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Identity Denial

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It's a miracle it didn't happen to Hal Jordan sooner.

Bob is walking down the street, trying his best to look inconspicuous. All of a sudden, a stranger comes up to him and goes, "hey, you're that famous singer Bob!" Bob tries his best to deny it, saying "I'm sorry, but you've got the wrong guy" or "you must have me confused for somebody else" - but it's useless, and soon he's mobbed by the crowd.

This is mostly used when a celebrity, fugitive or other public figure needs to escape notice and fly under the radar, but has his cover blown. More often than not, it doesn't work, and is often played for laughs.

Compare King Incognito, and often leads to an attack of the Groupie Brigade.


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    Comic Books 
  • A Running Gag in the last issue of the Justice League International "Breakdowns" storyline was a disillusioned Maxwell Lord being asked "Aren't you..." and replying "No, I just look like him" (or "I was"). When he decides the League still needs him after all, he hails a cab, and when the cabbie says "Hey, ain't you..." he replies "Damn right I am!"

  • Airplane!, the co-pilot is Roger Murdock (pro basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). A kid recognizes him as Kareem, but he initially denies it until the kid repeats some insulting statements his father made about him. He then admits he is Kareem, and apparently has a second career as an airline pilot that he performs under a false identity.
  • The classic comedy example is from Annie Hall,when Alvy is accosted by a man on the street who recognizes his face but can't remember his name. "Hey, dis is Alvy Singah! Dis guy's on television! Alvy Singah!"
  • A Hard Day's Night. John Lennon has the following dialogue with a random girl.
    Millie: Oh, wait a minute, don't tell me, you are...
    John: No, I'm not.
    Millie: Oh, you are.
    John: I'm not.
    Millie: Oh, you are, I know you are.
    John: I'm not, no.
    Millie: You look just like him.
    John: Do I? You're the first one that's said that ever.
    Millie: [motions to the mirror] Yes, you do. Look.
    John: No, my eyes are lighter. The nose.
    Millie: Oh, your nose is very.
    John: Is it?
    Millie: I would have said so.
    John: Oh, you know him better, though.
    Millie: I do not! He's only a casual acquaintance.
    John: That's what you say.
    Millie: What have you heard?
    John: [leans in, lowers his voice] It's all over the place.
    Millie: Is it? Is it really?
    John: Mmm, but I wouldn't have it. I stuck up for you.
    Millie: I knew I could rely on you.
    John: Thanks.
    Millie: [puts on her glasses] You don't look like him at all.
    [John walks away, pouting]
    John: [to himself] She looks more like him than I do.

  • The Fnrrns in the Terra Trilogy don't have the concept of lying, which is why prior to Terra's World Lppb, who's learned a thing or two from humans, is able to get out of a conversation by saying he's not Lppb, he just looks like him. This comes back to bite him in a major way, when the Fnrrn he's lied to figures it out, and uses the fact all other Fnrrns believe what people tell them to take over Mlml.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Le chien chaud et le mouton noir", Miss Brooks gets a job moonlighting as the "receptionist" at the "Le Salon de Chien Chaud" (a glorified hot dog stand). Mr. Stone, head of the board of education, steps in the restaurant. Miss Brooks hides behind the counter and fakes an Italian accent. Mr. Stone isn't fooled.
    Miss Brooks: (in an Italian accent) I no speaka good English. I no a be in the country so long.
    Mr. Stone: You no a gonna teach a too long.
  • In the episode "The Comic Book Store Regeneration" of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Raj approach Nathan Fillion for a photo while he is eating at a cafe. He initially denies that he is Nathan Fillion, but eventually admits that he is and poses for the photo.
  • The hidden-camera prank show I Get That a Lot takes has actual celebrities pretend to be workers in everyday establishments like clothing stores, hot-dog stands and fast-food restaurants. Customers usually immediately recognize them, but the celebrities play along by pretending that they merely look like... themselves.

  • In The Bible, Peter is in the courtyard the morning after Jesus' arrest, and has people coming up to him recognizing him as a disciple of Jesus. This leads to Peter's famous denial of Christ.

    Video Games 
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines has a more personal variant: the vampire player character is recognized by an old friend from their living days, and has to convince her she's mistaken in order to preserve the Masquerade. It's a sobering reminder of the life that's been stripped from them... unless the player character is a Cloudcuckoolander Malkavian, in which case they can convince her that they're actually her long-lost pet turtle instead.

    Real Life 
  • Urban legend holds that Albert Einstein would sometimes be approached in the street by people curious to meet him, but he responded with Never Heard That One Before.
    • A similar story is told about Walt Disney, taking it further by adding "That son-of-a-bitch? I'd punch his lights out if I could". As Mr. Disney would of course never swear or threaten violence against anyone, his identity would be very successfully disguised.


Video Example(s):


"I'm not Kareem Abdul-Jabbar."

One of the co-pilots Roger Murdock, played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, insists that he is not the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as Joey claims...until the boys tells him what his dad thinks of him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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