen to show up together with them. Eventually, Kekko Kamen is revealed to be six sisters, including Chigusa and Yuka, who took turns under the mask precisely to cover each other.
  • Kengan Ashura: Mukaku Gaoh names all his disciples "Tokita Niko" and sends them out to wreck havoc in the "Inside". This will make the name "Tokita Niko" famous, and allow Gaoh to build a legend from their actions.
  • Invoked in the manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, where a village girl who meets the heroes assumes that The Hero Link is a four-man group, when they're actually copies created by the Four Sword.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's has the masked Mysterious Protector, who is revealed to be the Lieze sisters using a disguise spell.
  • Medabots: Space Medafighter X is a registered member of Team Japan for the world cup, but circustances preclude him from making proper appearances. So Ikki's friends and the Screws take turn wearing Paper Thin Disguises of his outfit.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, the titular "James Moriarty" is a name shared by three brothers: William, Albert and Louis.
  • Subverted with Pain from Naruto, who is actually one man called Nagato who controls six bodies at the same time.
  • In Sword Art Online Death Gun is actually three different players working in collaboration, with one playing the in-game character while the other two carry out the real-world murders.

    Comic Books 
  • The DC Universe:
    • Trident, an opponent of the New Teen Titans, was actually three separate individuals masquerading as a single villain.
    • Similarly, the Crimson Fox of Justice League Europe was actually a pair of twin sisters sharing both a single heroic and civilian identity (after having faked the death of one sister).
    • Amusingly one has a thick French accent and the other does not and no one seems to notice.
    • Batman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Diana bought her use of the Diana Prince identity from a real woman named Diana Prince, who looked identical to her. She posed as Prince in Prince's job as a nurse for a time, and once posed as Prince when the original Diana Prince's husband mistook her for the other woman while Mrs. Prince was out looking for a new job.
  • In Dark Horse's Comics' Greatest World the superhero Rebel's energy power is passed between identical twins like a hot potato, almost literally since holding it too long turns painful and dangerous.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The The Scourge of the Underworld was an entire conspiracy collectively posing as a single vigilante killer.
    • Spider-Man:
      • One issue of What If? saw Peter Parker and his clone basically adopt this when the clone explicitly survived their first battle; while the clone offered to leave New York, Peter suggested that they basically operate in shifts, allowing them both to act as Peter Parker and/or Spider-Man to maximise their productivity in both lives
      • Scrier, a player in the The Clone Saga, turns out to be played by an entire mystical cult.
      • Ladyhawke, ally of Spider-Girl, is actually a pair of twins masquerading as an indefatigable superheroine who seems to be in two places at once.
      • Kindred, the Big Bad of The Amazing Spider-Man (2018), turns out to be Gabriel and Sarah Stacy from the infamous Sins Past — and retconned that they're actually clones created by Harry Osborn and the Jackal with the "relationship" between Gwen and Norman having been made up by them and MJ and Norman brainwashed into thinking it happened by Mysterio.
    • X-Men:
      • Eric the Red is actually several characters under an alias: Cyclops the first time, an undercover Shi'ar agent named Davan Shakari the second, and Magneto the third (when it's him, he's called Erik the Red, as in Erik Magnus Lehnsherr). It's never explained why Shakari chose to use Cyclops' old alias, since there was no connection between them.
      • An unusual variant is found in Marvel's Team America, in which the team would often be saved by the mysterious Black Rider, whose identity and origin were entirely unknown. Eventually, the truth was discovered in an early New Mutants story arc, to the team's considerable shock: The Black Rider was no-one, and anyone. Team America was a projecting gestalt, able to project all of their combined abilities onto a bystander (the act of doing so somehow created the Black Rider's costume and possibly motorcycle).
      • In the beginning of his 2015 relaunch, Deadpool had a group of mercenaries impersonate him to extend his reach across the globe. Some of them looked almost identical to Deadpool, while others had a completely different physique to him. This was later somewhat averted when Deadpool had his impersonators wear color-coded uniforms to help differentiate them from yet another impostor, one who wasn't in cahoots with Deadpool and was threatening his friends and reputation.
