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It's one of the laws that govern fiction: if there is an item that the bad guy needs, they're going to get hold of it at some point in the story. Most of the time, this results in the heroes going through hell and high water to get it back, but what about cases where the hero is a bit more clever and has a bit more foresight than the villain? What about making the villain believe he has the mighty MacGuffin when he really doesn't? What about replacing it with something that looks similar, but is a complete dud?

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Also known as "the old switcheroo" in more lighthearted contexts, Replaced By A Replica refers to any time an object is switched out with another that appears very similar (if not identical) to the original, but lacks the original's desired attributes. The replacement might be broken, a joke, useless, or even harmful to its new owner.

The key distinction of this trope, however, is that the swap must be done intentionally to fool another character, and involve switching out a physical object. For accidental item switches, see Satchel Switcheroo, Unfortunate Item Swap, and/or Blind Mistake. For switching items in order to fool a scale or other inanimate trap, see Weight and Switch.

Keep in mind, this can be done with heroes tricking villains, as discussed in the introduction, but it can also be villains tricking heroes, morally-gray rivals tricking each other, or any other combination, so long as the intention is to fool a person into using an unhelpful replica of the actual, sought-after item.

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Supertrope to Fakin' MacGuffin, in which the switched object is also the element driving the plot. Inversion of Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon, in which the fake object is swapped out for a real, functional one. When documents are the item being switched out, it's Script Swap.

Not to be confused with Kill and Replace, which is about replacing people with duplicates.

A common tactic of The Con, The Prankster, The Trickster, as well as other characters known for their craftiness. It's also Truth in Television, as similar tricks are actually used by spies and stage magicians.

This is a Spoilered Rotten trope, so beware of unmarked spoilers!


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Canaan, Alphard does one by replacing a live pistol with an air gun before Cummings could use it to shoot her after she begins to gun down Liang Qi's chopper over the desert.
  • In Death Note's final arc, the task force hunting Kira tracks Teru Mikami to the safe deposit box where he's keeping his Death Note, and replaces every unused page with ordinary paper, rendering it useless.
  • Lupin III: Operation: Return the Treasure spends most of second act inverting the replacement of priceless objects with replicas. Mark Williams has asked Lupin to un-switch six treasures that he had stolen while still alive. He also gives Lupin a deadline to complete the task. If Lupin fails to restore the treasures to their rightful places, he won't reveal the location of the Trick Diamond.

    Comic Books 
  • Blake and Mortimer: The Necklace Affair features a crooked jeweler making a replica of the necklace, hoping to pull off a double-cross by selling the fake to Olrik and the selling the real one. At the end, the jeweler drops off the necklace which is picked up by Olrik... but unbeknownst to him, the heroes had switched it for the fake. And proceed to gloat about it on TV, which Olrik was watching to call their bluff.
  • Bookhunter concerns the theft of an antique Bible with historical significance. The theft went unnoticed for weeks because the thief left a very accurate fake in its place. The big twist at the end is that stolen book was also a fake, thanks to Colliding Criminal Conspiracies—the real book had been stolen by someone higher-up, months beforehand.
  • At one point in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, Godot has been hired by Der Rock to keep the McGuffin. The Psmiths come looking for it, and Godot hands it over. When Der Rock objects, Godot hands him one too, and says the other one was fake. The Psmiths immediately object, and Godot reassures them that he was lying, and they've actually got the real one. This goes on for some time.
  • Detective Comics: In #282, Batman, while investigating an odd death, discovers that the victim, an art consultant for the Gotham natural history museum, was stealing artifacts from the museum archives to sell to private collectors. One of his accomplices was the museum's artifact restorer, who would replace the missing artifacts with near-perfect copies.
  • Hellblazer: One story has a priest who let a succubus (disguised as a prostitute) loose inside the Vatican then is inspired by an angelic vision to ask John for help. John comes up with a plan requiring the use of a book from the forbidden section, putting a glamour over a Yellow Pages directory so the book isn't missed. Once the demon is defeated, the priest goes to return the book, only to find himself with two Yellow Pages in his hands. We then see the entire thing was John's plan (the prostitute, succubus and angel were all played by Ellie the demon) to get the book: the lost gospel of Constantine.
  • Tintin:
    • In "The Broken Ear", Tintin is waiting at the train station when he sees someone walking away with his suitcase, starts to yell but then sees that his suitcase is still right there. It turns out that the man he saw swapped Tintin's real suitcase for a fake full of Cartoon Bombs, and then tipped off the police.
    • The plot of the same book revolves around a native South American statue that was stolen and replaced with an imperfect replica. Then the statue the thief was carrying turns out to also be a replica...
  • Catwoman repeatedly uses this as a tactic for stealing things in her 2018 series. In one issue she uses this to acquire the artifact that she is trying to recover. In another issue she uses this trick to replace a police officer's radio (which he is wearing on his belt) so that he will think backup is on the way when it is actually Catwoman's accomplices disguised as police.
  • Wonder Woman's mother once stole her lasso and replaced it with a replica to try to protect her daughter from a prophecy. The trick worked, as later the replica is used against Diana and was a fairly useless weapon against her, in contrast to how dangerous her real lasso can be in the right hands.

    Fan Works 
  • In One Thing Leads to Another, Batman and Catwoman have a confrontation in a museum, from which she gets away with two ancient cat statues. Once safe, she takes a closer look at the statues... at which point Batman comes in and explains that once he heard she was in town, he figured she would be after these particular pieces, and tipped off the museum to pull the genuine statues off the display.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Tintin and the Lake of Sharks, this is the idea behind Rastapopolous's Evil Plan. Using technology stolen from Professor Calculus, he plans to make copies of famous artworks around the world, steal the originals, and get filthy rich.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Twilight's crown (which was part of the Elements of Harmony, the "most powerful force in Equestria" was replaced by a cheap-looking duplicate from an alternate universe where it was a Fall Formal Crown.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1994 The Fantastic Four movie, the Jeweler swaps the real diamond our heroes plan to use in their spaceship with a fake, intending to give it to the woman he's stalking. The fake diamond creates the spaceship accident that transforms our heroes. The weird part is that the "fake" one sparkles and the "real" one doesn't.
  • James Bond:
  • After all the fuss about getting "the black bird" in The Maltese Falcon, the bad guys finally get their grips on the eponymous falcon statue, only to find that it is a worthless replica, not the golden statue encrusted with jewels that they've been hunting for years. The villains think that General Kemidov tricked them and made off with the bird before the events of the film, but Sam Spade is obviously skeptical that there was ever a real bird in the first place.
  • In My Favorite Brunette, the Bob Hope character manages to make a record of the spies, but one of the spies switches it for a swing music record.
  • The final heist of Ocean's Twelve involves a fast shuffle to steal a Faberge egg and replace it with a replica (in one attempt a hologram) before the Night Fox
  • In Ronin, the briefcase that has the MacGuffin was replaced by Gregor with a similar one, except that it was meant to be detonated after a certain period of time. Sam was able to get rid of it after he noticed paint smears on his hands when he held the case.

    Literature 
  • In the Cthulhu Mythos, many souls tried and failed to defeat the horror known as Ghatanathoa, but none are more well-known than T'yog, the high priest of Shub-Niggurath. He crafted a scroll that was meant to protect him from the dreaded curse that fell on those who looked upon Ghatanathoa or a perfect likeness of him. But T'yog was undone when the priesthood of Ghatanathoa stole the scroll in question and replaced it with a fake.
  • Discworld:
    • When short on money, Moist von Lipwig uses a trick with two identical-looking rings, one glass and one diamond. He finds a mark to sell the ring to and take it to a jeweller, who of course notes that it's real diamond. When the mark goes to get the money, Moist switches it out for the glass ring.
    • In Making Money, Cosmo pays a lot of money to get his hands on Vetinari's stuff, including clothing. When he wants Vetinari's Sword Cane (supposedly made from the iron contained in the blood of a thousand men), his assistant makes one instead, as getting the real is too hard and because the one he makes is closer to Cosmo's idea of the sword Vetinari would have.
    • The big twist in The Fifth Elephant is that the Scone of Stone seat of the Dwarf Low-King has been switched out with a fake copy and the original destroyed. The even bigger twist is that the dwarf kings have been pulling this switch themselves for centuries and the conspirators in the book only think they have a new scheme.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore retrieve a locket hidden by Lord Voldemort, that they suspect is one of his horcruxes. After the climax of the novel, Harry finds a note within the locket, revealing that a person with the initials "R. A. B." had taken the real horcrux and replaced it with the current locket, a fake. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows reveals that it was Regulus Arcturus Black, but he failed to destroy the locket horcrux, meaning that Harry and co. had to track the real one down.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Sword of Gryffindor, one of the few weapons to destroy a Horcrux, was hidden by Dumbledore and replaced by a replica in the Headmaster's office at Hogwarts, so that it doesn't fall in the hands of the Ministry of Magic.
  • In The Tamuli, Aphrael sneaks one of the rings that are the key to Bhelliom's power note  off Ehlana's finger, replacing it with a fake. (She pulled the same trick on Ghwerig in the backstory, swiping both rings.)
  • An inversion occurs in Steven Brust's Dragaera novel Jhereg. Vlad's thief friend Kiera replaces the ordinary daggers Mellar carries with Morganti daggers (special magical daggers that destroy the victim's soul) as part of a plot.
  • In Neverwhere, after the protagonists get the key the villain is after, Door makes a copy and gives that to Richard, pretending it's the original, so that when they are captured, he can be pressured into giving it to the villain without any guile.
  • This is how the titular item is recovered in The Purloined Letter. After locating the letter, Dupin surreptitiously swaps it for a duplicate letter that obviously doesn't contain the incriminating information that will allow the villain to use it for Blackmail.
  • The Stormlight Archive: During the invasion of Thaylen City, Big Bad Odium tries to grab a priceless, massive gem out of its treasury, since it can be used as a Crystal Prison for his most powerful minions. The defenders include a Master of Illusion and a Magic Knight expert of Confusion Fu, so they soon have Odium's forces chasing after a fake gem while they carry the real one to safety.
  • In the first book of the Sword of Truth series, Giller replaces one of the Boxes Of Orden with a fake to keep it out of Darken Rahl's hands. Unfortunately for him, Rahl arrives earlier than expected, and since he cannot be fooled, Giller performs a Heroic Sacrifice while an accomplice gets away with the box.
  • In The Twelve Chairs, both the protagonists and their rival Father Feodor are looking for a set of chairs with a treasure hidden inside. Ostap manages to locate documents which detail where the chairs are. Father Feodor is after these documents, too, but he is late, and the archivist is angry that Ostap fooled him. So the archivist gives Feodor documents on another, identical set of chairs with no treasure inside.
  • In The Way of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chauvelin surreptitiously makes a copy of the vital packet of letters, substitutes it for the original, and opens the original... only to find that he's got a copy Sir Percy had previously substituted, and all it contains is the Scarlet Pimpernel's signature rhyme.
  • In "We Also Walk Dogs", a Science Fiction Short Story, thieves take a one-of-a-kind Asian porcelainware piece from a museum, leaving a replica left in its place.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agent Carter: Peggy Carter is told by Stark to steal a superweapon called "The Blitzkrieg Button" from a lab and replace it with a fake, before the scientists examining it activate it by accident. However, it turns out the real one was not a weapon either, but a container for something more valuable that Stark wants back without anyone knowing.
  • Andromeda: One episode had the Andromeda crew attempting to negotiate for the return to the Than of an artifact called the Hegemon's Heart. Since they were doubtful they could persuade its current owner to return it through negotiation, Dylan authorizes a mission to steal the Heart and replace it with a fake they'd engineered. When trying to access the map the heart was supposed to have at its core, Beka realizes the heart they'd stolen is itself a fake and the real one is in possession of an old lover of hers, who was supposed to be protecting the thing in the first place.
  • Banacek: In "The Vanishing Chalice", Banacek discovers that the chalice that was stolen from the museum was actually a fake, with original having been stolen earlier.
  • An episode of Benson has the Governor's mansion host a delegation from a foreign country with a national artifact on display. During a costume party, a member of a revolutionary group from the country approaches Benson (who's wearing the same costume as their contact) to steal the artifact. The government officials give him a fake to give them instead. When the revolutionaries do the same, Benson decides to have a little fun.
  • Bones: Part of the plot of "The Man With The Bone" involves bones being stolen from the lab and replaced with fake ones. Naturally, Brennan isn't fooled.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In Season 4 Jake and Holt are hiding out in Florida under Witness Protection after being threatened by a vicious New York mobster. Their lives are placed in jeopardy when a woman shoots a video of them on her 'phone, which she is planning to put on Youtube. They track her down and attempt to pay her off but she discovers that most of the 'money' Jake has given her is just expired coupons. Jake panics and attempts to run away with the 'phone but he fails to get away and she takes it back. After Holt berates him for not taking the situation seriously Jake reveals that he has switched the 'phone for an identical model and he now has the original in his possession.
  • Doctor Who: In The Daleks' Master Plan, the Doctor has stolen the taranium core the Daleks need to power their doomsday device. Since he knows the Daleks will most likely track him down before he can get back to the TARDIS, he builds a fake core so they can take it from him and think they've won.
  • Elementary: The plot of one episode concerns an old map which will identify the original owners of certain plots of land, which is important now. The map is stolen and two copies are made: one is a fairly obvious forgery, so that when the second copy, a more meticulous forgery, is discovered it will be assumed to be the genuine article.
  • The Ghost & Mrs. Muir: In "The Real James Gatley", an antiques expert and his wife want the Gatley barometer in Gull Cottage (the only other one being in the British Museum) and offer Claymore $2,000 for it. He has a copy made and changes it for the original, but the captain, who does not want to part with it, changes it back, which leads the couple having Claymore put in jail for selling them a fake.
  • House of Anubis:
    • The elixir of life in the season one finale was replaced with the fake elixir discovered by Sibuna earlier in the season. Rufus Zeno drank it and ran off, thinking he succeeded in becoming immortal.
    • In the second season, Sibuna and the teachers were in a race to find the mask of Anubis, which was believed to be hidden behind a series of puzzles, many of them deadly. In the end, however, the mask found in the tunnels didn't work; the true mask was posing as a fake in an exhibition, and the fake mask was put in the tunnels.
    • At one point, in order to get into the tunnels, Victor found and stole the spare amulet hidden in Nina and Amber's room, replacing it with a carefully made replica. Patricia used this replica amulet when hers got lost, and ended up being blinded by the first trap. This replica amulet would later be used to trick the teachers during Alfie's "failed" magic trick, being smashed in place of Victor's real one, which he'd stolen back in the process.
    • When Jasper was tasked with stealing the gem Jerome had spent all season finding for his father, he'd had to replace it with a fake. Mr. Sweet bought it, but Jerome didn't, and this was made worse when Mr. Sweet hired Jasper to examine the gem for them. Of course, Jasper claimed it was real, which only made Jerome more suspicious of him.
  • One episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent features a con artist duo who manage to surreptitiously replace real yellow diamonds with extremely well-made forgeries. To the naked eye they look real, but a professional jeweler can tell the difference; unfortunately, by the time he sees the fakes, the real ones have walked out the door.
  • The Mentalist:
    • In the series finale, Patrick Jane is at a jewelry story and notices the jeweler performing a "French Drop" whereby he replaces a valuable ring with a worthless duplicate, in order to steal the ring from a couple who has brought it in to get it turned into a necklace. Jane stops the theft, but lets the jeweler go with a warning because he's shopping for an engagement ring for Lisbon.
      Patrick Jane: So show me your very best selection, please. And, sir, if I see any glass the cuffs will come out.
    • In an early episode, the Victim of the Week owns a valuable painting which he has on display in his office. Jane destroys it after figuring out that it's actually a copy; the original is securely stored away.
  • Inverted during the second run of the Mission: Impossible series episode "The Lions," in which reactionary steward Ki of Bajan-Du has already replaced five ceremonial lion figurines with replicas to assure that heir ascendant Prince Mikos fails a critical kingship test. Secret Agent Jim Phelps and his IMF team must burgle the true Golden Lions from Ki, then supplant Ki's replicas with them in time for the ascension ceremony.
  • The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Big Blackmail". The German Consul fakes a kinetescope of President Grant signing a treaty with an enemy nation, which if made public would destroy Grant's reputation. Jim West and Artemus Gordon infiltrate the German embassy and replace it with a joke version that makes the Consul look silly.
  • The Bad Hats of Lidsville conclude that they'll have better luck wooing the ladies if they have a Cool Car. This means posing as a cleaning crew to abscond with HooDoo's Hatamaran, leaving a similar folded hat in its place. It doesn't take the Card-Carrying Villain long to discover the switcheroo, and thereupon conduct zap practice on the Bad Hats.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BECMI Dungeons & Dragons adventure IM3 The Best of Intentions. One of the tasks the Player Characters must complete is to acquire all of the parts of the Cube of Six Planes. One part is held by the turtle ruler Yertle. If the PCs steal the part, they can choose to leave a non-working copy so Yertle won't worry about its absence.
  • In the classic Traveller supplement The Traveller Adventure, the campaign kicks off with the PCs trying to steal a brooch from a museum. One possible tactic is to create a duplicate of the brooch and leave it in place of the real brooch so the museum personnel won't realize that it's been stolen...at least for a while.

    Theatre 
  • The plot of Animal Crackers involves a valuable painting and two copies of it, each of which get switched with the original and/or each other in a game of one-upsmanship.

    Video Games 
  • A double swap can be performed in Baldur's Gate II. The player character and company are sent to infiltrate a drow noble house that has stolen the eggs of a silver dragon. The swap occurs thusly: first, you're instructed to swap the real eggs before they can be used in a ritual- they're being given to a demon in exchange for power, and being given the fake eggs causes him to kill the house's Matron Mother in retaliation. Once you've replaced the original eggs, you're given a second option to use a second set of fake eggs that you can give to Phaere, who was going to give them to the demon in exchange for the power he was originally going to give her mother. This causes him to kill her as well. At that point, you have the option to either give the eggs to the demon yourself or return them to the silver dragon.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, companion mage Vivienne asks the Inquisitor to procure for her a rare alchemical ingredient - the heart of a snowy wyvern. The game gives the player the option of giving her the heart of a regular wyvern instead, which renders the potion she's trying to make completely useless. It turns out to be a case of Video Game Cruelty Potential, because the potion in question is a desperate attempt to save the life of Vivienne's dying lover. It fails no matter what, but how she treats the Inquisitor afterward depends heavily on whether she was given the right item or the useless variant.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Umbacano is a collector obsessed with artifacts of the Ayleid Abusive Precursors, who hires you to "obtain" a specific Ayleid crown from a rival, No Questions Asked. You can fool him with a similar crown from a nearby Ayleid ruin instead. In his next quest, he tries to absorb the power of an Ayleid throne to usher in a new age of Elf rule; if he uses the decoy crown, instead of Super Empowering him, the throne electrocutes him on the spot.
  • Occurs twice in Lufia 2 Rise Of The Sinistrals:
    • Maxim and his team meet up with Rochy who wants them to retrieve the Ruby Apple from the Ruby Cave. However, as they are finally able to get their hands on it, it breaks. But in a room behind the room with the Apple, they find Jaffy, a glassworker who had also forged replicas of the Apple with red stained glass. Rochy still rewards the team without knowing he got a fake.
    • Maxim and co. also have Jaffy replace the stolen Ruby Icon in Ferim, since there is a ceremony for it coming up. However, this time the Queen isn't convinced, but Maxim and co. are able to find out who stole it and bring the real Ruby Icon back to Ferim
  • Mortal Kombat: Done with Shinnok's amulet twice.
    • In the original timeline (as revealed in Mortal Kombat 4), after Bi-Han (Sub-Zero V) retrieved Shinnok's amulet and gave it to Quan-Chi, Quan-Chi switched it with a forgery. He gave the forgery to Shinnok and kept the real one to himself.
    • In Mortal Kombat X, set in the new timeline, Shinnok's Amulet is stolen from Raiden's Sky temple and replaced with an elaborate forgery (presumably the same one Quan-Chi had originally created for his own scheme described above) so that no one would realize that it was gone until Mileena began her renewed attacks on Kotal Kahn in the Outworld civil war.
  • Mass Effect 2: If you ask Kasumi about the decorations in her quarters aboard the Normandy, she'll explain that she and her lover stole them from museums. Kasumi has the priceless originals and left the museums none the wiser with cheap replicas.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the Crystal Star in Poshley Heights is displayed in plain sight and is the only one like that. Beldam and her sisters, who had spent the previous three days trailing Mario, nab it before Mario can get to it. It turns out this one is a fake; Inspector Pennington, who runs the display, actually let them take it to get them away from there, then leads Mario to the real one.
    • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: Prince Peasley gives Mario and Luigi a fake plastic Beanstar to trick the villains with. The villains catch onto that. What they don't catch on to, however, is when Luigi disguises himself as Peach and tricks them into thinking they've captured a fake Peach, when they've actually captured the real one.
  • In the Quest for Glory game series a key plotline if you play as a Thief is the search for the Black Bird (a takeoff of The Maltese Falcon). He who owns the Black Bird is a legend among thieves. It is said that the bird is filled with gems, but it's mostly treated as a status of power for thieves and criminals. However, at the same time that the original bird (made of ebony) was made three similar but lighter forgeries were made to create confusion. Eventually you must swap a forgery for the real one a la Indiana Jones. This tricks the previous owner of the real Black Bird long enough to declare victory.
  • Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure has Raphael cleaning up after his father did this by unswapping the fakes with the real ones. After holding on to both for a little while to mess with the police that is.
  • At the beginning of Uncharted 3, Nate and Sully were going to sell a counterfeit of his prized ring to Marlowe, which turned out to be plot-important. When she stole it and tried to use it with the Ciper disc, it didn't work.
  • In The Stinger of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Ocelot reveals that this happened to the Philosopher's Legacy that EVA, who turned out to be a spy for the Chinese, had in her possession. The genuine article is in the hands of the Americans, who will use it to form the cabal later known as the Patriots.

    Web Comics 
  • In Ava's Demon, Odin loses a ring when his ship crashes and his sisters find it and replace the stone with a similar looking tracking device before he is able to locate it.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation pulls this when they discover a notable piece of media has anomalous properties. Rene Magritte's Spooky Painting "The Portrait" in New York is a non-anomalous replica, because the real one, SCP-099, causes viewers to think The Walls Have Eyes.
  • Whateley Universe: Some paintings weren't found to be missing for months because they were replaced with good forgeries.

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron episode, "The Great Egg Heist", Princess Quin Su Shi sends Jimmy and his friends to the Retroville Museum to swap the Jade Egg with a replica and bring it back to her to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. The Princess is later revealed to be a disguised Professor Calamitous. Fortunately, his plan fails because Carl accidentally brought back the replica instead of the real Jade Egg.
  • At the end of the DuckTales (2017) episode "The Great Dime Chase", Scrooge McDuck reveals that the Number One Dime he exhibits in his Money Bin on a velvet pillow is just a decoy, and he carries his real Number One Dime in a locket around his neck.
  • Faeries: After Brigid trades away the Royal Orb to the Shapeshifter, causing the Faeries to start rapidly aging, she and the kids steal it back by disguising a brooch on a needle with hobgoblin magic and switching them out. When the Shapeshifter comes to claim the Faerie kingdom, not only are they fully recovered, he has a piece of junk that falls apart and the Faerie prince has the real Orb, with all its power.
  • In an episode of Gargoyles, the immortal Anti-Villain Macbeth and an awakened King Arthur race to claim Excalibur in the modern world, and with it the title of "The Once and Future King". Macbeth actually beats Arthur to the location, but winds up claiming an ordinary copy of the sword that breaks in combat shortly afterward.
  • One episode of Inspector Gadget has him investigate when it's discovered that MAD is planning to rob a museum. They do this by stealing the exhibits and replacing them with copies. By then, Penny's already placed tracking devices on most of the exhibits, leading to confusion when they're shown as gone even though she can see them.
  • Two episodes of Josie and the Pussycats involve swapping out the villain's prize with a replica:
    • "Never Mind a Mastermind" has the Pussycats attempt to safeguard an anti-gravity ray gun by posing as scientists at a symposium, and swapping out the device with a non-functioning replica. Alas, Mastermind deduced this plan, and used a Batman Gambit to seize the device from the Pussycats.
    • "Spy School Spoof" has technical plans to a ray gun erroneously delivered to the Pussycats. When the villain's mooks try to wrest the plans from the 'Cats, Valerie draws up a close but non-working copy. The villain succeeds in capturing the Pussycats and attaining the plans, but the weapon behaves very differently than anticipated.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, one episode has the akumatized Dark Owl catching Ladybug and Cat Noir in a Drowning Pit of whipped cream (just roll with it), which he'll only let them out of if they hand over their Miraculous. When they are delivered to Hawk Moth, he is dismayed to find out that Ladybug ended up handing over a pair of false Miraculous fashioned out of salt dough (he didn't find out because Ladybug had covered up the camera in the trap before handing over the fakes).
  • Muppet Babies (2018): In "Sparkly Star Switcheroo", Rowlf goes into a depression when he is unable to write a song about a shooting star he saw the night before the episode's events, so Summer Penguin makes him a painting of a sparkly star to cheer him up. When Piggy sees the painting, she thinks that Summer made it for her and takes it. Summer makes a non-sparkly replica of the painting, and tries to swap it out while Piggy isn't looking so that she can give the original to Rowlf. A museum heist-esque Imagine Spot takes place.
  • In one Pac-Man cartoon episode, Pac swaps the ghosts' "Secret Map" for a "Semi-Secret Map".
  • Insectoid villain Zorak challenges Space Ghost to battle his Giant Mecha. While Space Ghost bravely battles the robot, his attacks are ignored. Blip the monkey discovers Space Ghost's true power bands in Zorak's lair; Zorak's minions had secretly switched them with underpowered replicas before the challenge was issued.
  • Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends find themselves compelled to trust Doctor Doom with their pieces of a mystic amulet that can bestow godlike powers upon its bearer. These powers already reside in a social misfit named Mister Frump, and Frump is told that he must repeat an incantation to sustain his powers. While setting up a lightning attractor, Doom covertly molds a control knob into a rough replica of the amulet, which he gives to Frump. Though Frump doesn't detect the switcheroo, Spider Man does, and a battle for control of the real mystic amulet ensues.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, while the Xiaolin monks are fighting Jack Spicer and his lackeys for the Ying Yo-Yo, Chase Young sneaks in and secretly replaces it with a toy replica that Jack Spicer later took so he can use the Yo-Yo for his own scheme.

    Real Life 
  • One of the attempts on Hitler's life replaced a bottle of wine with explosives on Hitler's plane. Presumably due to the cold temperatures at high altitude, it failed to explode.
  • German police managed to swap out a huge amount of explosive fluid meant for a bomb with the same basic agent, but an extremely high incendiary point. They observed the terrorist compound located in a remote area for a long time before sneaking in while the three terrorists were out. They were arrested before doing anything with their would-be bomb anyway, the switcheroo was just as a safety precaution.
  • Placebo medicine is used this way to separate control group from the experimented group: the control group wouldn't know they're consuming a placebo, so the test results would be more natural.

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