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Preferable Impersonator

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Laurel: You are not Jack, so why do you pretend you are?!
"Jack": How do you know I'm not?
Laurel: I know—I know because...
"Jack": How do you know?!
Laurel: I know, because I never loved him the way that I love you.

A person is replaced at some point in the plot by an imposter, but their original friends or the people that work with them prefer the imposter.

It turns out that the original, while being the real one, is a lousy person and/or not good at what they do. The fake, on the other hand, turns out to be better in general. They are kind to puppies, they actually love the wife instead of treating her as a sex object, and they are a good person in general. The imposter might be a better leader/manager. When the original comes back, nobody wants them around.

Expect this if employed by a villain to possibly be a Heel–Face Turn moment, as they realize virtues they didn't know they had pretending to be someone else, or learn that Good Feels Good. See also Becoming the Mask.

See also Effective Knockoff for objects and devices and Prefers the Illusion for entire realities, rather than characters. Compare Redeeming Replacement and Suspiciously Similar Substitute. Contrast We Want Our Jerk Back!. Can be considered an In-Universe version of More Popular Replacement. "Better if Not Born" Plot is another way to make a character find out no one likes him.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A Certain Magical Index has a very strange example: after losing his memories at the end of the first book, Touma decides to hide what happened and spends the rest of the series impersonating himself. With limited information to go on, he becomes convinced that the pre-amnesia Touma was some kind of insane All-Loving Hero, and that he'll need to act that way in order to avoid suspicion. In particular he has no idea how long Index has been living with him, and assumes that she's a long-time friend rather than someone he just met.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, the villain Kira hides from the heroes by stealing a random man's face and identity without anyone realizing (except the man's son). As it turns out, though, Kira is a much better husband than the original and makes his "wife" fall in love with him all over again, saving their crumbling marriage in the process. Of course the only reason for that is that Kira has to act normal and avoid enacting his... hobby (killing pretty young women while keeping their severed hands as company) for a while.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: After Batman is presumed dead following Final Crisis, Dick Grayson takes his predecessors mantle, but makes it clear that none of Batman's enemies can ever think that he's died. They must believe that Batman is unkillable. As Dick settles into the role, the police, several superheroes and even some villains have found that Batman has become a lot more pleasant to deal with, as Grayson is much more of a Nice Guy, and has much less mental baggage.
  • Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe: Played darkly a the start of the miniseries. Faker has used his physical similarity to He-Man to claim the throne of Eternia, instituting many draconian laws, new taxes, and a more militant regime. At the start of the book He-Man has managed to defeat his doppelganger, only for Faker to snidely point out he has been a better ruler than Adam ever could. Sure enough the citizens of Eternos, the most affluent of Eternia, reveal they had figured out Faker's ruse fairly quickly, but his heavy-handed rule had provided them with a sense of security they hadn't gotten under the real He-Man and his authoritarian heel had fallen hardest on the more undesirable elements of their society. He-Man/Adam is shocked at this, lamenting a people willing to give up freedom to a despot in exchange for simple security. Why yes this was a commentary on real life.
  • There is an arc in Noble Causes that perfectly illustrates this trope. A man obsessed with the superheroine Gaia switches bodies with her husband Doc Noble. The impersonator is much more caring and sensitive than the real deal, both to Gaia and to their children.
  • The premise of Superior Spider-Man (2013) involves Otto Octavius stealing Peter Parker's body and applying his criminal mind to Parker's various problems. Without Parker's moral code to weigh him down, Octavius manages to temporarily end Spider-Man's Hero with Bad Publicity reputation and makes Peter Parker a rich man by patenting his various inventions. On the other hand, he quickly alienates all of Spider-Man and Peter Parker's friends because he's a total asshole.

