Follow TV Tropes


The Beard

Go To
When coming out to your parents goes wrong.

"Have you ever heard about the term "beards"? It is when a gay man and woman date each other in order to hide the fact that they are gay. Like the Roosevelts. So you and I are going to be each other's beards. Then we are going to win Prom King — and Queen and rule the school."
Santana, Glee

A character who pretends to be another's Significant Other in order to perpetrate a deception.

This card is played when:

  • A character is trying to appear straight (or, rarely, gay) when they're not.
  • A character must appear married in order to become a citizen.
  • A character is attending a high school reunion and wants to show up with a hot date.
  • A character wants to discourage unwanted romantic attention by pretending to be already taken.
  • A character wants to get overbearing parents, grandparents or other family members off their back about their love life.
  • A character wants to make their actual love interest jealous and get them to admit their feelings.

Most often seen in the sitcom.

A man dated by a lesbian to make her appear straight is known as "a frock" in British English. A frock makes a woman appear feminine much as a beard makes a man appear masculine.


Gay men who marry The Beard do this generally as an elaborate refusal to come out of the closet. They "prove" it to themselves and others that they are not gay because they have a wife (that they never touch) so they most definitely are not leading a gay lifestyle. Other times, it's an open arrangement with the wife in order to abide by social standards — sometimes the wife herself may be a lesbian.

Occasionally, someone's Beard will have to be someone they're in a Will They or Won't They? situation with. It usually ends up pushing them closer, but gets a Snap Back at the end.

Not to be confused with Growing the Beard, where a show significantly improves at some point; with the Playful Hacker of a technology startup, which consists (so they say) of The Beard and The Suit,note  or with Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants or James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who are both nicknamed The Beard. Or with tropes about facial hair.


Subtrope of Fake Relationship. Supertrope of Undercover as Lovers, Operation: Jealousy, Citizenship Marriage, Girlfriend in Canada, Shock Value Relationship, Boyfriend Bluff, Romantic Fake–Real Turn and Wedding Ring Defense. Compare Emergency Impersonation, and Sorry, I'm Gay.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Nakahara played The Beard for Satō in an episode of Welcome to the N.H.K. to fool his mother into believing that Satō wasn't a hikikomori.
  • In Love Hina this sort of thing happens a couple of times. Once when Keitaro plays boyfriend to Motoko in order to keep her from being forced back to run her family's dojo. The punch line is that when it is exposed, the sister decides to force them to get married. This also a different take on the Will They or Won't They? instance where the Beard (or the person using the Beard) is a rival to the other part of the Will They or Won't They? couple.
  • Marmalade Boy:
    • Ginta and Arimi pretended to be each other's beards to get Miki (Ginta's crush and best friend) and Yuu (Arimi's ex boyfriend) back, respectively. However, they ended up falling in love with each other and hooking up for real.
    • In the anime version, Ryouko Momoi agreed to temporarily be Namura-sensei's beard in regards to Meiko Akizuki; he thought he wasn't worth all the trouble Meiko had already gone through, and wanted her to be free. Eventually, when this messed up Meiko even more, Ryouko grew tired and told her the truth. Namura recognized it wasn't working and broke the charade off, dating and eventually marrying Meiko.
  • Code Geass:
    • Implied to be why Prince Schneizel keeps appearing with Nina Einstein in public - as his aide and brother drop very big hints about his true sexuality. Of course, Nina herself is desperately in love with the prince's little sister...
    • Possibly also why Lloyd got involved with an arranged marriage with Milly. Although he's likely asexual as opposed to gay.
  • When matters of honor came to a head in Ranma ½, Akane and Ranma pretended to be married so Ukyo would give up her claim. It backfired spectacularly —Ukyou didn't let up, indeed, she raised the stakes, and the two "lovebirds" ended up increasingly flustered at each other— and they never, ever, tried that again.
  • In the Rosario + Vampire manga, Tsukune is forced to play the beard for both Kurumu and Mizore at the same time, in order to convince their respective mothers that they have successfully seduced Tsukune. An interesting take on this trope is that the beard and the people using him are all part of the same Harem.
  • In Maria†Holic Kiri decides to act as a lesbian beard to Kanako so that the jealous Schoolgirl Lesbians won't think that Kanako is involved the popular Ishima Ryuuken. Since Kanako really is a closet lesbian, this could have been a pretty original and interesting side plot... but unfortunately the matter got dropped for no adequately explained reason and nothing ever came of it.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma is forced by Mikoto to play The Beard for her to fend off a potential suitor (the grandson of the Tokiwadai Chairman) that she's not able to fend off her usual way. Of course, the act just ends up flaring the feelings she's already been growing for Touma and the "grandson" is actually a spy from the Magic Side who's been sent to potentially kill her (although he is in love with her).
  • The Day of Revolution: Megumi, a young intersex girl raised as a boy, is having trouble adjusting in part because all of her former Nakama are doggedly pursuing her now that she's Jumped the Gender Barrier. So her best friend/therapist Makoto suggests Megumi use her younger brother Mikoto as a beard—knowing full well that Mikoto's interest in Megumi is genuine—because a) it's fun to tease her little brother and b) a little respectful, gentle male attention may just be the ticket for Megumi.
  • Light in Death Note pretended that Misa was his girlfriend in order to A) appear more normal and B) convince Misa to help him kill L. He also told his mother and sister that he had a girlfriend before he met Misa, as an excuse for being out of the house so often. In fact, during college, he used at least four or five other girls (one of which was the infamous Kiyomi Takada) for this purpose, either with or without their knowledge. Takada later plays this role unknowingly, after being duped by Light into thinking she'd become the Goddess of Kira's New World Order.
  • In the Sasameki Koto manga, Tomoe suggests that Sumika get a fake boyfriend to help her PR while she's campaigning for student council president, and they settle for Akemiya, who happily goes along with it... and unthinkingly shows up to their date in his crossdressing persona. Or not so unthinkingly, since he knows he's trying to woo a lesbian with a soft spot for cute girls, and also feels far more at ease in the security blanket of crossdressing.
  • Mawaru-Penguindrum eventually reveals that the relationship between Tabuki and Yuri is this, and is a mutual setup in order to get Tabuki's first love Momoka back — and it turns out Yuri also loved her. Also is this trope in the more traditional sense in that Yuri is apparently gay or bisexual.
  • In The Gentlemen's Alliance, Shizumasa/Takanari makes sure to maintain one at all times so as to avoid being jumped by the school's female population. It's initially Maguri, and later becomes Haine.
  • In Haiyore! Nyarko-san, Cuuko uses Mahiro this way in order to drive off her cousin Cuune, who wants to drag Cuuko home to space and marry her. This is mostly Played for Laughs, with Mahiro and Cuuko's poor attempts to look lovey-dovey that still trigger Clingy Jealous Girl reactions in both Cuune and Mahiro's own Love Interest Nyarko. It stops being funny when after a whole day of watching this, combined with Mahiro's unintentionally harsh response when she begs him to call it off, sends Nyarko into a Heroic BSoD and later leads to an Anguished Declaration of Love. Note that while Cuuko is attracted to Nyarko, the fake relationship isn't to hide her homosexualitynote  as is usually the case with this trope. According to Nyarko herself, their two races are mortal enemies and if word of Cuuko's crush became public it would destroy her family's reputation.
  • In The World is Still Beautiful, Nike poses as Luna's fiance as "Vice Captain Kanaris Micaine" in order to drive away Luna's unwanted Arranged Marriage.
  • Mizuho from Dandelion Among Lilies had an older boyfriend in high school because she didn't think being lesbian would go well. It turns out he was cheating on her with another man.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul:Re, Matsuri Washuu is in a loveless Arranged Marriage to keep up appearances as the heir of the illustrious Washuu Clan. He readily admits to finding her boring, and had to be forced to write her regularly while working abroad. It turns out that Matsuri is actually an Armored Closet Gay, and secretly obsessed with his younger subordinate, Kuki Urie. Whether his wife is aware of her role as his Beard or not is unclear, but she admits to having very little interest in her husband's career.
  • Gerald in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! originally got engaged to Katarina mostly to avoid the hassle of people trying to use him in politics. Both he and Katarina were originally game characters and he wasn't interested in her at all, finding her stupid and annoying while pretending to cherish her. However, after a girl who has already played this game reincarnates as Katarina, she manages to utterly charm him while now she isn't interested in the slightest since she knows he's secretly a jerk as well as having met him when he was just a kid from her perspective. When she tries to call off the engagement later by pointing out the reason for itnote  was no longer meaningful, he refuses. She assumes he's still just using her to avoid unwanted suitors because she's still a total moron who can't take a hint.
  • In one issue of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Mikoshiba needs a fake girlfriend to drive off an unwanted admirer. He starts to tell Sakura about it but then both of them actively avoid continuing the conversation, knowing that the flow would have them fake a relationship (which neither wants to happen). He winds up asking Seo to do it — it works, but not in the way he expected.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman, Bruce Wayne's public girlfriends are little more than an endless string of beards, allowing him to keep up the façade of being a Rich Idiot with No Day Job.
  • In The Muppet Show Comic Book, Fozzie's mother is coming to visit. As she's under the impression that he's not only successful and the partner of a noted detective (because he told her so), she's bringing a girl with her, clearly intending to play matchmaker. Not wanting to be fixed up with some loser, Fozzie gets Skeeter to pretend to be his girlfriend. Then he meets the girl bear...
  • There's a scene in the graphic novel Shortcomings where Ben, the main character, has to act as this for his gay friend Alice when they go meet her parents at church.
  • Watchmen
    • Silk Spectre (the original one, not her daughter) is the beard for Hooded Justice, though only mentioned in the comics.
    • Laurie was, in part, this for Dr. Manhattan. At that point he'd drifted too far into Blue And Orange (a)sexuality.
  • When Mayor Hundred of Ex Machina announces his support for gay marriage the night after a date, she assumes he's just using her as a beard. At the end of the arc he attempts to mend fences, and admits to Suzanne he might have had *some* ulterior motives for going out with her. Hundred remains effectively Married to the Job and dismisses questions about his sexuality as unimportant.
    Hundred: You have to understand, my mind sometimes makes...makes tactical decisions before the rest of me -
    Suzanne: Oh, cut the bullshit. Just tell me, completely off the record, are you gay?
    Hundred:...Do you mind if I come inside? (he goes in, the door closes. End of issue)
  • In Afterlife with Archie it turns out Nancy's boyfriend is her Beard. She's cheating on him with Ginger; however, Ginger is too worried to come out of the closet.
  • Domino Lady: Ellen's Secret Keeper Lulu Chambers is married to gay movie director who is a relationship with his favourite leading man. Lulu gets a rich and glamorous lifestyle, while her husband gets cover for his sexuality, which would be professional doom in the 1930s if made public.
  • In Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Snagglepuss hires actress Lila Lion to pose as his wife so that the public will not suspect that he's actually gay.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Clémentine has a boyfriend, who she dumps after her attraction to a woman becomes obvious. He didn't realize that he'd been inadvertently in the role, and Clémentine didn't feel it was right to make him think otherwise any longer.

