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Costume Copycat

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A Superhero-specific version of the Identical Stranger (often, but not always, the Criminal Doppelgänger): a not-necessarily-identical stranger wearing an identical costume.

Often an Evil Twin, trying to usurp the hero, infiltrate the Justice League, trade on the hero's reputation for personal gain, or convince people that the hero has gone bad.

Occasionally, and only in comics at the Idealistic end of the Scale, the hero will travel to some out-of-the-way spot and discover that somebody there has been inspired by tales of the hero, and has adopted an identical costume in tribute. An Emergency Impersonation plot may or may not result.

Either way, the key point is that wearing an identical costume is sufficient to turn somebody into an Identical Stranger, regardless of how different they look from the hero out of costume.

The other character's costume will be identical, or at least close enough to appear so when drawn at the comic-book level of detail. It may even be good enough to fool people who know the hero well. (The inspired-by hero's tribute costume will often have some slight difference that will let readers tell the two apart, but it's always deliberate personalisation, never an error resulting from the fact that they designed it based on rumours and have never seen the original for themselves.)

A source of much Fridge Logic involving most costumed characters as to why this doesn't happen to them more often.

Sometimes, if the hero's powers come from a magical crystal, some sort of special uniform, a suit of Powered Armor, or whatever. In that case, this trope may involve someone other than the main hero (typically one of the hero's close friends) using the equipment in their place to "pinch hit" for an otherwise unavailable protagonist.

If the copycat's costume isn't very much like the real thing, but people mistake it for the real thing anyway, it's a case of Easy Impersonation (and hopefully it's being played for laughs).

Not to be confused with Identity Impersonator, where the hero has one of his friends wear an identical outfit so that the hero can appear to be in two places at once (usually to help protect his Secret Identity). When the real character is wrongly suspected of this trope, that's Your Costume Needs Work.

Similar plots sometimes occur with non-costumed heroes, usually as variations of "conman trading on reputation of hero the mark has never met" — see Legendary Impostor.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • After the Time Skip in One Piece, a group of pirates impersonate the Strawhat Pirates despite not looking like them in the slightest. They even managed to fool some of the Strawhats themselves. In the end, they either got arrested or met a sticky end, since they were nowhere near the calibre of the Strawhats and the kind of attention they got.
  • In Black Cat, a incredibly fat guy runs around impersonating the eponymous bounty hunter.
  • InTower of God, just as Viole's infamy is starting to spread, a brutish man decides to impersonate him for some easy robberies. He then has the bad luck of picking out Viole's long time companion Hwaryun as a victim.
  • In The '90s Sailor Moon,
    • In the first season, Zoisite went around town dressed as a blue version of the title character, setting up disasters to "save" people from immediately after. "She" is then "captured" by Kunzite, leaving the real Sailor Senshi to come to the rescue and promptly get caught themselves. Especially amusing as the only major giveaway should be Zoi being about a foot taller than the original... and you know... Male.
    • Sailor Moon S had a moment like this. Kaolinite had captured Usagi and even pegged her as Sailor Moon. When the Sailor Senshi appear, she's shocked to see Sailor Moon there, blowing her theory to hell and back. What's so funny is that it was actually Minako using the Disguise Pen and even then, she flubbed Usagi's trademark hairstyle!
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure had an episode where a pair of Honoka and Nagisa's classmates dressed up as Cure White and Cure Black. Since almost nobody knew the real Pretty Cure even existed, the effects of this were rather limited, with no cases of mistaken identity at all. Honoka and Nagisa worried that the villains might get confused and attack the impostors, but the villain of the episode wasn't fooled... and proceeded to attack and mind-control the impostors anyway, for the novelty of being able to set up a Pretty Cure vs. Pretty Cure fight.
  • There's a chapter of Lupin the Third M where a new female thief impersonates Fujiko in order to frame her for a jewel heist.
  • Eclair and Lumiere's looks and positions are usurped by Dvergr and Arv in the final arc of Kiddy Grade.
  • Towards the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, the two Malevolent Masked Men usurp Nanoha and Fate's appearances to spectacularly execute the Wolkenritter in front of Hayate's eyes. This also served as Foreshadowing to their identities, since they got the color of the outfits wrong due the fact that cats are colorblind.
  • An episode of Battle of the Planets involved Mark impersonating Zoltar by wearing a costume that actually didn't look much like Zoltar's.
  • YuYu Hakusho had a brief sequence right after The Heroes first worked as a team. Yusuke and Kuwabara are both almost too injured to walk, and two guys have started dishonorably jumping random toughs and pounding them, then dropping Yusuke and Kuwabara's names, and turning the whole area against them. Odd one, since they weren't trying to cash in on their reputation (as punks) but to ruin their reputations as honorable punks in order to irritate them and get them to walk into a trap while injured, so they could beat them and cash in on their new reputation as demon-slayers as the persons who beat aforesaid. Can't help feeling it was needlessly elaborate. A later kidnapping scheme relied on 'hey, you, Urameshi,' as bait and worked much better. The guys turned out to have a very passing resemblance to our heroes, but be really remarkably ugly, something Kuwabara takes exception to.
  • Saiyuki: Kami is impersonating a Sanzo priest... but he was also a disciple to one and supposedly inherited the title when his master got bored with it. This trope doesn't kick in till he takes the one thing his master didn't bequeath him (which happens to be the most important) the sutra, from Sanzo.
  • While not so much a "costume" copycat, in Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro is often-times described as "the man with seven scars". Needless to say, he gets a little puzzled when, after going around the Post Apocalyptic wasteland doing good and taking out small-level warlords, innocent people start freaking the hell out and running away from him. It turns out there's ANOTHER "man with seven scars," only this guy's a rampaging maniac. When they meet, those scars are the ONLY thing that's similar, as the imposter is about a foot taller, twice as heavily muscled, and wears a mask halfway between a knight's helmet and a boiler grate. Turns out that it's Jagi, Kenshiro's adopted brother, who lost out on the chance to be the one true successor of Hokuto Shinken, but whom the kind-hearted Kenshiro refused to kill. He gave himself the scars and was being such a madman simply to ruin Kenshiro's reputation and lure him into a fight.