    • In the same vein as Deadpool, Spider-Man and Captain America were both working this shift post-Avengers Standoff. While Peter Parker and Miles Morales were always working together prior to the events, Standoff had Steve Rogers return to his title as Captain America while allowing Sam Wilson to continue to operate as Cap as well. Downplayed in that none of them were pretending to be each other, they were just sharing the codename and the ideals it represents (which Clint Barton and Kate Bishop have been doing for years now).
  • The Shadow first takes on the identity of Lamont Cranston when he is out of the country, but when the real Lamont turns up, he and the Shadow both use his identity, allowing the Shadow to be seen in one place and Lamont in another.
  • In Tangent Comics, a DC alternate world series, the Joker was three different people. You don't learn this until her second appearance; in her first, it was implied that the reverse was true, that the Joker is one woman with three civilian identities.
    • An early Black Orchid story, in the days before her origin and secret identity had been established, seemed to reveal that "Black Orchid" was actually a team of around half a dozen women who took turns in the suit when their respective skills were called for. It turned out that these women were actually a collective Costume Copycat, and they were defeated in the end by the real Black Orchid.

    Comic Strips 
  • Arrowhead: Cody and Deena are both Arrowhead.

    Fan Works 
  • A Growing Affection has a variation on the Twin Switch, triplets who pretend to be twins, but freely switch as to which triplet is pretending to be which twin.
  • In Lelouch of the Apotheosis, the identity Zero is shared between Lelouch, C.C., and Nunnally, though the last one doesn't wear the suit for obvious reasons. When Nunnally knights Suzaku, she makes clear that he's now in the service of all three of them.
  • In "Christmas in Kansas", part of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts series, Clark Kent mentions having written an article about a thinktank who have come to "the completely plausible, unassailable conclusion" that Batman is really five sewer mutants collaborating.
  • Taylor Varga
    • The protagonist pulls this off once she figures out how to simulate the Varga having a separate body. As they are both physically the same creature which can shapeshift, they take turns being the mind behind least seven separate identities which look completely different (Taylor, Sauriel, Raptaur, Kaiju, Umihebi, Breksta, and Varga, plus an as-yet-unnnamed cat-sized dragon form), meaning that identities A and B can be seen at the same time, then A and C, then B and C, and so on. In one scene, they even pull off running three bodies/identities at the same time in the same room, given that all the bodies are linked through dimensional portals and two minds can each control any aspect of the multi-body at any time. Even so, there's a lot of "Oh, Captain Other Identity must be around here somewhere" that crops up, to the point where they have to fabricate an in-universe reason that they're mostly seen solo (and, later, in pairs).
    • Much the same is done with Ianthe and Metis, who are secretly lizard-ish bioconstructs wrapped around a human body that runs them. While they are usually "worn" by Amy and Lisa respectively, each can wear the other, allowing Amy and Ianthe, or Lisa and Metis, to be seen together in public. There's brain shenanigans going on inside the constructs which means anyone wearing one of them exhibits the body language and vocal idiosyncrasies of that particular construct, helping to further the illusion.
      • And there's nothing stopping Taylor and/or the Varga from shifting into a form that looks like Ianthe or Metis (though this doesn't give access to their powers).

    Films — Animated 
  • In Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (a spin-off movie from Batman: The Animated Series), Batman investigates the mysterious title character who is out to quash an arms dealership while ruthless disregarding the mafia ranks. His deductions point in the direction of three different women: Mafia Princess Kathy Duquesne who blamed her father for the death of her mother in a hit gone wrong, Wayne Tech scientist Roxanne "Rocky" Ballantine whose fiancee was framed for smuggling by the Penguin, and Detective Sonia Alcana whose family's business was torched by Rupert Thorne who got away with it. However, Batman is bewildered when it seems each of his suspects in turn has an alibi during Batwoman's appearance. It's then that he realizes that it's actually all three of them, using Kathy's money, Roxanne's inventive genius, and Sonia, being the connection between the other two, having the drive to make it happen.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1943 serial The Batman, after being repeatedly advised by his henchmen that they successfully killed Batman, Big Bad Dr. Daka considers the notion that perhaps "Batman" is not an individual, but rather a team of agents that assume this identity, and that another would take the place of any he would eliminate. He's wrong, of course, but it wasn't an unreasonable conclusion given the information he was working with.
