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Conspicuous Trenchcoat

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Hello, I wanna see if this place's burgers are better than mine.
Not that I look familiar or anything.

"Looked like sort of a big turtle... in a trenchcoat."

An "evil" character, a Film Noir character, or otherwise out-of-the-ordinary character, can always be identified (by the observant audience anyway) by the fact that he wears a concealing trenchcoat, fedora hat, and occasionally dark glasses that are in no way seen as suspicious by any passers-by.

This one started out as Truth in Television. From the 1920s through the '50s, a trenchcoat and a fedora were the standard outerwear for a man who was neither upper-class nor extreme lower-class. Consequently, they were the natural choice for spies, detectives and anyone wanting to blend in with the added bonus of easily concealing weapons. But when this style fell out of fashion with the general public, it came to be exclusively associated with said spies and detectives – whose continued use of this look would ironically make them more conspicuous if anyone were paying attention.

Thus, whether this is perfectly plausible disguise or a Paper-Thin Disguise depends largely on the medium and the setting of the story. And the weather.

Not to be confused with Badass Longcoat or Trenchcoat Brigade. Lawmen or vigilantes wearing these do not count unless they are deliberately trying to avoid notice.

Very useful when two kids or short characters stand on top of each other's shoulders and pretend to be an adult.

With all the concern with terrorists and flashers, this is likely on its way to becoming a Dead Horse Trope.

Frequently overlaps with Overt Operative.

Modern version of Black Cloak and In the Hood. Variant of Coat, Hat, Mask.

See also: Most Definitely Not a Villain, Paper-Thin Disguise, Blatant Burglar, Highly-Conspicuous Uniform.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Case Closed has members of the Black Organization frequently showing up in conspicuously sinister black trenchcoats.
  • In retrospect, Kotomi's handler in CLANNAD probably shouldn't have chosen this as his everyday clothing, since it made practically everyone think that he's a bad guy and generally made him look really, really suspicious.
  • This style of dress creates some humorous confusion in an episode of Darker than Black. The character Guy Kurosawa apes hardboiled detective tropes, and as such, wears the full "costume" of a Private Detective, including a trenchcoat. In the same episode, there is a Contractor who is an industrial spy and who has the same style of dress. Kurosawa accidentally takes the Contractor's trenchcoat, thinking that it's his own. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Death Note: Raye Penber sticks out like a sore thumb as a foreigner wearing a trench coat in Japan.
  • Played for Laughs in Food Wars!. During the Kaarage Wars arc, Yuuya Tomita decides to dress up this way to spy on the Mozuya restaurant. Naturally it makes him stick out like a sore thumb, and Soma even recognizes him right away.
  • Trenchcoat and sunglasses was the disguise Shamal went for in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's when she was spying on the heroines. She was immediately recognized by the first person who knew her.
  • Heroic example in the first chapter of Muhyo and Roji, Roji (who also thinks mobile pottery is an effective stealth tactic) wears a trenchcoat and he and Muhyo wear sunglasses while staking out a client in order to locate the ghost of one of her dead friends. Muhyo notices that they "stick out like sore thumbs."
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The Team Rocket trio start doing this in the Unova saga. They most likely switched from a Paper-Thin Disguise to this when they became more competent.
    • A Nurse Joy who works for the Pokémon League Inspection Agency also does this in the episode "Showdown at Dark City", as she goes undercover with a trench coat, fedora, sunglasses and a scarf over her face. (She even attempts to drink her tea through the scarf!)
  • Spy D in Project A-Ko wore this outfit at least until the big reveal of... her... gender...
    • All the spies in the second Project A-Ko OAV wore the same outfit — a white suit, white fedora and sunglasses. Nobody seemed to notice, though the spies seemed able to pick out who was CIA and who was KGB
  • Recorder and Randsell: Atsushi's trenchcoat gets him mistaken for either an exhibitionist or a pedophile a lot.
  • Chui from 3×3 Eyes disguise his hideous and clearly inhuman features using a trenchcoat and a fedora.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, in the Virtual World arc, Kaiba is confronted by a man wearing a trench coat, sunglasses, mask, and a fedora. As soon as the man starts talking with a thick southern accent, Kaiba instantly recognizes the figure as his former right-hand man, Lector. But this is an interesting case, because Lector wasn't trying to hide his own identity, instead he was hiding the identify of the monster card he had taken the form of, Jinzo, which he to destroy trap cards later in the duel, all just to screw with Kaiba and surprise the audience.

