Follow TV Tropes


Fake Twin Gambit

Go To

This is where a character, for some reason or another, pretends to be their own (nonexistent) identical twin. It could be for disguise, or to see how their friends really think of them. It could also be a mundane cover for a clone, who even in real life are genetically the same as an identical twin (if not necessarily the same age). Success rates vary.

The plausibility of such a gambit also varies greatly, depending on the time frame and who the character is trying to fool. For example, in a modern developed nation, where governments tend to keep detailed records of their residents, such a ploy is only believable if the people being scammed either lack access to those records, or don't see a reason to look up whether the "twin" they've just met actually exists. This is even more true in futuristic settings. Whereas in a medieval (or fantasy equivalent) setting, it's plausible that such a scam can be pulled off even if the target is the government itself.

Contrast Twin Switch, where a character does have a twin and impersonates them. Subtrope of Invented Individual. A trivia variant is Playing Their Own Twin, where the actor is playing the same twin, though the twins are decisively their own characters.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: After Matsuri is split into Opposite Sex Clones, they pretend to be twin siblings so both can attend the same school. Thanks the Perception Filter on a charm Reo gives the boy Matsuri, they don't have to try very hard to pass.
    Reo: The jutsu will make all normal students see you as Matsuri Kazamaki's older twin brother, whose name is also Matsuri Kazamaki!
  • Siegrain and Jellal from Fairy Tail really do appear to be completely separate people at first, since one is a member of the Magic Council, and the other schemes in his lair, the Tower of Heaven. In reality, Siegrain is an Astral Projection of Jellal who serves as The Mole on the council, making them the same person. While the "twin brother" explanation was only relevant in the manga for why they look alike, it's much more pronounced in the anime adaptation.

    Comic Books 
  • Big Bang Comics: Ultiman is a Captain Ersatz version of Superman. However, Ultiman has worked for the government since gaining powers, and his identity as astronaut Chris Kelly is widely known... which is why he took on another identity as Chris' twin brother Carl, who works with Ultiman's superior Gen. Black and Black's secretary Lori Lake.
    • A later issue reveals that there was a real, now deceased, Carl Kelly. Ultiman kept his brother's death a secret and adopted his identity because he was tired of having no private life.
  • Daredevil: Matt Murdock has pretended to be his own non-existent twin brother Mike Murdock to trick Karen and Foggy into believing that "Mike" was Daredevil when they began to suspect Matt's double life. This was back in the Silver Age of comics when even Daredevil wasn't a very realistic series. That said, the events of Charles Soule and Chip Zdarsky's runs saw a Cosmic Retcon that caused Mike to become a separate (and living, given Matt chose to end the gambit by faking "Mike's" death) person with his own life and history.
  • EC Comics: In the story "Split Personality" (Vault of Horror #30) a man scams a pair of rich twins into each marrying him, telling them that he has a twin himself and that they need to manage holdings in another country such that one is always away. When they eventually realize the truth, the twins split him in half with an axe so each can have him.

    Fan Works 
  • Loosely applies in the Arrowverse fic "An Interdimensional Meet" when the Nora Allen of Supergirl's Earth comes to Earth-1 after meeting the displaced Barry during his meeting with Supergirl. When Barry makes contact with Kara a year later, he reveals that Felicity and his other allies were able to create a fake identity for Nora as her counterpart's cousin Grace, which has allowed her to marry the Henry Allen of Earth-1, and the two now have a daughter.
  • Boldores and Boomsticks: A paper-thin one is done by Nanu to get out of telling Blake about Tapu Bulu. She doesn't believe he is "Nuna", but he doesn't really care.
  • Btvs: Seasons Rewrite: Jenny Calendar is forced to do this by necessity after being brought Back from the Dead. Since she's still Legally Dead, Willow and Oz hack into government files and give her a fake identity as her own identical twin sister, allowing her to take back her old job at Sunnydale High.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Blackbird, Dan, who is a notorious thief and criminal mastermind, disguises himself as the Bishop, the kindly operator of a Christian charity mission in the slums of London's Limehouse district. It's actually not clear what use his Bishop disguise is other than giving him a way to hide when the heat is on, but in any case, absolutely everyone believes it, including Scotland Yard and his ex-wife.
  • In the Swedish movie Hajen som visste för mycket (The Shark Who Knew Too Much) Joakim Plottner has spent his entire life pretending to be triplets, who hate each other and refuse to spend any time in each other's company, keeping up a gambit his mother began when he was born. Even his father doesn't know the truth.
  • In The Lady Eve, Jean is supposedly Lady Eve's illegitimate half-sister.
  • Two-Faced Woman has Karin pretending to be her twin Katherine, in order to get closer to her husband and understand what he wants in a woman.

  • Mercedes Lackey's Born to Run has one mechanic doing this as a practical joke to get back at a pair of elf twin brothers, who he had thought were just one person. To top it off, his fake twin name is Skippy.
  • Played with in Haruhi Suzumiya. Kyon and Mikuru pretend that Mikuru is "Michiru" - because the "real" Mikuru is still around (blame time travel) and "Michiru" needs to hide from herself.
  • Hercule Poirot:
    • Poirot creates an imaginary twin brother that's smarter than him named "Achille" in The Big Four - a parody of Mycroft Holmes, in fact. He had to sacrifice his mustache to do it, but it was worth it to take out a group of exceedingly powerful criminals.
    • The trope is vital in the novel Elephants Can Remember and its live action adaptation as a part of Poirot: In this case, however, the twin exists... or at least used to exist. A lady named Dorothea/Dolly, who had been mentally unstable all her life and was even more shattered after an horrible time in a mental hospital, snaps on her twin sister Margaret/Molly and fatally pushes her off a cliff. As Molly lies dying in her husband Alistair's arms, she makes him swear that not only he won't press charges against Dolly, but he will say that Dolly died while in reality helping her to pull this, so she can rebuild what's left of his life. Alistair complies... but later he snaps, takes Dolly to the same cliff, shoots her dead and then commits suicide.
  • In Raymond Chandler's essay "The Simple Art of Murder", he gives several examples of excessively contrived puzzles from the British whodunnit tradition, including a novel in which a Fake Twin Gambit is used by the murderer to effectively frame the victim for his own murder (by doing him in while he's being the twin, so that it looks like murdered his twin and then went on the run). The novel in question is The Red House Mystery, by A. A. Milne.
  • The Fear Street novel Double Date has a Casanova jock trying to seduce twin sisters. They warn him that their mentally unstable triplet is on the loose and going after him and he realizes she's attacking him. It eventually turns out the triplet never existed, the twins were teaching the jock a lesson on behalf of all the girls he used in the past who are in on the scheme.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan used a variation on this to cover for his "Admiral Naismith" identity, by spreading a rumor that Naismith was his clone. Between that and his real clone-brother Mark, he managed to create the impression for a while that there were three of him running around.
  • Sweet Valley High: The Sweet Valley Twins did a fake triplet gambit where they invented a third sister and took turns pretending to be her. Another book had a boy pretend to have an identical twin too so that he could date Elizabeth and Jessica at the same time; he's found out when he gets a hand injury that he can't hide when he's supposed to be his twin.
  • Snakeweed from The Divide Series pretends to be his identical twin Snakeroot in the second book when trying to find lodging, because Snakeweed was the Big Bad of the first book and is trying not to let anyone discover that he's still around.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 'Allo 'Allo!, after Rene faked his own death, he came back pretending to be his own twin. This received frequent Lampshade Hanging during the series.
  • Jane from Coupling:
    Jane: I once went on holiday and pretended to be twins. It was amazing fun. I invented this mad, glamorous sister and went around really annoying everybody. And d'you know, I could get away with anything when I was my crazy twin Jane.
    Sally: But you're Jane.
    Jane: Kinda stuck. It's a long story.
  • The Janitor tries to do this in Scrubs as a prank on JD. JD isn't fooled for a second, causing the Janitor to ramp things up with more and more ridiculously phony "evidence" that he has an identical twin. In a last act of desperation, he claims that his brother is waiting for him at the bottom of the elevator, and when the doors open to reveal nobody he admits, "OK, I don't know what I thought was going to happen." It was perhaps the only time the Janitor failed to get the better of JD.
  • In the Tales from the Crypt story "Split Personality", a con man fools a pair of reclusive and wealthy identical twin sisters into falling for him and his invented twin brother so he can collect on their fortune. When he accidentally reveals the ruse via his own carelessness, the sisters are very upset and decide to ensure that each gets her fair share for once — with the help of a chainsaw.
  • In Three's Company, Jack tells Mr. Furly that he has a twin brother who lives in Texas named Austin. This leads to a hysterical scene later in the episode when he has to pretend to be both of them at the same time around Furly.
  • Played with in iCarly: Sam spends an episode trying to convince Freddie that she has a twin sister (who Freddie ends up going on a date with), before finally admitting that it was a trick. And then after Freddie leaves, Sam's sister comes up in the elevator.
  • Barney, from How I Met Your Mother, has been mentioned using this trope when trying to trick women into sleeping with him again after having already seduced and abandoned them. The audience has never been shown him actually doing it, but at one point an ex' assaults him while calling him by his fake brother's name, "Blarney"
    • The final stage of his "Lorenzo Von Matterhorn" play was to be faking Lorenzo's death and then seducing the woman again as his brother, Julio Von Matterhorn.
    • He also pretends to be a Camp Gay hairdresser and when the women he befriends wish that he was straight, he notifies them that he has a straight twin brother that they could go out with.
    • In one episode, Lily stymies Barney's effort to seduce the twin of a previous conquest by claiming to have gotten chlamydia from him, then re-entering as her own supposed twin to rebuke him a second time.
  • In Good Eats, when Alton's Evil Twin B.A. appears, it's pretty obvious to the audience that B.A. is just Alton in a Darker and Edgier costume, so it's Played for Laughs.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • A variation — Paige uses magic to impersonate Glen's fiancee Jessica and goes to marry him in her place. When Leo shows up with the real Jessica, he tells the confused priest that they're twins.
    • At one point, Prue gets a mind-reading power and believes her new boyfriend is a warlock conspiring against her. It turns out that his troubling thoughts were only due to the fact that it was really the boyfriend's twin, whom the boyfriend had sent in to meet her.
  • Arrested Development:
    • As a prank, Maeby poses as her fictional twin sister Surely (yes, it's not spelled "Shirley"). Surely is depicted as rather sick with BS and a charity is set up for a cure.
    • In "Sad Sack", George Sr. poses as his twin brother Oscar in order to learn if his wife Lucille was in fact in love with Oscar.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Death Defying Feats", an identical twin had murdered her sister years before. When this act seems to be on the verge of catching up with her, she poses as her sister and claims that the two of them had faked her death to allow her to escape an abusive husband.
  • Full House: In a minor plotline from the episode "Trouble in Twin Town", Stephanie poses as her own "twin", Bethany (aided by minor clothing changes), to impress a pair of cute twin boys. Her charade quickly falls apart, but when the boys start to argue over who saw her first, she claims there's enough of her to go around, and walks off with a boy on each arm
  • Used in reverse in My Hero (2000); when a rare Ultronian heart condition causes George to 'die' in public and be cremated, they get around it by having George simply walk into the health center and pretend that the person who died was his identical twin brother, Seamus, who was pretending to be George for a week as a joke.
  • Upstart Crow: In "Go On, and I Will Follow", Kit Marlowe (who has faked his death) poses as his 'twin brother' Kurt so he can attend the London Theatre Awards and collect his posthumous award.
  • Hot in Cleveland: In the two-part episode, "I Love Lucci", Joy runs into Michael E. Knight who slept with her and then dumped her before she moved to Cleveland. When she confronts him, he pretends the guy she was with was his twin brother Alex. In part two, Joy discovers the deception when a person whose friend Knight treated similarly reveals that Alex is the name of the Evil Twin character Michael plays on All My Children.
  • In the Our Miss Brooks episode "Connie and Bonnie", Miss Brooks impersonates her non-existent twin sister so as to earn extra money moonlighting as a waitress.
  • Dark Desire: Darío pretends he's got an identical twin to excuse certain things he does, using some makeup so they look slightly different.

