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Out-of-Character Alert
aka: Something They Would Never Say

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Bit the bullet there, Sonic. You could've brought back an imposter if you went with her word.

Eizzil: So, how did you figure out I wasn't really your stupid girlfriend?
Numbuh One: When I look into Lizzie's eyes, I can tell she's not a jerk.
Codename: Kids Next Door, "Operation: P.O.O.L."

The inversion of Something Only They Would Say: When a character is pretending to be someone else, they may unwittingly reveal this by saying something that would be out-of-character for who they're impersonating. Variations include not responding to a well-known Berserk Button, doing things they're normally afraid of (or have a similar excuse for never doing), expressing hatred for a nickname they insist to be called by, or otherwise invoking O.O.C. Is Serious Business. A common variation in Japanese media is using the wrong pronoun.

Often Invoked in kidnapping and I Have Your Wife scenarios, to let the heroes know that something is amiss. If the Big Bad is demanding a ransom, this is to alert them to the fact that it's a trap; if he wants the kidnapped to "assure" The Hero that the kidnapped is "in fact" okay, this is to secretly convey that they're not. Sometimes serves as a Quiet Cry for Help. If they've pre-arranged such an alert, this is a Covert Distress Code.

Real-life military personnel sometimes use hand signals when being taped to communicate in another way with their 'home base'. There are a few documented cases of soldiers giving hand signals (and one case of them just flipping the bird to the camera) to alert the people receiving it that no, they weren't being treated very politely at all. And some have done it just for fun, giving the sign for coercion when forced to shake a politician's hand, for instance.

Compare with Spotting the Thread, Lying Finger Cross (a common gesture used in this trope), Not Himself, Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping, and Trust Password (a pre-arranged alert to confirm one's identity and freedom of action). Contrast with Something Only They Would Say (in which a character is identified by a characteristic) and Bluff the Impostor. Sister Trope to You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious and Batman Grabs a Gun. See also O.O.C. Is Serious Business.


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  • In an early '70s TV commercial for the short-lived Cap'n Crunch variant Vanilly Crunch, the good captain's ship is approached by Wilma the Whale, the mascot for that cereal. After the captain does a description of the cereal, he shoots a cannon at the whale! Turns out that pirate Jean LaFoote (the "bad guy" in these ads) had disguised his now-sinking vessel as Wilma. Cap'n Crunch knew it because he described Vanilly Crunch and the whale didn't smile.

    Anime and Manga 
  • At one point in the anime adaptation of .hack//Legend of the Twilight, Shugo and his friends find Rena, who had gone missing in a previous episode, at a hot springs. It seems like her, but as it turns out, it was just a monster in disguise. What gave it away? The imposter was very tearful about their reunion and said that she had been waiting a long time for Shugo to find her. The latter, being her twin brother, knows very well that Rena would never sit around and do nothing.
  • Bakugan:
    • At one point in the first-season finale, Kato, Marucho's butler and occasional Mission Control of the team, tells each separate split-up part of the team to head back to base. Shun, however, notices that something is up. Of all minuscule details, Shun notices that Kato, the unfailingly polite Jeeves of the team, once only referred to Marucho by his name alone, as opposed to his usual "Master Marucho". He sneaks away from the team to investigate, and his suspicions turn out to be correct; it was actually Hal-G hacking into their communications, attempting to drive the team away.
  • Bleach: Rukia comes across who appears to be her Big Brother Mentor, Kaien Shiba, in Hueco Mundo. "Kaien" explains how he got to Hueco Mundo after Rukia kills the Hollow possessing him and seems ready to help, only to attack her instead and claim he has not forgiven her at all. Rukia seems all too willing to accept her fate, but is left confused when "Kaien" claims he was joking, before she finally realizes something is wrong when "Kaien" suggests she can earn his forgiveness by killing her friends, something the real Kaien Shiba would never say even as a joke. Indeed, it turns out the Kaien before her was actually the ninth Espada, Aaroniero Arruruerie, who assimilated Metastacia, and by extenstion Kaien, when they ended up in Hueco Mundo.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura was confused and hurt because the ghost of her mother Nadeshiko led her to a Death Trap (trying to drown her in the manga, getting her to walk off a cliff in the anime); she asks Yukito about it and he says that a mom would never want her child to be in danger. Later, when the "ghost" tries it again, Sakura remembers this and confronts it, saying "You're not my mom! TELL ME, WHO ARE YOU?!". It turns out it was a Clow Card, more exactly The Illusion, trying to avert being captured. The real Nadeshiko's ghost had actually SAVED Sakura from death via either pulling her out of the pool (manga) or slowing her fall enough for Yukito to catch her (anime).
  • In the Devil's Trill arc of Descendants of Darkness, Hisoka figures out that Tsuzuki is possessed by Sargatanas very simply: first, Tsuzuki doesn't take up an offer to go out to eat, something he would never do. Second, Hisoka mentions that he bought their boss salted cuttlefish since he hates sweets, which doesn't get commented on by Tsuzuki. In fact, the boss is infamous for his Sweet Tooth.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • After Cell absorbs Android 17 in Dragon Ball Z, he tries to persuade 18 to "join" him by using 17's voice. As he talks about how amazing the power feels, 18 looks uncertain... but when Cell refers to their creator, Dr. Gero, a little too glowingly, 18 sees through it and snaps that she and 17 actually hated Gero for kidnapping them and turning them into cyborgs, and 17 would never care about his plans.
    • At one point in Dragon Ball GT, Goku knew immediately that a mind-controlled Vegeta is Not Himself because he was calling him "Goku". The real Vegeta always made a point of referring to Goku by his Saiyan name, Kakarot.
    • In Dragon Ball Super: During the Tournament of Power, it appears as though Frieza has turned on Universe 7 when he helps Frost attack Gohan. However, Gohan, who has fought Frieza in life-and-death battles in the past, immediately realizes that Frieza isn't being serious in his attacks, which is very strange given Frieza's level of hatred for the heroes; if he really was fighting to kill, he'd be going all out. It turns out to be a charade to get Frost to lower his guard, as he believes Frieza has turned to his side... only for Frieza to immediately knock Frost off the ring without even a fight, and then leave Gohan alone.
  • In Eyeshield 21, at the start of the second half of the Devil Bats' game with the Shinryuji Nagas, Hiruma says their chances of winning are almost 0%, and that the team shouldn't do anything drastic as to harm their future careers. Turns out it was all an act; everybody knows Hiruma would never tell them to give up unless the odds were exactly zero, so everyone (and we do mean everyone) silently went for an onside kick as to not let the enemy know they were changing plans.
  • In Fresh Pretty Cure!, Love Momozono's mom gets captured and duplicated by a monster. Setsuna, who by that point had been Happily Adopted into the Momozono family, figures it out first, but Love is fooled and gets in a fight with Setsuna because she thought Setsuna was being ungrateful to their mother. Later, Love figures it out because the monster-mother keeps mentioning Chiffon — who Love had never mentioned by name to her parents before. She then tests the fake by putting on a red bracelet that the real Mrs. Momozono had made for Setsuna; the monster-mother tells Love that it looks good on her, which confirms Love that the monster is a fake and allows her to properly confront her — her real mother would know that the red bracelet was made for Setsuna and there was a pink one for Love.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Riza Hawkeye falsely implies this trope to trick Envy, who is disguised as Roy Mustang, as part of her Batman Gambit. She aims a gun at him, saying that Roy never calls her "Lieutenant" in private. Cue Envy immediately breaking the form, cursing his luck and shouting "I knew there was something going on with you two!" Her reply can effectively be summed up as, "Not really. Thanks for believing me, Envy." Cue epic beatdown.
  • Towards the end of Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!, Souji ends up trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine in which his various female comrades are throwing themselves at him. It's not until Twoearle starts to tie her hair in twintails that Souji realises something is wrong: the real Twoearle had vowed never to do that again. The fake world swiftly unravels.
  • Happens in Gunsmith Cats when Becky is being held at gunpoint to lure Rally into an ambush over the phone. Rally realizes there's a serious problem when she notices she didn't send Becky her fee and Becky made no comment whatsoever.
  • The JoJo's Bizarre Adventure spinoff light novel Purple Haze Feedback has Fugo put into a Lotus-Eater Machine by Vladimir Kocaqi's Stand, Rainy Day Dream Away. In it, Fugo is reunited with his old team, and everything seems happy. But then he notices that, when cake is served, Mista takes the fourth piece. Mista firmly believes Four Is Death (to the point his Stand Sex Pistols, which consists of six numbered individuals, goes from 1 to 7 and skips 4), and seeing him take the fourth of anything shatters the illusion.
  • A peculiar example from K — the Silver King Adolf K. Weismann has lived alone in an airship for decades with no contact with anyone. How, then, does the Blue King Reisi Munakata realize that something has been strange with him and that this should be investigated? Well, for the entire time he's been around, Weismann has flown his airship in "curiously repetitive" flight patterns that always correspond to the optimal path, based on the weather. Since the night of the murder the characters have been investigating, though, the airship has been moving in erratic patterns, completely unlike anything before. Sure enough, it is connected...
  • In The King of Fighters manhua by Andy Seto, Vice attempts to seduce and then brainwash Kyo Kusanagi while disguised as his girlfriend Yuki. Kyo blows her cover when she's about to kiss him and he stops her; he then says that, due to the context they're in, Yuki would actually be upset at him, not throwing herself at him for a kiss.
  • In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, Princess Sakura is seemingly trapped in a bubble and Syaoran is warned that if he fights back, she'll get hurt. He takes the blows, but when 'Sakura' calls out "Syaoran!", he knows she's a fake because she lost her memory, so she is now polite with him and says his name with the -kun honorific.
  • This trope is a key plot point in the Knight Hunters OAV Verbrechen ~ Strafe. During a mission briefing, when asked if she's well, Weiss's handler Manx replies that she's having trouble with her allergy to black lilies. Much later, when Weiss finish springing their trap on the villain who was holding Manx hostage, they reveal that "black lily" is a codeword indicating "lies," and that Manx's comment had alerted them to the fact that the orders given in that mission briefing were fraudulent.
  • K-On!: This is one of the things that blows Ui's cover when she's pretending to be her older sister Yui while the Light Music Club are practicing for the second school festival when the latter is sick. The whole club is fooled because of how close they look visually and Ui is really good at picking up things like her sister, so at first they practice without anyone the wiser. But then the band members notice "Yui" keeps time too well. In the ensuing discussion, she calls Azusa, Ritsu, and Tsumugi the wrong honorifics ("Azusa-chan", "Ritsu-san", and "Tsumugi-san"; Yui uses "Azu-nyan", "Ricchan", and "Mugi-chan"), and when challenged Ui could not produce Yui's nickname for Azusa. Astute viewers can also catch "Yui" wearing the wrong color Inside Shoes when she first walks into the scene, something which all the members miss. Likely the others were so relieved at seeing "Yui" after missing several days they weren't paying attention.
  • My Hero Academia: At the start of the Meta Liberation Army/Paranormal Liberation War arc, Hawks had learned while pretending to work for the League of Villains that them and the MLA are planning a devastating attack against heroes and the entirety of Japan that will take place in four months. However, Dabi is growing suspicious of him and he has monitoring devices on his feathers courtesy of the League of Villains and the MLA, so he can't tell anyone about his findings directly. He begins handing out books written by Destro; the founder of the MLA, which appeases his villainous overseers. However, he hands Endeavor one with seemingly-innocuous marker highlights of different phrases. He also tells him to "read the second part", while also acting the complete opposite of the carefree, cheerful hero that he's known for. Endeavor notices this, and realises that Hawks had sent him a secret message via the highlighted phrases, where he spelt out his findings broken up into the second words of the highlights.
  • In the My-HiME manga, Haruka begins to suspect that she is in a Lotus-Eater Machine when her rival Shizuru humbly says that she should never have competed with her. Haruka points out that she finds Shizuru to be quite arrogant, and that she could never be this happy.
  • Naruto:
    • In the Chuunin exams arc, Sasuke proposes using a Trust Password in case of enemy ninjas using doppelgangers to imitate one of them (again), and makes up a long poem as the passphrase. A few scenes later, Naruto excuses himself to pee, and when he returns he is quizzed for the passphrase, and successfully gives it. Of course, Sasuke knows that the real Naruto would not have remembered such a long passphrase, and that he was being spied on when he made it.
    • Also during the Sasuke Retrieval arc. After defeating Jirobou of the Sound Four, Shikamaru disguises as him and catches up with the other three. When he does, Tayuya cusses him out and asks what took him so long. Shikamaru, still disguised, quietly apologizes. The other three immediately realize he's not Jirobou, as Jirobou always chastised Tayuya for using unladylike language.
    • Used again much later by the Mizukage to tell that when they found Ao he was being controlled by someone else's technique by the fact that he agreed when she said she would remove the seal around his Byakugan (when none of them could) and apologized to Chojuro (who he had previously been Drill Sergeant Nasty towards).
    • When Zetsu clones are infiltrating the allied forces in disguise, Sakura realizes Neji is one when he refers to Tonton as if she were a person, rather than Tsunade's pet pig.
  • In Natsume's Book of Friends, everyone does notice Natsume is acting strange when Nyank-sensei impersonates him but assumes he just wasn't feeling well. However, knowing his involvement with youkai, Tanuma does figure out it's not him and gets Sensei to reveal himself, much to Natsume's dismay.
  • This happens in Fushigi Yuugi when the mirror-Miaka tries to seduce Hotohori to overpower both him and Tamahome, while keeping the real Miaka trapped inside a Magic Mirror. Before she can kiss him, though, Hotohori lifts his sword to stop her. When the mirror-Miaka asks what's going on, Hotohori tells her that Miaka would never behave that way.
  • One Piece:
    • Vivi begins to suspect that there's something wrong with Usopp when he tells her to abandon the injured Carue, referring to him as "that bird." The real Usopp not only knows Carue's name, but is fairly close to Carue. In fact, it was Mr. 2 (Bon Clay) impersonating him in order to trick her.
    • Another example occurs post-Time Skip with the Impostor Straw Hat Pirates, who try to take advantage of the real Straw Hats' infamy to recruit powerful pirates for their journey into the New World; the leader, Demalo Black/Fake Luffy, does so by using Luffy's reputation (especially his rather colorful heritage) to do what he wants. His doing so ends up being one of the main reasons the Marines are able to tell that they're not the Straw Hats, since the real Luffy would never take advantage of his reputation to bully civilians.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: In Chapter 74, Ichika disguises as Miku to confess her feelings for Fuutarou, and saying that she would support their relationship. Fuutarou suspects something is off because he already knew that Miku had feelings for him (by way of having a mutual I Have This Friend exchange a while ago) and he was certain she would never say something like that. He later calls Ichika's bluff during the Kyoto trip after she sabotages Miku's confession.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In Sailor Moon R, one of the Monsters of the Week disguise themselves as Chibi-Usa's dear mom (Neo-Queen Serenity, a.k.a. Usagi's future self) and calls to her using the name "Rabbit". Chibi-Usa is at first fooled, happy to see her mom again, and runs to hug her... but then she suddenly stops and asks the monster "Who are you?!" When the monster replies that she's her mother, Chibi-Usa says she's lying because her mother never calls her "Rabbit", which is what the Black Moon Clan refers to her as. (Chibi-Usa's actual mother uses "Small Lady" instead.) In the dub, this is reversed: "Small Lady" is what the Dark Moon calls her, and how she finds out her mother is a fake.
    • In the Sailor Moon SuperS Movie, Sailor Moon gets trapped in a dream world while trying to rescue an abducted Chibi-Usa. There she meets Mamoru, but suspects something wrong when Mamoru suggests she abandon her mission and her team to stay with him. Her suspicions are confirmed when she baits him by asking who he likes better: Her or Chibi-Usa — and he easily picks Usagi. This is a Call-Back to earlier in the movie when real Mamoru could not answer this question since he was being asked to choose between his future wife and daughter, both of whom he loves dearly and deeply.
  • Saiyuki: When Chin Yisou creates a fake Goku, the team catches on almost immediately, and Sanzo promptly shoots it in the head. When Chin Yisou asks what gave it away, Gojyo explains that Goku would have asked for food the moment he showed up (though Sanzo's dialogue suggests he may have sensed something on a more instinctual level). The scene immediately cuts to the real Goku complaining that he's hungry.
  • A variant was used in Scryed: Kazuma, trapped in Unkei's Lotus-Eater Machine Alter, is challenged by that world's Ryuho to a friendly sparring match. They draw, and Ryuho offers him a hand up. This so badly clashes with Kazuma's memory of him that the illusion cracks, and he pulls out his Alter. The illusory Ryuho panics and begs for his life... at which point Kazuma destroys the illusion — the Ryuho he knows would just summon his Alter and counterattack.
  • The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest: As Matthais's exploits become more widely known, people pretending to be Matty come out of the woodwork to try and capitalize on his fame for themselves. Fortunately, Matthias's home guild quickly works out a way to identify the fakes and spread the information around: Because of Matty's tendency to act without anything like normal sense, anyone who displays it, such as carefully considering what quests to take and properly assessing their risks, is a fraud.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! when Joey is dueling "Marik", he is able to deduce that his opponent is actually an imposter this way. He notices that, unlike how Marik has acted in all his previous duels, this opponent has fought a fierce but honorable duel without any cheating, mind games, or pulling any "shadow game" nonsense to gain an unfair advantage. Joey calls the man, actually Marik's Token Good Teammate Odion, out as a fake, pointing out how there's no way this man who's been such a noble opponent could possibly be Marik.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders episode 51, when Weslie and Wolffy go to defeat General Wolf with the others, they notice that the elder goats Slowy, Blady, and Gogoa, as well as Wolnie and Wilie, all have doofier-looking faces than usual, and that Wolnie apparently prefers Wolffy stay a dog when not only has she consistently worked to get him back to his wolf self, she's allergic to dogs. The out-of-character elders, Wolnie, and Wilie are fakes - Darker has tricked Weslie and Wolffy into thinking they've woken up when they're actually still in his virtual reality world.

    Audio Plays 
  • In the first episode of The Elysium Project, Ian figures out that the Jessica that he's talking to is actually Mirage when "she" accidentally gives away that she doesn't know about the rendezvous point that they had set up with the other escaped subjects.
  • In Big Finish Doctor Who play Intrusion Countermeasures: The Reesinger Process, Dr Allison Williams and Group-Captain Ian Gilmore are undercover in the eponymous interrogation training program, which is actually hypnotising people. When Gilmore gets sent out as a hypnotised assassin, the guy running the place (who has got the idea they're an item) tells Allison he's resting but he says he loves her. Allison is taken aback by this but decides it's probably military code for "everything's fine".

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • In a comic, Eddie "Venom" Brock's ex-wife (who is surrounded by police) addresses him as Edward over the phone. Displaying his typical lack of subtlety, Eddie immediately shouts "WHO'S WITH YOU?!".
    • In an issue of Sensational She-Hulk, Spider-Man spots Mysterio leaving a hideout and follows him. It cuts to the aftermath of a big fight where Spider-Man notes Mysterio gave it a good try but "I couldn't help feeling you were ad-libbing it. And I know you, you don't make a move without it being carefully planned." Spider-Man thus realizes he caught Mysterio after a big score (in this case, kidnapping She-Hulk for the Headmen).
    • Played with in Superior Spider-Man (2013) when Doctor Octopus takes over Peter Parker's body. A complaint of fans is how Spider-Man is suddenly speaking in a scholarly and arrogant manner without his usual wisecracks. He's also far more brutal in the field to the point of killing someone. Yet, all the Avengers and other heroes do is shrug that the man is just being rougher, not seeing his complete personality overhaul as something too suspicious, testing things such as his DNA or his physiology and assuming that his different attitude is just him dealing with his own displaced guilt/grief over the death of 'Doctor Octopus'.
    • Lampshaded when, after getting his body back, Peter briefly acts like Octopus then says "Wow, I spent months talking like that and no one noticed?".
  • Fantastic Four:
    • Issue #10 has Doctor Doom switching bodies with Reed Richards. It doesn't take long for the rest of the FF to find something off about "Reed" being arrogant and stand-offish. Reed attacks in Doom's body but Johnny and Ben have figured something is up. Johnny uses his flame to create the image of a stick of dynamite about to explode. Without hesitation, "Doom" throws himself onto dynamite to save the others while "Reed" instantly tries to escape. That's enough for the team to realize what's going on and capture Doom, causing him to switch back with Reed.
    • Not long after Alicia Masters married the Human Torch, her stepfather, the Puppet Master, sensed something was wrong. When he visited his wife's grave, he found it covered with weeds and dead flowers, indicating no one had been around in some time when Alicia never went a week without visiting her mother's grave. When the Puppet Master tried to go to her, Alicia acted as if it was a stranger's voice. This led to the revelation "Alicia" had been replaced by a Skrull imposter years before.
  • In Infinity Abyss, Gamora finds herself in the middle of a crowd of Children of the Void cultists listening to a figure that looks like Thanos (actually a clone called Armour) preaching about the greatness of oblivion and how meaningless life is. Gamora quickly realizes Armour can't be the real Thanos, as Thanos was no longer a delusional nihilist after the events of Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War.
  • In a Mickey Mouse Comic Universe story a famous opera singer suddenly not only abandons his contract but signs on for a rival — and refuses to see anyone. His former studio, not being idiots, finds this suspicious, but have no proof. When he releases a "greatest hits" collection, however, one word in each of the famous arias (all spoofs of real ones) is wrong — and the wrong words together spell out the location where he is held against his will. This trope truly enters when his ex-manager points out he would never miss a word like that.
  • In Frank Miller's first issue of Daredevil, Elektra forces a Mook to phone his boss and set up a meeting (so she could capture him and collect his bounty). The mook suggests a time an hour later than previously planned, which was their codeword for trouble. His boss knew he was going to be walking into a trap.
  • In one issue of Doom Patrol, Larry figured out that the putty-like Madame Rouge was impersonating the Chief when "he" called Rita Elasti-Girl — "the Chief would NEVER call Rita by that freak name!"
  • Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) know each other well. In a comic, a robot impersonates his voice, yet "Babs, fortunately, is no fool, and knows Ted far too well to fall for that shit."
  • During the "Operation: Zero Tolerance" X-Men arc, Bastion is psychologically torturing Jubilee by forcing her to watch (faked) images of her fellow X-Men being tortured and killed. Jubilee seems about to break down until she hears "Wolverine" begging for mercy. At this point, Jubilee snaps out of it and laughs in Bastion's face, because she knows that Wolverine would never beg.
  • A group of Skrulls disguise themselves as the Starjammers to attack the X-Men, betting the heroes will think their allies are under mind control and thus hold back. However, the Skrull impersonating Corsair gives them away when he gloats on how "these Earthers" aren't so tough.
    Storm: An interesting choice of words. Considering the real Corsair was born on Earth and proud of it!
  • As the title character and his lover/accomplice are Masters of Disguise, this tends to happen from time to time in Diabolik, as Diabolik doesn't always know everything. The funniest instance is when Diabolik replaced a Grumpy Old Man and a group of children recognized him because he wasn't grumpy enough.
  • Darkly averted in The Transformers: Robots in Disguise. In the season one finale it's revealed that Prowl's apparent descent into villainy was actually a result of Megatron's Loyalists mind-controlling him. However none of the protagonists had figured this out beforehand; in other words, they thought him becoming a ruthless murderer was completely in-character. Once he's rescued, the realization that none of the Autobots actually trust him utterly breaks Prowl's heart, causing his Sanity Slippage to kick into high gear.
  • Invoked in Clean Room and its version of demonic possession. One demon uses singsong repeated consonants that give away its presence in a host to the audience, if not the characters.
  • In Nightwing (Rebirth) #27, Spyral have turned evil (again) and Nightwing and Huntress are facing a squad of agents led by Dick's old friend from Grayson, Tiger. Dick wants to find evidence this isn't what it looks like and jokingly says "He hasn't called me an idiot yet, are we sure it's really him?" At the end of the issue Nightwing finds Tiger standing over another, badly beaten Tiger, who manages to mutter "you ... idiot ..."
  • Teen Titans Go!: In Issue #42, after the Teen Titans think they got all parts of Raven's personality back, Robin finds it odd "she didn't so much as frown at Beast Boy" for causing that mess in the first place. The Trigon-eyed Raven is still at large and shows a "the end?" sign.
  • The Punisher MAX: In the final arc, Elektra calls the Kingpin to let him know she's killed Frank. Fisk, who knows she'd be a lot more elated at having killed the Punisher, instantly deduces Frank has a gun to her head and tells her to put him on.
  • Ghostbusters: In the third issue of the "Mass Hysteria" arc, Peter takes a phone call for help while discussing the current problem with Walter Peck and immediately leaves via motorcycle without a word, much to Peck's surprise. Considering the caller was Dana Barrett, it's understandable.
    Walter Peck: Ms. Melnitz, after taking that phone call, Peter Venkman ran out of here without a single smart-assed remark. That kind of character inconsistency is, in my experience, the reddest of red flags.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Diana notes Steve being doting and overtly flirtatious with her while she's at work, in her Diana Prince guise and realizes something is off. It turns out Steve was nabbed and brainwashed by Paula von Gunther and is just trying to get her away from her desk so he can steal important documents to bring back to Paula.
  • Superman:
    • In A Mind-Switch in Time, Superboy gets body-swapped with his adult self. As looking for a solution, Superboy tries to pretend he is adult Clark Kent/Kal-El; but Lois Lane figures out something is amiss with Superman when he runs into her, calls her Miss Lane and treats her as a mere acquaintance whom he barely knows.
    • During a battle against an army of Doomsday clones in The Supergirl from Krypton (2004), Batman notices that something's wrong. Before Lex Luthor handed the beast over to Darkseid, Doomsday had finally displayed some degree of sentience— yet the clones are almost mindless and bestial. Batman realizes that the clones are imperfect and easily destroyable, hence they're a mere distraction to keep the heroes busy with while Darkseid's agents nab Supergirl.
    • In Superman Family #173, Superman and Jimmy Olsen are in Kandor acting as Nightwing and Flamebird when a virus breaks out across the entire area. When Nightwing/Superman says they're leaving because the place is "doomed", it shoots up a massive red flag for Jimmy. He instantly deduces that Superman is infected because the normal Supes runs on hope and never abandons people who need his help.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one episode of Flash Gordon, Dale distinguishes the real Flash from an impostor when the fake announces that he loves her. In a bit of a twist, Flash (the real one) is visibly troubled by this.
  • Modesty Blaise:
    • When captured by terrorists and forced to call Modesty, Willie addresses her by name instead of calling her "Princess". She immediately packs her bags and comes to his rescue.
    • Modesty & Willie also repeatedly use a pre-arranged distress code throughout the series. If either of them drops the name "Jacqueline" into a communication, that's the cue to hit the panic button.
    • They also use "Bertha" as code for "I need a distraction".
  • Dan Dare: Captured by the Mekon and forced to broadcast a message to Earth, Digby claims he's having such a nice time it reminds him of a holiday he once had. His aunt realises he's referring to an occasion when he was wrongfully arrested and that he and Dan Dare are being held against their will.

    Fan Works 
Camp Camp
  • When to Call the Police: In this fanfic where the Halloween special "Torso Takers" goes differently (in a bad way) when Daniel escapes the bunker he got properly trapped in during the canon episode and David makes the decision that he's going to run to call the police while Max hides in a tent, Daniel tries impersonating David again and as Max explains, was pretty convincing...up until he commented that even if something happened to Max, it would still be okay because no one would miss him, at which point Max was fighting for his life again because David would never say that, something that Max treats as an irrefutable fact on the level of "dogs bark because they're dogs".


  • BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant (BlazBlue & RWBY): When Adam acts remorseful after his dressing down from Makoto in Chapter 69, Blake grows suspicious, as Adam would never admit to being in the wrong and would always find a way to justify his actions to anyone. She sees Adam flash her a Psychotic Smirk and quickly realizes it was a ruse to get Makoto to let her guard down.
  • The Chronicles of Tanya the Holy (Warcraft & Youjo Senki): Uther left Arthas when he ordered the culling of Stratholme not only because he refused to participate in such an order, but because he hoped Arthas seeing him walk off would force the prince to realize just how extreme his plans were. Instead, it just makes Arthas more bitter towards his mentor.
  • The Search for Victory (Marvel Cinematic Universe & Stargate-verse): From a certain perspective, this applies when Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. team initially discovers Daniel’s official record, the entire team note that he seems like a good candidate for HYDRA on paper, considering his lack of family ties and his publically discredited reputation for his unorthodox academic theories, but the fact that Jackson had the Hulkbusters shut down helps Coulson's team rule that out as no HYDRA agent would do anything that would make it easier for the Avengers to come together.


  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In Chapter 13, when an enraged Vivienne and San rip the Many's Skullcrawler host to shreds, they're unnerved by hearing Ghidorah's voices whisper "YESSSSSSSSssssss" through the Psychic Link at their violent display in a soft, sensual tone that is uncharacteristic of them. It's an early warning that Ghidorah has started to find Vivienne's episodes of temporary psychosis arousing, and has accordingly changed their plans for Vivienne to forcibly making her a monster Baby Factory.

The Loud House

  • Tomboy Blues: When Stella goes to Lynn, someone she barely knows, for advice instead of her friends, it makes Lynn instantly notice that something is not right with her. The boys have a similar reaction when Lynn tells them what happened.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • Out of the Dead Land: Steve tells Bucky that the thing that tipped him off to him having been replaced by a robot impostor was that the robot told Steve only what he wanted to hear whereas the real Bucky wouldn't have gone along with everything he wanted unless he was up to something. There's also a bit of Irony at work here, as the last thing the real Bucky told him before being kidnapped was that he wasn't Bucky (due to suffering from a brainwashing-induced identity crisis) but that Steve detected it as still more authentic than the false Bucky apologizing and telling Steve that he'd work harder to be Bucky.

Miraculous Ladybug

  • Bring Me Back Home: Bridgette, while forced to impersonate her parallel universe counterpart Marinette, shocks Marinette's friends when she dismissively refers to Chat Noir as "like a sidekick" and not as important as Ladybug. This is something Marinette would never say, in or out of costume.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

  • In Faith and Doubt, it's revealed that Chrysalis' poor impersonation of Princess Cadance was due to Cadence intentionally acting out-of-character when she was caught, in hopes of invoking this trope. Chrysalis did fall for the gambit and acted like a snobby brat rather than laid-back and kind, but it unfortunately failed to work until Twilight showed up: mainly because Celestia holds such an immense blind spot for her family that she never even noticed the changed behavior.
  • Hell and High Water: When leaving with the other Rainbooms after it seems Sunset Shimmer has been manipulating and lying to them, Rainbow gives the situation more thought and stops in her tracks upon realizing that whoever this Anon-a-Miss account is doesn't at all match how Sunset operated back when she was an Alpha Bitch. And even if it was, the Sunset that has become her best friend is far too empathetic and ashamed of her past to ever think of pulling a cyberbullying stunt. Ergo, Sunset is being setup. She immediately turns back around to apologize and comfort her crying friend, while the others dismiss her as being a fool. Of course, the reader knows Rainbow is right, with the CHS student body learning the truth themselves several chapters later.
    Sunset... Sunset didn’t operate like this. Even then. Sunset... Her friend wouldn’t do this...
  • The Twilight Child: Rarity notices something's up with Rainbow Dash when she starts enunciating properly. This is because Rainbow Dash has been on the receiving end of a "Freaky Friday" Flip.

One Piece

  • This Bites!:
    • The Self-Insert character Cross outs Mr. 2 from his disguise by insulting Emporio Ivankov.
      Mr. 2: THAT'S A BARE-FACED LIE! [stricken look]
    • Zeff realizes something's dreadfully wrong on the Secret Island when he hears Sanji refuse someone food. And that's just one of the alerts.
      Zeff: Sanji... he would never say that. Not in a thousand years, not if his life depended on it, not if every woman in the world begged him to say it.
    • Cross invokes this again: by convincing Iceburg and Franky that Robin has never wanted to revive the Ancient Weapons, they decide that they don't need to keep the Pluton's blueprints around anymore... forcing the two hidden CP9 agents to make a grab for the blueprints once Franky brings them out to burn them.

Sword Art Online

  • Imprisoned Heart: Asuna's older brother Koichirou is able to tell right away that something's wrong because he knows that Asuna has always hated Sugou. Asuna sends him out to find Kirito, where he finds out that she's only consented to marry him because he's downloaded Yui onto a flash drive and blackmailing her and Kirito to keep quiet about his actions in ALO, or else he'll destroy Yui.


  • Yu-Gi-Oh Resurrection: Mokuba becomes tipped off to the fact that Seto is posessed by Zorc Necrophades when “he” refers to “his” deck—which contains the extremely powerful Obelisk the Tormenter and Seto’s favorite monster (the Blue Eyes White Dragon)—as useless.


  • Forewarned is Forearmed: Although Akira has never spoken to Igor personally, he knows that Igor's eccentric appearance belies his benevolent and courteous demeanor toward guests of the Velvet Room. So when Akira finally does wake up in the Velvet Room, he's immediately on edge by how deep and threatening Igor's voice is, as well as his referring to Akira as "inmate" rather than "guest" and the coming events as a "game".
  • The "Setting the Curve" chapter of The Mysterious Case of Neelix's Lungs has the Voyager and Vetar crews hunting a Founder that got trapped in the Delta Quadrant with them. At the climax it tries to hide as ex-Maquis Voyager crewman Tahel Mizrahi, but Ayala identifies it because Mizrahi was born and raised an Orthodox Jew in Israel and hasn't used the word "Jesus" as an exclamation as long as he's known her.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Colonel O'Neill notices that Terawatt isn't moving like normal, and then she refers to her technical staff by name instead of nickname — so he tasers her. Sure enough, it was an imposter.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act IV: The gang, especially Moka and Mizore, are able to tell right away that Felucia has been Brainwashed and Crazy by Hokuto when she constantly goes on rants about how Dark abandoned her to be regularly tortured, both physically and sexually, by Hokuto's Psycho Lesbian Co-Dragons, Jovian and Jacqueline; they know that the real Felucia has Undying Loyalty to Dark and would never lose faith in him.
  • Spoofed in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, where 18 is tipped off because Cell's impression of 17 is so Totally Radical that it's almost physically painful ("Yo shiggy-diggy, what's up my sizzle?")
    Fake 17: So what you need to do is calm down and get all up in Cell! It's downright tubular in here! We got candy and puppies and—
    18: You know absolutely nothing about us, do you?
    Cell: Okay. To be fair, I just met you.
  • Harry in The Rigel Black Chronicles has the foresight to realise that if her family sees her advanced fighting skills in the Triwizard tasks, they're likely to realise that she isn't her cousin — so she asks them not to watch, claiming that she would feel less pressure that way. She does let Remus and Sirius come to the final task, and they know that something's off, because Archie couldn't have beaten an Auror, even fighting non-lethally.
  • In Just Fake It, Aura realizes the phantom has impersonated Simon when he agrees with her dismissive sentiments about Athena, the girl Simon nearly got executed to save.