    Fan Works 
  • The Tangled Web starts with Mara pretending to be Luke's girlfriend to keep away a Fangirl with a highly influential father. Luke lasts about a day before it becomes real.
  • In Refiner's Fire, Harry asks Ginny to be his pretend girlfriend to keep away a crowd of... interested... schoolgirls. After a couple of weeks, he asks her out for real.
  • Princess: Marlene assumes Julien was using her for this when he comes out as a Transgender man, and is very, very angry.
    "I'm not one of your girlfriends in Canada!"
  • In many fandoms, characters falling in love after one character forces the other to pretend to be their boyfriend/girlfriend because they accidentally told their family that they had one, is extremely common. No less hilarious, though.
  • It's also a common trope for any canonical female love interest that's "in the way" of an author's favorite male/male slash pairing to be dismissed as one of these.
  • In this NCIS fanfic, Tony's grandmother left him a trust fund that he'll get access to when he turns forty, but only if he's been married for at least a year by then. He's starting to run out of time, so Gibbs offers to help him out. They get married, figuring they can get a divorce once the year is up and Tony gets his money. Naturally, they end up falling in love and stay married.
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero example: after rumor goes along the school of Kyon is engaged, most of the "unclaimed" girls of the SOS Brigade get one to prevent unwanted romantic attention: Haruhi and Kanae have each other, while Mikuru has Shutaro. Ultimately, the trope gets Zig-Zagged as all the aforementioned girls, Kyon's fiancee and Yuki are working together towards a Marry Them All scenario with Kyon (with Shutaro being actually Kyon in disguise), meaning nobody is actually faking their relationship.
  • In Changing of the Guard Harry runs a one-man company called Metamorphosis which provides a "perfect stranger" for whatever your needs might be. A good chunk of its business involves his pretending to be the man (or woman) in the lives of clients who prefer not to tell their families that they're gay or lesbian.
  • In Knights of the Founders Roger Davies and Cho Chang pretend to date one Valentine's Day before deciding to out themselves.
  • In The Printed Press Draco Malfoy married Astoria Greengrass because he was gay, she was lesbian and both were being pressured by their families into marrying a "proper" pureblood of the opposite sex.
  • Some Fire Emblem fanfiction has half of any popular same-sex pairing marry someone of the opposite sex for the sake of public appearance, while carrying on affairs with or pining away for the other half of the couple. Awakening is particularly fond of this trope where Chrom and a male Avatar are concerned.
  • Advice and Trust: According to Word of God Kensuke's two girlfriends originally hooked up with him to hid the fact that they were a couple. However, it eventually developed into a genuine three-way relationship.
  • In Arx Domus Nigrae Harry claims that he can't get back together with Ginny because he has a new girlfriend and ends up bringing Pansy Parkinson to dinner as his pretend date.
  • Beauty Will Tear Us Apart: Ditzy preemptively tries to fend off Trixie's unrequited affection by claiming that Time Turner is her boyfriend.
  • The Frozen fanfic The Alphabet Story has Elsa in a Secret Relationship with a woman named Kyra due to same-gender couples being illegal in Arendelle. Kyra eventually becomes engaged to a man named Ludvig, which causes her and Elsa to break up, but Elsa herself refuses to get a beard. The fic ends a Maybe Ever After between Kyra and Elsa.
  • In the Frozen fic Becoming Free Elsa is in a relationship with her smith and later personal guard Freya. In a spinoff oneshot from Free, Freya becomes jealous when she thinks Elsa wants to leave her for a prince. In reality, Prince Ulrich is in a relationship with his "best friend" Lars. They pretend to be Chick Magnets in order to avoid rumors. Lars mentions that he and Ulrich in particular have an arrangement to be the beards, and vice versa, of the palace librarian and the palace butcher's daughter. Ulrich flirting with Elsa, and Lars supposedly flirting with Freya, helps dissuade rumors on the relationship between Elsa and Freya.
  • In You Built This House, Apple tries to use Daring as a beard, even after she's Forced Out of the Closet, because she still wants to live up to how Snow White "should be". Her roommate Raven calls her out on this. Eventually, Daring and Apple come to the agreement that it's uncomfortable for both of them.
  • In Best Kept Secret, Roy goes on dates with women to make it seem as if he's a womanizer. This is all to distract from his lieutenant Riza, who's secretly his wife.
  • In the Danny Phantom oneshot A Shallow End, Paulina and Dash are each other's beards. They're both gay but pretend not to be. Paulina thinks that Dash will come out of the closet eventually, but she thinks it's too dangerous for herself.
  • Do You Believe In Fairies?: Kathy and Owen are each other's Beards. It started out unintentionally. They're Childhood Friends but everyone in town saw something more, unaware that they're both gay. The duo just let everyone see them as a couple. This lasted until one day Kathy got upset about Owen's gayngst-driven alcoholism and finally revealed to Renee that she has never been Owen's girlfriend.
  • Exaggerated in Silver Rings and Golden Hearts. James can't adopt Penny because adoption agency won't allow a single man to adopt a special needs child. To fix this, he asks his best friend Qrow to marry him and act as a husband.
  • In Recovery, Weiss has only dated boys but isn't interested in them. It's for appearances only.
  • Bluefur's Choice: Thrushpelt adopts Bluefur's kits as his own to avoid her Clanmates questioning her children's parentage.
  • In Rip Her To Shreds, Regina tries dating boys while she lies to herself about being straight.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) features this trope as its central concept. Two men that aren't gay get gay-married for health insurance.
  • Can't Buy Me Love seems to play this trope straight. The main character, an unpopular nerd, helps a popular girl. In return, she pretends to be his girlfriend, so he can become more popular. It works almost too well. However, it subverts the trope when the girl falls in love with the nerd
  • Being The Beard nearly gets Woody Allen's character killed in Broadway Danny Rose.
  • In My Best Friend's Wedding, Julia Roberts' character asks her (gay) male friend to pretend to be her boyfriend in order to make the titular other male friend jealous so he doesn't marry his fiancee.
  • The movie The Proposal features an ambitious Canadian publisher (Margret Tate) who is about to be deported (and lose her job). She pressures her straight male subordinate to temporarily marry her so she can stay in the US. His parents find out and insist on having the wedding in Alaska. Hilarity Ensues
  • Green Card features this as the central concept. The main characters marry each other, the man in order to receive a green card to stay in the US, the woman in order to move into a desirable NY flat that is for married couples only.
  • The Spanish film Inconcientes portrays a gay subculture where it's common for gays to marry lesbians for the sake of outward appearances. Sample line: "Would you like to dance with me? My wife would like to dance with your wife."
  • In Bend It Like Beckham, Tony plans to "propose" to Jesminder so that her parents will allow her to attend college and pursue her dreams of playing professional association football in America. Jesminder ultimately refuses, since she does not want to lie to her parents, and immediately explains the ruse behind the proposal. However, in effect she would actually have been his beard, as the film had earlier revealed that Tony was actually gay, which completely surprised Jess.
  • The Wedding Date is based entirely on a twist of this trope - the main character hires a male escort to take to her sister's wedding (where her ex-fiance is the best man). She ends up falling for the escort, realizing what a jerk the ex is, and patching up the relationship with her sister. Aren't romantic comedies great?
  • Pretty Woman. Edward hires Vivian to pretend to be his girlfriend for social purposes.
  • The Wedding Banquet. A gay Taiwanese-American landowner marries one of his tenants so that she can get a green card and his parents will stop matchmaking for him. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Easy A Olive makes up a relatively innocent and tame story of how she lost her virginity over the past weekend, but the rumor mill spreads it so far and blows it so wildly out of proportion that she gains a reputation as a slut almost overnight. When talking to Brandon, a friend dealing with torment and bullying due to his sexuality, she mentions how drastically a person's social status can change after a single juicy story and she agrees to pretend to sleep with him in order to convince the school he is straight. This is amazingly successful (For him, anyway) and soon many other unpopular boys are coming to her for help looking cool.
  • Just Go with It features Devlin—former college Alpha Bitch to Jennifer Aniston—taking a gay male to Hawaii to act as this for her. However, she does not put up the act to mask her sexuality, rather just to improve her social status. The Reveal of Devlin's charade is foreshadowed when, during the coconut game, they drop the coconut and he picks it up with his ass.
  • Russian Dolls, the sequel to The Spanish Apartment, has Xavier convincing his lesbian best friend Isabelle to masquerade as his girlfriend for his grandfather, as Xavier is worried his grandfather will die before he finds someone to be in a relationship with. Isabelle is incredibly grumpy through the whole thing (mostly because she has to wear a dress) and forces Xavier to wear the dress as well as makeup, referring to him as "my wife" for the rest of the night as payback
  • Jennifer Aniston played the trope in the movie Picture Perfect, in which her character seeks both a promotion and the affections of a man who is only attracted to women who are taken.
  • And in We're the Millers, this time playing a just-fired and freshly evicted aging stripper, who is recruited by her Jerkass Manchild petty dealer neighbour to play the mom in a beard family for smuggling purposes. Forced to bring an RV brimming with contraband marijuana across the Mexican border as a last chance to clear a debt that he might otherwise not survive, the juvenile middle-aged slacker must improvise, fast, and decides his last chance is to assemble a fake family of similar local misfits and failures, impersonating the very picture of squeaky-clean Americana that would never get a second look from customs and law enforcement, and thus hide in plain sight. The roster is filled out with a homeless runaway from their block and the alcoholic neighbor's neglected awkward geek son. Starting out with mutual disgust and distrust all around, the ragtag bunch is forced to method act to maintain their cover, and in the process of enacting the silliest cliches they can come up with, grow more and more attached to the lie... Which turns out to be everything that had been so very lacking from the real lives of these four embittered and lonely losers.
  • The Imitation Game: Joan Clarke is content to serve this role to Alan Turing, and she is comfortable with the idea that their future marriage will be based on friendship instead of romance.
  • Out at the Wedding is about a woman who pretends to be a lesbian because she's afraid her family will be racist towards her black boyfriend. Her recently married sister happens to fall for her pretend-girlfriend. It turns out her husband was a Beard and she was in denial about being gay.
  • Philomena: Marcia acted as one for Michael.
  • In Beginners, the protagonist's mother was this to her husband until the day she died, after which her husband comes out of the closet.
  • Sweet Smell of Success. Senator Harvey Walker, press agent Manny Davis and his date Linda James are out having dinner with media mogul J.J. Hunsecker. Or at least, Linda claims to be Manny's date, but Hunsecker isn't fooled.
    Hunsecker: But why furnish your enemies with ammunition? You're a family man. Someday, with God willing, you may wanna be President. Now here you are, Harvey, out in the open where any hep person knows that this one...[points at Manny Davis]... is toting THAT one...[points at Linda James] around for you."
  • At the beginning of Just the Way You Are, Susan is engaged to her gay friend Frank. They break up a few weeks before the wedding when he finds her with another man and they realize they won't be able to satisfy each other.
  • Loving Annabelle: Ms. Bradley's boyfriend may be hers, though her sexuality is unclear.