  • For a vast bulk of The Batman (2022), Edward Nashton is The Riddler, but the climax reveals he has a legion of followers who share in his twisted philosophy, and even when Nashton is arrested, said followers don his costume and begin their purge of Gotham, establishing that "The Riddler" is still everywhere.
  • Hot Fuzz: Turns out the local version of Neighbourhood Watch did it.
  • In the Richard Pryor film Moving, his twin sons pretend to be the same child at school.
  • The big twist in The Prestige is that Alfred Borden and his "assistant" are actually twin brothers who take turns being the public face of Alfred Borden.
  • The Jigsaw killer from the Saw franchise. While John Kramer is the original mastermind, much of the heavy lifting after his first few murders (particularly building the traps and abducting targets) is done by his twisted group of "apprentices" and various other accomplices, who reveal themselves as such every few films. It makes sense in a way, since John is a frail, elderly cancer patient, and couldn't possibly get all this stuff done on his own. There are also instances of the various killers coercing someone into taking their place of surveying a game while they hide in plain sight as just another captive victim.
  • The Ghostface killer in the Scream series turns out to be two or three people in every installment except the third.note 
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home: while Quentin Beck is the public face of Mysterio and the ringleader of the organization, it's shown that his team of engineers and special effects artists consider themselves a part of the character as well. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs in The Stinger, as it's shown that the other members of the team were able to run Beck's final gambit even when Beck himself was apparently killed.
  • Zorro:
    • In Zorro, the Gay Blade Don Diego and his brother Ramon both are Zorro.
    • The Mask of Zorro, Anthony Hopkins plays the original Zorro (Don Diego de la Vega) and Anthony Banderas is his trainee and later son-in-law, Alejandro.

  • "Alfie" the highwayman in Below was invented by Harry to make it harder for authorities or bounty hunters to track him and his men down. Different men play the part of Alfie at different times, with different features and sometimes even letting slip a glimpse of false tattoos or scars. (Harry's missing eye, however, is always kept concealed.) The others all use false names that frequently change. As a result, Alfie is a Living Legend with no consistent description.
  • In Bimbos of the Death Sun, after the police declare the mysterious Chip Livingstone to be the prime suspect in the murder of Appin Dunganon, several people (including some of the convention staff) reveal that Chip is a Collective Identity because they don't want to obstruct the investigation.
  • Satan in The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids is an identity and rank shared by seven distinct Devils working together (Asmodeus, Beelzebub, Belial, Belphegor, Lucifer, Plutus, and Stolas), each of whom embodies a different style of depiction of the Devil: Asmodeus is the Big Red Devil, Beelzebub is the Gruesome Goat, etc. The fact that they're different people isn't a secret in Hell, but they're happy to keep mortals guessing.
  • Discworld: The Opera Ghost in Maskerade is two people. ("You recognize him because he's wearing a mask? Think about what you're saying!") There was no agreement involved, however - the villain of the book co-opts the "Ghost" persona, planning to let the original Ghost take the fall for his crimes.
  • Dean Koontz:
    • In The Face of Fear, the serial killer Butcher is actually two people with similar tastes and ideas.
    • More complicated case in Whispers. The rapist is actually twins, but due to specifics of their (very horrible) upbringing, they consider themselves one man.
  • In the Illuminatus! trilogy, John Dillinger was actually a set of identical quintuplets, explaining how he could pull of his legendary bank robberies and escapes.
  • The titular outlaw in Jackaroo by Cynthia Voight is an identity used by multiple characters. Some of them actually try to live up to the Robin Hood-esque legends about the character; others... not so much.
  • John Macnab: "John Macnab" doesn't exist. It's an alias invented by Charles and also used by John and Sir Edward.
  • In Ben Bova's novel The Multiple Man the President of the United States is actually a set of seven cloned siblings. Each of the clones is a specialist in one area of the job; the one who specialized in the "making friends and winning elections" part is the one most often seen in public.
