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Undead Tax Exemption

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"Even a manufactured identity requires lots of paperwork. All these contacts from a past I never had."
Catherine Aura, Kevin & Kell

When a masquerade of an extranormal person (whether spirit, time traveler, dimension-hopper, Robot Girl or in some cases, immortal) is able to suddenly enter society and seamlessly pose as a normal human despite the major record gaps, lack of official citizenship, or other problems that would arise if it were to occur in real life. Space aliens in disguise and even aliens that don't need a disguise never seem to get the same problems with immigration that regular aliens have.

The character gets an Undead Tax Exemption. It's often implied they use mind control or magic to either brainwash or literally "magic up" an identity for themselves. It's usually used by evil characters/monsters/vampires because Villains Blend in Better while heroic ones will be a Fish out of Water due to Rule of Drama.

It is easiest for The Needless, since by definition they don't need the benefits of society. If one doesn't have to have money for food, clothing, or shelter, detection is not likely.

It can occur when the character is not extranormal but a sleeper government agent. Other mundane means to set up a fake ID usually involve getting a friendly (or bribable) hacker to set up a false identity, or impersonating someone else. A Monsters Anonymous group may have the resources to make one from scratch as well.

Where this is a situation of an immortal or special who has to fashion the normal identity afterward, the reverse, where the normal person came first then had something happen, results in a Secret Identity and likely several Shouldn't We Be In School Right Now? moments.

Most of the time, this trope is dismissed with a handwave and covered by the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. If not, you may have a case of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome. The Doylist explanation for this trope is that watching someone fill out paperwork is boring in real life, so it would be just as boring in fiction; it's just assumed to have happened or isn't explained with the expectation that a viewer isn't supposed to ask that kind of question.

Historically this can be a justified trope. Prior to the twentieth-century, records tended to be sparse, difficult to retrieve, and even more difficult to verify. Without some overriding need justifying such efforts or a dissenting witness, identities and origins had to be taken at face value. If a character has been around for this time passing themself off as a descendant and then 'dying' and inheriting it several times see My Grandson, Myself. (Note this has its own logistical issues.)

See also Casual Car Giveaway, which is another situation where ordinarily expected paperwork is unnecessary. See Fantastic Legal Weirdness for other instances of speculative fiction elements having legal ramifications.


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  • In a 2013 Sprint commercial, a zombie attempts to take advantage of a "lifetime guarantee" on a mobile phone. Commercial here.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Occurs when Rukia starts going to Ichigo's school. The forces of Soul Society are comparable to The Men in Black, right down to the Laser-Guided Amnesia, so they are capable of this.
    • Later in the series Renji does the same. This also works in reverse, since characters who leave again are forgotten by anyone without sufficient power to resist the effect.
  • Ah! My Goddess! spends a small Story Arc on this, but eventually goes the "magic up the papers" route.
    • In the manga, she feels sorry for the teacher who is trying so hard to find her student registration. Being Belldandy, she completely misses the fact that he's trying to out her, suspecting that she's a plant by a rival professor to lure students away from his lectures. When he collapses from exhaustion in the middle of flipping through the paper school records a second time, Belldandy tucks him in and uses her magic to create the paperwork he's trying so hard to find, thinking that it will make him happy. Fortunately for Belldandy, the professor's reaction is never shown.
  • Nicola in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch whipped up an identity for Lucia, and Kaito was a Doorstop Baby and passed off as the Doumoto family's natural child from the start, but there's no excuse for Hanon and Rina, each of whom has her own apartment and enters school on her own. Both end up moving in with Lucia eventually, but before then, they didn't even have any human-world connections.
  • Magical Princess Minky Momo, a Magical Girl from another dimension, avoided this problem by picking a childless couple and hypnotizing them into thinking she's their daughter.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In Sailor Moon R, Chibi-Usa pulls off joining Usagi's family through brainwashing. In the next season, the paper trail is somehow faked well enough that she can enroll in school.
    • Likewise, the Ayakashi Sisters are somehow able to function as normal citizens of present-day Tokyo after their HeelFace Turn — despite coming from the future, and from another planet at that.
    • The Sailor Star Lights become a famous boy band. Even though they came to Earth from a far-off planet and now are under the media spotlight, no one notices a lack of childhood on Earth. Most of the various villains arrive in the form of being shopkeepers, a traveling circus, a famous medium, or exchange students. Even though almost all of these characters are/become highly successful and get a lot of attention under their disguise, no one notices that they came right the flip out of nowhere. Presumably like Chibi-Usa, they brainwash everyone into not noticing or caring.
    • Averted with Jadeite, as he'd usually take over existing businesses and either brainwash or kidnap and replace the owner. With the two times he didn't do that, in one the scheme was short-term enough to escape detection, and in the other Sailor Moon tracked him down because of this trope.
  • Jubei-chan:
    • Any spirit who is hit by Jiyu's Healing Sword Technique not only comes back to life and loses their hatred, but immediately develops modern-day skills, tastes in clothing, and presumably a Social Security number. That is one hell of a sword technique.
    • Freesia, despite being from a Russian tribe from 300 years ago brought to the present via Human Popsicle, bulldozes her way into the modern world effortlessly. Presumably with the help of talking animals.
  • Tenchi Muyo! in its various forms has this in... er, various forms. The original series seems to have the least amount, although the girls do seem to wander into town every so often with little comment. The manga has Mihoshi getting a driver's license (partly after using her high-tech blaster right in front of a cop), and Ryoko tries her hand at it too. The TV series has Kiyone and Mihoshi renting an apartment and working part-time jobs often. And no-one really seems to mind all the aliens hanging around. And think about Katsuhito in the TV series (in the OAV he landed long enough ago to have avoided modern recordkeeping).
    • The third OAV reveals that "Yosho" has ties to the government, possibly going all the way up to the Emperor. In fact, given the relationship between Earth (Japan) and Jurai, it's pretty easy for aliens to establish any long-term identities they like.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • Futari wa Pretty Cure: Kiriya Irisawa, who has both sudden existence and sudden nonexistence to deal with... and then suddenly exists again in a different identity at the end of the series.
    • Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star: Michiru and Kaoru Kiryuu. They, like Kiriya, disappear, and no muggles ever remember they existed... until they come back.
  • In Chocotto Sister, nobody raises any eyebrows when 9-year-old Choco appears out of nowhere.
  • Hikari and Akari in This Ugly Yet Beautiful World.
  • Sonic X averts this by the government eventually taking care of creating real paperwork for Sonic & co. Then again, Sonic never was good at keeping a low profile.
  • Conan Edogawa and Ai Haibara from Case Closed are actually teen geniuses Shinichi Kudo and Shiho Miyano shrunk by the local Fountain of Youth to the appearance of 6-year-olds. Yet, not only do they have assumed names, they use those identities to attend public schools, and given the show's nature, haven't even had their legal identities suspected by the police officers they meet frequently. This lack of proper papers becomes a plot point when Conan receives an invitation to go to London. He has to travel as Shinichi because Conan doesn't have a passport.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
    • An aversion to this trope is speculated by fans to be the reason that Ed and Al's mother and father never officially married in the manga and second anime version, making both Ed and Al Heroic Bastards. Hohenheim is a living, immortal philosopher's stone who is centuries old and probably has no official records, and so Ed and Al had their mother's surname to avoid being associated with him and tracked down by Father, who would use them in his plans.
    • The trope is averted in the 2003 anime, meanwhile, as Hohenheim there was a Body Surfer and probably 'inherited' all the relevant paperwork from the person whose body he took. He still never married Trisha, but the implication is that in this version it has more to do with his psycho-ex wife Dante, who like Father would try to track them down.
  • Rizel Iwaki of Rizelmine pulls off the Robot Girl variant of this, although it's justified as the government is fully aware of her and uses secret funding and other shady measures to support her.
  • In Yumeria, Mone appears in Tomokazu's bed one morning and is in school a few days later. Fortunately, his teacher is very accepting of the situation, and lampshades Tomokazu's incredulity:
    You look like an anime fan who's unable to accept this ridiculous premise.
  • Girls Bravo: Miharu and other Human Alien girls enter the school system without any difficulty.
  • In the TV series of Black★Rock Shooter, Yuu is introduced as a New Transfer Student despite being the same age as she was when she entered the Otherworld and replaced Strength, 10 years ago. There isn't even a handwave.
  • Handled in an unusual manner in YuYu Hakusho: when Yusuke returned to life after being dead for at least a couple weeks (including a public funeral), his mother convinced the school's principal he had actually been mistaken for dead and had remained comatose until then by threatening him with the Yakuza. The other students genuinely believed the tale (after being terrified when he reappeared in spite of being dead), and the authorities never called him up on his death.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's has the Wolkenritter, who are Pure Magic Beings that appeared before Hayate one day and who she tries to pass off as distant, foreign relatives. There's also Lindy Harlaown, a Human Alien who decided to have her family take up residence on Earth near Nanoha's home and even enrolls Fate to Nanoha's school.
  • Lampshaded in one of the Karin novels. The Markers realize that they could easily stop the building project threatening to demolish their house by just going down to city hall and showing them where they live.note  However, Ren notes that that would require them to start paying taxes, which in turn would highlight all of their forged birth records among other things (since they're all vampires).
  • Tohru in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is shown using magic to make the necessary paperwork when Kanna wants to go to school. For some reason, the anime cut out this scene.
    Kobayashi: It even has the watermark...
  • Two of the main characters of Ojamajo Doremi use magic to pose as Hana's parents and enroll her into school. The questions that arise from suspiciously having the same name as the baby the girls have been taking care of the past two years is excused by baby and tween using different characters to spell their names.
  • Averted in City Hunter. Ryo is legally dead since he was three and the aircraft he was on with his parents crashed and has returned to Japan as a stowaway on a ship, and since he was three when his parents died he doesn't know who he was (Saeba Ryo being the name given him by the guerilla soldier that took him in). Because of this he doesn't legally exist, and can't hold a real job, administer his own money (Kaori does it for him), or marrying.
  • Averted in Re:CREATORS. The very first thing the government does upon discovering fictional people appearing in their world is to round a few of them up and, after informing them about the need for assistance, give them identification papers.
  • Merged beings from Usagi-chan de Cue!! such as Mimika and Koshka can emit psionic suggestion that allows them to go anywhere unquestioned. Mimika the bunny girl joins Haru's household, and his family treats her as though she's always been there. Almost no one finds anything odd about bunny ears or a cat tail on these characters. It's one more reason the Government Agency of Fiction wants to quietly eradicate these merged beings.
  • Ayakashi Triangle:

