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Doppelgänger Spin
aka: Doppleganger Spin

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"Don't you hate it when you've drawn a bead on that pesky Ninjamek, and you're just about to blow him into scrap, when he starts appearing all around you, and you can't be sure which one is real and he's everywhere and you can't possibly get them all in time and you keep shooting and shooting but they keep coming and aaaAAARRGH!!!!"
Mekton Zeta Plus, "Shadow Imager" entry

Common "attack" used in anime, usually by the opponent of the main character. They will create (or clone) multiple copies of themself, frequently encircling the target.

One of these copies is the real one, while the rest are just harmless illusions to distract their target; said target must find a way to "sense" which one is the correct one and attack it before the entire group closes in to strike.

In video games, finding the "real" one usually boils down to a game of "one of these isn't like the others", by noticing subtle details like whether they use the same attacks, have the same HP or defense power, or cast a shadow on the ground. Another common way of implementing this into a game is having the illusory clones disappear the instant they take a hit, or when the real one takes a hit. Alternatively, one might have to access the ability of True Sight.

A common diversionary tactic with Ninja.

A common subversion is that none of the clones is the real adversary, who is secretly hiding somewhere nearby instead.

If the copies are tangible enough to be a threat on their own, independent of whichever is the "real" one, it's a Doppelgänger Attack. For the use of tangible doppelgangers outside of combat, see Me's a Crowd.

