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Janitor Impersonation Infiltration

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Arthax: That was... demeaning.
Yeagar: I never knew you could storm a castle like this...
Nodwick: The thieves' guild would be unstoppable if they invested in blue coveralls with the name "Al" embroidered on them.

OK, so you have to break into this high tech science lab, or a government facility, or a fancy bank, or something. It doesn't really matter what this place is to you, because it's swarming with security and there's no way you'll ever get in... or is there?

Enter the Janitor Impersonation Infiltration. Custodians, janitors, cleaning ladies, what do these people have in common? They have access to every room in the building and might as well be part of the scenery. No one pays attention to them or wonders why they’re still around after hours while everyone else in the building’s gone. So if you’re looking for an easy-in, they’re the perfect candidates for impersonating when one has to steal that secret formula or those hidden financial records.

Other similar jobs, from traveling merchants to prostitutes, from waiters to pest control, all of which have the same relative anonymity of the janitor and are Beneath Notice, may also qualify for this trope, and it has actually been successfully exploited throughout history at nearly every age. After all, even the most guarded room in the world still needs to be cleaned, and even the most guarded person needs to be serviced, and it's literally impossible to know every janitor, or plumber, or whoever else, in the face, especially if it's a new guy every week.

Being that these people might be secret agents (and by proxy a Master of Disguise), there's a definite possibility of Almighty Janitor overlap. Compare Dressing as the Enemy, The Infiltration, Bathroom Search Excuse, Room Disservice, Delivery Guy Infiltration, and Surprise Inspection Ruse. Depending on what is done with the real janitor, may overlap with Mugged for Disguise, and you might want to be careful about running afoul of Confronting Your Imposter. If the impersonator seems to do this often in different situations, it might be a case of New Job as the Plot Demands. May overlap with Black-Tie Infiltration if infiltrating a party as the hired help.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ajin, Satou's accomplices infiltrate the headquarters of Grant Pharmaceutical posing as the "Clean Fox Service".
  • In Blood+, the Red Shield must dispatch a chiropteran that has appeared around a Vietnamese all-girls' boarding school while being covert about it, partially because they're able to pose as normal humans. To do this, Saya, the only member of the team who is able to kill the chiropteran, poses as a student, while her bodyguard Hagi poses as the school gardener (only to mostly fail at not attracting attention due to his good looks).
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
    • Played with when Kusanagi hacks a hotel maidbot to find out what's going on during a Yakuza meeting. This comes to an abrupt halt when a shootout occurs and the bot catches a stray bullet.
    • In another episode she pretends to be picking up the garbage. When the gangsters inside refuse to let her in, she gets them to open the door by insisting they sign the required paperwork (Japan has strict recycling laws).
  • An episode of Madlax has the title character posing as a cleaning lady in order to infiltrate an enemy base. The real cleaning lady is briefly glimpsed taped up and gagged in a supply closet.
  • Textbook example in Darker than Black when Hei needs to infiltrate a science facility and gets a job as a janitor to do so.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Numbers Cyborg Due disguised herself as a member of their maintenance crew to successfully assassinate the founders of the Time-Space Administration Bureau. Having shapeshifting abilities helped.
  • In Megaman NT Warrior, Ms. Madd infiltrates in this manner so that she and Mr. Match can compete again in the N1 Grand Prix.
  • In the Tenchi Universe film, Tenchi Muyo! in Love, this is the disguise Kiyone does when she and the other older girls infiltrate Achika's school to protect her.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Carly infiltrated the Arcadia Movement building by pretending to be a janitor. Divine stopped her and pointed out she was not the usual janitor, but she claimed he was sick.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Chameleon does this in Amazing Spider-Man issue #1, leaving the real janitor bound and gagged in a closet.
  • Taking a leaf from The Shadow's book (see below), the Batman has also masqueraded as the janitor at police headquarters. Sometimes his disguise amounts to a mop and overalls, a hat and a fake beard over his Batman costume.
  • Catwoman:
    • Used in an issue when Selina infiltrates a police station. One cop even mentions that the cleaning lady is supposed to have the day off, but doesn't pursue the inconsistency beyond that.
    • She does the same thing in another issue by posing as a maintenance worker. She lures the real maintenance worker to an apartment, where she leaves him Bound and Gagged in a closet after stealing his uniform and van.
  • When she crossed over with Flare, Lana the spy posed as a maid so she could get the drop on J. Reginald Butte, who had invited Flare to his party.
  • Scarlett attempts it in the No-Dialogue Episode "Hush Job" in G.I. Joe Yearbook #3. In an attempt to rescue Snake-Eyes, she sneaks into Cobra HQ disguised as a cleaning woman, with Snake-Eyes' wolf Timber hidden inside a canister vacuum cleaning. However, the Cobra sensors pick up the huge amount of weaponry she is carrying and she is exposed.
  • In Huntress #5 (the 2012 mini-series), Helena disguises herself as a cleaning woman to sneak into the Lion's fortress.
  • The Punisher MAX: In "Naked Kills", Frank infiltrates a super-secure high-rise used to make snuff films by threatening a mook who works there and dressing as a janitor. The security is such that no weapons, no plastic or metal can be smuggled in (while security have tasers, using them alerts everyone else), so Frank gives a masterclass in the art of the Improvised Weapon, killing guards with broom handles, toilet brushes, socks, pencils, even the copy machine, all to the mook's undisguised admiration (it turns out he has a sociopathic contempt for the lives of his coworkers, which is how he got the job in the first place).
  • XXXenophile: In "R.U.R. or Are You Ain't My Baby?", a female spy disguises herself as a cleaning woman to infiltrate a robotics lab and destroy the prototype robot being developed. (By sexing it to death.)

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In Destiny's Pawn, an adaptation of Knights of the Old Republic, the party uses various tricks to break into the Manaan Sith embassy. Kairi (Revan), Bastila, and Juhani go in by the front door, Canderous and Carth pass themselves off as a mercenary team. Jolee, Mission, and T3-M4 use this route since Sith are not known for being nice to the help nor paying them much attention.
  • In the Firefly fic His Big Damn Hero, Kaylee takes advantage of already being a mechanic to impersonate a space station mechanic so she can get close enough to Jayne to help him escape from where he’s being held. She ends up having to pull her gun later on, and is lucky that more of the crew show up at the end, when Jayne is struggling to keep up his charade of taking Kaylee hostage and guards have guns pointed at her. Mal had abandoned Jayne out of fear they’d all be caught, but he wouldn’t abandon Kaylee, prompting him and Zoe to follow once Kaylee’s absence was noticed.
  • Loved and Lost: When the fugitive heroes sneak inside Canterlot's castle and split up in the tenth chapter, Applejack and Rarity end up disguising themselves as maids and hiding Princess Cadance in a housekeeping cart after the three of them hide in a supply closet. They're stopped by a guard who gives only a brief suspicion to the two mares' nervous explanation of doing some late night cleaning. The cover is blown when they're found by Commander Hildread right after they've bumped into Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie.

    Films — Animation 
  • Horace and Jasper try this in Disney's 101 Dalmatians, as electric repairmen. It doesn't fool the nanny, so they just barge their way in.
  • Spike infiltrates a government facility as a janitor in Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Unfortunately, his guise doesn't fool the resident Action Girl.
  • In Interstella 5555, Octave does this in order to retrieve the memory disks the alien band's unedited memories. It crosses overs with Failed a Spot Check, as the watchman doesn't realize that the janitor's uniform Octave is wearing is several sizes to small on him.
  • Sing 2: After the troupe are turned away by Jimmy Crystal's receptionist, Buster has Meena dress up in a spare janitor outfit so she can help the others sneak past (clinging to a floor cleaner).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Blue Velvet, Jeffrey pretends to be an insect exterminator, in order to get access to Dorothy's apartment.
  • The Cold Open of The Bodyguard has Frank Farmer killing a hitman who had been pretending to wash a car in the parking garage. It's an Establishing Character Moment for Frank, as he tells the client (who also saw the cleaner but didn't suspect him) that he knew they didn't wash cars on the parking levels.
  • Bullet For Hire have two of the three hitman characters, Shan and Ngok infiltrating a banquet to get close to their targets while disguised respectively as a waiter and a cleaner. Ngok hides his pistol in a tea kettle, while Shan hides his machine-gun together with brooms and cleaning supplies. Though the third hitman, Shan's brother Hon who's a veteran assassin instead opts to sneak in from a nearby pier while wearing a wetsuit.
  • In The Crime Doctor's Courage, David Lee gets a job as a waiter to infiltrate Gordon and Kathleen Carson's dinner party, where he creates a scene by accusing Gordon of having murdered his first two wives.
  • In Cobra, the Night Slasher does this in order to gain entry into the hospital where Ingrid is, murdering a hapless janitor and stealing his clothes.
  • The Dark Knight Rises:
    • Selina Kyle disguises herself as a maid to steal Bruce's mother's pearls.
    • One of Bane's henchmen poses as a janitor to sneak a submachine gun into the stock exchange.
  • This is made easy in the Forest Whitaker movie Diary Of A Hitman. A husband separated from his wife sabotages her TV and then sends the hitman that he's hired in to repair it. Ironically, she buzzes him up to her apartment without checking who he is because she thinks it's her ex come to visit.
  • In Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, Cueball gets on board the ship by slipping into the middle of the gang of stevedores coming aboard to unload her.
  • In Die Hard 2, two of Colonel Stuart's men, Baker and Thompson, don utility workers' uniforms so they can get into the church and kill its custodian.
  • Also done in Fast Five, when Leo & Santos pose as janitors in order to reconnoiter the police station with their mark.
  • Near the end of Fatal Move, Soso, wife of the deceased triad boss and seemingly one of the few villains who survives the movie, is being escorted out of the police station when a pair of assassins disguised as painters kills her, via using a paint scrapper to give Soso a Slashed Throat.
  • In Fist of Fury, Bruce Lee's character, Chen, disguises himself as a telephone repairman to infiltrate the Japanese karate school.
  • The Fugitive (1993). Kimble dresses as a janitor to get into a hospital and use its computer system to locate the One Armed Man. Gerard lampshades it when he sees the phony ID card:
    [with accent] "Desmondo, Jose Ruiz?"
  • In He Walked By Night, Sgt.Brennan poses as a milkman to get close to Morgan's apartment to verify that he is the man they are looking for.
  • Audrey Hepburn's character in How to Steal a Million sneaks out of the museum disguised as a cleaning woman.
  • In The Innocent, Barlow breaks into Coleman Hall so he can abduct Gregory for his safety. He tells the guard, "Pizza delivery." Once he's in, he yells over his shoulder, "You wanna keep this job, ask for ID!"
  • The villains in Interceptor get onto a secure military base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean by starting up a cleaning company and spending six years building up the legend of that company so that they can get hired to be the janitors for that base.
  • In I Remember Mama, the hospital staff is so strict that a child's mother isn't even allowed to see her daughter after visiting hours. So she comes back after shift change, goes to the mop closet, brings out a bucket of water and a sponge, and on her hands and knees, proceeds to scrub her way to the ward where her daughter is staying. Needless to say, every nurse there who sees her only notices some woman scrubbing the floor, and presumes it's the cleaning lady.
  • The Killer (2023). The title character disguises himself as a recycling bin collector when he goes to kill The Lawyer, which gives him a convenient excuse to wear gloves and drag a skip bin that can be used for Disposing of a Body. However he waits until a FedEx courier shows up and lets the courier hold the door open for him, effectively combining this trope with Delivery Guy Infiltration.
  • In King of Thieves, Ken and Billy sit in a pool discussing their part in the heist unaware that the cleaner mopping the floor behind them is DC Amy.
  • In Machete, Machete shows up at the Big Bad's mansion with a pick and a weed whacker, and the guards let him in after insulting him a few times. Even better: they actually comment on how any Mexican-looking guy could show up with tools and they'd let him in, even if those tools could easily be weapons (such as a chainsaw or a machete). With a look of dawning comprehension, they turn around to see Machete hurling the pick at one, then weed-whacking the other guy every time he tries to get at his gun.
  • Men in Black: The "Edgar" bug follows Rosenberg to a restaurant, where he murders a waiter and takes his place before killing Rosenberg and his contact there.
  • In The Naval Commandos, the titular commandoes infiltrate the Japanese aircraft carrier, the Izumo, while disguised as cleaners. With explosives hidden inside their buckets and knives in their brooms.
  • Operation Crossbow: Done accidentally. Bradley tries to infiltrate the Nazi factory disguised as a scientist, but his hastily prepared credentials can't withstand scrutiny and he's only given a job as a porter and janitor (which he still uses for spying and sabotage).
  • In The Return of the Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau tries to snoop around Sir Charles Lytton's home by pretending to be a telephone repairman. However, Charles' wife Claudine figures out that Clouseau's not who he says he is, so she and her housekeeper pretend she's planning a secret meeting with someone over the telephone, giving the eavesdropping Clouseau a false lead for his investigation.
  • Simon Templar does it in The Saint, seeking into the Big Bad's office disguised as a cleaning lady.
  • In The Score, Jack gets a job on the Customs House cleaning crew in order to scope out the target.
  • In Seven, Ed infiltrates Mr. Lee's building by posing as a cleaner. He stands around dusting the outer office till he sees Lee's bodyguards leave.
  • Sneakers. Karl dresses as a gardener to get inside the Playtronics building by pretending to need to use their bathroom.
  • In Speed, Howard Payne pretends to be an elevator repairman in order to gain access to the basement of an office building so he can screw around with the elevator controls. His cover is blown when a staff member walks in and catches him, and so he decides Murder Is the Best Solution and kills the guy with a screwdriver.
  • In Superdome, the killer disguises as an electrician in order to get inside the locker room and electrify the whirlpool tub to kill McCauley.
  • Used twice in Super Cop 2, forming a sort of Book Ends for the film; at the start, the heroine (played by Michelle Yeoh) infiltrates an embassy taken over by terrorists while disguised as a doctor's assistant to deliver medical supplies to a hostage with heart problems, before suddenly revealing her true identity by attacking the mook behind her. Then near the heist at the end, the villainous mercenaries infiltrate the vault while disguised as pest exterminators.
  • In Taxi, one of the baddies disguises as a janitor to collect the robbed money at the race track.
  • In The Thieves, Macau Park disguises himself as an elderly waiter so he can have access to various areas of the casino.
  • In Tower of London, Alice manages to sneak into the Tower disguised as a chimney cleaner, providing Wyatt a file to free himself.
  • Trading Places: After getting fired from Duke & Duke, Louis Winthorpe sneaks into the company's Christmas party disguised as a Santa Claus, sneaking some food for himself, including an entire smoked salmon.
  • Transformers: Rise of the Beasts: To infiltrate the museum where the Transwarp Key is located, Mirage disguises himself as a garbage truck to get past security with Noah. While inside, Noah encounters Elena and tries to claim he is a janitor much to her skepticism as he attempts to get the Transwarp Key she is holding.
  • Used twice in Undercover Brother.
    • At the beginning, Undercover Brother dresses as a janitor (complete with Latex Perfection mask) to infiltrate a bank.
    • The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. agents pose as the Island Fortress Cleaning Service to infiltrate The Man's Island Base.
  • Played with in The Vault. The crew convinces the bank's cleaning service that the building doesn't need to be cleaned that day, then impersonates them to get a closer look at the bank's security. But they do very little actual cleaning while there, and an overheard argument about overflowing trash cans with an actual custodian a few days later quickly clues the manager that something's up.
  • In Wall Street, Bud Fox buys shares in a cleaning company to copy confidential documents at Roger's law firm.
  • In X2: X-Men United, Mystique shapeshifts into a janitor to get into and out of a government facility with information on Magneto's prison guards. She employs Obfuscating Spanish when challenged. "Estoy echando la basura. Garbage." It leads to an amusing scene where she walks by the actual janitor, who's dumbfounded to see himself walking by (with Mystique's disguise being the identical twin of the janitor's actor).
  • In You and Your Stupid Mate, Jeffrey and Philip disguise themselves as female janitors in order to get onto the Logies for a publicity stunt they hope will prevent Jeffrey's favorite Sons and Surf character from being killed off.
  • In Zoolander, Derek and Hansel try to steal proof that Mugatu is trying to have Derek assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister by dressing up as Janitors. They dubbed the character voices onto completely different actors because Derek's makeup skills are just that amazing.

  • Angie's First Case: Wolfpack member Heather is a maid temp and uses this job to see which of the rooms she cleans have valuable items to steal, while also listening to house owners talking about when they will be out of town]
  • The Art of the Steal: Frank Abagnale has been called in to find out why a company's blank payroll checks are disappearing. The management is going on and on about their security procedures. When Abagnale sees the empty, clean trash cans, he promptly asks about the janitor. Management replies, sure, the janitor comes in to clean up, but why is that important?
  • Happens frequently as part of the Zany Schemes in the works of P. G. Wodehouse. In Something Fresh, the first novel set at Blandings Castle, hero Ashe Marson and heroine Joan Valentine are on opposing missions to steal a prized scarab and disguise themselves as a valet and a ladies' maid, respectively.
  • In Blood Fever, young James Bond manages to get into Count Carnifex's inner sanctum to eavesdrop on his grand plan by picking up a tray, and pretending to be one of his servants.
  • Common in Discworld.
    • Especially popular with the history monks, one of whom actually is an Almighty Janitor. In Small Gods he changes a kingdom's history by sweeping in the garden at the right time.
    • An especially interesting example in Monstrous Regiment, where Polly's regiment have to disguise themselves as washerwomen without revealing they're all really women. They are all unconvincing as females, including Polly.
  • In Dragon Blood, the cleaning team of the king's asylum (where the king's younger brother is imprisoned) is headed by a man who once was that prince's loyal servant. He uses his position to bring allies (i.e. rebels) to see the prince. This has been going on for about ten years, and no one noticed, as no one would investigate the background of someone who is just there to clean floors.
  • The Executioner. During his war against The Mafia, Mack Bolan would often plant bugs while impersonating a telephone repairman. He knew no-one would associate The Dreaded One-Man Army with the innocuous "telephone guy".
  • Harry Dresden in Fool Moon disguises himself as a janitor to get into the SI station where a ready-to-transform werewolf is being held under arrest. It helps that he has a sort of cheap invisibility potion that lets him pass beneath everyone's notice.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when the Trio infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, Ron disguises himself as Reg Cattermole, a lowly magical janitor.
  • Hondo Ohnaka's Not-So-Big-Score: Turk Falso and Peg Leg Piit are happy when Hondo announces that they'll be joining him undercover on the cruise least until he reveals that the two of them will be acting as sanitation workers while Hondo gets to be a first class passenger.
  • In The Invisible Library, Irene does not disguise as the cleaning lady, but applies for a job as cleaning lady and works in the building for weeks, spying out the location of the book she wants to steal. At the time when she steals it, the school staff already know her as the cleaning lady and are not very suspicious when she says that the thief escaped through a window.
  • Joe Pickett: In Endangered, Timber Cates poses as a janitor to infiltrate a hospital in order to perform a Sickbed Slaying on April Pickett. He wears his old scrubs from the prison infirmary and his old prison ID round his neck, knowing that no one will look too closely at them.
  • The Laundry Files (by Charles Stross): In The Fuller Memorandum, avoiding this sort of infiltration is one of the reasons that the Laundry cannot outsource their LAN rewiring, with the other reason being that having people unaware of the Masquerade build the system that you are going to use to fight Eldritch Abominations is a very bad idea. Ironically, the person that Bob explains this to turns out to be The Mole. Bob uses the trick himself in The Rhesus Chart to investigate an investment bank, but he gets made almost instantly.
  • Aralorn of Masques is a spy, and this is one of her favourite methods. However, when she replaces a slave that doesn't work so smoothly. (It wasn't intended in the first place, she just did it out of pity; usually she'd have tried to get in as cleaning lady or such.)
  • Nick Velvet: In "The Theft of the Used Teabag", Nick dresses as a busboy to gain access to the kitchen and dining room of the club in order to steal the teabag.
  • Otherland: Olga Pirovsky infiltrates the tower of the J-Corporation disguised as a cleaning lady.
  • In Otto of the Silver Hand, One-eyed Hans disguises himself as a traveling peddler to infiltrate Castle Trutz-Drachen and rescue Otto. He knocks at the postern door and tells the girl who answers it that he'll give her a free necklace if she lets him in. She takes him up on his offer, then goes further into the castle to find other potential customers, leaving Hans alone in the antechamber, where he climbs up the chimney to get into the main areas of the castle.
  • The Shadow used to maintain a cover identity as Fritz, the janitor at police HQ, that allowed him to snoop about in the police files to his heart's content.
  • In Soon I Will Be Invincible, this is how Doctor Impossible gets into the Chanpion's HQ to get one of the artifacts he needs for his plans.
  • Trigger Warning: Foster and his men infiltrate the university through its groundskeeping crew, who they kill after taking their coveralls. Their new disguises allow them to plant the bombs undetected.
  • In the Underdogs novel Acceleration, Ewan, Jack, and Kate disguise themselves as the three apprentices of mechanic Oli Sharp so they can get onto Grant's airship and destroy it. Sharp murdered his three actual apprentices to give the Underdogs a chance.
  • Wyatt: In The Fallout, Wyatt steals some paintings from a gallery that is undergoing renovations by driving up in a white van marked 'Asbestos Removal Services' and walking on to the site in white overalls and a dust mask: knowing that none of the builders will want to talk to, or even get close to, someone removing asbestos.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andor: When Luthen asks how Cassian was able to steal proprietary Imperial military equipment out a naval base, Cassian responds that all you need is a uniform, a standard toolbox, and dirty hands. Combine that with Imperial arrogance and you can go pretty much anywhere you want.
  • Better Call Saul: Jimmy and Kim hire Mike to pose as a repairman hired to fix Chuck's door. Mike uses a battery-powered drill to scare the electromagnetically-sensitive Chuck upstairs while Mike secretly takes photographs of the house highlighting Chuck's state of mental being.
  • The Boys
    • Hughie Campbell and Mother's Milk gain access to Popclaw's apartment by posing as technicians the landlord has contracted to install a new router. It helps that Hughie used to work in an AV store, so can pull off the role convincingly.
    • The Boys dress as orderlies while infiltrating the Sage Grove clinic. This backfires when an inmate with superpowers gets loose and refuses to believe they're not with the other orderlies who have been doing bad things to her.
  • The Brady Bunch: Season 3's "Getting Davy Jones" sees Greg and Marcia disguise themselves as bus staff to get into the ex-Monkee's posh hotel room and eventually determine where he's staying.
  • On Burn Notice Michael decided to pretend to be a weekend janitor so he could steal some high tech access codes. When that only got him so far, he smashed a window and pretended it was a drunken accident to do the rest.
  • The title character in Chuck has on more than one occasion gotten by security by pretending that someone has called the Nerd Herd to fix a computer problem.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). At the start of "Blue Crow Waltz", Vicious and Fearless are shown working as cleaners in a law office after hours. We discover why when they garrote and stab to death the District Attorney as he's leaving his office bragging about taking down The Syndicate.
  • The killer in the Criminal Minds episode "Poison" planned on fatally poisoning everyone at his old workplace, which he snuck into disguised as a maintenance worker.
  • In CSI, the Miniature Killer takes this a step further by actually getting a job as a janitor in the lab.
  • CSI: NY had an episode where Flack dressed as a parks department employee as part of a group setup to catch a suspect.
  • Daisy from Dead Like Me once dressed as a cleaning lady to reap someone in their hotel room.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor disguises himself first as a milkman, then as a cleaning lady while sneaking around the villain's compound in "The Green Death".
    • In "The Seeds of Doom", the Fourth Doctor disguises himself as a chauffeur to sneak into a mansion, an odd moment since his usual bluffing tactic is being commanding and having charisma for miles. It convinces no-one — perhaps because of this, or perhaps because he was clearly still wearing his scarf under his coat.
    • In "The Deadly Assassin", the Fourth Doctor disguises himself as a dressing room assistant to appear invisible while he steals himself a disguise, using only voice pitch and body language as he was dressed only in his underwear at the time. Notably, the two Time Lords who are the focus of the scene don't even seem entirely sure that there was another person there at all.
    • "Rise of the Cybermen": The Doctor and Rose disguise themselves as waiters to crash a party.
    • "The Caretaker": The Twelfth Doctor gets himself employed as a caretaker at Coal Hill School to fight a Killer Robot. Incidentally, this is a rare exception where the person actually does get hired.
    • "The Return of Doctor Mysterio": Lucy Fletcher disguises herself as a cleaning woman to sneak around Harmony Shoal.
  • On Extant Molly is caught snooping around at a murder scene and pretends to be an employee of a company that cleans up murder scenes. It does not work because the person who caught her knows that the murder occurred just the day before and the crime scene would not be released to the cleaning company for at least a week.
  • Father Brown: In "The Owl of Minerva", Sullivan and Sid pose as window washers in order to break into the police station.
  • Max and the Chief infiltrate KAOS this way in the Get Smart episode "Age Before Duty." It almost doesn't work because it turns out career criminals aren't very keen to allow cleaning staff into their office while they're plotting evil.
  • Human Target: A group of bad guys infiltrate a museum dressed as maintenance staff, with Chance and Ames among them.
  • Hustle: In "Eye of the Beholder", Ash gets a job on the cleaning crew at the museum so he can scope the place out as part of the team's plan to steal the Crown Jewels.
  • In the original Knight Rider, Michael Knight has to infiltrate an army base, so he bribes a food service worker to let him have his job for the day. The man says for double the money, Michael can be his cousin as well. This comes in handy when Michael gets detained, but the original guy verifies that Michael is indeed his cousin who was filling in for the day.
  • An early episode of Legends of Tomorrow has the Legends attempting to infiltrate the Pentagon in 1986. Ray and Snart disguise themselves as janitors so that Snart can get close to a passing officer and steal her credentials for Sara and Kendra to use.
  • The Leverage crew does this all the time.
    • Usually it's Eliot posing as a janitor, but Hardison and Parker have done it as well.
    • In "The Last Dam Job" Archie, Parker's mentor and a master thief infiltrates a black tie event with this and Black-Tie Infiltration. As an elderly, but sophisticated-looking gentleman, he walks past security pushing a cake as though he is part of the catering staff. Once in the elevator, he puts on his suit and walks around with his cane like a true gentlemen. And once he's done, leaves as a caterer once more.
  • In the Mann & Machine episode "Mann's Fate," a bomber tells Mann he's an electrician, then plants a bomb that later destroys the house.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil:
      • In Season 3, Matt Murdock tries to get into the hotel penthouse where Wilson Fisk is being held in protective custody by the FBI. He steals a jacket and trolley from an electrician's van and enters via the service entrance, but that only gets him as far as the hotel lobby where a suspicious Dex stops him and demands to see his room keys.
      • In "Upstairs Downstairs", Wilson Fisk hires a pair of assassins to kill Julie Barnes for fear she might sway Dex from his influence. The assassins disguise themselves as painters and use the pretense of making repairs in order to get into Julie's apartment block, where they surprise and execute her with a bullet to the head when she comes home, wrapping her body in the plastic they have covering the floor. Later when Dex reports to Fisk, he passes the same two workers painting the corridor outside Fisk's office. Once Fisk is assured that Dex is still under his control, he gives a quiet nod to Felix Manning, who leaves the room and tells the painters to pack up and leave. Fisk later has the assassins killed, as he no longer has any further use for them.
    • Jessica Jones: Jessica is told that David Kawecki, a janitor at IGH who took the fall for a murder committed by Jessica's mom, is doing life in Birch Psychiatric Hospital. He's locked up in the high security wing in the basement, where the only people allowed are shrinks under the escort of armed security guards. To get access, Jessica asks Oscar to forge her an ID that's good enough to fool an inspection by the guards so she can get access to Kawecki posing as a shrink.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: In season 2, Midge takes off with her family to spend the summer at Steiner Mountain Resort up in the Catskills. Susie can't afford for Midge to take two months off from her standup comedy routine, so she follows Midge up to the resort, and gets in by simply wearing her normal attire and buying a toilet plunger. Nobody bats an eye and just thinks she's another employee, though it leads to some awkward conversations when Midge comes clean about her routine with her parents and reveals to them that Susie is her manager.
  • In the Midnight Caller episode "Payback", a hitman disguises himself as an orderly in order to kill a cop who is recovering from a previous murder attempt.
  • A standard tactic on the Mission: Impossible television series. Commonly, one of the IMF members would get into the target's location, then fake some sort of utility outage. Other members of the team would then pose as repairmen or technicians arriving to fix the problem.
  • Mr And Mrs Smith (1996). In the pilot episode, Mr. Smith (Scott Bakula) dresses up as a janitor to infiltrate a target installation and acquire information.
  • Rain does this in an episode of Naturally, Sadie to get proof that a famous designer is stealing Margaret's designs.
  • NCIS: In one episode, Abby happens to be visiting a pharmaceutical lab while a heist is going down, and discovers the heist while she and one of their employees watch security footage of the security guard fighting with a "janitor".
    Janice: Why's the guard attacking the janitor? Why is the janitor attacking the guard?! Oh, I don't think that janitor's a janitor!
  • On The Office (US) episode "Branch Wars", Michael takes Dwight and Jim to infiltrate a rival branch disguised as warehouse workers and try to steal their industrial copier.
  • On One Life to Live, Blair and beau Max break into her ex-husband Todd's newspaper office disguised as janitors in order to steal files. Todd spots them as they're leaving and is unconcerned, but does a Double Take at the high-heeled shoes that the "maid" is wearing. The next day, he goes to Blair's apartment for a visit with their daughter ... and she's wearing the same shoes.
  • Used regularly in Person of Interest, as posing as a of low-level employee is Harold Finch's preferred method of getting into places unnoticed, usually as some sort of 'IT guy', engineer or the like.
    • John Reese has used this as well, sometimes to get close to the POI. His first meeting with Zoe Morgan was by posing as her driver. She was savvy enough to actually call and check, but Finch redirected the call to himself.
    • Another episode has John applying for the job of being the bodyguard for the POI. He gets the job after he reveals that he nicked the wallets of all of the other candidates.
  • The Professionals
    • In "Rogue", Bodie and Doyle have to enter a tenement building, and have a brief discussion over which version of this trope to use.
      Bodie: Meter man, or plumber?
      Doyle: What about lift engineer?
      Bodie: How d'you know there's a lift?
      Doyle: That's a point. [presses intercom buzzer]
      Female voice: Yes?
      Doyle: Uh, sorry to trouble you, madam, it's the plumber here. It's about the leak in Number 32. Is that the one above you?
      Female voice: [alarmed] Yes, it is!
      Doyle: Well you see, the tenant's not answering. We were wondering if you could let us in.
      Female voice: Why, yes, of course.
    • There's a variation in "A Hiding To Nothing" where Doyle breaks into an apartment beforehand and sabotages the water boiler, so he'll have an excuse to come in later and fix it. In the same episode Bodie poses as the meter reader to plant a bug in an elderly woman's apartment, which isn't easy as she's suspicious of Bodie and keeps following him around.
  • On Saved by the Bell, Screech dresses as a female janitor to get into the girls' locker room.
  • In the Shoestring episode "Looking for Mr Wright," Eddie pretends to be a computer technician so he can access a dating agency's files.
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "Starsky and Hutch Are Guilty," the guys disguise themselves as janitors while they search the office of a man they suspect of framing them for police brutality.
  • Supernatural
    • Although Sam and Dean usually pose as FBI agents, in one episode they get into a crime scene by pretending to be maintenance guys there to figure why the alarm system didn't go off.
    • In a season 4 episode, the brothers work a case at one of their old high schools. Dean obtains a position as a substitute gym coach, but Sam poses as the janitor.
    • In a season nine episode, they go undercover at a weight loss clinic. Sam is able to teach yoga, but Dean ends up an errand boy in the kitchen.
  • The Wild Wild West
  • Bodie on The Wire does a Janitor Impersonation Exit from a juvenile detention facility.
  • A favorite tactic of Frohike on The X-Files, when he's not computer-hacking. The other Lone Gunmen, it seems, are less proficient at this infiltration tactic.

  • Parodied in Adventures in Odyssey. A character does sneak into Regis Blackgaard's center of operations during the Darkness Before Dawn saga — the catch is that the character, Bernard Walton, is really a janitor! He uses that and a convincing dumb act as his cover, and it fools Blackgaard.
  • The Men from the Ministry: In order to get into the American Embassy to retrieve a vital document that was accidentally left in an old Ministry's desk that was sold onwards, Lennox-Brown and Lamb disguise themselves as charladies. It doesn't work for long since the embassy member sees through their charade fairly quickly and the duo have to run for their lives across the London rooftops.

    Tabletop Games 
  • An old classic in Shadowrun. By the 2070s, most corps have become wise to it by reading the public SIN of anyone who enters the premises off-hours, requiring you to either Kill and Replace the regular janitor or have your decker hack the security.

  • In Fangirls, Edna sneaks backstage at the concert disguised as a roadie.

    Video Games 
  • In Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Zoë dresses as a janitor to get into WATI headquarters. Once in though, she doesn't fool the guard robots, commandos, or even the scientists working in the lab, so she needs to hide when they approach.
  • The Covert Option of the Bureau Raid mission Grand Theft Auto V has Michael infiltrating the FIB headquarters as a janitor to plant a number of remotely detonated firebombs for the second part of the plan. Once he leaves the building and detonates the bombs, Michael, Franklin, and their crew return the FIB building disguised as a team of firefighters responding to the fires from the explosions created by the bombs.
  • Agent 47 tends to do this a lot in Hitman, though exactly how often is at the discretion of the player. Sometimes they leave extra uniforms lying out, and sometimes you have to kill or knock them out to acquire it. While effective, any actual janitors will usually recognize you as an impostor.
  • One of the missions in Mafia II has you enter a mafia controlled hotel that is having a meeting of the head of a rival family but dressing up as cleaners. They clean up the blood of some unfortunate person while planting bombs.
  • It's the baddies who do this in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. The hit squad Max tangles with throughout the story uses the Squeaky Cleaning Co. as its front, thus the majority of enemies are dressed in janitorial coveralls and (appropriately enough) euphemistically called "cleaners".
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, Mr. Match infiltrates and sabotages a number of houses, including Lan's, by posing as a repairman sent to do preventative maintenance in light of the recent attacks. You know, his own.
  • Played with in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. At one point toward the end of the game Snake needs to do this to get access to the Shagohad and plant a series of bombs in the hangar. Sure enough, the soldiers don't notice, but if any of the other other techs/janitors see you, they'll know that you're not one of them and sound the alarm. Essentially the same thing happens earlier in the game when infiltrating an area disguised as a scientist; the soldiers don't socialize with the scientists and thus won't call an alarm if they see a scientist they don't recognize, but if one of the actual scientists sees a face that they don't recognize they immediately become suspicious.
  • In Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek, Nancy Drew acts as the lodge's new cook and maid in order to investigate the lodge guests.
  • [PROTOTYPE]: Alex Mercer. Canonically he only does this - literally consuming and assuming the form of a janitor - once, and hates himself for it.
  • Used twice in the "Dead Man's Switch" campaign of Shadowrun Returns. The second time it happens, the player is maintaining the guise of cleaning up his or her, uh, mess (several gallons of security guard blood) from the night before. The "Hong Kong" campaign has one manager notice and lampshade your use of this trope, calling it "classy" before offering to cut you a deal.
  • Roger Wilco in Space Quest III infiltrates Scum Soft by posing as the janitor. Since he really is a janitor, it shouldn't be too hard, but he can still blow it and get killed by security.
  • Yagami does this multiple times in Judgment, such as infiltrating a yakuza hideout as a repairman and getting into an office building by posing as a new janitor.
  • In Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Ichiban, Nanba, and Adachi infiltrate a retirement home run by a Yakuza family not by disguising themselves, but actually getting jobs as a janitor, nurse, and security guard (via a contractor). Ichiban was just stuck with the role of janitor since he had no training and his only prior job experience was as a Yakuza grunt.

    Web Comics 
  • Missing Monday: Searching for Monday, Foyle is hindered by a fancy party - so she steals a waiter's jacket and tray and goes right in.
  • In the "Reality Television" arc of Schlock Mercenary, Lieutenant Ebniroth actually gets hired as a janitor for the building he's meant to infiltrate. Since they don't know the mercenaries are after them, he doesn't have to disguise his identity at all, even bragging about how his service qualifies him for the job.
  • In xkcd, Randall remarks that he has seen this trope so many times in heist movies that he automatically assumes it's in force whenever anyone asks him to open a door.
    Alt-Text: But he has a hat AND a toolbox! Where could someone planning a heist get THOSE?

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The gang infiltrates a royal party by having the boys pose as servants. The girls just use the fact that Toph is from an important family.
  • In the Centurions episode "Max Ray... Traitor", the main villain has infiltrated the installation as a janitor. He also reveals that every janitor in the installation is part of his Milkman Conspiracy.
  • The Great North: In Season 2 "Dip the Halls Adventure", after Beef and Jerry tracks down's Jerry's missing phone, which was taken by the same person to stole his Bigfoot costume, at Winter World and they can't get inside due to being closed because of a private party, Beef gets the idea to get inside by sneaking through the employee entrance and Jerry has them both wear employee costumes to blend in.
  • This is pretty much the modus operandi of Hong Kong Phooey. He's really police station janitor Penrod Pooch ("Penry" for short) who listens for crimes in progress from switchboard operator Rosemary before launching into action as the title hero.
  • Kim Possible had an episode with a government agent mentor who turned up as the janitor. Kim didn't want anything to do with him because she thought he was just the janitor. He thought she always knew what he really was because he never expected his Canadian secret agent uniform to be mistaken for a janitor uniform. He even had to explain he wasn't wearing a disguise.
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons: At one point in "Rhino Ya Don't", Sylvester disguises himself as a zookeeper named Skip in order to escape the notice of the rhino protecting Tweety. He narrowly succeeds in grabbing Tweety under the pretense of cleaning the rhino pen, but the disguise works a little too well when he gets apprehended by Skip's boss, who sends him into enclosures with more dangerous animals instead, believing him to be Skip himself.
    Sylvester, after an encounter with a shoal of Electric Jellyfish: I hate the zoo.
  • The Simpsons: In one opening, they had to break into a museum to reach their couch. They wore several disguises through the way and one of them was janitor.
  • In the SWAT Kats episode "Destructive Nature", Dr. Viper infiltrates the Megakat Tower disguised as a gardener, and the "water" he's pouring on the potted plants is actually a mutagenic growth formula which causes them to turn into vicious monsters.
  • In an episode of Timon & Pumbaa, the duo try to sneak into a talent show. Pumbaa technically disguises himself as an electrician, but gets called out on it for carrying a mop. He explains that a light bulb broke and he has to clean up the electricity that is spilled all over the floor now. The guard buys it and lets him in.

    Real Life 
  • Curiously, it seems the easiest way to get into somewhere you're not supposed to be, is to be conspicuous. A fellow skulking around will be spotted immediately. A fellow with a high visibility vest, a large ring of jangling keys, a clipboard, and who is happily whistling will be ignored.


Video Example(s):


Rhi-No Ya Don't!

Sylvester's disguise as a zookeeper, with which he tries to sneak past the rhino protecting Tweety, works a little TOO well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoneHorriblyRight

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