    Comic Books 
  • Explained and justified with Samaritan in Astro City, who came from the future with extensive training to insert himself into late-20th-century society so he could change the past to save his own time. After realizing that his success must have changed the future so much he wouldn't belong, he used his training and a 35th century organic computer to create a new identity - which he admits he only needed so he could get a news media job so he could have an easier time keeping tabs on breaking events for his superheroics.
  • Blackbird (2018): Paragon abilities are a Death-Activated Superpower. As a result, there are multiple paragons who have this problem. Clint, for instance, officially died in a car accident in 1999, and he pays for his very expensive Monarch sneakers in cash. The LAPD detective investigating the paragons and cabals refers to them as her "zombie files".
  • In Gold Digger we've seen the government's Agency Zero take care of an alien recruit. Though frankly there's enough weirdness it wouldn't be surprising if their government's non-shadowy branches had official forms for aliens, people from lost or hidden civilizations, and dimensional travelers, at least in one of the 'weirdness magnet' areas, of which there are several.
  • Averted in Icon, as he basically passes his wealth on to his "son", who is himself, over the years. By the time he meets Raquel Ervin, he's Augustus Freeman IV.
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • Immortal Hob Gadling avoids suspicion by faking his death once in a while and leaving the money to a "relative" with the same name. It still doesn't solve the problem of government records, though, in the modern era.
    • Averted with the long-lived caveman who dies in a modern city — when his modern-day son (not aware of his father's secret) starts sorting through his father's possessions, he finds paperwork for multiple alternate identities and funds to take advantage of them, with no explanation available for what kind of double life his father may have been leading.
    • In World's End we see that the immortals take care of one another when they encounter others in trouble (Hob helps out an Indian gentleman who was stowing away on the ship Hob secretly owns), so if there's an immortal of some sort working in an influential position, they probably give the others a helping hand in getting proper documents.
  • Superman:
    • The Supergirl From Krypton (1959): Justified. After Supergirl has created her "Linda Lee" identity, Superman sends her to the Midvale Orphanage, claiming all her records were destroyed by the same disaster which killed her family and wiped out her whole community.
    • Supergirl (2005): In issue #10, it is completely glossed over how Kara created her Claire Connors identity. Justified in issue #34 when Barbara Gordon uses her hacker skills to set up Kara's Linda Lang identity.
    • Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade: It is not explained how Kara got fake birth records in order to attend Stanhope Elementary.
  • Alfred Bester:
    • Actually dealt with early on with The Shadow. In a tale written by Alfred Bester, the Shadow encountered a caveman who gained immunity to aging from a meteor. This caveman decided to aid the Axis in winning World War II by sabotaging the US war effort. He sought the position of War Labor Chief of the country, but since he did not have a birth certificate, he stole Moe Shrevnitz's birth certificate, bringing him in conflict with the Shadow (the caveman had earlier attempted to buy some business interests from Lamont Cranston, and displayed unusual personal knowledge about Cranston).
    • Bester had used this exact same plot a year earlier, magic immortality meteor, stolen birth certificate, Axis sympathies, and all. when he introduced Vandal Savage in the 1940s iteration of Green Lantern.
  • In Sturmtruppen, Musolesi, in one of his early appearances, tripped while bringing boiling coffee to a general and immediately started claiming that he had "heroically fallen in the course of his duty"... Only for the bureaucracy to take him at his word and declare him dead, resulting in his personal effects being taken away and added to the inheritance his heirs divided among themselves and almost actually dying of starvation because the military cook, not getting rations for him, refused to feed him. He was eventually restored in the ranks as a "Soul of a Fallen Hero", and immediately proceeded to eat everything the cook had refused to feed him.
  • Subverted in Ultimate Spider-Man when Gwen Stacy comes back to life and a letter from Iron Man to the Vice Principal doesn't immediately clear things up.
  • In The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Gwenpool is a girl from the real world (or someplace similar) transported to the Marvel Universe. As she has no legal identity, she is unable to open a bank account or get a driver's license or passport. Eventually, she gets an appointment with Doctor Strange, who uses his magic to alter some records and memories to solve her problem.
  • In The Golden Age of Comic Books, Wonder Woman needed a Secret Identity, but by Contrived Coincidence a woman who was named Diana Prince and who exactly resembled her needed to go overseas to be with her fiance. Wonder Woman gave her the funds to go overseas and took on her identity.
  • Shows up from time to time in Diabolik:
    • Early on the title character used the identity of Walter Dorian until discovered by the police, with the issue "Diabolik, Who Are You?" eventually clarifying he survived a shipwreck as a child and taken in by criminals in the Far East, who never bothered to register him and didn't know where he came from. A later story then showed that Diabolik later found out of an Identical Stranger named Walter Dorian and stole his identity, and thus his properties in Clerville, after assaulting him and throwing him into a river.
    • Diabolik from time to time invents new identities for himself and Eva for use in his heists. It's explained as him being a skilled hacker, able to hack government databases and alter the data well enough to then have the government provide him with actual paperwork. They usually hold well enough under casual scrutiny, but crumble whenever Ginko gets involved... Something Diabolik has long learned to plan for.
    • Occasionally, Diabolik creates identities for someone else that he owes a favor to. His standard modus operandi is to create one of his perfect masks, recover the necessary paperwork and give them money and a warning to hightail from the country, as they have Ginko's attention and there's a good chance he may expose them.
      • In one peculiar occasion, Diabolik adopted a different modus operandi: he sent the woman who needed a new identity to Ginko, as she was a witness in a Mafia trial and knew Ginko, as a high-ranking police officer, could simply have the government provide her a new identity as part of a witness protection program.
    • In "The Years Lost in the Blood" Walter Dorian turns out having survived Diabolik's attempted assassination only to be captured by rogue soldiers preparing for a coop and, being a foreigner, detained as a spy for years until he managed to escape and reach Clerville's consulate... At which point he found out he was legally dead due Diabolik confessing his murder, and with him having no family or heirs his properties had been seized by the government. Given Diabolik's involvement, Dorian's identity was quickly verified, at which point he was granted a temporary pension until the matter of his properties could be settled and a new identity due the very real risk of Diabolik finding out and finishing the job to take over his identity again. His properties remained in the government's hands due him tracking down Diabolik and trying to force him to pay him money for what he did to him and also to promise to leave him alone only to accidentally reveal Diabolik had another good reason to kill him, resulting in Diabolik doing just that.
  • The comic book version of The Extinction Parade plays with this by having a mortal working for the vampires whose job is to arrange their false identities, maintain their property records, and make sure their taxes are paid... and gives a brief glimpse of how utterly fucked they are when he decides he's had enough. Of course, the zombie apocalypse kinda puts that in perspective...