The practice of seeing through the illusions to attack the "real" one can be thought of as a type of Shell Game. Spotting the Thread, Spot the Imposter and especially Imposter Forgot One Detail are related tropes, playing with the idea of spotting small differences in a way often very similar to this trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played straight by a ninja in Airmaster and then parodied by his dim-witted opponent who solves the problem in unorthodox fashion by attacking each image until they hit the right one.
  • Assassination Classroom: Koro-sensei, being a creature that has a top speed of Mach 20, can make clones by moving at high speeds. More often than not, he uses this ability to teach his students individually to prepare them for exams. It gets weirder. Destroying one of his tentacles makes his clones somehow get smaller, almost child-sized. And the clones are pretty unstable, too, being able to form into freaky shapes when threatened.
  • In the Blade anime, Blade gets this in the form of "Deadly Sword Technique #1: Residual Moon". The illusory copy even looks like it takes damage. This confuses the enemy long enough for the real Blade to attack from behind.
  • Bleach:
    • Unusually, this ability is given to one of its heroes; Ichigo, with his new Bankai, pulls this off during his fight with Byakuya.
    • Also used in almost the exact same way with Yourichi and Byakuya himself. The doppelgangers are actually so realistic that they show damage before fading away. Yourichi gets slashed by Byakuya, Byakuya by Zomari LeRoux. Both times, the doppelgangers fade away, after which the real one reveals him/herself.
    • Zomari himself is also quite skilled at creating afterimages, to the point he can initiate a Doppelgänger Attack with them. Fellow Espada Starrk is also able to create multiple afterimages of himself.
    • Used by the assassin Kuzuryū, who attacks Uryu in anime episode 176. He creates a mist that generates illusory images of himself.
    • Soifon can do this as well.
    • Used by the villain Kouga during anime episode 252. He fools Byakuya Kuchiki's senses so that he sees multiple false image of Kouga, preventing him from attacking the real one.
  • Parodied in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo episode 11, where Gasser is matched up against an old lady who uses an attack called "Nose Hair Split Ends" to duplicate herself into six old ladies and one old man. They run around Gasser at high speeds, creating a dust cloud that blinds him, and after the dust settles, they've turned into bottles of soda. According to Bo-bobo, this is a sign that she has surrendered. However, the one old man is still there, and he battles Bo-bobo, creating another dust cloud, and after that one settles, the two are shown playing croquet together.
  • Demon City Shinjuku. In the 1988 OVA, while fighting the demon underwater Kyouya Izayoi realizes that only one of the demons he can see is real: the rest are illusions. He uses his Nempo ability to strike the correct one.
  • A Ninjamon does this in Digimon Adventure 02.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Three Visionary Swordsmen have the villain, Lord Odorom, displaying the ability to create copies of himself while spinning circles around Nobitania (an Alternate Self of Nobita). Nobitania was told to "close his eyes, and concentrate" in order to flush out the real Odorom, so he does and actually succeeds... but it turns out the villain he stabs is Actually a Doombot.
  • A semi-common technique in Dragon Ball. It's called the "After-Image Technique" and lets the user leave an image of themselves behind while they attack from a different angle. Major fights will usually include instances of an attack passing harmlessly through an afterimage, followed up by a sneak attack on the momentarily distracted opponent. Sometimes with said sneak attack being thwarted by the opponent's own afterimage. The technique falls out of use as the story transitions into Dragon Ball Z, as almost every character by that point is able to sense ki, thus rendering it useless.
    • Dragon Ball Super. In episode 113, while Goku is fighting Caulifla, he uses this technique to create multiple images of himself to fool her.
    • Also subverted by Agent Purple/Ninja Murasaki; he has the ability to appear in five different places at once... because he's one of a set of identical quintuplets.
  • In Fist of the North Star, someone tries this on Kenshiro. Kenshiro spins around while punching and hits the guy hundreds of times.
    • Ryuuken uses a Big Dipper shaped one against Raou. Possibly Ryuuken's Moment of Awesome.
  • In Flame of Recca, the Genjutsu Wakemi is a technique created by Genjuro and passed on to Kurei that does exactly this for the user. Problem? You can't copy items held in your hands, only your body and clothing.
  • The Getter-2 line of Getter Robo has this with their "Getter Vision" ability, moving so fast that it creates after-images of itself.
  • Gundam:
    • The idea behind dummy balloons that some Mobile Suits (e.g. Amuro Ray's RX-93 Nu Gundam) are equipped with is based on this. Since Minovsky Particles interfere with traditional sensors, launching a dummy balloon that quickly expands into the rough shape of the MS can trick an enemy's cameras into thinking the dummy is the real machine and project it as such to the pilot. It isn't as effective against Newtypes who can sense which one is real, but against regular pilots it's a reasonable tactic.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam F91, the titular mecha has an interesting ability known as Metal Peel-Off Effect or "MEPE". This is caused by the machine generating so much heat that the outer layers of the suit will "peel off", leaving behind an afterimage that appears real to most sensors (since Minovsky Physics are in effect, sensors are a lot more limited in than in real life despite the otherwise far more advanced technology). This does, however, straddle the line between Doppleganger Spin and Speed Echoes. Seabook uses this to confuse the Raffelesa and destroy it by confusing its weapons and having them attack the mobile armor's cockpit.
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam has God Gundam's "God Shadow" technique, in which Domon creates copies of the God Gundam at will... just to catch Chibodee's ultimate attack.
      • In one episode, Master Gundam appears to pull this trick, until it's revealed that it's actually a group of specialised Death Army drones designed to resemble Master Gundam in order to act as a distraction.
  • Killua Zaoldyeck from Hunter × Hunter has this ability as part of his assassin's training since birth.
    • In a later arc, a pair of Hunters (Morau and Knuckle) work together to produce a variation of this. Morau controls smoke, which he forms into multiple smoke clones of Knuckle to hide amongst.
  • In Part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Polnareff's Stand, Silver Chariot, displays this ability after it sheds its armor during his fight with Avdol (and he only uses it during this fight). He explains that he doesn't actually have multiple Stands, Silver Chariot simply moves with such speed that the human eye only thinks it sees multiple copies of it.
    • In Part 1, Dire has this ability, and he uses it in his fight with Dio... and then promptly stops using it in favor of his Thunder Cross Split Attack gambit.
  • Robin Mask does this during his fight against Junkman in Kinnikuman; the Devil Choujin has a second face growing out of the back of his head, so Robin tosses his armor off to increase his speed and run around him, making the villain dizzy. Then Robin gives him the Tower Bridge.
  • This is a favorite trick of Lyrical Nanoha's illusionists. The more skilled practitioners, like Teana and Quattro, are capable of creating duplicates that can fool even radars and sensors.
  • Used by a rather ghostly opponent in Medabots, until someone started shining a light on all the projected images.
  • This is one of the basic ninja skills in Naruto. All ninjas learn how to make illusionary copies of themselves with the "Bunshin no Jutsu (Clone Jutsu)". Despite being illusions, the Clone Jutsu is considered ninjutsu rather than genjutsu, implying that they're akin to holograms whereas genjutsu are a form of limited mind control.
    • Naruto cannot perform the normal Bunshin no Jutsu, which should only make up to three illusory clones. He instead does Kage-Bunshin no Jutsu (Shadow Clone Jutsu) which are far more solid (as in they can actually hit things), are only limited in number by the amount of chakra available, and have the added advantage of whatever they learn before being dispelled, Naruto will learn once they are.
  • Kaede Nagase and Kotaro Inugami of Negima! Magister Negi Magi. By choice of Ki-use, they may become physical.
  • Shijima pulls this off in Ninja Scroll. Jubei cuts through all of them at once, severing Shijima's lower leg.
  • Nami from One Piece is capable of manipulating weather conditions with her weapon. This includes creating mirages to confuse enemies. They don't exactly look identical, but don't go assuming that the one that looks like the real deal is her.
  • This is what the "Double Team" move does in Pokémon: The Series.
    • Played straight as an arrow during Suicune's testing of Janine in Pokémon Adventures. Janine and her Crobat fly into the air, split into a ring of Double Team clones, and dare Suicune to find the right one. After being beaten, the ninja Leader realizes that Suicune identified the real Crobat by the darker shadow underneath it.
    • Fun fact: Double Team's Japanese name is "Kage Bunshin", or "Shadow Clone/Divide".
  • One of the Humongous Mecha that B-ko designs in Project A-Ko is said to have this.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Farewell Story Drama CD and its manga adaptation The Different Story both reveal that this is Kyouko's special ability (on top of creating illusions generally). It's never seen in the anime itself because she lost her magic following the Pater Familicide; she stopped believing in her own wish, hence the magic born from it stopped working.
  • Cologne from Ranma ½ executes this maneuver against Ranma in one of their first battles, called the "Splitting Cat Hairs". Since she was so hungry Ranma made the real one jump out when he threw a piece of chicken in the air.
  • Shinomori Aoshi uses something like this in Rurouni Kenshin as a psych-out lead-in to his Kaiten Kenbu attack: several images of Aoshi begin circling his opponent until the real one attacks. Used mainly for intimidation (since the apparent copies don't do anything threatening).
    • Since the technique is described as depending on constant, minute shifts in speed, it seems that maybe the afterimages are not supposed to be taken literally, but are a visual representation for the viewer/reader's benefit of the fact that he's moving quickly, but too unreliably to intercept. (If he were actually moving fast enough to leave afterimages, he would be faster than Kenshin or Soujirou.)
    • Kenshin has, arguably, something similar with the Kuzu Ryuu Sen attack. The wielder doesn't actually appear in more than one place, but their sword does, since the technique hits nine different spots at almost the same time, making it impossible to block or dodge. Naturally it's been dodged once (by Soujirou), blocked once (by Enishi), and stopped in mid-execution (Enishi again).
  • Used by one of the Snow Dancers in the Sailor Moon S: The Movie. Sailor Moon attempts to single out the real one and, unsurprisingly, chooses wrong.
  • Parodied in an episode of Samurai Pizza Cats. Guru Lou develops a machine designed to do this, but when Guido tries to use it, the clones turn out to be a series of folding panels that clumsily extend from the sides of the machine, not to mention that the pictures produced are of Speedy, not Guido.
  • One of Margery Daw's favorite attacks in Shakugan no Shana.
  • In Reika's first fight as Cure Beauty in Smile PreCure!, she's able to find the real Monster of the Week by attacking the one that's a "mirror image" of what the others look like (the other four girls just aimed randomly, not realizing that bit.)
  • Done with a fairly ridiculous justification in Soul Eater, where Black Star moving fast enough somehow left his shadow behind giving his afterimage mass. He can also increase the effect even more by having Tsubaki transform into him.
  • Ryoko's done this in the Tenchi Muyo! manga a few times in a hostile vein. She's also capable of creating physical clones, at least in the OVA continuity.
  • Transformers: The★Headmasters: Decepticon Ninja Officer Sixshot has the ability to create 5 simultaneous copies of himself. Problem is, each copy can hit as hard as the real one. This is the key to his Six Forms of Death technique, whereby each copy transforms into one of his six modes (robot, gun, starfighter, armoured car, tank and wolf) and then they all simultaneously attack from all angles.
  • In World Conquest Zvezda Plot, White Falcon uses this against General Pepel during their fight. All of the images circling around General Pepel turn out to be fakes, the real White Robin performing an aerial attack from above while he's distracted.
  • Yaiba uses such a trick in the first volume against Sayaka's grandmother. After a brief beat, she knock him down with a single well-aimed hit on the head. She comments though that it wasn't very easy.
  • In the Naruto parody reaction episode of Yakitate!! Japan, Suwabara Kai also uses several Spring Onions to do this trick.
  • Yugi's "Magical Hats" card is like this in Yu-Gi-Oh!.
  • Hiei from YuYu Hakusho uses something similar to the Dragon Ball example above, using extreme speed to leave an afterimage. It's only one at a time though, and only used as a defensive technique to escape injury.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Villain Mysterio is fond of this tactic, although he uses holographic projectors and other technological means rather than any natural ability.
  • An actual magician like Doctor Strange has been doing this since the 60s; he’s even able to trick other magic users like Loki with the technique.
  • The Flash's enemy The Mirror Master practically made this trope in comics; it's one of his favorite tricks. In fact, the various Flashes have mimicked this ability many, many times.
  • Multiple Man from X-Factor is another one who can manage this trope.
  • Firestorm's enemy Multiplex.
  • Iron Man used this trick a lot in the old days, courtesy of his suit's built-in image inducer. Nowadays Tony can control machines with his brain, so he likes to use real Iron Man suits as the "dummies". Then there were the few times when he was using remote-controlled suits or simply having his friends put on extra suits to give him some back-up.
  • British 1980's Starblazer comic. The Clone Burst device created multiple holographic copies of the user as a decoy.
  • In Supergirl (1984), evil sorceress Selena creates magically a bunch of copies of herself to surround Supergirl and prevent her from saving Ethan.
  • Ratman 1989: In his younger days fighting manga characters in an arena, Rat-Man used this ability. We see it twice: the first against a Kenshiro Expy, who sees through the illusion and punches the real deal before starting a No Holds Barred Beat Down, and then against The Dragon, an invincible Goku Expy.
  • Loki had this power since the first Avengers story, though he uses it more frequently in the movies.
  • Doctor Doom has an Image Projector that can create a lifelike projection of himself nearby. He uses it as a decoy.
  • Wonder Woman has been using her speed to create after images/speed clones since her earliest appearances.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side did this with a rifle-toting hunter, a devious duck and a hall of mirrors (with one mirror already shot through):
    "Ah, yes, Mr. Frischberg, I thought you'd come... but which of us is the real duck, Mr. Frischberg, and not just an illusion?"

