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"I do not speak a word of German. I speak English mit a German accent. [in an American accent] Pageantry."
The Waffle Nazi, Pushing Daisies

A character is presented as an archetypal Funny Foreigner with a ridiculous accent, extreme clothes, and a tendency towards weird food. They may even be an evil foreign rival to our local boy.

However, the audience gets to see them more privately, and they are shown as a normal local, or at least as seemingly normal. They'll explain that it's all an act that makes them seem exotic, or puts people off guard, or it gets them laid. They may resent the act, and the things they have to do for it.

Sometimes, this trick is done with someone who is from another country, but is actually pretty sane; they simply play it up. At other times, this trope is used to justify an actor's appalling accent. Very often overlaps with Elective Broken Language or Overly Stereotypical Disguise. Contrast Fake Nationality, which is the out-of-universe counterpart to this trope.

Not to be confused with the "faux" versions of one who reigns - that's Fake King.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You, Naddy seems to be an over-the-top all-American Eagleland stereotype. She's actually a Japanese woman named Nadeshiko Yamato. She embraced American culture as rebellion against her strict upbringing by her Abusive Parents, who tried to force her to be a proper Japanese lady (and disowned her after she started fashioning herself as an American). She wants to be considered American, but is reluctant to renounce her Japanese citizenship.
  • In Ah! My Goddess most people that meet Belldandy and her sisters think them as European or more precisely Scandinavian. Though they are associated to Scandinavia by myth, the three are the Norns, the Goddesses of the Past, Present and Future.
  • Armed Girl's Machiavellism has Choka U. Barazaki, supposedly a half-Italian with long blonde hair nicknamed "Butterfly Queen" or, as she puts it, "Regina della Farfalla"... But it's quickly revealed it's an act, and a bad one at that: her real name is Ubarazaki Choka (that she pronounces the Western way partly to go with the act and partly because the "U" kanji in her family name is the same as "cormorant"), the hair is a gigantic wig, and "Regina della Farfalla" is a literal translation that in Italian sounds utterly ridiculous (the literal translation is "Queen of the Butterfly". "Butterfly Queen" is actually "Regina delle Farfalle") and, in the anime, pronounced horribly.
  • Zigzagged with Olivia from Asobi Asobase. While she is of genuine foreign descent, she was born and raised in Japan and thus can't speak a word of proper English even though everyone else assumes she's fluent; anytime she attempts to speak any, she has a very pronounced Japanese accent. She is in fact worse at English than Kasumi, whose best score in the English exam is one. She plays up her foreign status around most of her classmates so she won't disappoint them, though she's able to be herself around Hanako and Kasumi.
  • The members of most of the rival schools in Girls und Panzer exhibit National Stereotypes that are mostly in line with the theme of their schools. Subverted in that despite how stereotypical these characters may act, they still identify as Japanese. One character is an aversion as she is a genuine Russian foreigner (Voiced by an actual Russian to boot) who happens to be studying in Pravda High School that exhibits stereotypes of her nationality.
  • Chada of Niea_7 is an alien that pretends to be an Indian. To be precise, he's a dark skinned alien that purchased a cheap turban and started acting like an Indian.
  • Nurse Angel Ririka SOS:
    • Kanou claims to be a Foreign Exchange Student from London but he is really a Human Alien from another dimension.
    • Princess Minima, the sister to the ruler of the planet Queen Earth, presents as Kanou's younger sister but can't keep the impression up as she knows nothing of London.
    • After turning good Dewey is described by Ririka as being from a non-descript foreign country. His origins are never stated, but he's not from Earth.
  • Kaere/Kaede Kimura of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei fits into the typical Gorgeous Gaijin image and has a type two Eagleland characterization, particularly her frequent threats to sue people. However, she falls into this because of her ridiculous claims about her (never named) home country, and a couple of episodes reference the fact she pretends to speak English, but actually barely knows a single word, and was only briefly outside of Japan. When he first meets her, Majiru Itoshiki actually calls her a "blond fake foreigner".

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Dr. Tzin-Tzin appears to be a Fu-Manchu style Yellow Peril villain, but is actually a caucasian American (albeit one raised in China) in Yellowface.
  • Black Panther: Kasper Cole affects a Wakandan accent and speech patterns in his guise as the White Tiger, mainly to throw people off his identity (because how many white Wakandan Jews do you know?) This backfires when he tries the routine on Everett Ross, who not only has been to Wakanda, he was its acting regent and is a personal friend of T'Challa's. The accent isn't even close to accurate, according to Ross.
  • The Boys: The Frenchman is heavily implied to be this by his origin issue. His Gratuitous French is often inaccurate, he's a former member of the French Foreign Legion (a group made up mostly of, well, foreigners), he claims to come from the town of Franglais, meaning "French-English," and he sometimes slips in phrases like "wanker" and "mum," that would be more typical for a Brit. Of course, he's also insane, so it's hard to call.
  • Buck Danny: The heroes have occasionally gone undercover as mercenary pilots in some villain's organization or other, in which case their new identities are often people with different nationalities to minimize their ties to the U.S. Played for Laughs in Missing In Action where they have to pose as cargo pilots to infiltrate an arms trafficking ring. Buck and Tumb are given new identities as a Briton and an Australian, but passing Sonny off as anything but American is considered a lost cause, "due to his appallingly Texan accent."
  • Empowered: “Rum, Sodomy and The Lash” who uses expressions like “Blimey!”
  • Fallen Angel: Asia Minor does the Obfuscating Stupidity version.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): An issue of G.I. Joe: Special Missions had the Joes looking for Nazi war criminals in Brazil, when they stumble across a band of stereotypical Latin American guerillas in the jungle. Recondo quickly sees through their cover: they're Sephardic Jews from Mossad hunting the same prey.
  • Hawkeye: In Hawkeye (2012) #2, the Circus of Crime's Ringmaster and some students of Hawkeye's old mentor the Swordsman masquerade as fake Frenchmen in a Cirque du Soleil-style revue/criminal operation. Hawkeye knows that the Ringmaster is Austrian, and upon hearing the Swordsmen's accents immediately recognizes them as fakes.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd's landlady/maid (it varies sometimes) Maria has always talked with a heavy Italian accent, but years later when it was revealed that she had died and left a large inheritance to Dredd, it also turned out that she never really was Italian and was faking her accent "for some reason" the entire time.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: When the series was rebooted in the 90s, Chameleon Boy was introduced as not speaking Interlac. Several story arcs went by with other characters attempting to teach him the language, only to get frustrated. Finally it was revealed that he had finally learned Interlac, but was continuing to pretend he didn't understand it in order to lure the villains of the moment into a false sense of security.
  • The Shadow Hero: The series has a Yellow Peril Chinese villain, who turns out to be a white American petty crook in Yellowface make-up who is acting as a front man for the actual, realistically-portrayed, Chinese villain. It's implied that this was both to keep the real villain's face less well known, and for a kind of Obfuscating Stupidity with respect to White people.
  • She-Hulk: In The Sensational She-Hulk #1, the Great Gambonnos of the Circus of Crime drop their stereotypical Italian accents when they've been found out.
    "Drop the act, Ernie, she's onto us."
  • Spider-Man: In Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man, General Wolfram is a wolf-themed villain claiming to be "the genetic terror of the Third Reich". Apparently, he faked the Nazi angle and the accent for distinctiveness' sake/to draw heat away from his real identity. Scorpion, who is currently impersonating Spider-Man with the aid of the Venom symbiote, calls him "Castle Wolfenstein" and eats his arm for his trouble.
  • Wallace & Gromit: Herr Doktor Count Baron Napoleon von Strudel in the comics is not actually German, although that's not a huge surprise given that his surname is taken from a foodstuff. He's actually English. He knew Wallace at school. His real name is Bert Maudsley.