  • In his backstory, Titan from Super Powereds was married with children, and when his orientation was discovered it created a massive scandal that drove him from the public eye for a decade. He returns in Corpies, where he finally decides to get back into things and repair his image.
  • Used in Georgette Heyer's Cotillion: Kitty persuades her cousin Freddy to pretend to be her fiancé in an Operation: Jealousy. Later, she pretends to be flirting with her other cousin, Dolph, in order to cover up Dolph's love affair with another woman.
  • Played less idyllically with Lord John and Bree from the later Outlander books. She's pregnant. He's gay, and a good many years her senior, as well as close friends with her dad. Considering the time period, it's not the unhappiest of matches— they get on pretty well after a while— but she doesn't seem to see him as much more than a human shield to cover up being vastly preggo. (Her way of persuading him to declare their engagement? Threaten to publicly out him. Which would mean public disgrace and death. Nobody said she wasn't a bitch.) Naturally, this doesn't last. She gets her man, and... well, he doesn't die. And that's good. Right? Don't worry. She gets... better-ish.
  • Rosa and Sammy in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay get married in 1941 for a double-purpose: Rosa is pregnant by another man, who had then run off (for an unrelated reason), and so needs a husband, and Sammy is secretly gay.
  • In the novel Thrones, Dominations, the "boyfriend" of a missing actress tells Lord Peter Wimsey that their relationship is only friendly; she dates him to scare off an unpleasantly lecherous colleague, and he dates her because it makes him appear straight.
  • At the start of the Dexter series of novels, he explicitly refers to Rita as a beard and a disguise used to make him appear more ordinary and normal. Of course, in his case, being gay would be a lot more socially acceptable than the real story.
  • Raoul and Buri's Relationship Upgrade in the Protector of the Small books comes after he got her to accompany him to a party in order to dissuade matchmaking mothers, and then One Thing Led to Another...
  • In The Wake Of The Lorelei Lee, the titular ship is taking a group of female convicts to Australia. Since they have a cool captain, the crew of the ''Lorelei Lee are allowed to get married to the prisoners, if the women agree. Pretty much everyone on board likes this idea, so they all pair off... except for Jacky, who is promised to another, and Higgins, because he's gay. The two of them act as the beard for each other.
  • In the Emberverse, Rigobert de Stafford and his wife Delia are beards for one another in the neo-medieval (and extremely homophobic) Portland Protective Association. She even refers to him as "my dear beard" in a letter. Thanks to a turkey baster, they have several children together. Meanwhile, Delia is in a monogamous relationship with Lady Tiphaine d'Ath.
  • In Jasmine Cresswell's Love for Hire the main character made up an imaginary boyfriend to avoid her mother's concern about her love life. Faced with being forced to produce said boyfriend as an escort to her unrequited love's wedding to her sister, she told a regular customer at the bakery she owned that she'd pay him for agreeing to play the role.
  • Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre pretends to be in love with Blanche Ingram so that Jane would "fall as madly in love with him as he was with her".
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Margaery Tyrell is The Beard for Renly Baratheon, who is more interested in her brother Loras. It's something of an open secret that Renly and Loras are lovers, but Renly's supporters don't seem to mind as long as he's not too gay to father an heir on Margaery. The ruse is so transparent that no one finds it surprising or worthy of suspicion when Margaery (truthfully, so far as the reader can tell) claims that their marriage was never consummated.
  • In the Mary Russell novel Justice Hall, Marsh and Iris are both gay, and knowingly got married to each other to conform to early-twentieth-century social mores. They were already great friends, and both kept long-term same-sex partners throughout the marriage with the knowledge of many sympathetic friends and relatives. Although they did have sex a couple of times, which ends up as a plot point.
  • In Reinaldo Arenas' memoir Before Night Falls, Ingrávida Félix agrees to marry Reinaldo in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to protect him from being arrested and sent to a concentration camp for his homosexuality.
  • Inverted in The Fourth Bear: a prominent gay-rights MP confesses that his same-sex relationship is a lie, and he's actually straight, but his partner knows the truth.
  • In Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle, Krulcifer asks Lux to pretend to be her boyfriend for a week, in order to fool a butler from her family who's coming to pressure her about political marriage. This proves unnecessary when the man that Krulcifer was being pressured into marrying is arrested for various crimes - and, in the same incident, Lux is deemed an acceptable partner.
  • Played with in Good Behaviour, as Aroon seems to believe that Richard truly does love her, but their relationship only develops when Aroon's father begins to get suspicious of Richard's close relationship with Hubert.
  • In Captain Freedom, Tzadik's efforts to settle down and marry his on-again-off-again girlfriend Kaeko fall apart when she finds out that he's already married. He insists that it was only a beard marriage for the sake of a lesbian acquaintance.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: As part of her work with the Corellian Resistance, Bria serves as this to Moff Sarn Shild (under a false name), since his sexual tastes aren't for human females (it is implied he likes members of other species, which the speciesist Empire he serves wouldn't tolerate).
  • The Comfortable Courtesan:
    • Clorinda, the main character, is supposedly the mistress of Gervase, Viscount Raxdell. They are extremely close friends, but he's gay and she's acting as his public signifier of heterosexuality.
    • Lady Zellen is unhappy that her husband hasn't slept with her since their second son was born.note  Clorinda persuades him to confess to her that he's gay, and then finds a boyfriend for her.
    • The lesbian Lady Jane marries Admiral Knighton because her sexual relations with an actress were being gossipped about in society, and because he needed someone knowledgable about farming to manage an estate he inherited, and also because All Lesbians Want Kids. She does subsequently admit to Clorinda, however, that she found the necessary activity for conception much more enjoyable than she expected.
  • Tarot Mysteries: After meeting Clarice's boyfriend, Alanis figures out that he's gay and she's serving as his beard for his parents sake. Turns out that she's a lesbian, and he's also serving as her beard.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock:
    • In order to make his ex-wife jealous, Jack has Liz pretend to be his girlfriend. This, of course, in an early episode where there was UST.
    • In another episode, James Franco hires Jenna to be his beard for the tabloids, in order to throw off rumors that he's in a relationship with an anime body pillow.
  • Ally McBeal: Ally and Elaine kiss to make a man persistently asking Ally out think that she's a lesbian.
  • Victor and Albert from Another Period are obviously in a relationship with each other, but are married to two of the Bellacourt sisters. They have several kids with their wives, but only have sex when required and aren't romantically in love. Beatrice, Albert's wife, is in love with her brother anyway.
  • Batwoman (2019): Tyler was unknowingly one for his wife Sophie. He later realizes she never loved him. Sophie later admits it herself. It seems that she was trying to convince herself of being straight through marrying him (though she does show fondness for Tyler).
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Used when Penny's dad came to visit. He hadn't met Leonard before but was apparently very approving of Penny dating someone with an advanced degree and a steady job (she's known for dating stupid delinquents) and was disappointed that they had broken up. To get him off her back she recruited Leonard to pose as though they got back together, which Leonard found to be hilarious (she was the one to break up the relationship) and took the opportunity to not only bond with her dad but also make out with her and generally do sugary couple-like things.
    • Sheldon had his own situation with Amy Farrah Fowler, who asked him to meet her mother (both are generally asexual and dislike being treated as a couple). He took it as an implication that she considered them to be dating and the idea terrified him. When he finally discussed things with her she explained that her mother was overbearing and wanted her to have a love life, so Sheldon was to fulfill that role. Upon meeting her mother, they frequently talked about how much sex they have together.
    • In "The Transporter Malfunction", Raj goes on a blind date with a girl his parents found for him. Things seem to be going well, until she reveals that she is a lesbian and thinks that since Raj is also gay they should get married so they can get their strict Indian parents off their backs. Raj indignantly says that he is not gay, but considers actually getting married to her because he thinks he will never get married otherwise.
  • In Bomb Girls, Betty starts dating Ivan after she's nearly outed and fired for being gay.
  • The Denny and Alan's marriage in Boston Legal. Whilst there is no doubt they are not in a physical gay relationship, there are multiple reasons to pretend that they are: to keep Denny's estate from being devoured by the government when he dies; to give Alan Spousal Privilege, meaning that anything Denny tells Alan can remain secret/private as Alan cannot then be forced to reveal it in court; and Denny has started to suffer the effects of Alzheimer's disease, and Alan is the only person he trusts to care for him when Denny is no longer capable of looking after himself.
  • There was a second-season episode of Boy Meets World called "The Beard". Shawn can't choose between two girls, so while he goes out with one of them, he recruits Cory to "sit on" the other, lest he should change his mind. The girls are none too happy about this stunt, and their schoolmates loudly proclaim them to be "scum".
  • The Boys (2019): Homelander and Queen Maeve are officially a couple, but in private this isn't the case. Queen Maeve is either a lesbian or bisexual, with Homelander being her beard (she isn't shown having genuine attraction toward him).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy and Willow both play the beard for Xander in one scene in "Teacher's Pet" in order to protect his ego.
    • In Season 4's "Fear Itself" Buffy says "He wanted the candy, I was just the beard." with regards to her Father taking her trick or treating on Halloween.
  • Similarly, Castle is dismayed when his daughter stops wanting to trick-or-treat with him. "But you have to come with me. You are my candy-beard!"
  • In the final episode of Cheers, Sam recruits Rebecca to act as this for his meeting with Diane. Diane, meanwhile, brings another man with her to the meeting. It all falls apart when Rebecca's estranged boyfriend comes back and proposes to her, followed by Diane's date's boyfriend arriving to reclaim him from Sam.
  • Chuck and Sarah's relationship began as a pretense. In a third season episode, this and the actual sexual tension between them was lampshaded, by having Chuck and Morgan discuss it after the latter found out Chuck was a spy and that the entire relationship was a cover. The episode was fittingly named "Chuck Versus the Beard", a play on Morgan's impressive facial hair, as the episode's plot focused on the rift Chuck's spy life was creating in his friendship with Morgan.
  • On The Cool Kids Sid married a woman but came out to his wife in 1999 because he was afraid he'd die during Y2K.
  • In Coupling, Patrick's constantly one-upping co-worker was showing up with his wife and Patrick had to keep up the façade that he was married to a real looker. He recruits Sally to be his beard, but when the co-worker's supermodel wife shows up, Patrick throws Sally over for Susan. A humiliated Sally gets Susan's boyfriend Steve to be her beard, until it's too much for all of them and Steve proposes to Susan in front of everyone - and Patrick couldn't be happier for them. *phew*
  • Degrassi:
    • Ellie pretended to be Marco's girlfriend during high school to throw off suspicion, until they started developing a co-dependent relationship because of it.
    • Toby was J.T.'s beard to push away Liberty's advances.
    • Alex and Paige invoked Girl-on-Girl Is Hot to get into a party before they were dating (and before Paige knew she was bi).
    • Jay started out as Manny's beard to annoy her parents.
    • Anya was unknowingly Riley's beard, and then Fiona took the job when she figured Riley was gay.
  • In Desperate Housewives, Susan's boyfriend Jackson comes back to ask her to marry him so that he won't be deported back to Canada. It doesn't work, since Dave called INS on Jackson when he realizes Jackson is a potential witness to his crime.
  • Doctor Who:
  • One of the cases the titular character takes in Eli Stone involves a Pakistani woman fighting not to be deported because she married a gay man in order to obtain a green card.
  • Empire has a few examples:
    • Hakeem and Tiana serve as each other's beards. For Hakeem, Tiana is a "proper" girlfriend close to his age—they're both musicians in their late teens—as opposed to the much older Camilla. For Tiana, Hakeem is a man as opposed to her secret girlfriend. Interestingly, while Hakeem views the relationship as purely a PR move, Tiana genuinely likes him and is not opposed to polyamory, though they would arguably still be each other's beards by presenting as monogamous.
    • Jamal's ex-wife Olivia served as this to make him appear straight when he was 18 and his music career was starting off. The marriage was arranged by Jamal's music executive father Lucious, who disapproves of his son's sexuality. It's implied that divorcing her was Jamal's first step toward making his own way musically.
  • In The First Shop of Coffee Prince Han Kyul hires Eun Chan to pretend to be his gay lover, so his mother will stop setting him up on dates with women.
  • For All Mankind. Ellen and Larry become this to each other since their careers would be over if NASA found out that they were gay. Because they hang out together due to their mutual interests most people already assume that they are romantically involved which makes the ruse easier. When the FBI starts to investigate them, they have to get married to maintain their cover.
  • Frasier:
    • The episode "Out With Dad" has Martin pretend to be gay to avoid having to double date with Frasier's date's mother. When she then tries to set him up with her uncle, he grabs the nearest available beard to rebuff him - which just so happens to be Niles.
    • "The Two Mrs. Cranes" has Daphne pretending to be married to Niles (to his delirious surprise), as an excuse to avoid reconnecting with an old boyfriend. And Frasier being married to Roz (as Maris), but that was just out of spite by Martin.
    • There was a Running Gag throughout the series about Deb, who never appeared on screen, but was the very camp Gil Chesterton's very butch wife.
  • Friends: "The One in Massapequa" features Ross and Rachel pretending to be married to perpetuate a lie Ross's parents have told their friends. Naturally, this makes Ross and Rachel realize (yet again) their feelings for each other.