  • In The Shadow Campaigns, this is the true nature of the Steel Ghost. An enigmatic Desoltai chieftain who always wears a trademark metal mask and dark robes, he's considered to be one of the greatest military minds in the world. In actuality, "he" is a fabrication; lots of Desoltai leaders have copies of the Ghost's outfit and therefore "he" can always be made to appear to take credit for any victory while avoiding being tied to any defeats, and "his" uncanny knowledge is actually the result of the Desoltai tribes communicating with each other using specialized lanterns that can shine for miles across the desert. As Janus points out, this is the sort of trickery one should expect when dealing with a man whose sole identifying feature is something that hides his identity.
  • Zorro:
    • In some of the novels, Bernardo also wears the Zorro costume in order to distract and mislead pursuers. Bernardo Has also been known to play the part of Zorro to divert suspicion from Diego while he has an alibi (Such as being imprisoned or questioned on suspicion of being Zorro). Zorro's friend and sometimes love interest/accomplice Lolita Pulido has also donned the mask.
    • In Isabel Allende's novel, Zorro starts as Diego's Secret Identity, but ends up as the Collective Identity of him, Bernardo (that Diego trained in swordmanship when he realized that Bernardo would not be deterred from doing this) and Isabela de Romeu (who butted in when Diego was arrested under suspicion of being Zorro while the Big Bad kept Bernardo under surveillance. Diego was unable to convince her to desist, and she would become Zorro from time to time).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Usually, the Hood on Arrow is Oliver, but on occasion it's Dig (when Oliver needs to interact with him or be obviously not in the same place as him).
  • The four brothers in Himitsu No Hanazono work together as the mangaka Yuriko Hanazono.
  • In Human Target, it turns out that Chance's name isn't Chance: the identity of Christopher Chance has been handed down for years.
  • Seen in one episode of Jonathan Creek where the mention of a character being "not Superman" leads Creek to realise that there are two men with one identity, the logical inverse of Superman's identity tactic.
  • In Pretty Little Liars, the mysterious villain "A" is actually a large group of people. To date, only one member of this group has been definitively identified and she has since made a Heel–Face Turn. However, two main characters also used the identity while briefly acting as double agents and to top it all off, there is pretty strong fan theorizing that a second group is using the identity to oppose the first group. It's a confusing series.
    • By the middle of season six, things are a bit clearer. There seems to have been one definitive "A" replacing the original, while another villain was killed whilst using the "A" identity. "Red Coat", who was assumed to be "A", turned out to be someone else entirely, except then "A" did start using the Red Coat identity, sharing it with one of her allies, with at least some agreement from the original Red Coat. Then the new "A", after apparently being cured, gets killed by, er, "A"?
  • The Serial Killer Black Hood is introduced as one of the main antagonists of Riverdale, but it's eventually revealed that there are three people who took up the mantle. The first was Hal Cooper, who was driven to madness by years of parental abuse and his hatred of Riverdale's "sinful" population. It turns out that he recruited Joseph Svenson and let him take on the identity as a decoy. Finally, it's revealed that the Black Hood who attacked town hall wasn't Hal, but Tall Boy, who was hired by Hiram Lodge to commit the crime while pretending to be Black Hood.
  • The brief TV Series Zorro And Son is actually about an older Don Diego training his son, Don Carlos, to take his place.

    Mythology, Religions and Folklore 
  • In Classical Mythology Phoebe was a name used by The Titan Selene, The Olympian Artemsis and magic goddess Hecate. The moon goddess was Selene, but being the moon tended to take up all of her time, so when she wanted to do something else Artemis or Hecate would either have to do it for her or temporary take Selene's place.
    Professional Wrestling 
  • Even during the 1930s, back when the modern concept of pro wrestling was only fifty years old at most, The Masked Marvel gimmick had been used by so many people that the very sight of it was short hand for some heel being up to no good that a baby face would be likely to soon expose, usually unmasking the marvel in the process. If you're watching pro wrestling beyond 1990 then only the newest of onlookers will be surprised when another Masked Marvel is found, somewhere, not long after a previous one has been done away with, being referred to as the Masked Marvel.