  • The Whip: Wealthy playboy Rodney Gaynor adopted a Mexican accent whenever he became the Whip, an obscure hero in The DCU from The Golden Age of Comic Books. A modern-day retelling of his origin retconned him to actually having Hispanic ancestry.
  • Super Friends: The Wonder Twins from the comic adaption pretended to be foreigners after a human heard the name of their home planet from their mouth.
  • Wonder Woman Vol. 2: A variation as Skeeter LaRue is shown as a slick assistant to publicist Myndi Mayer who speaks in a Southern accent (shown by lines like "Ah say," and "this here be a wild job.") After Myndi is murdered, the cops discover Skeeter is really Michael Boyd, a con man/drug dealer who turns out to be from New Jersey. A flashback shows Myndi confronting him on it, "Skeeter" brushing it off with his charm and she snaps "Oh, knock off the Jethro Bodine accent!" Boyd immediately drops the Southern talk to speak in his real voice.
  • X-Men: Fantomex (aka Weapon XIII) uses a French accent — not because he's French, but because the accent "annoys people" according to him — making it easier to catch them off guard.
  • X-Men Noir Chief Magnus inverts this; a Transian native who emigrated to the US, he took diction lessons for sixteen months to achieve a perfect American accent.
  • X-Statix: The titular team once battled a European super team called Euro-Trash. One of their members was Surrender Monkey; who was essentially a walking embodiment of every negative stereotype Americans have regarding the French. A later story revealed that Surrender Monkey was not French, but actually an expatriate American.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Determined Frame of Mind Harry pretends to be Draco Malfoy's "Bulgarian cousin" as a disguise and distraction.
  • Gym Leader Wiki: Being the "Lightning American", you'd think Lt. Surge was American raised, but he's actually from Kanto. He spent a good chunk of his adulthood in the US Army, earning him his title.
  • Invoked in I am [REDACTED], where the hero Nimbus deliberately speaks Japanese with an American accent so the public assumes he is American. This distances Nimbus from his Secret Identity Midoriya Izuku, who never attended U.A. in this story, instead going to America for hero school.
  • In No Competition a lich known only as "Lich" pretends to be a foreigner during a visit to the Romanian dragon reserve, mixing an Asian glamour with an exceedingly bad attempt at mock-German.
    Lich: Der boyd word nicht getten eaten. Der boyd is gut. Der boyd ist un parselmouth.
  • In The Seven Misfortunes of Lady Fortune, Marinette (a half-Chinese born in France) pretends to be a native Chinese speaker.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live Action 
  • In The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Pluto's friend Anthony Frankowski pretends to be Scottish, trying to invent a new song genre called "Scottish crooning". It fails miserably. Pluto suggests he reinvent himself as an Italian named Tony Francis. It works, and Tony is a big hit singing Sinatra's songs on stage.
  • The A-Team: Done hilariously. On the team's exit from Germany, Face has prepared false identity papers to get everyone through security, with BA's identity being a Tanzanian from Zanzibar, and Murdock being a rabbi. Unfortunately, he mixed up his paperwork and ended up giving each of them the other's identity, which neither of them realize until they're in front of the customs officer. To Face and Hannibal's shock, they both recover almost immediately and are able to convincingly assume the new identity; BA (who had earlier been shown reading spiritual and philosophical books) ad-libs something about a job converting people to Judaism, while Murdock reveals a previously unknown fluency in Swahili that allows him to talk his way past the guard (despite the man being a native Swahili speaker of Tanzanian descent himself).
    Face: You speak Swahili?
    Murdock: You don't?
  • The young protagonist of Breaking Away is a bicyclist who charms a girl he likes by pretending to be an Italian bicyclist. It works... for a while.
  • In Cannibal! The Musical, Alfred Packer and co. encounter Indians who are actually Japanese guys in disguise. To add to the joke, Packer (IIRC) refers to the tribe as the "Nihonjin" - which means "Japanese people".
    Bell: Could you tell me what tribe this is?
    Chief: Hmmmmm... We are... Indians!
    Bell: ...Yes, I see that, but... what Indians?
    Chief: You don't think we are... Indians?
    Bell: No, no, no, I just um...
    Chief: We have... teepees.
    Bell: Right. I see, but...
    Chief: Look at all these teepees ...we have. Because... we are...Indians!
    Packer: Yeah, they have teepees.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier features a similar situation - the Winter Soldier uses Russian weaponry, has a red star on his mechanical left arm, and gives orders to his henchmen in Russian at one point. He's an American turned into a Brainwashed and Crazy assassin for Hydra, although Captain America: Civil War reveals that at least one of his past handlers was Russian.
  • In Clue, French Maid Yvette speaks with a French accent for most of the movie, although it's sometimes heavier and sometimes lighter and in general she seems to be a bit of a Funny Foreigner. When she's away from everyone else however, and believes herself to be speaking with her secret employer, she drops the French accent entirely and speaks with an American accent. Miss Scarlet, who runs a brothel in Washington D.C., later confirms that Yvette used to work for her there.
  • According to Mr. Mainwaring and Wilson in Dad's Army (1971), German spies have been disguising themselves as British nuns and soldiers to avoid detection.
  • In Doctor in Love, Dr. Burke pretends to be a Scotsman named Dr. MacGregor when assisting in Sir Lancelot's surgery.
  • From Ghostbusters II comes this exchange:
    Peter Venkman: Johnny, where are you from?
    Janosh Pohah: (in a thick accent) The upper-west side.
  • Help!: All the cultists from 'the East' are played by English actors. This is Lampshaded when the Beatles visit the Indian Restaurant "seeking enlightenment as to rings" from someone from "the mystic East" but quickly learn that everyone working there is English.
    Ringo: He's from the West!
    Restaurant Host: No, the East... Stepney.
  • In the dark comedy Human Nature, a female character adopts a fake French accent and persona to make herself more attractive to men.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — Indy impersonates a disgruntled Scottish collector of tapestries to gain access to an Austrian castle. When the guise doesn't work as well as hoped, Indy quickly resorts to Plan B. Guess what that is?
  • Inglorious Basterds gets a fair amount of drama out of this trope and how difficult it is to pull off:
    • Archie Hicox, the British Army officer assigned to help the Basterds, speaks German very well, but has just enough of an accent to arouse the attention of several Germans. He explains it as an idiosyncracy coming from his native village. Then he gives himself away by ordering three drinks in a bar... That's "three drinks," signaled with the three middle fingers of his hand, as done in Anglo-Saxon cultures, as opposed to "three drinks" with the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger, as done in Germany and on much of continental Europe.
    • Of course, the Basterds themselves are far worse, being a death squad that's been picked for their muscle rather than brains or ability to blend in. When three of them unexpectedly have to go undercover at a black tie event, it's a foregone conclusion that they can't pose as Germans, so they try posing as Italians instead, reasoning that most Germans won't speak that language. This goes about as well as you'd expect. To be fair, they were perfectly aware of what a long shot it was.
      Aldo: Well, I speak the most Italian, so I'll be your escort. Donowitz speaks the second most, so he'll be your Italian cameraman. Omar speaks third most, so he'll be Donny's assistant.
      Omar: I don't speak Italian.
      Aldo: Like I said, third most. Just keep your fucking mouth shut. In fact, why don't you start practicing right now?
  • This was done in an attempt (opinion varies on its success) to remove the dubious Yellow Peril implications of The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. The Mandarin turns out to be a British actor pretending to be a sinister ambiguously-Asian terrorist, as a front man for the actual villain of the film, who is a white American.
