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Relatively Flimsy Excuse

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Random Co-Worker: Hey, Sully, is the kid yours?
Sullivan: No! She's, uh...
Mike: She's's niece!
Sullivan: [Beat] Which makes her my daughter.
Monsters, Inc. (deleted scene)

Characters may often claim that others are their relatives when they have no relation to them, often to justify a character spending time around them without looking suspicious, or to mention why a character has suddenly appeared in their lives. They may also invent an entirely fictitious relative to get something done, often disguising themselves as the relative.

Such excuses are generally not very believable and tend to rely on the listener not knowing enough about the subject or the so-called relative to be able to discredit it, but few characters even consider seeing through them. It's also possible that someone might see through it, but really don't want to call them on it. (Are YOU going to tell the vampire his "brother" does not look anything like him?)

Compare Blatant Lies, which is more general. May often lead to Undead Tax Exemption in a situation where paperwork would be required. May be a form of She Is Not My Girlfriend. Relative Error is an inversion, where another character mistakes two relatives for a couple. Pretending to Be One's Own Relative is a related trope where the relation the character fakes is to themself. Mistaken for Related is when this trope happens by accident (for example the person pretending really does think he's a relative).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • After Snegurochka, an ayakashi that looks like a little Russian girl, moved in with Garaku (another humanoid ayakashi who'd established a human identity), they tell people she's his niece.
      Later on, she moves into Matsuri's house and tells Lu they're siblings. Lu notices they're clearly different ethnicities, which Rochka takes as an excuse to reveal her real identity. Lu pretends to agree, but actually just assumes they're half-siblings... until she decides Matsuri and Rochka are both aliens.
    • Regular humans' Weirdness Censor let jinyo, one type of humanoid ayakashi, suddenly show up and be treated as if they were already living there. In Shadow Mei's case, she starts attending school with Suzu (the reincarnation of part of her soul) and people believe they're cousins.
  • Bleach:
    • In the Bount arc, Renji is thought to be Ichigo's cousin while attending his high school.
    • In the Reigai arc, Nozomi claims to be Rukia's cousin— Rukia's been living at Ichigo's place long enough that the Kurosaki family takes Nozomi in with no further questions.
  • In Death Note, Light introduces Matsuda (who is at that point going under an alias) as his cousin when investigating Aoyama and using some friends to prevent him from standing out.
  • After the end of K: Return of Kings, Adolf K. Weismann becomes a teacher at Ashinaka High School, and says this for Kuroh, Neko, and Tooru Hieda, the teenager whose body he was borrowing (unintentionally). The students in the school wonder why the German guy has so many Japanese relatives, but then they decide, "Who cares? They're all gorgeous!"
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, after Hayate summons the Wolkenritter and wakes up in the hospital after fainting from shock, she tells her doctor that they are her foreign relatives who came to celebrate her birthday. This stops being a lie very quickly.
  • Nicola in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is Lucia's "sister" and guardian on the land. Since 13 is not the age of majority in the human world like it is in the ocean, Lucia needed someone to establish as a relative and head of the household... though Hanon and Rina, both her age, just live alone anyway.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid:
    • Tohru and Kanna both masquerade as Kobayashi's cousins from overseas. Just like the horns, no one questions it.
    • Lucoa masquerades as Shouta's older sister. Despite them looking nothing alike and Lucoa's constant attempts to flirt with Shouta, nobody thinks twice about it.
  • In the pilot of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Grandis bought the titular character by claiming to the ringmaster she really was her sister.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Kotaro is passed off as Natsumi's little brother to explain why he suddenly started living with her and her roommates.
  • In Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!, Mahiro's entire Unwanted Harem pretend to be related to him, despite not looking like him at all. They did this one by one, making it seem even less likely.
  • Ranma ½: Ranma fears his mother Nodoka will make him commit Seppuku if she finds out about his Sex Shifter Jusenkyo curse. So, whenever Nodoka comes to the Tendo household, Ranma uses his female form to pose as a relative of the Tendo family named "Ranko". (Gendo, meanwhile, uses his panda form to pretend to be a family pet.)