  • The Motor City Machine Guns' attempt to prove Suicide was really Christopher Daniels using a body suit to take two pay checks from TNA was originally just an In-Joke to fans who knew Daniels originally wasn't Suicide and was just filling in until the original was medically cleared to compete again (as well as a shout out to Marvel comics, who did once have a villain named Suicide real name Christopher Daniels). However, so many men have went on to wear the Suicide suit or otherwise use the gimmick in some form that when Austin Aries was found under the mask a point was made that he wasn't officially a Suicide and had just stolen the suit to get a World Heavyweight Title shot.
  • The Bella Twins started in the WWE as just Brie Bella, who would be losing a match, then duck under the ring where her twin sister Nicole would be waiting to beat down the heel and take the victory as Brie. Strangely enough (or maybe not's Professional Wrestling) they were treated as a Face not a Heel even though they were obviously cheating. Once they were "outed" as being really two people they became Tag Team Twins.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Realms being a Gambit Pileup setting, it's no wonder there were such cases as team Xulla.
    • Given the presence of Clone spells and the like, it is possible to have multiple people who are the same person with one identity in D&D.
  • El Vago, the people's hero of Castille in 7th Sea, is actually an organisation with various members donning the white mask as needed - which has had the interesting side-effect of inspiring people who aren't part of the organisation to take up the mask themselves in Castille's defence.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, many members of the Alpha Legion use the name of their Primarch, Alpharius, instead of their own. Some of them even undergo surgery and psychological indoctrination to more closely resemble him. Additionally, thanks to their gene-seed, some of them don't even need to! They do this deliberately to confuse and obfuscate outsiders, even their allies; no one, not even fellow Primarchs, can be certain if they've ever actually met the real Alpharius or just one of his sons using the title; or, conversely, be speaking directly to Alpharius without ever knowing it.
    • In the Horus Heresy novel Legion Alpharius was revealed to be one Primarch in twin bodies. His twin's name is Omegon.
    • To confuse matters even further, it's vague as to whether Roboute Guilliman actually did kill Alpharius, or if he just killed Omegon or even some random Alpha Legionnaire posing as Alpharius.


    Video Games 
  • In Aviary Attorney the famed Viridian Killer of the 1830 revolution is speculated by a private investigator to have been more than one person, since sightings don't quite match up otherwise. He turns out to be correct, with the "Killer" being revealed to be twin brothers Romulus and Remus.
  • In Batman: Arkham Origins, one of the theories the GCPD investigating Batman (who at this point in the timeline has only been active for about two years and is still widely Shrouded in Myth) is that the Dark Knight is actually a group of people working as one.
  • The Gray Fox in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is thought to be immortal, but in fact is a succession of master thieves wearing the same magical mask. Much like many other titles in the Elder Scrolls series, if you complete the Thieves' Guild quest line, you can take the cowl for yourself, becoming the Gray Fox.
  • Guilty Gear -STRIVE- reveals that "That Man" is actually a moniker that has been used by two different characters: Asuka R. Kreutz and Happy Chaos, with the former instigating conflict but the latter escalating it.
  • Her Story: The "woman" are twins, with one of them being snatched by the barren midwife and raised as her own. One being interviewed reveals how she was forced to adopt her sister's identity after the midwife died so she could go to school.
  • In Love & Pies, Yuka believes that The Purple Fox, the resident thief, is an identity shared by multiple people, but Eve shoots it down because TPF always leaves a purple fox figurine at the crime scene. It turns out that Yuka lied about her theory because she already caught Amelia's mother, Freya, as TPF.
  • In Mass Effect, this is Barla Von's opinion of the mysterious Shadow Broker, the most powerful Knowledge Broker in the entire galaxy - he feels that it's simply impossible for one person to run such an operation. Mass Effect 2, however, reveals that it is just one (super-intelligent) guy, who's been running the show since he killed the original Broker 60 years ago. And is, in turn, killed and replaced by Liara. As there's no way of knowing if the "original" Broker really was the first, one could argue Barla Von was right all along.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has Big Boss himself. In a tape left to his body double "Venom Snake", he mentions that he considers them both to be "Big Boss", and that they have built their legend together.
  • In the Nancy Drew game Warnings at Waverly Academy, twin sisters share an identity so they can both attend the exclusive school which only one of them could actually register for.