    Film - Animated 
  • Balto: When Steele returns to Nome, he tells the other dogs that Balto and the sled team died in the blizzard and the medicine was destroyed. He then pulls out Jenna's bandana she'd lent Balto (which Steele tore off in a rage) and tells her that Balto "made [Steele] promise to take care of [her]." Jenna knows Balto would say no such thing, and she immediately sees straight through Steele's Blatant Lies.
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift: While Manny, Sid, Diego, and Granny are sailing over the night in Captain Gutt's stolen ship trying to return home, they encounter mythical sirens who hypnotize them by shapeshifting into the characters they are in love with (Ellie and Peaches in Manny's case; Shira in Diego's case; a gorgeous female sloth in Sid's case; and a hunk male sloth in Granny's case). Fortunately, Manny snaps out of it when the Ellie-shaped siren tells him he is always right which the real Ellie would never say and immediately changes the direction of the ship saving their skins at the last second.
  • Incredibles 2: When the Parr kids managed to find their parents (who are under the control of the villain) Jack-Jack flies towards his mother, expecting her to coddle him like usual. When she doesn't respond to him, he realizes something is wrong with her and uses his telekensis powers to free her from the hypnogoggles.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In the horror/thriller film Assimilate, this is how Kayla realizes her mom is not who she says. She sees her 'mom' after thinking she was dead, and immediately hugs her. Kayla's mom doesn't even attempt to hug her back, which causes Kayla to respond 'You're not my mom' and back away.
  • In the war film The Big Red One, some German soldiers are posing as Americans. They're found out when somebody notices that throughout their meal they hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right instead of cutting off a piece of meat then transferring the fork to the right hand to lift the food to their mouth.
  • In The Bourne Ultimatum, when Nikki is in a room with Jason Bourne and asked to "code in" on the phone to her superiors. Her personnel record is shown on screen, with responses for "normal" and "under duress", but despite being in a potentially dangerous situation she gives the "normal" response. This was because she'd switched sides. However, she'd already acknowledged that Bourne had been there and there were agents down, so she and Bourne are forced to flee the scene before backup arives.
  • Bullshot (1983). The dastardly villain, Count Otto von Bruno, who speaks in a stereotypical Prussian accent, fakes the voice of Professor Fenton with Applied Phlebotinum. Despite a chronic malfunction which forces von Bruno to speak at a vastly sped-up rate, the Professor's dim-witted daughter doesn't suspect a thing when he says: "I want you the formula to London bring." Only our hero Bullshot Crummond realises instantly that you'd never hear a split infinitive from an Oxford man, and so it must be a trap!
  • Capricorn One is about a faked mission to Mars, where three astronauts are forced to be in on it, and they realize they are in danger. In one scene, while pretending to be in space, one of the astronauts, Brubaker (James Brolin), sends a message to his wife by mentioning their last family vacation. He intentionally gives wrong information, which confuses his wife. The family actually visited a film set. (A clue.) This winds up being a big part of how the conspiracy is discovered, and eventually exposed.
  • In Cops And Robbersons, Chevy Chase's character Norman is a huge fan of cop shows and has always dreamed of being a cop (except his ideas of what it means to be a cop come exclusively from TV). After the cops discover that a meeting between criminals is going to take place next door to his house, detectives Jake and Tony set up a stakeout in Norman's house, much to his delight. Jake is initially annoyed at Norman's assumptions about cops, especially when Norman interferes in Jack's duties. However, when the bad guys take Norman's family hostage, Norman calls his own house (not knowing the situation), and Jake tells him a message involving time. Norman is confused, but then looks up police codes and figures out that there's a hostage situation at his house. Unfortunately, instead of calling the police like Jake wanted, Norman decides to rescue them himself.
  • In Die Hard with a Vengeance, a bunch of German mercenaries impersonate cops. Although the leader speaks English with a flawless American accent, he slips up on a few word choices, such as calling an elevator a "lift" and saying that it's raining "dogs and cats", instead of the usual "cats and dogs". When McClane recognizes that one of them is wearing a friend's badge, and mentions the lottery to figure out if anyone on the elevator is real. None of the fake cops know last night's numbers, though in the beginning it's established that every NYPD cop plays the lottery and knows exactly what the winning numbers were.
  • In Even Lambs Have Teeth, Jason gets suspicious when one of the kidnappers sends a text purporting to be from Katie, but neglects to change the codeword at the end of the message.
  • In From Russia with Love, James Bond chastises himself for not recognising an enemy agent posing as a British gentleman spy when the man orders the wrong wine with a fish course at dinner. Unfortunately, Bond only realises this hideous faux pas after the enemy has him at gunpoint.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): When the eco-terrorists begin to record Monster Zero's bio-acoustics into the ORCA in Antarctica, Godzilla realizes from halfway across the world that his old Arch-Enemy buried in Antarctica is going to wake up, and he violently stands off with Castle Bravo. Dr. Chen realizes something is wrong, commenting that Godzilla has never gotten this close to the base before.
  • Holmes & Watson: When Holmes finds the crumbs of Mrs Hudson's cake on Watson's plate, he realises that Watson is trying to send him a message, as Watson would never have left crumbs of his favourite cake behind otherwise.
  • In It Could Happen to You: When a cop walks into a local deli to get coffee, he asks where the owner's wife is. The owner tells him that she's out sick, but as he turns to get supplies we see that his wife is being held at gunpoint by a robber. Knowing that the cop can't see this, he then gives him the coffee for free. Sure enough, when the cop he goes outside to join his partner, he tells him that the man is being robbed — aside from the free coffee, having come to the store for years, they know that "that bitch would show up for work even if she were dead".
  • In Jack Reacher, when Reacher investigates the shootings apparently committed by James Barr, he soon establishes a problem; Barr was a competent shooter, but not to the insane degree the killings demanded, and an important part of sniper training isn't just aiming and firing, but choosing where to shoot from, as the optimal firing position wouldn't have left any of the Orgy of Evidence. The shootings were committed from a parking garage where the shooter would have had the sun in his eyes while his targets were moving left and right, but he could have had a better shooting position from a nearby highway bridge that would have put the sun behind him and his targets virtually in single file, allowing him to shoot from a van without leaving shell casings or other evidence; from this, Reacher determines that Barr was framed.
  • Jennifer's Body:
    • While not the nicest person before her possession, Jennifer's callous disregard for the deaths that resulted from the Melody Lane fire absolutely shocks Needy and is another tip-off that something is horribly wrong with her friend.
    • Jennifer's also surprised when Needy uses the f word, since she normally never swears, showing just how upset Needy's gotten.
  • In the second Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie, Lara's butler tries to do this, but is rebuked for it. "Why are we even having this conversation?"
  • In Mario (1984), Simon is always shirking his duties at his mother's grocery store to spend time with Mario or Hélène. When he suddenly turns into a workaholic after Hélène leaves the island, his mother knows something's wrong.
  • In the second Miss Congeniality movie, Miss United States drops a big hint to her location by saying "My booty is on the line here." Sandra's character catches on and explains that "Cheryl would never refer to her ass as a "booty" - she would never refer to her ass, period! She calls it a po-po!" The kidnappers tie her and the celebrity pageant host into the sinking ship at Treasure Island in Las Vegas to passively kill them.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie: During the final showdown, Shang Tsung pulls a Shapeshifter Guilt Trip against Liu Kang by morphing into his brother Chan, who Shang Tsung had murdered. Though Liu knows it's not the real Chan (after all, Shang morphed right in front of him), he's still hesitant to attack until Shang!Chan says he forgives Liu for letting him die. Though Liu blames himself for Chan's death, he knows that Chan himself wouldn't... and hearing this gives him the right state of mind of who's really to blame:
    Liu Kang: wasn't my fault! Chan chose his own path...every man is responsible for his own destiny. Shang Tsung killed my brother!
  • National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets:
    • The trap is somewhat different. Mitch Wilkinson forces Emily Appleton to give her ex-husband a rather unconvincing fake translation of some Olmec hieroglyphs. He doesn't seem to pick up on her gestures, so she promptly texts her son Ben Gates the real translation.
    • She also deliberately starts a fight with her ex-husband, mentioning a place seemingly from their past. Except it's a subtle historical reference that only her ex-husband and son (and her son's ex-girlfriend) could figure out.
  • The film adaptation of Night Of The Fox (1986) has Field Marshall Erwin Rommel meeting with generals plotting against Hitler. To give himself the perfect cover, Rommel enlists Erich Berger, a corporal who is a stunning lookalike to pose as Rommel for a visit to the Jersey Islands. Also there is Harry Martineau, an OSS agent posing as an SS officer on a secret assignment. Harry decides to kill "Rommel" to hurt the German war effort. He confronts him in private with Berger babbling he's not Rommel and even tearing his wig off. Harry just seems disappointed as "I expected better from you." He's about to pull the trigger when Berger starts Hebrew. It turns out the real Berger was killed in a bombing three years earlier and his body was found by Jewish actor Heini Baum. Seeing Berger's call-up papers in his pocket, Baum hit upon the idea that "what better place for a Jew to hide but in the German army?" He and Harry are thus able to use the Rommel masquerade to help each other out.
  • No Man of Her Own: This happens constantly to Helen as she tries to pretend to be Patricia Harkness: she doesn’t know Hugh's (Patricia's husband) favourite song, didn’t know that Hugh had a brother (Bill), and signs her real name when trying out a pen out of habit. The Harkness family (who had never met or seen a picture of Patricia) think this is just a result of the train accident, but Bill is the only one that figures out that Patricia isn’t really Patricia. But he doesn’t care.
  • In The One I Love, Ethan realizes that the Sophie he's talking to in the guest house isn't his actual wife when she cooks him bacon, because the real Sophie would never let him eat bacon. It's also what tips him off to the fact that the Sophie who escapes with him at the film's end isn't the real one.
  • In The Ring Two "Aiden" refers to Rachel as "mommy", when he prefers to call his mom by name. This clues her in that he is being possessed.
  • Downplayed in RRR (2022). Bheem, on a secret mission in Delhi, has taken on the cover identity of a Muslim mechanic named Akhtar, and has found a Muslim family willing to take him in. In a brief dinner scene, he makes the mistake of offering food to his friend Raju (who does not know his true identity) with his left hand, something that is considered taboo in Islamic culture note . The woman pretending to be his mother quickly calls him out on his bad manners, however, and they're able to pass it off as a mere faux pas. Raju, a Hindu, seems willing to let it slide.
  • Screamers. Colonel Hendricksson goes on a mission and discovers the Screamers have taken human form so they can infiltrate their bunkers. When he returns to his own command bunker he calls his Number Two on the radio, telling him to come out and meet him. A voice claiming to be the Number Two answers telling Hendricksson to come inside instead. Hendricksson then asks to speak to Don Giovanni (the opera music he was playing when his character was introduced). When the same voice claiming to be "Don Giovanni" answers, everyone runs like hell.
  • The Secret (2007): A lot of people she knows notice Sam is acting oddly, though most of them just think it's as a result of her mom's death. None of course suspect that "Sam" is really her mom Hannah in Sam's body.
  • The Firefly movie, Serenity. Mal and Inara have a polite, awkward conversation by videophone, with Inara inviting Mal to visit her. Discussion with the rest of the crew ensues.
    Zoe: So. Trap?
    Mal: Trap.
    Kaylee: How do you know Inara don't just wanna see you? People do have feelings. I'm referrin' here to people.
    Mal: Y'all were watchin' I take it?
    Zoe: Yes.
    Mal: You see us fight?
    Kaylee: No...
    Mal: [matter-of-factly] Trap.
  • In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, after an action sequence that separates the pair, Mary is understandably confused when Watson sends her a letter saying he doesn't miss her and hopes to never see her again. Mycroft Holmes tells her the truth can be found from a code that he and Sherlock devised as children, where a notice would be taken at face value or as the complete opposite depending on if the first letter of the note was a consonant or a vowel; in this case, Watson's letter is of course the complete opposite of what he means. The letter needed to be coded in case it were intercepted by someone affiliated with Moriarty, who had just targeted Mary in his scheme just to spite Sherlock Holmes.
  • In Sneakers, Crease draws Brice away from a meeting with the villains in a public meeting space after seeing a newspaper blurb mentioning that the mathematician they had stolen the MacGuffin from has been killed and realizing what their employers really are. He gets Brice to leave with him by holding up the carphone and shouting that it's his mother calling. Since Brice's mother would have no way of calling him, and one of their group has the nickname "Mother", it's a clear signal that he needs to get out of there.
  • In The Stranger, Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) is an escaped Nazi war criminal living in the United States under a fake identity. He's at a dinner party that also includes Mr. Wilson, a war crimes investigator who suspects that Welles's character might be the missing Kindler. A casual discussion of the German character turns to Karl Marx, which leads Kindler to respond by saying "but Marx wasn't a German; Marx was a Jew." This causes Wilson to realize that "Charles Rankin" is in fact the man he's been hunting.
  • In the movie Sudden Impact, when Harry gets his usual morning coffee, the café is being robbed; everyone is being forced to act naturally, but the waitress (knowing Harry's usual is "no sugar, no milk") adds lots of sugar-she pours for twenty-five seconds straight. Harry, distracted by some case work he's going over, just pays and leaves with the cup. Outside, he takes a sip, spits it out and turns back to the diner.... then notices "patrons" locking the doors and turning the "Open/Closed" signs around, figures out what's up, and goes around to come in through the back.
  • In Superman II, the Krypton criminals led by General Zod force their way into the White House. They enter the Oval Office, and ask the person sitting behind the desk to Kneel Before Zod, which he does without saying a word. Immediately, they decide that he is not the President, since someone with that high a rank would put up some resistance.
  • In Surrogates Bruce Willis' character is tipped off that his partner's surrogate isn't being controlled by his actual partner when she refers to him by his last name. Everybody else in the movie does this, but she always called him Tom.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day does this twice.
    • First when John tries to call his foster parents to warn them about the T-1000:
      John: Something's wrong, she's never this nice.
      [the Terminator takes over]
      The Terminator: [to John] What's the dog's name?
      John: Max.
      The Terminator: [in John's voice] Hey Janelle, what's wrong with Wolfie? I can hear him barking.
      "Janelle": Wolfie's fine, honey, Wolfie's just fine. Where are you?
      The Terminator: [hangs up the phone] Your foster parents are dead.
    • It happens again when the T-1000 takes Sarah Connor's form and asks for help, something the real Sarah had previously berated her son for doing. The other Sarah instead tells John to get out of the way, something the T-1000 would not be inclined to tell his target. In the Director's Cut, however, John is tipped off when he sees his "mother's" foot melting into the floor.
  • In Thor: The Dark World, a savvy viewer will realize early on that Loki's betrayal of Thor to the Dark Elves is an act. When doing so, he introduces himself as "Loki of Jotunheim". While he actually is a Jotun, he despises his birthplace and his birth parents, and whatever his issues with his adoptive family, he still considers himself to be Asgardian. Without that little hint, Loki's deception is extremely convincing.
  • In Transcendence, Max quickly begins to suspect something's gone wrong with Will's upload when he's asking for access to financial and educational data almost immediately after he regains his sense of self. The Will he knows was never so proactive, which convinces him that this Will is just an echo superimposed over the PINN AI used as the base for his program. It turns out that Will's actions are entirely in-character, but now he has the means to achieve his goals instead of being content with limited gestures.
  • In War (2019), Kabir is revealed to have survived his poisoning by Saurabh, who has been disguised as Khalid due to catching on to this. He realized that "Khalid" is not who he said he is when he saw him shoot perfectly from his right side (the real Khalid lacked peripheral vision in his right eye owing to a bullying incident during his childhood) and drink alcohol on the houseboat while celebrating the mission's success (the real Khalid, being a devout Muslim, did not touch the stuff).
  • In The World's End, Andy realises that Oliver has been replaced when Oliver doesn't react to a hated childhood nickname, or to to references about Gary having sex with Oliver's sister, Sam.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: For the audience at least, "Bobby Drake's" stern demeanour when he tells Rogue that she should go is at odds with his introduction as a Nice Guy. As it turns out, Mystique had impersonated him.
    • X-Men: First Class: How kid Xavier pierces kid Raven's disguise at the beginning of the film. She looks like his mother, but acts nothing like her. He confirms it with telepathy.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Dr. Bolivar Trask's secretary is surprised when he compliments her scarf, which is something he doesn't normally do. We learn a few seconds later that "Trask" was actually Mystique, who hasn't quite mastered gender roles yet.
  • In Freebie and the Bean, Bean becomes convinced his wife is cheating on him when she suddenly becomes much more cheerful and attentive than usual.
  • In The Million Dollar Duck, Albert realizes his Nosy Neighbor is plotting against him when he acts friendly for once.

  • In a nod to Star Trek, the Fighting Fantasy novel Starship Traveler has a part where you're captured by aliens and cloned, and the clone tries to impersonate you so the aliens can steal your ship. If you succeed on a roll, you can with great mental effort implant two things into the clone: an inability to lie, and the name of a certain sterile prison planet back in your own universe. When the clone tries to get your crew to beam down and get captured, he'll tell them that it's lovely down there, "as nice as [prison planet]".

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons third edition, the Sense Motive skill can be used to notice when someone familiar is under the effect of an enchantment. With subtle enchantments (which the subject may not even be aware of), the difficulty is rather high; however with Dominate effects, which drastically reduce the range of actions of the victim, the check is much easier.

    Video Games 
  • Bloodborne: One of the first NPCs you can meet is Dr. Iosefka, a kind doctor who runs the clinic that gave you Blood Ministration. She'll help you out by giving you special healing items, but she won't let you back into the clinic because it wouldn't be safe for her other patients (and given that aside from you, the streets are entirely populated by blood-crazed hunters and werewolves, she's got a point). If you return to her door after entering Odeon Chapel, you might notice that the lighting has changed slightly, Iosefka speaks in a different tone, and offers her clinic as a safe haven for various survivors you can find throughout Yharnam. This is your hint that this is not Iosefka, but a Choir member impersonating her; something you only really find out later on, after you unlock a shortcut inside from the Forbidden Woods. Sending survivors to her is the wrong option; sending them to Odeon Chapel allows them to survive, while sending them to the clinic means that she'll experiment on them.
  • In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Alucard comes across a scene of his human mother. He quickly becomes emotional and promises to save her. Then his mother starts saying hateful things against human beings, something his real mother would never say. Then it's revealed that the whole thing was an illusion set up by a powerful Succubus. Alucard isn't pleased.
  • In Destiny and Destiny 2, be VERY suspicious of anyone who says "O (noun), mine." Those words are a memetic weapon used by the Ahamkara as a way of manipulating others.
  • Dragon Age II: In the denouement of the Legacy DLC, whichever Warden you side with will act differently; Larius will become coherent, and Janeka contrite. Hawke will notice a change, but doesn't press due to being exhausted fighting Corypheus earlier. They probably should have; that's the hint that Corypheus is Not Quite Dead and survived by possessing your Warden ally.
  • In Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, spies disguise themselves as regular citizens but don't follow the walking pattern of that citizen type, making them easy to catch when they bypass roadblocks or show up in the wrong city district — assuming they don't just skip their research and dress as a worker from an industry your city doesn't have.
  • During the Shinjuku chapter of Fate/Grand Order, Archer of Shinjuku proposes a toast to celebrate your new partnership with Hassan of the Cursed Arm, and he asks if Cursed Arm would prefer light beer or strong whisky. When he chooses the whisky, it tips off Archer that "Cursed Arm" is actually a different Assassin in disguise. Cursed Arm is Muslim: strong drink is forbidden.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall realizes that Edea is, despite all appearances, not the same person who raised him when she calls Seifer, another of her former foster children, "worthless" after he failed to defend her. It soon turns out Squall's right. Edea is being possessed by the sorceress Ultimecea.
    • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning's first clue that Hope is Not Himself happens during their conversation about blowing up a stage and breaking into Yusnaan's palace. She says the first part of their personal motto and waits for Hope to finish the saying. Except, he doesn't. This makes Lightning pause and ask him about the second half, to which he still doesn't respond correctly. The harshness in her tone makes it clear she knows something is wrong. Hope is God's puppet, and while Hope does have his memories, Bhunivelze does not know the significance of this phrase.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has such a moment in the middle of the Endwalker Pandæmonium storyline: the player, Themis and Erichthonios meet the perpetrator of the insanity that has been happening during the raid, only for Themis to immediately call them out as an imposter. Why? The imposter calls him by the name that he introduced himself with, "Themis", but the real Lahabrea would call him "Elidibus", his government title. He's proven right when the real one appears shortly after.
  • Subverted in Fire Emblem Fates. In the Birthright and Revelation paths, the party stops in the country of Izumo, and are greeted by its leader, Lord Izana. Izana acts like a cross between a party animal and a rich kid, which Hinoka takes as a sign that he's an imposter. And indeed, he was replaced by the Nohrian mage and Master of Illusion Zola. But when the real Izana is freed, that's exactly how he acts.
    Sakura: I-Is this still Zola?
    Hinoka: No, but I think we may have underestimated Zola's impersonation.
  • In God of War Ragnarök, Brok notices that Tyr, who is secretly Odin in disguise, is acting remarkably out-of-character. What really tips him off is noticing that he calls Atreus "Loki" and Freya "Frigg," two names that had never been used to address either in Tyr's presence.
  • Granblue Fantasy has a few instances of Otherworldly invaders attempting to impersonate people and giving themselves away by saying something uncharacteristic.
    • In Grand Ferry's fate episode, one attempts this with the appearance of Ferry's dead sister, Firra. She claims that there's nothing left for her in this world, when Ferry knows Firra was beloved in life. Cue the disguise dropping.
    • In the event "Home Sweet Moon", Grace suddenly appears before the crew despite being fatally wounded in the midst of a forest fire, claiming she wants to take revenge on the moondwellers. Rhens sees through this immediately, as Grace has talked multiple times about her motive being world peace, and he turns out to be correct.
  • In The King of Fighters, for all of her massive flaws Rose Berstein loves her older brother Adel and always tells him what's on her mind. When Adel finds out that she has become the new host for the KOF tournament and has built a whole new and lavish stadium for it behind his back, he's extremely disturbed and thinks something's very wrong. He's right: Rose has been brainwashed by Those of the Past and is their Unwitting Pawn.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby & the Amazing Mirror: When you battle Meta Knight at Raddish Ruins, he surprisingly doesn't give you a sword like the real Meta Knight would do. Need more proof? his boss name is ???. It's obvious before he's even defeated that it's Dark Meta Knight, disguised as the real Meta Knight.
    • There's also King Dedede in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, who's actively shown caging his own Waddle Dee servants when Kirby and Elfilin reach his base at Winter Horns despite his love and care for their well-beings. It then turns out that he's - yet again - brainwashed by the Big Bad.
  • In a tidbit of Irelia's backstory in League of Legends, it's revealed that her test to become a champion involved a simulated battle with her father, a legendary swordsman known for feats such as staying dry on a rooftop during a rainstorm. Despite being terribly outmatched, she quickly realizes the deception when her brother swings in from the side and manages to land a blow, and promptly impales the illusion with her blade.
  • In Love & Pies, Joe leaves at the end of Day 12 for the two-day baker's retreat, but returns the next day because he didn't like it. Amelia's family and friends then start noticing how weird he's been acting: Sven points out that he didn't wave back to him when he saw him, while Amelia notices that he isn't good in massaging as he normally is. On their first date, Joe criticizes The Mysteries of Miguel as a "juvenile" show, to Amelia's dismay; dodges Raj's questions about the message Joe sent to him from the bus home and the prize he told him that he wanted to win; and declares that family is "overrated". It's then revealed that he's actually Joe's twin brother Sam masquerading as him, and the real Joe arrives just in time to see him about to kiss Amelia.
  • In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Doctor Doom's henchmen get "Dum Dum" Dugan to come to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Omega Base by relaying a Distress Call. However, Nick Fury figures out it is a trap when Dugan (purposefully) lists Bruce Banner as being a scientist researching the Super Soldier Serum when he is in fact assigned to the Gamma Bomb project.
  • Discussed in Mass Effect 3's Citadel DLC, where avoiding this is part of the Big Bad's plan
Clone Shepard: I don't have [the original Shepard's] memories. I'd never fool my supposed friends.
  • Metroid Dread: It's debatable quite what moment should tip you off, but in the latter half of the game especially, ADAM's creepy admiration of Samus' Metroid powers manifesting, the way he talks down to her, the way he talks up Raven Beak, and the way he stops calling her "Lady" after the opening should all tip the player off that it isn't ADAM talking: it's Raven Beak.
  • In Paper Mario: Color Splash, entering the final level shows Peach drained from all of her colors and hung in a frame on Bowser's Castle walls. This will probably hint the player that the black paint plaguing Prism Island, with which Bowser was drenched through the game, has a mind of its own and Mind Controls the Koopa King: after all, doing something this cruel to her is very un-Bowser-esque.
  • After the Fishing Boat level in PowerWash Simulator, the player gets a text message from their colleague Harper Shaw from his usual number about needing his RV washed again. This wouldn't be remarkable except for two things: Harper doesn't call you "Wishy" like he would at that point of the game (and is unusually terse at that), and previously he mentioned having lost his old phone to the heat of the Mauka Aitu desert and needing to get a new number as a result. This foreshadows that the "Harper" that contacted you was actually the time-traveling scientist Ceruleon Skye in need of a wash for their UFO.
  • Psychonauts 2: During the fight with the Truheltia Memonstria, the Helmut plant yells out to Bob Zanotto that the real Helmut didn't love Bob, because if he did, he wouldn't have left him. This causes Bob to break out of the cocoon he was trapped inside of, as he realizes that the real Helmut would never say he didn't love his husband.
  • In Puyo Puyo Tetris, Arle thinks there might be something off about Rulue when the latter doesn't mention the Dark Prince, her love interest, at all. She's right; Rulue was brainwashed by the effects of the Puyo Puyo and Tetris dimensions merging.
  • In Resident Evil 2 (Remake), the player can find a letter from Chris Redfield (Deuteragonist of the original Resident Evil) where he acts like a total dudebro; his sister Claire, upon reading the note, remarks that it doesn't sound anything like the normally all-business Chris, which is the tip-off that the message isn't what it seems. When he says he's on a month-long vacation in Europe lying on the beach under a big umbrella, he really means "I've been in Europe for the last month investigating Umbrella Corporation", and telling his co-worker Barry not to follow him or else he'll make all the cute girls cry is supposed to warn him "Wesker has your family hostage".
  • In Star Control II, when you meet the final remaining Shofixti warrior, his sensors are nonfunctional and he assumes that you are an Ur-Quan destroyer sent to hunt him down. The only way to convince him that you are friendly, counterintuitively, is to insult him repeatedly. The Ur-Quan, for all their faults, are always very polite, even when preparing to kill an enemy. Eventually he realizes this and accepts that you are not an Ur-Quan.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • Original Generation subverts this. When a main character's girlfriend disappears and later reappears, the character remarks that it's not her, because "even she wouldn't be silly at a time like this". While he is right about something being wrong, when they break the mind control, she ends up acting just like she did when she was mind-controlled. Prompting another character to mutter "Would never act like this in this situation, huh?".
    • During the attack on the Omega Missile base in Super Robot Wars Compact 3, Folka realizes the Fernando he's with is an imposter because of two things: he's being usually kill happy and the way he fights is all wrong.
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, when Emil, Marta and Zelos come across two Lloyd Irvings fighting, both Lloyds urge them to believe they are the real Lloyd and to strike down the other. The player is given the choice to decide who is the real Lloyd after hearing each one give their speech. The fake is the Lloyd who declared the fight was for justice, which is something the real Lloyd has vehemently said in the original Tales of Symphonia was a word he hated.
  • In Team Fortress 2, while the Spy's disguise looks and sounds perfectly like whomever he's disguised as, there are many ways a seasoned player can detect a Spy by just looking at their behavior. For example, Scouts and friendly Spies have no reason to hang back from the front lines, so either one of these classes hanging back near a Medic or an Engineer's sentry nest is very suspicious and a good sign of a spy. There's also some class-specific things that the Spy simply cannot mimic; seeing a class conspicuously avoiding said actions also probably means Spy.
    • Scouts are the only class that can run faster than the Spy's default speed, so a Spy disguised as a Scout will be suspiciously and unnaturally slow.
    • The Spy has no explosive weapons and can't fire anyway without breaking his disguise, so he cannot rocket jump like a Demoman or Soldier. Seeing one of those classes trying to cross distances on foot means they're either a novice player who hasn't learned how to explosive jump yet, or a Spy.
    • The Pyro's flame-retardant suit means that they cannot be set on fire; if you see a burning Pyro running amok, that's most definitely a spy.
    • Another sign is if a Medic has no Ubercharge; Spies can't mimic built-up Ubercharge (they will have the meter, but it will always be empty), so if you see a Medic running around with his syringe gun out and no Ubercharge built, you've either got a spy or an amateur battle medic; shoot him to be on the safe side.
    • There are also some voice lines that are wired to only play if you're on the attacking/defending team: if you're defending, and someone on your team says something along the lines of needing to push the bomb when the cart is rolling back, he's definitely a Spy.
  • The last mission of the second week in The World Ends with You is ever-so-slightly inconsistent with the missions issued earlier in the week, as this one did not have any math-related puns in the message. Neku and Joshua notice this, but as it's still an official mission and the alternative is being erased, they do it anyway. Turns out it wasn't issued by the Game Master, but by the Conductor, who had decided the GM had gone rogue and needed to be eliminated.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fleuret Blanc provides an example of someone else setting up a person as out-of-character rather than acting out-of-character themselves: Junior tries to deflect blame for the anonymous text messages by pinning it on Le Neuvieme — but the messages are in English, and Le Neuvieme only speaks French. This allows you to figure out the real culprit.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations:
      • Phoenix thinks this trope is in play in the first case when Dahlia Hawthorne starts acting all-around bitchy. After Mia revealed Dahlia to be a major Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, who only dated Phoenix to get a certain poison-filled necklace and tried to kill him when seduction failed, she didn't feel the need to pretend anymore. Phoenix, however, is still crazy in love with "Dollie" and, after the trial, claims that this Dahlia was a fake. In a way he's right. The girl he actually dated at the time was Dahlia's twin sister Iris, who really was a Nice Girl, while the Dahlia at the trial was the real Dahlia, who he'd only met when she gave him her necklace.
      • In the final case, when Iris starts acting like an Extreme Doormat and makes some Innocently Insensitive comments, it's a clue that Dahlia is impersonating her. Phoenix does notice that something's off, but since he met said person just two days earlier (or rather he thinks he did), he doesn't connect the dots immediately.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: The lawyers get quite suspicious when the very expressive Bobby Fulbright drops the ham and acts completely stoic during cross-examination, and Athena is soon able to confirm their suspicions by using her Mood Matrix on him and getting zero emotional readings, even when he was supposedly desperately thanking Blackquill for believing in his innocence.

  • A Nodwick strip details a dungeon crawl where the group finds a high-up switch. The group is tipped off that something is amiss (viz. he's been replaced by a doppelganger) when Yeagar, looking for something to throw at it, ignores Nodwick in favor of a rock lying at his feet.
  • In Questionable Content, Faye and her Crazy-Prepared mother have worked out a code phrase for when Faye was being held against her will.
    Faye: No mother, the peaches are definitely not ripe.
    • Played with when Hannelore came back from her self-discovery trip and hugged Dora, despite her well-known fear of physical contact.
      Dora(pulling out a ritual dagger): Wait a minute, the real Hannelore would have never hugged me hello!
      Hannnelore: It's really me, I promise! I've just made some personal breakthroughs!
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar... uh... subverts? (double-subverts? parodies?) this during the aftermath of a fight with the thieves guild. Celia and Hayley interpret it as Belkar gone... well, more insane than usual, since "usual" means "kill everything not allied to me."
      Belkar: Let's stop the violence. [big grin]
      Hank: There, see? Even your other party member agrees which means—
      Celia & Haley: [together] RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
    • Later, Tarquin figures out that Elan is not Nale partly because Elan surrendered to save a teammate, which Nale would never do.
      Tarquin: Plus, he didn't rant about his intellectual superiority even ONCE.
      Malack: Now that you mention it, I did find that odd.
    • During their parents' remarriage, Elan tells Nale not to object or cause trouble, which Nale calmly agrees to. This is the first step to make Elan realize he's in a Lotus-Eater Machine.
      Nale: Did you ever think that maybe I'm tired of fighting, and that I just want to enjoy one day with my family?
      Elan: No, that—that's not how you would react to this. That's how I would want you to react. At the very least, you should be trying to kill me for being chosen Best Man over you!
    • Later in the story, when the High Priest of Hel casts Control Weather, Belkar seizes on this as proof that he is not Durkon, as Durkon wouldn't think of preparing the spell, much less use it to stop a storm. He could simply pray to Thor, Durkon's patron. Unfortunately, no-one believes him.
    • The High Priest of Hel finally makes a serious error in trying to do a Break Them by Talking speech on Roy. He brings up his inability to save his baby brother, and it almost works, but then he sadistically mentions that he always wondered how many pieces he was in, something Durkon's original personality would never have actually considered. That makes Roy realize this creature is in no way Durkon at all.
  • Played with in Terror Island. In this strip, the protagonists recognize that their friend Jame is possessed by a demon, when he says "SOUNDS LIKE SOMEBODY HAS BEEN EATING SOUR GRAPES." But when the demon is banished from Jame, he says exactly the same thing, and Sid proclaims "That's our Jame!" Unless it's because demons simply talk with different Speech Bubbles...
  • Girl Genius:
    • In Othar Trygvassen's (Gentleman Adventurer) twitter:
      "That letter is a fraud! Othar Tryggvassen may do things that lesser men find objectionable or slightly illegal, but I never apologize!"
    • In the comic, how does Dimo know that someone besides the Jager generals is present when he goes to report in to them? "... schmelled soap." It's not in character for the average Jaeger— born of rough-riding rough-living soldiers— to bathe.
    • When they are finally ready to get Lucrezia out of Agatha's head, they realize something is wrong and Lu is asserting dominance when Agatha, who wants Lu gone, suggests putting off the procedure until tomorrow. And it gets worse.
  • In Something*Positive, Eva had an Internet romance with someone who claimed to be Davan. Davan's friend Josh, however, was suspicious, partially because the e-mails all had perfect spelling, something Davan apparently doesn't bother with. Unfortunately for Eva, she didn't listen.
  • In Exiern Neils tries to drop hints here that he has been be-spelled and is no longer fully in control of his own actions by calling Crown Princess Peonie the "Second in Line to the Throne" instead of the first. It seems like no-one notices at the time though. Peonie had to have it spelled out to her after the inevitable kidnapping, but her father was just going along with it 'til he could get his other assets in play.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Mr. Tensaided interprets a hug from Susan as this. However, its actually a non-canon strip and Susan is voluntarily under a spell which has a mental effect that makes one be more relaxed about physical contact and less Terrified of Germs. Therefore, as Dan says in The Rant, Susan is "acting out of character in a very in-character way".
  • Freefall: Strip 2301: The second and third panels:
    Mr. Raibert: Max Post. Usually you call me up to rant and rave and here you are all quiet and polite.
    Mr. Raibert: What's wrong?
  • Goblins: When Kin encounters Kore, an infamously genocidal Absolute Xenophobe to all "monster" races, she manages to pass for a human adventurer thanks to the thick fog concealing her serpentine lower half (and she hides her three-finger hands behind her back). But Kore still gets suspicious because she doesn't offer to team up with him, as adventurers are want to do. She explains that as a low-level newbie, she didn't dare to presume upon his time, and he seems to buy it, but then offers her to shake hands before they part ways. Whether he was being geniunily polite or testing his lingering suspicions, Kin has no choice but to attack him.
  • Played with in And Shine Heaven Now: The British Library tells Integra that Yomiko burned the Library to the ground...and Integra is Genre Savvy enough to know that it's so wildly out of character for Yomiko that it has to be true, as the Library would have come up with something more plausible if they were trying to discredit her. She's also worked with Yomiko and her predecessor Donnie enough that she knows if Yomiko took an action that to her was mass murder, something seriously wrong was afoot. Yomiko found out about the Library's experiments on children and that the Paper Sisters were kidnapped by Millennium.

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe story "Test Tube Babies", team superboy Lancer is fighting a power mimic/shapeshifter who now looks like Lancer. One of them yells at a teammate with an anti-brick weapon to 'shoot both of us'. The teammate blasts that one senseless. Not only is the teammate savvy, but they have communicators they would really use instead.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall:
  • The meme "Evil [X] Be Like:" has famous people and characters saying the opposite version of their famous quotes or catchphrases, indicating they had turned against their original alignment.
  • In To Boldly Flee, The Nostalgia Chick and Oancitizen infiltrate Zod's ship disguised as his old friends, Ursa and Non. Unfortunately, Non is mute, and Oancitizen can't resist talking. And he really can't resist singing...
  • During the first episode of the Yellow Temperance mini-arc in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Jotaro realizes that Kakyoin is a fake after witnessing Kakyoin in the act of devouring some beetles. Jotaro punches the fake Kakyoin in the face, which gets him to reveal himself as Rubber Soul. This is pretty much what happened in the arc it's parodying, oddly enough. It helped that Rubber Soul is a jackass who doesn't bother trying to mimic his target; he likes making them look like sudden assholes.
  • In No Evil, Ichabod and Paula reach Kitty's house late at night and find that she appears to have stopped in the middle of canning some pumpkins and not cleaned up. Ichabod is dismissive of Kitty's "carelessness"; Paula instantly realises that there's no way Kitty would have left in the middle of a task of her own free will, and starts looking for evidence of whoever abducted her. Cue a late-night visit to Mictlan Wood, where Paula punches her way through rather a lot of undead.
  • Sanders Sides: Deceit spends the majority of his debut episode pretending to be Patton. He does a scarily good job for the most part, though he slips up just enough to tip off the other Sides gradually (Pointing out when he does something Patton-like, trying to get Thomas to lie when the real Patton has always said lying is wrong, showing no signs of sadness at the idea of a dead hamster, calling Virgil "friendo" instead of "kiddo", etc.) Later, when he tries to impersonate Logan, he talks in idioms and that sets the alarms on Thomas and Patton who think that the real Logan wouldn't use them as he would take them literally. Ironically, Logan later proves that he does know some idioms too.

    Real Life 
  • With the early 2024 border troubles in Texas, a Twitter account pushing for Texan independence cited a "warm water port" as one of Texas' strong points, leading to people to suspect that the account had Russian connections. Why? A warm water point might be in regular lexicon for a country like Russia that has icy ports a good chunk of the year. But for a warm state like Texas, the port would never be icy barring some extreme weather situation.
  • Some biometric fingerprint scanners have a "panic" feature: One of the user's fingers is designated as the "panic finger": In normal conditions the user does not press it against the scanner to be verified; if they do, it still grants access but also trips a silent alarm (allowing the user to discreetly summon help if he is being coerced into opening the scanner lock).
    • Similarly, password-based systems may include a "duress code" that triggers a remote alarm when entered.
    • There is a persistent urban legend that if a mugger tries to force you to withdraw money from an ATM, typing your PIN backward will let the authorities know you are being forced to do it. Contrary to popular belief, while this system has been seriously proposed (and endorsed by many police officers), it has never been implemented in the United States, mainly due to the complications of what would happen if the pin is a palindrome (ex. 2882) or all the same number, or is a pin that can be easily reversed by accident (such as 2-2-3-2 or a variation of such).
    • On this same reasoning, many stores have an easy-open formula to open their tills (which silently alarms the police), or a harder version that implies calling a supervisor for everyday issues. Essentially, if you just open the cash register without a purchase, someone will know about it.
    • Several home security alarm systems have implemented 'panic button' codes. Upon installation, the homeowner will pick two codes, one to arm/disarm the system normally, and one which functions as a silent alarm, seemingly disarming the system but actually calling for an immediate police dispatch to the home.
  • Some businesses have, as a standard response to someone making threats, a protocol for calling 911. The employee tells the person they will have a supervisor paged, pick up the phone, dial 911, and then hang up. When 911 calls back, they respond as if talking to a supervisor with simple "yes" and "no" answers.
  • It's very obvious when someone else is doing something on another person's Facebook, or MSN. There was a meme for a while of hacking, say, Bobby's Facebook and making his status "hi my name is Bobby" as a signature. Teens who frequently visit chat rooms and message boards normally only use general internet slang when they aren't being closely supervised by suspicious parents. When they are being closely supervised by suspicious parents, they use obscure or community-specific slang much more frequently, to let the other posters know that they're being watched. Sometimes, more directly, they'll say something like "P.O.S." — "Parents Over Shoulder".
  • It is generally extremely obvious when a tourist is visiting another country and trying to blend in. For example, being in Australia and greeting everyone with "G'day" and putting on a very Crocodile Dundee accent will make you stand out as a foreigner; while some Aussies do say "G'day," most just say "Hello" or something similarly universal. As for the accent, since most tourists are at the cities (sorry middle of Australia), the accent is not as pronounced as Crocodile Dundee. Also, Aussies tend to crack jokes about tourists who do this, and it might be the same elsewhere (like a person wearing an "I <3 New York" T-shirt in New York) so it's probably not the best idea to try and imitate them.
  • A news story in the mid-2000s (powerfully dramatized in this Super Bowl commercial) had a 911 dispatcher answer a phone call from a woman who, after giving her address, began placing an order for a pizza. The dispatcher was confused at first, but as the woman kept talking, he realized that she was being abused and needed to send a coded cry for help. He was able to recognize the distress in the woman's voice and send assistance.
    • This is a lot more common than people think, and many dispatch centers actually have protocols of what to do and what questions may be asked if they receive what sounds like a food or pizza order.
  • A literal case on the set of Doctor Who; when filming "Battlefield", there was a scene where Sophie Aldred (Ace) was trapped in a rapidly-filling water tank and instructed to bang on the glass. Unfortunately, the glass cracked, and water was getting dangerously close to some electrical equipment. Sylvester McCoy noticed the impending danger, and had seconds to warn the crew, but had to do it in a way that wouldn't be mistaken for the Doctor. He managed it with a Precision S Bomb, and Aldred was saved in the nick of time.
  • People battling depression tend to be listless, gloomy, unmotivated, or feeling other emotions that convey depression. Because depression is not something one can just get over by themselves in a day, it can look quite unusual for the affected person to suddenly display more positive feelings. For people who deal with handling people affected by depression, someone suddenly becoming happy (or at least more at ease) is a serious red flag indicating the person may be prepared to commit suicide since they've come to terms with it. This is distinct from Bipolar Disorder, where depression and happiness regularly switch places.
    • The opposite can also happen: someone who has well-managed depression, or who is able to put on a positive face most of the time, might suddenly dip into much more obviously depressed behavior if their life circumstances turn negative, their medication needs updating, or (in the case of someone who pretends to be happier) they simply no longer have the energy to hide it. The basic takeaway is that if a person known to have depression suddenly pulls a 180 in terms of personality or outlook without any obvious reason, it more than likely needs to be addressed quickly.
  • Subverted in April 2013, when several days after the Boston Marathon bombing, Dun Meng was carjacked by Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the perpetrators. During the course of his 90-minute ordeal, a friend called him, prompting one of the brothers to warn him, "If you say one word in Chinese, I will kill you right now." His friend was confused as to why he was speaking in English, but not enough to realize that something was wrong.

Alternative Title(s): Something They Would Never Say



Hiro reunites with his deceased brother Tadashi, but soon notices that something's off about him...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / OutOfCharacterAlert

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