  • The Aquabats!: In the song "Hot Summer Nights (Won't Last Forever)!", Elizabeth pretends to be her twin sister "Liz" when she accidentally bumps into the narrator again, to fend off his affections. He falls for it completely. Later, she pulls it off a second time by pretending to be her "identical cousin", "Beth".

  • A notable subversion happens in Adventures in Odyssey. In Edwin Blackgaard's first episode, his appearance in Odyssey was set up to look like this, but it turns out Regis IS his evil twin and Edwin had no idea Regis had been there first.

    Video Games 
  • In Uta No Prince-sama, Tokiya does this when entering the Academy in order to try to break away from his Hayato persona and debut as himself.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Mion does this in the Watanagashi-hen, when she claims to be her twin sister, Shion, a twin who never made an appearance in the previous arc, and who Rena and Satoko, some of Mion's best friends, don't know anything about. The aforementioned is what Keiichi and the audience are led to believe, until shortly before the Watanagashi, Shion tricks him into buying a doll that Mion had wanted him to give her from the toy store where Mion was working. Seeing the two twins side-by-side shows Keiichi - and by extension the audience - that Mion really does have an identical twin sister named Shion, but Mion had pulled a Twin Switch.

    Web Original 
  • In Raishon, Eli pretended to be his own twin on the night of the Halloween Event while Zyera was (unwillingly) dressed up as him.


    Western Animation 
  • Angelica does this on an episode of Rugrats. She puts her hair in a bun and rolls her sleeves up, pretending to be her nicer sister Ballina. Didi of course isn't fooled but plays along anyway. The babies believe it and prefer Ballina, which greatly annoys Angelica.
  • There was an episode of Wayside where Myron pretended to be his non-existent twin brother Normy.

    Real Life 
  • A woman named Audrey Marie Hilley did this after killing her first husband and fleeing, where she started living under the name Robbi and married another man. She then killed off the Robbi persona and came back as Teri, her alleged twin sister, and even got a job at the same company. She actually fooled her second husband but her coworkers got suspicious and investigators eventually sussed out her true identity after finding no records of a Robbi or a Teri being born in the place and time she claimed.