    Comic Strips 
  • A Dilbert:
    • One arc involves the Pointy-Haired Boss being abducted by aliens and replaced by one of them to learn about Earth business management. Dilbert immediately sees through it when the "boss" acts much nicer (and has a tail), but refuses to save his old boss since the replacement is better to work for. The status quo is only restored when the boss accidentally causes the alien ship he was held captive in to crash when the aliens listen to his bad managing advice.
    • This happens to Dilbert himself. He gets mugged, has his identity stolen, goes to his boss about it, but his boss realizes the fake is more productive.
  • In one Nodwick comic, Yeagar is discovered to have been replaced by a Doppelganger when "he" suggests testing for traps with a thrown rock, instead of Nodwick.

    Fan Works 
  • Changeling Space Program: After a construction worker was killed in an accident, Queen Chrysalis has one of her changelings replace him by Faking Amnesia. By the time of the sequel Counting Noses, his wife and daughter have figured out the ruse... and don't mind one whit, much to the Queen's confusion.
  • In the Animorphs fanfic series Eleutherophobia, ex-hosts commonly face this problem. After years of having Puppeteer Parasites get good grades and generally act agreeable in their bodies, their families and friends have a hard time getting used to their now-traumatised true selves.
  • Freaky Friday (Worm): After accidentally swapping bodies with Sophia, who proceeded to die from shock, Taylor is forced to assume her identity. While the other Wards are aware of what happened, the public and media remain unaware, noticing that "Shadow Stalker" has become far nicer and more approachable as of late.
  • The The Brittas Empire/Red Dwarf crossover fic How May I Help You? sees Arnold Rimmer swap places with Gordon Brittas, who in this fic is an Identical Stranger. Whilst most of the staff at Whitbury don't realize this however, Laura does, and she ends up preferring him both for his knack for getting out of trouble and for the fact that he's better at resolving disasters than Brittas does.
  • In The Karma Circle: Sister Dearest, Gaz is forced to switch places with the ghost of the girl that lives in Emmett Lake, becoming trapped while the girl inhabits her body and assumes her identity. She's much nicer than the real Gaz, and Dib, GIR, and Tak decide that they like her better. Two years later, when Dib goes down to the lake, Gaz emerges and desperately promises that she'll do anything if he frees her, but he refuses, says goodbye to her for the last time, and never visits the lake again.
  • Played for Drama in The One to Make It Stay: Chat Noir despises how Ladybug keeps rebuffing his advances, so when he's presented with an illusionary copy who bows to his whims, he eagerly latches onto her. As a result, Miracle Queen successfully swipes the Black Cat Ring while his guard is down, delivering it to Hawkmoth.
  • Roulette Wheel Of Fate: Despite figuring out that Shen Qingqiu isn't Shen Jiu anymore after seeing how he no longer fights so brutally or gloats about his victories, but tries to avoid combat and approach battles stratgicially, Liu Qingge is perfectly happy to remain a Secret Secret-Keeper and not let on that he knows.
  • Discussed in Two Letters; not only did Marinette retire from being Ladybug, passing the Earrings on to a Sketchy Successor, the current Chat Noir is secretly impersonating the original, who was forcibly retired after Ladybug confiscated the Ring. Luka observes that this was likely best for all involved, given the original Chat Noir's Skewed Priorities and tendency to harass his partner.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Dave, when the President of the United States has fallen into a coma, an Identical Stranger is brought in to impersonate him by people who don't want the Vice President taking his rightful place. Over the course of the story, the First Lady realizes that she likes the impersonator a lot more than she likes her husband. Not to mention the impersonator has a moral spine the real president lacked.
  • In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Zartan gloats to the captured president that his approval ratings have gone up since he started impersonating him, stating that the country likes the president's face but with Zartan's decisions.
  • In Houseguest, Kevin imitates a dentist friend of Gary Young's named Derek Bond to escape from some mobsters he owes money to. Whereas the real Derek is a revealed to be a stuffy Insufferable Genius, the family goes to prefer Kevin due to his laid-back personality and because he taught their only son to play basketball, watched cartoons with their youngest daughter, sympathized with the troubled and rebellious eldest daughter and encouraged Gary to stand up to his racist Jerkass of a boss.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask:
    • The Three Musketeers scheme to replace the Royal Brat Louis XIV with his secret polar-opposite twin Philippe, who was locked away with his face masked to hide the family resemblance. Ultimately, it works: Louis takes Philippe's place in the Bastille, while Philippe takes Louis' identity and becomes one of France's greatest kings.
    • In the 1977 version, the Queen quickly works out that an imposter has taken the king's place, but because this one treats her with respect, as opposed to her previous husband, she makes it clear she's willing to be bribed into keeping silent.
  • In Sommersby, the title character went off to the Civil War, and was supposedly killed. Someone claiming to be Sommersby appears at his village, and starts helping them recover from the war's effects. By all accounts he wasn't a pleasant man before, but now is kind and helpful — so much so that his wife Laurel seems pretty convinced it isn't the same man, but welcomes him in because of his change in demeanor. This movie inspired the plot of The Simpsons episode "The Principal And The Pauper" (see below in Western Animation).
  • White Chicks, two (black male) cops take the place of the title characters. Their disguise is horrible, but their personalities are much sweeter, so the girls accept them even after the disguise is revealed.