  • Nioh 2: Tokichiro petitions Oda Nobunaga to grant himself and Hide a shared identity, proposing Yoshihide. Nobunaga agrees, but opts for Hideyoshi instead. Hide is the one responsible for many of Hideyoshi and Nobunaga's early victories, but Tokichiro eventually claims the identity when he becomes a ruthless warlord (corrupted by the amrita stones) and drives Hide away through his cruelty and arrogance.
  • In The Outer Worlds "Murder on Eridanos", it is revealed that "Halcyon Helen" was actually played by identical twin sisters Ruth and Belinda Bellamy. The sisters kept this a secret as their own private joke on the rest of the Halcyon system. Ruth was the one the public knew — they didn't know Belinda even existed. Belinda was the "Halcyon Helen" who was murdered, and her sister Ruth was the one killing the other victims on Eridanos because they were involved in her sister's death.
  • In one of the three Special Episodes of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, Sunflora must go on a mission to capture an outlaw, a Haunter who is said to be invincible. She eventually discovers that there are actually three Haunter, and when one of them is knocked out, another replaces him while the other takes the fainted one to safety. With the help of Loudred, Sunflora manages to have all three of them arrested.
  • The Black Raven from Professor Layton and the Last Specter is actually all the children of the marketplace.
  • In White Knight Chronicles General Dragias is actually a fictional role crafted by Grazel to make his followers think that they have a perfect commander. The role has been played by various people depending on what Grazel needs — when he wants a powerful warrior leading the troops, he gives the role to a master swordsman. When the troops need a strategist to advise them, he gives the mask to a genius strategist. There's no telling how many people have taken on the role, but the end result is that the Magi consider their leader to be perfect. In the game proper the role is taken up by Kara and Ledom.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations the three legs of the vigilante thief Yatagarasu turned out to represent three different people. Calisto Yew, a defense attorney, scoped out targeted buildings. Byrne Faraday, a prosecutor, infiltrated the targeted buildings in order to steal incriminating evidence of illegal activities. Detective Tyrell Badd covered up Yatagarasu's activities by being "assigned" to investigate him. In the end though, Calisto was The Mole, working for the criminal syndicate that the latter two wanted to bring down. At the end of the game Kay speculates on finding two other young beauties to be her partners, since previously she'd taken on the name of Second Yatagarasu on her own.
  • Case 03: True Cannibal Boy: The Cannibal Boy refers to both the conglomerate of evil spirits from Mt. Candyhouse and Brucie when he was a cannibalistic serial killer, since both eat every part of their victims except the head. Some books in the Hillpolly library note that the two Cannibal Boys had different frequencies for their murders.
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • Beatrice and especially Clair have a lot of this going on ("Oh, I am one yet many"). Some of it is Legacy Character-based. Other aspects are less so. By the end of the game, there have been at least twelve or so different characters who could lay claim to being Beatrice (and Clair by extension) in some way.
    • A less complicated example is "Tooya Hachijō", the author of Episode 3 to 6: they are a woman (Ikuko Hachijō) and a man (Battler, renamed Tooya after he lost his memories).

    Web Comics 
  • In the world of A Modest Destiny the superhero Crimson Blade is actually an identity that's shared by several hundred people. This discovery terrifies the vampire Lord Fluffy.

    Web Original 
  • totheark, the cryptic YouTube channel that's part of Marble Hornets, is believed by Jay and the fans to be run by Hoody and at least one more person, mostly because of the different characteristics of the videos as the series went on.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, when Kirito logs in Alfheim to save Asuna from Sugou, he is disgusted to learn the 'Kirito' group of names has already been taken by thousands of fans hearing about his exploits, and settles with a more convoluted name as username. Episode 16 reveals that the entire Spriggan race used almost every variant of Kirito that they could, and the reason that none of them are encountered is because, save for Travis/Cazmer, every other race ceaselessly griefed them into quitting the game because their leader wanted to mediate between Becky and Bryan! And even Cazmer gets kicked from the server for trying it again.

    Western Animation 
  • DC Animated Universe (Batman):
    • In Batman: The Animated Series, during "Almost Got 'Im", the villains swap their ideas about who Batman really is while playing poker. This is Two-Face's suggestion.