    Comic Books 
  • Mostly in older comic books. Many a supervillain wears this over their costume to gain access to the City Bank.
  • Parodied in Cattivik when Superpip (a spoof of Super Man) dons in one to buy some porn in disguise, claiming that no one will recognize him. In the very same panel, a kid from the other side of the street asks his father "Why is Superpip wearing a trenchcoat?".
  • In The Desert Peach, a Gefeldtpolizei casing a Parisian cafe apparently thought he counted as "plainclothes" despite wearing his usual coat and hat, because he was walking a poodle at the same time. This was what convinced Rosen the place was under surveillance. ("No one but a Gefepo would think walking a poodle automatically makes you French!")
  • Fantastic Four:
    • Ben Grimm, The Thing, in the Silver Age, would routinely put on a trenchcoat and fedora, which was sufficient to disguise being an orange rock monster. Later comics justify this by presenting it more as a matter of self-consciousness - the disguise doesn't really work that well, but it makes Ben feel more comfortable when stepping outside. Also, everyone on Yancy Street loves the big lug so much they just go along with it.
    • In one issue of Fantastic Four, when the FF testify at a congressional hearing, a bunch of mentally-manipulated D-grade villains enter the room, dressed in trenchcoats and hats, and attack them.
  • Even Godzilla used this trope once, in Marvel's licensed series. To evade pursuers, the Kenny of this series dresses the temporarily-shrunken Godzilla in a hat and trenchcoat. Admittedly, it only works for about two minutes, at night, but it was enough to fool two criminals, who attempt to mug Godzilla (yeah, that goes about as well as you'd expect.)note 
  • Hilariously, Iron Man used this disguise once in an early adventure, in about the most implausible scenario one can imagine for maintaining this ruse. Clad in his original, bulky grey armor, his trenchcoat-and-fedora disguise is evidently sufficient to elude all suspicion while travelling to Asia to take on the Mandarin on a commercial airline flight from New York! He opens the door and bails out of the plane over China. (Admittedly, this was before Iron Man's armor was shown as capable of long-range flight, but you'd think Tony Stark would own an airplane or two, at least.)
  • In an issue of Justice League of America where four of the heroes are are transported back to the old West, The Flash is first seen in a saloon wearing a duster and a Stetson over his distinctive scarlet costume.
  • A Civil War (2006) tie-in issue of Sensational Spider-Man features a story where both The Chameleon and Electro are dressed in a trenchcoat and fedora stalking Mark Raxton's son at a little league game full of children and their parents, in the heat of the summer and no-one seems at all concerned or suspicious. Made especially "wha?" when you consider that the Chameleon's whole hat is incredibly effective disguises.
  • The Silver Surfer also manages to look less conspicuous with the trenchcoat-and-hat look.
  • Sub-Mariner: Namor, the Sub-Mariner, liked to wear these, both as villain and hero. Even more conspicuous for his taste in high quality fabric and tailoring.
  • Almost every main character in Frank Miller's Sin City dons a trench coat at some point. Marv especially likes them and often takes them off of the bad guys he kills. Usually, they are packing guns, spying, sneaking around, or otherwise being conspicuous.
    • Makes sense, mind you, as the climate of Basin City is driven entirely by dramatic convenience. The winds blow cold and hard to keep all those long coats billowing dramatically, and the slick blackness of the asphalt is reliably maintained by constant rain.
  • Every version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles utilizes this to let the turtles walk the city. No one will ever notice that you are a large green turtle if you wear a trenchcoat and a hat!
  • In Uncanny X-Men #111, the new furry Beast uses this disguise to enter a crowded carnival. Jean Grey lampshades how strange his outfit looks.

    Fan Works 
  • In Common Sense, the ensemble makes up Meowth's Mr. Pokémon disguise.
  • Discussed and lampshaded in Imaginary Seas. Percy puts on the Nemean Lion's pelt in the form of the trenchcoat he wore as a teenager while snooping around Deimos Island in search of Hephaestus. While the protection is obviously welcome, it makes him look suspicious and feel suspicious, to the point that he thinks people would call the cops on him if he put on a pair of sunglasses.
  • It's Always Spooky Month: Monster begins wearing a trench coat and hat while out during the day to avoid suspicion. Skid remarks that it makes him look like the Candy Dealer from "Unwanted Guest".
  • The Sailor Moon Expanded Fan Verse has two examples of this trope:
    • Magnesite the alien/youma, a fanfiction creation of one of Beryl's generals from the first Sailor Moon season, becomes so enamored of Humphrey Bogart movies that when he is imprisoned he keeps reviewing them in his mind to avoid death by boredom. The result several hundred years later is a person who uncontrollably acts like the Bogey, spending his (unlife) trying to bring private detective work and noir to sparkling-white Crystal Tokyo. His trenchcoat is his trademark, something all the Senshi know.
    • Ferrite, also a fanfiction creation, is a cursed human from the Silver Millennium who keeps being reincarnated throughout history until he finally meets up with the Sailors in Sailor Moon. His former Guardian powers change into a trenchcoat with infinite pockets, the ability to throw yellow roses from the trenchcoat similar to Tuxedo Mask, and he uses an ancient blunderbuss that can kill with one shot. Ferrite's alter ego calls himself Trenchcoat Mask in the modern day.