  • In Sailor Moon, Chibiusa gives Usagi's family Fake Memories to make them think she's Usagi's cousin. Chibiusa is actually her Kid from the Future.
  • In Subaru, she meets Priscilla Roberts and realizes she wants to watch her ballet troupe perform. Since Subaru doesn't recognize Priscilla as the star ballerina of the New York ballet, she tells her troupe that Priscilla is her aunt. Nobody believes her, as they do recognize Priscilla.
  • In Superbook, a Bible character who met Chris and Joy when she was younger remarks about this, and they claim to be their own descendants, rather than explain that they have this book that sends them back to different points in Bible times.
  • To Love Ru: Rito tells people Lala is a distant relative to excuse her living with him. No one really pays any attention to this fact, seeing as she loudly declared that she was his bride, and it's not like she's subtle in her affections either, subverting the whole point of the lie.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Elsie claims to be an illegitimate daughter of Keima's father (who is working abroad) to his mother, which both infuriates her while also being enough for her to live with them. Later on, Haqua uses the same excuse as a joke, leading to Mrs. Katsuragi angrily calling up her (very confused) husband yelling about how many bastards he has.

    Comic Books 
  • When the Runaways moved to Malibu and had to deal with neighbors, Xavin posed as their father. Even for a Super-Skrull, it was a stretch.
  • Superman:
    • In Pre-Flashpoint DC Comics "Conner Kent" is Clark's cousin who is being raised by Martha and Jonathan following his own parents' deaths, and "Linda Lang" is Lana Lang's niece.
    • Likewise when Clark and Lois Lane adopt Chris in Last Son, they claim that he's the son of Clark's cousin. Or... Lois' cousin? Dang it, where are those forged papers again?
    • Superman might count as well - rather than the usual adoption route, current continuity has the Kents finding the baby, laying low for a while and then claiming Martha was pregnant but hadn't told anyone.
    • In the Silver Age story Adventure Comics #278, Supergirl goes back in time and she meets Pa and Ma Kent. As she remains in Smallville, she pretends to be Linda Kent, niece of Jonathan and Martha.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake moved in with Peter, May and Gwen for lack of anywhere else to live (Johnny had run away from the Fantastic Four and Bobby had been thrown out of his home by his parents for being a mutant). They both transferred into Peter's school (after an impromptu hair dye/buzz cut) as his cousins Johnny Parker and Bobby Parker.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Fate/Grand Order/Fate/stay night crossover Fate/Starry Night, Ritsuka Fujimaru, in order to get Rin Tohsaka's attention, claims to her classmates that he is her brother returning from abroad. It fairly works since Ritsuka looks like a Gender Flip version of Rin. This ends up backfiring, as Sakura, Rin's actual sibling, comes to the false conclusion that he's yet another replacement for her as a Tohsaka, further undermining her mental stability and bringing her closer to unleashing the Shadow.
  • In Getting It Right, Rukia claims to be Orihime's cousin to explain why they've started living and going to school together. On the same day, Ichigo starts up the lie that he learned swordsmanship from an uncle that lives in town (actually Urahara). He probably only gets away with it because his "uncle" is never around.
  • In the Ace Attorney fan-comic parent-teacher night, Maya has Phoenix pretend to be her dad for a parent-teacher night at her high school. All of this is done For the Lulz.
  • Past Sins: In Chapter 2, Twilight lies to Rainbow Dash that Nyx is her cousin, instead of a magically created filly she found in a forest after a dark magic ritual.
  • In The Second Try sequel Aki-chan's Life, Shinji and Asuka don't want to explain that Aki is their Kid from the Future yet, so they claim she's Asuka's four-year-old cousin... which prompts Aki to happily exclaim: "Yes, I'm Mama's cousin! Hey, what's a cousin?"
  • In the Harry Potter Crack Fic, Switch, Neville claims that Hermione is his second cousin after both of them got sorted in Slytherin. This was to protect Hermione from the Pureblood fanatics by preventing them from finding out that she's really a Muggleborn.
  • Thanks To Her: Vee claims to be Luz’s long-lost sister to explain her living situation to Masha.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Aladdin, Aladdin saves Princess Jasmine from getting her hand cut off for accidental thievery by jumping in and claiming that his "sister" gets confused sometimes.
  • In Despicable Me, Gru tells his newly adopted daughters that his 1000+ yellow, gibberish-talking minions are his cousins.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove: Yzma goes to Pacha's home to search for Kuzco. But to not raise alarms, she claims to be Pacha's third cousin's brother's wife's step-niece's great aunt. Twice removed. Needless to say, Pacha's wife isn't fooled.
  • In Hotel Transylvania, Dracula claims that "Johnnystein" is Frankenstein's right arm's 6th cousin three times removed. Frank believes him.
    Dracula: Frank, if your arm could talk, he would tell you that the original owner of your arm had a brother.
    "Johnnystein":...Who married a woman...
    Dracula:...Who was... (throat-slice gesture)
    "Johnnystein": ...For strangling a pig.
  • Monsters, Inc.:
    • When Mr. Waternoose finds the disguised Boo:
      Waternoose: Ah, James. Is this one yours?
      Sullivan: Ah, actually, that's, uh... my cousin's... sister's... daughter, sir.
      Mike: Yeah. It's uh, "Bring An Obscure Relative To Work Day".
      Waternoose: Hmm. Must have missed the memo.
    • Done in a deleted scene:
      Random Co-Worker: Hey, Sully, is the kid yours?
      Sullivan: No! She's, uh...
      Mike: She's his... brother's niece!
      Sullivan: (Beat) Which makes her my daughter.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future, Marty McFly introduces Doc Brown to his teenage mother as his "uncle."
  • Badhaai Do: To hide Sumi's lesbian relationship with Rimjhim, Shardul and Sumi claim that Rimjhim is her cousin.
  • In Chicago, Roxie tells a neighbor that Fred Casely is her brother.
  • In Dad's Army (1971), Private Walker lies to Private Pike that his girlfriend is actually his sick mother who he needs to take care of, so he can shag her on duty without anyone catching on.
  • In Doctor at Large, Dr. Sparrow claims that he and Nurse McPherson are cousins when staying at the Judges Arms.
  • Jumpin' Jack Flash: A (white) woman is trying to sneak Whoopi Goldberg's character into an embassy party, and claims she's her sister, getting some odd looks until she quickly adds, "By marriage."
  • In Kill Bill, the Bride tries to pass her ex-lover Bill off as her father when he unexpectedly shows up at her wedding. He smiles and plays along, but his reaction when asked to "give her away" suggests he sees like salt in the wound.
  • In a movie called Loco Love, a renowned chef who lost his restaurant and money in the divorce, is forced to move in with his in-laws, after his gardener (who just won the lottery) offered to give the money to open a new restaurant on the condition he married his sister so she can stay in the U.S. Among the relatives is an old aunt who behaves coldly towards the chef, and often dispenses unwanted advice. When their relationship begins to thaw, the aunt confides to the chef that she's not really their aunt, what happened is that when they lived in Mexico, she had been wandering around from place to place all alone, one day she went into a church to rest her feet and there was ceremony going on. As she was getting ready to leave, she was mistaken for a relative, and asked to stay for the festivities, and when people asked who she was she told them she was a Long-Lost Relative, and that's how she ended up living with them.
  • Logan: While having dinner with the Munson family, Logan, Laura, and Charles Xavier pretend to be father, daughter, and grandfather. In a deleted scene, Xavier claims Jean Grey was Laura's mother.
  • Love Hard: Josh passes Natalie off as his step-cousin to Tag when trying to set them up.
  • In My Favorite Martian, Tim tries to tell his neighbour that his "guest" is in fact a Martian but she mishears it as "Martin" which the alien capitalizes on, interrupting a string of "Uhs" for uncle, thus getting the alias Uncle Martin.
  • Please Turn Over: Two examples both from Naked Revolt:
    • Rita's lover, Willie, is passed off as an uncle to hide the truth from Blanche.
    • Stella tells a saleswoman that Roger is her uncle, so she won't be suspicious of the mink coats he's buying for her.
  • In Princess Protection Program Carter has to pretend that Rosie is her cousin.
  • In Rush Hour, Carter goes to a Chinese restaurant where the criminal mastermind Juntao is supposed to be holed up. When confronted by Juntao's people, he claims that he's Juntao's half-brother. Carter is black. Juntao is an Evil Brit.
    Carter: I'm Blackanese!
  • Superman: The Movie (1978). After the Kents find baby Kal-El in the wreckage of the Kryptonian starship, Ma Kent suggests that they tell people that he's the recently orphaned child of her cousin in North Dakota.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day. John introduces the Terminator to Enrique as "Uncle Bob".
  • In Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior Wendy tells everyone at school that Shen is her cousin.

  • Animorphs:
    • Ax is introduced as Jake's "cousin Phillip" when he tries to visit their school, though to be fair, his disguise does include DNA from Jake and his actual cousin. They don't seem to think about the fact that Jake's brother and their school's vice principal are both enslaved by the mind-controlling aliens the Animorphs are fighting and could tear this story apart if they were to encounter "Phillip" ... Though this could be justified in that Jake's brother doesn't seem to go to their school and the vice principal presumably doesn't have every student's family tree memorized.
    • In one book, somebody walks into a restaurant bathroom when Marco is halfway between human and bird form. Jake quickly throws a sweatshirt over him and claims to be helping his baby brother use the bathroom. When one of the onlookers comments on Marco's obviously bizarre appearance, Jake just acts offended.
      Jake: Don't listen to them, Tommy. Your face is just fine! It's just fine, I tell you! The doctors say someday you may be normal again.
Marco thens feeds Jake his lines via thought-speak, such as the name of the disease (beakanoma), its effects (a growth in the shape of a beak) and why it's so tragic (it only affects the particularly young and handsome). For some reason, Jake doesn't relay that last one.
  • Defied in the Books of the Raksura. When the court of Indigo Cloud has to send an embassy to a potentially hostile court in the second book, protagonist Moon has to go along because he's their only consort, even though his lack of known relatives could embarrass them. He suggests claiming to be from Sky Copper—an allied court that was recently wiped out except for three young children, who could be coached to back up his claims. However, the plan is vetoed for being too risky.
  • In Breaking Dawn, Edward tells Bella's father that Renesme is his niece that they're adopting. The kid is obviously their own, as she looks like Edward with Bella's eyes, but Charlie goes along with it because he doesn't want to know how they conceived and had a toddler within one month.
  • In A Brother's Price this seems to be a somewhat common method for criminals or outcasts to become respectable members of society: a group of women pretends to be sisters. This is easier than in other settings, as women who cannot afford a husband will visit a prostitute, yet all offspring of a generation of sisters will be considered siblings, not cousins, even if the fathers are different. Once a shared husband has been brought into the family, the next generation will have enough family likeness that no one questions their claims. (As it is not deemed proper to share a husband with strangers, pretending to be sisters is a necessity - a commoner would never be able to afford a husband on her own, and doing so is unheard of even among royalty, probably due to men being so rare - snatching a man all for oneself would be viewed as extremely selfish.)
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?:
    • The men that Jamie had been with excused his presence by claiming that the boy was a distant relative of sorts. The fact that Graham uses the same excuse but claiming that he's a close relative pleasantly surprises Jamie.
    • Frank claims to be Jamie's uncle in order to visit him in the ICU. The duty nurses understands that this is a lie but they understand the reasons and let him.
  • In Catriona, when David and Catriona are travelling together trying to reunite her with her father, David tells people that she's his sister because it would scandalous for her to be travelling unchaperoned and sharing accommodation with a man she's not related to.