    Two-Face: The way I figure it, Gordon's got a bunch of them stashed someplace, like a SWAT team. He wants you think it's one guy, but...
    Joker: Oh, you're always seeing double.
  • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon Tortoise Beats Hare, Bugs reads the old Aesop fable and gets so incensed by the idea of the Tortoise beating the Hare that he challenges Cecil Turtle to a race. Cecil calls up nine of his relatives and has them hide along the road, popping out when Bugs gets near in order to mess with his head; at the end of the cartoon Bugs wonders if he's been tricked and all ten turtles appear, saying ", it's a possibility!"
  • In the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command episode "Shiv Katall", Emperor Zurg calls upon the titular hitman to track down agents who've gone rogue. Turns out Shiv is a role shared between Buzz and Commander Nebula to help defectors start new lives.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Fool on the Ed", the cul-de-sac is apparently being terrorized by a "prank master" that is playing elaborate jokes on the kids, causing the Eds to become paranoid over being his next victims. It turns out there was no prank master; the other kids pretended to be pranked to mess with their heads.
  • Played with in The Owl House episode "Any Sport in a Storm". Mildred Featherwhyle is the actual author of the Good Witch Azura series, but Tibbles is publishing bootleg copies of the story on the Boiling Isles under her name with Mattholomule doctoring the author's photo to make her look like a witch and Tiny Nose acting as her for public appearances.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Friendship is Magic, part 2", The Shadowbolts are actually Nightmare Moon shape-shifted and split into three ponies.
    • In "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well", the eponymous mare is in fact actually four different mares. Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and (briefly) Fluttershy. Twilight Sparkle provides her magic, Fluttershy flight, Pinkie her prophetic Pinkie Sense and Applejack her massive strength to create the impression Mare-Do-Well is a super-strong, future-predicting Winged Unicorn (a fashionable one, since although Rarity never masqueraded as the Mare she did make the outfit).
    • And in "Ponyville Confidential", Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle work for the school's newspaper as its gossip columnist, "Gabby Gums".
  • The Simpsons: In "The Book Job", it's revealed that the Angelica Button books, like all teen lit novels apparently, were written by a team of ghostwriters using a fake name and that the "author" is an actor hired by the publishers. This gives Homer the idea to put together his own team (comprised of himself, Bart, Patty, Principal Skinner, Moe, Professor Frink and Neil Gaiman) to write a novel and eventually make Lisa the "author".
  • Star Wars Rebels: As revealed in "The Antilles Extraction", the Rebel informant(s) Fulcrum is this. The one in season 1, Ahsoka Tano, was the original, and came up with the identity. By the time of the show, there are an unknown number of agents operating under the codename. Season 3's Fulcrum II turns out to be Agent Kallus. Supplementary material reveals that Rogue One's Cassian Andor also worked as a Fulcrum.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons:
    • The Droopy cartoon Northwest Hounded Police.
    • And in the first Screwy Squirrel short, it is revealed at the end that there were two Screwys (and two Meatheads as well).
  • Young Justice: The show's portrayal of Doctor Fate ends up becoming this trope. Following the death of Kent Nelson, the Helm of Nabu is kept by the Team as a contingency that any member can wear before eventually coming into the possession of Zatara who becomes Nabu's next host. In Season 4, in order to relieve her father from the role as it is causing him to undergo Rapid Aging and will eventually kill him, Zatanna creates a new system wherein the Helm of Nabu gets rotated between herself and the other Sentinels of Magic, namely Traci Thirteen and Khalid Nassour (himself a Legacy Character to the Doctor Fate mantle in the comics).
  • Zorro: The Chronicles: Both Bernardo and Ines have donned Zorro's outfit at various points in the series, sometimes simultaneously.

    Real Life 
  • Andy Kaufman's lounge singer alter-ego, Tony Clifton, was often played by friend Bob Zmuda or Andy's brother if Andy and Tony had to appear together at the same time (like their Rolling Stone cover). Bob Zmuda still makes appearances as Tony.