    Film — Animation 
  • Incredibles 2: Bob, Helen and Lucius wear trenchcoats over their super suits to go to their first meeting with Winston Deavor. While Dash doesn't take any notice of it, Violet is very suspicious.
  • Megamind: Megamind's Brain Bot's hide under a trench coat and fedora in a crowd during the opening. It is bookended in the conclusion when we see Metro Man using the same tactic.
  • In the direct-to-video Looney Tunes movie Tweety's High Flying Adventure, in New York City we see a mysterious shadowy figure clad in a trenchcoat, fedora and old tennis shoes, waiting at the crosswalk. A spray of mustard from Sylvester (whom had been disguised as a hot dog man) knocks off the figure's disguise, revealing Marvin the Martian on stilts!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future Part II gets a quick shot in at this. Doc and Marty arrive in the past trying to keep Biff from getting the sports almanac, Doc hands Marty some age-appropriate money saying, "Get yourself some fifties clothes." As Marty runs off, he screams, "Something inconspicuous!" Cut to Marty wearing a leather jacket, fedora, and sunglasses. Never mind that this makes him look more like a Michael Jackson impersonator than anything else.
  • Batman: The Movie: During the opening credits we see a man in long trenchcoat and face concealing fedora running down a dark alley. The shot is tinted green so that we know he's supposed to be a bad guy.
  • Used by Wrong Genre Savvy hero Woody in the Disney film Condorman after he persuades his friend Harry to let him go on a CIA courier mission despite the fact that he's a comic book writer, not a spy. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Cool World: Professor Whiskers meets Holli outside the casino wearing a very conspicuous trenchcoat, hat and scarf. It is made even more conspicuous before Whiskers is only 3 ft. tall.
  • Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine: The film's Robot Girls wear the trenchcoat/fedora combo over their skimpy gold bikinis. This is a case of intentionally provoking Distracted by the Sexy, as part of Goldfoot's Honey Pot scheme.
  • Lampshaded in The Eiger Sanction when Jon Hemlock finds C2 agent Pope in his university office—he throws Pope out the door and tosses his trenchcoat after him, saying sarcastically, "How's anybody going to recognise you, without your disguise?" However it's a Justified Trope in the opening scene where a C2 agent is walking the streets of Vienna on a cold rainy day.
  • In The Freakmaker, Lynch wears black greatcoat with the collar turned up and and wide-brimmed black fedora pulled down low whenever he goes out to hide his facial deformities. While the hat and coat do mostly hide his deformities, the distinctiveness of the outfit, combined with his height, still makes him stand out.
  • The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Mocked by The Nostalgia Critic:
    "How come in movies no one can ever see past a trenchcoat and a fedora hat? Is it like Clark Kent's hypnotizing glasses or something? Do they just make people stupider?
  • The Hands of Orlac: When Orlac sneaks out of the house to investigate Vasseur's crime, he wears a dark overcoat and hat. Even though this is the 1920s when such dress was standard for men, he still stands out like a sore thumb as he is wearing a very dark heavy coat on a bright and sunny day.
  • The Highlander universe has heroes who walk around in Trenchcoats of Holding that hide their very large swords.
  • Knowing features the creepy Trenchcoat duo, who follow around the kids. Nothing suspicious about that...
  • Rodney Skinner, the Invisible Streaker from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, wears a black ankle-length trenchcoat, a matching fedora, and pince-nez sunglasses. The conspicuous part comes in when he doesn't put on his greasepaint makeup, and thus the ensemble appears to be floating along all by itself.
  • Never Say Never Again: Lampshaded by James Bond, when Nigel Small-Fawcett is yelling Bond's name to attract his attention, then acts furtively when talking to Bond. The fact Nigel is played by Mr. Bean makes it funnier.
    Nigel Small-Fawcett: [yelling] Mr Bond! I say, Mr Bond! Nigel Small-Fawcett, British Embassy, Nassau.
    James Bond: Nice to meet you, Nigel.
    Nigel Small-Fawcett: Sorry I'm late, but as you're one of these undercover jollies I took the precaution of not being followed.
    James Bond: And that's why you shouted my name across a harbor?
    Nigel Small-Fawcett: Oh god, did I? Oh I'm sorry! Damn, Damn! Sorry, I'm rather new to all this.
  • Rustlers' Rhapsody: The narrator notes how odd it is that Western villains always have a bunch of henchman "wearing raincoats in the desert."
  • Le Samouraï: The main character's choice of unsuspicious-looking clothes is a trenchcoat and fedora. It makes sense in the setting, but even if it didn't, Rule of Cool would turn this trope into something more like a Badass Longcoat situation.
  • SHAZAM! (2019): As part of a scheme to allow them both to skip school, Billy turns into his Shazam form and dons a trenchcoat over his superhero suit to pretend he's the father of Freddy so he can take him outside. Despite Billy's bumbling attitude as an adult, it works.
  • Used as a Visual Pun in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie. The title cards announce an upcoming Sneak Preview of Mel Funn's film. Cut to the theater, and the entire audience is sneaking in, dressed in trenchcoats and fedoras.
  • The aliens in Space Jam employ this technique. The wife from Everybody Loves Raymond is the only one to notice because Homer's too busy watching the game.
  • Spider-Man 2: Doc Ock walks into a bank using this technique. It actually made sense though, as a trench coat would be about the only way to hide his mechanical arms and maintain the element of surprise.
  • Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (1990). The Nazis have targeted Fleming for assassination, shown by a sinister figure in a hat and trenchcoat entering his apartment building. It's not like the rest of the movie is played for realism, as it's more a tongue-in-cheek riff on James Bond movies.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
  • Three Days of the Condor: G. Joubert finds himself rather guilty of this trope.
  • The Tiger Makes Out: Eli Wallach's character, preparing his campaign to disrupt the indifferent, sheeplike world around him, picks up a trenchcoat and fedora at a pawn shop. As the owner anxiously watches him suiting up, he points out that he has a sawed-off shotgun for sale.
  • True Lies. When Helen relates how she first met Simon, he's being followed by a couple of government-looking types, one in a trenchcoat. Given that Simon is not a suave superspy but actually a fraud trying to get into her pants, it's likely just her imagination working overtime.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Judge Doom wears a trenchcoat and fedora with sunglasses and a rubber mask, to hide the fact that he is actually a Toon himself. Roger Rabbit tries the same thing in Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the book the movie is based on. Of course, 'toon sensibilities of "discreet" tend to differ greatly from the human norm...
  • In X2: X-Men United, Nightcrawler uses a trenchcoat, cap and dark glasses to sneak into the White House. It does help that he can teleport past any checkpoint.