    Comic Books 
  • Justice League of America (Volume 1) #5 (1961) had the League infiltrated by an impostor wearing Green Lantern's outfit and using gadgets to imitate his powers.
  • Superman:
    • Superman (1939) #169 (1964) featured a story in which a criminal (who, thanks to Magic Plastic Surgery, actually has Superman's face as well) dressing as Superman to gain access to a top secret prototype.
    • In Adventure Comics #392, the Stanhope College dedicates one day to honor Supergirl for all she has done for the place, and want all students to war Supergirl's costumes. Ironically, Linda Danvers is the only one who cannot wear one because someone is trying to find out her secret identity.
    • In Superman Family #203, a girl called Ellie Leeds, who has become deluded into believing she is Supergirl, makes a Supergirl costume out of several curtains. However, her suit looks like Kara's original costume because she does not know the real hero has often changed costumes.
    • The Death of Superman: During Reign of the Supermen, Hank Henshaw posed as a cyborg Superman, wearing an identical costume with cybernetic implants in areas where Superman had been wounded during his battle with Doomsday. Henshaw, claiming to be Superman returned from the grave, intended to convert Earth into a War World and tarnish Superman's name throughout the universe.
    • Superman lampshades it in Public Enemies (2004):
      Superman: I'm getting tired of seeing my face on my enemies.
    • In 52, everyone thought that Supernova was Superman in disguise. Actually, it was Booster Gold from the future all along. The original, Silver Age Supernova was Superman in disguise.
    • Happened in the 90's reboot Legion of Super-Heroes where a planet was being robbed by "Legionnaires". Which was actually a set of dummies dressed as Legionnaires in a remote-controlled ship....
    • Action Comics #233 (1957, pictured above) featured a country where everyone was required by law to wear a Superman costume.
    • Steel wore a costume in tribute to Superman after the latter's death. However, he was the only Superman-replacement who didn't claim to be the real thing, and his costume didn't look that similar, other than the symbol and the cape. In Kingdom Come, Steel eventually switched his focus to Batman, using a Bat-Symbol and an axe instead of an 'S' shield and a hammer.
    • Kon-El/Conner Kent also did not claim to be the real thing. Rather, he admitted and was even proud of being a clone—he just wanted to be called Superman and not Superboy.
  • Jason Todd, the second Robin, after coming Back from the Dead as a villain, adopted the identity of the hero Nightwing (who had been the first Robin), much to the real Nightwing's annoyance.
  • Subverted once when Dick Grayson/Nightwing ran into a rather psychotic vigilante who wore a domino mask and a hockey jersey with the name Nite-wing on it. There was little chance of mixing the two up.
    • Damian (Bruce's son with Talia Al-Ghul) showed up at Wayne Manor, wearing an approximation of the Robin costume, although there were notable differences that were easy to spot, and he wasn't really trying to impersonate current Tim Drake, so much as make the point that he felt that he should be Robin instead.
    • Jason Todd also impersonated the Red Hood, the former identity of the Joker — the man who killed him.
    • And in a Robin (1993) plot arc, an old Robin villain was running around dressed as Red Robin - an identity Jason had for about five minutes. Apparently someone pinched his shtick.
      • Which makes it a meta-Costume Copycat, as Red Robin was Dick Grayson's superhero identity in Kingdom Come. Jason also ran around for a while as a Guns Akimbo-wielding Batman. He might as well be called "Copycat Man."
      • And when "Battle for the Cowl" was over, and Dick needed to take Damian as the new Robin (he was just gonna go out and try to fight crime alone anyway), Tim was forcibly retired from being Robin. With the General (the last guy to wear the Red Robin costume) in jail, Tim became the new Red Robin (using it as a crux, he didn't want to step on Dick and Damian's shoes and, like Jason, couldn't accept that Bruce was dead and was looking for him).
  • The plot of Batman: Orphans is kicked off when a dead teen around Tim's age is found wearing a decent, but less armored, duplicate of Tim's Robin costume. The kid is later revealed to be working for a vile man who is recruiting runaways, sometimes by kidnapping them, in a duplicate Batman costume and then sending them up against villains hoping the "disposable" kids take some of the villains out with them as they're killed.
  • A number of people had dressed up as Batman at one time or another. However, because of his mythological nature of being mysterious, it's easy for someone to think that another version of Batman is actually him and it would take a very skilled detective (or at least someone in-the-know) to realize that Batman isn't the real one. Gordon knew right away though. How? He turned around one time and Batman was still there. It was Jean-Paul Valley filling in.
  • This is the Chameleon's entire shtick in the Spider-Man comics. Mysterio has tried it too. You'd think it'd be easier to pick on a Bad Ass Normal, but no, they always want to work out how to imitate the superpowers. Hell, in Ultimate Marvel, some random guy manages to pull this off. According to Marvel, the random guy in the Ultimate Universe was supposed to be that universe's version of Chameleon. Spider is especially vulnerable to this because he's one of the few heroes around whose costume covers him head to toe and he's not as large or built as most male superheroes tend to be. Also, he gets enough bad press that plenty of people already think he's a bad guy.
    • An early issue had Jerk Jock Flash Thompson putting on a store-bought Spidey costume to play a prank on Peter, only to be confused for the real Spider-Man by Doctor Doom.
  • Daredevil:
    • While Matt Murdock is imprisoned, an impostor runs around Hell's Kitchen dressed in his suit and is eventually revealed to be Danny Rand. In the past, Spider-Man has also masqueraded as Daredevil when Matt Murdock and Daredevil needed to be in the same place at the same time.
    • There was also a storyline where the assassin Bullseye pretended to be Daredevil (unsurprisingly, this was bad for DD's public image) while the real Daredevil was missing due to amnesia.
      • In that same story, Matt also impersonated Bullseye to fight him.
      • Bullseye later ended up running around as Hawkeye.
    • Not to mention the maniac hired to impersonate Daredevil in the Born Again storyline. Matt ends up kicking his ass and stealing his costume before going to defeat Nuke.
  • Spider-Man and Daredevil have been known to dress as each other to protect their secret identities. In one issue, Peter did it because he didn't have a spare costume available and wanted to borrow one of Matt's. Peter may have a special suit just for him, or Daredevil's eye pieces are removable so he can see.
  • Batman #655 (2006) opens with Batman apparently at the mercy of the Joker. Then Batman pulls out a gun. And then the real Batman shows up...
  • It has happened to supervillains too. For instance, Catwoman has been wrongly implicated for crimes Catman committed.
  • Spider-Man:
    • In the Spider-Man comic strip, there was this random guy who started going around in a Spider-Man suit with the mask off. Unusually, when the real Spider-Man finally appeared with him in public, he made up a story to cover for the impostor.
    • The Spider-Man Annual had a story with another example, a conman who masqueraded as Spider-Man and "revealed" his secret identity, then showed off various gadgets that duplicated Spidey's powers to show that he wasn't a mutant, just a crimefighter with cash. And he got way better PR than Spidey ever did. Said impostor also introduced the Spider-Van, which is So Bad, It's Good.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man did it again, but Darker and Edgier. Some random guy wore a Spider-Man suit and started robbing banks with homemade web-shooters. Needless to say, this was not good for Spidey's reputation. As expected, he gets beaten up by the angsty superhero. But not before the real Spider-Man gets shot by the police when he attempts to stop the impersonator during a bank robbery. OW.
    • And yet again, possibly another annual. Peter goes to a little mom-and-pop store in need of workers and runs into someone in his costume. Immediately after running through a checklist (Clone? Robot? Impostor.) and finding that this 'Spider-Man' once helped with a robbery and gets free food every time he shows up, Peter follows the guy, finding that he is a teenager who sleeps in an alley. Apparently this is his only reliable food source. After talking with Aunt May, Peter decides not to take offense, saving the kid from a gang and being told afterwards that the kid had stolen groceries from the store, then found a Spider-Man costume, felt bad, and returned them as Spider-Man. He'd like to make up for it. The next day Peter goes back to the store and is told by the woman who runs it that there was some excitement last night, when Spider-Man showed up with a nice new worker.