  • Shows up in Game of Thrones much more blatantly than the vague, scattered hints in the book version. Margaery Tyrell is this for King Renly Baratheon; he made her his Queen after he allies himself with House Tyrell. However, he is romantically involved with her brother Loras, and the three are perfectly happy with this arrangement.note . The trope is later Deconstructed long after Renly's death when Margaery is questioned on why they never had children; she dances around the fact that his gayness made him unable to have sex with her.
  • Subverted in The George Lopez Show; George and Angie discover that Carmen's boyfriend Noah is gay and is using her as a cover, but it turns out that Carmen is using him as her cover so that she can see Zach Powers behind their backs.
  • Glee:
    • Quinn points out this is what people are going to think she is after her boyfriend Finn joins Glee Club.
    • Kurt attempts to be more like his father (i.e. straight) and dates Brittany.
    • Sam dating Santana. Later, when she learns that Karofsky is as deep in the closet as her, she blackmails him into going to the prom with her as part of a scheme to get Kurt back and increase her standing with the rest of the club (specifically Brittany).
    • In fact, all of Santana's heterosexual relationships - romantic and sexual (and there were many in the first two seasons), can be considered this, seeing how she defines herself (after coming out) as strictly into women, and expresses suspicion of bisexuals.
  • Godiva's: Two characters of Indian descent, Ramir and Rajni, are pressured into an Arranged Marriage. While they do like each other, Ramir can't stand the thought of being a married man, and Rajni is a lesbian. She lets Ramir know, and proposes a union of mutual beardship, where they would live together but sleep with other people. Ramir agrees, but has a change of heart and leaves her at the altar.
  • Growing Pains:
    • Mike and Carol did this in one episode; they both wanted to move out of their parents' house and pretended to be a married couple in order to rent a one-bedroom apartment, as it would be cheaper than a two-bedroom. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues.
    • Mike did it in one episode to impress everyone, bringing a gorgeous babe to his party claiming she was his girlfriend, who was all over him, kissing and cuddling with him at every opportunity. Later, he told Carol she was simply from his acting class and doing him a favor. (Doing a pretty good performance.)
  • On the series finale of Halt and Catch Fire Hailey brings home a boy named Kenny, who's clearly gay himself and goes out to the movies with him, later Hailey says that she and Kenny broke up but Donna and Cameron have already figured out that Hailey's a lesbian.
  • On The Hour, this is the only reason Ruth and Adam get engaged – so he can hide his homosexuality, which in the 1950s would have been a real problem for his career. He was actually told to marry her by his lover, who happens to be Angus McCain.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Known womanizer Barney Stinson was revealed to hire an actress to play the part of his wife... not to cheat or otherwise hurt anyone, but to fulfill a promise to his dying mother to get married. The actress went off script claiming to be pregnant. Then Mom got better. Barney even went to the extent of hiring a kid to play their son.
    • Earlier on in the series, Lily pretended to be Barney's wife so his one-night stands would leave in the morning and never bother him again.
    • Barney also pretends to be in a relationship with Patrice as part of his playbook move of proposing to Robin.
  • In one episode of iCarly a minor character asks Carly to be his girlfriend. The dialogue seems to imply this, by making it because his mother doesn't believe him about something regarding girls or a girlfriend.
  • Kate And Allie:
    • In an early episode, the titular characters played The Beard... for each other! They pretended to be a lesbian couple to avoid having their rent increased (as two divorced mothers with kids, they were considered to be two separate families).
    • In a later episode, Kate was hired to portray the wife of a client to help him get promoted. She ended up falling for his co-worker.
  • An episode of Law & Order: SVU had a woman accidentally find out that she was this for her boyfriend, a closeted NFL star. She was decidedly pissed about it.
  • Herr Lipp from The League of Gentlemen is married to a woman, but the Transparent Closet he's in makes this a moot point.
  • In Episode 9 of Leonardo, Lisa's mother arrives, wanting to bring her back to her Arranged Marriage. Lisa claims to be married to Machiavelli.
    Sofia: Well, Niccolo, I can see how much you like my daughter. But if you think I'm stupid enough to be taken in by this charade, you've got another think coming.
  • Lois & Clark go undercover as honeymooners in a Metropolis hotel for a story. Hilarious considering the two did get married later.
  • In The L Word, back during Dana's Transparent Closet phase, she and her male tennis doubles partner served as The Beard for each other... a highly ineffective ploy, considering her tendency to absent-mindedly ogle women, and his over the top Camp Gay personality. And in a later season, Jenny and the actress who's playing her in the movie she wrote are in a relationship, but at her agent's insistence, the actress takes a male date to her public appearances.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Thelma and Wayne Harris appear to be using each other this way (assuming both aren't bisexual), since they're shown in same-sex relationships on the side.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Gets Married", Monk and Sharona pretend to be married in order to investigate a criminal at a marriage counseling retreat.
  • Motive: The Victim of the Week in "Overboard" is married to a gay entrepreneur; allowing him to continue seeing his boyfriend while maintaining an acceptable facade for his Catholic family, with the wife to richly rewarded after five years of marriage. Although the cops investigate this angle, it turns out to be a Red Herring that has nothing to do with the murder.
  • This appears a few times in Murdoch Mysteries due to laws against homosexuality in the period:
    • In "'Til Death Do Us Part", the murder victim has a best friend who is gay and yet got married for social reasons. His wife proves to be aware of his feelings but also says he has treated her well by giving her a secure home and a child. The victim himself was also getting married to satisfy family members and inherit half the family business.
    • In "Monsieur Murdoch", the hotel owner and brother-in-law of the missing woman turns out to have married for this reason. His wife tells Murdoch and his French counterpart that she knew what she was getting into when they married.
    • The husband of the victim in "Murdochophobia" admits that both he and his wife were gay and had a mutually beneficial arrangement in their sexless marriage. He says he was also fond of his wife and had no desire to lose his social cover, so he had no reason to want her dead.
    • Lilian Moss is a lesbian and in a relationship with Dr. Emily Grace. Lilian has an arrangement with a gay man and occasionally they act as each other's partners in society. She introduces him to Emily as her uncle, but he later admits he's merely a friend.
      Wayland Porter: Having Lillian on my arm at the right events kept such rumours at bay.
  • On NCIS, it is very frequent for agents to pose as couples for one reason or another.
  • The sitcom Ned & Stacey had this as its primary plot. Though the couple, an advertising man who wants to get promoted and a woman who wants to live in a nice place, actually do marry to keep up the story.
  • Never Have I Ever: Invoked by Devi. She wants to use the evidently gay Jonah Sharpe for his reasonable levels of popularity, until she can get a straight boyfriend. The plan quickly falls through when she finds out that Paxton is in the same class as she is.
  • Noah's Arc: Guy's fiancée is apparently unwittingly a Beard.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Piscatella mentions that he brought one to his senior prom when he makes it clear to Chapman that flirting with him won't get her anything, since he's actually gay.
  • Occasional Wife (1966), a short-lived Situation Comedy, was based on a "junior executive pretends to be married to get ahead in the company" variant of this trope.
  • The Office: A story arc in Season 7 involves Angela dating a (state) senator whom Oscar believes to be gay. The implication is that the senator is using Angela as a Beard. Foolishly, Pam denies that this trope even exists.
  • In a later episode of One Tree Hill, a double beard occurs when Alex agrees to pose of Josh’s girlfriend so he won’t have his career ruined by being outed as gay, and he agrees to pose as her boyfriend so the media will pipe down about the sex tape of them that was released, which could ruin her career.
  • Amanda from Pan Am seemed to be the perfect match for Teddy...until she kisses Maggie on the lips. When Ted eventually finds out, she proposes that they get married anyway so that they can see the people they really want to see while still being married. Ted agonizes over it, but eventually calls it off even when Amanda tries to get Laura, who she correctly deduces has a mutual crush with Ted, to be Ted's mistress. However, then Amanda tells Ted she's pregnant...
  • Pretty Little Liars:
    • Ben was this to Emily. She was never attracted to him, but continues to go out with him (and lets him tell everyone they're having sex, though they aren't), to give her straight bravado credibility.
    • A non-LGBT related example from the series had Mona and Caleb. In order to make A (then thought to be Melissa) think Mona broke up Hanna and Caleb as she was told. They two then make out in public for Melissa to see. The whole thing turned out to be useless, seeing how Mona was A all along. She tricked Hanna and Caleb into allowing the kiss to happen, being admittedly jealous of Hanna's relationship with Caleb.
  • In one episode of ROY, Roy grabs a random girl and claims she's his cousin Sophie to disguise the fact that he went to see a kiddie film.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld called "The Beard", Elaine becomes the beard for a gay man that she ends up falling for.
    Elaine: He went back to playing for the other team. Here's the thing. Being a woman, I only really have access to the, uh... equipment, what, thirty, forty-five minutes a week. And that's on a good week. How can I be expected to have the same expertise as people who own this equipment, and have access to it twenty-four hours a day, their entire lives?
    Jerry: You can't. That's why they lose very few players.
  • In Sense8, Lito is publicly dating Daniella at the start to hide the fact he is gay. This is because he likes to play tough action heroes in movies in his homeland of Mexico and fears he will be dropped if the public (and, importantly, the film producers) find out. His fears are justified when he finally comes out, but fortunately he is able to move to America and get another - ostensibly deeper - acting role.
  • The Sentinel:
    • Jim and Megan pretend to be a married couple to go undercover, claiming that Blair is Jim's nephew. It would have been more convincing if Jim and Blair had pretended to be the couple.
    • Another episode had Jim claim to be married while undercover to fend off an advance from a thief. This let to some funny moments when Blair phoned Jim minutes later and Jim dropped affectionate terms like "sugar" and "honey" into the conversation.
  • Skins:
    • JJ was this for Emily when he was her date to the Love Ball in season 3. Naomi's Anguished Declaration of Love to Emily in season 4 also suggests that she's had a lot of beards, when she says she "screwed guys to make [her feelings for Emily] go away."
    • In the American remake, Tea admits that she lets her parents set her up with the sons of family friends to keep them in the dark about her lesbianism.
  • There's a Smallville episode where Lois and Clark pull this to catch a serial killer whose MO is killing fiancés.
  • On The Sopranos, Marie Spatafore is this to Vito—although she has no idea. The Mafia being a pretty homophobic institution (albeit one with a few pockets of "who gives a shit as long as the guy's a good earner"), Vito had to hide his sexuality.
  • Spaced used this - the two main characters wanted a flat, but had to pretend to be a couple to get it. It later transpires that the "Professional Couples Only" line in the flat's advertisement was an error inserted by the person working at the paper, and that the whole deception was unnecessary. Unfortunately, this is only revealed after the landlady uncovers the lie, and is deeply hurt by it.
  • Tattletales was a 70s/early 80s gameshow featuring famous married couples. As well as on occasion Charles Nelson Reilly and Dick Sargent with "their gals" Marcia Wallace and Fannie Flagg. Host Bert Convy would just substitute the words "your gal" for "your wife" when reading the questions.
  • In That '70s Show, when Hyde is dating Jackie, Jackie convinces Hyde to shave his beard by saying that attractive men don't have beards. She uses a Ken doll as an example.
    Jackie: Ken doesn't have a beard.
    Hyde: Barbie is his beard. No straight man wears shorts that tight.
  • Three's Company:
    • Jack pretended to be Janet's husband twice, once to please her parents and another time to placate Chrissy's father. He also pretended to be Terri's husband to help her get a promotion and ward off the advances of her lecherous boss.
    • The whole premise of the series is an inversion: Jack is wearing a fake shave, so to speak.
  • In Ugly Betty, Marc "dumps" Amanda as his beard, and she gets revenge by forcing him to use Betty as a new "girlfriend" to show off to his mother.
  • In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus agrees to be a sham boyfriend for an apartment renovation show host whose brand relies on his viewers believing he's gay. This rare inversion is referred to as an "Eyebrows".
  • Vera: In "Broken Promise", the Victim of the Week is secretly in a relationship with a Jerk Jock. The victim's best friend is the jock's girlfriend, and is secretly being used as a beard to hide the relationship.
  • Veronica Mars: Inverted in "Donut Run", in which it is vital to Veronica and Duncan's ploy that the FBI believe they have broken up.
  • Whitechapel: Inverted. Jimmy Kray's "boyfriend" later gets revealed to be a cross-dressing girl who pretends she's male so that he can come off as a gayngster like his alleged father Reggie Kray.
  • Who's the Boss?:
    • One episode had Tony Danza and the woman he was housekeeping for switching between pretending to be married for one person and trying to prove they weren't married for another.
    • In "Mrs. Al", recurring character Al is searching for a new apartment. The one good place he finds won't rent to singles, so Samantha agrees to pretend to be his wife. Of course, as the landlord had already met her, she invokes Wig, Dress, Accent to act as a Dumb Blonde wife named Candy.
  • In an episode of Workaholics, Adam meets a beautiful young woman who asks him to a wedding as her date. It all seems too good to be true and at the end Adam begins to believe she may be his true love, but when they get to the wedding, it turns out the whole relationship was a sham. The girl was a lesbian, and wanted to make a point to her disapproving father by dating the schlubbiest, most obnoxious Manchild she could find, so that the prospect of going out with another girl would seem much better by comparison.
  • Done twice for laughs in Zoey 101. In the second season Zoey helps Chase to get rid of the titular "Bad Girl". In the series finale Logan and Quinn set each other op with terrible dates for the prom because they want to keep hiding their relationship.