  • In the non-fiction book The Cuckoo's Egg, Clifford Stoll worries that his liberal colleagues at Berkley will realise he's meeting with the infamous Central Intelligence Agency due to their conspicuous trenchcoats. When the CIA do turn up, his colleagues instead think they're IBM salesmen due to their equally conspicuous suits and ties.
  • Lampshaded in The Dresden Files. Harry is often wearing his long leather duster, and notes that it makes him look odd and conspicuous, especially when he wears it in the summer. Of course, his leather duster is enchanted to withstand magical and ballistic assaults, so when he's on a case (and thus runs the risk of someone trying to shoot him), he's going to wear the damn thing even if it's 95 degrees out.
  • The Fourth Law of Robotics by Harry Harrison. When robbing a bank, the suspect wears enough rain/cold weather gear (all black) that nobody is able to detect that it is a metal robot underneath all of those clothes.
  • One of Geronimo Stilton's old friends is described as always wearing a trenchcoat and dark glasses; quite naturally, he's a secret agent. Oddly, Geronimo reveals that his friend has always worn a trenchcoat and dark glasses since the first grade.
  • There's a medieval parody of this in the Terry Pratchett book Going Postal- one of the main antagonist's less reliable partners gets drunk one night and comes to unburden himself to the Big Bad. Upon the partner's arrival, the villain's servant asks something like "May I take your highly conspicuous hooded cloak, sir?"
  • The ducks in St. James's Park in Good Omens have gotten very good at identifying the many, many secret agents who meet there by their conspicuous "disguises."
    "The ducks in St James's Park are so used to being fed bread by secret agents meeting clandestinely that they have developed their own Pavlovian reaction. Put a St James's Park duck in a laboratory cage and show it a picture of two men — one usually wearing a coat with a fur collar, the other something sombre with a scarf — and it'll look up expectantly."
  • In Hit List by Lawrence Block, Keller has to carry out a hit on a day when it's pouring with rain, and realises that his trenchcoat which appeared to be olive in the lights of the store is actually a conspicuous green color. He doesn't have the time to get another trenchcoat, and he figures the coat will be the only thing a witness will focus on anyway. Which turns out to be the case; a petty criminal steals the coat while Keller is in a restaurant and gets shot dead by another hitman who's after Keller.
  • In H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man, Griffin, the eponymous Invisible Man, favors this kind of appearance aid. May be the Trope Maker.
  • Discussed in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography. After giving a lengthy description of the contents of the VFD disguise kit, the narrator mentions that the only piece they haven't figured out how to use in a disguise is the medium length beige trenchcoat.
  • The children's non-fiction book The Spy's Handbook has an illustration of what not to do, showing a spy, on a sunny day, wearing a heavy trenchcoat and fedora to infiltrate a tennis club.
  • Trueman Bradley: While trying to deposit money at the bank, Trueman sees a man in a hat, trenchcoat, and sunglasses following him. He immediately recognizes the man as his taxi driver because of his cologne and the birthmarks on his cheek.
  • In Twisted (2010) the lead character is able to disguise himself perfectly by wearing a trenchcoat. Keep in mind he is an anthropomorphic roller coaster.
  • In the children's mystery Who's Got Gertie? And How Can We Get Her Back?, two twelve-year-old "detectives" are following a suspect, but as she already knows who one of them is, they need a disguise. A trench coat, sunglasses and an ugly hat are pressed into service, although since it's July, the trench coat was not the best choice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ze Resistance from 'Allo 'Allo! all wore a conspicuous macintosh and beret combo.
  • Lampshaded on Angel where Gwen immediately spots her Mysterious Informant by the fact that he's the only person in LA wearing a trenchcoat.
  • The villain in the Live-Action Adaptation Movie Ben 10: Alien Swarm seems to admire this attire.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
  • Chuck vs. The Third Dimension A man in a dark trenchcoat, hat and dark glasses carrying a suspicious package plants a bomb in the BuyMore. Chuck is the only one to notice that this is an odd way to dress in a Burbank summer.
    • Somewhat toying with the trope is at the end of the episode, the bomber tries again at a crowded concert, only this time he's paid several people to dress in matching trenchcoats to lure Sarah and Casey while he wanders around undetected in a business suit.
  • Degrassi Junior High: When Joey Snake and Wheels try to use a fake ID to buy beer they try putting a trench coat on Snake the tallest of the three in an attempt to make him look older. It fails partially due to the ID being especially fake but mostly due to the fact that they were only fourteen and while they were closer to the legal drinking age of 18 at the time it was still quite a stretch.
  • When Susan on Desperate Housewives tries to be sneaky, she wears a trenchcoat, hat and sunglasses. This prompted one reviewer on Television Without Pity to ask, "What, no rubber nose and attached 'stache?"