  • When Dan and Abra meet in person for the first time in Doctor Sleep, he insists they meet in a public place to avoid suspicions about his motives. They decide to claim he's her father's cousin, whom she addresses as Uncle. They later find out Abra's mother Lucy is Dan's half-sister, making him actually Abra's uncle.
  • Inverted in The Dresden Files. Harry actually is related to Thomas Raith, as his half brother, but that truth can't get out or there'll be dire consequences for pretty much everyone involved. So instead, when they have to meet up, they pretend to be gay lovers. It's worked.
  • In Dragon Bones, when the family "ghost" (it is more complicated) Oreg has to become visible to everyone as he's going to accompany Ward on a journey, Ward claims that he's a cousin. It works pretty well, as Oreg has the typical eyes of the family, being the illegitimate son of a very, very, very distant ancestor, and everyone assumes he's one of the many bastard sons of Ward's later father, who are also euphemistically called "cousins". And no one would be able to guess the truth, anyway.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
    • Harry pretends to be Ron's cousin at Bill's wedding by taking Polyjuice Potion imbued with some hair from a redheaded neighbor. It works pretty well though—one of Ron's drunk uncles actually seems confused whether or not Harry is his son. Interestingly, Luna instantly recognizes him from his body language.
    • In the same book the Ministry becomes A Nazi by Any Other Name, forcing Muggle-borns to go into hiding or fake a new family tree. Ron suggests teaching Hermione enough about his family to pass her off as some sort of cousin.
  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss claims that Gale is her cousin. It doesn't seem to fool President Snow!
  • In The Last Unicorn, Schmendrick tells King Haggard that the Lady Amalthea is his niece. Haggard doesn't believe him, but he doesn't really care.
  • In Les Misérables, Fauchelevent gets the convent to hire Jean Valjean as assistant gardener by claiming that they are brothers.
  • In The Moving Finger, the narrator and his sister actually are brother and sister living in the same house, but an anonymous letter accuses them of having an affair using this excuse (it doesn't help that their parents look very different and each sibling takes after their father/mother respectively).
  • In Number the Stars, Annemarie's family must temporarily shelter her Jewish friend Ellen. When the Nazis show up, they claim that Ellen is Lise, their eldest daughter (a Posthumous Character who was already an adult when she died). The Nazis show obvious suspicion of this dark-haired girl in an otherwise blond family, but thankfully the real Lise had dark hair as a baby, so they have a photograph to offer as proof.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaire orphans' guardians relationship to them is very questionable. For example, the villain Count Olaf is a very distant relative, who gains custody because he is closest by location. It's possible, but not stated, that some of the characters who claimed to be weren't really related to the orphans.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Angel:
    • He once claimed that Cordelia was "family" to get into the hospital after she had a psychotic breakdown. This was also played as him seeing her as family despite not being related.
    • Played for Laughs when Fred wants to talk to a witness.
      FRED: Um, hi. Um, yes. I'm looking for a patient — a man. He was brought in Thursday, named Stover.
      NURSE: Are you a family member?
      FRED: Am I—? Yes. I have a family. I'm a member. He's my brother. Father. My father's brother.
      NURSE: (looking at the computer) I have a Stoller.
      FRED: Half-brother. Uncle. Half-uncle.
  • The Big Bang Theory: In "The Loobenfeld Decay", Sheldon invents a drug addicted cousin as an excuse to avoid attending a show of Penny's. This spirals out of control and Sheldon ends up employing a lab assistant to play his cousin Leo.
  • When Blackadder is disturbed in bed with a prostitute by a bishop, he haltingly introduces her as his mother. Given that she looks younger than him that's implausible enough, but it turns out that the bishop is another of her regular clients and knows exactly who she is.
  • The Brittas Empire: In "Body Language", Helen accidentally sells the family house. She thus tries to keep this a secret from Brittas by claiming that two visiting U.S Force people, Chuck and Nancy, are actually her visiting cousins from Tennessee.
  • Café Americain: In "Mommy Dearest", when cornered by an immigration officer, Holly panics and tells him that she's Margaret's daughter.
  • Doctor Who: Bill claims to her housemates that the Doctor is her grandfather. He prefers "father" because he is not nearly old enough to be her grandfather, obviously. The fact that he (appears to be) an ashen-white Scotsman while she is black doesn't seem to enter either of their minds.
  • Inverted in the Faerie Tale Theatre version of Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp: the "Evil Moroccan Magician" that convinces Aladdin to delve into the cave and retrieve the lamp does so by pretending to be Aladdin's long lost Uncle. Aladdin's mother calls him on it, stating that her deceased husband never mentioned having a brother, but the magician plays it off.
  • Inverted and Played for Laughs in The Flash (2014) when Barry loses his memory and asks Wally West how they know each other. Wally, who is Black, cheerfully says they’re brothers (this is true in an adopted sense and an in-law sense.) Barry stealthily looks at his own arm to confirm he’s White while Wally smiles awkwardly.
  • Played with in Forever (2014), where Abraham was raised from infancy by Henry, but now looks twice as old as his immortal father. Excuses/explanations have ranged from Henry being Abe's son to Henry's father being Abe's partner.
  • Ms. Marvel (2022): When Kamala's older brother catches her having coffee with Kamran she claims that he's their cousin. Aamir is, naturally, skeptical of this "cousin" he's never met but his fiancee (who can tell Kamala has a crush on Kamran) pulls him away before he can ask too many questions.
  • Paper Girls (2022): After a DNA test proving who Mac is, her brother knows telling the hospital counselor that she's his dead sister who somehow traveled through time won't work. So he spins that the DNA test indicated Mac is his illegitimate daughter to get the counselor to hush this up while he gets Mac out of there. He then sells to his wife Mac is a distant cousin so she can stay with them. He even considers selling the idea of Mac's "mom" dying so she can be adopted by them, with Mac jokingly saying if that happens, she won't be calling him "dad".
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Better Than Life", when Arnold Rimmer meets Napoleon: "Could you just sign this for me. Make it out to my good pal Arnie from your dear chum Napoleon Bonaparte. It's not for me, it's for my sister Alison. ...we call her Arnie."
  • The Sentinel: Jim pretends that Blair is 'his cousin's kid' to get him an Observer's pass.
  • In the short-lived 1988 sci-fi Something Is Out There, Jack Breslin explains the sudden appearance of Human Alien Ta'Ra in his life as his "cousin from Milwaukee". Given that she's rather attractive and he's never mentioned this cousin before, his friends are understandably skeptical.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Rascals", Picard (among others) is turned into a child in a transporter accident. He pretends Riker is his father so the Ferengi who've captured the Enterprise won't think it's weird that they're spending time together.
  • When Barry Allen visited Supergirl (2015), Kara, Winn, and James all quickly yet awkwardly tell Cat he's "my cousin." While Cat probably knows enough about Kara and Winn's families to figure out they're lying, the winner has to be James, a black man. Barry is more confused than Cat and clarifies that he's not anybody's cousin.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles they pretended Cameron was John's sister.
  • In That '70s Show, the gay couple who move in next door to the Foreman's mention that in their last place they lived they had to claim to be brothers. (Doubles as Actor Allusion since the gay couple is played by Barry Williams and Christopher Knight, aka Greg & Peter Brady from The Brady Bunch.)

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Achilleid: Thetis gets the king of Scyros to take Achilles in on the premise that he's really his own sister, who no one ever heard of before. The only reason the king doesn't question it is that she's a god and even a god's lies deserve some respect.
  • The Bible has Abraham withhold the fact that Sara is his wife, and just saying that she's his sister in Egypt and Gerar (which is in his case, only bending the truth, as she is also his father's daughter), because he fears he would get killed out of jealousy by the king. Later on, his son, Isaac, says the same thing about his wife Rebekah, although she's actually his first cousin once-removednote .

  • The Adding Machine:
    Mrs. Six: But who was the charming lady, Mr. One?
    One: Now don't you go makin' trouble for me. That was my sister.
    Mrs. Five: Oho! That's what they all say.
  • The 1919 Broadway musical Apple Blossoms had a song about this excuse titled "Brothers."
  • Played with in Iolanthe. Strephon is Mistaken for Cheating by Phyllis when she spies him consorting with Iolanthe. All Strephon has to offer in defense of himself is that Iolanthe is his mother. This happens to be true, but everyone laughs at the suggestion because, due to being a fairy, she looks eight years younger than him.
  • In "I'll Never Be Jealous Again" from The Pajama Game, Mabel describes to Hines a scenario in which he catches Gladys with a sailor in her apartment:
    Mabel: Then, to boot, she tells you she was in the arms of her cousin who's back from overseas.
    Hines: (indignant) Her cousin? Back from overseas? Do you expect me to believe—
    Mabel: (reprovingly) Hinesie!
  • In RENT Lesbian couple Maureen and Joanne (typically played by actors of different races) claim to be sisters after Mr. Grey seems annoyed by their PDA. When he sees them making out and asks if they're really sisters, they say, "We're close." The entire cast then refer to same-sex couple Collins and Angel, who are writhing around on the table, as "Brothers!"
  • In The Rose Tattoo, when Miss Yorke refers to Rosa's boyfriend Jack as a sailor who attended the High-School Dance with his sister, Serafina bursts out: "'Attended with sister!'—Attended with sister!—My daughter, she's nobody's sister!" It's literally true that Jack went to the dance with his own sister, though he wound up dancing rather closely with Rosa.
  • In The Yeomen of the Guard, when Fairfax is masquerading as Leonard Meryll, Wilfred presents Phoebe as his long-lost sister, telling him to watch over her faithfully, with particular attention to her need for "indiscriminate caress." Fairfax repeatedly kisses his alleged sister in the ensuing ensemble.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, this is Rika's explanation for Hanyuu (as a cousin). Not too far off - she is related. Just her great grandmother from at a bare minimum eight generations back.
  • In Steins;Gate 0, Suzuha pretends to be Daru's younger sister instead of daughter to hide the existence of time travel.

  • Beloved L: Wei Wei tries to cover up the fact she's involved with a teenager by saying that she's her aunt.
  • El Goonish Shive: Ellen is Elliot's magically created Opposite-Sex Clone. She adopted the cover identity of being Elliot's twin sister, who had been in foster care most of her life.
  • A Heartfelt Andante: Hyo-seo suggests that Da-ul pretend to be a distant relative of Yeonjo's dead boyfriend Yuwon as an excuse to be concerned about her. He ends up telling this lie to her in the next chapter.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Torg claims that Sasha is his sister to prevent Oasis from killing her out of jealousy.
  • Whale Star: The Gyeongseong Mermaid: Uihyeon passes Su-a off as his cousin to the shop employees not part of the resistance and to his landlady so it doesn't cause a scandal that she's staying with him.

  • Not Always Right has more than its share of customers claiming to be the owner's brother/daughter/other relative to get a free meal. Several times they'll say this to the owner's actual brother/daughter/etc. who's manning the register.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • In the two-parter where the family goes to Saudi Arabia, Haley is going to be arrested for being outside her home without a man when a random Saudi man comes forward and claims to be her brother. Possibly based on the Aladdin example above, especially since he winds up being her Boy of the Week.
    • Some of Roger's personas are often said to be a relative of the Smiths usually a cousin.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: In Body Guard Duty, as a cover up for his duty protecting Sara and Kara, Jake introduces them as his cousins.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the episode "The King of Omashu", Katara and Sokka put Aang in a disguise and pretend that he's their grandfather in order to get past the guards at the city gates.
    • In "The Headband", Aang disguises himself as a Fire Nation citizen by wearing a stolen school uniform, and a truant officer mistakes him for a student trying to skip class. When a parent-teacher conference is called, Sokka dons a fake beard and claims he and Katara are Aang's parents.
  • In Code Lyoko, after Aelita is retrieved from the virtual world, she had no known family or history that can be freely divulged without breaking the masquerade. To deal with this, the crew passed her off as Odd's cousin. She also had a Fake-Out Make-Out with Odd in a later episode, but the issue was never addressed beyond that.
  • On Danny Phantom, Dani claims to be Danny's second-cousin some-odd-times removednote , when she is actually a younger Opposite-Sex Clone. The two refer to each other as "cousins" afterward, apparently just for simplicity's sake. Had the series continued, Danny would have revealed her to his parents and they would have taken her in.
  • On an episode of Doug the eponymous character is hoping his crush Patty will ask him to the Bumpkin Day Hoedown. However, Connie gets to him first, so Doug tells her he can't go to the dance because he has to take care of his sick cousin Melvin. These being his friends, of course, they believe him and decide to go bring flowers and comics to "Melvin", so he has his sister Judy climb into bed and fake the part. (And of course, Judy spontaneously decides that "Melvin" has a miraculous recovery and wants to go to the dance too.)
  • The Fairly OddParents! episode "Married to the Mom" has Timmy and Chloe wish for a woman to exist to be Mr. Crocker's girlfriend. To cover up her mysterious and abrupt appearance, Timmy claims her to be his paternal aunt and rather easily convinces his dad that the woman is his sister.
  • Played with in one episode of Futurama, when Fry tries to deflect attention from what the Professor is saying by claiming that "Grandpa" is a bit senile. The Professor then angrily points out that he's not Fry's grandfather, Fry is actually his great-great-etc.-uncle from a thousand years in the past...which of course, just makes Fry's lie seem more accurate.
  • Hey Arnold!: When Mr. Hyunh thinks he needs a family to get a job promotion, he tricks his boss into thinking Grandpa Phil is his dad, Arnold is his son, Oskar's wife Suzie is his wife and the rest of the people living in the boarding house are related to him (even though Hyunh is the only one of them who's Asian). He starts off by saying he was adopted, which makes things even harder to explain when his boss notices that Arnold looks more like Phil than him or Suzie, since Arnold and Phil are biologically related. Of course, it doesn't work in the end and proves unnecessary.
  • One episode of King of the Hill has the desperately-lonely Bill invent a visiting uncle just as an excuse to go with his friends to the airport.
  • In the My Little Pony episode "Father Knows Beast", a dragon named Sludge claims to be Spike's father, telling him in song to bring all the comforts of pony life from Spike's room to him because "You Can't Be a Dragon Here". It's later revealed that he's just a couch hopper who saw an opportunity in a younger dragon's presence.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan, Lance and Ilana pretend to be brother and sister and that Octus is their father. Octus' other persona, a teenage student named Newton, is apparently presented as some other relative, as no one questions him only ever being at the same house outside school.
  • In the Ugly Americans episode "Attack of Mark's Clone", Grimes finds Mark trapped in his closet, only to have Clone Mark (who had imprisoned him there and taken his place) walk in. Clone Mark briefly and very unconvincingly tries to claim Mark is his brother "who lives in the closet" but quickly gives up and shoots Grimes in the leg.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • Green Arrow claims that Artemis is his niece to justify her being his new protege. She actually just wanted to hide the fact that her real family are all villains. Red Arrow figures it out right away (he was, after all, Green Arrow's foster son), and a few other Team members figure it out before she reveals the truth.
    • On a mission with Haley's Circus the Team claims to be a family of performers; someone lampshades the fact that they don't look alike.
    • Played with: Red Arrow and Guardian claim to be nephew and uncle. In reality they're both clones of Speedy, but don't realize it themselves.
    • In the tie-in comic Marie Logan introduces M'Gann as her daughter. It seems quite plausible, since M'Gann's human disguise is based on what Marie looked like as a teenager.