  • Animorphs:
    • Marco's father, who is not in-the-know, mentions that his wife suddenly became a lot more agreeable and pleasant to be around at some point in the past. He thought it was because they two of them were really 'clicking', unaware that it was because she had been taken by a Yeerk and the Yeerk simply didn't care about any of her old personal preferences or desires.
    • Marco is horrified to discover that while Erek (an android who can use a hologram to look like anyone else, and in this case was covering for Marco's absence during a mission in the Arctic) was impersonating him, he cleaned his room, something Marco quickly set about correcting (to his dad's chagrin).
  • Avatar (Théophile Gautier): Subverted. Octave visits Balthazar Cherbonneau for help to win over Prascovie, Balthazar body swaps his and the husband Olaf. but the wife could tell it was not her husband, as he knew nothing about her or their pet names for each other, and refused to have anything to do with him.
  • In the short story "A Change of Aunts" by Vivien Alcock, the protagonists' abusive aunt is attacked by the undead revenant of a nanny who drowned herself in a lake out of remorse over her young charges drowning due to her neglect. After the attack, the protagonists are confused by their aunt suddenly acting much kinder to them. It's not until the end of the story that one of them realizes what happened when the revenant reappears in the lake begging her to trick the nanny into returning to the lake so the aunt can reclaim her body. The protagonist simply says goodbye to her aunt and leaves her to rot.
  • A Clockwork Orange: When Alex is released, he returns to his parents' home only to find they've taken in a lodger, a young man they treat like the good son Alex never was.
  • This trope is the reason Philip K. Dick's short story, Human Is, falls kind of flat. The protagonists faces an incredibly "difficult" choice between her downright sadistic husband who treats her with unconcealed malice, and a sweet, kindly, life-affirming (if a bit of a Fish out of Water - quite endearingly so) alien currently possessing the husband's body. Also, if she rats the alien out, he'll be sent to his death. If not, her husband will be simply stuck on the alien's bleak, dying planet, which might even feel like karma. No points for guessing what she chooses.
  • The Lightbringer Series has Gavin Guile, the main character who is the heroic Prism, able to master all the colors of the spectrum and use them without breaking his eyes (the way magic works in the series is creepy). Only, we learn midway through the book that the prisoner is Gavin and the one outside is his brother Dazen. As a person, Dazen was better even before impersonating him. For example, Gavin failed a test (that everyone fails) while Dazen was the only one in recent history to pass, Dazen is a superchromat (allowing him to fine-tune yellow and see more shades of color) while Gavin wasn't, Gavin was an Abhorrent Admirer. To top it off, Gavin is described as exceedingly vain and haughty, while Dazen is basically The Paragon in terms of how he leads.
  • "Marsh Gods" by Ann Leckie: Voud's brother Irris is murdered near a dormant god, so the god possesses his corpse and takes his identity. His family quickly realize because the "brother" is no longer selfish and indolent, and agree to protect his secret in exchange for the god's protection of their village.
    He handed her a bronze knife. It was small and its plain haft was dented, but it was a real metal knife and it was hers.
    That was when she knew for certain that her brother was dead. Irris would never have thought to buy her something she wanted so much.
  • In The Prisoner of Zenda, the king's friends, his cousin/fiancee, and his ministers all end up thinking Rudolf Rassendyll makes a much better king than the identical cousin he's standing in for. Even the king realises it, and declares that he'll try and live up to his cousin's expectations.
  • Played With in the Rivers of London novel Foxglove Summer, in which a mother whose daughter was taken by the fairies as a baby and replaced by a changeling, only for the switch to be reversed a decade later, takes the understandable view that the child she raised is not the imposter, whatever her origins are. Although the fact the girl who grew up in fairyland is an absolute nightmare probably helps.
  • In the Robert Ludlum novel The Road To Gandolfo half-mad General Hawkins conspires to kidnap the Pope for a ransom of one dollar for every Catholic in the world. It involves replacing him with his lookalike cousin, a well-hearted opera singer. Despite various complications, it works, Hawkins makes the ransom demands...and to his shock, the Vatican replies that they see no reason to pay as the Pope is perfectly safe. At first thinking the double has fooled them too well, Hawkins realizes the rest of the cardinals prefer this imposter to deal with. Not only that, the real Pope comes to enjoy this "vacation" and relays by radio how his imposter should do the job.
  • The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System: Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong: Shen Yuan isn't as good at impersonating Shen Qingqiu as he thinks as shown in one of the extras. However since all the possession tests came out negative and the old Shen Qingqiu was a Jerkass, they continue as normal.
  • In the original The Shadow novels, The Shadow is actually secret agent Kent Allard who's impersonating millionaire playboy Lamont Cranston while the latter lives on a permanent vacation in Europe with a nice monthly stipend. This works out because Allard is both more moral than Cranston and also better at managing the latter's finances.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Tercentenary Incident": Edwards suspects that the President of America has been assassinated, having seen the President turn to dust. However, right after, he reappears and explains that it had been a robotic body double which was destroyed. He then proceeded to give a rousing speech and saved the Federation from collapse, promoting world peace ever since. Janek tries to argue that, assuming the President is a robot, the change was a net benefit to the world. The last line of the story confirms Edwards' suspicion, and reveals Janek was behind the conspiracy to assassinate the president.
    Janek: Forget what President Winkler might be. Just consider this. Someone serving as President of the United States has saved the Federation; he has held it together and, at the present moment, he runs the Council in the interests of peace and of constructive compromise.
  • In Desmond Bagley's spy thriller The Tightrope Men, Giles Denison has been partially brainwashed and altered by plastic surgery to imitate Kidnapped Scientist Harry Meyrick. When Meyrick's British intelligence minders find out, they convince Denison to continue the charade while they find out who kidnapped him. Unfortunately, Meyrick's daughter turns up and realises her father is an imposter because, among other things, he's much nicer to her than her father ever was. In fact after she finds out what's going on, she falls in love with Giles which she's understandably disturbed about, so it's a relief for both parties when Giles is able to alter his face back at the end of the novel.
  • The short story "Toy Princes" by Mary de Morgan features a young princess born to a stuffy and regimented kingdom that eschews emotions and considers docile proclivity a virtue. The princess's Fairy Godmother is appalled by this and takes the princess away to be raised in a normal family, while leaving a magical toy to take her place. The toy princess embodies the compliant values of her society, and is beloved by everyone in the country. Years later, the fairy reveals her ruse, and returns the true princess to the public. The citizens find this new princess boorish and improper, and maintains the toy as their princess. The human princess gladly relinquishes her throne and returns to the village she grew up in.
  • In S.P. Sontow's novel Valentine, the focus is on a reality TV show auditioning child-stars for the best possible imitation of the vanished teen idol Timmy Valentine — the intention is to keep the money-making machine going by marketing the imitations. The winner, Angel Blake, is an uncanny absolute dead ringer for the vanished teen idol; he is even described as "Timmy Valentine plus". The original Timmy returns and the secret of his mesmerizing charisma is revealed — he is a two-thousand-year-old vampire.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Replacement", Xander thinks this has happened to him, but it turns out he suffered a Literal Split Personality and both he and his doppelganger are the "real" Xander.
  • Hogan's Heroes: Happens once in a two part episode where in a English Aristocrat named Sir Charles Chitterling has come to Germany to assist the Nazis with getting England to surrender. The man is a dead ringer for frequent guest character Colonel Crittenden, so Hogan brings in the Colonel to impersonate Chitterling and sabotage the plan. Unfortunately his wife Lady Chitterling, who's been in Germany for the past few months, is also due to arrive, and Crittenden laments he'll be unable to convince her of his identity. He nearly doesn't get the chance as the lady's time in Germany have caused her to undergo a Heel–Face Turn, and she plans to off her husband, only being convinced not to when she realizes the bumbling Crittenden isn't her bumbling husband. At that point she remains aloof but is far more helpful in the good guys' schemes.
  • The Filipino Telenovela titled Impostora. Two versions have been made, each having different plots and characters, but the premise is the same. Both versions have a premise where the protagonist gets plastic surgery to look like the woman who found her, and the woman tells the impostor to stay with her man while she fools around with other boys. The impostor agreed, and it went horribly right as the impostor was a better, kinder person to the man and kids than her real counterpart, who was a total bitch. The 2007 version has the protagonist looking for her long lost twin only to find a total stranger who looks like her, while the 2017 version has the protagonist being mocked for her ugliness and runs away after accidentally hitting her heckler.
  • The Riches stars a family of Irish Travellers who find Doug and Cherien Rich dead in a car crash, then steal their identities and move into their home in Stepford Suburbia. When they meet Cherien's elderly mother, she sees through them immediately despite the new "Mrs. Rich"'s best efforts to play the dutiful daughter, although the nurses write it off as dementia. The mother eventually explains that she knew because "[Cherien] was a bitch" and is happy to smoke pot and have a drink with her new "family".
  • The Mexican Telenovela La Usurpadora is about two women who are identical and the rich bitchy woman trades places with the impostor just so that she could have fun. The impostor is much well-recieved by the rich bitch's family, and the rich bitch took notice and want to have it back at all costs.

  • Hot Blooded Woman: Haji, the main character, accidentally switched her body with a girl called Aram in an accident. She had to live like Aram afterwards, but while Aram is quiet, arrogant, and moody, Haji is a Fun Personified girl who managed to get along with the people who previously despised Aram. Even Aram's crush Shinwoo, who hated Aram before, fell in love with her once Haji is in her body.

  • Welcome To Nightvale: A local football player grows an extra head, causing his team to be disqualified (it counts as an extra player, which is against the rules). Later, his mother has a head removed... the original one. She liked the new head better.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A possibility in Changeling: The Lost: the player characters are people who were abducted and altered by The Fair Folk, only to later escape. They quickly find that they were replaced by a Fetch, a clone of them that took their place. Fetchs are imperfect copies, though, frequently lacking some core aspect of the person the replaced... but occasionally that core aspect was a personality flaw, the lack of which made them better or more successful people than the original. This is understandably a big source of angst for Changelings who want to take back their lives.

    Video Games 
  • Deltarune: While many characters notice how differently Kris acts while the player is controlling them, they also note how they're much more social than before, and decide not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • In Dishonored 2, Corvo or Emily can secretly replace the corrupt Duke Luca Abele of Karnaca with his own body double as the non-lethal alternative to just assassinating him. On a Low Chaos playthrough, the impostor turns out to be a much better and capable ruler who turns the situation in the city for the better, and it's implied that while the populace and the authorities eventually figure out he's not the real Abele, they have zero desire to expose the truth (though on High Chaos, the fake turns out just as corrupt as the original...).
  • One quest in Fallout 4 revolves around The Institute Killing and Replacing a homesteader with a Synth. The original homesteader was a belligerent drunk who beat his wife and kids, and although they don't know the reason why, his kids will tell you that he suddenly became a lot nicer a short time ago.
  • Tales of the Abyss:
    • The original Luke fon Fabre was kidnapped and cloned to create another Luke. The original went on to become Asch the Bloody, while the clone was returned to the original's place. After the (clone) Luke accidentally destroys an entire city, his team abandons him to join Asch. When Luke resolves to atone for his mistakes and Asch turns out to be a bitter Jerkass, the team rejoins Luke.
    • There are multiple Duel Boss fights between Asch and Luke. The first borders on Hopeless Boss Fight, but the player is required to win the final duel. Thus, Luke overcomes his original in sword-skill.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, if Geralt kills the mob boss Cyprian Wiley, Dudu (a doppleganger) will take over his identity. Wily is a depraved Serial Killer who has no concept of Honor Among Thieves, while Dudu is a naturally non-violent individual, who disbands Wily's criminal empire and reinvests his assets in a legitimate trading company.

  • Arthur, King of Time and Space:
    • The strip's take on Arthur's conception is that Ygraine figures out Uther-disguised-as-Gorlois is not her husband very quickly, and their passion for each other (which Merlin later describes as "scary") means she couldn't care less.
    • In both the space and baseline False Guenevere storylines, everyone says it's impossible to tell which Guenevere is the original. To everyone's shock, Arthur chooses the one who doesn't like Lancelot. (He regrets it, but then she whammies him with magic.)
  • Bob and George (sort of) contains a character named Jay, who was replaced by a shapeshifting purple alien during an alien invasion. Alien Jay was allowed to stay because he got along better with the other characters than the original.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: One comic has a woman unable to tell her husband from his Robot Duplicate, and so tells her husband to say something only he would know about her. The husband's choice of words were... regrettable, as shown by the last panel where she's feeding the robot batteries.
    Husband: You have really bad ass acne.
  • xkcd takes Racing Ghost to the logical extreme, in which everyone prefers the guy's much more punctual ghost (including his boss and kids).

    Web Original 
  • In the picture series Postcards from Impossible Worlds, an adventuring party realizes one of their companions have been replaced by an impostor... because he's suddenly polite, well-mannered, and no longer claims all the loot for his huge iron-bound coffer. They all vow to each other not to reveal the truth, no matter how hard it is to ignore the wailing and banging coming from the coffer...

    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Critic jokes about this being the case in Face/Off when terrorist Castor Troy impersonating FBI officer Sean Archer proves out of universe to be a better family man to Archer's wife and daughter from giving his wife footrubs to teaching his daughter self-defense.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Following in Your Footsteps", Finn and Jake befriend a bear. When he goes to a party wearing an unconvincing Finn costume, Finn assumes that everyone believed the bear was really him. He's informed they could all tell the difference, but preferred the bear because Finn was being such a wet blanket at the time.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: In "Bad Replicant", the Plutonians come up with a convoluted scheme to conquer Earth that involves an army of replicants and deterraforming the planet (without any clear way of doing the latter). Their first replicant is a deformed one of Shake, who is much nicer than the original, so Frylock and Meatwad prefer him.
  • Dan Vs.: In "Dan vs. Dan", a doppelganger forces Dan out of his own apartment and steals his identity. Real Dan is such a jerk and loner that it only takes Fake Dan a few days of volunteer community service to become the more popular, better-known Dan. The real Dan only has two friends who are willing to vouch for him — and the imposter even wins them over, just by being kinder and more polite than the real Dan.
  • Duck Dodgers: "Detained Duck" has a Spot the Imposter moment where the Cadet has to determine which between the real Dodgers and an impostor named Drake Darkstar. Dodgers attempts to help out, but everything he lists are mean things he did to his cadet (one example was the time Dodgers sold the Cadet's sister to the sausage factory, which even Drake is shocked by). In the end, Cadet knowingly declares the impostor as being the real one after feeling that he'll ultimately be this trope.
  • The Goof Troop episode "Frankengoof" features a Frankenstein's Monster parody that looks like Pete in green makeup. His family unanimously prefers the monster to him because he's nice and does household chores, whereas the real Pete is a lazy jerkass, to the point where Peg secretly brings the monster home with them instead, which is only undone by Negative Continuity.
  • In the Justice League episode "The Great Brain Robbery", Flash and Luthor get mind-swapped. Tala prefers Flash to normal Luthor because he's a nicer guy and is strongly implied to be a better lover.
  • In a Robot Chicken Masters of the Universe sketch, Skeletor sends Faker, He-Man's blue-skinned duplicate, to a party at Castle Greyskull. Everyone prefers him to the real Prince Adam when he proves better at partying, especially after he puts Skeletor's head on a pike, turns Beast-Man into a rug, and has Evil-Lyn locked in stocks, so when the real Adam shows up, they take Faker over him and put Adam's head on another pike.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Principal and the Pauper", Principal Seymour Skinner is revealed to be Armin Tamzarian, who had inadvertently taken the identity of the real Sergeant Seymour Skinner whom he served in the army with. Armin had actually visited Mrs. Skinner, intending to inform her of her son's demise, however, Mrs. Skinner mistook him for her son and he went along with it. When the real Seymour Skinner returns and tries to reclaim his old life, Mrs. Skinner is thoroughly annoyed by how disobedient and irresponsible he is (by her absurdly strict standards). She opts to have Armin back as her son, reasoning he had actually been her son for longer (as the real Seymour had been absent from her life while serving in the army and captured by the enemy). The real Skinner is also given Armin's job as school principal, which no one thinks he's any good at. In the end the real Seymour is honorably farewelled from Springfield as a war hero (and tied to a train headed out of town), while Armin is allowed to stay and legally continue using the name "Seymour Skinner" while living with his mother (under penalty of torture to anybody who ever brings this back up).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "Squid Wood", customers at the Krusty Krab like SpongeBob's Squidward puppet more than the real Squidward. The puppet replaces him as a cashier at the Krusty Krab and is given the $1 million clarinet performing contract Squidward wanted.
  • In an early South Park episode, a good version of Cartman from a Mirror Universe comes to South Park, looking to escape from the evil Jerkass version of the gang in his dimension. Towards the end of the episode Stan and Kyle get ahold of a gun that can zap someone into the mirror universe and intend to use it on their Cartman, as they naturally prefer the alternate version to the one they know. Unfortunately for them, Cartman manages to start a Spot the Imposter scenario and then tricks them into sending the alternate version back to his original universe. The real Cartman requests that they zap both Cartmans, as it's the only way to be sure they'll be rid of the unwanted Cartman, so they zap the other Cartman, believing the real Cartman would never say something so selfless... except the real Cartman is Genre Savvy enough to know that saying such a selfless line would be enough to trick them into thinking he's the alternate Cartman.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "The New Lars", Steven accidentally possesses Lars' body. Steven takes it as a chance to get Lars to admit he loves Sadie, and along the way acts far nicer than Lars does usually (even though he was trying to blend in). Lars' parents and most of his friends are pleased, the exception being Sadie herself—and half of her dissatisfaction was suspecting the attitude change was just a trick. Lars did not take it well when he learned that almost everyone was happy that he was acting weird all day.

    Real Life 
  • This may have happened during the Martin Guerre case in 16th-century France. The imposter Arnaud du Tilh successfully stole the identity of Martin Guerre for three years — even convincing Martin's wife and family that he was the real deal — before he was discovered, tried, and executed. Historian Natalie Zimon Davis has argued that the wife, Bertrande Guerre, must have known all along that Arnaud was an imposter — but went along with the deception because he was a better man and kinder husband than the real Martin. This interpretation has influenced adaptations of the story, like the 1982 film The Return of Martin Guerre and the musical Martin Guerre.