  • Pet Shop Boys:
    • "Can You Forgive Her?" is about a beard who finds out about the subject's sexuality and torments him about it. "She's made you some kind of laughing-stock/Because you dance to disco and you don't like rock/She made fun of you and even in bed/Said she was gonna go and get herself a real man instead"
    • They also did "Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend", which was reportedly inspired by a photo of George Michael with a beard, and written about the singer's experiences dating one.
  • Jens Lekman sings "Nina I can't be your boyfriend/So you can stay with your girlfriend" in "Postcard to Nina"; she wants to spare the feelings of her Catholic father.
  • "Gay Boyfriend" by Garfunkel and Oates is, as one might imagine, sung from the perspective of The Beard.
  • Referenced in The Divine Comedy's song Diva Lady:
    She's got a famous boyfriend
    They go out in style
    She makes him look hetero
    And he helps her profile
  • "Girls/Girls/Boys" by Panic! At The Disco is told from the perspective of a man who is a woman's Beard.
    Pose, you've gotta save your reputation
    They're close to finding out about your girlfriend

    Pro Wrestling 
  • After Matt Taven was effectively replaced by Jay Lethal in The House Of Truth, Seleziya Sparx added to his humiliation by revealing every woman Taven had been seen with in Ring of Honor up to that point had been recruited by her to ensure Taven didn't look out of place in HOT, where everyone else had no trouble getting boy/girlfriends. Ironically Sparx bascially had a Friendless Background prior to the HOT and the group would drop its hedonistic party image as Lethal became it's most popular member.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Jae's a lesbian, but heavily in the closet. She briefly dated her fellow gang member Devin so that people would stop asking about her lack of love life.
    • One flashforward shows Benedict (established as gay) in a relationship with a woman. When Zia comments on it, assuming that he's bi, he clarifies that their romance is a front to throw pursuers off his track.