    Fan Works 
  • Trixie Lulamoon really likes this trope in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse.
  • In FateBlack Reflection, Rider criticizes this technique when she sees Ichigo's memories of using it. She calls it a waste of time and energy, because if you are fast enough to run circles around your enemies and make afterimages, you should be fast enough to just kill them right away.
  • In FREAKIN GENSOKYO, this technique is added to Remilia Scarlet's repertoire.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • Superman II. Superman generates duplicates of himself to baffle his enemies (and the audience) in the climax, the same battle where we learned his S-shield can be torn off and used as a poorly-animated weapon.
  • The otherwise rather forgettable kung fu film The Emperor and His Brother has one moment that stood out, which is when the hero, Chen Chia-lo, reveals his chi ability to his fullest extent, which allows him to conjure one to two translucent copies of himself to fight alongside himself, where he can fight multiple opponents at the precise same time.
  • Total Recall (1990). Quaid's wrist hologram device gives him a single image version, which he and Melina use to distract and kill Cohaagen's guards.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Loki does this a couple of times in Thor. He does it again in The Avengers, prompting Loki to mock Thor when he doesn’t realize they’re copies.
      “Are you ever not going to fall for that?”
    • Invoked by Dormammu in Doctor Strange - in the first round of the Final Battle, Dormammu blasts a version of Doctor Strange and then sees another one appear. He immediately suspects this trope and asks if it's an illusion, and upon hearing the new Strange say "this is real," he says "good" and blasts him again. In fact, there are no illusions, it's a time loop and it's real every time.
    • Utilized by Doctor Strange in the fight against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. He creates dozens of duplicates which use magical whips to restrain the Mad Titan. Unfortunately, Thanos uses the soul stone to pick out which Strange is the real one, and the power stone to obliterate the rest.
    • Early in Eternals, Sprite hides herself and Sersi from a Deviant by creating a crowd of illusory duplicates of themselves that start walking back and forth.
  • In Highlander Three The Sorceror, Nakano creates two illusions of himself to fend off Kane and his two sidekicks so Connor can escape.
  • Tango and Cash has the villain Jack Palance in a maze of mirrors near the end.
  • Spaghetti Western My Name Is Nobody. Nobody using mirrors to scare his opponents. Nobody did it.
  • In Lady Ninja Kaede, Kaede demonstrates a ninja technique that allows her to split into three copies. As with so many of Kaede's techniques, the third copy comes out nude.

  • Fighting Fantasy have a few of these:
    • A sly illusionist is a compulsory fight in the adventure Caverns of the Snow Witch. He will attempt to trick the player by creating three mirror images of himself, and the player must choose which image to strike. note  Pick the wrong image and the player will be stabbed by the real illusionist, lose some of their Stamina and Luck, and be told to repeat the process.
    • Senyakhaz the Sorceress from Beneath Nightmare Castle will create projections of herself to fool the heroes. A clue provided earlier can have the player strike her down note  , but missing Senyakhaz twice and she will successfully put the player under her control, resulting in an instant Game Over.
    • Sorcery!: One of the many spells available for players choosing the Sorcerer path is the SIX spell, which creates five duplicates of the player that moves like images reflected on a mirror.