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Averted with Long Road to Friendship and its sequel, Spectacular Seven. Sunset Shimmer having no ID, no birth certificate, and no proper records means she ends up living in an abandoned factory and stealing small amounts of food and money to survive. According to a Fourth-Wall Mail Slot, the only reason Sunset was able to attend Canterlot High School was that she faked her records using the computers at the local library. When Sunset graduates high school as salutatorian (meaning she had the second-best grades out of every student in her graduating class), she doesn't apply to colleges, because she knows her lack of school records would be a huge red flag and is trying to maintain The Masquerade about Equestrian magic.
  • Michikyuu Kanae, resident slider in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, never had any trouble with having an identity in each world she arrived. Deconstructed later it's when it's revealed that she slides only mentally, replacing or overwriting the local Kanae with herself and thus never needing to have an identity — she always already has one. She doesn't realize it.
  • Misfiled Dreams explains how it's done in Misfile (see below). Angels have a kind of obfuscation power that makes normal people not notice the Angel's ears. This is extended to make it so that unless an Angel does something totally unexpected for a person, any story given is accepted. If Rumisiel enters a random house, anyone seeing him doesn't think anything is wrong. But if he does something that's unusual, say entering the girls' locker room, people notice. Since much of Misfiled Dreams is built around exploring Misfile's Fridge Logic, this is nothing new.
  • The trope is played back and forth in With This Ring
    • OL doesn't have any documentation due to the fact he comes from another dimension. The League tries to provide him with some when they attempt to enroll him in high school, but he refuses and makes a point of erasing all traces of it. He is noted to not even have a passport.
    • OL finally averts with when he's given Theymyscrian citizenship and a diplomatic passport.
    • Red Tornado and Firebrand don't have any citizenship due to being robots and not considered people to the U.S. government despite both of them living in the U.S. for years.
    • J'arrkn's co-worker points out that M'gann is technically an undocumented immigrant that's only there due to her connections to Manhunter.
    • J'onn J'arrkn's arc is an aversion of this: the Department of Homeland Security is trying to deport him back to Mars and needs the help of the Team to make it stick.
  • Justified as with Obito in Little Uzumaki as it is common with many presumed dead ninja to later be discovered alive. Especially in times of war or conflict. Although it's extremely difficult for missing ninja to get their ninja status back.
  • Justified in the Kim Possible story The Hyde Factor, as Wade creates a separate documented identity for Faye (Kim's evil alter ego) in order to keep the situation under wraps and to provide a bargaining chip to convince Faye to accept some ground rules.
  • Averted in the Steven Universe fic The World is Your Oyster, The Universe is Your Namesake, wherein the Crystal Gems have only the barest civil status and must spend a significant amount of effort becoming real citizens.
  • In God Slaying Blade Works, Shirou and Illya get sent to the world of Campione. Shirou notes that they don't have any documentation until they get the expert accountant Yusuke to forge them some and get them enrolled in school. Only a few people get suspicious, as they used their real names, and there are no Emiya and von Einzbern families in this world.
  • Averted in crawlersout, despite being a time traveler in the 1930s Harry still has to make sure she pays her taxes to not draw government attention to herself.
  • In Fate/Harem Antics, Taiga Fujimura is eventually informed of the existence of magic and the Holy Grail War, especially once she ends up getting her own Servant. She uses her Yakuza connects to help set Saber up as a gym teacher.
  • In Fate Genesis, as part of the Broken Masquerade going on in Fuyuki thanks to Dr. Eggman's destruction and Sonic and company's efforts to stop him, a policeman named Stuart begins to do background checks with the support of Twice H. Pieceman on the Servants that have appeared publicly (Saber and Caster among them), and can't find any official records of their existence. The most he finds are the credentials Kiritsugu falsified for Saber when she entered Fuyuki back in Fate/Zero, a decade ago, and he notes she doesn't look any older now. This is just one of the many things that's leading to a bunch of raised eyebrows and making people think something else is going on besides a Mad Scientist and a bunch of seemingly magical animals fighting in the streets.
  • Alluded to briefly at the end of The Second Try while Shinji is monologuing to his father as he lies comatose in a hospital bed: He's not looking forward to dealing with the paperwork and awkward questions that will come with establishing a legal identity for his and Asuka's Kid from the Future, four year-old Aki. Although in earlier chapters it's hinted that Japan has a lot of orphans and lost children thanks to Second Impact, so a few vague or missing details in the paper trail wouldn't cause much comment. And the first chapter of the sequel involves Ritsuko insisting on a DNA test to verify Shinji and Asuka's story. By the fifth chapter, Misato has arranged a valid passport by some unspecified means that she intends to lord over them forever.
  • The Red Dragon's Saber: Rias Gremory uses her influence in the school board to get Asia Argento and Saber enrolled in Kuoh Academy. Saber resembles Asia enough to pass for her sister.
  • Fate/Black Dawn: In the sequel, the Pendragon family is in the modern era, and Morgan mentions putting together the paperwork for them. While the details are different, the broad strokes are the same as their real lives, making them easier to remember. Shirou is a historical anthropologist, Morgan is old money who was sequestered until she married Shirou, "Momo" (Mordred) is her bastard daughter who Shirou adopted, and "Altria" (Arturia) is Morgan's estranged sister who recently returned to make amends. Of course, since they reached the modern era by The Slow Path, this isn't the first time they've had to do this. Morgan had a Western-style home built in Fuyuki twenty-five years before the Holy Grail War.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Discussed in the first chapter of the fourth story, The Diplomat's Life, when Principal Celestia reveals she and her sister have known about Equestria for a long time because of the Alpha and have been covering for Sunset, explaining why she had no trouble registering for school.
  • Thy Good Neighbor has a variant - Lord Fairchild makes no secret he hails from distant lands and makes a point to shower the Westerosi characters with evidence, to the point that they feel even if it's somehow a trick, they are completely willing to buy it by dint of the sheer absurd amount of effort needed to uphold it. He isn't trying to deceive anyone, it's just that he allows them to make certain assumptions about where he came from and what he is.

    Films Animation 
  • This happens quite a bit in the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls series. Despite having several characters show up from another dimension where everyone's a magical talking pony, the pony-turned-human characters rarely seem to hit any snags with paperwork.
    • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle were both able to join a high school without any documentation. Sunset did it before the movie starts, and Twilight just walks onto campus and is assumed to be a new student, even when she talks to the principal, all without proving her identity.
    • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks, the Sirens were also able to join the school. They presumably used their Mind-Control Music to make authority figures look the other way.
    • As seen in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Forgotten Friendship and the shorts "Monday Blues" and "Good Vibes", Sunset Shimmer has both her own apartment and a job as a waitress, despite presumably not having the documentation one would need for either of these. She also is able to legally live on her own, despite apparently being a high school age teenager.

    Films Live-Action 
  • Subverted in The Associate: Laurel Ayres' creation that allows her to pass off her ideas becomes so prominent and is so realistic that she is accused of murdering him when she fakes his death.
  • Averted in Highlander (the first movie): Connor has to keep changing his name every few years and handing his antiques shop down to his new identity. The police find it suspicious that every owner of that property inherited it from the previous owner for at least a century.:
    Nerdy computer guy: So what you've got, Brenda, is a guy who's been creeping around since at least 1700, pretending to croak every once in a while, leaving all his goods to kids who've been corpses for years — and assuming their identities.
  • In Back to the Future, Marty McFly apparently attends his High School for a week in 1955 with no problems. At the very least, he hangs out at the school for a few scenes, tells George "you weren't at school today" and goes to the High-School Dance. The movie is rather vague on the point of whether or not he was officially enrolled, probably to avoid drawing attention to this very problem. Doc Brown nods to the trope a little by having a collection of money from various eras. Imagine spending 2009 money in 1999, or worse, 1989.
  • Averted in The Man from Earth: The protagonist mentions how it was easy to move around as a hunter-gatherer, harder when villages arose, even more so among city-states with central authority. He even spent a year in jail for forging government papers.
  • Sneakers: After he becomes a fugitive from the Federal government for computer hacking, Martin Bryce changes his name to Martin Bishop. He's only outed when the Mafia (posing as the NSA) discovers who he is and coerces him into helping them.
  • The Skeleton Key. The old siblings are actually Hoodoo practitioners who switch into new bodies when the old ones fail, taking over the new identities and inheriting everything.
  • Averted in Coneheads when the INS discovers that Beldar's fake identity ("Donald R. DeCicco") has been used by at least five other undocumented immigrants. Beldar is eventually able to coerce a senior INS agent into providing him with legitimate papers. Funnily enough, the INS agent is less concerned with the Coneheads being aliens (i.e. extraterrestrials) than them being illegal aliens.
  • Averted in Dogma. Even though Bartleby and Loki have been roaming Wisconsin since ancient times, they don't need food, clothing, shelter, sex, or society, and can comfortably exist outside of the system.
  • Enforced in Thor. Jane just gives Thor the identity of her ex, who isn't even stated as being dead. S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson, being an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., has a background check done, sees through the alias in seconds, but goes with it anyway in order to see what Thor does.
  • Encino Man tried this, with the defrosted caveman dubbed "Link" and evidently enrolled in the local high school, with paperwork and everything. Until the Jerk Jock uncovers the truth. Seems very unlikely none of the school officials bothered to look at the paperwork (it was medical records for a dog).
  • Averted in Men in Black. When they're not saving the world, much of the MIB's job is acting as ICE for aliens. Lampshaded in the first scene of the movie, with Kay using ICE's predecessor INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) as their cover (although that was also because the alien he was looking for was hiding among some Mexican undocumented immigrants).
  • Supergirl (1984): Shortly after Supergirl arrives on Earth, she takes on a human identity of Linda Lee and enrolls in a school (after typing a fake letter of recommendation).
  • Vamps: The vampires all stay underground, with no IDs, using only cash, dummy credit cards and making sure to not do things which draw attention. However, in modern times this has become difficult, as most are on social media or use various electronic devices that the government has taken note of. They're starting to be drawn out with things such as being called for jury duty, which they can't do with it being during the day. In the end, they all band together and hypnotize government officials during an eclipse into erasing them from all records.
  • Spring: Discussed as Louise says she has to change her ID frequently and will herself things, which is a logistical nightmare so no one knows she's an immortal mutant.
  • The Age of Adaline: After being stopped for having ID which (accurately) stated her age but not matching this due to being immortal, Adaline narrowly escaped having the FBI sent her somewhere, presumably for "study". Since then she's regularly had many fake documents made for her, as we see when she deals with the latest forger she hired. Her name's been changed numerous times as a result.

  • The first-person protagonist in the Time Machine choose-your-own-adventure book The Rings of Saturn is somehow able, after time-traveling into the future, to enroll himself into an elite academy, despite the fact that his address is specifically stated to be years out of date (and it's not like he could have some documents forged before setting out to the future, since there was no way he'd have known what they should look like). Having a powerful senator on his side probably helps, though.