  • While not a true copycat, the Cloud Cuckoo Lander Deadpool's costume is very similar to Spider-Man's, as is his sense of humor and mastery of insult fighting. Various bystanders throughout the years, especially in Spider-Man's New York turf, comment on the resemblance and mistake Deadpool for Spider-Man. In an issue where the two met, they hung a lampshade on it. Also lampshaded in an issue of Deadpool which reveals how Deadpool got his costume: he found it in a costume shop, with a note saying, "Thanks but no thanks. -Spider-Man". Deadpool was loosely based on Deathstroke of DC Comics, right down to his real name— Deadpool is Wade Wilson, while Deathstroke is Slade Wilson. They actually appeared in a crossover together and noted their similarities.
  • The Outsiders: During Judd Winick's run on Outsiders (2003), Arsenal is getting info from a mysterious figure. He finally tells Nightwing, it's Batman with Nightwing upset at first. He and Batman talk with Nightwing saying that the info Batman has been giving has panned out. Batman states he hasn't talked to Arsenal in a year. Nightwing calls up Roy, who's meeting Batman on a roof...and it turns out this entire time "Batman" has actually been Deathstroke using the Outsiders for his own means.
  • A part of the Dark Avengers team was made up of supervillains given the costumes of heroes under the orders of Norman Osborn, with the government's backing.
    • Then Osborn took over S.H.I.E.L.D., renaming it H.A.M.M.E.R, and led a team of Avengers consisting of himself, a bunch of villains in disguise, one hero gone bad and whatever Ares is.
    • The actual Thunderbolts' very first mission under H.A.M.M.E.R. involved the Headsman impersonating the Green Goblin to clear Osborn's name. As it turns out, the plan originally called for an "unforeseen accident" that would lead to the Headsman's death. Osborn didn't count on the Ghost's interference.
      • What's more, that team was led by the second Black Widow, secretly the original Black Widow wearing a wig.
    • Osborn tried the Dark Avengers idea a second time, following his disgrace and H.A.M.M.E.R's collapse, this time with the backing of a coalition of supervillain groups. When that fell through, the Dark Avengers were taken into custody, and some joined the Thunderbolts (now a work program for supervillains).
  • Iron Man: This applied when Tony Stark had become a drunken wreck thanks to Obadiah Stane. With Tony in no condition to pilot the Iron Man armor, his buddy Jim Rhodes took over as Iron Man until Stark got back on his feet.
  • After James Rhodes retired in the 90's, his War Machine armor was found by a man named Parnell Jacobs. Jacobs used the War Machine identity to become a criminal mercenary, and clashed with Iron Man a few times before being defeated.
  • This trope was used to retcon away the severe Villain Decay of supervillain Prometheus, who had gone from a veritable force of nature capable of putting nearly the entire Justice League of America on the ropes single-handed, to being a Mook for various Batman villains. It was eventually revealed that the Mook version had been merely an impostor Prometheus using his costume and weapons, while the real Prometheus was trapped in a telepathically-induced catatonic state. After escaping and killing his imposter, Prometheus returned to his rightful place on the power scale, appearing as the Big Bad in Justice League: Cry for Justice. He died at the end of it, making the whole impostor reveal a "Shaggy Dog" Story.
  • The 1990s Marvel Comics hero Darkhawk gained his powers from a special amulet that allowed him to summon a suit of special Powered Armor to help him fight crime. When protagonist Chris Powell needed time to get his head together after a very unpleasant trauma, his former enemy Portal briefly took Chris's amulet and filled in for him as Darkhawk, taking on an Ax-Crazy superhuman snuff artist named Shaper.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • A special had Sonic and Knuckles get into one of their usual fistfights, at one point both taking on their Super Modes. When Knuckles became Hyper Knuckles, Super Sonic called him an impostor and a copycat.
    • At one point, both Anti-Sonic and Anti-Antoine decided to mimic their good counterparts. Anti-Ant killed the real one's father, nearly killed King Max Acorn and nearly forced Sally to marry. Anti-Sonic... just flirted with every girl in Knothole. Note that, since their transformations into Scourge and Patch, this is kinda impossible now.
  • The Mighty Thor: Hercules has sometimes impersonated Thor.
  • The Phantom Blot, a Mickey Mouse Comic Universe villain, has been subject to this a lot thanks to his easy-to-mimic costume. Results vary.
  • R. Crumb's Mr. Natural, set upon by hoards of adoring hippies, runs and ducks into a second-hand store. He emerges disguised in a beret, sunglasses, a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, and a transistor radio, and encounters an exact double. He's also a guru, who accuses Mr. Natural of copying him. Moments later, four or five other identical guys show up.
  • The Reverse Flash in The Flash comics. The only difference is that the suit colors are usually different.
  • In a Smurfs one-page comic book gag, Papa Smurf hosts a costume party for his little Smurfs to come in their favorite costume. As it turned out, all his little Smurfs came to the party dressed as Papa Smurf, while Papa Smurf came as an ordinary Smurf.
  • Lobo: In the New 52, Lobo gets dramatically reinvented. Since "Classic Lobo" had already appeared in Stormwatch (2011), it was explained that the existing character was a fake Lobo.
  • Mikado and Mosha once released a super soldier called "Patriot" S.H.I.E.L.D. had in stasis and brainwashed him into believing he was Blade, believing S.H.I.E.L.D. had brainwashed Blade into thinking he was a super soldier after capturing him.
  • Norman Osborn once mocked this trope by impersonating his rival the Hobgoblin and tricking Hobbie's minions into giving him their loot, simply by throwing a hooded cloak over his Green Goblin outfit.
  • MAD once parodied this trope in the mid-50's, in an issue satirizing Plastic Man, specifically mocking how incredibly cliche the story type had become in just a decade of superhero comics, which were on their way out when this story was published (another fact brought up in the comic which mentioned that Plastic Man was one of the few superheroes still around by that point).
  • In the lead-up to Onslaught, Dark Beast, the Age of Apocalypse counterpart to the normal Beast, captured his 616 counterpart, dyed his grey fur blue, and infiltrated the X-Men to avoid Mr. Sinister (who recognized his own theories in use with Dark Beast's experiments on the Morlocks and instigated the events of Mutant Massacre to destroy themnote ) revealing himself when he went to work for Onslaught.
  • The Phantom: One issue featured a psychotic vigilante dressing like the Phantom and murdering criminals under his name.
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: In "Frenzy of the Dishonored Idol!" (Zoot Comics #10), the main villain is a white woman who makes herself an exact double of Rulah, including the giraffe skin Fur Bikini.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The first time the Earth-Two Wonder Woman meets the Earth-One version she believes her to be someone wearing her costume in an attempt to imitate her and considers it more likely that she's a villain than a hero from another earth, but does stop trying to turn her in to the authorities and hear her out however skeptical Di may be.
  • Before the regular Captain America comic was revived in the Silver Age, a criminal doppelganger of the Captain appeared in a Human Torch story.
  • In a case of a villain doing this with another criminal, The Kingpin and Baron Zemo's version of the Thunderbolts sees Jigsaw, the archenemy of The Punisher, dress like Paladin. Jigsaw also at times dressed like Frank Castle himself.
  • In Suicide Squad, the Squad is sent to discredit W. James Heller, a white supremacist politician who moonlights as the vigilante "William Hell", who claims to be a man of the people but secretly only captures POC criminals while enlisting white ones to Heller's political cause. Deadshot shows up to one of Heller's rallies dressed as William Hell and calls him out as against what "Hell" stands for. Heller leaves then returns with his own costume and accuses Deadshot of being an impostor. They have a competition to determine which one is the real Hell only for the Squad to use their powers to rig it and cause Heller to lose, followed by Deadshot unmasking him, making Heller look like he was trying to destroy the reputation of a popular vigilante and utterly ruining Heller's reputation.