  • Both Jair Ohmsford and Walker Boh liked this trick in Terry Brooks' Shannara series. Jair used it in particular during his battle with his sister in Wishsong, and Walker used it as a distraction in the climactic confrontation with the Stone King in Druid. Walker uses it again in Talismans to face off against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The trick is that the Walker they're fighting isn't real at all, just an image he's projecting to make them kill each other. Death sees through the illusion, however, and almost kills Walker.
  • In The Dresden Files Molly does this in Ghost Story. This makes Harry's incorporeal jaw drop, as she creates 6 perfect copies of herself and veils herself at the same time.
  • Robin McKinley's Spindle's End, a reworked version of Sleeping Beauty, has the heroine and a group rescue her friend, and mirror images that can attack are used (including an overly-friendly dog that licks the enemy into submission).
  • In the Zachary Nixon Johnson series, Zach is able to employ this technique when fighting in his apartment by having his A.I. assistant HARV project hologram copies of him to confuse the enemy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • By far one of the most famous users of this trope are the Baltans from Ultraman. One of the main abilities of this alien race, the doppelgangers created by this technique not only move in the same way as their creator, but they can hit their foes just as hard, too.
    • Basical from Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact and Dark Baltan from Ultraman Max take this trope up to eleven, with Basical's copies all sharing his Neo Baltan form's upgraded weapons, and Dark Baltan able to create actually physical doppelgangers that number in their thousands, should the original be blown into pieces, who then reforms. In order to continue to fight the original and keep this army of doppelgangers at bay, Max is forced to create afterimage-esque duplicates of himself to fight them all!
  • Kung Fu: The Legend Continues: In "Dragon's Daughter", Caine uses this (Called the 4 winds) to confuse his enemy.
  • In Smallville, "Collateral", in order to confuse Clark and keep him in the world of the Lotus-Eater Machine, a bad guy created at least six copies of his best friend, Chloe Sullivan.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation's Captain Jean-Luc Picard is credited with the creation of the eponymous "Picard Maneuver," as seen in The Battle a starship makes a short-distance warp jump, effectively outrunning light and thus creating an "afterimage" of the ship in its former location. Later justified in the Star Trek: The Lost Era book "The Buried Age": It was an unexpected maneuver because it would divert power from the weapons and shields; the enemy was relying primarily on short-range, light-speed-limited Tactical sensors in the heat of the battle; but above all, they needed to do something drastic, and they wouldn't get a second shot.
  • Star Trek: Voyager later managed to pull off their own version by installing hologram projectors on the outside of the ship. Although in this instance, they didn't create exact copies (since their attackers know they're the only ship in the quadrant), and instead create several generic ships as if part of an allied fleet.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", Narek rigs his cloak to project a false image of his ship having taken damage, along with a faint life signature to convince La Sirena that he's seriously wounded. When the heroes drop their shields to beam him aboard, he reveals the ruse by opening fire on them.
    • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2", Picard and Jurati create fake sensor duplicates of La Sirena to distract the Romulan fleet and to buy time before the Starfleet squadron arrives.
  • Shows up in various seasons of Power Rangers from time to time.
  • Shinji from Tower Prep can create at least one duplicate by spinning.
  • Invoked, but not seen during a Halloween episode of The Big Bang Theory, when the guys all dress up as The Flash.
    Raj: We could walk right behind each other all night, it'll look like one person going really fast!
  • Community: In "G.I. Jeff", an Affectionate Parody of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, the villain Overkill does this with holograms. The heroes nonchalantly say he must be the one in the middle and shoot him in the leg.
  • Game of Thrones. A wizard tries this with Daenerys Targaryen — fortunately her dragons are capable of sensing who the real one is. Cue Man on Fire.
  • The Flash: Speedsters are able to do this by moving fast enough to appear to be in multiple places at once. It essentially involves moving back and forth between two locations to create two afterimages. Barry tries this trick during his first fight with Despero, but he doesn't realize that Despero has Psychic Powers and is able to sense which Flash is the real one.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • This is exactly what the spell Mirror Image does. Using Mirror Image is a standard defense mechanism for mages in all Dungeons & Dragons-based games.
    • It got even better with higher-level versions from Dragon Magazine. "Image Trap" is much the same with a melee-range Color Spray from each shattered decoy. "Crew of Phantoms" creates twice more duplicates for up to 30 people at once, i.e. up to 150 phantoms in average if you aren't low on originals.
    • The cloaker monster could manipulate shadows to create images of itself to fool opponents, thus acting like a Mirror Image spell.
    • A natural version occurs in the "Revenge of the Mountain Clan" segment of the Basic D&D module CM1 Test of the Warlords. The crystal stalactites lining a room create 11 false images of a gargantuan troll in the room, which means that each time a PC hits a troll there's only a 1 in 12 chance that it's the real troll.
    • Trickery clerics in 5e can make illusory doubles that move independently from them. Apart from being a useful confusion tactic, they can use their doubles to cast spells at a distance.
  • Champions supplement Gadgets!. One of the title items was the Multiple Image Projector, which created four images of the wearer in a group around him.
  • Shadowrun. The Double Image spell in Magic in the Shadows creates a single illusory double.
  • Victoriana RPG supplement Faulkner's Millinery and Miscellanea. The magical Mirrorcane can create three illusionary images of its wielder to distract opponents.
  • Star Frontiers, Dragon magazine #88 article "The Battle at Ebony Eyes". A natural version of this occurs in the Ebony Eyes star system. A pair of black holes orbit each other 160,000 kilometers apart, resulting in severe disruptions in the local space-time continuum. This causes the appearance of one, two or three illusionary duplicates of any objects in the area, such as starships.
  • Mage: The Awakening has this as a high-end Space Arcanum spell. "Co-Location" creates a number of doppelganger images and the caster can reflexively teleport between them, acting as a limited form of Teleport Spam.
  • Lejendary Adventures:
    • Some Goblins can create 2-5 illusionary duplicates of themselves that mimic their every action.
    • Leprechauns can do the same thing, but have complete control over the illusions' actions.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Drukhari have access to an ancient piece of technomagical equipment called a Clone Field, which produces this very effect. The Master Haemonculus Urien Rakarth is known to have one.
    • The Prismatic Staff, a relic of the Thousand Sons Heretic Astartes, is able to create illusionary doubles of its wielder to confuse and misdirect the enemy. The confusion this causes is represented in the 8th Edition rules by allowing the Staff's wielder to Fall Back from combat and attack again in the same turn.
  • Courtesans supplement The Weird and the Wonderful. The "Courtesans 20,000" section has Space Elf Diversion Projector armor, which creates realistic holograms of the wearer to distract attackers.
  • Arduin
    • The Compleat Arduin, Book 2: Resources. Landular's Multiple Image Spell allows the caster to create up to three illusory images of themselves. They move with the caster, doing everything the caster does.
    • Arduin Grimoire Volume 5: Dark Dreams. Kazul-Khar (dune wolves) can create one to five illusions of themselves that do everything the wolf itself does. This means that when an opponent tries to strike it, he will probably hit one of its images instead.
  • Chainsaw Warror, White Dwarf magazine article "Life & Death & an American Chainsaw". One of the new cards in the article is the "Holographic Imagizer". It creates six identical images of the character wearing it, which allows the character to either escape from their enemies or get a +1 bonus to making a lucky shot.
  • Earthdawn. In Arcane Mysteries of Barsaive, the Phantom Warrior spell causes the appearance of three images that look identical to the target of the spell. They distract the target's enemies and give the target defensive and offensive bonuses.
  • Battlelords Of The 23rd Century supplement Lock-N-Load: The Battlelord's War Manual. The Holographic Generator can create up to four three-dimensional images of the wearer that appear up to 5 meters away from them.