  • In Keeping the Faith, Ken Leung's character puts on a stereotypical Asian accent when selling karaoke machines. When it's revealed that he's dealing with a holy man, he drops the fake accent and reveals himself as a shrewd business man who puts on a show for customers.
  • The Marx Brothers' movies occasionally imply that Chico's characters are not really Italian. In Animal Crackers, Chico recognizes a respected art dealer as "Abie the fish man":
    Ravelli (Chico): How did you get to be Roscoe W. Chandler?
    Chandler: How did you get to be Italian?
    Ravelli: Never mind—whose confession is this?
    Driftwood (Groucho): Well, things certainly seem to be getting better around the country.
    Fiorello (Chico): Well, I wouldn't know about that; I'm a stranger here myself.
  • Please Turn Over: Pierre in Naked Revolt uses a fake French accent in front of customers.
  • In Police Academy, there was a character who pretended to have a Spanish accent, because the ladies love it.
  • In Slap Her... She's French, "French" exchange student Genevieve is actually Starla's American classmate Clarissa, who moved to France because of Starla's bullying.
  • The Melissa McCarthy movie Spy has Aldo, the hilariously over the top collection of Italian stereotypes, which includes fashionable dressing, wildly inappropriate flirting with/sexual harassment of every woman in sight, driving like a complete madman, etc. At the end of the movie he explains to the main character that his name is actually Albert, he's an English spy who is part of MI6, and Aldo was a cover identity but Albert got a little Lost in Character, and he apologizes for his behavior like a proper British gentleman all the while. However, he then screws with her head a little bit by hinting that maybe he really is Aldo and is faking being English instead, complete with claiming that his British accent comes from imitating characters on Downton Abbey. He then continually switches back and forth between English and Italian personas, complete with different body language, posture, etc.
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Pirelli plays himself up as a stylish, eccentric Italian barber. He's British. And to top it off, he's played by someone known for intentionally annoying, exaggerated stereotypes of several different ethnicities.
  • In Trading Places, the protagonists disguise themselves as exaggerated foreigners, with Dan Aykroyd pretending to be a Jamaican, Jamie Lee Curtis' Hooker with a Heart of Gold as a Norse by Norsewest Swede, and Eddie Murphy as a Cameroonian. Denholm Elliott's English butler as an Irish priest isn't anywhere near as much of a stretch in terms of geography, but it's still pretty unconvincing.
  • Up Pompeii films:
    • In Up Pompeii, Lurcio disguises himself as a Nubian eunuch to sneak through the slave's entrance and try and stop Voluptua from getting Ludicrus Sextus killed.
    • Up the Front:
      • The British Captain Nigel disguises himself as a German to infiltrate their headquarters.
      • The German Colonel von Gutz disguises himself as a Brit to steal the German's master plan from Lurk.
      • The British Lurk and German Colonel von Gutz, Donner, and Blitzen disguise themselves as Frenchmen (with Colonel von Gutz as a Scottish Officer) in order to get to General Burke.
      • El Puncturio is really a Brit putting on a Spanish persona for his Knife-Throwing Act.
  • Watch Your Stern: When Blissworth is disguised as Potter, Miss Foster tells him to use a Scottish accent to diguise his voice from Admiral Pettigrew.
  • The World Is Not Enough: Bond impersonates a murdered Russian scientist in order to get close to Renard's nuclear operation. Not even Dr. Jones is fooled by the ruse. Not by his accent or anything though; after conversing in English she addresses him in Russian to test him, but Bond aces it. The scientist in question is simply too old for Bond to convincingly pass himself off as.

  • The Bourne Series: The KGB has a training facility at Novgorod for its agents and some other assets, which is effectively a series of replicas of many Western cities. The purpose of this is to train the agents in becoming this trope by passing as completely ordinary French/British/American/etc citizens in their native environment. The Big Bad of the trilogy, terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a graduate of this program.
  • Caging Skies: Krzysztof Powszechny and Janusz Kwasniewski aren't Polish, they're Russian soldiers named Sergey Karganov and Fedor Kalinin who are fleeing Stalin's Soviet Union.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, who variously presents himself as English and Italian and hints at even more exotic origins.
  • Dare to Love by Jennifer Wilde features "Elena Lopez", a British dancer/courtesan pretending to be Spanish. She is based on the real-life Lola Montez: see Truth in Television below.
  • In The Disaster Artist Greg Sestero mentions that whilst working in LA as a struggling actor he had a brief TV role as a character pretending to be French to improve his chances with women.
  • Jack Ryan: Exploited multiple times by spies, soldiers, and terrorists alike when their jobs require them to hide their identity;
    • Domingo Chavez first appears in Clear and Present Danger as part of a handpicked unit of Hispanic, native Spanish-speaking soldiers who are being sent on a covert operation in Colombia. The language skills are there not only to help them blend in but so that they're not suspected of being Americans. Several of the same soldiers show up again in Debt of Honor, this time to be inserted into Japan, where they're posing as Spanish nationals. While there's no question of them blending in this time, the fake nationality is still very useful - not only are they not suspected of being Americans, but there are far fewer Japanese who speak Spanish than English.
    • Clark, despite his lack of a formal education, speaks both Russian and Spanish fluently enough to pass for a native. As a result, he goes undercover under a fake nationality multiple times, most often as a Russian. When he takes on Chavez as a partner, the cover story is that Chavez (by now also fluent enough to pass for native) is also a Russian; his darker skin and Latino features are explained away as Tartar heritage.
    • Mary Pat Foley is a downplayed example, involving heritage rather than citizenship. She has her Irish husband's last name, and her first name isn't conspicuously un-Irish, so her KGB opponents assume that's what she is, and are surprised when she has a much deeper grasp of their language and culture than any outsider should. She's actually an ethnic Russian. It's noted that the KGB often makes this mistake, forgetting that America's extensive history of immigration and the subsequent cross-marriages leads to a lot of Americans with names that don't match their heritage.
    • The U.S, of course, is on the receiving end of this plenty of times as well. In Patriot Games, terrorist Sean Miller enters the United States by passing as a Scot; it's noted that he doesn't have to try very hard, as Americans have a lot of trouble telling Scottish and Irish accents apart. Similarly, Felix Cortez in Clear and Present Danger can pose as a Venezuelan businessman on his visits to the U.S. without raising any suspicion (he's actually Cuban, and currently working for Colombians).
  • In the Nero Wolfe novel, Over My Dead Body, we are introduced to Madame Zorka, who speaks with an exaggerated accent and described as looking a bit like Delilah from the story of Samson & Delilah. When she becomes a murder suspect, the detectives dig into her past and find that she's actually from Ottumwa, Iowa and has a somewhat embarrassing name.
    Wolfe: Why the confounded drivel? That imbecile flummery?
    "Zorka": What do you THINK what would happen if it came out that a Fifth Avenue couturière if it came out that her name was Pansy Bupp?
  • Discworld:
    • Maskerade had Enrico Basilica, a trained opera singer, who realised that he'd never make it in Opera as boring old Henry Slugg, so he pretended not to speak a word of the language and demanded to be treated to exotic food. However, he came to regret being trapped in the Basilico persona; he also came to be sick of the pasta his hosts always cooked him, when what he really wanted was a good pork pie and a beer.
    • This is a fairly common joke in the Discworld novels. A Hat Full of Sky mentions a pair of circus acrobat twins who used the same foreign-name ruse for the same reason.
    • An example of a character playing up their identity is 71-hour Ahmed in Jingo, who finds it convenient to be a stereotypical Klatchian who stepped straight from Arabian Nights, but can actually speak Morpokian with barely a trace of an accent (which he could do because he was, like so many, schooled in Ankh-Morpork as a youth), and even takes on Ankh-Morpork mannerisms when in Klatch. As he explains, "Always be a little bit foreign wherever you are, because everyone knows foreigners are a little bit stupid." Incidentally, he tipped his hand about the Obfuscating Stupidity quite early on, seeing something of a kindred spirit in Sam Vimes, yet still managed to surprise him with his mastery of the language.
    • Jingo also provides a complex inversion involving Vetinari and Fred Colon, who has been trying to pass himself off as a Klatchian in Klatch, with about as much success as might be expected. Vetinari steps in, passing HIMSELF off as a generic “foreign stage magician” and explains that Colon is, in fact, from Ur - a Discworld region proverbial for bucolic stupidity. The crowd are happy with this, Colon is completely oblivious to what has just happened, and all go about their business..
    • Then there's Otto von Chriek, the mostly-harmless vampire photographer, who dresses silly and speaks with a thick accent and is generally a nice guy, even though if he wanted to he could rip your limbs out of their sockets and beat you to death with them. He explains that being so silly, no one takes a second glance...even when you're taking pictures of an anti-vampire demonstration.
    • And virtually every (non-Uberwaldian) Igor — they don't have to speak with the accent, lithp and call everyone marthter. It'th tradithional.
    • In the TV version, Twoflower admits he only pretends not to know Morporkean because it's all part of the image of being a tourist. (How he could know this when he's the Discworld's first tourist is a mystery best left unexplored, but it may be something to do with the fact that on the Disc, tropes are practically laws of physics.) It was averted in the original novel, incidentally; Twoflower really didn't speak Morpokian, though to give the man credit he'd made a phrasebook and at least tried. Rincewind ends up acting as his interpreter for most of the book after they find a third language that they both speak.
    • In Pyramids, Ptraci speaks Ephebian with a ptrace of her Djelibeybi accent, because it sounds more exotic. Pteppic understands: "An assassin is supposed to be a little bit foreign wherever he goes. I'm good at that part".
  • The end of The Dresden Files book White Night shows Thomas pretending to be a gay Frenchman ("Toe-moss") to play up to the expectations of his beauty salon's customers.
  • John Steinbeck's East of Eden uses this with the Chinese Lee. He speaks when he first appears in the book in stereotypical You No Take Candle fashion, but when a character comments he can't possibly talk like that all the time, he drops the act and speaks normally for the rest of the book.
  • The Fourth Protocol: Overlapping with False Flag Operation and bordering on Batman Gambit. After forty years of Cold War, it's become very difficult to find any communist sympathizers in the British Ministry of Defense that could be recruited to spy on their country. So the KGB do the opposite: pose as South Africans to convince a British official to spill vital secrets, which he believes South Africa needs to defend itself against communists, and is being unjustly denied because of its "minor" problem of oppressing blacks.
  • Hercule Poirot in general is something of a fauxreigner as part of Obfuscating Stupidity. A particularly notable example comes when he visits the Abernathie house in After the Funeral. Although Poirot is playing his actual nationality there, he is pretending to be an elderly refugee from World War II who can barely speak or understand English as opposed to the savvy detective who has lived in England for more than 30 years.
  • Inverted with Zampanò from House of Leaves. He claimed to be American, yet seemed foreign. The Other Wiki's discussion page seems to think Zampanò was French.
  • Religious example: In John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor's Into the Looking Glass novel Vorpal Blade, one of the Marines (nicknamed "Gunga Din") claimed, when recruited, to be Hindu, simply because he didn't want to be an atheist like the parents he hated. Doubly subverted in that a) he's actually of Indian descent, and b) once he'd made the decision, he decided to be serious about it, and has been slowly learning about the religion ever since.
  • Joe Pickett: In Breaking Point, the regional director of the EPA is named Juan Julio Batista and claims to be Latino. He is utterly ruthless and has advanced through the organisation by accusing anyone who opposes of him of racism. However, he is really an Anglo. Batista is his stepfather's name (his mother remarried when he was in his 20s) and he changed his name from John to Juan in order to take advantage of his naturally dark skin to deliberately play the race card.
  • Saif, the main antagonist of The Mental State, uses a variety of different names of different nationalities when doing dealings with his criminal network. Despite his most commonly used name being 'Saif Dhu Hadin', he is actually a completely Caucasian american with white hair. One of the tactics the protagonist uses to unravel his criminal network is exposing the truth about his true nationality to the foreign terrorists working for him, causing most of them to turn on him.
  • The Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy ends with Petra, who's British, assuming the identity of a Polish friend's sister (who actually died in childhood) and fleeing to Poland with her. Petra will presumably now have to spend the rest of her life pretending to be Polish, although they can excuse her lack of fluency in Polish with how long her friend spend in the UK.
  • In Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Is Bad Manners in the US edition), two girls at a 1930s boarding school investigate the murder of one of their teachers. It emerges at one point during the story that "Mam'zelle", the French mistress, is not really French at all but has been posing as a French woman with an exaggerated accent in order to get teaching work.
    • In the third book, First Class Murder, the heroines investigate a murder on board the Orient Express, and suspect that a deposed "Russian" aristocrat aboard the train is faking her nationality. It's a subversion - she really is who she says she is.
  • Two examples of this from Murder on the Orient Express Countess Elena Andrenyi and her mother, Mrs. Hubbard. Judging by their names, they are Jewish-American and from a family of actors, but instead take on false personas of a Hungarian aristocrat and an extremely annoying Eaglelander. A lot of the novel has to do with the characters not necessarily fitting their National Stereotypes.
  • In Past Mortem by Ben Elton, British-born Roger Jameson has been passing himself off as American for many years after joining the NYPD (although it appears he eventually took US citizenship.)
  • As a parody of the Poirot Speak used by similar characters in adventure movies, George MacDonald Fraser's novel The Pyrates has one pirate with an atrocious French accent who is revealed to have been a working class Englishman who was one day knocked on the head in the middle of a beginning of a French language course, and ended up with a dashing, "Pepe le Pew" persona. Oddly enough, this is a case of Truth in Television, as some fifty cases of victims of head injuries acquiring foreign-sounding accents have been documented since 1941.
  • "Madame Lulu" and "Gunther" in A Series of Unfortunate Events, whose "foreignness" derives mostly from their strange accents, mangled syntax, and overuse of the word "Please".
  • In Tell Me Your Dreams by Sidney Sheldon, protagonist Ashley has multiple personalities: a stereotypical Cockney woman named Toni and an Italian woman named Alette (both of which were created from trauma when she visited London and Italy respectively.) Toni and Alette both have their own lives and social circles but, since they are alter-egos of the American Ashley, she fits this trope.
  • One of the Trebizon books included a girl finding out that a famous "Russian" ballerina she idolized was really an English woman pretending to be Russian to advance her career.
  • The villain of Anthony Trollope's novel The Way We Live Now, Melmotte, sort of ended up as this because the author ultimately avoided making him an evil foreigner from a specific country. While he is most likely Jewish and/or French, there is also the possibility that he is Irish-American and arguably the fact he claims to be an English citizen leaves open a further possibility.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jack's fiancee, Phoebe, from the first season of 30 Rock, is implied to be not quite as British as she pretends to be.
  • The A-Team: As the team's resident con artist, Face will occasionally impersonate a citizen of another country. However Murdock, being Murdock, does this almost as much, sometimes as part of a con but sometimes simply for fun. The peak of this is probably the Season 2 premiere, where the team is hired for a job in a former British colony in Africa, and run a Bavarian Fire Drill on a local British store owner whose dynamite they want to confiscate. Murdock, posing as an officer, puts on a full I Am Very British act and tears into the shop owner for his own insufficient pride in his heritage:
    Murdock: No kippers! No herring-bone tweed! No Rolls-Royce petrol caps! No meat pies! No original pressings of "Hey Jude!"
    Face: (mouthing) "Hey Jude...?"
    Murdock: You, sir, are a miserable excuse for a shopkeep!
  • Frequently done on 'Allo 'Allo! between the Nazis, the French, and the British airmen.
  • Comedian/writer Bill Dana's famous Jose Jimenez, originally created for sketch comedy both on stage and television, eventually became the central character of both his own Sitcom, The Bill Dana Show (here's a sample), as well as at least one cartoon adaptation.
  • Arastoo on Bones used an accent for his first few episodes. He's a devout Muslim in a room full of scientists who don't agree with religion, so he figured that if he pretended to be "fresh off the boat" he'd get less crap from them. For bonus points, Bones reveals that she knew from the get-go that it was odd for an Iranian to be speaking English with a Jordanian accent, but decided it was none of her business.
  • On Boston Legal, Lorraine appears to be an educated American from Harvard who has a shady past. It eventually comes out she was a high-class "madam" in London who cut a deal to hide which high-ranking members of Parliament were clients. Once the truth comes out, she uses her natural British accent, which throws people.
  • On Bridgerton, Madame Delacroix is the haughty French owner of a popular dress shop who puts down Lady Featherington for not being able to pay the bill. Mariana begins to ask just where in France Delacroix grew up with such a "unique accent." Shifting to French, Mariana makes it clear that (having grown up with a French mother), she knows full well Delacroix has never said foot in France and will expose it unless she gives Featherington what she wants. The fake-Frenchwoman can only respond "tres bon."
  • The Brokenwood Mysteries: Two investigations uncover fake foreigners.
    • The first passed himself off as an Irish poet, only to be revealed as a Kiwi who changed his identity to cover up a statuatory rape charge.
    • The second passed himself off as an Eccentric Artist from Spain that turned out to be a Kiwi panelbeater (much to his friend's shock). He'd been doing his Spanish shtick for long enough that phrases slip into his reverted Kiwi self.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - in "Passion", Jenny Calendar goes into a magic shop. The proprietor greets her talking in a broad flowery East European accent - when she shows herself to be up on serious magic he promptly drops the accent, explaining he puts it on for the tourists.
  • Johnny Vong in the Castle episode "Sucker Punch" is a Harvard-graduate from California who took the accent of a Laotian immigrant and made millions selling a Rags to Riches success story and heroin.
  • On City Guys, Dawn meets Uri, a homeless Romanian immigrant. She takes him to the loft the gang are using as part of a reality TV show with Jamal the only one saying this could be a bad idea. But he comes around as Uri is a good and fun guy who cooks and helps. Thus, everyone is rocked to come back and find the loft has been completely cleaned out. Dawn and Jamal then run into Uri at a cafe to discover he was playing them all along and isn't even from Romania.
    Uri: So the police are looking for a Romanian named Uri...(voice suddenly shifts to a New Jersey accent) Not a guy named Joey from Hoboken. Nothing personal kids, just business.
  • Coronation Street once did a Story Arc about Fred marrying a Thai girl named Orchid. She turned out to be very British, and named Stacey.
  • According to Word of God, this is what happens to Jeff from Coupling eventually: He stays on the Isle of Lesbos, not speaking a word of Greek and spouting whatever comes to mind while claiming to only speak Hebrew.
  • The DJ in the Doctor Who story "Revelation of the Daleks" broadcasts an American-style radio show with an American accent, but really speaks with a British one in private conversations with Peri and when making snide comments.
  • Eli Stone has "Dr. Chen", ostensibly a Chinese acupuncturist with a thick accent. In truth, his real name is Frank Liebokowski and the accent is fake. He puts on the act because "nobody wants an acupuncturist named Frank Liebokowski. They want incense, mystique, foreign accent, they want Dr. Chen."
  • Ted tries to pull this in Father Ted after accidentally swearing at Bishop Brennan on the phone.
    Ted: 'oo eez zis? Zere iz no 'Crilly' 'ere! [hangs up]
  • Forever:
    • In "Skinny Dipper" Henry's new therapist Dr. Lewis Farber has a British accent and claims to be from London, but is actually his stalker Adam. As he's originally from the Roman Republic he's still a foreigner, but not the sort he was pretending to be.
    • The fake British noble in "The Man In the Killer Suit" is really a bike messenger from Oklahoma.
  • Foyle's War: The French Drop features Jacques Dumont, apparently a Frenchman being trained in resistance work by the SOE at its nearby base. He's actually an Englishman, assigned to investigate a mishap and cover-up on the base. Foyle first suspects this when he sees how easily he fills out English crossword puzzles in his spare time, then has it confirmed when the man mistakes "Paris Montparnasse" for a football team rather than a railway station. (The agent is entirely aware of how hard it is to pull off this trope, and can only shrug that he's amazed he got away with it for so long).
  • Game of Thrones: Ros claims the whore Armeca pretends not to speak the Common Tongue to increase her exotic appeal.
  • On The Gilded Age, after spending the first season as a fussy French cook, Monsieur Baudin is forced to confess he's actually a farmboy from Wichita, Kansas. He'd trained in Paris but when he found no one in New York society was interested in him, he remade himself into a Frenchman. Amusingly, he still speaks with the accent as he's become so used to it. He drops it for a perfect Kansas drawl only to slip right back into the French accent without realizing it.
  • On Girl Meets World, Maya kidnaps French actress Anastasia Boulangerie and handcuffs her to the bathroom radiator, so her mother Katy can get a movie role. When Katy enters, she stuns Maya and Riley by telling "Anastasia" to drop her accent.
    Anastasia (in broad Southern voice) All right, fine! But this here does not leave this here room!
    Maya: What.
    Riley: Duh.
    • It turns out "Anastasia" is actually Bobbie Jo Thibodeaux, Katy's best friend from Arkansas who created this fancy French persona for her career.
  • Good Behavior:
    • Con artist Letty is a master of shifting accents to various nationalities (or at least parts of the U.S.) as part of her schemes.
    • Letty goes to visit her grandmother, who's married to a wealthy man, the woman speaking in a crisp British accent. As soon as they're alone, Letty laughs, "that accent is terrible," as her grandmother taught her all her con games. The pair try to pull a scheme to trick the husband into a divorce only for him to reveal he's known all along Alice is a fraud, openly laughing that the accent alone was the tip-off. As it happens, he really does love her and willing to put up with the act.
  • Done more than once on The Goodies, usually as a part of a Zany Scheme. Lampshaded when Graeme is on the phone to Tim and pretending to be an Australian named 'Kerry Thwacker':
    "No! This is not Graeme doing a silly accent! Mister Garden would do a much sillier accent than this!"
  • Goodness Gracious Me lampshaded the use of the trope in films with a parody of The Great Escape where a team of captured Indian prisoners of war pretend to be German in order to escape the POW camp. Their excuse is that they are from East Germany - "very East."
  • Barney on How I Met Your Mother once pretended to be an Estonian street performer to convince Marshall and Lily to start trying for a baby.
  • This one's old enough to have been used on I Love Lucy, when a French man attempts to seduce Lucy away from Ricky; after having (apparently) succeeded, he rejects Lucy, stating that he simply couldn't bring himself to sleep with a married woman. He goes on to explain that he only behaves like a homewrecking lech because that's what Americans expect French men to be like, and he hates to disappoint people.
  • In the Inside No. 9 episode "The Bill", a group of friends argue over a Shockingly Expensive Bill in a restaurant, to the consternation of the Eastern European waitress. It turns out she is neither Eastern European nor a waitress.
  • A more regional version is seen, and played with, on The Jeff Foxworthy Show. A WASP-ish neighbor comes to the house to visit, and Jeff's normally-low-key Southern accent is ramped up. When Jeff's wife asks him about it, he laughs and reveals he does it intentionally just to bug the guy.
    Jeff: "It kills him he lives next to Foghorn Leghorn!"
  • Adam Klaus of Jonathan Creek is a fake American in Britain... Maybe. See the show's own page for the various competing theories about where and how he acquired it.
  • In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the team stops what they think is an attack on a Muslim woman. It turns out that the screaming woman is neither Muslim nor of Middle Eastern descent, and that the rape is actually part of a hardcore porn movie being filmed. The actress is proud of "getting the accent right," but the SVU team are not impressed.
  • Leverage: As the team grifter, Sophie Devereaux does this almost every episode. Given where she lives, she usually has to pass for American, and has an especial fondness for the Southern Belle act.note 
  • Nelson on Life on Mars (2006) does the Obfuscating Stupidity variant of this. He asks Sam to keep it to himself, as "folks just seem happier with the other Nelson."
  • Little Britain features the characters of Dudley and his Thai Mail-Order Bride Ting Tong Macadangdang. Dudley comes to realize over the course of several episodes that Ting Tong is not quite who she claims to be - including the fact that she was born in Tooting (London), not a remote Thai village as she originally said.
  • On Major Crimes, the team track down a Korean Back-Alley Doctor doing cosmetic surgery in his house. He talks to them in broken English which they cut off. Tao says the accent is "really offensive" considering the man was born and raised less than a mile away. After a pause, the guy shrugs and, in perfect unaccented English, says "It's good for business." Both his patient and nurse look at him in disbelief.
  • On Martial Law, the team are tracking Nakamura, said to be the deadliest hitman in Japan who killed an entire pack of Yakuza bosses. Grace meets him, Nakamura speaking in a cultured accented voice. He and Sammo finally come face to face...and Sammo takes him down in five seconds. Turns out this "master assassin" is a low-level con artist who was mistaken for a chef for the Yakuza meeting where, by accident, he cooked a fish wrong to poison the bunch. Naturally, the police and underworld assumed this had to be a master assassin and overnight every other unsolved murder in Japan was laid at Nakamura's feet. To top it off, Nakamura admits he's not even Japanese but born in Hawaii and raised in L.A. and just puts on the act to con a mob boss.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Shirley is seen going to a fortuneteller, Gina, for advice, blissfully oblivious to how the woman is a fraud. When the woman departs, Shirley asks her replacement if Gina went back to "the old country." The new fortuneteller says, "Old country? She's from the Bronx!"
  • Miami Vice: Tubbs is actually a black man from New York, but in immigrant-heavy Miami, often adopts the persona of an immigrant from Haiti, Jamaica, or another Caribbean nation.
  • Midsomer Murders had an episode whose twist was that a visiting "Norwegian" archaeologist was actually a local man who had faked his own death and returned to settle old scores.
  • Mission: Impossible: Similar to the Bourne example above, one of the early episodes had the IMF team assigned to infiltrate a replica city where agents from the Soviet Bloc are trained in impersonating Western citizens.
  • Back when MTV still played music videos, they would sometimes run comedy sketches between those videos. One of these, from a series profiling artists, focuses on a French man named Maurice who would dance to Kennedy's host segments. note  He maintains his French accent all throughout the interview even struggling to remember an American term at one point. The interviewers then talk to Maurice's parents who reveal that he's actually an American named Morris Goldstein.
  • It's lampshaded on at least two occasions on The Muppet Show that the Scandinavian gibberish spoken by the Swedish Chef is not actually the Swedish language. On the first, after this is revealed, it's commented that although the Chef would like to start language classes, he has to feed his family. On the second, after the Chef's language is referred to as Mock Swedish, the other characters demand he speak in his true language, prompting him to speak in an oriental gibberish identified as Mock Japanese by that week's guest star, Jean Stapleton, who also speaks it. Though Björn Borg converses fluently with the Chef in his usual lingo, thus suggesting that it is Swedish.
  • In the Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode "The New Kid", Cookie tries to reinvent himself as a British transfer student when entering a new class so that they will think he's exotic and special, but immediately gets called out and exposed by an actual British transfer student. He later catches the "Brit" using American terms instead of British ones and realizes that he's also a Fauxreigner, pulling the same stunt as Cookie for similar reasons (he's an actual transfer student, but from Ohio).
  • Alf Butler from No Appointment Necessary (1977) is a shifty Cockney man trying to run a salon under the name "Monsieur Andre" to attract more clients.
  • In Season 5 of NYPD Blue, Naomi is the squad's PAA who speaks in a broad Southern accent. During a talk on the phone, her voice shifts to an Australian accent. It turns out she's an illegal alien from Sydney and put on the act as she hoped to become a cop. She's forced to resign when the truth comes out but does get a job as a security guard using her real vice.
  • Peaky Blinders features a black street preacher Jeremiah Jesus, played by poet Benjamin Zephaniah. During earlier episodes he publicly recites the bible in an Afro-Caribbean accent, but he later speaks privately with the main character in a regional English accent.
  • The maitre d' of the Chinese restaurant in Persons Unknown.
  • Marco Espinoza on Scrubs really is Dominican, but doesn't tell anyone he's learned English. Not even his sister Carla.
  • Stargate SG-1: Occasionally invoked by the team. Daniel Jackson's status as the resident Omniglot helps.
    Daniel: So we go in disguise, pretend to be foreigners.
    Jack: How are you going to do that?
    Daniel: Well I speak 23 languages, Jack. Pick one.
    • It's also often invoked for Teal'c to explain away his unfamiliarity with Earth culture. When he first moves to an apartment off-base, the cover story is that he's an immigrant from Mozambique.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: The Enterprise crew end up stranded on twentieth-century Earth a couple of times. In The City On The Edge Of Forever, Kirk tries to explain Spock's appearance by invoking this trope, with painfully unconvincing results:
    Kirk: My friend is... obviously Chinese. I see you've noticed the ears... Well... They're actually easy to explain...
    Spock: Perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child?
    Kirk: The unfortunate accident he had as a child. He caught his head in a mechanical... rice picker. But fortunately there was an American, uh, missionary living close by who was a skilled, uh, plastic surgeon in civilian life...
    Policeman: All right, all right. Drop those bundles and put your hands on the wall.
  • Played for Laughs in Spanish Archer. El Bow has a surprisingly Welsh accent and exaggerates it. Exaggerated when El Bow is ill and replaced by Welshwoman Ruth Madoc.
  • The landlord of The Young Ones spoke in a ridiculous Funny Foreigner accent when he spoke to the main characters that made him sound like an idiot, but spoke in a normal British accent when alone. He claimed that he did the accent because "it makes me sound more sophisticated". These characters were supposed to be Russian, and played by Alexei Sayle, who is of Lithuanian descent. His parents were communists as well, so the characters may have been a reference to this.
  • The Wild Wild West: Done many times.
    • Being a Master of Disguise, Artemus Gordon pulls this off a number of times, impersonating a Mexican, a Frenchman, a Canadian, and Englishman, and every possible heritage of American over the course of the series. It's not quite Once an Episode, but probably once every three.
    • Played straight and then subverted in the pilot episode, The Night of the Inferno. The villain, Mexican bandit Juan Manolo, turns out to be an apparently inoffensive Chinese shop owner ("Wong Min Lo"). Then it turns out that the Chinese shop owner is in fact a Mexican bandit, who uses a heavy amount of makeup to pose as a Chinese shop owner to help him completely disappear when he's not out on his raids.
    • Played with in The Night of the Firebrand. Irish revolutionary Sean O'Reilly does an adequate job of impersonating an American when James West first meets him. Unfortunately, he does a less convincing job of impersonating an American cavalry officer, with multiple breaches in protocol that West, himself a veteran, notes immediately.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): In "Too Many Cooks", head chef Count Igor Braunsky is revealed to really be Stanley Brown of Bethnal Green, London. As he puts it, no one is going to respect a chef named Stanley Brown.
  • Yancy Derringer: Yancy's Love Interest is Madame Francine, the strong-willed, beautiful owner of a members-only gambling house in New Orleans. She pretends to be French, but her real name is Nora and she is actually Irish.
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Indy spends most of World War I under the identity of a Belgian volunteer named "Henri Défense." His friend Rémi is baffled by the fact that he gave the recruiting office a fake identity, as the Belgian government is so desperate for troops that he could almost certainly have given his real one without anyone caring.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Booker T. Having won WWE's King of the Ring tournament, he began affecting the cape and crown as an every day fashion, behaving as if he really were the king of the world, and speaking with a ridiculously-bad British accent. Then he went to TNA and, after having politicked his way into a private dressing room (TNA, working smaller venues than WWE, doesn't give them as a manner of course), he turned it into his own personal pleasure dome, started walking around in Hefner-esque silk robes, and began affecting a ridiculously-bad African accent and constantly talking about how things are in "his country". Keep in mind, the entire time, he's still billed as being from Houston, Texas, and if he gets pushed far enough, he has a tendency to lapse back into American urban slang.
  • Santino Marella and Roddy Piper are the correct ethnicities to their characters (Italian and Scottish, respectively). They're actually Canadians. The former even had a Russian gimmick in developmental.
  • In the early part of his WWE run, Kofi Kingston was billed as being from Jamaica, and spoke with a thick Jamaican accent. While he still used the same reggae entrance theme, he soon dropped the accent and started to be billed from his actual home country of Ghana, which Triple H lampshaded:
    "Aren't you supposed to be Jamaican? What happened to your accent?"


  • In the operetta Die Fledermaus, several of the characters attend Prince Orlovsky's ball incognito as foreign noblemen and -women. Lindy Hume's English-language adaptation, first produced by Opera Australia in the 1990s, goes one better by revealing at the very end that Orlovsky himself is not really a foreign nobleman either.
  • The Foreigner by Larry Shue. Charlie is actually an Englishman in backwoods Georgia, but is so shy and depressed that he doesn't want to have to talk to anyone. His friend, Froggy then sets up the premise that Charlie is a foreigner who can't speak any English and therefore should just be left alone. Well, that doesn't quite work out as planned, but Hilarity Ensues and fortunately, it all works out in the end.
  • My Fair Lady: At the embassy ball, Kaparthy (the equivalent character of Nepomuck in Pygmalion) demonstrates his ability to detect fraud by pointing out a Greek diplomat whose origins are actually English working-class, and who pretends he speaks no English because if any English person heard him speak they'd immediately realize the truth.
  • Ali Hakim in Oklahoma! was written to be this (the idea was that he's actually Jewish from New York but claiming to be Persian), although it varies by production.
  • The "Greek diplomatist" whom Nepommuck works for in George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion. The man is in fact English, but he pretends to speak no English at all as he is of humble birth and has an atrocious manner of speech. Subverted in the same play as Nepommuck mistakes Eliza Doolittle for a fauxreigner-in-reverse because her speech is now so refined (through work of Henry Higgins) that she cannot possibly be real English, because "only foreigners who have been taught to speak it speak it as well." In fact, Nepommuck insists that she must be a Hungarian princess who is pretending to be English for some reason and no one believes the truth.
  • Don Juan and Miguel, primarily Renaissance Faire actors, have a particular mind-bending, fourth wall breaking bit where Miguel states, "I'm a Polock from Chicago pretending to be a Mexican pretending to be a Spaniard. Must mean I'm an American!"
  • Adolfo Pirelli, the self-proclaimed 'King of the Barbers and the Barber of Kings' who claims to have shaved the King of Naples and the Pope and who is all the rage in London, in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It turns out Pirelli's real name is Daniel O'Higgins, an Irishman who was Sweeney Todd's assistant as a boy, back when Todd went by the name of Benjamin Barker. Daniel's intent to use this information to blackmail Sweeney ends up getting him killed.

    Video Games 
  • In Backyard Sports, Latino Master of All Pablo Sanchez is believed to not know English but if you click on his portrait one of his lines reveals that he's a native speaker and just uses the Spanish he learned in school to mess with everyone.
  • BioShock did this with Atlas, actually New York mobster Frank Fontaine putting on an Irish accent. It slips from time to time with certain words. Later in the game after The Reveal of his actual identity, Fontaine briefly puts on the Atlas voice again with even more exaggeration and Irish stereotyping just to mock Jack.
  • It's unclear if all of the Preppies in Bully (which is set in Everytown, America) are just putting on posh British airs, though Tad Spencer in particular freely admits to doing so.
    Jimmy: Are you English?
    Tad: Well, no. I just speak this way because I'm very insecure. You see, my father is a Self-Made Man, so I pretend to be Old Money, but in fact I'm really Nouveau Riche. But less about me, dear boy.
  • In Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, we meet a store owner with a long wispy beard, something resembling a traditional outfit, and a ridiculous accent (even in the Russian version!). The Let's Play names him Horrific Chinese Stereotype. Eventually he drops it.
  • The Asian bookstore owner in Fahrenheit. When policeman, Tyler Miles, meets him, he pretends to be an clumsy Chinese Old Master. After Tyler manages to solve his puzzle, he drops the act and explains that he only does it because he does not want to sell books to stupid people. He also reveals that he was in fact born in and never left Brooklyn.
  • Zigzagged in Far Cry 3 with Sam Becker, a member of Hoyt Volker's pirate crew who speaks with an outrageously thick German accent, peppers his speech with Gratuitous German expressions, and charges into battle shouting "Blitzkrieg!", evoking the All Germans Are Nazis stereotype. It is eventually revealed that he's a Deep Cover Agent for the CIA and an American citizen born in Texas. However, he grew up in Germany after his father, a Navy SEAL, was stationed there, and his accent and mannerisms aren't part of his cover identity, but completely genuine.
  • Kirby's Return to Dream Land: For the longest time, many fans have believed that Magolor was from Halcandra from face value, given how he found the Lor Starcutter there and is even implied to be a descendant of the Ancients. It wasn't until the Deluxe remake added a new line of dialogue for him revealed that Magolor isn't really native to the planet; he did spend a long time on the planet alone, but merely as someone visiting and researching the area, happening to find the Lor Starcutter near Haldera Volcano.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail!, the character Wang, obviously Chinese, is foreign... but from Ireland, and speaks English fluently with an Irish accent. Since people kept staring at him, he adopted a stereotypical Chinese accent and You No Take Candle. His Irish accent slips through whenever he gets upset or annoyed, prompting Larry to ask him about it.
  • Clay from Pokémon Black and White is a Japanese man who got rich in America by finding oil, and apparently moved to Unova. Due to the art style and his persona, he comes off as an American-born Southerner. He may be playing up the part of a Southerner, or just naturally adapted to the style.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Gobblety Tobblety: Patty is supposedly a Scottish exchange student, but toward the end of the script she reveals she's actually from Iowa and putting on an accent.
  • Implied at with Carlos from Resident Evil Musicals, while he was simply a foreigner with an inconsistent accent on the original game, here he is treated like he's faking it on purpose.

  • While not denying his fae nature or that he is a foreigner Jareth's portrayal in the Buildingverse is so British that even his unwilling love interest gets roped into anglophile meetings at times. Actually that's just Actor Allusion, he is half-Charnian (part genie and giant from this side), half Scandinavian/Germanic (and nasty sort of child stealing fairy). Yeah. Playing that straight would probably make him even more of a Funny Foreigner.