  • The respective authors of The Hardy Boys (Franklin W. Dixon) and Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene) are not a single person. The series are "ghostwritten," with different authors using the same House Pseudonym.
  • Fujiko Fujio, the manga artist responsible for Doraemon and similar works, is actually two people: Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motō Abiko. When the collaboration broke up in 1987, each artist continues to use the Fujiko Fujio moniker, but adds an identifier to avoid confusion — Fujiko F. Fujio (Fujimoto), and Fujiko Fujio (A) (Abiko).
  • Sci-Fi author Jack McKinney, most well-known for the Novelizations of Robotech, was a pen name for the team of James Luceno and Brian Daley. (After Daley's death, Luceno wrote a few novels solo as McKinney.)
  • They call themselves Anonymous. They are hackers on steroids, treating the web like a real-life video game. Sacking websites, invading MySpace accounts, protecting freedoms or disrupting innocent lives depending on your viewpoint and if you fuck with one, you fuck with all of them.
  • Nicolas Bourbaki, the greatest French mathematician who never existed.
  • Occasionally, the inker for a comic will be listed as M. Hands or a variant. This is a shorthand for "Many Hands", used when multiple inkers are required for a rush-job and none of them want the credit.
  • Red Dwarf is the work of Grant Naylor - that is, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.
  • The dance crew Jabbawockeez wear iconic white masks, hoodies, and all-encompassing uniform outfits to avoid one dancer standing out from the rest of the crew. The intended result is a faceless collective, allowing audiences to appreciate the performances as a whole.
    • The same could be true of the Blue Man Group, if there are masks underneath the blue face paint.
  • Mangas made by "Akira Himekawa" are actually made by two women whose real names are unknown.
  • CLAMP is a group of four women who write manga together. Unlike most examples there has never really been an attempt to hide this, with most manga containing chibi depictions of the authors on the back covers.
  • Nico Tanigawa, the author of the manga No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, is a pen name for a writer and artist team.
  • The mystery writers Fred Dannay and Manfred Lee had two collective identities: Barnaby Ross and Ellery Queen. For extra amusement, they pretended the two were rivals.
  • Roderick Jaynes is credited as an editor on all of The Coen Brothers' films, and Joel and Ethan like to keep up the Running Gag of talking about him like he's a real person despite it really being a fake name to get around guild restrictions on shared editing credit.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons novels, Richard Awlinson, the author of the Forgotten Realms series The Avatar Trilogy, and T. H. Lain, the author of the novels featuring the 3rd edition iconics, were both collective identities. The reasoning behind this was apparently to ensure the series would be shelved together in bookshops.
  • Erin Hunter, author of the Warrior Cats, Seekers, and Survivors series, is a collective pen name for six different women: Vicky Holmes, Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui T. Sutherland, Gillian Philip, and Inbali Iserles.
  • James S. A. Corey, author of The Expanse is actually two people, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.
  • Eando Binder was the pen name of two brothers, Earl and Otto Binder ("E. and O. Binder").
  • Sports mascots in full body-suits are often portrayed by multiple performers, often fans of long standing who volunteer for the honor.
  • Macy's department store has a huge crowd of children wanting to see Santa every year. They have a complex network of branching paths which allows them to have several Santas working at once without any children ever seeing more than one of them.
  • Disney parks' Meet-The-Princess events actually make use of several actresses at once, bringing each party of guests to meet "the" Disney Princess in question in separate, identically-themed audience chambers. If they didn't, the waiting lines would be a lot longer and the actresses' much-needed breaks couldn't be arranged as smoothly.
  • Jay Ward and Bill Scott, creators of Rocky and Bullwinkle and other cartoons, used the collective name of Ponsonby Britt, O.B.E. in the credits of their shows. This was because ABC wanted an "executive producer" for Rocky and His Friends and the two were already credited as "producers".
  • Thriller author Nicci French is two people: Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.
  • It's been hypothesized that Satoshi Nakamoto, the presumed pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, was actually a group of people.
  • Carmen Mola, one of Spain's most popular crime writers in recent years, was revealed to be not one but three men using a collective pseudonym.
  • Wonder Woman (Charles Moulton) was written by William Moulton Marston and Joye Murchison each using the Charles Moulton pseudonym.