Tribute-hero examples:

  • Batman: Batman (1940) #86 featured a story in which Bruce (Batman) Wayne and Dick (Robin) Grayson, on a road trip across the US, discover an Indian reservation protected by Chief Man-of-the-Bats and Little Raven. Not only were these heroes' costumes exactly like those of Batman and Robin except for the addition of feather headdresses, the physical resemblance was so close (despite Chief Man-of-the-Bats and Little Raven being, you know, Indians) that Batman and Robin were able to stand in for them when they were injured. The two reappeared in a 2007 arc (Batman #667-669) dedicated to the many tribute heroes Batman and Robin had met over the world: Knight and Squire (England), the Legionnaire (Italy), etc.
  • Captain America: Following the return of Captain America in the 1960s, his appearances through the mid-'50s were RetConned into tribute heroes—the Spirit of '76, the Patriot, and a nameless history professor who went so far as to re-invent the supersoldier formula and get plastic surgery to look like Steve Rogers. Eventually this last fellow lost his mind due to an unrecognized side-effect and slipped into the other version of the trope.
  • Hawkeye dressed up as Captain America for a bit after his real death, at Tony Stark's urging. He was shouted out of the idea by his own namesake.
  • Fantomen: A 1980 issue, "Flame", featured a woman inspired to fight injustice by tales of The Phantom. She adopted a costume that somehow managed to look just like the Phantom's (apart from the necessary concessions to body shape), despite her never having seen the Phantom herself nor met anybody who had.
  • Love and Capes: Crusader finds out someone was doing this to him. Turns out, it was fellow hero Windstar - the latter was at a Halloween party as Crusader when someone arrived to take hostages at the party. Windstar used his powers to fake being Crusader to stop them — Crusader noted how dangerous this was, as one of the powers that he had that Windstar lacked was being Nigh-Invulnerable.
  • Spider-Man: Spider-Man once met an imitator from The Netherlands (in a comic actually produced there.)
  • The Warlord: At Desaad's bidding, Y'Smalla disguises herself as Morgan and conducts a series of bandit raids in order to destroy the Warlord's heroic reputation.

    Film — Animated 
  • A variation: In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, The Movie of Batman: The Animated Series, Batman is blamed for the actions of a new vigilante who also wears a costume with a black cape and makes a point of attacking from the shadows and being seen only in glimpses; in this case, the confusion is not deliberate, but results from the new vigilante making similar style choices.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Assignment (1997): A US naval officer has an uncanny resemblance to Carlos the Jackal, and so is used in a plot by the CIA and Mossad to kill the notorious terrorist by framing him as a CIA informant.
  • Deconstructed in The Dark Knight, featuring vigilantes posing as the Batman trying to take down drug deals while brandishing shotguns. Batman finds them irritating, and at least one of them ended up dead, and another got captured by the Joker later on and was himself killed.
  • The Phantom (1943): One of the villain's attempts to gain control of the jungle tribes involves getting one of his henchmen to impersonate the Phantom. The impersonation fools everybody — including one of the villain's allies who's belatedly enacting an earlier attempt to gain control of the jungle tribes by getting one of his henchmen to assassinate the Phantom. The false Phantom winds up dying in front of all the tribal chiefs, giving the real Phantom an opportunity to embroider his legend as the Man Who Cannot Die.
  • In The Bold Caballero, the Commandante dresses as Zorro when he murders the Governor. He also carves the Zorro Mark in the Governor's flesh.
  • In John Doe: Vigilante, an imposter dresses in John Doe's mask and hoodie and attempts to extort $10 million from the government.

  • Doctor Syn ("The Scarecrow"): Spirited Young Lady Charlotte Cobtree makes her own version of the Scarecrow costume so she can take part in her hero's adventures. She ends up taking a bullet meant for him.
  • The children's book Superweasel had a boy enviro-vigilante, with his evil double committing pure vandalism.
  • The Executioner. During Mack Bolan's Washington D.C. crusade, the Mafia has one of their men dress up in a blacksuit and carry out various assassinations, even firing bullets into the White House.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Cordelia giving The Groosalugg an L.A.-style makeover, right down to the...spiky hair... — Hey, wait a minute...!
    Angel: He's wearing my clothes!
  • The Adventures of Superboy:
    • In the episode, "The Beast and Beauty", with a criminal dressing as Superboy and trading on Superboy's reputation to get access to stuff he could steal. This impostor didn't look anything like Superboy (apart from the costume), and relied on the fact that more people knew of Superboy than really knew what he looked like.
    • Another episode had a man who actually did look like Superboy impersonate him. However, he was more of a small time con man than an actual villain and used the scheme to make some quick cash by charging for autographs and pictures.
  • One episode of The Adventures of Superman had gangsters pay for a boxer to get plastic surgery in order to impersonate the Man of Steel, giving George Reeves a chance to sport a Brooklyn accent.
  • Normally, protagonist Sam Collins became bonded with the Servo program in Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad. On one occasion when Sam wasn't available, Sydney convinced Sam's best friend Tanker to become Servo in Sam's place. Although rather reluctant at first, Tanker proved to actually be pretty good at the job.
  • An All That sketch had citizens confused as both Kenan Thompson and Amanda Bynes were wearing a Superdude outfit. And for those not in on the joke: Kenan is a fat black guy; Amanda is a thin white girl.
  • In the Spanish TV series Águila Roja, the Ninja-like hero is impersonated as part of trap to capture and kill him. The only reason the plan failed was because the impostor (a woman) turned out to have been a fellow student at the same Dojo.
  • Daredevil (2015): In season 3, Wilson Fisk has FBI agent Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter wear a Daredevil costume to commit terrorist attacks in public, in order to discredit the real Daredevil's reputation. Ironically Matt Murdock has actually given up wearing that costume and reverted to his Beta Outfit from season 1.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • Hunter Zolomon/Zoom imprisons Earth-3 Flash, Jay Garrick, and take up his identity to gain the trust of Barry and his team.
    • Savitar briefly poses as Barry Allen by wearing a copy of his Flash suit to get information from his friends. The only reason this worked is that Savitar himself is a possible future version of Barry.
  • Justified: In "The I of the Storm", Dewey Crowe poses as Raylan, including wearing a trademark hat, when ripping off a pair of drug dealers.
  • The Monty Python sketch "Bicycle Repair Man", in which, in a world populated by people wearing Superman costumes, Mr F.G. Superman (Michael Palin) has a secret identity - as superhero Bicycle Repair Man...
  • Arrow
    • At the end of "The Offer", Ra's Al-Ghul shows up in the Arrow's costume and kills the gang Oliver Queen fought earlier in the episode, leaving one of them alive to spread the word. (At this point Oliver has a no-kill rule, so the news of a murder committed by the Arrow will publicly discredit him.) When Oliver tries to clear his name, he discovers the League of Assassins has duplicated his costume and arrows so perfectly even forensic analysis can't reveal the difference.
    • Downplayed when the Dark Archer first appears. Pressure is put on Detective Lance to blame the Arrow for his murders, but even though Lance hates the Arrow he can tell it's not the same person and refuses to do so.
    • An unintentional version occurs when Oliver goes to Earth-2's Starling City. Because there's already an Arrow-type vigilante operating there, he's assumed to be doing this trope when he dresses in his Green Arrow outfit, and Oliver decides Sure, Let's Go with That rather than try to explain that he's from an alternate universe.
  • In an episode of The Avengers called "They Keep Killing Steed!", a group of criminals plan to assassinate a group of VIPs using technology which changes them into identical copies of attendees. One of the people to be copied was Steed. Steed eventually arranges for ALL the criminals to take HIS identity. They start killing each other.
  • The New Avengers: In "Hostage", one of the villains dresses in a copy of Steed's distinctive suit, bowler hat and umbrella as part of a plan to frame Steed as a traitor.
  • The Queen of Swords has to deal with "The Counterfeit Queen."
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "Caesar", after murdering her boyfriend Ty, Cleo Wilkens wears his distinctive gang jacket and a motorcycle helmet when carrying out a massacre of members of a rival gang to make it look like Ty was responsible.
  • Played for Laughs in Aquí no hay quien viva. When Carlos starts pondering the possibility that the reason behind his long string of failures with women is that he's actually gay, he repeatedly visits Mauri to ask him for advice on how gay people behave, much to Mauri's annoyance. On one of these visits, Carlos shows up wearing the exact same clothes as Mauri, to his further exasperation.
    Carlos, if you want to come out of the closet, come out, but don't take my clothes!
  • Suspecting that his wife Tina is lying to him about her relationship with another man, One Life to Live's Cord Roberts buys a costume identical to his for an upcoming masquerade ball. Sure enough, Tina mistakes him for the other guy and proceeds to declare her love for him, leaving her completely stunned when Cord takes off his mask.
  • This happens in the Thunderbirds episode "The Impostors". Two men pose as International Rescue, having copied the uniform, so they can commit crimes for which International Rescue will be blamed.

  • Gottlieb's Mayfair, based on My Fair Lady, shows Eliza and the flower girl walking down the street in identical poses and wearing identical ornate dresses.

  • Jackson's strategy in the Plumbing the Death Star episode "How Would You Take Down the Bat Man?" is to make a Batman costume and menace Gotham, not by committing anything as serious as murder, but by displaying public nudity and just acting strange publicly in order to shame Batman's name.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • During the Sid Vicious vs. Sting match at Halloween Havoc 1990, Sid and Sting brawled to the backstage area where the cameras could not see the action. Sting and Sid would reappear, with Sting looking like he suddenly gained 40 lbs. Sid would then pin "Sting" to win the World title. As Sid was being announced the victor, the real Sting appeared with a rope hanging from his wrist. As the announcers figured out that Sid's Four Horsemen stablemate Barry Windham was the impostor, Sting would hit the Stinger Splash on Sid to retain the title for real.
  • It wasn't the last time it happened to Sting. When the nWo first formed, they started claiming they'd turned Sting to their side, which Sting vehemently denied... but then somebody in Sting's tights and facepaint started attacking the WCW guys. Sting went to Lex Luger, supposedly his best friend in the whole world, and pleaded his case... and not even Lex Luger believed him (keep in mind, the fake Sting was not exactly identical, just had a similar build and wore the same hairstyle, facepaint, and tights). The whole thing led to a War Games match, in which the WCW team was supposedly a man down, as "Sting" would be on the nWo team... but who should come out as WCW's fourth man but the real Sting! He pulled a Look What I Can Do Now!, then walked out of the cage, angry because the WCW wrestlers were so distrustful that they'd actually believe the nWo's little con game.
  • On a related note, when Kevin Nash and Scott Hall left WWF to join WCW and form the NWO, they hinted early on that they were still Diesel and Razor Ramon, with Hall still using the accent at first. In order to emphasize their trademarks on the characters, WWF had announcer Jim Ross turn heel and bring in his own Diesel and Razor Ramon. The fans were not amused and it was dropped fairly quickly, but WWF was successful in preventing WCW from using the characters. Fake Diesel actually went on to great WWF/WWE success as Kane.
  • Also, during the early 1990s, The Undertaker was defeated by Yokozuna in a casket match after copious outside interference by nearly every heel on the roster. A few months later, Ted DiBiase brought "the Undertaker" back; in the end this turned out to be a look-alike. Paul Bearer (the Undertaker's manager), claimed that Taker would rise again at a PPV to defeat the impostor. So Undertaker and Undertaker fought, though it was more like Undertaker versus a Dude dressed like the Undertaker who was shorter and less muscular. The Undertaker's kayfabe brother Kane would eventually be targeted by an impostor; though this was when Kane had unmasked, while fake Kane was wearing Kane's old costume (including a shirt, mask, and wig). Fake Kane was also a bit shorter.
  • Stevie Richards, The Blue Meanie and Nova collective gimmick was parodying several other wrestlers and even the band KISS back in ECW. Their most famous impression was the Blue World Order, a parody of a certain other World Order that lasted for several months.
  • Before he formed Right To Censor, this continued to be Stevie Richards' entire WWF gimmick, imitating The Brood, the Dudleyz, Dude Love, Val Venis, among others. Dustin Rhodes also had a similar gimmick with "The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust" a couple years earlier, coming out as "Hunterdust", "Dustydust", "Chynadust", "Dust Lovedust", and "Sabledust". Charlie Haas and Big Show also did stints where their gimmick was imitating other people's gimmicks.
  • During his tenor in the Combat Zone, "Sick" Nick Mondo usually had a boy in the audience who dressed just like him. This boy would go onto pattern his wrestling career after Nick's as Rory Mondo.
  • The various Ninjas of Pro Wrestling Respect were at first mere jobbers but as time went on wrestlers started dressing in their likeness to disguise themselves, the most memorable cases being The Briscoe Brothers, in order to get close to The Kings Of Wrestling to get revenge on them for attacking their father, and Austin Aries, in order to defeat several Ring of Honor academy students in what was supposed to be a battle royal for rookies.
  • When Sin Cara found himself suspended by the WWE, a new Sin Cara soon appeared, with the commentators noticing that the newcomer looked quite a bit larger and wrestled a very different style than the original. Soon enough, the real Sin Cara would return, and the impostor would reveal himself as Hunico, and explain that he tried to steal the Sin Cara identity because he felt Sin Cara had stolen the Místico gimmick from him when the two were wrestling in Mexico. Ironically, the original Sin Cara was eventually released from WWE, and Hunico returned to portraying Sin Cara permanently.
  • One of LLF's most unlikely candidates, "Angel Seductor" Alicia, who was something of a television celebrity in the city of Monterrey before becoming a luchadora, found herself with one in 2015 when another woman of similar build, hair style and ring gear was trying to do her moves while alternatively calling herself "Alicia" or "Angel Seductor". They had a few altercations as the months went by before settling the issue at the end of the year.
  • In the World Wrestling League there was an attempt to place a mole in La Artilleria Pesada by abducting Lighting and placing his mask on a man with a similar build and hair cut. However, Thunder quickly figured it out, so the plan changed to simply abducting both of them and having the fakes defend the Tag Team Title belts in their place. Thunder and Lighting finally confronted and defeated la falsa Artilleria Pesada at Wrestlefest.
  • Maria Maria, a masked luchadora on the SHIMMER/SHINE "SPARKLE" dark matches, who existed primarily for pun (a Santana is a more prominent wrestler), made a sudden reappearance after a nine show absence when Allysin Kay and Brandi Lauren realized that anyone with a similar build, skin tone and hairstyle could pose as her so long as they could speak a few sentences in Spanish (though Lauren's red lockes kinda gave her away). Dressing as her also meant being credited with the undefeated streak she "left"...

    Tabletop Games 
  • The West End Games Star Wars roleplaying game adventure "Tattooine Manhunt" introduced a knockoff Boba Fett named Jodo Kast. Kast wore Mandalorian armor, but it didn't have as much gear as Fett's and a slightly different color scheme. Originally intended as a stand-in for GMs who wanted a Fett-like character at a lower power level, the Expanded Universe introduced the idea that Kast traded on Fett's reputation, impersonating him to take jobs from people who had never met the man. It came back to bite him when Fett caught him in a trap, poisoned him, and blew him up.

    Video Games 
  • Phoenix Wright: An unusual variant occurs in the last case of Justice For All, where Matt Engarde, who is not a masked hero, but plays one in Show Within a Show 'The Nickel Samurai', is implicated in a murder by one dressed in his samurai outfit.
    • In Trials and Tribulations, Furio Tigre manages to successfully impersonate Phoenix and even stand trial as him simply by wearing his spiky hairstyle, blue suit, and an attorney badge (made of cardboard) despite not resembling him at all in terms of height, build, face, voice or even skin tone (granted, that last one is almost certainly a spray tan he could have just washed off for his disguise). Phoenix is repeatedly flabbergasted as to how apparently no one pays attention to anything about him other than his blue suit and spiky hair.
  • In Ultima IX, reports of things the Avatar hadn't done come back to him. Eventually you can confront an extremely unstable fanboy (if you know where to look, you can actually find him and figure it out much sooner,) who is a dead ringer, except for his voice. He has so far miserably failed in every attempt to be just like the Avatar, and the Avatar can attempt to talk him into pursuing more realistic (and mentally healthier) goals.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) had Mephiles, who took on Shadow the Hedgehog's form by using his Shadow. The only differences were the lack of color, no mouth, and lizard-like eyes.
  • The downloadable multiplayer title Gotham City Impostors allows players to join either a group of Batman-inspired vigilantes or a Joker-aping crime gang and battle each other across Gotham City.
  • Conrad Verner has a replica N7 hardsuit in Mass Effect 2 and has taken to pretending to be a badass mercenary and part of Shepard's squad. When Shepard lampshades how implausible it is that he's gotten away with this for so long, particularly since he doesn't appear in any military records, Conrad explains that he just tells people he's "deep cover". Shepard can convince him to "retire" and let them take up the job of protecting the Galaxy.
  • In Thief, Garret at one point snarks over a guy pretending to be him. Of course, since very few people know what Garret looks like (easily-identifiable thieves do not last long), pretending to be him is a whole lot easier.
    "So that's the famous Garret. Guess he's not as good-looking as I heard."
  • Watch_Dogs: In the Bad Blood DLC, Aiden "The Fox" Pearce is on the run from Blume, so some hapless nobody decides to "step up", put on a homemade "Aiden" costume to continue Aiden's legacy. You find his corpse unceremoniously dumped in a shipping container.


    Web Original 
  • In Worm, Coil i.e. Calvert replaces Skitter with a highly-convincing body double as part of his plot to keep Dinah over Skitter's objections.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of The Batman had the Joker dressing up as Batman. His real identity was obvious to everyone as the costume was completely different (being based on a completely different Batman's design) and did nothing to cover up Joker's inhuman features. The real problem was that he decided to take up "crime fighting"— as in he finds people who make incredibly minor misdeeds, gasses them, and then tries to force the Mayor into paying him for it.
    Joker: I'm the Batman!
    Penguin: Yeah. See, the thing is... you're not.
  • An episode of the Zorro Animated Adaptation had the captain order one of his men to impersonate Zorro, and "capture" him when the governor is visiting. But when the governor insists he be tried in his presence, and the captain complies, "Zorro" feels a bit betrayed and when the real Zorro saves him, he leaves to become Zorro somewhere else.
  • Kevin's second appearance in Ben 10 centered on him having absorbed some of Ben's alien transformations.
  • Seen in the episode "One Jem Too Many" of Jem.
  • On The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Chameleon pulls this off, but Peter is able to clear his name when he takes him down in the middle of a high-class event. Later Venom does the same thing, and Peter even lampshades the fact that it happened twice. (Though Capt. Stacy at least recognized that Venom is much bulkier than Spider-Man.)
  • An episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) had three escapee criminals disguised as the girls. Grown men in dresses were able to impersonate kindergartners and fool the whole town.
  • Pulled off exceedingly well in Iron Man: Armored Adventures due to Madame Mask having access to a device that allows her to shape shift. The effect was convincing enough that it fooled Tony's own identification software as it even believed there were two of the same people fighting in front of them.
  • Kim Possible:
    • When the family visit relatives in Montana, Kim finds her cousin Joss's hero-worship of her includes dressing in her mission outfit. Every other member of her family has worn the same outfit while joining her on a mission; the Christmas Special has Kim's parents, brothers, and grandmother all able to find that outfit at a moment's notice. Justified in that her mission clothes have been noted to be a standard, off-the-rack ensemble on a number of occasions (it was even explicitly a plot point a couple times).
    • One episode ("Kimitation Nation") even had it turning into a fashion craze called "Kim-Style" that everyone was into, even pets like Rufus and guys ("Kim For Him"). When Kim was persuaded to go out in the style she originated Bonnie criticized her for not being able to carry off the look. By the end of the episode Kim Style goes out of fashion in order to make way for the new Ron Style.
  • ReBoot has Megabyte use his new shapeshifting powers to impersonate Bob. However, he looks like the original Bob, lacking the web scars, possessing the original voice, and wears the original uniform instead of the real Bob's shiny new Glitch-Bob uniform. Megabyte uses this to his advantage to convince Dot that he's the real deal and that Glitch-Bob is the copy. Megabyte even gets Glitch-Bob to suspect that he might be the copy. Justified when it's eventually revealed that Megabyte had actually absorbed some of Bob's data when he crushed Glitch, which allowed him to simulate a nearly perfect disguise. Combine this with the fact that Megabyte is a Magnificent Bastard, and you can see just why this trick actually worked.
    • Later subverted by Glitch, who sees through Megabyte's disguise and then attaches to him to reabsorb Bob's stolen data and return it to its rightful owner. Without this data, Megabyte couldn't maintain his disguise and was revealed, while Bob regained his original uniform and voice.
  • Tap Tap the Chiseler in Underdog did this in both his appearances.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • The Superman dressing as Batman example was used in the episode "Knight Time" of Superman: The Animated Series. Batman being invincible served to spook the villains of Gotham even more, enhancing Batman's legendary status.
  • When Spider-Man meets Deadpool in Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Deadpool thinks that Spidey based his costume on his, and finds it flattering. Naturally, Spider-Man has no idea who Deadpool is.
  • One of the classic Superman Theatrical Cartoons, "Showdown", revolves around this trope. A gangster has his henchman dress up as Superman to commit crimes around Metropolis, and true to form, everyone at first thinks that Superman has gone bad (the short handwaves that no one has gotten a good look at the imposter's face, but doesn't touch that he's also way scrawnier than the real Superman, and, of course, doesn't have superpowers.)
  • Zorro: The Chronicles: It's happened on a few occasions, usually to frame Zorro for some crime or otherwise discredit him.
  • Touché Turtle and Dum Dum: Bank robber Shorty Shozzola impersonates Touché in "Takes Two to Tangle," forcing the intrepid turtle to clear his name.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
  • The Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode "Attack of the Arachnoid" features a criminal scientist who has discovered a way of synthesising Spider-Man's powers, and commits crimes in a Spider-Man costume. Complicating things further, the Spider-Friends have just stopped Scorpion from stealing a canister of a gas that turns people into supervillains, and Iceman and Firestar suspect Spidey may have got a dose of it during the fight.