    Video Games 
  • Used in the later Ace Combat games by AWACS jammer aircraft — enemy aircraft will be detected on radar, with 2 or 3 "shadow returns" that can be locked on to, resulting in clean misses. However, this doesn't apply to the jammer itself, making it a clear target... Ace Combat 2 also has jammers, but these just block the radar with static.
  • The final boss in Assassin's Creed uses an Apple of Eden to generate phantom copies of himself. The difference is that the copies can hurt you. Inverted at the end of Assassin's Creed II, where you are the one generating copies to confuse the final boss using a different Apple.
  • A boss in Bad Dudes makes copies of himself to do battle with you; the difference is, the real one stays away.
  • Klungo in Banjo-Tooie, when he uses the blue potion.
  • The Target Dummy plasmid in BioShock creates an illusion to distract and draw enemy fire. The Decoy plasmid in BioShock 2 works the same way, and can be upgraded to deal damage back to the enemy and later hurt your foes even more while healing you for the damage.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III has Reaper and its Specialist Ability, Psychosis. It disguises Reaper as one of several clones of itself that then rush forward to distract enemies. The clones can't hurt enemies, but they can mock-fire at them to alert the real Reaper to their presence.
  • In Cannon Spike, the boss Psychiccer Sting will create three illusions of himself, only one of which can be hurt.
  • In Captain America and the Avengers, the Mandarin can create duplicates of himself, though they are easily identifiable (darker than Mandarin himself) and block your path to Mandarin rather than try to confuse you.
  • The Succubus in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night does this as part of her attack chain, filling up the top of the screen with duplicates. They all do the same choreographed moves, and there's no real way to play "One of these things..." other than to attack each one in turn until the real one doesn't vanish after one hit (or you 'cheat' and use an item/spell that hits everything on the screen at once). Death has a similar tactic in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, and Dracula appears to do a 2D version of this in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
  • When you go to capture Vanessa DeVore in the Praetor Tilman Loyalist arc in the City of Heroes "Going Rogue" supplement, this is how you face her.
  • The Mad Monk in Conquests of Camelot summons several illusionary doppelgangers when attacking to try and confuse the player.
  • In Crusader of Centy, Shuffler splits into eight pieces, which all spread out four times before you can attack the real one.
  • In Dark Souls, Catacombs boss Pinwheel generates a clone of themselves every time they jump away from you to reposition themselves. The clones will immediately shatter in one hit from any weapon, and Pinwheel isn't a very fast boss, but they do this every time they jump, and there's no limit to how many clones they can make. Couple that with the fact that there is no way to differentiate Pinwheel from their clones aside from memorization and this comparatively easy boss can be a nightmare for slow or cocky players. The only mercy you get is that only the original makes clones and Pinwheel has abysmally low health.
  • Dark Souls III: The Crystal Sage begins pulling this at half health: three or four identical copies will pop up around the arena and start attacking you all at once. The copies die in a single hit, but it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of projectiles while you're attacking the wrong one. The trick is that the false Sages can only use two attacks, and the attacks they use are blue: the real one has purple-colored magic.
  • This trick, executed through use of holograms is one of the two active abilities of the Tau Ethereals in Dawn of War, except they can use it to clone anyone on their side. Clones do absolutely no damage but draw fire, serving as useful decoys.
  • In one of the instances in DC Universe Online, you face an entire room full of Doctor Psycho mind-clones.
  • Dead Rising 3 has a boss fight against an organ-stealing surgeon named Albert Contiello. Nick Ramos must defeat Albert as he scurries by several duplicates. In a twist, Nick has been drugged and merely hallucinates innocent bystanders as Albert clones. The giveaway is simple: the real Albert spends most of his time slicing up his hapless "doppelgangers" for their organs. Yeah, Capcom likes this one.
  • In Demon's Souls, the Fool's Idol creates duplicates of herself as her HP are depleted. The fakes only shoot weak Soul Arrows at you, but the real one uses the upgraded Soul Ray.
  • Densetsu no Stafy 4: During his boss battle, Akureima will create multiple copies of Ruby or Moe which spin in a circle around the arena, hiding himself among them. One of the copies will occasionally experience Shapeshifting Failure by gaining Akureima's blue eyelids and green antennae, that one being the real Akureima that you have to attack to make him reveal himself.
  • Baal from the Diablo II expansion pack Lord of Destruction does this when you face him. His clone dies much faster than he does. The only visual difference between the real him and the clone is the clone's type listing is slightly offset instead of centered, which allows players to know to target him first. Or they can attack the copy, who is worth just as much XP as the real Baal.
  • The Wizard of Diablo III has a spell that summons 2 (sometimes 5) duplicates to run around the enemies casting spells (for 0 damage) from her current build. When she starts the spell, she even moves into a random position. There is also a monster trait that enables a similar attack, often flooding the field with clones.
  • One of the last bosses in Digital Devil Saga, Asura Ravana, uses a variant of this trope. He turns himself completely and utterly invisible, and you are then presented with a total of 6 identical, empty-air targets. Also, area-effect attacks don't work. Fortunately, you have a Waif Prophet on your side, or this battle would have been completely impossible...
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne does this twice: the first time is a boss battle where the enemy, Ongyo-ki, splits himself into four. Again, area attacks don't work, and if you hit the wrong one, you lose your turn. Only the real one has a shadow, but said shadow only shows up during a full moon. Later, another boss, Mot, disguises itself amongst six identical statues. Before you can fight him, you have to first locate the real one, and fortunately for you, the reflective surface of the floor shows his true form.
  • One of the archer class's special attacks in Disgaea is something like this, aptly named "Doppelganger."
  • Azwraith the Phantom Lancer of Dota 2 has this as his main strength. While any hero can create illusions of themself (only a handful can do so with a built-in ability, most require a rune or item), only Phantom Lancer can reliably hide his real self among them, partly because he can quickly create a massive number of them, but mostly because by using his appropriately named skill Doppelganger, he can shuffle himself among them. Anyone who can't clear out the mass of illusions quickly will die a very fast Death of a Thousand Cuts.
  • During the Inevitable Tournament in the second chapter of Dragon Quest IV, Alena faces off against a monster known as the Abominable Showman (Linguar in the NES localization) in the final round, who splits itself into four identical-looking copies. If Alena hits one of the clones, it disappears while the real one sticks its tongue out at her. Only the real one will attack her, but this is usually after she's selected her target, so she only has a 25% chance of inflicting damage. Thankfully, the Showman's HP is lower than that of Sampson Knight from the previous round, so two or three direct hits will KO the monster in short order.
  • A wizard does this against you in Drakengard when you investigate some ruins the Cult of the Watchers left behind in the forest of the seal.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Lust demon possessing Connor does this in the Fade, not as an attack, but to stall for time while healing. Apparently it takes all her concentration to maintain the duplicates, as she does nothing else when they appear.
  • This is one of the "ninja powers" used by Ken in the "Canned Heat" stage of Elite Beat Agents; if the player is failing when that cutscene comes up, Ken and all of his doppelgangers fall over dizzy afterwards.
  • In Emperor: Battle for Dune, the Ixian projector tank could produce copies that would disappear as soon as they were shot or came into contact with an enemy, but allowed for feints and other distractions. Unfortunately, their ability to do damage was not removed, making the unit somewhat of a Game-Breaker, as you swamped the enemy with massive hordes of free units, their rate of production limited only by how quickly the previous projection could get out of the way.
  • Quince from Fantasy Strike specializes in "attacking" his opponents with illusory clones of himself. Most of the time these are used to confuse opponents and bait them into dropping their guard, but if an opponent gets hit with Quince's "Patriot Mirror" ground special, the clones become solid for about 15 seconds and are capable of dealing direct damage.