  • Animorphs:
    • A crash-landed Andalite poses as a college math teacher. His lack of contact with others (like getting out of sight to morph/demorph every two hours) is handwaved as being a loner.
    • Also the Chee, nigh-immortal androids who use holograms to imitate humans and have each lived numerous lives going back to ancient Egypt. Of course, they're advanced enough to easily take control of every computer on Earth if they wanted to, so forging a new birth certificate every couple of decades is probably no big deal.
  • Many of the immortals of Baccano! avoid this issue by living in the criminal underworld, which for the 1711 generation is probably also helpful in avoiding Szilard's attention.
  • In the first two books of Tanya Huff's Blood Books series, policeman Michael Celluci investigates his romantic rival, vampire (and romance writer) Henry Fitzroy — and, naturally, finds the sort of gaping holes in Henry's ID that you'd expect with someone who was born (and died) well before Social Security numbers and driver's licenses were created. Of course, skeptical as Celluci is, "vampire" is not what he first thinks when he finds those holes and informs Vicki of them; he's rather nonplussed when she laughs at him when he suggests that Henry might be affiliated with the Mafia because of it, though.
  • The immortals in Poul Anderson's ''Boat of a Million Years' do this. Some more regularly than others. It's occasionally averted when some don a God Guise. The main character plays it the straightest. Changing identities over the years and keeping control over his, eventually rather large, business and financial interests. It's not really primarily a Compound-Interest Time Travel Gambit as he's building up his corporate empire to search for other immortals, not purely financial gain. Though the money helps. Another minor character has spent over a millennium in the Byzantine/Ottoman/Turkish civil service, giving him the ability to create a false paper trail for his next identity.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Index Librorum Prohibitorum sneaks into Academy City. Touma Kamijou hides her in his apartment and asks her to keep a low profile because she is an undocumented immigrant. Later, much to Touma's surprise, the city's ruler Aleister Crowley secretly provides Index all the documentation she requires to be a citizen.
  • Deconstructed in The Unmasqued World of Kevin J. Anderson's Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. novels. Dan's partner Robin is a civil rights lawyer who's made a career out of helping the newly-undead re-enter society and reclaim their legal status as citizens, spouses, and property-holders. As the Big Uneasy happened only a decade ago, courts are still hashing out how to apply the law to people who come back from the grave... but Dan does have to pay taxes, so doesn't get a literal Undead Tax Exemption.
  • In The Devil is a Part-Timer!, Maou has just enough magic to use hypnosis to get an identity in Japan.
  • Subverted in Discworld, when the first thing Arthur Winkling gets after being turned into a vampire is a derelict crumbling castle needing thousands and thousands spent on it in repair work; the second thing is a final demand for two hundred years worth of back taxes on the castle. He discovers there's no money worth a damn associated with the title of Count Notfaratoe, and because, legally, vampires never die, it is possible to be legally liable for several hundred years worth of debts.
  • Mentioned in The Dresden Files. The main character "died" but got better. At least a year passed with the world considering him dead. This has, however, happened enough to wizards that the White Council of Wizards has forms to fill out to get "reinstated". (Which makes sense given Wizards Live Longer.)
  • Sousuke in Full Metal Panic! infiltrates a Japanese high school with a forged identity provided by Mithril, under orders not to reveal his identity as a special ops sergeant or his objectives. Bureaucratically speaking, he pulls the infiltration off without a hitch as no-one seems to raise questions about his papers, prior education, tax status, social security number, etc (though the huge "donations" from Mithril to the school may have helped with that). Practically... less so.
  • Ghost Roads: When Rose is forcibly incarnated and goes to Laura for help, Laura gets her a fake ID so they can take a plane to Portland, Maine.
  • Harry Potter: Wizards and muggles generally live in two separate societies, but in the times when the two worlds must interact this trope can come into play. Wizard children born to magical parents are presumably never registered to receive birth certificates given wizards' general ignorance of muggle customs, yet Ron receives a driver's license in Deathly Hallows. Muggle-borns could cause problems as well, given that at the age of eleven they suddenly disappear from the muggle society for ten months out of the year. The Ministry of Magic maintains a staff of "Obliviators", wizards and witches who specialize in memory charms. Usually, their job is to cover up public displays of magic or appearances by magical beings. However, it is quite reasonable to imagine that they also perform the necessary manipulations of muggle authorities to manage children who seemingly drop out of sight. At one point the Ministry even arranges to have the president of a foreign country "forget" to call the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and reschedules for them to do so the following day, thus showing the extent of their reach. It's also possible that getting these kinds of things taken care of is part of the reason the two governments work together at all.
  • Explored in Haruhi Suzumiya through Yuki and Ryoko. The two girls can manipulate information and did so to construct identities for themselves in order to blend into human society. However, when Haruhi is investigating Ryoko's disappearance, she is justifiably suspicious of the sparse paper trail Ryoko left behind, such as not giving a new address, parents paying cash up front for an apartment, parents untraceable, and so on. Why Canada?
  • Justified in High School DD, when Rias reveals that not only is Kuoh Academy's office staffed almost entirely Devils themselves, they're horrifically outranked by herself and the Student Council President - they can enroll, or employ, any immortals they like when they have an entire administration willing to fudge the appropriate paperwork (it helps that Kuoh Academy was formerly, and continues to be, a legitimate place of education for humans). It's also shown that powerful devils can hypnotize humans into forgetting what they saw, or at least thinking it's so normal they never comment on it again. Except Issei's parents, who - apart from when his mother caught him naked in bed with Rias - appear to be weird-proof.
  • In Jean Johnson's First Salik War the Immortal can be killed but then immediately comes back to life, and she wants to keep a low profile, so she constantly needs new identities. It is complicated by the fact that she was born 500 years after the events in the book and got thrown back in time, so she knows what is going to happen on a broad scale and is very aware of the things that history says she did. Therefore she needs specific identities at specific times in order to be at the right place and time to do those things.
  • Journey to Chaos: Two aversions:
    • A grown person dropping in from another world happens often enough in Tariatla that no one bats an eye at it. It's easy for Eric to gain citizenship papers, a job, an apartment, etc.
    • Vaya is an Artificial Human created by a fugitive in hiding. Thus, when Professor Haburt wants to adopt her, he has to make up a cover story about finding her on the street because she was abandoned by her parents due to the country's regular food shortages. There's no Ceihan paperwork to support this but the scenario is plausible enough for Ataidaran paperwork to be created. Since she's a clone of his real daughter, he also has to change her name as well as her hair and eye color so no one suspects a link between them.
  • In the Lee Nez series the eponymous vampiric state trooper lampshades it to himself at one point, noting that he's just lucky nobody's noticed that he's been in the New Mexico state police off and on since World War II. He also doesn't know how much longer he can keep it up, considering the increasing use of electronic records and the like.
  • Averted and touched upon in Douglas Adams' novel The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, in which Dirk Gently realizes that the god Thor would have a huge amount of difficulty if he wanted to use an airplane because he has no passport, no birth certificate...
  • In the novel Methuselah's Children by Robert A. Heinlein, the problems with getting an Undead Tax Exemption are mentioned as one reason why the long-lived Howard Family members are attempting to see if they can end their masquerade. In Time Enough for Love, it's shown that their descendants throughout the centuries continue to come up with ways to hide the fact that they're much longer-lived than their fellow humans. The records of their genealogy, however, are fastidiously maintained in the secret Family files.
  • In Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!, nobody seems to bat an eyelash when Mahiro Yasaka has three "cousins from overseas" enroll in the same class over a very short span of time, let alone that the first of the "cousins", Nyarko, claims to be his wife while the second, Cuuko, claims to be Nyarko's wife.
  • Double Subverted in October Daye. Toby was turned into a fish for fourteen years, during which time nearly everyone, human and fae, assumed she was dead. When she turns back into herself, she's taken to the police station after someone finds an unconscious naked woman in the park. She tells them who she is, only to be told that October Daye went missing and was declared dead 14 years ago. Then her old benefactor Evening Winterrose arrives, and is somehow able to convince them that she really is who she says she is. Leaving aside the 14 year disappearance, as a changeling Toby ages more slowly than humans, so it would be hard to convince any Muggles of her actual birth date.
  • Explored in the sequel to Paranormalcy, Supernaturally. Lend's father David helps immortal paranormals by giving them fake paperwork so they can function in society.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, averted. Miranda contemplates the difficulty in getting her ID updated nowadays after she slips by one guard only because she has white hair; a century ago, a letter of introduction was enough to establish someone. Later in the series, we learn that they are trying to establish identities for lots and lots of people. They finally came to the conclusion that they would have to forge them in sequence. Even with the ability to compel people to issue birth certificates, etc, and the help of an extensive extended family, it's rough.
  • Repeatedly averted in the Repairman Jack novels, in which Jack expends considerable thought and effort on establishing false identities, through which to obtain credit cards and other conveniences while remaining off the grid of officialdom. When he does consider becoming a fully-documented citizen, because Gia wants him to legally marry her before their baby comes, the logistics of setting up a sufficiently solid identity for himself are so complex, Jack suspects it'll use up nearly all the gold he's been hoarding from his hired-vigilante work - and as the series begins, he's received Undisclosed Funds for fighting terrorists for the British government, and gets paid that again for the job that jump-starts the plot.
  • One of the Serrated Edge novels by Mercedes Lackey mentions that an elven protagonist carries a magically-created driver's license (copied with alterations from a human friend's license). The novel in question predates the REAL ID Act, so the forged license not being in any official databases is a moot point. Besides, all three protagonists are deliberately living "off the record" to hide from enemies.
  • Justified and averted at the start of Shakugan no Shana: Shana fits in by borrowing the identity of Hirai Yukari — a Torch who had gradually ceased to have existed — the moment she finally vanishes, all memories and records instantly change to accommodate Shana's appearance (Hirai's family had been Torches themselves and already disappeared), though everyone is still surprised by "Hirai's" radical shift in personality.
  • Averted in The Sisters Grimm. The ever-alfers (all characters from fairy tales) are immortal (age only if they want to, can be killed but need a bit more than a normal human). Even though non-humans (e.g. the Three Little Pigs) can appear human, most are unemployed and hide in Ferryport or an underground village in New York City Central Park because they do not have official papers. For those slip-ups, there is always memory dust.
  • So, I Can't Play H!: All three of the shinigami enroll at Ryosuke's school by claiming to be transfer students. Though, in Lisara's case, she also tells the class she's Ryosuke's relative and has him vouch for her.
  • In Spirits That Walk In Shadow, one of the main characters, a witch, has no official ID, but her father just magically creates a driver's license for her (which exists only until she puts it back in her pocket). This is so that she can attend university, something most of her people don't choose to do.
  • The Rings of Saturn: Very noticeable in its future setting — at one point, the time traveller protagonist gets in trouble because the address he gives is years out of date. Nevertheless, he's able to enroll into an elite academy later on and become a full-fledged astronaut (though it's implied he had the backing of a politician).
  • Twilight
    • The Cullen family move every few years and are able to assume identities, get jobs and enroll in school. Breaking Dawn reveals that they work with a professional fraudster who can provide them with fake passports, drivers licenses, etc. They've also been doing this for a long time and have also amassed a lot of money and contacts to grease the wheels.
    • This is pointed out in Maryann Johanson's review of the film:
      Maryann: Hes a century-old immortal, hes richer than God, and hes not even bound by the clichés of vampirism to avoid sunlight: he could be doing anything and everything fabulous with his endless, privileged life. Traveling the world. Living like a rock star. Anything. What does he choose to do? Attend high school in the rural Pacific Northwest.
  • In Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, newly-turned vampires usually just carry on pretending to be regular citizens for as long as reasonably possible. Older ones are shown to use a complex web of lawyers, front companies and multinational bank accounts to allow them to openly own property and engage in similar affairs. Of course, most supplement their income with assets taken from victims. Armand amasses a huge fortune very quickly by slaughtering drug smugglers in large numbers and then having the cash he takes laundered. The fact that they possess telepathic powers also goes a long way in enabling them to maintain the upper hand in dealings with mortals and modifying any memories as needed. Lestat selects his first attorney based at least partly on the fact that the man's mind is very easy to read.
    • Quinn Blackwood comes by it honestly, as in life he had inherited control of a generations-old family trust that has contracted accountants to take care of the taxes and capital gains that come from the trust's earnings, and anything he cares to buy comes from the interest. The trust also takes care of the upkeep of his plantation house and the pay for the employees that work at his estate. Tax men don't usually care much who the beneficiary of a trust is, so long as the trust is taking care of its business.
  • The title character from The Vampire Tapestry, who got the urge to hibernate for decades every generation or so, was fearful of doing so in modern times, in part because of this trope. (Also because he was worried humanity might not even be around anymore the next time he woke up.)
  • The eponymous character of Guy Gavriel Kay's Ysabel is briefly annoyed when, having been reincarnated in France for the umpteenth time since the Roman Empire, her old stash of francs that she hid the last go-round is now useless. She steals another woman's purse instead.
  • In Beneath a Gated Sky by Robert Reed, The Few that travel between dimensions send someone ahead to spend decades building up influence so that they can avoid this in the first place, allowing them to set up false identities relatively painlessly. When a group of Few enters a new realm intent on settling, they are given a crash course in history and customs by one of those scouts, and relevant paperwork is filed and manipulated.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted by 3rd Rock from the Sun, in which it was made clear that Tommy phonied up their Earth identities and all the required paperwork. When they admit they lost their originals without ever submitting them to the proper authorities, he hurriedly throws new ones together... with some spite thrown in at having to do it again, such as deciding that Sally was a transgender woman, much to her chagrin. Subverted in an episode where they get audited and make up several far-out stories to explain why they haven't paid their taxes before. Eventually, they admit to being aliens and the IRS guy looks at them for a Beat before saying "Sorry, I've heard that one too."
  • In Being Human, all the vampires seem to have jobs. For example, Big Bad Herrick is a local policeman, and the vampires' lair is an undertaker. This is justified as vampire society has centuries of experience in hiding in plain sight, and it is implied there are vampires in high places. Also, Annie (a ghost) got a job as a barmaid. This isn't completely impossible, as Annie can (usually) pass for a normal human, and if she gets paid cash in hand, there wouldn't be the fact she's legally as well as biologically dead to worry about.
    • In Season 2, the system starts coming apart after Herrick's death, and Mitchell has to work to cover up for the rest of the vampires. Especially whenever one of them slips and kills someone.
    • In one of the Expanded Universe Books it's revealed that vampires get normal humans to act as body doubles so they can have passport photos.
      • They also use photoshop. Mitchell's Hospital ID badge is taken from a black and white photo he had back when he was alive.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Averted in one instance by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Buffy is raised from the dead and is able to re-integrate immediately into society, just as if she'd never died at all. In real life, people who have mistakenly been declared dead in some government database can spend years trying to get the bureaucracy to acknowledge and correct the error. But Buffy was never declared dead. The Scoobies actively hid her death through the use of the BuffyBot.
      • Although she did get a gravestone. A gravestone in a remote part of the woods, so no one other than the Scoobies knew it existed.