  • Played with at the end of the musical Anything Goes. Reno Sweeney dresses up as a Chinese woman and pretends to have had Lord Evelyn Oakleigh's lovechild, so that he can break his engagement with Miss Hope Harcourt (who is in love with Reno's best friend, Billy Crocker). Reno and Evelyn do eventually get married (in a double wedding with Billy and Hope), which possibly subverts this trope. But Reno was in love with Lord Oakleigh before she agreed to play the abandoned lover. It was the reason she agreed to do it in the first place.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Viscount de Valvert is willing to marry Roxane so Count De Guiche will bully her to be his mistress. Lampshaded by Cyrano at Act II Scene VI:
    Cyrano: Ay! Husband!—dupe-husband!... Husband a la mode!
  • In The Taming of the Shrew, Tranio, a servant disguised as his master Lucentio, publicly courts and becomes engaged to Bianca Minola to get her other suitors out of the way. Meanwhile, the real Lucentio, disguised as Bianca's tutor, is privately winning her heart and arranging an elopement.
  • In Cactus Flower, Julian wants to marry Toni, but he's already told her that he has a wife and three children. Toni, not wanting to be the homewrecking kind, insists on meeting the wife before Julian divorces her. So Julian convinces his nurse, Stephanie Dickinson, to pretend to be Mrs. Julian Winston.
  • At the end of The Little Dog Laughed, Mitchell marries Ellen in order to maintain his facade as a straight man.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: A heavily implied side effect of Renly's wedding to Margaery, as he's established quite early to be in a relationship with Margaery's brother Loras.

    Video Games 
  • Depending on the player's characterization, the spouse of the protagonist in Fallout 4 could potentially fall into this realm. Unlike the past games in the series where the protagonist's origins are only vaguely framed ("Vault Dweller", "Tribal", or "Courier"), Fallout 4 establishes that the protagonist is in a heterosexual marriage and has a son, meaning that anyone wishing to play their character as homosexual would likely rely on this trope. Of course, given that the game takes place in a 2077 that has the social sensibilities of 1950s America, it makes sense that homosexual people might "fake" being straight to avoid ridicule.note 
  • In Tales of Monkey Island, Guybrush and Morgan LeFlay have to do this in order to convince Coronado De Cava that Guybrush is not trying to steal his lover, the Voodoo Lady, away from him. De Cava is a little...unhinged...from being stuck in a giant manatee for a long time.
  • In The Sims 3 two men in Roaring Heights are romantically involved despite one of them being married. Ironically Mark's wife is also in love with a woman and neither know of their partners sexuality.
  • In Persona 4, Yu Narukami acts as Rise's beard as part of her Social Link. She doesn't want to go back to being a pop idol, and, to that end, she claims our Brotagonist is her fiancé. Of course, considering how much a Chick Magnet the typical Persona protagonist can be, it can become a reality at the end of her link.

    Visual Novels 
  • Junichi in Da Capo acts as Mako's beard to help her get rid of an unwanted female admirer. While the motive is genuine, the very first day of acting she's already feeling awkward and begins to treat it more and more as though they were really going out.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Kanon is this to Jessica during the school festival in EP2, since her friends have been teasing her about not having a boyfriend (though Jessica does in fact have a crush on Kanon). However the series heavily implies that Kanon and his "sister" Shannon (who's also Jessica's oldest friend) are actually the same person.
  • This trope forms the basic premise of My Forged Wedding, a Romance Game in which the protagonist must, for various reasons, pretend to be the fiancee or wife of one of six attractive men. Since it's a romance game, it goes without saying that the feigned relationship soon becomes more real than they'd intended.
  • In Kissed by the Baddest Bidder, Eisuke can't directly reject Carolina Bucci's extremely ardent and determined pursuit of him because offending her will sour his business relationship with her father's Mafia family. He therefore decides to have the protagonist pose as his girlfriend, claiming to have fallen deeply in love with her in order to convince Carolina that there's no chance of winning him over.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Father of the Pride Sarmoti tells his girlfriend that he was raising Hunter himself so that she thinks Sarmoti cares about someone other than just himself.
  • An episode of Rocko's Modern Life, "Kiss Me, I'm Foreign," had Filburt pretend to be Rocko's fiancée to keep the latter from being deported erroneously.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • An episode has Doctor Zin's wife claim that she thought she was his beard. This was because after many tries to have a son their marriage eventually became sexless until they discovered she was barren.
    • Colonel Gentleman was married and had a daughter, Dr. Quinn but never showed any sexual interest in his wife and neither did she.
  • Drawn Together:
    • Spanky acts out a gay mariage with Xandir (who actually is) in hopes of getting free health insurance.
    • And an episode where Xandir acts as Toots lover for her fat camp reunion.
  • Done in Futurama in "A Flight to Remember", where Fry has to be The Beard for both Leela and Amy at the same time. Which he accomplishes by drawing on his time watching Three's Company. In this case, Leela used Fry to keep Zapp Brannigan away from her, and Amy used him to deflect her parents' attempts to hook her up with any guy they could find as long as it resulted in grandkids. But then Leela started actually getting jealous when she saw Fry and Amy "together"...
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer and Selma had to fake marriage in order for Selma to be allowed to adopt a child from China. Apu and Marge did the same for Apu to get out of an Arranged Marriage (which ultimately failed).
    • The time Troy married Selma to resurrect his career in light of rumors of his fish-related "sexual abnormality".
    • And with Marge's other sister, Patty, her onetime relationship with Skinner might've been a retconned form of this, since Patty was eventually revealed to be a lesbian.
  • In one episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Pleakley tries to get out of an arranged marriage by pretending he's engaged to Nani (ew). Made all the more difficult by the episode featuring a Living Lie Detector experiment.
  • Cleveland's boss Mr. Waterman from The Cleveland Show occupies a Transparent Closet but has a wife. In the first episode where she appeared, Mr. Waterman is putting together a Santa costume and calls for his beard, at which point Mrs. Waterman appears...holding his Santa beard.
  • On King of the Hill, Dale's dad, Bug, tried to pull off the gay version of this trope when he was still in the closet. After Dale's wedding, Bug was flirting with an attractive Filipino caterer when Dale came into the room. He quickly grabbed, in his own words, "the nearest thing in a dress"—which happened to be the bride, Nancy. Twenty years of estrangement followed.
  • The "Fake-Out Make-Out" from Danny Phantom.
  • American Dad!
    • The Smiths' gay neighbor Terry promises his partner Greg that he'll come out to his domineering father...but gets cold feet at the last minute and instead claims that Stan's wife Francine is his girlfriend, and that Stan and Greg are "the homos from across the street". Terry's dad seems to buy it, despite the obvious signs and Stan not doing a single thing to act gay.
    • In "Haylias," Stan tries to set Hayley up with the obviously-gay son of a senator. He can't see it, but she can and flatly refuses until Stan Mind Controls her into doing it.
    • Unintentional example: Francine joins the Ladybugs, a group of popular, powerful housewives who turn out to all be cheating on their husbands. When Francine finds out, they plan to kill her, since they don't have any scandalous information to blackmail her with. Just then, Francine's friend Linda appears, asks to say goodbye, and kisses Francine. The Ladybugs take this to mean that they are secretly lovers and let them go, accepting this as blackmail material. Francine thinks this was just quick thinking on Linda's part, but it's clear to the audience that this was actually meant to be a Dying Declaration of Love.
  • In Kim Possible, Doctor Vivian Porter's boyfriend Oliver was actually an android she created to accept credit for her ideas because people had trouble accepting that someone with supermodel looks could also be a genius. When the truth is revealed, Doctor James Possible immediately offers her a job.
  • In Bojack Horseman, back in the 80's Charlotte was this to Herb, a closeted gay man in a time where public knowledge of his sexuality could (and eventually would) destroy his career. Upon realizing this, she left Hollywood.

    Real Life 
  • English actor Charles Laughton married Elsa Lanchester (of Bride of Frankenstein fame) yet continued to see men. One day, Lanchester came home to find Laughton on the sofa in flagrante delicto with a rent boy. She told him that she didn't mind, but went completely mute for three months in shock. She later told a friend that she'd had no idea Laughton was gay, but added, "Remember, he was a great actor!" They never divorced.
  • A few years ago, Ian Wishart claimed that the then-Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, was a lesbian with a gay husband. Controversy ensued.
  • According to the celebrity gossip blogs and their commenters, any woman who dates a handsome young Hollywood celebrity is a beard, because every last one of them is gay. Even when these men are serial monogamists who eventually marry, they're still gay, and the women they date are sniffily referred to as "the professional beard" and given the side-eye from there on in. Not surprisingly, Hollywood doesn't seem to have a large population of sexually active women (straight or lesbian) or conventionally unnattractive gay men, as the wishfully thinking gays and Slash RPF fangirls that populate these boards don't have any use for them.
    • Spoofed by Kathy Griffin in her special Strong Black Woman: "I love how the gay guys only want hot guys to be gay, right? They want Gyllenhaal, they want Ledger, they want Colin Farrell. Here's what you'll never hear from one of the gays: 'Oh, girl. Don't be naive. Don't tell me you don't know about Miss Gene Hackman.'"
  • In China, because of the immense pressure to get married and have kids, somewhere around 80% of the gay population marries straight people. This has resulted in an interesting phenomenon where various places will host "fake-marriage markets" where gay and lesbian people can meet and look for someone who is willing to play the beard for them (and vice versa).
  • Played for laughs — English comedian Barry Cryer was classified "honorary gay" by his close friend Kenny Everett. Kenny insisted that his wife of 40 years and four kids were just a smokescreen.
  • Rock Hudson's three-year marriage to Phyllis Gates was done for this reason.
  • Fran Drescher lived this trope for 18 years before her husband found out he was gay. It became the basis for her show Happily Divorced, and she and her ex-husband are now very much Amicable Exes after a period of not speaking to each other.
  • Alan Turing, despite being gay, was engaged to Joan Clarke at one point. Clarke knew about his homosexuality; she later revealed that he himself admitted it to her and she had not been all that surprised.
  • Arthur C. Clarke had a very, very, very brief marriage, entered into with very little notice and exited within a period of months. Despite his admission (in his biography Odyssey) of bisexual experiences and his statement that "we're all a little polymorphously perverse", he never formally came out of the closet. Later in life he faced accusations of paederasty and homosexual paedophilia, which delayed his acceptance of a knighthood (at his request) until they had been put to rest. One is left to draw one's own conclusions.
  • Portia De Rossi was married to Mel Metcalfe and indicated that she married him for two reasons: US residency and to help her acting career by appearing straight. She is now married to Ellen DeGeneres.
  • Betty White revealed in an interview that she had sometimes served as the beard to Liberace, in case that would have convinced anyone he was straight.
  • The "Invisible Boyfriend."
  • Cole Porter and his wife, Linda, were mutual beards. Their marriage allowed Cole to hide his homosexuality and allowed Linda to be seen as socially acceptable without having to have sex, which she was turned off of after an abusive first marriage. Despite not being romantic, they did genuinely like each other, and remained married until Linda's death.
  • W. H. Auden and German-Jewish actress Erika Mann were mutual beards, though the main reason why they got married in the first place was so she could get British citizenship to escape Nazi Germany. They were friends and remained technically married until Erica died from a brain tumor in 1969, but for obvious reasons, there was no romance involved between them.

Alternative Title(s): Fake Girlfriend, Pretend Boyfriend


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: