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Dressing as the Enemy

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"We are the Earth King's humble servants."
Princess Leia: Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
Luke: Huh? Oh, the uniform. [pulls off helmet] I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you.
Princess Leia: You're who?

Most of the heroes are trapped in a cell, when the door opens and a guard wearing a face-concealing helmet enters.

They prepare for a fight. The guard takes off his/her helmet — and reveals that it's one of their allies.

In the real world, this is illegal for a military operation (under Article 39 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions) but not when it comes to espionage (where they'll kill you anyway if you get caught) unless you take off the uniform before you start firing, and other things.

Note that the guard the hero knocks out is always wearing the right size uniform to fit them perfectly. (Except in parodies, in which case it fits them very poorly). This may or may not follow a Mugged for Disguise.

This occurs so often that Rule Number 1 on the Evil Overlord List is that the Legions of Doom should wear clear helmets. Another rule from that list calls for guards to wear tailored uniforms which will not fit any hero who attempts this trick.

It's a very common mythic trope called 'Wearing Enemy's Skin' identified by Joseph Campbell. Known examples go back to The Iliad, thus Older Than Feudalism.

In fantasy settings where some sort of magical powers are available, a common variation of this involves fully transforming The Hero into one of the enemy.

May lead to Friend or Foe? since you do, after all, look like the enemy.

See also The Mole, Trojan Prisoner, Hey, Wait!, Dead Person Impersonation. On a regimental scale, this is a False Flag Operation. When used with zombies, it's Pretend We're Dead. When the disguised arouses suspicion by constantly insisting on his alliance to the enemy, it's Most Definitely Not a Villain. Contrast Disguised Hostage Gambit and False Innocence Trick.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Doraemon: Nobita and the Tin Labyrinth, Gian and Suneo infiltrates Mechatopia - a city populated entirely by robots who enslaved their human creators - by donning robotic suits, in an attempt to find out where the humans are imprisoned. Unfortunately they blew their cover when a hungry Gian, in a Too Dumb to Live moment, drags Suneo into a robot-owned diner and asks the chef if they serve katsu-don, leading to the robot chef enquiring why are they requesting for "human" food.
  • Mazinger Z: Several times Kouji and his friends disguised as Iron Masks to infiltrate the into one operation of the enemy or one of their bases and rescuing one of their friends -usually Sayaka- or blowing the whole place up. The uniforms they stole seldom fit them, though (specially not Boss).
  • A very odd example comes from Super Dimension Fortress Macross and its Robotech adaptation: Max is trapped onboard a Zentraedi warship and hides in a bathroom. An enemy soldier comes in and Max knocks him out and steals his uniform. The pockets come in handy for rescuing the three human prisoners. The oddity is that Max didn't disguise himself, but rather his Humongous Mecha in the uniform of the equally giant alien.
  • Not quite enemies, but the Lobelia Girls Academy's Zuka Club makes their first appearance in Ouran Academy uniforms, one as a male.
  • Jugo and Suigetsu try this in Naruto using samurai uniforms. They are caught almost immediately.
    Suigetsu: My, my... I guess you've got us.
    Jugo: This wasn't a very good plan.
  • Bleach: Uryuu and Orihime steal and wear some shihakusho to blend in during the Soul Society arc. Because it's Orihime and Uryuu, an awkward Lingerie Scene is mandatory.
  • Erza Scarlet in Fairy Tail strips her Edolas counterpart in order to pose as her. Funny how Erza has no problems with stripping her counterpart naked (well, at least partially naked).
  • The group infiltrating Baba Yaga castle in Soul Eater dress in the same way as the Artifact Soldiers with long black robes and white masks. Causes a Crowning Moment of Awesome/Funny when Kirikou decides to reveal himself after wandering around for a while: "Surprise."
  • One Piece:
    • During the G8 Filler Arc, the Straw Hats minus Zoro (who was captured first) are forced to do this. They are eventually picked out as fakes when the commander gets reports of suspicious unknown Marines, (Usopp and Robin), cooks (Sanji and Luffy), doctors (Chopper) and nurses (Nami) are making trouble around the base.
    • In Marineford arc Galdino aka Mr 3 disguises himself as one of Ace's executioners, and actually helps Luffy free Ace using his wax powers to make a key to his cuffs.
    • In Dressorsa arc, Usopp and Robin disguise themselves as Domflamingo Mooks to infliterate Doffy's underground base and take down Sugar who has turned half the population into toys. They are almost successful but are sussed out by Trebol one of Domflamingo's Co-Dragons.
    • In One Piece Film: Gold The Straw Hats minus Luffy, Franky and Zoro actually diguise themselves as World Nobles to fool Gild Tesoro's mooks. Amusingly while Nami and Usopp act as the nobles and Robin and Sanji as a servant and armoured guard, Brook the living skeleton is the one who plays the Sex Slave.
    • In the Leverly arc Sabo (a Revoutionary) also diguises himself as an Noble's amoured guard, ironically acting as bodyguard to his own despicbale brother Stelly.
    • In the Wano arc finale at Onigashima, the alliance: the Straw Hats, the Red Scabbards, Minks and Kidd's crew are all fitted out in Beast Pirates uniforms thanks to Kin'emon's clothing creating Devil Fruit. Suprisngly despite most of their faces being known it works for awhile, before Luffy, Zoro and Kidd blow their cover and war breaks out.
  • In Gundam 0080, Misha draws the Federation's attention with the Kämpfer while the rest of the Cyclops Team infiltrates the base to destroy the Gundam NT-1. Unlike many examples, the uniforms fit perfectly because they were obtained in advance; what gives them away is Bernie failing geography forever.
    • Bernie says that he is from Australia and says at Christmas time the city was covered in snow-this is possibly understandable as he is a Zeon and may not know much about Earth since he living in a colony.
    • Heero Yuy in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is seen infiltrating enemy facilities almost every other episode. He's incredibly brazen about simply knocking out guards and taking their uniforms (which somehow always fit him, even though he's a 15 year old boy who's visibly shorter than most guards) and then waltzes right into the enemy base without a second thought. Trowa also does this once. Rather justified since they are trained operatives and probably were taught to do this sort of thing for their missions. Presumably this includes being adept at picking out guards who roughly match their own body size to steal uniforms form.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, Anavel Gato accomplishes the hijacking of the first episode by walking into the hanger while wearing a Federation uniform provided by a confederate. He complains that the uniform's rank pins are too low.
  • Done in Heart Catch Pretty Cure with Erika, Itsuki, Coffret and Potpourri dressing up as Snackies to sneak into the Desert Apostles' base.
  • Germany and Prussia from Hetalia: Axis Powers dress as American soldiers at one point in order to infiltrate their camp and spy on them.
  • Lupin III: Lupin is a Master of Disguise, so he engages in this often. His favorite disguise is apparently Zenigata.
    • There was one episode of the second TV series where Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon ALL dressed up as Zenigata.
    • Anyone in the cast might be expected to appear as a disguised version of someone else. Zenigata has even disguised himself as Lupin!
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Lance of the Elite Four does this twice in the series. The first time is in the Johto arc's "Talkin' 'Bout an Evolution" when he knocks out a Team Rocket grunt and steals his uniform so he can infiltrate Team Rocket's base in Mahogany Town and destroy their Evolution Inducement Ray. The second time is in the Hoenn arc's "Gaining Groudon", where he is disguised as a Team Magma grunt to recover the Blue Orb from Maxie.

    Asian Animation 
  • Big M. dresses as one of his enemies, Smart S., in Season 3 episode 22 of Happy Heroes to subject him to a frameup and make him look like he's been causing trouble with the people in the city when he actually isn't.
  • In the Lamput episode "Dr. Lamput", Lamput is drenched in gray paint and thus winds up with a Coincidental Accidental Disguise of one of the many scientists who are seeking to capture him and bring him to their lab. Lamput runs with the idea of pretending to be one of the docs and eventually becomes the #1 doc in the lab, much to the shock of Specs Doc and Skinny Doc.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • Weslie and Sparky disguised themselves as wolf cubs once, with the former having impersonated both Wolffy and Wolnie at different points.
    • Wolffy and Wolnie disguise themselves as goats frequently as part of their schemes.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who
    • In "The Beast of Orlok", the Doctor's companion Lucie does this without meaning to; after getting Covered in Mud during her escape from the castle, she's then mistaken for a Golem warrior.
    • In I, Davros: Purity, a squad of Khaled commandoes are on a mission behind Thal lines, and at Davros' suggestion they change into enemy uniforms. This backfires when one of the survivors makes it back to their own lines only to be shot by an automated weapon system that is designed to recognise Thal uniforms.

    Comic Books 
  • Mary-Maria tries this in Archer & Armstrong to sneak into Area 51. The costume fits fine, but she's still caught almost immediately, possibly because she has a hard time concealing her surprise when she runs into an alien.
  • Played semi-straight in multiple Asterix stories. At Obelix's insistence, they always look for two enemies, one small and one... medium-sized. Note that Obelix is a big man by any standard imaginable, in case you didn't know.
  • The F1rst Hero: At the end of the "Fight For Your Life" storyline, when Jake is hiding on the ceiling of a room with two Extrahuman Task Force soldiers below him, he knocks them out and takes one of their uniforms. This allows him to sneak out of the building undetected, barring Paul Kirksen ordering him to bring him Sgt. Alvarez.
  • In an "alternate future" storyline in JLA, Batman spent years posing as Desaad, right under Darkseid's nose.
  • In one of Mortadelo y Filemón's comics, El Sulfato Atómico, Filemón is imprisoned and Mortadelo decides to dress as a commander of the Tiranian Army (Tirania is the country they are infiltrating), but when it comes to give the orders, he realises he doesn't know how to speak Tiranian.
  • An extreme example happened in Sin City. Dwight McCarthy had previously been shot in the face, requiring surgery. This ended up changing his appearance drastically. The Big Bad, meanwhile, was planning to see a drug courier. Dwight had the courier killed and took his place in order to infiltrate the villain's estate. Since he was essentially disguised after his surgery, this allowed him easy access to the villain's mansion.
  • The Scorpion: Done twice The Angel's Shadow. First Armando disguises himself as a warrior monk as part of a Trojan Prisoner gambit to gain access to the Vatican dungeons. later, he and Hussar disguise themselves as Warrior Monks to steal a shipment of gold.
  • Since Mandalorians are always wearing their heavily customized armor and rarely taking of their helmets in public, it's very easy for Zayne Carrick to impersonate the evil scientist Demagol to free all of Demagol's prisoners in Knights of the Old Republic. And in a much more shocking case only minutes later, Demagol manages to overpower Rohlan while being put back into his armor for transport, and then drugs him up enough to be in a coma for half a year, during which he impersonates Rohlan.
  • Star Trek (IDW): Spock dresses up like one of the Narada survivors in order to infiltrate their ranks and learn their plans in the "Vulcan's Vengeance" arc.
  • Subverted in Street Angel; the eponymous heroine is some 12 years old, 5'1, 95 lbs. She knocks out a ninja and wears his costume to impersonate him and get information from his cohorts. After they blindly feed her the info she was after, the ninja she assaulted wakes up and exposes the charade. Only it turns out they weren't fooled by the prepubescent girl impersonating a grown man — they actually knew it was the Street Angel specifically and just didn't want her to beat them up.
  • Knuckles does this in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) with the Dark Legion's uniforms in order to infiltrate them. He takes the time to lampshade that its fortunate most echidnas are the same size and build, otherwise he probably wouldn't be able to pull it off. Oddly, in the same issue, it still works when the rest of the Chaotix do the same, despite the fact that Vector is at least a foot and a half taller than the rest, (and the hood shouldn't cover his snout, or Espio's facial horn), and Charmy is much shorter than the rest.
  • Catwoman disguises herself as a Regime mook in Year Two of Injustice: Gods Among Us and uses the opportunity to incapacitate the Flash.
  • Jonah Hex: In #10 of the original series, el Papagayo and his men ambush a squad of Mexican soldiers and steal their uniforms to infiltrate the fort at Veracruz and steal the gold stored there.
  • Hunter's Hellcats: In Our Fighting Forces #119, the Hellcats dress in German uniforms before parachuting into Berlin to rescue a defecting general and his daughter.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Paula has one of her minions infiltrate Paradise Island by dressing like an Amazon. It doesn't work out well since it is a close knit island of immortal women, so it is quickly realized that there is a woman on the island no one recognizes.
  • DC Pride: Tim Drake Special: Tim steals the chaos monster mask and robes from one of the Children of Dionysus cultists in order to infiltrate their ceremony and rescue Bernard and the other kidnapped victims.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992): Zora grants Link the Zora's Mask to disguise himself and not look so conspicuous as he is sneaking around the Dark Palace. This is a nifty precursor to the actual Zora Mask first seen in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. (Rather than an actual mask, Zora plucks off one of his own scales and slaps it on Link's mug.)
  • Uncanny X-Men: In issue #250, Havok tries disguising himself as one of Zaladane's Savage Land henchmen. It soon turns out she knew he was there all along, as did her minions (Lupus the wolf-man sniffed him out).

    Fan Works 
  • After Rose regains a body through one of Fire Agate's Rose Quartz soldiers in Rose Redemption AU, she sneaks in as just another member of the army in hopes of finding the others and a way back to their ship.
  • Captain Proton and the Planet of Lesbians. On realising that Venus is a populated by gorgeous dames in stripperiffic uniforms, Proton notes that using this trope is clearly out of the question.
  • In Goggles and the Tears, Booker DeWitt bribes his way into getting himself, Goggles, Gordon Freeman, and Mjolnir Recon 54 fitted for Handyman armor to blend in with the people of Columbia. It doesn't work, since their weapons were confiscated, and stepping a few feet out of formation pissed off the security forces. They ditch the armor after making it to Emporia on a hijacked hovercraft.
  • Tarkin's Fist:
    • Mallory dresses up as a KDY security officer as part of his mission to hijack the Super Star Destroyer Ares's superlaser

    • Jason Bogan dresses as a stormtrooper after being drafted into the Imperial Army and uses his position to free the Earthlings enslaved by the Empire.
  • In Wilhuff Tarkin, Hero of the Rebellion, it's revealed that the uniforms of the Rebel Navy troopers are identical to the ones used by their Imperial Navy counterparts before the widespread adoption of the Death Star Troopers, only the Imperials had the Imperial Crest on a patch on their left shoulder. Justified in that the uniform style is described as quite old and used by both the Republic Navy, from which the Imperial Navy inherited it, and many planetary security forces, many of which were disbanded with the Rebels buying or stealing their uniforms and weapons-or just belonging to surviving planetary defense forces whose worlds support the Rebellion.
  • In If They Haven't Learned Your Name, Steve Rogers mentions that during the war, he and the other white members of the Howling Commandos tried disguising themselves as German soldiers once, only to get busted immediately because their pants weren't tailored tight enough to pass for real SS officers. He goes on to add that he's never met a Nazi who didn't have a weird preoccupation with their appearance.
  • Vow of the King: Like canon, Orihime does this in Soul Society, though she does so with Tatsuki rather than Uryu. Unlike canon, they think to steal a couple zanpakuto as well.
  • Not an enemy, but when Horus goes to see Isha in Everqueen, he wears a guard's uniform, obtained by convincing a servant.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Antigang, Kasper and his gang dress in the uniforms of the armoured car company in order to hijack the Vulnerable Convoy.
  • The Arrival. While snooping around the alien Elaborate Underground Base, Zane Zaminsky is about to be discovered by guards so he takes the risk of stepping into the device they use to disguise themselves as humans. It creates a whole new body for him that gets him past the guards, but unfortunately Zane doesn't speak the aliens' language, so when one tries to speak to him a short time later he has to fight his way out.
  • Part of the Chinese film Assembly takes place during The Korean War. The Chinese characters dress in South Korean uniforms for a scouting mission. They encounter an American tank, and the tank commander asks them for directions. The Chinese-dressed-as-Koreans reply with what the subtitles calls "Korean sounding gibberish," and it all ends peacefully. An earlier scene takes place during the Chinese civil war: Communist soldiers steal helmets and boots from better-equipped Nationalist prisoners. This causes confusion later.
  • Parodied in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Miss Kensington and Austin follow a pair of Virtucom employees into the restrooms, one a very tall and lanky man, the other an obese woman, and emerge seconds later in perfectly fitted uniforms. And spotted in the five seconds between leaving the restrooms and entering the employee's only area.
  • The Avengers (1998): Mrs. Peel may have done this with a copy of her clone's Spy Catsuit to infiltrate Sir August's base.
  • The Bandit of Sherwood Forest: After infiltrating the castle, Robin Hood and his merry men capture the Sheriff's men, take their uniforms, and take their place on the battlements.
  • In Battle of the Bulge, German soldiers dress as Americans to infiltrate and confuse American attacks. Truth in Television, but the effect was mostly psychological, as the actual operation was a failure.
  • Behind Enemy Lines. Burnett escapes a town under siege by exchanging his flight suit with the uniform of a dead Serbian soldier. He makes a clean getaway, but it backfires when the Serbs find the corpse dressed in his clothes, cover its face with a bag, and parade it around as "proof" that Burnett had been captured and killed, causing his first rescue attempt to get called off.
  • Best Seller. The Villain Protagonist asks the name of a guard before he kills him, then uses the name to get another guard to open the door.
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey has the title pair do this to get into Fluffy Cloud Heaven. Yes, they mugged two guys in Heaven.
  • Blazing Saddles. Two Ku Klux Klan members are part of the line of applicants to join Hedley Lamaar's army of Mooks. Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid lure them away, knock them out and steal their robes. Unfortunately, they forget that Sheriff Bart is black...
  • Blue Streak, has the main character posing as a cop in order to retrieve a diamond he left in a police building. It grows on him. So much that, when he's forced to pretend to be a different criminal, the bad guy claims that he "smells like a cop".
  • In Brain Donors, Ambulance Chaser Roland T. Flakfizer and his cohorts dress up as doctors to infiltrate a hospital and recover an incriminating letter.
    Rocco: We'll have to perform a full rectum-ology.
    Roland: Fondue, an epidemic! drop those pants... Not you, the patient.
    Doctor: I thought you were cardiologists...
    Rocco: Uh, well, they're all connected, we enter the rectum and head north.
    Roland: Why do you think we have such long instruments?
  • In Brass Target, the professional assassin Webber disguises himself as an American soldier to get close to General Patton.
  • Twice in Braveheart:
    • First William dresses as an English soldier to help his wife get out of town. His efforts are to no avail.
    • Later, Wallace and his allies infiltrate an English fort by disguising themselves as English soldiers.
      English Commander: I have dispatched 100 soldiers to Lanark! They will be returning now!
      Wallace: What, were they dressed like this? Actually, it was more like 50.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the heroes are busted out of a prisoner transport by an ally in enemy uniform — aided by the fact that said uniform includes exactly the type of face-concealing helmet the Evil Overlord List recommends against...
  • The Chronicles of Riddick (2004): Riddick disguises himself as a stormtrooper to get inside the Lord Marshal's ship. Subverted, though. Dame Vaako, one of the only Necromongers who actually knows what he looks like, still recognizes him — she just decides to let him have his shot. He also has to kill a couple guards who catch onto him.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982). Conan knocks out a member of the Doom Cult to infiltrate Thulsa Doom's lair. It doesn't work however, as Conan gave a stolen amulet to a guard to establish his bona fides. Suspicious, the guard takes it to his boss, and they easily locate Conan among the thousands of cult members simply because he's moving and acting differently from the fervent cultists.
  • In Cradle of Fear, The Man gets into Kemper's cell by dressing the full coverage riot of the asylum guards and joining the squad of guards whom Dr. Ross orders in to drag out Inspector Neilson.
  • Ends disastrously in Cross of Iron. German soldiers are isolated from their unit and must wear Soviet uniforms to sneak back to their base. The German guard commander knows about the deception, but has a personal grudge against the returning sergeant, and orders his men to shoot the approaching "Russians".
  • In Dad's Army (1971), Wilson shows Mr. Mainwaring a newspaper that reveals that German troops are being parachuted into Britain disguised as British troops.
  • In Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., David dresses up as a Roboman and leads a group of rebels aboard the Dalek Saucer in a Trojan Prisoner gambit.
  • Inverted in two different ways in The Dark Knight. First when the Joker's gang try to kill the mayor by taking the place of Police Officers in a parade, and then when they put ''their'' masks on ''civilians'' who have their mouths taped shut and their hands taped to the fake/unloaded guns. The Joker acquires a nurse's uniform when he goes to pay a visit to Harvey Dent.
  • Den of Thieves: Merriman and some of his crew disguise themselves as armored car escorts to infiltrate the Fed Reserve.
  • A villainous version occurs in Diamonds on Wheels, with Wheeler and Finch dressing in the uniforms of security guards in order to steal the diamonds.
  • The Dirty Dozen:
    • The Dozen won a war game by using this trope. Since the two sides only differentiated by colour of arm-band, it was surprisingly easy ("We're traitors"), although they did their best to ensure that the members of the team that the opposing colonel had gotten a close look at weren't part of the infiltration stage.
    • The Dozen dressed as German soldiers for their actual mission in occupied France.
  • At one point in Dr. Strangelove, a column of US Army troops is dispatched to storm the Air Force base which has been commandeered by renegade general Ripper. The base troops think they are battling invading Russians:
    "You sure gotta hand it to those Commies. Gee, those trucks sure look like the real thing, don't they? I wonder where they got 'em from?"
    "Probably bought them from the Army as war surplus. OK. Open up at 200 yards..."
  • The Eagle Has Landed points out the illegality of this several times. There is a flimsy rationalisation where they wear their German paratrooper uniforms underneath Polish uniforms, and only engage in actual combat as Germans.
  • In the 2020 B-Movie Enemy Lines, an NKVD team find the Allied team have got to their target first, so remove the uniforms of the dead German guards lying around so they can continue to track them through a Nazi manhunt. At a roadblock a German soldier notices the bullethole in one of them, causing their leader to say that "He's bullet proof" as a Blatant Lies explanation before opening fire. This is later used as a Badass Boast when that soldier has to Hold the Line. "I'm bullet proof!"
  • In A Fistful of Dollars, The Rojos gang disguise themselves as US soldiers to stage an ambush on the Mexican troops.
  • Force 10 from Navarone: The main characters are all either spies or guerilla fighters operating in occupied territory, so you betcha:
    • Barnsby and Mallory kill two Chetnik soldiers who were tracking them, but are later informed that they were actually Partisan spies who had infiltrated the Chetnik camp. Whoops.
    • Force Ten uses the same tactic with dressing two Partisan soldiers as Chetniks when they raid their base later on to retrieve several prisoners.
    • And again when they infiltrate a German base to steal the explosives they need to blow up the dam, they pose as Wehrmacht soldiers.
  • Fresh Meat: Gigi dresses in the uniform (including helmet and face mask) she she strips off a dead SWAT officer to grab Rina and pull her out of the house during the climax.
  • In G.I. Joe: Retaliation Storm Shadow pretends to be Snake Eyes so that he can break into the German facility and free Cobra Commander. Also Jinx disguises herself as a Cobra red ninja to get close to the Cobra Commander, Firefly and Zartan along with Storm Shadow, who was going after Zartan because he murdered the Hard Master.
  • In The Gumball Rally, one of the entries into the race is a Dodge police cruiser with black and white paint job, and magnetic door decals for police and highway patrol logos of every state they would be crossing through.
  • In Gun Fury, Frank Slayton's gang disguise themselves as the U.S. Cavalry escort in order to rob the stagecoach.
  • The Guns of Navarone. After turning the tables on and capturing their German Army interrogators, our heroes don their uniforms and escape.
  • In The Hot Rock, Dortmunder, Kelp and Greenberg disguise themselves in guard uniforms when they break into museum.
  • Indiana Jones:
  • In The Island (1980), Nau and his crew dress in uniforms taken from the murdered coast guardsmen so they can use the launch to approach the cutter without being suspected.
  • James Bond:
  • Judge Dredd. While Dredd is on the run from the law, he knocks out a Judge and steals his uniform. It fits perfectly.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Secret Service agent Sawyer performs a Mugged for Disguise on one of the Fantom's mooks and then joins them. He later saves the League from being slaughtered by the mook's gunfire by shooting most of them.
  • The McKenzie Break: Schmidt and Hochbaer disguise themselves as guards and sneak out of the camp during the chaos of a riot.
  • Mom and Dad Save the World: A sympathetic mook actually gives the hero his uniform to aid his escape. As the uniform doesn't conceal his face, this doesn't work once he runs into someone who's already met him. It does fool guards who don't know him, despite the uniform not even being close to his size, thanks to the fact that the planet Spengo is populated entirely by idiots.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie: Liu, Johnny, and Kitana disguise themselves as Shang Tsung's monks in order to get close enough for a confrontation and save Sonya.
  • In The Mystery of the Hooded Horsemen, Tex uses the hood and robe taken from a dead Rider to infiltrate a meeting of the Hooded Riders.
  • Nino Brown does a variation of this in New Jack City by killing a NYPD during a shootout between Cash Money Brothers and the force Scotty Appleton was working with and then plays dead. When Park comes across a seemingly dead NYPD killed by Nino, Nino reveals himself and stabs him, taking his leave afterwards.
  • Used in O Brother, Where Art Thou? to rescue Tommy from The Klan, but it doesn't work super well.
  • Our Man Flint. While infiltrating Galaxy Island Flint dresses as a Galaxy forklift driver, then uses it to crush a security guard and take his uniform. Unfortunately he's exposed as an imposter and brought before the leaders of Galaxy who can't help appreciating how good he looks in one of their uniforms.
  • The Pianist has an unintentional example: Before fleeing from the Russian advance, Captain Hosenfeld gives the freezing Szpilman his coat. Unfortunately, several Russian soldiers mistake him for being a German soldier, and he is nearly shot.
  • The Allied Sociopathic Soldiers in Play Dirty infiltrate German territory by using Italian and German uniforms. This backfires in the end when the British Army unexpectedly invades the city and guns them down in the streets.
  • In Posse, Jesse poses as a Ku Klux Klan member to rescue Papa Joe and Obobo.
  • In Primal, Loffler steals a jacket and cap from a dead U.S. Marshal, and uses it to pose as one and extract information from the engineer.
  • The Prince of Thieves: After Robin is called on to surrender, Little John and Will Scarlet deliver him to the castle disguised as Fitz-Alwin's soldiers. This allows them to mingle with the castle troops during Robin's execution.
  • The same trick was used in Private Benjamin, using one soldier's non-regulation red underwear to make the red armbands.
  • A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die!, Eli enters Fort Holman dressed in a Confederate uniform and posing as a messenger.
  • In Robin Hood: The Rebellion, Robin, Will and John strip the armour and uniforms off the Sheriff's dead men and return with Brom, posing as the party the Sheriff sent out.
  • In Sahara (2005), a straight version of this allows the protagonists entry to the mooks' base, especially since they've "borrowed" the Big Bad's car.
  • Samson vs. the Vampire Women features a mook trying to disguise himself as a wrestler that the titular hero is about to fight — only the mook has a substantially different body shape from that of the wrestler. This fact is painfully obvious since the wrestler — and the mook who takes over for him — wears nothing but tights and a mask.
  • Similar to The Simpsons examples below, in Scary Movie 4 the would-be clothes stealers are themselves beaten up and have to settle for garments on a clothesline instead.
  • Serenity: It was said about Reavers that they skinned people alive, raped them repeatedly, ate their flesh and then murdered them. They kept the skins as trophies, their spaceships were covered with blood, and they even tied whole corpses to the front of their ships. Knowing this, Mal employed it in the Big Damn Movie, using his murdered friends as disguise. The late Shepherd Book had the "honour" of being the centre on Serenity's nose. It worked, as they went through the Reavers' territory and back, and survived.
  • In Seven Samurai, Kikuchiyo steals the armor of a dead bandit to try and steal a musket from the group.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (1932), Holmes knocks out Hans and takes his overalls, gloves and welder's mask to infiltrate Morairty's gang as they tunnel into the bank.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Hannibal Lecter employs this trope in the most gruesome manner possible.
    "Ready when you are, Sergeant Pembry..."
  • The Soldier: The heroes manage to infiltrate a U.S. nuclear missile site by posing as high-ranking Air Force officers. The subterfuge is aided by them having the proper access codes; a remnant of a fail-safe developed by the CIA, afraid that a potentially unhinged President might start a nuclear war.
  • Seen in The Stinger of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022), where Agent Stone is revealed to have survived the collapse of the Death Egg Robot and is now hiding among the G.U.N. troopers investigating the site, wearing one of their uniforms.
  • Parodied in Spaceballs. Lone Starr and Barf lure two Spaceballs into their Winnebago, beat the crap out of them, and come out with their uniforms. Barf's is perfectly fitted, even though he's much larger than either of the soldiers...and has a tail... And then when they make their escape, the same two guys are in their underwear...and have Spaceball helmets on, even though Lone Starr and Barf also stole their helmets.
  • The chunkheaded hero from Space Mutiny beats up a guard who's easily thirty kilograms and 25 cm smaller than he, yet his stolen uniform fits perfectly. And within minutes, the disguise is blown at the first checkpoint he comes to. A subversion, perhaps? Mocked in the MSTing of Space Mutiny when the beefy hero knocks out a smaller man in a tight-fitting uniform and then changes into it.
  • This is done by Carmen Cortez in Spy Kids. While Carmen and Juni are being chased by the robot army in Floop's Castle, she falls into the puzzle floor trap Gregorio and Ingrid discovered earlier. Gregorio was saved by a protective barrier, but Carmen wasn't so lucky that time around. After she falls into the pit, she lands in the Thumb-Thumb maintenance room, where she disguises herself as one to avoid being caught by the robots and the Thumb-Thumbs, only to be tackled by Juni after he frees himself and Floop from the Virtual Room after the latter was locked in there by Minion.
    Juni: This one's for my sister! [tackles the Thumb-Thumb, but it's soon revealed to be a disguised Carmen]
    Carmen: Oh, Juni.
    Juni: [embarrassedly] Hola.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope: Luke and Han mug some stormtroopers to sneak around the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia.
    • Return of the Jedi: Boussh, the bounty hunter who sells Chewbacca to Jabba the Hutt turns out to be Princess Leia in disguise, there to rescue Han. Also, Lando is one of the guards, having clearly just walked up and gotten himself hired.
    • Later in the same film, during the Endor mission (though its subtle). The Endor strike team surround a Scout Trooper, and then one of them puts down his gun and walks toward him. In a few subsequent scenes, you can see a Scout Trooper working with Han and Leia (presumably the armor was useful for the initial infiltration).
    • In Rogue One, Jyn and Cassian knock out some Imperial troopers for their outfits so they can infiltrate the Scarif citadel housing the archives with the plans they need to steal. Never mind that one of the troopers just happened to be of the same petite body type as Jyn. K-2SO, their droid companion, is a reprogrammed Imperial model, so he already looks the part.
    • The Last Jedi. Finn, Rose and DJ steal the uniforms from the dreadnought's laundry, so they have no trouble finding one that fits. Played for Laughs when BB-8 is then disguised by having a box dropped over it, under which the droid awkwardly trundles along making First Order droid noises. Unfortunately a First Order droid of the same type isn't fooled and blows the entire plan.
    • Solo. Hampered when Chewie rips the arms off the guard being Mugged for Disguise.
      Han: Great. Nice work; that guard was just the size of uniform I needed!
  • Done by Murray and Ramis in Stripes.
  • In The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, Robin and the Merrie Men infiltrate the castle to rescue Marian disguised as the Sheriff's men.
  • In Swashbuckler, Captain Lynch and his pirate crew disguise themselves as members of the Royal Navy as part of a plan to trick Lord Durant into loading his ill-gotten loot on to their ship. The plan was working until Jane decided to go all Leeroy Jenkins.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III has the turtles do this with a justification. The established rules of time-travel in the movie state that in order to go into the past, the turtles would have to swap places- and uniforms- with whoever is holding the scepter in feudal Japan. It just so happened that the ones in the past were the Daimyo's honor guard. Luckily, the ceremonial samurai masks allow the Turtles to disguise their faces as well.
  • Subverted in the Swedish film The Third Wave. A hitman who's stalking his target through an anti-globilisation riot kills a riot policeman and steals his gun, uniform and face-concealing helmet. This enables the hitman to get close to the protagonist and execute him with a shot to the head — unfortunately it turns out the gun he stole is loaded with plastic bullets.
  • The Anti-Hero in This Gun for Hire enters Nitro Chemical's building on the day that they are conveniently having a gas attack drill. He fights a Mook, takes the mook's uniform and gas mask, and gains entrance to the bad guy's office.
  • ¡Three Amigos!. While Carmen is held captive in El Guapo's fortress, she knocks an already sleeping guard totally unconscious. Dusty Bottoms then dons the guard's clothing so he can impersonate him.
  • Tiger House: After disposing of one of the gang, Kelly puts on his gas mask to conceal her identity and the raps on the window and gestures to lure Callum outside.
  • In To Be or Not to Be, the lead and his comrades do this all the movie.
  • Kevin Flynn pulls this off in TRON, but because the good guys and the bad are simply color-coded, all he needs to do for a disguise is steal the glowing red trim.
  • Transformers (2007) demonstrates the Decepticons being more actively... deceptive by disguising themselves as various kinds of devastating military tech used by the Puny Earthlings they plan on later exterminating. The effectiveness of this varies — Blackout infiltrates a military base in Qatar as a Sikorsky MH-53 helicopter, but a handful of soldiers realize something's amiss after noticing his tail number, which belonged to a helicopter that was confirmed destroyed days prior. Starscream meanwhile manages to evade notice as an F-22 Raptor fighter jet — when several actual F-22 pilots come to fight the Decepticons in Mission City, Starscream momentarily blends in with the squadron, giving them mere moments to spot the imposter before he takes out half of them.
  • Tropic Thunder: "Here's my mothafuckin' farm!"
  • A villainous example from The Untouchables (1987) with Frank Nitti, who briefly dresses up as a police officer to infiltrate the police department and assassinate one of the Treasury Department agents and their informant, along with two police officers who were waiting outside.
  • Up the Front:
    • Captain Nigel wears a German uniform to go behind enemy lines and steal plans for British Intelligence.
    • Colonel von Gutz disguises himself as a British Medical Officer to capture Lurk.
  • A similar inversion occurs in V for Vendetta, when V dresses up bound and gagged employees of the station he's attacking in replicas of his own costume, leading the guards to unwittingly open fire on them.
  • In Where Eagles Dare, Richard Burton's team of commandos don Nazi uniforms to infiltrate an enemy castle, purely to get Clint Eastwood running around shooting people in German stormtrooper garb. In a twist, some of the commandos are undercover Nazis, their true allegiances reflected in what they're wearing.
  • Windtalkers: Ben comes up with a way to take out an entrenched Japanese unit through infiltration by putting on a Japanese uniform himself and making his superior Joe look like a captured enemy. The subterfuge is made possible on account of Ben's tanner skin color as a Navajo native, which Joe had earlier noted might cause others in the field to mistake him for a Japanese soldier.
  • The Wizard of Oz. Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion are ambushed by three of the Wicked Witch of the West's Winkie castle guards. In the next scene, the heroes sneak into the witch's castle dressed in the guards' uniforms.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Steve dons a German pilot uniform to infiltrate Dr. Poison's laboratory in Turkey and a German officer uniform to infiltrate the party at General Ludendorff's castle in Belgium. The former causes him some trouble with the Amazons, as first they think that he's one of the Germans who just attacked them, and upon being told he was fighting the other Germans then conclude he's a traitor.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class: Agent Moira MacTaggert does a variation when she has to sneak into a strip club. In this case, it's "undressing" like the enemy... much to her partner's surprise.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Quicksilver dons the uniform (which conveniently fits him perfectly) of a Pentagon guard that he has Bound and Gagged so that he can reach Magneto's prison cell.

  • Lone Wolf:
    • In Book 12, The Masters of Darkness, Lone Wolf is infiltrating the Darklands while disguised as a Drakkar and (later) Darklord Ghanesh's servant thanks to the help of a Turn Coat in the enemy ranks.
    • There are also multiple possible cases of Mugged for Disguise in the series.


By Author:

  • A common tactic of Company C in The American Civil War novels of J.T. Edson. Sometimes it was not even necessary to dress in enemy uniforms as the only difference between the Federal and Confederate uniforms was the colour, so in near darkness it was quite easy to pass yourself off as a member of the opposing side.
  • In the World War 2 novels of Sven Hassel, it's not unusual for 2 Section to be sent behind Soviet lines in their uniforms. Fortunately the Soviet army is made up of hundreds of nationalities, most of whom who can barely speak Russian (in The Commissar they get round this by posing as Volga Germans).
    • In Monte Cassino, 2 Section are dressed in SS uniform to smuggle holy relics from the Cassino monastery into the Vatican. Fortunately Julius Heide is a fanatical Nazi who always wanted to be in the SS, so he's able to get them through via sheer bluster. At one point they're warned of Italian partisans who are allegedly dressing up as German military police and are told to shoot at the least suspicion. "If you should mess up and kill a few bloodhounds, it won't be that much of a disaster."

By Work:

  • When the Animorphs dress as the enemy, the clothes always fit...because they've morphed into whoever they're trying to imitate. Taken a step further in the TV series episode "Face Off", wherein Rachel transforms into a Yeerk and crawls inside Tobias' head so that the two can infiltrate the Yeerk Pool to rescue Jake, Ax, and Cassie from their human-Controller captors.
  • Aurora Cycle: During the heist on Sempiternity, Squad 312 uses Cat's Fake Defector ploy to acquire the uniforms of the two GIA agents onboard the station so Scarlett and Zila can arrive in disguise to "capture" Tyler, Auri and Cat when they're found burglarizing crime lord Casseldon Bianchi's office, just as planned.
  • Bazil Broketail: To infiltrate a fortress guarding outside Tummuz Orgmeen where Thrembode has Besita, Lessis and some of the soldiers dress as Baguti, with the rest appearing like Teetol slaves. It gets them in past the guards.
  • The Belgariad has a city filled with Grolim priests, conveniently wearing identical black cloaks and steel masks to hide their appearances. The good guys... obtain... a few, helping them get around the city despite the bloody stab holes in their new clothes.
  • Played with during one sequence in the Belisarius Series, the title character has to escape from a city full of bad guys out for his blood. He needs a uniform to escape, but with the thousands of guards looking for him, he has difficulty finding a uniform that's both the right size, the right type, and being worn by a guard he can take out quietly. Several times he pulls a Bavarian Fire Drill on guards he runs into to get them to search someplace else. Eventually he finds the uniform, and makes it out of the city.
  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Monsters: Uncle Joshua does this in Uncle Joshua and the Grooglemen, though unusually, instead of using an outfit, he does so by skinning the Groogleman alive and then wearing its skin as a disguise.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: An assassin in the uniform of an Imperial Army soldier attacks Tasia after she becomes the Empress, with the fact being covered up afterward because morale could be badly affected were the real soldiers aware more infiltrators could be among them.
  • C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia book, The Last Battle: The Narnians disguise themselves as Calormenes using makeup and other chemicals for espionage purposes.
  • Conqueror: Bones of the Hills opens with a group of Mongols under Tsubodai engaging a regiment of Russian knights. Jochi's argan manages to kill a detachment of them, then steal their armour in order to attack the main force.
  • In Robin Jarvis' The Oaken Throne, a prequel to his Deptford Mice trilogy, Ysabelle dons the costume (made of red silk and sewn as a ghastly representation of a flayed corpse) worn by the high priest of Hobb to direct his minions to leave and so not pursue her and her friends.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Jingo, after being dragooned into spying on the Klatchians with Lord Vetinari, Fred and Nobby attempt to steal some Klatchian clothing in order to blend in. Unfortunately, since it's dark out they only end up beating each other up, and the men they lured into the alley rob "them" instead.
    • Nobby was never on the losing side of a battle when he was a quartermaster, the reason being that he'd sneak off and change into a stolen enemy uniform the moment his lot started losing. Due to his habit of selling all his army's weapons and armor (often to the enemy) this happened frequently: enough that experienced generals kept an eye on what he was wearing to see how the battle was going.
  • Hilari Bell's Farsala Trilogy: Kavi and Jiaan do this to infiltrate a palace under the control of the Hrum in the third book.
  • The Good Soldier Švejk: Played with - the main protagonist is taken prisoner by the Austrian Army when wearing Russian Army uniform (he was trying if he looked well in it and whether the Russian uniform was "warm and comfortable") and mistaken first for a runaway Russian prisoner of war, and then, for a soldier of the Czechoslovak legion fighting against Austria-Hungary. Chiefly played for laughs, until he's sentenced to death (his confession that he put on the Russian uniform voluntarily and from his own free will, certainly did not help him). He got better though - as there is belatedly realised that there was no way for him to defect to Russians hundred miles behind the front lines.
  • Done a couple of times in Harry Potter, aided by Polyjuice Potion:
    • In Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron disguise themselves as Malfoy's best friends Crabbe and Goyle to question him about the Chamber.
    • In Deathly Hallows, the Trio Polyjuice themselves into three random Ministry employees to sneak into the Ministry of Magic. It works, but it's subverted in that the "random" part causes endless problems: Hermione and Ron are stuck in the jobs of their disguises not to blow their cover, and they have to bluff their way though; Ron's is man whose wife was on trial that same day. Luckily Harry realized quickly his disguise was a Death Eater. As all hell breaks loose he just starts giving orders and threatening people who try to stop them, getting a bunch of Muggleborns out through the front door. Then the real guys, they didn't knock out, return.
    • And again when Hermione and Ron pretend to be Bellatrix and some Death Eater-friendly foreigner to break into Bellatrix's Gringotts vault. Subverted again when the Goblins had been warned that someone may try to enter the vault, and Hermione having Bellatrix's wand blows her cover instead of helping it.
    • This was the essence of Fake!Moody's plan in Goblet of Fire, but done to get into Hogwarts.
  • Horatio Hornblower uses this once or twice:
    • A few times he flies the enemy flag on approach before whipping it down and running up the Union Jack before opening fire. Not an uncommon tactic in naval warfare of the time but to be legal, the correct ensign had to be flying prior to commencement of active hostilities. Napoleon later uses this to trump up capital charges against him, even though Hornblower had observed the correct form.
    • He does wear an enemy uniform to escape France with Bush and Brown; his French hosts whip up three merchant marine uniforms for them to wear, and since Hornblower already knows French (and Brown becomes fluent in their extended stay), they pass easily.
  • Journey to Chaos: When infiltrating the lair of the Black Cloaks, Eric knocks out a couple of them and steals their cloaks in order to pretend to be one of them. It still takes some quick thinking to sell the disguise, and if they weren't in a hurry, they might have paid more attention.
  • Judge Dee and his lieutenants are constantly disguising themselves as assorted members of the underworld. Tao Gan actually IS a member of the underworld, retired.
  • KG 200 by J.D. Gilman and John Clive is about a Luftwaffe unit that specializes in flying captured Allied aircraft (the unit actually existed, but used them for long-range reconnaissance and dropping enemy agents). In the novel however the intention is to use American aircraft to bomb London, to sow discord between the US and British forces.
  • A half-comical example occurs in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, where it entails actually wearing the enemy's bear skin (dressing up in a Huron medicine man's bear costume).
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam disguise themselves as orcs during the last leg of their journey. And no, it doesn't fit either of them right. Good thing it's dark. It also helps that the armor the orcs are wearing is rather mix-and-match to start with, so while the ill-fitting armor may be noticed, it's not an immediate giveaway.
    • Used in The Silmarillion when Beren, Finrod, and his soldiers disguise themselves as Orcs. It doesn't work.
    • In Beren and Lúthien, Lúthien disguises herself as a bat and Beren as a werewolf to infiltrate Morgoth's citadel, this one does work.
  • In Victor Hugo's Les Misérables French National Guard uniforms are worn by several revolutionaries and a jealous adoptive father to pass through National Guard lines into the barricades.
  • The Murderbot Diaries. In the first novel, a SecUnit belonging to another company tries to kill Murderbot and kidnap Dr Mensah. After foiling this plan, Murderbot exchanges components and armor marked with its company logo for those of the other SecUnit, with Mensah covering what remains in mud to obscure the difference. Feigning comm damage, Murderbot then hands Mensah over to the villains as a Trojan Prisoner.
  • Nick Velvet: In "The Theft of the Cardboard Castle", Sandra Paris breaks Nick out of jail. She is dressed as a jail matron, and gives Nick a guard's uniform to put on.
  • Shows up twice in Noob:
  • In Open Sesame by Tom Holt, two main characters prepare to jump on a pair of guards, realise the outfits wouldn't fit, so give the guards their measurements. The guards, who are bound to narrative rules, walk off and send in two more guards, who are promptly knocked unconscious, letting the main characters steal their perfectly fitting costumes.
  • Inverted in the Paladin of Shadows book A Deeper Blue, where mooks disguise as a friendly tactical team and later DEA agents.
  • The Pendragon Adventure: In The Merchant of Death, Loor and Press dress as Bedoowan knights.
  • In one of the Raffles stories, Raffles dresses as a policeman to rescue Bunny from the clutches of the villain, which he does by "arresting" him and taking him away.
  • Done at least three times in the Redwall series: Brome of Noonvale dresses up as a searat, Jukka Sling (a squirrel) shaves her tail and dyes her fur to pass as a Blue Horde rat, and Midge Manycoats designs elaborate vermin costumes for himself and Tammo. On one other occasion, Mariel and friends are wearing stolen searat clothes while on board a ship, are seen by a helmsrat on another ship, and he mistakes them for other searats even though they weren't expecting other rats to be around and aren't actively pretending to be such.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Baudelaires unintentionally do this in The Hostile Hospital when they disguise themselves as doctors and are mistaken by Olaf's associates for the two powder-faced women who are also disguised as doctors.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Dark Mirrornote , Picard, Troi, and La Forge have to disguise themselves as their mirror-universe counterparts to infiltrate the I.S.S. Enterprise-D to find out why their own ship was brought to the Mirror Universe.
  • Star Wars Legends: The Wraiths of the X-Wing Series have reason to do this a few times - dressing as Space Pirates in some situations, stormtroopers in others. As pirates they need no ID, but they run into some trouble as stormtroopers without the proper passwords.
  • Swellhead. Stacy Cotterill finds a locker room full of mook jumpsuits, so she's able to pick one that fits her. Things are going fine until the Genre Savvy supervillain orders his Faceless Goons to take their helmets off. Needless to say the beautiful heroine stands out among all the male mooks.
  • The Sword of Saint Ferdinand: In order to flee from an enemy city with Elvira, García and Fortún don the robes of one nobleman -whom García had just killed in the battle- and one Jerezan soldier. They then pretend to be said nobleman and his slave, who are taking one captive to a safer location, so that the guards let them ride through the gates.
  • In David Eddings' The Tamuli series, some of the heroes disguise themselves as mercenaries (complete with different faces) to get into Scarpa's army.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel Death Or Glory, Cain and his group travel in stolen ork vehicles. This does distract the orks, but when they come into firing range of an Imperial force, they nearly get fired on before they manage vox communication, and the force demands proof.
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, an eldar Pirate approaches an Imperial vessel broadcasting that it was the Gallant, an Imperial ship. Unfortunately for him, someone onboard knew that particular ship had been destroyed five years earlier.
    • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, Blood Angels steal a tank and use it to mask their approach to the Word Bearers camp.
    • In Space Marine Battles, Lysander hides from the Iron Warriors looking through their entire fortress for him by putting on the rags of mutants inhabiting Kulgarde's underground and keeping to the shadows, where his Space Marine bulk isn't as noticeable.
    • Deconstructed in Ahriman: Exile. Astraeos disguises himself as one of Amon’s lieutenants in order to infiltrate the Sycorax and rescue his master Ahriman. He manages to get aboard without incident, since they were expecting “his” return, but because the Thousand Sons wear highly distinctive and personalized armour, and because the sorcerer whose armour he’s wearing is well known for having a twin brother who never leaves his side, the maintenance crews realize that something is wrong the second Astraeos steps out of his shuttle alone and quickly sound the alarm.
  • Wasp (1957): To break an ally out of jail, Mowry and a number of hired goons dress themselves as Military Intelligence and the State Sec, and arrive to the prison to request him for interrogation. It almost works, except just as they are leaving, the real State Sec agents happen to arrive, who immediately realize something's not right.
  • "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar", by Roald Dahl: The titular main character has developed supernatural abilities to beat the casinos, but he gets cocky one night and the owners send goons to his hotel. The bellboy comes to warn him (not out of altruism, but in the belief that it doesn't hurt to have the gratitude of a man who just won a stack of money) and offers to pretend that Henry overwhelmed him and stole his uniform to sneak out of the hotel.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andor: Cassian and the rebel cell he's hired on to help pull a heist with wear Imperial military uniforms in order to infiltrate the base. It works due to their having a man on the inside and the Imperials' unfamiliarity with soldiers from the nearby base.
  • Arrow. The mercenaries on the island of Lian Yu wear balaclavas to hide their identities even from each other, so in "Trust but Verify" Oliver Queen puts on the uniform and balaclava of the man he killed and tries to infiltrate the mercenary camp so he can rescue Yao Fei. It doesn't work because Yao Fei has been forced to change sides and betrays Oliver. A later attempt is more successful because Oliver brought along Slade Wilson as a Trojan Prisoner.
  • In Babylon 5 the attempt to free Sheridan on Mars is blown when one of the infiltrators is seen to have fresh blood on his uniform (leaking from a bandaged stab wound obtained previously).
  • Strangely averted in Blake's 7 despite the Federation troopers being Gas Mask Mooks (though another rebel force does this for an attempted coup in "Rumours of Death").
    • When Avon and Vila do use this trope in "Killer", they're wearing squeaky vinyl radiation suits and dark glasses that make them look like giant walking bugs, so they have no trouble hiding their identity.
    • The Villain of the Week in "Countdown" disguises himself as a rebel soldier, but that backfires when he's roped into the search for himself just as he's about to escape. Then later a rebel is assigned to guard Blake; guess who that turns out to be...
    • Apparently played straight in "Aftermath", when new main cast member Del Tarrant is introduced posing as a Federation captain. Whether you believe his story that he stole a uniform, or that he's actually a Federation deserter, is up to you.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Doppelgangland", Willow steals a costume from her Mirror Universe vampire counterpart. They don't exactly fit.
    Willow: It's a little binding. I guess vampires really don't have to breathe. [looks down at her chest] Gosh, look at those. [male Scoobies all look embarrassed]
  • Community: In Community S2 E24: For a Few Paintballs More, Pierce steals the armor from a City College trooper and uses the fact that it obscures his face to get the drop on them, leading to him winning the game of paintball for Greendale.
  • Danger 5: How Danger 5 attempt to kill Hitler in the first episode. Also, Tucker dresses as a Nazi captain while infiltrating the Swiss brothel in a later episode. Tucker, Jackson and Pierre repeat this again in a Season 2 episode. The Colonel and Holly dress inside the bodies of Hitler's henchmen.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In at least four stories, the Doctor and his allies manage to disable a Dalek, remove the mutant inside, and substitute one of their number. How a whole person fits in there, when the mutant that came out is not much bigger than a human head, is never made clear. Perhaps in the Whoniverse everything's Bigger on the Inside?
    • At other times, people have fooled Daleks by dressing up as Robomen or Dalek troopers. In the former case, the deception was falling apart, but was saved when the Dalek were distracted by an attack by people without disguises. In the latter, the deception worked until they were seen in the self destruct chamber.
    • Done in "The War Games", where the Doctor and Zoe put on the enemy's glasses to pretend they are on the enemy's side and find out what is going on.