      • In "Gone", the social worker handling the paperwork for the Buffy household went a little cuckoo bananas nutcakes after being tormented by an invisible woman. Perils of a Sunnydale life.
      • Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins (Lame-Ass Made-Up Maiden Name)? She even goes to high school after losing her powers! Although she did alter reality so that she'd appear to be a normal high school student and not a freaky-ass vengeance demon. She didn't account for the possibility that she'd lose her powers and be stuck that way.
      • In the Season 10 comics, Spike states that it would be a challenge for him to get a job, pointing out that he has no social security number, can't work daytime shifts, and has a hundred-year gap in his resume; he explains that most vampires support themselves by robbing their kills. Xander suggests he get a job as a consultant for the S.F.P.D.'s supernatural crimes unit, which Spike confesses isn't a bad idea.
    • Angel
      • From the pilot episode, wealthy vampire Russel Winters has an identity, owns property, pays his taxes, and seems to run a business with meetings in the day (the windows are a special kind of glass that block the harmful part of the sun's rays; he presumably is driven around in cars with the same glass). He's a client of Wolfram & Hart, so they probably helped him get a lot of the documentation. He and his lawyer learn that absolutely none of this prevents Angel from simply walking into his office and throwing him out the window.
      • Spike and Angel himself both having learned to drive (and Angel holding a driving license). Angel successfully rents property in LA — how many estate agents do you know will send someone out after dark to arrange a lease? This is lampshaded in one episode where someone asks Angel how he can order stuff over the Internet. Fred explains how to hack a company's computer system and steal whatever you want. Angel says he just memorized Cordy's credit card number.
      • Fred spent a few years in a Hell dimension. Afterward, she lives in the Hyperion and gets all her resources from Angel and co, so legal documents are not necessary.
      • Kate comments in one episode about how real detectives have licenses and surnames.
      • They don't into the details of how Angel acquired his first place in L.A, but the team consulted a millionaire who owed them a big favor for financial advice when they decided to take over the Hyperion Hotel.
      • The deliberately Obstructive Bureaucrat Gavin Park quickly recognizes that they can shut Angel Investigations down simply by pointing out Angel's ID issues to the government. Just to spite Gavin, Lilah gets Angel all the documents he needs.
      • Humorously lampshaded in "The Girl in Question", when Spike's rant reveals that the Immortal had him thrown in prison for tax evasion.
  • CSI: Cyber dealt with a hacker who had created several carefully-constructed identities that he had spent years putting together to provide both cover for his operations and as a fallback plan in case he was uncovered. As with the White Collar example, detailed scrutiny quickly reveals them as false.
  • Both versions of Dark Shadows have this problem for the vampire Barnabas Collins. Pretending to be a cousin from England helps him be accepted by the family, and he can sell his old jewels to get money, but that isn't going to get him a Social Security number or credit card or let him open up a bank account. Especially since he'll have needed those to buy a wardrobe and renovate the old house.
    • Presumably he had Willie Loomis do most of the shopping for him, as well as bring him up to speed on how to blend into the 20th century.
  • Throw in some Lampshade Hanging in Dead Like Me: Something is mentioned in early episodes about switching persona on a semi-regular basis, although this never occurs in the series. The series timeframe never got past the point of plausibility for a normal person. Reapers also get new "real" identities with the help of reapers who work in the government.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The original series didn't go into as much detail as to how the Third Doctor managed to keep covert in 1970s Britain, but it can be safely assumed that UNIT was more than able to provide him with enough documentation to keep Inland Revenue happy. The revived series tends to rely on the Applied Phlebotinum of the Doctor's "psychic paper", a blank booklet that appears to a reader to be whatever official document they were expecting to see.
    • The "John Smith" alias was adopted for this very reason. Mind you, there's a later scene where some big shot visiting UNIT complained that the file on Doctor John Smith is completely empty.
    • The new series has had various moments where the various undercover aliens' disguises were imperfect enough for regular human journalists to pick up upon them, such as the Master for example, because no one at the university he supposedly went to could recall him. Unfortunately, the villainous alien in question will typically make quick work of anyone who finds them out before the protagonists arrive...
    • Justified with the Master in "The Sound of Drums". He's using mind control to make most people think he's been around for decades. To the 1% of people who are immune to the mind control, his forgery is actually very obvious.
    • In the spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, aliens grow a human boy in a lab; Sarah Jane's Magical Computer is able to fabricate an identity for him so that Sarah Jane can adopt him.
      • Though not without problems when his "Real" parents (actually evil aliens) turned up to claim him, she had real problems trying to explain why she hadn't gone to the authorities when she found him. At least she realized that "But they can't be his real parents he was constructed by the Bane!" probably wouldn't help her case.
      • Although her UNIT contacts did at least keep her out of prison on a kidnapping charge while things played out.
    • Averted in Torchwood, where a young accidental time-traveller is provided with paperwork, gets herself a job and heads off happily to London for her new life.
  • Averted example in Eureka after a women thought to be dead shows up in town due it having been a clone that died, Carter begins going on and on about how hard it'll be to convince all the bureaucracies that declared her dead that she's now alive. Only to find out the town of Eureka has a standard Resurrection Form that takes care of everything.
  • In Forever Knight the vampire-cop considers moving on at one point and visits a vampire whose specialty is providing false identities for this very purpose.
    • At one point he also has to dummy up birth records when someone starts looking into his past.
  • Discussed on the later seasons of Haven. Various characters show up that have been helping Haven, Maine hide the suspiciously high numbers of deaths due to the various Troubles throughout the years, including falsifying news stories and death certificates. Duke Crocker goes missing for six months and is presumed dead, and when he returns, he gets arrested and accused of being an imposter for a while. Audrey Parker was missing for even longer than that, but since she is a police officer, her colleagues help her with the documentation.
  • The Highlander TV series deals with this a few times, although the exact treatment seems to vary Depending on the Writer, or maybe depending on the plot of an episode. Presumably most or all immortals have to do this in modern society, and do so successfully (perhaps relying on black market sources and fraud/forgery of official documents). Some even manage it despite very public deaths (most notable are a guy who made a circus act out of the fact that he couldn't be killed, and Richie, Duncan's sidekick, who had become a professional motorcycle racer and died on the track). Mostly, this is treated as little more than a bother and having to leave town for a while, but a few times there have been attempts at justifications, such as Duncan complaining about how hard it is to forge/alter records and documentation for his friend Hugh Fitzcairn, who has not adapted well to new technology like computers.
    • Another episode played with the trope: when a friend of Duncan's shows up on his doorstep with police right behind her she claims it was because she was in the same hotel as a VIP that was killed and afterward the police had realized that her paperwork didn't check out and have been following her since. The truth is that, haunted by her failure to assassinate Hitler and potentially save many lives, she has taken it upon herself to go around assassinating would-be dictators and those who spark off hate crimes so that the world will never go through that again.
  • Played With in I Dream of Jeannie. In one episode, Jeannie wanted to travel overseas with Major Nelson disguised as a normal woman, not hidden in her bottle. He told her that she'd need a passport and that she could go with him if she could get one without using magic. Of course, he knew there was no way a centuries-old genie could produce the proper documentation.
  • Tsukasa, the eponymous Kamen Rider Decade, nicely skirts around this by instantly adjusting to his new dimension through some cosmic force. He always finds himself with the skills, documentation, equipment, and attire for whatever his job may be. This is later explained in the Grand Finale movie: Decade's job is to be whatever a given dimension needs him to be - hero or villain, savior or destroyer. Thus, the job adjustment is simply him being handed his role by The Powers That Be.
  • Knight Rider: After being presumed dead, Michael Knight got a shiny new identity from his rich employers, but its limitations come up more than once — every time someone starts looking into him, they discover that he apparently didn't exist until just recently. Naturally, this tends to make them suspicious. Of course, this rather blatant ongoing problem is never dealt with by his employers because Tropes Are Tools.
  • Leverage: One of the cover identities Hardison set up for Parker is so thoroughly documented that she got called for jury duty.
    • Then again, in some districts the jury duty officials are so lax, they send summonses to household pets.
    • Subverted in a later episode when Hardison is rushed prepairing a cover ID for Sophie (the grifter) and accidentally gives her one designed for Eliot (the hitter). Fortunately, Sophie has learned how to throw a punch...
  • On The Magicians, Alice's parents have been using magic to keep control of their huge and lavishly expensive mansion. When magic is taken away, the IRS hits them with a bill for 30 years of unpaid taxes.
  • Korean drama My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox has Gu Mi-Ho able to, with the help from a halfling, falsify records and establish an identity. Before this, however, it was an aversion of the trope.
  • Once Upon a Time zigzags this trope to hell and back, sometimes justifying it, sometimes glossing over it:
    • Emma Swan has an easy explanation: she is officially found as a baby by the side of the road, so she enters the system as any abandoned baby would. The same can be inferred of Lily.
    • The Dark Curse seems to provide all the needed papers to the Storybrooke residents. It makes sense within the magically isolated bubble that is the town, but apparently, the new identities have a certain reach even on the outside. Regina has all the right credentials to adopt infant Henry from an agency in Boston; Mr. Gold has enough contacts and power to grease the wheels and make the adoption happen, even having a couple dropping off the list at the last moment; Sidney Glass has a wide enough ear network to crack open a classified file from a closed adoption. Did the Dark Curse give them all leverage on the outside world?
    • Ursula and Cruella fall into a portal to the Land Without Magic and manage to get by for three decades afterwards. Ursula seems to work a low-pay job and live in a modest-income flat, so she might have pretended to just be an undocumented immigrant from somewhere. Cruella was married to a rich and corrupt husband, who might have had a hand at integrating her. Neither gets an explanation in-universe.
    • Ingrid the Snow Queen is even more puzzling: a single lady from another dimension gets integrated well enough to own a house, work as a foster parent for orphaned children and file for adoption for one of them. She even does this in-universe when she turns up in Storybrooke, blends into the background and even opens an ice cream parlour without Regina, who has eyes everywhere in town and is aware of the Curse, being the wiser.
    • Baelfire/Neal Cassidy seems to avert this at first, living at the edge of society as a petty thief. Flash-forward ten years, and he seems to own a flat and have a corporate job.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): Averted in "Last Supper". Laura/Jade was caught by the FBI when they found multiple false identities she used to conceal herself.
  • The Player had a former Witness Protection officer go into private business creating false identities with the assistance of an insider in a government records facility who entered fake births into the system which would form a basis for the new IDs. The inside man was given away when it was noted how people connected with the forger seemed to have been born in a small rural county which just happened to have the records facility.
  • Played oddly in Power Rangers Time Force, with travelers from the year 3000. Its explicitly stated that their drivers' licenses are invalid in the present... but getting a new one is a simple matter of taking the test, with no problems of legal existence.
  • Jarod of The Pretender presumably has to forge any and all documentation he uses to establish himself in each new identity. Only rarely does this come up in the series — for example, when he's working as a paramedic and a hospital bureaucrat complains that he can't get ahold of Jarod's tax forms. It is alluded to in the series that his personas are temporary at best and would not stand closer scrutiny. He only has to pass the initial check, find what he is looking for and then leave. He does his research in a very low key position and only then assumes the high profile persona needed to accomplish his mission. Once he 'saves the day' he has to leave really quick before he is stopped or the bad guys find him.
  • Averted in Pushing Daisies, where the protagonists have to go to great lengths to hide the fact that Chuck is alive from just about everybody. She uses an alias in public and doesn't have any valid ID.
  • Remington Steele: The eponymous character is actually a made-up persona taken over by a con man. He had no problems the first season, but the second season starts out with a visit from the IRS, curious about the lack of about twenty-odd years of income tax filings.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • At least half a dozen aliens here and there have been found off-world, presumably brought to earth and integrated into human society, and never seen again. The Witness Protection Program must have a permanent office set up in Colorado Springs, CO, and/or Stargate Command has a permanent liaison with the WPP.
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • Jack O'Neill gets a clone who, due to a screw-up on Loki's part, is a teenager. In the end, the clone decides to go back to high school and make his own way. How they get him the necessary documents to do so is not explained. Of course, this is the same organization that can hide Stargate Command, which is an element at least the size of a few battalions. One kid oughta be easy.
      • Ba'al. He ends up on Earth, as a freaking CEO of a huge high-tech company, and no-one seems to know where he came from, or how he got to be in charge. Of course, one must remember that Ba'al has control of the Trust, a shadow organization that has roots in most major government agencies. No doubt they could manage to forge the relevant documents.
  • Stranger Things: Eleven was abducted immediately after birth due to her telekinetic powers and spent the first twelve years of her life in the Hawkins Lab with no contact with the outside world. Legal records stated that her mother miscarried, so the abduction was covered up. At the end of season one, she vanishes after defeating the Demogorgan, and in the next season (which takes place a year later) it's revealed that she was shortly after taken in by Hopper. In the season finale, Owens manages to forge a birth certificate for "Jane Hopper" so she can live a normal life.
    Hopper: [about the birth certificate] How did you-?
    Owens: Sometimes I surprise even myself.
  • Time Trax: A basic premise of the series is that travelers from the future can easily manipulate 20th-century American electronic databases with their advanced 22nd-century computer technology. The protagonist once had to sit tight in a small county jail cell because they didn't check records with computers.
  • Lampshaded on True Blood with Sophie-Anne, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. She amassed immense wealth over the years, using Undead Tax Exemption to her advantage. But now that Vampires have come into the open, the IRS is after her.
    • Indeed one of the central themes of the series is coming out, being taxed, and having rights.
  • At the start of The Vampire Diaries, Stefan tries to become a new student and is quizzed on his lack of vaccinations and paperwork. He has to hypnotize the secretary to believe that everything is in order.
  • This is addressed on White Collar. Neal Caffrey is a conman who regularly uses fake identities. However, he is fully aware that even his best identities cannot survive a thorough investigation. When he considers breaking his parole and fleeing the country, he is referred to a master forger who spent decades creating a set of 'perfect identities'. The man registered a number of fake births with the government and over the years he created fake school, medical and employment records for his 'kids'. He planted those records all over the country in government archives. He made sure that the identities had credit histories and that they all paid their taxes on time. Anyone doing a background check would have to do a very thorough in-person investigation to discover that these people never existed. For obvious reasons, the forger is asking a lot of money for one of these identities.
    • In general, the series presents fake identities only working until someone starts taking a closer look at you. Once the FBI starts investigating, it does not take them long to spot the tell-tale signs of a fake identity.
  • In an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place, the Alpha Bitch spends a whole day trapped inside a book. Upon being released, she is convinced that it's still the same day and immediately goes on with her life. Even if we assume she's a total idiot and won't eventually notice that it's a day later, there's still the little issue that there would be an AMBER Alert on her by that point.
  • The 2016 miniseries revival of The X-Files plays this for laughs. When a lizard-man turned human suddenly has the urge to get himself a job, Mulder questions how he managed that without any documentation. The lizard-man claims he just BS'd his way through the whole thing.

    Tabletop Games 
  • While not undead, this issue sometimes comes up in Werewolf: The Apocalypse with wolf-born Garou. The game itself doesn't explain what they do if they want to integrate with human society, it's just taken for granted that the other werewolves and their kinfolk (humans born with the gene recessive) forge identities for them, and possibly teach them reading and other basic skills.
    • Considering the Glass Walkers, it's not hard to figure out how they pull it off...
    • Werewolf: The Forsaken has a slight variant. It makes clearer than Apocalypse that werewolves' healing factor means they don't age at the same rate as humanity; a Uratha might look like they're still in their 30s when they're pushing 80. As such, they need to take special steps to keep their paperwork up to date, lest awkwardness ensue when they're called in for a police interview or whatever.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade also touches on it. Between being able to create Ghouls and (depending on the clan) other mind-control powers, most vampires find little intrinsic problem in arranging things. Source material/fluff occasionally mentions both the necessity of ensuring your own Undead Tax Exemption and the effectiveness as a tactic of screwing with your enemies'.
      • However, the fluff (Book of Nod specifically) also says "There will always be Caesar, pay him his due". The notes on that specific line imply that tax evasion is one of the biggest threats to the Masquerade. This is part of why the Ventrue are in charge of the Camarilla; they have all the business and government influence necessary to handle this kind of problem.
    • Changeling: The Lost also takes into account that characters will likely look a little different due to their time in Faerie if they're not presumed dead. There's a Merit called New Identity that runs from 1 dot (a forged driver's license that might pass inspection when you're pulled over) to 4 dots (a well-constructed identity that would take some deep probing by a federal agency to dismantle).
    • Similarly, the rare Promethean who manages to become human. While usually one of the Created can operate "under the radar", when they become fully human their history is going to be rather interesting.
      "So what did you do before this?"
      "Oh, I wandered the earth as a monster trying not to fuck up the world too much until I managed to become human, what'd you do?"
      "I was in banking too."
      • Reborn Prometheans usually have no memory of their former existence, which means even they wonder about the gaps in their past, with occasionally tragic results.
      • This has been averted in 2e, however, as the act of completing the Pilgrimage now means that reality rewrites itself so that the Promethean was always human, complete with an appropriate background for their particular Pilgrimage.
    • From Demon: The Descent, when the God-Machine creates angels under mortal guises, it also provides resources, contacts, background, anything the newly-minted angel needs. Frankly, manufacturing new identity whole cloth is child's play for an entity of such power. Demons will occasionally even try to get a new free Cover by "angel-jacking" - stepping in when the God-Machine weaves a new Cover for an angel sent down to do a mission and punting it out of the way.
    • Deviant: The Renegades has a different take. While most Deviants still have their own identities, they're pursued by Conspiracies that want to get their hands on them, which means maintaining an official identity is an easy way to be traced. This is reflected by how Merits such as Resources have the "Overt" tag, indicating that calling on them makes it easier for a Conspiracy to find them. Most Deviants are said to turn towards dumpster diving, low-paying under-the-table work, or organized crime to get by while trying to avoid the notices of Conspiracies.
  • Justified in In Nomine. Angels and demons have to have "Roles" crafted for them to fit into society, get a driver's license, etc. Role creation is an equal mix of metaphysical miracle (a powerful superior convincing the universe that you "belong there") and of having celestials in their own Roles (in the DMV, Social Security Office, etc.) manipulating records to make this possible.
    • In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas completely averts the problem by having angels and demons incarnate into an existing person. Demons incarnate when a person dies with few enough witnesses, while angels incarnate in very pious people who donate their body. Archangels' (and demon princes') Avatars just pop into existence, but they vanish within a few minutes so it's not a problem either.
  • King Kaius III of Karrnath in the Dungeons & Dragons setting Eberron was known as King Kaius I when he was turned into a vampire. He faked his death, returning years later posing as his own grandson. Since he's the King he doesn't have to worry about paying taxes, but he is concerned with keeping the truth about his identity secret from his people.
    • He should take a page from Strahd, of Ravenloft fame. Strahd has for almost a dozen generations taken a wife, had a son named Strahd who looks just like him and passed from the world just in time for his adult son to take over his realm. You may wonder why no one catches on, but the peasants do know of the 'Devil Strahd' and perhaps the setting helps him out for its own reasons.
  • Call of Cthulhu campaign The Fungi from Yuggoth, adventure "Castle Dark". Baron Hauptmann transfers his mind into a new body every few decades and assumes the victim's identity, then kills his old body (with the victim's mind in it) and produces a will that transfers his property to his "heir". He gets away with it for two reasons: as a Baron, he's the highest authority in the local area, and the local peasants are too scared of him to protest.
  • In the Legend of the Five Rings module Ryoko Owari there is a foreign mage hidden in the city who 'rebirths' himself every so often. After the first few generations, he realized he was becoming inbred and modified the spell with the 'donated' sexual organs of a female. He also raised a fanatic slave to run his business and take care of his young body when he's reborn.
  • Averted in the Urban Arcana setting for the Shadowkind, as noted in this article from - if you're an elf or ogre that just arrived from that other world, not having ID in 21st-century America is gonna be a problem. This is why so many Shadowkind wind up with the criminal crowd, or simply taken in (whether they like it or not) by a community of their own kind. For those fortunate enough to find one of the Monsters Anonymous organizations, they can get ID through a more benevolent source.
  • Averted with in Continuum, a game about time travelers. Simply put, the Continuum (an organization of time travelers) ensures that time travelers moving far from home undergo extensive preparation. It's not just identification and documentation; they have to even practice the correct forms of speaking a language when they move up and down in time. Imagine you could travel time, and you had to ensure your speech pattern was period accurate to 1850 before you took a trip there. Fortunately, the Continuum actually trains its members and does the due diligence for such projects.
  • Ars Magica: Zig-zagged by Magical Society as a potential story hook. Many Covenants are isolated enough from mundane society that the magi don't need to worry about their legal identities; others need to move more carefully around mundane authorities. The categories can overlap; one side plot involves a prince finally noticing that a Covenant's landowner is impossibly old and opening an investigation.
  • Justified in Shadowrun. After the collapse of the internet and the re-organization of the old order in the Sixth World, the MegaCorps and remaining nation-states realised they needed a system to deal with the concept of corporate extraterritoriality and mass loss of national IDs following the collapse of the Fifth World, and created the international System Identification Number system instead. Every citizen of every nation has a SIN in their respective home database, tied to their biometrics and purchase history, and every national or corporate database has full access to verify a given SIN (and ancillary information) as valid or not. A black market around counterfeit SINs quickly came into being, and a Player Character can, with the right contacts, pay for someone to insert a fake entry (with an accompanying purchase history, DNA and so on) into the appropriate database and thus create a fake ID that goes with you wherever. A fake SIN is expensive as all heck, but potentially anyone can pretend to be a valid citizen of anywhere else by greasing the right palm in advance.

  • You Can't Take It With You presents Martin Vanderhoff (or Grampa, as he's usually referred to in the play). Throughout the play, he is hounded by an IRS agent for not having paid his income taxes (Martin doesn't believe in it). This plot is resolved when the agent discovers that Martin Vanderhoff has been legally dead for years and therefore cannot owe taxes. Martin Vanderhoff and his family had a man living with them for years whom they never learned the name of (it was impolite to ask after a while), and when he died, they decided to give him Martin's name for the death certificate (since it was such a nice name and all). Thus, according to the government's records, Martin Vanderhoff was dead and therefore exempt from owing taxes.

    Video Games 
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3:
      • Aigis seems to blend in with society quite well with just a simple wardrobe change, despite being a robot. Being backed by a considerably powerful organization helps justify this.
      • There's Ryoji, who appears out of nowhere as an exchange student. As the Anthropomorphic Personification and Avatar of Death, questions like where he spends his off-school hours and where his transfer records came from are left unanswered.
    • Persona 4:
      • Teddie, who is a being from beyond the TV, also manages to slip into society quite easily (well, at least he looks very human underneath that bear layer), despite lacking any ID, and any attempts at scanning his body with X-rays or similar medical equipment automatically fails. The only time this is an issue is in Golden where he uses roller blades instead of a motorbike most of the other Investigation Team acquires after getting licenses. He also gets a job at the local superstore Junes thanks to Yosuke being the manager's son, so he can pull strings and arrange a salary, as well as conveniently being the store's new mascot with his bear costume.
      • Marie in Golden somehow is even worse than Teddie in logistic department; with her previously living in a place between conscious and unconscious, even less social skill than the previous attendants of the Velvet Room, without identity and memory, said memory turns out to be a part of Anthropomorphic Personification of mankind's desire shaped like a Japanese Goddess tasked to be the garbage bin for the fog her fellow aspects expelled after they were defeated, and disappeared after you kick said Japanese Goddess' ass in final boss fight. Cue a year later, and she becomes a weather forecaster on TV, a quite famous one at that. Probably justified after the final battle, said Goddess and her aspects fused with Marie, and she gained their powers. When you can do things such as change the weather on a cheerful whim, you likely don't need to worry about little things such as establishing a paper identity.
  • Arcueid the True Ancestor vampire from Tsukihime is magically-self sufficient enough to not require food (her drinking blood would be bad), shelter, or sleep and just wanders Tokyo all day and all night; since she doesn't rely on society's infrastructure, she doesn't need an official identity. When necessary, she presumably hypnotizes her way into getting a hotel room should she need to recover from damage. She actually has a special ability to psychically absorb cultural knowledge so that she instantly knows the language and general customs of any place or time she wakes up in. (Although there is a funny gap between theory and practice.) She's fairly rich, though, as she has a friend in the Clock Tower who sells her fairy gold for her.
    • Also averted with Ciel, who blatantly states that she just brainwashes everyone, with a standard 'trust what Ciel says' command, and lets their brains fill things in (in fact, she doesn't have to attend classes! She just hangs around the tea ceremony room; well, except when she attends classes for the fun of it).
    • The Back-Alley Alliance, Satsuki, Sion, and Riesbyfe, is another aversion. They're not old enough or powerful enough for the shenanigans Ciel and Arcueid do; and while Sion could hack people's minds for an identity, she doesn't. Sion spends most of the first Melty Blood game sleeping in an alley, and them being homeless is a bit of a Memetic Mutation.
    • Averted for most of the surviving Servants post-Fifth Holy Grail War. Lancer and Rider make a living through part-time jobs, Archer Projects whatever he needs and spends a fair bit of time in spirit form, Berserker and Assassin are unable to interact in any meaningful way with people, and Saber's decided to freely indulge in Shirou's hospitality. Gilgamesh and Caster are the only ones who actually bothered to set up a legal identity; the first is so filthy rich he can afford to throw money at any problem (hell, somehow he's a business owner), and Caster's main reason to have records at all was to be able to legally marry Kuzuki.
  • In Fate/Grand Order: Observer on Timeless Temple, Doctor Roman's lack of paper trail prior to 2004 makes Sherlock Holmes suspicious that they are untrustworthy.
  • In Fallout 3, Harkness is an android from the Commonwealth named A3-21 who had his face altered and his memories as A3-21 repressed by Dr. Pinkerton. He's now in charge of Rivet City's security and is on their leadership council. Arguably a justified case, what with the whole post-nuclear apocalypse thing — people are no longer likely to be very concerned with paperwork. Hell, as long as you can shoot something reliably, most places will take you no questions asked.
  • Fallout 4 takes android identity forging even further, with three factions at war with each other over android rights: The Institute see the androids they created as soulless robots whose only purpose is to look and act even more human than actual humans because they're emotionless and capable of computing emotions instead of feeling them, and test this out by ordering their androids to murder survivors and take their place as robot moles. The Railroad see androids as a new race of humans who have even fewer rights than slaves and seek to give them new human identities (and memories), no matter the cost to everyone else. And of course, the Brotherhood of Steel see identity-stealing androids as the ultimate incarnation of the technological abuse of human rights that their charter was created to fight against - and discover that their paragon champion was killed and replaced with a robot years ago.
  • Averted in Mass Effect 2. When Shepard returns to the Citadel after being reported KIA two years prior, C-Sec records still list them as dead. A brief chat with Captain Bailey has the latter explain that rectifying this sort of thing would usually require about nine days of running around various Citadel bureaucratic offices but he handily fixes everything with a push of a button (it helps that Shepard is a legendary hero and that the C-Sec DNA scanners have verified that it's truly them). Bailey also offhandedly claims "spending a year dead is a popular tax dodge."
  • Count Janus Hassildor of Skingrad in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion maintains the illusion that he's a very crowd shy noble who never makes public appearances and rarely meets with visitors in person. It turns out that he's a vampire trying very hard to conceal his identity. If his secret were to get out, he'd likely be hunted down and killed. His longevity is attributed by the populace to the fact that he is (or has at least cultivated a reputation as) a powerful wizard.
    • Averted in that high-level wizards in the Mages Guild are aware of his status. Instead of owing money, he trades favors to the Mages Guild in exchange for them concealing his secret. Eventually, the Player Character is let in on the secret by Hassildor himself.
  • Averted in the good ending of Heart of the Woods. Abigail, a 200-year-old ghost who was recently returned to life, has no documentation, so Tara has to forge government documents for her, adding forgery to her fairly long criminal record acquired as part of doing investigation for her paranormal Vlog Series, Taranormal.
  • Amusingly Averted by Winston in Overwatch. Despite being a gorilla from the moon, since escaping the Lunar Colony and making it to Earth, he properly immigrated to the point of having to pay taxes (to Switzerland, home of the Overwatch Headquarters).

    Web Comics 
  • Justified in El Goonish Shive, where someone in the government is responsible for creating the legal identities.
    • That, and everyone is either a shapeshifter or has access to a transformation device of some sort.
  • Something like this happens in The Wotch with Mingmei, who is a middle-aged Latino man transformed into a teenage Asian girl. A quick memory-altering spell allows her to pass herself off as an exchange student, but the larger problems of lack of paperwork, a real family back in Japan, or any means of support are not addressed... till later.
  • Sharing a Universe. Lynette is still able to get a job, rent an apartment, and otherwise live a perfectly normal life despite being an Elf from a parallel fantasy-themed universe. Lampshaded from time to time with her lack of ID for buying alcohol, and Allison suspecting that she's an undocumented immigrant.
  • Mentioned in TRU-Life Adventures as part of the reason Mike Michaels doesn't go back to being Trent Tyrell once he gets his memory back.
  • In Misfile Ash and Em's new identities are justified by the Ret-Gone, but how Rumi and Cassiel get enrolled in the local high school is a bit of a mystery, and how Rumi's brother Vash gets employment in the local med center as secretary is similarly unexplained. Possibly justified in Cassiel and Vash's case as they are both still in heaven's good graces but Rumi is on semi-permanent suspension.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Catherine and Nigel Aura manage to establish human lives in the human world, but to do so, need to forge some documents.
  • Narbonic: Apparently the Knipl Award committee does no background checks at all on their grant recipients, because in the same year their three winners were a mutant shapeshifter, a battle android, and a were-gerbil.
    • Correction, a werehuman.
  • In Wapsi Square, Bud and Brandi are able to acquire modern birth certificates and social security numbers despite being immortal clay golems who predate most known civilizations. However, it is made believable in that it was done by Jin, who has been playing political manipulator in multiple countries for over a thousand years and probably has more than enough contacts to make someone exist (or cease to exist).
  • Parodied in Sluggy Freelance with Aylee, who mentions she has problems surviving in society because she doesn't have photo ID. So apparently if she had that, it'd be no problem she's an alien who looks like the alien from Alien.
  • Inverted in Leif & Thorn, where there's no Masquerade, the vampires have legal identities under their original names and real ages...and are subject to an undead-specific ''tax'' to keep them from amassing enough wealth to unbalance Sønheim's economy.

    Web Animation 
  • Hunter: The Parenting lampshades the need to keep up with tax codes even when you're an immortal parasite; one high-ranking member of the Tremere simply brainwashes her victims into forking over their cash. This may have worked in the Dark Ages, but her accountant was ostracized for pointing out that the IRS is eventually going to catch on to her lack of legitimate income and expensive purchases, which is potentially an even greater Masquerade breach than murdering and looting a few schmucks dry.

    Western Animation 
  • It's suggested in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien with Sir George, with him living as an old man in a nursing home since the '70s.
  • Code Lyoko is an aversion. The heroes go to great lengths to give Aelita a plausible identity ("Aelita Stones, transfer student from Canada"), Jérémie even creating false ID papers for her. And the cover almost gets blown several times, mostly because of Sissi's snooping.
  • In the epilogue of The Owl House, Vee is shown in a photo to have graduated from high school alongside Luz, implying that Camila was somehow able to get her a legal identity in the four years since she came to Earth.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Star Butterfly is a princess from another dimension. Star's parents enroll her into Echo Creek Academy and arrange for her to live with the Diaz family by giving her principal (and presumably anyone else with authority to ask) gold and jewels to look the other way.
  • Averted in Steven Universe: Because of the Crystal Gems' status as aliens, Pearl mentions in "Last One Out of Beach City" that she can't legally acquire a driver's license and "Gem Harvest" reveals that Greg and Rose Quartz couldn't get legally married.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan is about two aliens and a robot who come to Earth to hide out. They quickly manage to buy a house and a car (using counterfeit cash their robot printed), enroll themselves in a high school, and one of them even obtains a driver's license.
  • In the last episode of Teen Titans (2003), Beast Boy spots Terra (or a girl who looks exactly like her) going to high school, despite the fact that Terra is a criminal, supposed to be petrified, and (as of her origin story in the tie-in comic) an undocumented immigrant. The episode never firmly establishes whether this girl really is Terra, though.
  • Defied in Draftee Daffy: Daffy's misfortunes as he tries to dodge being drafted into the armed forces (it's a Wartime Cartoon) ends with him dead and in Hell. And then he discovers that the little man sent by the Draft Board to give him his summons is still after him.
  • Averted in Transformers: Animated. Sari Sumdac tries to take over her father's company after something happens to him... only to be informed that she has no birth certificate, Social Security number, or any other documentation, meaning she legally can't. It turns out she's actually a human-Autobot hybrid, and her father kept her sheltered because, well, try getting paperwork for that.
    Sari: Hey, why is my office locked?
    Porter C. Powell: Miss Sumdac, I regret to inform you that your services will no longer be required. The board has unanimously elected me to take over as CEO of Sumdac Systems.
    Sari: You can't do that! It's still my family's company!
    Powell: Is it? I took the liberty of doing some research into your claim. It might interest you to know that there is no will, no birth certificate, no adoption papers, social security number, or any kind of record whatsoever for a "Sari Sumdac".
    Sari: Are you saying I can't prove I'm Isaac Sumdac's daughter?
    Powell: I'm saying you can't even prove you exist.