  • When Dexter is training Miguel in how to murder people, he notes that he told him to be inconspicuous. Instead he "turns up looking like the Unabomber," with baseball cap, black sweater and sunglasses that make him especially conspicuous since they're in a casino at the time. In contrast, Dexter always wears a drab Henley shirt and khaki cargo pants when on the hunt.
  • In an episode of Drake & Josh, Josh is constantly getting mistaken for a wanted criminal and attacked by people. In one scene, he tries to don a heavy trenchcoat to sneak past a crowd, but everyone sees right through his disguise.
  • The Full House episode "A Pox in Our House" has Stephanie, struck down with chicken pox, attempting this when sneaking out to her dance class (as a real ballerina is visiting the class that day.) She manages to sneak past Joey and Danny, but Uncle Jesse (whom also has the chicken pox) is not fooled for a second.
  • Used a lot by Sylar in season one of Heroes, though Sylar wore a baseball cap instead of a fedora.
  • Occasionally played straight in Hill Street Blues, but justified because the show is set in the early Eighties when a trenchcoat was perfectly normal menswear; Captain Furillo is often seen wearing one. In fact, on one occasion it was a plot point that seeing someone wearing a trenchcoat with ski-mask wasn't enough to count as reasonable suspicion for a stop-and-search, because the city was in the grip of a particularly brutal Cold Snap at the time.
  • Kids Incorporated: "The Bully" - After angering a local bully, the Kid sneaks into the P*lace wearing a trenchcoat and fedora, which effectively hides him in a crowd whose median age is 13.
  • M.A.N.T.I.S.: The pilot episode had the hero wearing one of these to conceal the fact he was wearing Powered Armour. While it wasn't the worst idea under the circumstances (the design of the suit didn't really lend itself to being worn under anything else) the result looked silly enough on screen that this trick was never used in the series proper.
  • In the Midnight Caller episode "Play Blotto... And Die," a snitch in witness protection wanders around in a trench coat, hat, sunglasses, and fake beard.
  • In the Bookstore Sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus, Lemming wears a trenchcoat and hat when he walks in to a bookstore and overly-innocently asks to buy a book. The whole sketch is an over-the-top spoof of spy fiction, and it turns out that Lemming was actually an undercover agent for the British Dental Association.
  • Subverted in the NCIS season six two parter, "Cloak and Dagger". The pickup man for an espionage operation shows up as pictured above, and is instantly made. However, his inept attempt at being inconspicuous manages to help convince them that he was an innocent pawn rather than the mastermind behind the operation.
  • Our Miss Brooks: When Miss Brooks attempts to track down a missing postman in the episode "Postage Due", she uses a trenchcoat to dress for the part.
  • Parks and Recreation: In "Live Ammo", when checking out Tom's apartment Leslie wears her "Sneak-Around clothes", which consist of a black trenchcoat with matching fedora and accessorized heels.
  • Discussed in Remington Steele, and also inverted, in that the guy actually claims to be a sleuth but the trenchcoat betrays him for an amateur. He approaches the agency claiming to be an investigative reporter, but they're immediately suspicious, call up his paper and discover he writes their housekeeping advice column under the pseudonym "Helpful Harriet".
    Rick: How did you find out? What gave me away!?
    Mildred: [chuckling] I think it was the trenchcoat.
  • Played with in Spaced when Tim accidentally runs into a man dressed like this, who tells him to watch where he's going. Tim says that he's not used to an evil, suspicious looking man wandering around, prompting the man to say "What makes you think I'm evil and suspicious looking?"
  • Stargate SG-1: Often when they need to investigate something while out of uniform. Season 6's "Nightwalkers" comes to mind.
  • Dom Joly had a few sketches that involved trenchcoat-and-fedora wearing "spies" in Trigger Happy TV, whether it was spouting generic spy code phrases at unsuspecting members of the public, or watching ordinary people while pretending to read the paper, complete with extremely obvious eyeholes.
  • In the 1990's remake of The Untouchables a U-boat drops off a German spy who puts on his trenchcoat before paddling ashore in a dinghy. Given that Germany wasn't at war with the United States at the time, it's a mystery why he'd bother when he could have worn a suit and traveled under forged papers on a comfortable steamship from Europe.
  • Utopia (2014): In "Tunnel Vision", Jim is attempting to persuade Tony not to award a conract for a train tunnel to a Chinese company and keeps arranging increasingly clandestine meeting with him. In one of these, Tony turns up to a bench in a public park to find Jim wearing a black trench coat, fedora and sunglasses amd sticling out like a sore thumb.
  • Lampshaded on Yes, Minister when Bernard, after saying too much to the press, attempted to sneak past reporters in a trenchcoat, hat, and shades. On the hottest day of the year, according to the novelisation. Needless to say, the press were very interested in this strange man entering a government building.
  • In the first series of the children's 'live-action comic' Zzzap!, the character Tricky Dicky's costume is a trenchcoat, black gloves, broad-brimmed hat and face-concealing mask.

  • In the video for Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone", the protagonist is stalked by spies who also sing backup vocals. You can tell they're spies, because they're in trenchcoats, fedoras and dark glasses.
  • The members of Daryl Hall & John Oates wear these in the video for "Private Eyes".


  • Mission to Zyxx: Bargie the artificially-intelligent spaceship leaves her locator beacon on at all times including during stealth missions.
    Bargie: That's why I always wear a coat.

  • Adventures in Odyssey: In "Heatwave" Jack tries to follow the "mystery kid" for the better part of the episode, but Mr. Watson points out that rather than appearing casual,he in fact really sticks out because of the trenchcoat that he's wearing in the middle of a heat wave.

    Video Games 
  • Barn Finders: One of the characters, Bobby Gray, wears a trenchcoat, hat, and Groucho Marx glassas to hide the fact that he's an alien.
  • Carmen Sandiego not only wears a trenchcoat and fedora, but a fire engine red trenchcoat and fedora. On the other hand, she is motivated by showing off.
  • The Spy in Chip's Challenge, who steals all your tools if you run into him, wears sunglasses with a blue fedora and trenchcoat. The same icon is used for the Microsoft 'Spy' utility, with the costume changing colour with the version.
  • Deus Ex's J.C. Denton wears a blue trenchcoat everywhere, as does his brother Paul. Villain Walton Simmons wears a black one. Of course, this makes some sense for missions where he's walking the streets, as many civilian NPCs are wearing them as well (they seem to have made a bit of a comeback in 2052), but you'd think he'd choose something less conspicuous when infiltrating an enemy base. Lampshaded by Agent Navarre early on.
    Navarre: I do not expect you to perform as well as Agent Hermann, but the mission will require us to do more than frighten the NSF with our baggy coats that make us look bigger than we really are.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution's Adam Jensen wears an awesome black leather longcoat with a cool-looking floral print on the shoulders, but unlike J.C. he doesn't have any justification for it - nobody else wears onenote . There is an implication that he's using the coat to at least attempt to be somewhat inconspicuous: an augmented human is not unusual in 2027, but many of Adam's augmentations are military-grade, and prototypes or bleeding-edge technology at that, and he also carries military weaponry and wears body armor all the time (under the coat), so he's likely trying to avoid drawing a lot of attention. At least he takes it off when on serious infiltration missions in favor of a sleeveless combat vest.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 2, Goris wears a large brown cloak (claiming to hide a deformity when questioned) to disguise the fact that he is a deathclaw.
    • Veronica from Fallout: New Vegas wears a thick, hooded cloak to hide her affiliation with The Brotherhood of Steel. It works well too, until you actually meet some of her family and realize she's just wearing a nondescript version of the scientists clothing.
  • In Liberal Crime Squad, Trenchcoats are both "stealthy" gear (meaning who wears them tries to hide instead of disguise as the enemies when infiltrating) and the only type of clothes large enough to conceal mid-sized weapons like a shotgun or light machinegun.
  • In the Eastern Europe level of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake dons a trench coat and face camo to get past Raven Sword's station check point. In a subversion, his face is immediately added to the PMC's blacklist, rendering that disguise useless. This is played even straighter if you notice someone (later revealed to be Scarabs) in a trench coat and hat following Snake, who immediately disappears every time you investigate.
    • His facial disguise was not the greatest, it must be said, since it was simply a de-aged version of his own face. At least he took off the bandanna... However if he dons a different face camo (Drebin, the Colonel, etc), carries no weapons, and lets the guards pat him down, the guards white list him as a non-threat and proceed to ignore him.
  • The G-Men in the Milkman Conspiracy level of Psychonauts.
  • Albert Wesker of Resident Evil fame dons a trenchcoat in the fifth game of the series. But by then he's far less "conspicuous" and more of a darwinistic Card-Carrying Villain.
    • Just like his first appearance in the original Resident Evil 2, Mr.X in Resident Evil 2 (Remake) also wears a trenchcoat, this time complemented by a fedora which unlocks an achievement when you shoot it off from Mr.X's head.
  • The graphical report for the success of certain espionage or sabotage missions in Space Empires IV shows an alien wearing a trenchcoat and fedora.
  • The cyborg agents of Syndicate, who can hide an arsenal of artillery-level weaponry in their coats.
  • The Spy of Team Fortress 2 normally wears a fancy tailored suit befitting the game's 60's spy movie aesthetic. Some years after release, he was given a heavy trenchcoat as a craftable cosmetic item, alongside a wide brimmed fedora. He is profoundly obvious while wearing these as they bulk up his outline significantly and offer the option of paint highlights on the belts to stand out even more.
  • The Spy avatar of Town of Salem fits the description down to a T: black trenchcoat, a fedora, and a pair of Sinister Shades.
  • The protagonist of Watch_Dogs, wears a brown leather longcoat that actually looks more Hipster-ish than retro per se, and is also justified by the action taking place in Chicago in the autumn. It's still kind of easily recognisable for a Vigilante Man who's got the cops and the Mob gunning for him, though.
  • The second armor that you get for your agents in the X-COM: UFO Defense mod XCOM Files is a leather coat (the first is just a basic suit, befitting the G-Man aesthetic). It's technically better than the basic armor, providing a bare minimum of protection, but it's not much better. It is, however, the only armor that agents can wear on a non-arctic, non-tropical infiltration missions.


    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic's review of Godzilla (1998) poked fun at how easy it for Zilla to hide in New York City by cutting to a picture of the monster wearing a trenchcoat and dark glasses. No one seems to notice the six ton behemoth when he's wearing that!
  • The page image is an actual ad for Burger King, depicting Ronald McDonald in the trope's garb at the rival restaurant.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur tried this when he went into a music store to buy a copy of the "Love Ducks" soundtrack CD (which everyone else thinks is the "babiest baby show of all"). But it didn't help much when the cashier went on the intercom, asking if they had any copies of the CD "for this boy," to which everyone else in the shop stared at him. Arthur made the excuse that it was for his baby sister.
  • In Batman Beyond, Bruce Wayne uses this to hide his BatMech while rescuing Terry.
  • Many a colorful villain in Ben 10. Even more odd since it's the middle of the summer.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command uses such a coat to disguise his colorful space suit in order to infiltrate a Bad Guy Bar, where everyone is dressed like this.
  • Captain Planet "A Formula for Hate" (The famed AIDS awareness episode) Verminous Skumm wears this outfit so as to hide his rodent-esque appearance, despite the fact that he's hiding in the closet.
  • The Cartoon Network music video "Always On the Run" began with a group of animated shadowy figures in trenchcoats and fedoras attempting to sneak out of the live-action Cartoon Network building. The fangirls spot one of them having a familiar red butt sticking out of the bottom of his coat and begin screaming, for it's actually I.R. Baboon in the disguise, and the 'toons (also including Johnny Bravo, Double-D and Eustace) ditch their disguises and run as the chase begins.
  • "L-Y", one of the songs that Tom Lehrer wrote for The Electric Company (1971) includes the lines "You're a secret agent man who's after the secret plan. How do you act so they don't know you're a spy? Normally ... normally ... normal ... l-y.." The accompanying animation has the protagonist being caught in a darkened room next to an enormous safe, wearing a trench coat and spy-hat. He starts whistling and playing with a yo-yo.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Screwed the Pooch", Brian goes on the run from Peter and Carter when he allegedly impregnates the latter's prized greyhound, with Lois getting caught in the middle of the feud. In one scene, she goes to the park in a trenchcoat disguise to meet with Brian in secret.
    • In "Prick Up Your Ears", Lois gets in hot water when she teaches sex education at the high school and is banned from the premises. As Peter tries to think of how he can get her inside to crash an abstinence lecture, the scene cuts to what looks like Peter sitting on top of Lois while wearing a long trenchcoat. It turns out they're still hiding in the bushes, and Peter suggests they sneak behind the tall man.
  • One of the Gargoyles, Broadway, wore a trenchcoat and fedora when playing detective, largely because he'd been watching an old detective movie.
  • In Hey Arnold!, Helga attempted to sneak into her therapist's office wearing a trenchcoat and a fedora, only for Phoebe to spot her out.
    • This is also standard attire for the mysterious boarder Mr. Smith, though with a bowler derby hat. In his only major episode, Smith is seen greeting Arnold's pet pig Abner who is also dressed in a trenchcoat.
    • When Gerald was going to his first bike lesson from Arnold, he donned a trenchcoat and sunglasses, in addition to his bicycle helmet (since he didn't want anyone else to know he didn't know how to ride a bike.) To which Arnold tells him, "Lose the costume. You can't ride in a raincoat."
  • Stormer from Jem wore a trenchcoat as a disguise when she told the police her manager had stolen money and framed Jem.
  • League of Super Evil: the titular team is trying to get into a restaurant. A man who looks exactly like the team in a trenchcoat walks in, and the maitre'd lets him through. Then, per trope, comes another guy who looks exactly the same except for a slightly different visor, giving the same name. And he's the actual League, wearing goggles.
  • Looney Tales: The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Baby Buggy Bunny" begins with a tall dark stranger dressed this way robbing the Last National Bank. We then learn that it's actually the midget gangster Ant Hill Harry (a.k.a. Baby-Face Finster), disguised on stilts with boots, a long trenchcoat, fedora hat and a black eye mask to hide his face. He swiftly changes from this disguise to a baby in a buggy, which manages to fool the police due to his small stature and baby-like face.
    • The bank robbery scene was recycled in the Looney Tunes TV special "The Bugs Bunny Mystery Special," but instead of really being Baby-Face Finster, in the end it's revealed to be Porky Pig, the Hitchcock-esque host of the special, in the same disguise, as he needed to "get the story going."
    • * When Wile E. Coyote gets hold of a Spy Kit in "Sugar and Spies", he starts wearing a black trenchcoat and hat... in the middle of the desert.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot "Mama Drama"; Jenny, Brad and Sheldon follow Marty into a bank wearing trenchcoats and fedoras in an attempt to evade suspicion. Tuck tags along wearing a pink bunny mask. Their attempts at remaining hidden don't exactly evade notice.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Pinkie Pie combines this disguise with a pair of groucho glasses and a bale of hay to disguise herself in "Party Of One". It fails to make her inconspicuous or hide her identity at all because she is Pinkie Pie.
    • In "The Times, They Are A-Changeling", Spike wears a trenchcoat, a hat, and dark sunglasses to avoid getting swamped by fans when he visits the Crystal Empire. When Twilight points out that it isn't a very good disguise, Spike adds a bright red afro wig to the ensemble. And the disguise actually works! Initially, the streets are deserted, so Spike decides he doesn't need the disguise anymore—and as soon as he takes it off, his fans appear out of nowhere to swarm around him.
  • On an episode of Pound Puppies (2010), Niblet and Lucky use coats to sneak into a basketball stadium. Niblet hid three puppies (out of five that the crew is trying to get adopted) in his coat. Lucky hides the other two puppies in his coat, while Cookie hides Squirt and Strudel in her dress.
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo used and lampshaded when Shaggy and Scooby try this in "The Schnook Who Took My Comic Book" to avoid Monster of the Week Dr. Croaker spotting them and stealing their rare Commander Cool comic. The trouble is, everyone recognizes them anyways, notably Daphne...
    "Ewww, don't you two know that the Bogart look is out this season?"
  • In The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Hard Times for Haggis," the titular washed-up character sees someone disguised this way purchasing a doll of Haggis that had been gathering dust in an antique shop. Haggis follows the mysterious buyer into an alleyway and sees him rip off his disguise, revealing to be Haggis's runaway Scottie dog Whacky!
  • As a Cold War satire, Rocky and Bullwinkle has numerous coat/fedora/glasses examples.
  • In the Rugrats episode "Murmur on the Ornery Express," a tall dark stranger dressed this way boards the train the main cast is riding, initially only seen in silhouette or shadow. When Chuckie's beloved teddy bear Wawa goes missing, the babies suspect the stranger, whom they refer to as the "Shadow Guy," as having stolen Wawa due to him appearing to hold the bear while in silhouette/shadow. Near the end, it turns out the tall dark stranger was actually Jonathan, who snuck aboard the train to help get Charlotte's work done so she could spend more time with the family, and the shape the babies thought was Wawa turned out to be Jonathan's cell phone.
  • One episode of The Simpsons has Krusty sneak out of a porn theater wearing a trenchcoat and shades at night... but his trademark hair is still exposed.
  • Green Goblin in The Spectacular Spider Man episode "Subtext", while trying to avoid suspicion, wears a trenchcoat over his purple-and-green costume.
  • The Scorpion, unable to remove his suit, uses this as a disguise in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
    • In fact, most of the colorful villains in this series use this technique to stay under the radar.
  • Standard attire for the spies in Taz-Mania.
  • In the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) cartoon, the Turtles originally used trenchcoats as disguises when they went above ground, sometimes using rubber human masks with them, but as the series went on they began being treated more like standard superheroes and walked around openly.
  • In episode "Matchmaker" of Totally Spies!, Clover dons one of those a trench coats and sunglasses to go on spy her spy missions. Nothing out of the ordinary, most background characters are perpetually oblivious to everything anyway.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men (2009) Beast uses a hat and long gray trenchcoat to conceal his blue furry form.
  • X-Men: Evolution Magneto employs this guise to stalk Angel.
    • Callisto wears one while spying on a skateboarding event, using it to go near Evan and warn him not to drink an energy drink that will poison him. Given how Callisto's hardly the most non-human-looking mutant and that she's at an event filled with wild teenagers, one has to wonder how the trenchcoat makes her less suspicious than the eyepatch she wears.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series has a very notable example from a fifth season episode; Mr. Sinister is seen leaving a restaurant wearing a trenchcoat, a hat, and a bandanna.