  • In Widdershins, Tim Chiang pretends to be an old Magical Asian for his Stage Magic act, while actually, he was born and raised in Surrey. He's also twenty-something and the beard is fake.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Nanatte Manoir from Angela Anaconda does have French ancestry but plays it up really severely wearing a beret and a peppering her speech with French. However it's not very accurate French as revealed with an actually French exchange student visits the class (or to any viewer that has even a passing knowledge in French themselves).
  • A Pro Wrestling Episode in Avatar: The Last Airbender features a Foreign Wrestling Heel, the Fire Nation Man. Despite his overt patriotism and very stereotypical outfit, his Misplaced Accent and the fact that he displays sandbending suggests that he's actually from the Earth Kingdom (a fact confirmed by All There in the Manual material).
  • Kairi in Batman Beyond fakes a heavy Japanese accent because it sells more fish that way. She speaks with an American accent when she isn't working.
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "Double Cross My Heart", foreign exchange student Gregor claims to be from Hungary, but at the end of the episode drops the accent and confesses that his real name is Elliot and he's actually from Michigan.
  • In DuckTales (2017), it is revealed that, like his comic book counterpart Flintheart Glomgold was born and grew up in South Africa. The excessive Scottishness is an act to surpass his rival Scrooge. His birth name isn't even Flintheart Glomgold, it's Duke Baloney.
  • Frisky Dingo:
    • "Mao" is a white dry cleaner pretending to be Chinese in order to qualify for a minority business loan.
      Those loans are for non-threatening women of color!
    • Grace Ryan has an incredibly racist "disguise" as a Chinese woman.
  • In the Home Movies episode "Four's Company", Octavio seduces Melissa this way.
  • Looney Tunes: In the original Pepé Le Pew short ("Odor-able Kitty" (1945)), Pepe reveals he's not really French, but an America skunk (with a wife and two kids) who likes playing the "French lover" role. This was removed from his later appearances.
  • One episode of The Simpsons had owners of a Chinese Restaurant slip into a heavy stereotype to please Homer.
  • The Chameleon Brothers in Rocko's Modern Life have heavy, vaguely-Scandinavian accents. This is later revealed to be all just part of their ever-changing Hipster persona...incidentally, the only part that doesn't change.
  • In one episode of Rugrats, Ilsa Umlaut, the dog groomer who was called to groom Spike, speaks in a Scandinavian accent for most of the episode and claims to be from either Helsinki or Stockholm. After she gets paid at the end, she slips into an American accent, implying that she was faking the Scandinavian accent the whole time.
  • Tuong Lu Kim from South Park is actually a white man with a Split Personality who exaggerates several kinds of Asian stereotypes.
  • Sheep in the Big City hinted at this in the Animated Actors episode "Baa-hind the Scenes", where the Ranting Swede is shown talking without the accent while off-camera.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: "The Other Exchange Student" features Gustav, who is supposedly a foreign exchange student from Scandinavia. His real name is Charlie Booth, and he actually hails from the drab town of Bakersfieldville. His dream in life is to become a chef, and he travels the country posing as foreign exchange students to various families so he can try his recipes on them.
  • The T.U.F.F. Puppy episode "True Spies" has Ollie under the effects of Truth Syrup confess that he's faking the accent and isn't really British.
  • A flashback at the beginning of The Venture Brothers episode "Now Museum, Now You Don't" shows Dr. Jonas Venture Sr. infiltrating Scaramantula's inner circle as the Japanese Dr. Fandragon. The disguise includes using his fingers to pull his eyelids back and a superfluous third nipple (on his chin). Scaramantula seems to notice that Fandragon isn't actually Japanese, but can't seem to put together that it's specifically Dr. Venture.
    Dr. Venture: You've forgotten one thing, Scaramantula.
    Scaramantula: And what is that, my uncharacteristically hirsute Asian comrade?
  • In one episode of W.I.T.C.H., a new girl with a French accent named Sondra turns up at school, claiming to be an exchange student from Switzerland. The main characters aren't quite convinced, especially when the boys fall for her and she claims to be a superb ski expert. By the end of the episode, Sondra injures herself while everyone is on a school ski trip and is revealed to be American, as well as all the other ridiculous claims she made being fake, such as being fluent in Russian and owning clothes made of cashmere.

    Real Life 
  • "Chinese" magician Chung Ling Soo was actually an American, William Ellsworth Robinson, who pretended to be Chinese not only on stage but all the time. Only his family and several other stage magicians knew the truth. He avoided speaking English for 19 years, until he was killed when a bullet catch went wrong. His reported last words were, "My god, I've been shot."
  • "Princess Caraboo", actually Mary Wilcocks Baker, a former servant girl who became a sensation in early 19th-Century England by pretending to be a foreign princess who had washed up on British shores after escaping from the pirates who had kidnapped her. In 1994 the story was made into a movie, starring Phoebe Cates as Caraboo/Baker.
  • "George Psalmanazar", who pretended to be a Formosan long before anyone in Europe knew where Formosa (aka Taiwan) actually was or who really lived there. He wrote an absolutely awesome book in English on Formosa that was translated into French and German and was even asked to lecture at Oxford University. He admitted his imposture some years later after numerous attacks by skeptics, but to this day his real name is unknown (specifically because he refused to give it when dying, out of remorse for the imposture).
  • Mata Hari (real name: Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" Zelle), the Dutch wife of a diplomat, came back from Borneo claiming to be an adopted priestess inducted in the native (read: fictional) practices of Indonesia. She became an international sex symbol in Europe. Unfortunately for her, the Moral Guardians of the time (World War I) had her executed as a German spy.
  • A significant part of the Republic of Ireland's national football side in the '80s and '90s were born in Great Britain, due to FIFA's nationality rules allowing for this.
  • Although the Jamaican football team who qualified for the 1998 World Cup were known as the Reggae Boyz, around half the squad were actually English-born to Jamaican families (including Darryl Powell, whose father actually was a reggae musician). Such players are playfully known in Jamaica as UB40s, in reference to the multiracial British reggae band.
  • It happens in baseball as well. All 28 members of the Israeli team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic were born in the United States.
  • The embodiment of "Yellow Peril" in movies and TV was Khigh Dhiegh ("Yen Lo" in The Manchurian Candidate; "Wo Fat" on Hawaii Five-O). He was really named Kenneth Dickerson and was not of Asian descent.
  • Benjamin Franklin did this while asking for help with the American Revolution while in France. An upper crust British-born gentleman wearing a coon skin cap?
  • 19th-century courtesan Lola Montez, born in Ireland as Eliza Gilbert but spent most of her career passing herself off as a Spanish noblewoman. She got Bavarian King Ludwig I to abdicate over the affair (and the small matter of the 1848 revolutions)
  • The 19th century English explorer Richard Burton (yes, there were two of them) completely remade himself into an Arab man when exploring the Middle East, in order to get as intimate a look at the region as possible. He also benefited from being extremely good at foreign languages, mastering Arabic and fooling everyone in the process.
  • Invoked by Ghanaian soccer player Anthony Yeboah, who played most of his career in Germany. During an interview with a German sports magazine which was surprised that he was living a "normal life" he asked whether he should start a campfire in the living room and go gazelle hunting in downtown Frankfurt.
  • Invoked by Iraq war veteran Jose Barrientos. He was taking a speech class and decided to spend the entire semester speaking with a Mexican accent. When he gave his final report he slipped back into his normal accent and blew his classmates' minds. Amazingly one student kept insisting that his 'American' accent was the fake one and that he should speak in his native language.