  • This appears as an ability in several Final Fantasy games, alternately called RUSE, Image, or Utsusemi. Originally something that white mages specialized in, but it's more frequently pulled off by ninjas in later games. In practice, it generally guarantees that a certain number of melee attacks against the target are automatic misses.
  • An optional encounter in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 does this, but each of the clones is as strong as a regular enemy and the real one is always the one who dies last.
  • In Final Fantasy V it is shortly used out of a real battle just as a test of the main characters strength by Wolfking Kelgar.
  • Freedom Force villain Deja Vu can clone himself at will. The key to defeating him is realizing that his clones all have shorter health bars and focusing on the original.
  • A variation of the basic human Mook in Ghostrunner will teleport and create five illusory copies of itself. The copies' gunshots are harmless, but the real one's aren't, and killing the real one will dismiss all of the copies.
  • In God Hand, the Sensei uses a multiform technique to attack Gene. The upside: the multiforms can't take more than a few hits each, and oftentimes one God Roulette super-move or one release of the God Hand's Tension can clear out all the multiforms. The downside: if you don't have either one of those ready to go when he does it, you're probably dead, because the clones all attack as aggressively and with the same moves as Sensei himself, they're solid enough to stab you, and they'll never go away until you do kill them off.
  • The player's ability to do this is one of the defining features of the Gradius series; the option for triggering it is occasionally marked "Multiple", but is usually simply marked "Option". The term "option" is thus occasionally seen to mean one of the spun doppelgangers.
  • In Icewind Dale, the last dragon has an enhanced mirror image spell ("Simulacrum"), where all the images move independently. High level Wizards in Baldur's Gate II can learn it as well, but it's significantly less useful.
  • In Iji, Komato Assassin Asha does this in your second fight with him. Fortunately, they're all faded out and hence obviously not him. Unfortunately, Asha's MO is a very fast Teleport Spam and hence it can confuse you for the moment necessary to screw you over.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The original Kingdom Hearts has Anti-Sora, who periodically splits himself into three. The trick is that the real deal has a large HP bar, while the clones only have 1 HP. (There's an ability available in the early game that lets you see the enemy's HP.) Alternatively, you can identify which one is the real deal by how they fight, as the clones only have one attack.
    • The Magic Mirror does this in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Look very carefully at the different faces' expressions, however...
    • This is also Vanitas's signature move, combined with the usual "story bosses teleporting out of your combos", leaving a static image in his place. If Vanitas ever stops moving when attacked, run.
  • Dark Meta Knight in Kirby: Triple Deluxe generates two clones of himself in the second phase of the fight. You're given a chance to see which is the real deal before they rapidly shuffle places, then attack you. Hitting a fake destroys it but produces a projectile counterattack, and it'll be regenerated before the next attack is carried out.
  • In Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, the boss Leptio breaks into four copies. The real one spins at a different speed.
  • In the Knights of the Old Republic Game Mod Brotherhood of Shadow, your Player Character is attacked from all sides by duplicates of Akirakon Sin, the trapped spirit inside a Sith Artifact.
  • The Micro Stag-beetle in Kouchuu Ouja Mushiking has this as its super finishing attack, it also has an enhanced version.
  • A rare PS1 game called Krazy Ivan had a boss called Reflex, which can split into 3 copies, of which the fake ones are easily destroyed.
  • La-Mulana has the enemy Hundun, whose habit of projecting copies of itself around the screen is only made more annoying by its Teleport Spamming.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, an early miniboss splits into three duplicates a couple of times during his fight. In a light subversion/twist compared to the "hit the fake and they vanish" routine, the copies take either absolutely no damage and/or have vast amounts of health, and hit just as hard as the real thing. Hitting the real one makes the duplicates disappear. Attack magic that hits the entire enemy field will out the real one, and you are able to stock up on such magic prior to this fight.
  • The mutated General Shun, the second-to-last boss of Legend of Kay, splits into four copies when he's not attacking. The one with a slightly darker red light coming from his amulet is the real one. Not that it really matters; the false ones disappear with one hit, there's enough time to hit all four of them, and it's really tricky to get more than one hit on the real one before he starts attacking again.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Poe spirits in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Twilight Princess do this, as do the Wizzrobes in Majora's Mask. The Poes take the trope's name literally; the real one spins.
    • A form of this trope also appeared in the first game in the series. In the graveyard, touching the tombstones releases ghosts known as Ghini, all of which are unkillable except for the "lead" Ghini, which will already be present onscreen; killing the lead Ghini defeated all of them at once. It is fairly easy to identify the lead Ghini, as it is more opaque than the others, but it is vexing in that while you can't hurt the other Ghini, they can most definitely hurt you. The original Ghini also moves differently than the others, only moving in the cardinal directions as opposed to the "clones" and their free-floating more akin to Keese and the like.
    • Phantom Ganon does this too in his first two appearances, in Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. In Ocarina of Time, he disappears into a painting of a spooky road in his boss room, and several of him ride back (he rides a horse here); the real one creates a portal and come out, while the rest turn back at the last second. In Wind Waker, he gets simple and only surrounds you, and the real one is always the one behind you.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Maz Koshia, the Superboss of the Champions Ballad DLC, has this as one of his many techniques that he uses during the second phase of combat. He has no obvious tell, except that his real self usually stays in the same location while his clones fan out; however, they can easily become so thickly clustered that it's nigh-impossible to find the real target. This strategy is especially daunting in Master Mode, where attacking a clone gives the real opponent a chance to regenerate his health.
  • In Magicka, when confronting the Death, he sometimes multiplies itself and circles you; then gangers appear to come at you, but they do nothing, except for the real one, who kills you in one hit unless you counter him with a life spell.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga:
    • Cackletta does this. The trick is that the two duplicates can only attack one brother at a time, while the real one can attack both.
    • Done by two of the Koopalings in the endgame. The easiest way to find out which is the real one is by using Thunder Bros., though the game and its remakes do include other tells.
  • This is also one of the minigames in one of the Mario Party games where the player is surrounded by a circle of Boos and have to pick the right one based on the shadows they are casting.
  • The Decoy tech ability in Mass Effect 3 creates a holographic image of the caster to distract enemies.
  • A recurring element in post-Classic Mega Man games:
    • Split Mushroom uses this against X or Zero in Mega Man X4. Not only that, but he also has an attack that spawns a large number of copies and sends them out as projectiles. This becomes a plot point in X5.
    • Infinity Mijinion in X6 lives up to his name, spawning unlimited copies of himself.
    • Flame Hyenard in X7 creates two additional copies, and all of them want you to burn.
    • The ninja-themed Hidden Phantom in Mega Man Zero does this, splitting himself into four. The fake ones are slightly transparent, but if you hit them instead of the real Phantom (or just don’t get him in time), they all vanish and he drops on you from above.
    • And again with ShadowMan.EXE in the Mega Man Battle Network series.
    • Siarnaq does this to perform his Teleport Spam in Mega Man ZX Advent, leaving behind multiple fading afterimages, which makes sense since he's using Model P, which is based on Phantom's data.
    • In Mega Man Star Force, Gemini Spark comes in two forms, White and Black, that you face at the same time. Both of them can hurt you, but you can only hurt the one with the HP under him. Until the sequel, where both White Gemini and Black Gemini each get their own set of HP.
  • The final boss of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption does this often. Figuring out which of the Dark Samus clones are fake is easy with the X-Ray Visor, but if you don't kill them quick enough, the original can re-absorb them and regain health.