    Real Life 
  • Boris the Burglar, the image used in Neighborhood Watch signs is a silhouette of a man wearing a trench coat and fedora.
  • From this (NSFW) Everything2 node: "Now, as everyone who has worked an ER knows, trenchcoats are bad, especially in the summer. This trenchcoat was especially bad, since it was moving and hissing."
  • When not on stage, Malice Mizer/Moi dix Mois guitarist Mana shows mild to moderate symptoms of this. Most pictures of him in public show him with a large hat and sunglasses, combined with, at various points, large, dark scarves, tops, skirts, boots and- yes- trenchcoats. Due to his habit of Alter-Ego Acting, it isn't publicly known whether he dresses like this to try to avoid attention or whether he just likes the style, but it's most likely to be the latter, because his clothes do a pretty pants job at masking his identity. If anything, they make him more recognizable offstage.
  • Vladimir Rezun, better known by his pseudonym of Victor Suvorov, a former Soviet GRU agent, says that among the first rules they were taught was - no sunshades, no raised collars, no hands in the pockets. After all, why should they look like spies if they are not spies but Soviet Intelligence Agents?
    • Ironically, secret police in Hungary and other Eastern Bloc countries would wear the hat, trenchcoat and shades - so that anyone they were tracking would know they were being watched.
  • In The '50s MI 5’s surveillance unit, A4, were expected to wear trilby hats and raincoats, which might have been good for rainy Britain but made them look exactly like surveillance agents when seen standing on street corners. As this getup was even more conspicuous in the countryside, they were seldom deployed outside London, and the KGB also noticed these raincoat-wearing men were never hanging around the Soviet Embassy at night or over the weekend. So when Donald Maclean came under suspicion of being The Mole, the KGB waited until the A4 unit had knocked off for the weekend, then arranged for Maclean (along with Guy Burgess) to do a flit from Maclean's rural home to the midnight ferry across the English Channel. By the time the alert was given on Monday, they were already in Moscow.
  • Trenchcoats, if seen in real-life and not used for obvious comedic effect, are often associated with exhibitionism or a Coat Full of Contraband.
  • The icon for Google Chrome's incognito mode is a guy in a trenchcoat.


"Ren and Stimpy" Conspicuous Trenchcoat

Who could the mysterious buyer be?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConspicuousTrenchcoat

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