    • Goes hideously wrong in "Planet of the Daleks", where the leader of the Thal task force, Taron, dresses in a Spiridon robe. This only means that one of the other Thals goes up to a random Spiridon thinking it's Taron and nearly gets himself clubbed to death.
    • In "Genesis of the Daleks", the Doctor and Harry dress in Thal uniform in order to rescue Sarah Jane. The Doctor gestures to the guard, who comes over, and the Doctor blocks his exit while Harry goes in for a Groin Attack that leaves him unconscious. Later Harry dresses in the Kaled Military Elite uniform to rescue the Doctor from Nyder.
    • In "Pyramids of Mars", the Doctor strips the bandages and outer casing from a Mummy Robot and dons them in order to sneak explosives into the Osirian ship.
    • Subverted in "The Runaway Bride"; the Doctor steals a guard's uniform and uses it to infiltrate a secret chamber — but the enemies aren't fooled for a second.
    • "The End of Time" — how did the cactus-person Vinvocci get that guard's helmet over his head, anyway? Ow.
    • "Time Heist": After being thought to be dead, Saibra and Psi return disguised as bank security. Psi had to appropriate a uniform from somewhere, while Saibra can just mimic the uniform with her holographic shell. Saibra's shapeshifting ability allows the writers to play with the "faceless goons remove helmets to reveal allies" aspect of the trope, which initially seems to be ruled out by the fact that one of the security guards already has his helmet off; that one is Saibra wearing a false face.
    • "The Zygon Inversion": Kate Lethbridge-Stewart impersonates the Zygon who tried to kill her (she took care of it) to infiltrate Bonnie's ranks and learn her plan.
    • "The Timeless Children": On Graham's suggestion, Ravio and Yedlarmi empty out and deactivate four Cybermen suits for them and Yaz to wear so they can hide. This later allows them to save Ethan's life when he's cornered by actual Cybermen.
  • Farscape. John Crichton infiltrates a Peacekeeper base disguised as an officer (a ploy that had worked successfully before) but encounters Big Bad Scorpius for the first time who casually says "Guards, that man is an imposter. Seize him." It turns out that Scorpius has the ability to see the heat signature of others, so he could tell Crichton wasn't Sebacean. How often this trope works depends on how merciful the writers are at the time. In "Liars, Guns and Money Part 1," Crichton and Aeryn knock out a couple of guards in the middle of their bank heist, but are ambushed by more guards before they've even finished pulling the clothes off. Crichton flees with a half-hearted "Uh... they went that way!" to the new arrivals.
  • Father Brown: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Flambeau disguises himself as one of the Maltese Guard so he can spy and learn the combination of the safe.
  • Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond. Commander Fleming goes into Nazi Germany just before its defeat to find nuclear secrets. He finds a German scientist who agrees to help if Fleming gets him out of there. Then SS soldiers turn up, kill the soldier with Fleming and chase him into the building. Fleming strangles the scientist's aide, puts on the man's uniform and walks back to the scientist, who pretends to know him. The SS officer is suspicious, but is called away (because the dead man has been found). Fleming and the scientist quickly jump into a truck and drive off. Only to run into the advancing Soviet army before Fleming has a chance to change out of the German uniform.
  • A French Village: Some resistance fighters in gendarmes' uniforms stop a German truck to seize the arms they think it's carrying (however, it was actually transporting soldiers, causing a shootout).
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sandor Clegane is riding up to the Twins when Frey soldiers suddenly turn on their Northern allies and massacre them. Sandor escapes the carnage by picking up a discarded Frey banner and riding out of the camp holding it.
    • Bronn and Jaime steal Martell men-at-arms uniforms and weapons, then infiltrate the Water Gardens by riding in at the rear of a supply column. Prince Trystane however notices that Bronn's Dornish clothing is splattered with the blood of the guard he killed and took it from.
    • Daario dresses as an Unsullied to sneak into Daenerys' camp in "Second Sons".
  • Hanna: Hanna dresses as one of the Pioneer commandos while fighting them in Season 3, which they fall for (apparently not noticing her obviously smaller build). This is achieved as they wear ski masks with helmets which conceal their features.
  • In Volume 4 of Heroes, Peter is all set to try this after knocking out one of the black ops agents, until Tracy points out to him what a stupid idea it is (he still puts on the guy's uniform, though, because why say no to free Kevlar?). In a later episode, Sylar does the exact same thing, with much more success, although he has much more experience in performing that particular trick.
    • Also used by Hiro and Ando, but Hiro's glasses and lack of English give him away, forcing Ando to stun the other soldiers with his power.
  • The Hexer: Geralt spends a good portion of the last few episodes dressed up as Nilfgaardian messenger, abusing the fact that the participants of the intrigue around Ciri don't know each other personally.
  • In the Highlander episode "Not To Be". Methos almost lampshades it with the line "You know, this 'Bad guy just my size' routine never works, Macleod. " Less than a minute later, he proves it DOES work, by donning an Irish accent along with the bad guy's coat and shoots the other henchmen.
  • Himmelsdalen: Helena puts on a guard's uniform near the end (with a cap that mostly shades her face, in the dark) to escape.
  • Hogan's Heroes used it a lot, to the point where they have an entire wardrobe full of various German uniforms of differing ranks and positions tailored to fit each of the Heroes. In one notable case, a pair of British spies impersonated an SS film crew to film the camp unnoticed.
  • Used in a couple of the Horatio Hornblower telefilms.
    • In "Even Chance", Hornblower refuses to strike the French flag on the ship they've just captured; unlike when he does this in the books, he keeps it flying when he ambushes the three corvettes attacking his home ship despite being reminded of the Articles of War and only puts the British flag up once the French surrender.
    • In "The Duchess and the Devil", he has his crew dress in the French coats left behind on a prize vessel to try and slip past some Spanish ships in the fog; unfortunately one of the Spanish officers has personal knowledge of that ship's capture. They change back after they're forced to surrender.
  • A Space Opera example occurs in the episode "Asteroid" of the BBC series Hyperdrive. The Camden Lock leads a pursuing alien fleet through the upper atmosphere of a gas giant so that the planet's atmosphere will destroy the pursuing ships. Following this maneuver, the crew finds that one of the alien ships has survived with its sensors out of commission and is hailing them to determine if they are friend or foe. The crew pretend to be aliens right up until they open fire.
  • Intergalactic: To steal supplies from a Commonworld outpost while on Nar 59, Ash and Echo dress in their uniforms (however Verona refuses, so the ruse quickly evaporates).
  • JAG: From "Brig Break", in addition to the handful of bad guys who actually are Marines, several others use uniforms to infiltrate the base.
  • Rotten Town, LazyTown's evil counterpart, has the people dressed like the "evil dude".
  • Lost Love in Times: Qing Chen disguises herself in the uniform of one of Xiao Ji's soldiers. Unfortunately this makes Yuan Ling think she's a traitor.
  • The Mandalorian. In "The Believer", Din and Mayfeld mug a couple of Tank Trooper drivers for their armor, which lets Din go in disguise without having to reveal his face. Unfortunately while Din may be a highly skilled fighter and bounty hunter, he's clearly out of his depth when it comes to infiltrating an Imperial outpost while wearing something that's not his usual armor. He has no idea about basic Imperial trooper designations or protocols, he's really bad at making small talk, hiding his facial expressions, or just bluffing to maintain any sense of cover, and he constantly has to be bailed out by Mayfeld.
  • Mission: Impossible episode "Invasion". A hit man is sent to kill the man the IMF is targeting. When he discovers the masquerade he knocks out one of the fake soldiers with a Tap on the Head and puts on his uniform so he can pretend to be one of them.
  • The New Avengers: At the end of "Sleeper", Steed, Gambit and Purdey steal outfits from unconscious robbers and infiltrate the gang, using the balaclavas to disguise their identities.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Tribunal", Aaron Zgierski and Nicholas Prentice disguise themselves as SS officers when they bring the elderly Karl Rademacher, whom they force to dress as a prisoner, back in time to Auschwitz in 1944.
  • The Outpost:
    • Raelius dresses as a Prime Order soldier to rescue the main characters in the season one finale (it helps that they wear helmets).
    • Talon, Garrett and Zed do it when infiltrating the Capital in season 3.
  • Pandora: On Hypatia, the female members of the team dress as slave owners and the men portray slaves in local garb (imitating the custom there).
  • Private Benjamin (1981) had one similar to the The Dirty Dozen. In the episode where Judy is mistakenly promoted to Brigadier General, they're taking part in a war games exercise, with the two sides wearing different color armbands (red and blue) but the same uniforms.
  • The Battle for the Caucasus episode of Soviet Storm: World War II in the East features members of the Brandenburg unit, elite German soldiers trained for infiltration and sabotage tactics, one of which includes posing as Soviet soldiers. Unfortunately, their cover is blown when a Soviet officer overhears their conversations in German, and shoots them dead.
  • Averted in Space: Above and Beyond. In "Who Monitors the Birds", Hawkes is on a mission behind enemy lines and tries putting on the helmet of a Chig soldier. Gill-like neckpieces deploy and seal shut the helmet the moment he puts it on, forcing Hawkes to wrench it off again before he chokes to death. He also tries strapping on the Arm Cannon, but can't get it to fire properly and throws it aside.
  • In Squid Game, Jun-ho is able to move through the enemy ranks by stealing their uniforms to blend in, which is helped by the fact that the masks are demanded by the staff to make sure no one knows anyone else.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • The episode "Patterns of Force".
      • Lampshaded and subverted. Kirk and Spock attempt to do this on a Nazi planet to try and get close to the Fuhrer, who happens to be a Federation citizen. Not only does Spock question the logic of doing so (only to concede that it is in that circumstance), but they end up getting caught shortly afterward because of a lapse of protocol they didn't know about. Double-subverted when they try it later and manage to succeed.
      • McCoy later on beams down dressed as a Nazi military doctor upon Kirk's instructions—implying that the Enterprise has a whole wardrobe department stocked with historical uniforms and other clothing (this was before the replicator, which would have made more sense). Because Kirk and Spock have already been caught, and McCoy's boots don't fit quite right, McCoy is captured as well.
    • In "The Enterprise Incident", Kirk dresses as a Romulan (including getting an "ear job") to infiltrate a Romulan ship and steal its cloaking device.
    • Kirk and Spock also disguise themselves as gangsters in A Piece of the Action.
    • Episode "The Return of the Archons". After Kirk and Spock knock out two of Landru's Lawgiver guards, they don the Lawgivers' robes and pretend to be them.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Played completely straight the first time we actually meet the Breen.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation. In an involuntary example of this trope, Troi wakes up at the start of an episode to find herself cosmetically augmented to look Romulan.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In "Faces" Chakotay has to disguise himself as a Vidiian guard. Another guard gets suspicious because he doesn't recognise Chakotay, but fortunately the Vidiians are involved in Organ Theft because they're infected by a Body Horror disease, so Chakotay says he just had a new face grafted on.
    • In "Warlord" Kes has her body taken over by the eponymous warlord Tiernan. Tuvok tries to infiltrate his palace by posing as one of the Faceless Goons, but as Kes has Mind Melded with Tuvok previously, Tiernan (who is making use of her mental powers) recognises his thought patterns.
    • Tom Paris mentions this trope in regards to The Adventures of Captain Proton, a holodeck program based on cheesy 1930's sci-fi film serials. As Tom created the program, he's already arranged for the supervillain's mooks to have the requisite face-concealing helmets.
    • In "Unimatrix Zero" Janeway, Tuvok, and B'Elanna infiltrate a Borg cube and deliberately get themselves assimilated (some Applied Phlebotinum allowed them to keep their individuality).
  • In Stranger Things, season 3, Joyce, Hopper and Murray use this to infiltrate the secret Russian base. Made easier by the fact that Murray speaks perfect Russian, and is able to (mostly) talk their way through, claiming they are "recent arrivals". Of course, Joyce and Hopper don't speak a word of Russian, but Murray just instructs them to smile and nod if anyone asks them questions, which works out perfectly. Somehow, nobody seems to notice either that Joyce is female (even though there is not a single female guard ever seen on camera in the whole place), or that there are bullet holes in the chest area of both their uniforms. Justified in that the whole place is in chaos due to a security breach alarm, and people are shown just running past them without a second look since they are, after all, dressed just like all the other guards in the area.
  • The Swamp Fox had an episode where Marion dressed as a Redcoat to try and free an arrested Mary. But it backfires and they both need the brigade to break them out of jail.
  • Tin Man: In an homage to The Wizard of Oz's example, Cain and Glitch (the Tin Man and Scarecrow expies) mug a couple of Longcoat Mooks for their distinctive jackets in order to break into the palace and free DG and Raw from captivity.
  • Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter: When Friedhelm is abandoned behind enemy lines, he takes a dead Red Army soldier's uniform to sneak past the Soviets, but this results in him getting shot dead center by the Germans and he nearly dies from blood loss.
  • The rebels often borrow the Visitors' uniforms in the miniseries and series V (1983). In the original miniseries, Donovan takes the uniform of a much smaller, female Visitor, who explains that it will stretch to fit him. Apparently they're one-size-fits-all. They also have to avoid speaking due to the fact that the Visitors' voices have a flanging effect to them, though the rebels later invent a device that mimics this.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger does this on some occasions, usually to take down drug dealers or expose corruption in the prisons.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Ingtar and Masema dress in the garb of Seanchan soldiers when trying to escape Falme during the Season 2 finale. Nynaeve also masquerades as a damane while trying to rescue Egwene when they do so.
  • Willow: Boorman, Elora, Jade and Graydon disguise themselves as trolls in totally concealing mining gear that some wear while evading them.
  • Discussed and Deconstructed in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, in the "Prisoner of War" episode when Indy is sent to a prison during World War I; a guard warns prisoners against any means of escape, warning many of them wouldn't work in this prison. He does bring up that anyone disguising themselves as a guard would be shot as a spy.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Similarly, in Homer's The Iliad, following the siege of Troy, the Trojans took the armor off dead Greek warriors and put them on in an inevitable resistance. Any poor Greek who thought he was joining his allies was racing towards his own death.
    • In The Aeneid, the tactic is shown from the Trojans' viewpoint; it succeeds for a while, but the Greeks figure out their ploy, and the Trojan archers have no idea that the band of soldiers is made of their allies, so Aeneas loses a few men to the Greeks and to friendly fire.
  • Even the Arthurian Legend makes use of this trope, with tragic results: The brothers Balin and Balan go their separate ways, have adventures, defeat their enemies, plunder the bodies, and put on the better armor. By the time they meet again, their armor and shields make them unrecognizable to each other. Tragedy ensues.
  • Used in the Robin Hood ballad where he faces Guy of Gisbourne, wherein after killing Gisbourne, Robin fakes his death by switching clothes with Gisbourne's corpse and mutilating the corpse's face so it's unrecognizable. There are also occasions on which Robin or his men dressed as the enemy without needing to employ fatal measures.

  • In Interstitial: Actual Play Edith has the move Costume Change. Though designed to imitate the way Sora and friends change forms in different worlds in Kingdom Hearts, it can also be used to disguise herself as a Dusk and sneak up on Luxord.

    Print Media 
  • MAD Super Special Fall 1980. In The Moronic Woman (a The Bionic Woman parody), Jammy Summons (Jaime Sommers) and Oscular (Oscar Goldman) have infiltrated the enemy palace. In order to get a guard's uniform for Oscar to wear, Jammy walks around knocking out guards until they find one who is Oscular's size. Oscular puts on the uniform and they go to the office of the dictator.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the heroes of the Alliance use stolen black cleric robes to infiltrate a city held by the Clergy of Mardük during the Great War. The plan would've been a smashing success if one of them wasn't a mole working for the clergy and leading them into a trap.

  • In the sci-fi comedy Babes From Outer Space the heroes are in a Lady Land, so naturally the trope involves being Disguised in Drag as well.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Earthdawn supplement Prelude to War, adventure "The Dragon's Daughter". The PC's must dress up as members of a mercenary band to infiltrate the Theran Behemoth Triumph.
  • In Exalted you have charms that make any disguise you want to wear, perfect and infallible to non-magical means of perception. A Night caste Solar can infiltrate anything he wants.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed II has dressing as a guard and carrying a chest to meet Rodrigo Borgia. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood also has a mission that involves dressing as a guard and carrying a chest to meet a Borgia, as well as dressing as a Frenchman alongside Bartolomeo's men to infiltrate the French camp.
  • Aura Kingdom: During one quest you need to get behind the local angry centaurs to repair a broken teleporter. To do so you kill a bunch of walking trees and then cover yourself in a suit made from leaves and branches. Surprisingly, this works.
  • BioForge: When wearing the enviro suit, the station personnel will leave you alone unless you attack them.
  • While pursuing Atlas/Fontaine in the final areas of BioShock, Jack takes on the guise of a Big Daddy, complete with voicebox modification and pheromones, to gain the help of the Little Sisters in accessing doors only they can open. It also fools the security cameras and turrets, although they still attack the Little Sisters.
  • In Bloodborne, you can also disguise yourself as hostile hunters to deceive the adversaries.
    • Should you obtained Yahar'Gul Hunter Set, provided Vicar Amelia was alive, you can pretend yourself as the Tonitrus Hunter, it doesn't help that the Rifle Spear Hunter wouldn't disturb you as long as you keep the distance. You can also do this to the Cannon Hunter in Yahar'Gul.
    • Another option is to disguise as the Old Hunters.
    • Hostile hunters in Chalice Dungeons are completely prone to this.
  • One of the missions in Bully has Jimmy put on an Aquaberry sweater and posh hairdo to infiltrate the Preppies fraternity house. Funny that he can change his length of hairstyle at will, despite having a buzz cut. The magic of video games!
  • Call of Duty:
    • In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, your squad briefly takes the uniforms of enemy soldiers to ambush a convoy. Griggs comments that "you look like a clown in that outfit" and "nothing like a Russian", which means it's a good thing you're high up on a tower away from that convoy.
    • A major controversy erupted over "No Russian" in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, in which the player goes undercover as a terrorist, infiltrates the villain's group, and then helps (optionally, the player can choose not to) gun down dozens of innocent civilians at a Russian airport. However, the villain abruptly kills the undercover player at the end of the mission, framing the US for the attack and prompting a Russian invasion of Washington DC. However, the villain was actually told of the undercover player by US General Shepherd himself, who wanted to start a war in which he could use the full power of the US military.
    • The level "Executive Order" in Call of Duty: Black Ops has Mason and his squadmates steal uniforms from Soviet soldiers to infiltrate the Baikonur Cosmodrome, recover a captured agent and foil a rocket launch.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops II follows suit in a fashion, where one level starts off with you taking control of a deep-cover agent within Cordis Die, shooting at Yemeni soldiers and being assisted by the same mercenaries you've been shooting for most of the rest of the game, until the halfway point where you switch perspective back to the usual protagonist. The finale also has Menendez attempt this, stealing a SEAL's uniform to try and escape, though he's discovered almost immediately when one of the SEALs with you notices a friendly body (which turns out to be booby-trapped) stripped of his uniform.
    • In the "Clockwork" mission of Call of Duty: Ghosts, the player and their team infiltrate a Federation base wearing enemy uniforms, spending about half the mission in disguise.
  • The original Castle Wolfenstein allowed you to dress as a German soldier to sneak by the Nazi guards. Unfortunately, the SS Soldiers will immediately recognize you anyway.
  • Chrono Cross features a particularly goofy example. Access to the inner sanctum of Viper Manor requires the heroes to dress up in the uniforms of three guards. Three radically different-looking party members will all look the same, but pretty puffy pink pooch Poshul doesn't even bother putting on a uniform. Nobody seems to notice two guards hanging out with a neon-pink talking dog.
  • Several missions in City of Heroes and City of Villains give you an enemy disguise as a temporary power, allowing you to move freely among enemies while it's active.
  • Prince Alexander from Codename Eagle dons enemy uniforms in a few missions to infiltrate their bases, including the very first one.
  • The GLA Bomb Truck in Command & Conquer: Generals can disguise itself as an enemy vehicle in order to get closer to its target before detonating.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 and 3 have the Allied spy unit which can do this. The Imperial Sudden Transport from Red Alert 3 can disguise itself as an enemy vehicle.
  • One of the memorable highlights of the Commandos PC series. It's one out of many methods to get close or go into enemy occupied areas. Finding the right disguise on the other hand may lead to some trial and error...
  • Covert Front has a scene where Kara has to dress in German officer's clothing so that she can drive past a German checkpoint safely. This all hinges on none of the soldiers getting a good look at her and realizing that she is not only a woman, but also the spy whose photograph is plastered over all their bases; once in Lisbon, Kara still has to avoid all the soldiers guarding the roads.
  • Dark Souls:
    • One PvP "troll" tactic is to dress up in an armor set worn by an enemy, and then stand completely still where that enemy usually stands. Depending on the armor set, this can make one practically identical to that enemy, meaning that Invaders (whom enemies cannot interact with) will sometimes run right past without noticing the player.
    • Dark Souls III contains a ring that allows a hostile Invader to assume the appearance of a friendly phantom. Inattentive hosts will let their guard down... and then get stabbed in the back (probably literally). Members of Mound Maker covenant can take one step further by disguising themselves as a friendly summon since their name tags are marked as white instead of red, and they can actually attack the enemies in the host's world.
  • Way back in Ecco II: Tides of Time, you gained the ability to transform into various enemy creatures using the Asterite's metaspheres. Doing so made them oblivious to your presence (generally foes that either cluttered the screen or could kill you instantly) — but you would also be attacked by other dolphins in the area.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • The game allows certain races to do this for the quest where the Dragonborn must infiltrate and search the Thalmor Embassy by wearing a set of Hooded Thalmor Robes. An Argonian or Khajit Dragonborn is found out almost immediately ("Wait, is that a tail?"), but a human or elvish (or orc) Dragonborn can sneak through with relative ease, and an Altmer Dragonborn can actually order the Thalmor out of the way. What's interesting is that this isn't even hinted at anywhere in the game, leaving it entirely up to the player's initiative.
    • In one of the Civil War quests, the Dragonborn poses as an enemy courier to deliver disinformation (forged documents) to an enemy commander. If s/he is wearing an enemy uniform, the commander will accept the documents without question. (If s/he is wearing anything else instead, the commander will question it, but will accept the explanation: it's easier to blend in without the uniform.)
  • EverQuest: Secrets of Faydwer features a task called "Disrupt the Workshop", in which you are required to disguise yourself with a clockwork gnome illusion. This allows you to walk freely throughout S.H.I.P. Workshop without drawing the attention of most of its otherwise hostile inhabitants. Since you are allowed to refresh the disguise at will as long as the task is in your journal, this can be abused to make any endeavors in the zone much easier.
  • Fallout:
    • It is entirely possible to beat Fallout 2 in around eleven minutes, by swiping a suit of enemy power armor and waltzing into their nigh-impenetrable fortress. This trope is also featured in the original, where you can wear robes and almost everyone in the Cathedral will assume you're one of them.
    • Fallout: New Vegas lets you disguise yourself with certain factions' armor, which causes those factions to think you're a friendly, but also makes their enemies hostile to you. In other words, walking into an NCR Outpost wearing Caesar's Legion armor (or vice versa) is a good way to get yourself ventilated. Also, the Elite Mooks of the faction will see through your disguise if you get too close.
    • This was after the aversion in Fallout 3; on the way to see the President in Raven Rock, it's very possible to mug an isolated Enclave soldier for issue weapon and armor. They don't react any differently, and your impersonation isn't lampshaded or handwaved.
    • Fallout 4 doesn’t allow you to get away with this. Once hostilities break out and one (or more) factions become your enemy, they will recognize you even if you are wearing their faction’s uniform. That said, a Railroad end game mission has you donning Brotherhood fatigues and infiltrating their Cool Airship to blow it up. Wearing their faction Powered Armor helps pull off the masquerade further.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Selphie and her squad in Final Fantasy VIII do this to infiltrate the Galbadian missile base; hijinks ensue.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, when Locke infiltrates South Figaro, you can switch between Locke's normal outfit, a merchant outfit, and an Imperial guardsman outfit; if you rescue Celes while wearing the guardsman outfit, Locke hides in plain sight as the enemy soldiers walk out, and there's a Shout-Out to Star Wars during the actual rescue.
    • Final Fantasy VII: When the president of the evil MegaCorp Shinra Inc. crosses the ocean by ship, Cloud and his party sneak aboard by wearing Shinra soldier uniforms. Red XIII, who is a lion-like quadruped, experiences trouble with the charade as he staggers about trying to walk on two legs. Also, his tail is showing.
    • Spoofed in Final Fantasy IX. Zidane and Blank steal Pluto Knight armor, and comment about the armor being sweaty, stinky, and breadcrumbs being in the pockets.
    • A major part of the Chapter 2 story mission in Final Fantasy X-2 revolves finding and stealing the appropriate mook-gear to infiltrate the enemies hideout in Guadosalam. Despite the fact that this is mentioned during several of the battles with the mook's bosses, they never realize that those stolen uniforms are being used for infiltration even when you're talking to the mook's bosses in the base.
    • In the Heavensward expansion of Final Fantasy XIV, Thancred is seen doing this when the game switches to him and Krile via event movie, infiltrating the Castrum fortress
  • As much as the series loves prison break chapters, only Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has a character pull this off: Naesala, to rescue the captured heron princess Leanne. But how did the cape hide his wings?
  • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, one mission includes you and Lance Vance beating up two cops and taking their uniforms. They fit perfectly, although Tommy Vercetti complains that it's "a bit tight around the crotch".
  • In Grounded, wearing a full set of Red Ant Armor makes red ants non-hostile, allowing you entry to their territory and their nests (unless you actively aggravate them, such as by stealing eggs or attacking them). You wear ant carapace, so you must be a fellow ant, right?
  • In Guild Wars some quests involve disguising yourself as an enemy faction to spy on them. Nightfall had two story missions where you spent a majority of the gameplay in disguise.
  • Guild Wars 2 also involves several examples, usually as part of sabotaging an enemy base of operations as one of their own or as a member of a different enemy group to get them to start fighting. The disguises are almost always magical in nature to make up for the fact that there are five playable races of varying shape and size (and most enemy factions, like the Nightmare Court or the Sons of Svanir, consist of only one race); even so, a few instances also make it so that the player can't do anything too suspicious within a certain radius of enemy units, or you'll be exposed and the disguise will disappear.
  • This occurs in the beginning of Half-Life 2. Barney is officially a Civil Protection officer, which leads Gordon (and by extension, the player) to initially believe he has been captured when Barney helps him escape.
  • The Hitman series has this as a key gameplay mechanic. No matter who you knock out, their clothes will always fit, and the others will never notice that their friend is now a bald white guy with a barcode tattooed onto the back of his head, the exceptions being the levels in Silent Assassin and Hitman (2016). In Silent Assassin's case, it's due to each guard uniform having an ID tag, which is used to determine which specific area they must patrol. If your disguise's ID does not match the area you're in, the guards will attack you. In the case of 2016, certain NPCs are tagged as 'Enforcers' who know everyone on their payroll and will see through any disguise in the family they belong to: the head chef will know the faces of every one of their waiters, for example, but will be fooled by a janitor's uniform.
  • Jet Force Gemini: The Transformation Pads can turn Juno and Vela into Drones, and during that state they're able to prevent other Drones from attacking them unless they open fire.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, you have to do this twice:
    • Once, you wear a stolen Sith uniform to gain access to the lower levels of Taris. There's also nothing to stop you running around the top level enjoying people's reaction to a Sith talking to them. You later trade the Sith uniform to the Hidden Beks leader who planned to invoke the trope by disguising some of his gang in case the Sith tried to take over the Lower City. Unfortunately, Carth was right in that the Sith decided to go with the "much more grand and deadly" idea of razing the planet
    • Later you have to wear Sand People's robes to safely approach a Sand People Enclave. The Tusken Raiders realise you're an imposter on closer inspection but at least you get through the door without a massive fight breaking out.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Link can obtain Bokoblin, Moblin, and Lizalfos Masks that allow him to move among those enemies without being attacked, since they will see Link as one of their own. It only works on one type at a time though: a Moblin will not be fooled by a Lizalfos Mask, etc. There is even a Lynel Mask, but the Lynels will see through the disguise given a minute or two and attack anyway.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Link can obtain a set of Yiga clan armor that will fool most Yiga clan members, making them not attack him. This disguise allows Link to infiltrate the Yiga Clan Hideout as well. The monster masks from Breath of the Wild also return, working as they did before.
  • And don't even ask about some of the disguises that Leisure Suit Larry fits in. Granted, it's all parody, but still, the Vegas-style showgirl outfit????
  • In Light Crusader, you get a goblin costume that you use to sneak past guards.
  • Some missions in Medal of Honor games require dressing up as a German officer and displaying credentials to gain access to valuable targets like a submarine or rail gun. Someone always eventually sees through your disguise, sometimes almost immediately (such as in Frontline, where the first person you show your confiscated ID to recognizes you as an imposter).
    • Kinda parodied in Medal of Honor: Rising Sun where you have to steal one officer's uniform, and upon showing the pass for the officer on railroad station's door, looks at you for a moment and says: "Damn, that just must be other photo of you!" and opens the door for you.
  • Metal Gear:
    • An enemy uniform is used briefly in Metal Gear to allow Snake access through a checkpoint into the building with infamously faulty elevators.
    • Meryl dresses as one of the guards in the first Metal Gear Solid. It works pretty well, considering that she even gets spotted at some point but is able to evade the guards just as well as the player could. It also means that the player has to keep an eye on the hip movements of the soldiers in that area while they're walking to find out which one is Meryl, because she has a distinctive way of walking.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty features an enemy uniform that can be worn by Raiden. It averts the Universal Uniform trope, if only in the mildest way: the uniform is a little too small for Raiden, and if an actual guard touches him, it instantly falls off, mandating a tactical withdrawal.
    • In Portable Ops, you recruit your squad from captured enemy soldiers, so nearly all of them are dressed similarly if not identically to the guards found around the levels.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater:
      • The game requires you to knock out a GRU officer and steal his uniform. The officer in question looks suspiciously like Raiden. When playing in most of the uniforms, you can't do anything too weird (rolling around, beating up guards, etc.) or you'll be caught. As the GRU officer, you're explicitly allowed to do anything you want, because "Raikov's just like that". It's probably because no-one wants to tick off the villain's boyfriend.
      • Snake is required to dress in scientist garb twice, once to infiltrate a warehouse for a rescue mission and the other to infiltrate a military base... for a rescue mission for the same person. Armed guards don't spare a second glance (unless you stand in their way or something, in which case they kick you over for no reason before moving on), but if one of the actual scientists sees your face, they will stare at you for a while before sounding the alarm since they don't recognise you. Hence, turn away so the scientists can't see your face. It's anyone's guess how this works in the first place, since Snake doesn't look Russian at all, he's far from clean-shaven, and this works as normal while missing an eye (which, of course, isn't reflected on the ID badge).
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, you dress as... technically, potential friendly. Rebels, while seeing you in standard uniform, will warily move around you, even attacking you if you get too close. You have to build relationship with them by giving them items and attacking PMC troops. However, wearing their uniform will instantly give you their trust, which makes your life easier.
  • Used twice in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Early in the game, shapeshifter Gandrayda gets the drop on a squadron of pirates by disguising herself as one. Later in the game, after her Face–Heel Turn, she lures Samus into a trap by pretending to be a Galactic Federation Marine.
  • Midnight Ghost Hunt: One of the abilities ghosts can be armed with is shapeshifting into one of the ghost hunters. This can be used to trick them.
  • Happens multiple times in Mother 3, and two times the enemy helps you disguise yourself. When the team infiltrates Thunder Tower, the Pig Masks mistake Lucas for their commander, and give him his "usual" clothes, and Pigmask outfits for the rest of the party. Later, Lucas and Boney infiltrate the Chimera Labs and are given Pigmask uniforms to complete their masquerade as part-time workers. Given who the aforementioned "commander" is, this makes sense.
  • In Octopath Traveler, Therion infiltrates a guild of thieves by stealing a cape from one of their leaders and using it to fool the guards.
  • Ōkami: All imps that inhabit the Moon Cave will mistake Amaterasu for one of them due to her wearing a sheet with a custom drawing (all imps have their own marked sheets covering their faces). Thus, they won't attack her.
  • In Perfect Dark Joanna, among other clothing changes across the game, disguises herself a couple of times to get past armed guards and the like. The first time is in Area 51, where she disguises herself as a lab technician to get to some scientists before they can start dissecting an alien, and the second time is in the air base in Alaska so she can sneak aboard Air Force One and show evidence of a conspiracy to the President.
  • Planescape: Torment allows the main character several methods of escape from the beginning "dungeon"—including stealing one of the "guard's" uniforms or getting oneself disguised as a zombie (which are commonplace). Both of which result in the only change to the character's outward appearance (aside from what kind of weapon he's holding) in the entire game.
  • Pokémon:
    • In HeartGold and SoulSilver, the main character has to dress as a member of Team Rocket to infiltrate the building they just took over. It actually makes sense that it works. Too bad your rival shows up and blows your cover.
    • In the Pokémon Adventures manga, this happens a bit more often. Red dresses as a Rocket to infiltrate one of their ops, but Blue robs him of the outfit at one point deep in enemy territory. Diamond also infiltrates the Team Galactic airliner by dressing as one of them (helped out by the fact that Galactic grunts are dumber than most teams'). Gold, of all people, even gets away with disguising himself as Guile Hideout - and because it physically resembled his own cursed suit of armor, this actually gets Archie killed! That wasn't part of Gold's plan, of course, but a welcome fringe benefit nonetheless.
    • Looker, being a spy and all, does this a few times.
    • One part of the 2007 fangame Pokémon Illusion requires the player to put on a Team Rocket outfit for infiltration purposes. Then Giovanni recognizes them when he addresses the grunts. Whoops!
  • [PROTOTYPE] takes this one step further: not only can you dress up as the enemy, you can become the enemy by consuming them whole.
  • One level of the Quake II expansion pack Ground Zero lets you wear a "Strogg Uniform" allowing you to wander around the Strogg facility without any of the Strogg noticing, as long as you don't shoot at anyone. It works until you pass through a bioscanner that blows your cover.
  • Red Faction features a slightly more realistic version in which your disguise will only stand up if you avoid getting closer than about ten feet to an enemy guard/camera for longer than around a second (you're basically public enemy #1 at this point). Even though it may be faster to run through guns blazing, you still need to switch clothing. The second time around, feel free to skip the disguise.
  • In The Saboteur, Sean is able to knock out a Nazi soldier and take their jacket. However, he must only stealth kill to get the outfit as the blood would immediately give him away. Also it is noted in the How To part of the game that Sean reeks so much of booze and smokes that if he was to get to close to the Nazis for too long they will be able to spot him out. That, and he only ever takes the jacket and headgear, and leaves the pants and boots alone. While it's justified for a few reasons (there's usually too much risk to spend time putting on the full uniform and, in any case, the guy's likely soiled himself as he goes down - not pretty) it does result in him being out of uniform from the waist down. Also, for whatever reason, Sean also refuses to wear the armband as well.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, one particular mission the heroes are tasked with involves infiltrating Mikado. Which isn't exactly easy, as there's a guard posted in the Firmament caverns leading up to Mikado, so Fujiwara comes up with the idea of having the protagonists put on Samurai uniforms and fake Gauntlets so they can sneak in. Toki and Asahi also put on makeup to give the impression of age, as they're in their mid-teens and only people over 18 are qualified to be Samurai. As it turns out, the guard only checks for valid Gauntlets (which the heroes' Gauntlets all are); you can swap out the Samurai uniform for your other armor and it won't make a difference. They're able to sneak around fine until Merkabah sees through their ruses and points it out, getting the group imprisoned.
  • Done unintentionally by Alex in Silent Hill: Homecoming when he wears a hazmat mining suit, the outfit of The Order's Mooks, to get past some harsh steam and is spotted by one of The Order's soldiers. Said soldier strikes up a pleasant conversation and Alex just rolls with it, hoping to slip past without a fight. Unfortunately for him, said soldier knew who he was from the get-go and knocks out Alex the second the guy turns his back.
  • Rogues and Warlocks in Silkroad Online have the ability to transform into players or even monsters.
    • Fallen monsters can be transformed into masks, You can dress as hostile monsters to walk past them without attracting aggro which also enables you to use the monster's basic attack. Also some monsters are faster than horses, so you can make multiple masks for utility or sell them for profit.
    • Transforming into other players is mostly cosmetic but you can use it in guild wars or sieges to pretend to be a low level and attract weaker enemies on you, or pretend to be high level and make them avoid you.
      • It was possible in the past for a rogue thief to transform into any character while doing a job, which hides your thief alias and allows you to ambush passing traders and hunters.
  • Used in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves to sneak past mooks. They still grill you for a 'password', but won't attack.
  • The player character, Karl, an American soldier is dressed in German gear (as a sniper this is very useful) in Sniper Elite. Unfortunately, he's mostly fighting the Russians.
  • Space Quest has you do this in homage to the Stormtrooper disguise in Star Wars. Roger has to infiltrate the Sarien base, which is, naturally, full of Sariens who tend to open fire on humans on sight. Fortunately, Roger arrives in a laundry room where he can gain a uniform from the dryer, and it even has an ID card in the pocket. (Unfortunately, this disguise only fools them so long as you wear the helmet, something you might lose while making your way towards your goal.)
  • A main ability of the protagonists in Spy Fiction (2003).
  • StarCraft II:
    • Wings of Liberty features a Zerg organism, the "Changeling", which is capable of assuming the identity of the enemy race, clothes and all, and do some recon. Units won't be able to spot or attack the Changeling without the player's direct intervention in the form of explicit order to attack what appears to be an ally.
    • The usefulness of Changelings has been somewhat devalued as of Heart of the Swarm, due to, of all things, an Interface Screw. In all previous incarnations of StarCraft, you could click on any unit and select it. As of HotS, you can only select units you control; clicking on an enemy unit accomplishes nothing. So when you band-select all your Zealots and one of them follows the others around but is mysteriously un-selectable, you know exactly what's happening.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, after a certain point in the game, Fox gets a Sharpclaw disguise, which, although it allows him to activate certain pads, pick up certain objects, and not get attacked by real Sharpclaw or the floating drones, leaves him unable to use Krystal's staff. He can, however, get close, disengage the disguise, and maybe strike before the enemy can react. If the enemy sees him change, he will simply walk toward Fox, pushing him around instead of attacking, or, in Scales' case, posing threateningly while he waits for you to press A.
  • In homage to A New Hope, Rookie One and Ru Murleen do this when infiltrating Vader's Super Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Rebel Assault II.
  • Early FPS/RPG Strife has a mission where you need to locate an officer's uniform before you can infiltrate an Order base without setting off all the alarms.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • In the Syphon Filter series starting with Omega Strain, the player can take enemy outfits from certain corpses, and some missions start you out with or require you to obtain a disguise.
  • In Tales of Symphonia the healer of the group and the failure assassin Sheena, if you chose the hard path dress up as Desians to infiltrate one of their ranches to destroy.
  • The cartoonish class-based First-Person Shooter Team Fortress 2 gives this ability to the Spy class, who is able to dress as any friendly or enemy character class. Opposing players see the model he is disguised as, but his allies see the Spy model in a cheap cardboard mask of the class he's impersonating. He also steals the username of one opponent who is playing the class he's impersonating, so if you see another you running around, raise an alert right quick.
    • Since the game invokes Friendly Fireproof, the best thing to do with a suspected enemy Spy is to shoot him. If he isn't a Spy, he'll be unaffected, while if he is he'll sport a nice set of new bullet holes and lose his disguise. Pyros are best for this, since they'll set the Spy on fire; the continuing damage will prevent him from re-disguising for a period of time.
  • Possible, but absolutely impractical in Velvet Assassin. You can steal an SS uniform and try to sneak by guards, but they'll see right through your disguise if you do anything remotely suspicious or even just get close enough to them. After all, a sexy female soldier is going to raise a few eyebrows, especially in Nazi Germany.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader: A possible Iconoclast option when trying to rescue Abell Haneumann from the Chaos Cultists in the Adeptus Mechanicus temple on Rykad Minoris is to dress up in the gear of some dead cultists and relying on subterfuge to infiltrate the temple, smash the generators and wipe them out without a direct fight. It works resoundingly well, but your Dogmatic party members will disapprove of the action as Imperial Doctrine considers adopting the symbols of Chaos to be heresy... and that Chaos iconography has possible corrupting influence.
  • In WarWind, there is a unit modification that allows the user to disguise themselves as an enemy unit. This can be applied both by you and your computer opponents.
  • World of Warcraft features a few opportunities to disguise yourself as an enemy, usually only for the duration of a quest. There's also a very rare item that allows the player to disguise themselves as the enemy player faction (A Horde Player becomes disguised as the Alliance and an Alliance player becomes disguised as the Horde, respectively). Creative-minded players have even gone to the trouble of purposefully not completing those quests where a Disguise item is provided, and have used it in various ways, such as pranks, getting the drop on an enemy player (which is playing this trope straight), or just for fun.
  • Formerly shown in the trope's image example, there's Milanor of Yggdra Union. During the Save the Princess chapter of the story, there are two battlefields where he dons Imperial armor in order to infiltrate the fortress of Karona and look for Yggdra (the armor is given to him by a would-be traitor who's trying to get a specific prisoner freed). During the former battlefield, Milanor cannot do battle when disguised because the stationed soldiers all recognize him right away; your other forces have to sneak in after him and cause a distraction to let him slip through. His disguise is also seen through immediately by the sole guard of the prison, but because there's only one of her and you're between her and backup, you're able to fight and defeat her instead of getting a game over.
  • In Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter, Adol gains magic that transforms him into a Roo. This lets him gain entrance to the Solomon Shrine, and makes other monsters talk to him rather than attack him.
  • Subverted in Zoids Assault. While it's possible to wear the enemy's camo pattern and its description says it can confuse them it has no discernible effect.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • To fool the Reds into thinking they have more than one freelancer, Tucker and Caboose are ordered to draw the Red's fire while wearing black armour. How do they get black armour? By jumping through a very experimental teleporter.
    • Later in the series, Simmons defects to Blue team, originally because he was shunned by the others, but when Church returns, he begins a charade to try and learn information. To get the effect, he paints his armour blue (although he misses a few spots), but it is subverted in that Church is not fooled by this disguise for one second. Church even takes advantage of the situation by making Simmons do chores and make him lunch...
    • Season 12 takes this trope, and ends up deconstructing it. Two soldiers dressing as the enemy works okay for the regular guards, but Locus sees through it, and kills one, while the other is mistaken for a EOD specialist, and called over to remove a sticky explosive that his allies have planted and dies when Felix blows up the building.

  • In The Paul Reveres Paul is recruited as one of Washington's spies, and disguises himself as a British troop in order to infiltrate occupied Boston, and try to flip Allen.
  • Subverted in Antihero for Hire. While the protagonist wears a Mantis Agent's outfit, which conceals the individual from head to toe, the Mantis use electronic and DNA based identification systems, and is immediately recognized as an intruder.
  • Played with in this Sluggy Freelance strip.
  • Subverted in Another Gaming Comic - the player characters done cultist robes, but the Genre Savvy villain has magicked said robes to alert him and all of his other cultists to the fact.
  • Sojueilo, Thomil and Mijuu of Juathuur disguise themselves as Solluu in order to infiltrate Erab Adur.
  • In The Dreamer, Alan dresses up as a redcoat to rescue Beatrice from Gen. Howe's ship.
  • Liquid of The Last Days of FOXHOUND had to dress up as a mook to break into the fortress. He didn't really fool anyone.
  • Bob and George: Bass needs a disguise
  • Wayward Sons: A number of Ulympeans do this while infiltrating Egypt. Having a Master of Illusion on your side doesn't hurt, either.
  • In Tales Of Gnosis College, Professor Corwin and Li Anwei escape from Federal custody by expropriating the gear of the Gas Mask Mooks in Senator Madder's "security detail."
  • Inverted and played with in Our Little Adventure. While Brian Souballo doesn't impersonate any of the heroes of the story, he magically impersonates a neutral wizard he tried and failed to recruit to his side. The Emperor goes to the very elven metropolis he's planning on invading and commits a mass murder while disguised as the neutral wizard. This way if the wizard goes to the city to warn the elves, he will instead be arrested.
  • In this strip of Spinnerette, a supervillain sneaks into a military installation wearing one of their troops' all concealing uniforms. He mentions to the officer in charge that it's not a good idea to outfit troops with uniforms that hide their faces, even referencing the Faceless Goons entry on this very wiki.
  • Done in The Order of the Stick by Celia when she has to smuggle Belkar and Haley ( as well as Roy's corpse) out of Azure City. She disguises herself as a necromancer, calls Mr. Scruffy her evil cat familiar, and uses eyeliner to draw Xs over Belkar and Haley's eyes so that they look dead. She's almost found out when one of the guards calls her out on not being a necromancer, at which point Belkar "rises from the dead", kills the guard, and asks if anyone else wants to question his creature type. Surprisingly, it works.
    • Far more common is the enemy disguising themselves as a hero. Sabine, being a shapeshifter, frequently disguises herself as guards or policemen. Nale spends a good part of War and XPs disguised as Elan (made easy given that they're identical twins), with Elan in jail on Nale's behalf. Zz'dtri disguises themselves as one of Tarquin's aides during the Order's time in the Empire of Blood (so that they can reveal themselves along with the rest of the Linear Guild). Lastly, in a bizarre case of Enemy Dressing as the Enemy, Tarquin disguises himself as Thog because he considers Thog to be too much of a loose cannon, but they can't let on that it's really Tarquin fighting them.
  • Gordon Frohman does this a few times in Concerned, though it's up for debate whether it's really dressing as the enemy considering he absolutely loves the Combine, but is so bad at helping them he may as well have been with the Resistance the whole time.
    • The first time is for part of "Bike Lane 17", where he meets up with another group of Combine who take him to the bridge outpost. He ends up giving away that he's not a real Combine when he's unable to pass through the force fields on the bridgenote , and in the process of dumping the outfit, accidentally gets it stuck in the rotors of a gunship, which promptly crashes into the bridge and destroys everything.
    • The second time is during the uprising after Gordon Freeman has returned, where Frohman's gotten tired of being shot at by the Combine, and decides the best way to avoid this is to dress as one of them. Of course, this just leads to the other rebels shooting him until he gives up and dresses as a medic, figuring that the rebels will appreciate his healing skills and the Combine won't shoot him in accordance with Subsection B of the resolutions of the Geneva International Conference. Of October. 1863. Neither part works out how he hopes, though, as another Combine blasts in with a shotgun the instant he finishes his monologue, and his insistence on performing surgery over just giving people medkits just gets even more Rebels killed.
    • The last time is after Henderson quits, and Frohman decides to steal his Combine Elite uniform for a bit. This doesn't play into much before he ditches the outfit again.

    Web Original 
  • In addition to the two rules above, some more suggestions from the TV Tropes Additional Evil Overlord Vows;
    • Encourage the minions to customize their uniforms in small ways, to make it harder for the heroes to impersonate them.
    • Encourage a "Silly Hat Day", to make the heroes think twice about wearing a stupid hat for this trope.

    Web Videos 
  • Borman's idea for getting Yaeger near The Mercury Men's Gravity Engine.
  • For the April 2021 episode of FailRace's Survive the Hunt (debuting on April Fool's Day), Alex decided to play a trick on the hunters by copying a distinct avatar of one of the hunters, down to replicating that player's usual custom car.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: During a hostage crisis, Archer manages to evade capture, take out one of the masked assailants, and steal his outfit. The others figure out Archer probably pulled this and try to find out which one is him. Lana picks out one of the attackers, realizes it's not Archer, knocks him out so he won't tip off the others about Archer's presence, then steals his outfit. Elsewhere, Pam takes out a guard and steals his outfit. Then Archer, Lana, and Pam all enter the same room and attack each other, not realizing who the others are. And then, the hostage takers realize they're in too deep and swap clothes with the hostages so they can walk out past the cops.
  • Turning the trick around, in Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Earth King", the Fire Nation antagonists dressed up as allies of the protagonists.
    • Played straight in the first half of season 3 when the Gaang travels though the Fire Nation in local outfits, change their hairstyles and Aang even uses a fake name (Kuzon; and when Sokka doesn't he's given away instantly).
    • Also near the beginning of Season 3, Hakoda uses a Fire Nation ship (with some of the Gaang's allies dressed in Fire Nation armor) in an attempt to blend in when sailing through Fire Nation waters. Aang almost believes he's been captured by the Fire Nation (having been in a coma for a few weeks). Hakoda spoils the ruse when he mentions getting orders from a commander currently on leave.
    • Also in "The Boiling Rock", Sokka and Zuko disguise themselves as prison guards. Cue icons of Suki delivering Princess Leia's line.
      • Dressing as the enemy gets Sokka into to trouble twice with the very people he was trying to rescue, by not identifying himself to them. Suki punches him into the door, Hakoda almost does.
    • Aang adds a hat to hide his arrow tattoo when the Gaang dons the Fire Nation garb again in "The Ember Island Players," although Zuko's costume needs work.
    • Subverted in the season 1 finale, when a Water Tribe warrior uses antique Fire Nation armor to infiltrate the flagship, and when he tries to kill the admiral, he gets offhand backhanded. Although that was probably less because of a failure of his disguise than because he pulled off his helmet and declared himself before attacking.
    • Zuko plays with this trope near the end of season 1, disguising himself as a Fire Nation soldier to infiltrate Zhao's ship (played with because he is still an enemy at this point, but he's disguising himself to get past his enemy).
  • Danny and Tucker briefly disguise themselves as two ghost henchmen in Danny Phantom to rescue Sam from marrying a ghostly prince, much to her dismay as she was orchestrating her own method of escaping just fine.
  • A frequent issue for Darkwing Duck; it seems Saint Canard thinks anyone in the purple suit, cape, and hat is Darkwing (except, of course, Drake Mallard when he dressed up as Darkwing for Halloween). Very annoying when your Evil Twin does this, of course.
  • Family Guy:
    • Spoofed in an episode where Peter beats up a hotel bellhop and steals his uniform (which doesn't fit) only for Brian to tell him they don't need disguises because the person they're after has no idea who they are in the first place. Peter then beats up and steals the outfit of a second man who just so happens to be just as fat as Peter and wearing an exact copy of Peter's normal clothes.
    • In "Road to Germany", Stewie, Brian, and Mort stole Nazi uniforms (with McCain Palin button on Stewie's uniform) to infiltrate a nuclear facility.
  • A common occurrence in the various G.I. Joe series. It's particularly common in G.I. Joe: Renegades, as the Joes (who are a small group of outlaws in this incarnation) frequently infiltrate COBRA Industries to try and find evidence of the company's crimes, and their Cool Car is a stolen advanced COBRA truck, that can change colour and marking to blend in as any truck.
  • The Herculoids:
    • "The Crystalites". Zandor, Gloop and Gleep knock out some guards and enter the title opponents' fortress dressed in their uniforms.
    • "Ruler of the Reptons". After knocking out several reptanks, several Herculoids use the tanks' shells as disguises to approach the enemy base.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Fraudulent Volcano". After Jonny and Hadji knock out a couple of guards, Dr. Quest and Race don their uniforms while attempting to escape the enemy base.
  • In Kim Possible, Ron dresses as a henchman in "Odds Man In" and uses it to successfully scare Drakken's men into quitting by mention probability hazards before saving Kim.
  • Played so painfully straight in one episode of Mighty Max. Needing to dress as members of a cult, Max, Norman, and Virgil mug some average-size cultists and steal their robes. It's worth noting that Norman is over 7 feet tall and heavily muscled, Max is a skinny kid, and Virgil is a four foot tall The robes, of course, fit perfectly. The same thing happened in another episode, this time involving aliens.
  • The episode Sparkle's Seven of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Twilight and her friends helping to test Canterlot's new security features akin to a Red Cell. Rarity disguises herself as a guard to slip through a door and, despite her being both a national hero and a world famous fashion designer, the guards fall for it.
  • Ninjago: A favorite tactic of the ninja. They've gone undercover as Serpentine, Stone Warriors, and cultists, among others.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Bubble Boy" has Rowdyruff Boy Boomer captured by the girls. Bubbles impersonates him and infiltrates the Rowdyruffs in a bid to capture the other two. It's a nine-day wonder that Butch and Brick didn't catch on to Bubbles' noticeably higher voice and lighter eye color.
  • In an episode of Quack Pack, Dewey and Louie don the clothes of the human henchmen of the stock villain of the week (some weird pale-faced woman bent on world domination) in order to rescue their brother Huey and foil her evil scheme. Once again, the bad guy in question doesn't notice the species difference.
  • Robot Chicken parodied and deconstructed this when characters from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero are sent to Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban. Three of the Joes dress as Taliban terrorists... and are then immediately gunned down by American soldiers who mistake them for actual terrorists.
  • Samurai Jack did this in one episode, killing one of Aku's demon soldiers and taking its clothes. (After rescuing the fairy princess, her reaction was a Shout-Out to Leia's reaction to Luke in A New Hope; in fact, that whole episode was loaded with Star Wars references.)
  • Spoofed in an episode of The Simpsons, in which, while trying to sneak out of Vegas away from their new wives, Homer and Ned Flanders pull two janitors into a broom closet to rob them of their uniforms. Punching sounds are audible, and the two janitors walk out content, leaving a beat-up Homer and Flanders. Similarly, in "Burns Baby Burns" Homer and Larry Burns are fleeing from the suddenly half-competent Police (who believe Homer to have kidnapped Larry), and duck into a costume store. The viewer is then shown a man who looks quite a bit like Homer, dressed as an organ-grinder leaving the store with a vaguely Larry-shaped man dressed as his monkey. The subversion comes when we see the clerk look into the store's bathroom, where Homer and Larry are actually hiding: "Either buy a costume or get out, fellas!"
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Hostage Crisis": Bane's droid commandos don the armor of the Republic guards Bane's group murdered in order to prevent those outside the Senate from figuring out what's going on too quickly. The disguise fails when they say their trademark "Roger, roger!"
    • "Carnage of Krell": General Krell sends Rex and the 501st to stop a group of attacking Umbarans who are attempting this by stealing armor from dead clone troopers of the 212th Attack Battalion. Except it's then subverted. Turns out Krell sent a similar message to the 212th warning them of an Umbaran group wearing 501st armor, before giving both battalions the same coordinates. By the time both sides realize they're shooting at their own brothers, dozens of clones have already been killed in the firefight.
    • "Slaves of the Republic": Anakin, Obi-Wan and Rex go undercover disguised as Zygerrians, or at least criminals and/or slavers wearing Zygerrian armour. Ahsoka, on the other hand, is disguised as a slave girl, which she's not especially thrilled about.
    • "The Lawless": Obi-Wan infiltrates the Mandalorian capital of Sundari to rescue Duchess Satine by luring a supercommando onto the Twilight, and mugging him for his armour.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch chronologically started the occurrence of anti Imperial guerrillas dressing up as Stormtroopers to infiltrate Imperial bases in The Summit, with Saw Gerrea and the Partisans using TK Stormtrooper armor to sneak into Tarkin's Raven Peak compound and set explosives around the base in the hopes they can kill him and other high ranking Imperials at a summit, such as Orson Krennic and Dr. Royce Hemlock, who Clone Force 99 is trying to track in order to find Crosshair and many Clones kept at Mount Tantiss by the Imperial Advanced Science Division.
  • Star Wars Rebels has this as a relatively frequent occurrence.
    • "Breaking Ranks": Ezra goes undercover as an Imperial cadet, while Chopper gets an Imperial paintjob.
    • "Rebel Resolve": Chopper gets a new and improved Imperial paintjob to infiltrate an Imperial cruiser to steal information on where Kanan is being held.
    • "The Siege of Lothal": Kanan mugs a stormtrooper for disguise, and later on Ezra dons his cadet disguise again.
    • "Stealth Strike": Kanan and Rex go undercover as stormtroopers to free captured rebels, with Chopper along in his Imperial paintjob. While this should be easy for Rex since he was a clone trooper during the Clone Wars (i.e. the original stormtroopers), it turns out he's put on some weight during his retirement.
    • "A Princess on Lothal": Kanan and Ezra go undercover as a stormtrooper and cadet to meet Princess Leia so she doesn't blow her cover. This leads directly to the sight of Kanan charging an AT-AT with his lightsaber, still disguised as a stormtrooper!
    • "The Antilles Extraction": It's Sabine's turn to go undercover as an Imperial cadet, this time to extract some would-be defectors at an Imperial pilot academy.
    • "Hera's Heroes": Ezra goes undercover as a scout trooper, and Chopper yet again has his Imperial paintjob, in order to help Hera recover a family heirloom from her old house, which has been occupied by Imperials.
    • "An Inside Man": Kanan and Ezra go undercover first as factory workers, then as a stormtrooper and scout trooper respectively, while sneaking around Lothal City's Imperial complex. Chopper's also along, repainted as per usual.
    • "Through Imperial Eyes": Kanan and Rex are back disguised as stormtroopers, Chopper's sporting his paintjob, and Ezra, thanks to Agent Kallus, winds up impersonating an Imperial officer, specifically Lieutenant Lyste.
    • "Double Agent Droid": Chopper goes undercover with his paintjob yet again — and this time it proves to be a liability, as the same droid with the same paintjob causing trouble has been seen too many times, and he gets recognized. Wedge also goes undercover as a TIE pilot.
    • "Jedi Night": Ezra and Sabine don Imperial pilot uniforms and helmets while infiltrating the Imperial complex to rescue Hera.
    • "Wolves and a Door": Ezra and Sabine mug two scout troopers to infiltrate the Imperial excavation at the Lothal Jedi Temple.
    • "Family Reunion — and Farewell": When the rebels enter the Imperial complex as part of their plan to rid Lothal of the Empire once and for all, most of the heroes are playing Trojan Prisoners, with Rex as a stormtrooper and Kallus as an Imperial officer.
  • Star Wars Resistance: "The New Trooper" has Kaz disguising himself as a First Order stormtrooper to help Eila and Kel after they knock out the armour's original owner, and to do some spying.
  • Superman Theatrical Cartoons: In the episode "Jungle Drums" Lois does this, stealing the robe of a dead Nazi Agent in order to use the Nazi-bases radio to warn the Allies of a planned submarine attack. This fails when the Nazi commander spots Lois's high heels under the hem of her robe.
  • Done in the "Baloo Thunder" episode of TaleSpin with Baloo, Kit, and their friend Buzz the inventor taking the place of a Corrupt Corporate Executive 's three security guards in order to return a top secret prototype helicopter to its rightful home. Baloo perfectly fits into a uniform even though he's at least twice the size of the largest guard. Also, the bad guy doesn't notice his feline guards replaced by two bears and a bird until it's too late.
  • Teen Titans's Starfire and Raven mug two random villains for their disguises in "All Revved Up" and get on a bus with other villains to catch up to the rest of their team. It works up until Rven sneezes off her fake horns and Starfire tells Raven "Bless you" in her language.
  • A Thousand and One... Americas: In the fifth episode, Chris' pet dog Lon gets kidnapped by a priest, whose henchmen take him to a sacred temple so he can be cooked (this is because they, being they're Mayans, who ate dogs in Real Life). To rescue him, Chris and the girl accompanying him (Papalotl) run to the temple, and the former character paints his face and hands brown to pass for a Mayan in order to fool the entrance guards and enter (the disguise is also helped by Papalotl, herself an actual Mayan, entering with him and telling the guards that the dog she has in her hands is being given away as an offering). When Lon is rescued, he licks Chris' face, comically undoing the disguise.
  • The girls of Totally Spies! do this from time to time. "Black Widows" has the three infiltrating the lair of Margaret Nussbaum/Candy Sweet disguised as her robot cheerleaders. Nussbaum, needless to say, is not fooled.
  • The Transformers has the episode "Masquerade" which features the Autobots replacing the captured Stunticons to uncover and sabotage Megatron's latest plan.
  • Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Mirage tries to infiltrate a Decepticon scouting party using a holographic disguise, only for it to short out and blow his cover almost immediately.
  • Played dead straight in The Venture Brothers by the original Team Venture in "Past Tense". Unfortunately this means a squad of elderly men in Fanservicey Fembot swimsuits.

    Real Life 
  • In nature, Batesian Mimicry is when a harmless species mimics a harmful one, for example, a moth larva looking like a snake head.
  • There are insects adapted to prey on ant larvae, which smell just like fellow colony-members to adult ants.
  • Similarly, mealybug destroyers in their larval stage look extremely similar to the mealybugs that they eat.
  • Thousands of Truth in Television examples. Not counting false flag stuff, the 1976 rescue of a large number of Israeli hostages from Entebbe, Uganda had elements of this. Note the movie adaptations.
  • The First Battle of Bull Run during the The American Civil War had some Union soldiers in grey uniforms and Confederates in blue uniforms. Both sides had not adopted their standard uniform colors until a few months after the battle.
    • The battle at Pilot Knob ended with the union soldiers blowing up their cache of ammo and powder, and evacuating the fort under cover of night and rain wearing confederate uniforms.
  • It's not actually illegal per se to dress in the enemy's uniform while engaging in espionage or sabotage but it does mean that you are not a soldier in combat, which means you're an unlawful combatant, and the other side can do to you as they wish after they capture you.
    • It is, however, illegal to kill enemy soldiers while still wearing the enemy's uniform whether behind enemy lines or in the open battlefield as it constitutes unlawful acts of perfidy (opening you to war crimes charges). That said, you can throw away the disguise, reveal your faction's uniform beneath and open fire guilt free.
  • Vlad the Impaler was an expert at this tactic. After rebelling against the Ottoman Empire in 1462, he killed Ottoman admiral Hamza Bey before using his fluency in Turkish to walk his army right into the fortress of Giurgiu and capture it. Vlad did it again shortly before the Night Attack at Târgoviște, disguising himself as a Turk once more in an attempt to learn the location of the sultan's tent and cut off the head of the snake in battle. While his disguise worked perfectly, the attack not so much as it was soon discovered they were targeting the wrong tent the entire time.
  • This was the main modus operandi of the Selous Scouts, a Rhodesian special operations unit that would capture terrorists, turn them against their comrades (usually by giving them the choice between that and death) and then send them back to become The Mole. With them, of course, would be white Rhodesian officers or NCOs disguised as black terrorists.
  • Navies love this trope. During the Age of Sail, a popular tactic was to raise enemy colours (or, if you were really sneaky, a plague flag) and only lower them at the moment of firing. Died out after advanced naval gunnery and explosive shells meant that it was common practice to sink enemy vessels rather than capture them (the deception only worked if the disguised ship pretended to be a captured enemy one). Still the British raid on St Nazaire used this, flying a German ensign from the HMS Campbeltown. It worked.
    • A particularly funny example from World War One also combined with Confronting Your Imposter. The British and Germans both employed armed merchant ships (the Germans used them to attack British shipping, the British to hunt down German raiders), and often used fake markings, false smokestacks, and other elements to disguise them as the other side's ship. In the 1914 Battle of Trindade, the German SMS Cap Trafalgar, while disguised as the British RMS Carmania, encountered a British ship... which, unfortunately for the Cap Trafalgar, was the real Carmania.note  At that early point in the war, neither side actually knew which merchant ships the other had converted into auxiliary cruisers, and thus Cap Trafalgar's captain made a poor choice of disguise (as did many others).
  • On June 20, 1942, four members of the Polish anti-fascist resistance, Kazimierz Piechowski, Eugeniusz Bendera, Józef Lempart, and Stanisław Jaster, imprisoned as political prisoners in the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, successfully made their escape by dressing up in stolen SS-Totenkop uniforms, covertly hijacking a car belonging to one of the SS officers in the camp, and then driving right out the front gate. According to their accounts, the guard at duty first hesitated to open up the gate, but when Piechowski, the best German speaker among them, leaned out of the car so the guard could see his rank insignia and yelled at him to open the gate, the guard immediately did so with no further questions asked.
  • Operation Greif: Otto Skorzeny and a small group of SS Commandos, wearing captured U.S. and British uniforms and with as many fluent English speakers as they could find, infiltrated U.S. lines during the Battle of the Bulge with the main objective of capturing the bridges over the Meuse river. They were also supposed to use captured U.S. vehicles but there were basically none in usable condition, so they resorted to disguising Panther tanks as M10 Tank Destroyers by sticking on metal sheeting and removing the commander’s cupola. Although they failed due to an insufficient number of fluent English speakers, they did succeed in making the U.S. Army so paranoid about their presence and activities that many checkpoints were set up which slowed down the Allies.
    • In the end, an estimated 18 German commandos wearing U.S. uniforms were captured behind U.S. lines during the Battle of the Bulge, tried by military commissions, found guilty, and executed as spies.
    • On the other hand, Skorezny himself escaped conviction after the war by pointing out that he'd never actually ordered his men to fight in US uniforms, just use them for sneaking around purposes. The tribunal might have wanted to press the issue, but considering how many examples there were of US troops doing the same thing, they declined. That, and a surprise defense witness in the form of Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent F. F. E. Yeo-Thomas, who testified that he and many operatives in the SOE had done the same thing.
    • The U.S. troops famously caught some of these spies by asking questions only Americans would be expected to answer correctly, like baseball trivia and the capitals of US states, particularly trick questions like "What year did Babe Ruth hit 64 home runs?"note  It didn't always work—one U.S. general was held at gunpoint by a couple of privates after he incorrectly stated that the Chicago Cubs were in the American League, and General Omar Bradley was briefly detained because the MP who had questioned him, thought he had given the wrong answernote .
. The questions also failed to take into account the numerous British soldiers in the area, who couldn't answer them any better than the Germans could. When a reconnaissance officer found himself faced with a guard demanding “Who won the World Series in 1940?” all he could say was “I haven’t the faintest idea.”
  • On a more tragic note it also lead to a few Friendly-fire incidents. Two US Infantry men were killed by a nervous MP, and two more were killed (plus several wounded) when a case of mistaken identity caused an armored task force to fire on the U.S. 35th Infantry Division.
  • In his memoirs Tigers in the Mud, Otto Carius mentions the Soviets commandeering new German equipment in an attack like MG 42 heavy machine guns and new winter coats. After one attack too many by Soviets using this equipment, the Germans ordered anyone wearing the coats at that part of the theater to be shot on sight. This led to some friendly-fire incidents when some Germans who had received (and were able to keep) their coats were killed.
  • The greatest theft of private property ever, the $500 million of art stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1991, was carried out by two thieves dressed as Boston police officers.
  • Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, a 17th century Polish Intrepid Merchant (and founder of one of history's earliest coffee shops), did exactly this when the city of Vienna was besieged by Turks. Having traveled about the world quite a bit before settling in Vienna, he simply disguised himself as a Turk, wearing Ottoman clothes and singing Turkish songs to himself, allowing him to walk straight through the enemy camps and carry messages between the Viennese and their allies.
  • One inspired escape from the Colditz prison camp involved an inmate capitalising on a resemblence to the feared German Regimental Sergeant-Major, by dressing as him, and intimidating the guards into allowing him to pass. Both the impersonation and the fake uniform worked like a charm - until the real German RSM showed up.


Rescuing A Venusian

A Venusian senator proves un-cooperative during his own rescue.

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5 (2 votes)

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Main / ComplainingAboutRescuesTheyDontLike

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