  • Mission: Impossible (Konami): The third level boss would spin and teleport around the crumbling floor of the arena while creating transparent doubles of himself. The doubles are intangible and cannot be hurt, but still throw very real shuriken at you.
  • In Monster in My Pocket for NES, Medusa appears with four other duplicates. Hitting the fakes will do nothing; you have to attack the real one who soon fires and then flies straight towards you.
  • The sequel Nightshade (Kunoichi) has this as well as a special attack which enables the heroine to summon a gang of clones and send them at an enemy.
  • The NES version of Ninja Gaiden 2 also provides the player with a powerup with this effect, with up to two copies of the ninja trailing the player's movements and mimicking their attacks.
  • In Panzer Paladin, Lilith, the boss of the USA level, sometimes splits into four copies of herself. The real one gives herself away right away, as she's the only one that throws daggers at you.
  • Paper Mario:
    • The varieties of Magikoopa sometimes do this.
    • The Crystal King does it late in the battle.
    • Wizzerds are capable of this in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. You either have to use an item, attack, or special move that hits them all guaranteed, or just guess. The latter of the two gets separate attacks for each clone, which predictably makes them very dangerous.
    • In Super Paper Mario, Dimentio plays with this in that the copies are Mirror Monsters.
  • Phantasy Star Online had Sinow Beats which projected holograms and circled you. The trick to finding the fakes? The one with the red shoulder lights are real: all the holograms have yellow lights. They return in Phantasy Star Online 2, though the tell for them is more subtle, instead having the fakes periodically crackle with electricity. They're also all equally capable of hurting you, which makes getting rid of the real deal quickly rather important.
  • In Pokémon it's implied that Double Team does this just like in the anime; its effect is to raise evasion and all of its animations involve briefly and rapidly splitting in two, but duplicates aren't actually seen to be created and remain once the animation's finished.
  • Subverted in Prince of Persia (2008). A villain breaks up the heroine into multiple clones, and you're told to find the real one. None of them are.
  • Punch-Out!!'s Great Tiger has a number of attacks like this, especially his upgraded Tiger Punch in the Wii Title defense version. SALZARAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!
  • Riot has a Dual Boss being a pair of hooded wizards who transforms into somewhere between eight to twelve copies of themselves, two which are real and the rest being illusions. The copies don't have the ability to attack, but for most of the battle you'll need to spot the real bosses and shoot them as they prepare to blast you from afar.
  • Nomad of RuneScape summons three copies of himself in his stable combat sequence. Hit the incorrect one, it disappears. Hit the correct one, all copies disappear. All four can attack, with the real one attacking at a slightly different time.
  • A few moves in SaGa Frontier - "Mirror Shade" allows you to create up to 5 illusory dummies, while the "Magician" Arcane spell combines this with Doppelganger attack - while you can only make one dummy per turn, if attacked it's an instant death for the attacker.
  • Ninjas Hanzo and Galford from Samurai Shodown have this ability. Earthquake has this as well.
  • Each ninja character in the Samurai Warriors series displays this ability at one point when fought.
  • Septerra Core has the final boss perform this, but you already have an attack that hits all three targets. Rather, this move signals he is about to use a super attack.
  • The PlayStation 2 Shinobi enables you to "stealth dash" to move quickly, leaving behind a stationary image of yourself which can confuse some enemies into attacking it. Dashing many times can leave many images.
  • Sho and Kane in Silent Scope 2 do this. Only the real Sho and Kane can damage you or be damaged.
  • StarCraft and Warcraft III both play this one. In StarCraft, the High Templars can create several illusions out of any unit, while in Warcraft III, the Blade Masters can create several illusions of themselves.
    • It also found its way in World of Warcraft eventually as a mage spell. It's different in that the Mirror Images attack on their own but are fairly easy to tell apart from the original since they have much less health (The blademaster illusions had the same amount as the original but took more damage). Some bosses also use variations of this.
    • In both the original and update versions of Scholomance, the boss Jandice Barov periodically vanishes only to reappear alongside dozens of illusions of herself. The original was a Doppelgänger Attack as the fakes could attack the players, while the updated images launch fake attacks to distract players from finding the real one.
    • The first boss in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj periodically disappears before reappearing along two mirror images of himself.
  • Automated Simulations' Star Warrior. Your character's armor could have the Decoys option. When activated (up to 3 times per game) it would release an insubstantial image of your suit which would draw enemy fire for a couple of turns.
  • Recurring Psycho for Hire Yuber from the Suikoden Series has this ability, with the twist that they're ALL real. As shown in the Suikoden III manga, this means the attack can be rather deadly.
  • This is how the 'Double Image' ability is portrayed in the various Super Robot Wars games. The mech spawns a number of illusory doubles, causing the enemy's attack to miss.
  • Agent Tatsuo in the Syndicate remake does this, combining it with Teleport Spam to annoying effect.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game, Shredder will do this, splitting into a duplicate and the player being forced to find which one's the real one. While the NES port is restricted to one doppelganger at a time, the arcade original will have Shredder field as many copies as there are players. However, each copy has far lower health than the original, and Shredder can run out of copies. Also, when Shredder himself gets low enough in health, he will stop creating them.
  • Terranigma has one of the creepiest applications of this trope where, before you fight Bloody Mary you have to play two 'games' with her evil dolls. While the second game is clearly 'Red Light, Green Light', the first game is based on a Japanese rhyming children's game where 4 dolls do a doppleganger spin and you have to guess the right one. This was particularly hard because the translated poem the dolls chant doesn't convey the main point of the Japanese original - you have to attack the one that stops behind you.
  • Terraria:
    • The Lunatic Cultist will occasionally summon copies that, if struck, will cause an extra minion to be summoned. Certain visual cues allow you to pick out the real one.
    • In Expert mode, Brain of Cthulhu will create three illusionary copies of itself in its second phase to confuse the player as it charges. They start out transparent to make them easy to tell apart, but as its health gets lower, the copies become solid and harder to distinguish from the real one.
  • Flandre Scarlet, an Extra boss in Touhou Koumakyou ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, is able to pull off this at you as of her "Taboo: Four of a Kind" spellcard, which summons three clones. It's purely for the sake of More Dakka, though, as it's extremely easy to identify the real deal from the others (the one with a spell circle around her).
  • Tau characters in the Warhammer 40,000-derived tabletop game Inquisitor may use holograms to do this.
  • Sun Wukong in Warriors Orochi 2 does it on some levels.
  • Taion's Interlink form can do this in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, mostly in cutscenes but also forming the basis for some of his Arts.
  • In some of the later Yakuza games, Goro Majima as a boss has the ability to summon shadow clones to attack the player solely by doing a backflip, which stands out in a game that's otherwise mostly grounded in a sort-of heightened realism (though it's also likely meant to be a representation of his agility).
  • The penultimate boss of Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen, Yogleks & Omulgun, consists of a pair of red and blue demon heads surrounded by orbiting objects. Only the red head can be damaged, and the two switch places after Adol scores a hit.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • When Yang tries to enter the Vault of the Spring Maiden, Emerald and Mercury attack her. Emerald makes Yang hallucinate dozens of copies of Mercury which allows him to launch surprise attacks. However, since Emerald can really only effect one person at a time, and needs to focus to use her Semblance, all it takes is a hit from Ruby to disperse the illusions.
    • Blake's Semblance lets her create clones of herself that disappear when hit. It seems that she can only create one at a time, however.
    • When Cinder attacks Penny in the episode "Amity", Emerald makes Penny hallucinate multiple copies of Cinder. Penny is able to find the real person by using an infrared camera, as the clones have no heat signature.

  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Nanase Kitsune
      • She creates two images of herself while in a demonstration martial arts match with her boyfriend Elliott. Each of the images she creates has different colored hair (green and blue). She uses them to distract him so she can make a sneak attack from the rear. Elliot complains that he hates "these trendy 'which one is real?' illusion attacks".
      • She uses a variation on this early on while fighting a giant blob of goo. In a subversion, none of the ones fighting the goo are the real Nanase; the real Nanase is rescuing Ellen while the goo is distracted by the duplicates.
    • Magus, while "powerless", later used this to run away from more or less godlike beings.
  • Luna uses this trick against the Infernomancer in Dominic Deegan. When she then challenged him to find the real one, he laughed at her and attacked Dominic ("The real target is the one that will hurt you most!"), forcing her to drop the spell and rush to save him.
  • The Prestidigitator did this with The Raccoon in The Incredible and Awe-Inspiring Serial Adventures of the Amazing Plasma-Man, but it was revealed that all three versions of him were, in fact, illusions.

    Western Animation 
  • Mirror Master (again) can do this in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
  • Prowl's holographic duplicate in Transformers: Animated, generally used as a decoy so the real Prowl can make a sneak attack from behind.
  • Canon Foreigner Luminus from Superman: The Animated Series liked to do this, but never had the good sense to get away while the getting was good. In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", Luminus had improved his duplicates into Hard Light combat-capable versions, as The Flash discovered the hard way. Just two little problems: holograms don't have skeletons, and taking down the real Luminus also disposed of the duplicates.
  • Code Lyoko: Ulrich's "Triangulate" technique combines Super Speed with his "Triplicate" power to confuse monsters. Note, though, that his two clones are physical (although One-Hit-Point Wonder) and thus this overlaps with Doppelgänger Attack.
  • Winx Club: Darcy of the Trix can do this with her illusion powers. During a fight in an episode of season three, she tried this trick on Nabu, only for him to dispose of the illusions with a Doppelgänger Attack.
  • In the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) cartoon, Shredder uses holograms to pull this off in his first fight against Splinter.
  • Fantastic Voyage:
    • In the episode "The Menace from Space", Guru causes The Mole to see multiple images of Jonathon Kidd so he can't ram Kidd with the Voyager.
    • In "The Perfect Crime", Guru uses his mystic powers to create multiple images of the Voyager so the criminals they're fighting don't know what to shoot at.
  • Parodied in Regular Show, where the opponent of a stick hockey match pulls this on Benson; three of the clones (who each have their own stick hockey table) vanish when Benson tries to engage them, and he eventually pulls two together into one to continue the match.
  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation: In "Reason and Blood", Skeletor uses this trick, only for He-Man to punch him and get the right one on the first try.

    Real Life 
  • While cephalopod ink is best known for clouding predators' vision, some creatures can mix ink with mucus to release blobs shaped and colored similarly to the real cephalopod in question. Predators have been documented mistakenly attacking these "pseudomorphs".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Doppleganger Spin


The Doppelganger Technique

Oboro and Brantz utilize the doppelganger technique in their duel.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DoppelgangerSpin

Media sources: