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Villains Blend in Better

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Villains who are thrust into a Fish out of Water situation never seem to have any trouble adjusting to their new surroundings, frequently becoming socially important and powerful, whereas a hero similarly displaced will stick out like a sore thumb, freaking out at the bizarre customs of the alien world/future/past/whatever and asking people "What Year Is This?" Just another day at the office for Evil Is Cool and Good Is Dumb.

When there's an explicit justification, it's that evil is universal. Particularly, when the heroes are from some distant planet or time, and the new world into which they are thrust is our world, the justification is that we live in a corrupt and evil world where being a ruthless psychopathic murdering villain is actually an advantage to getting ahead in life, whereas being good and pure-of-heart is a massive hindrance.

In the other direction, it can be used on the Planet of Hats to remind us that our moral values are superior: the hero doesn't fit in because he has a hard time dealing with whatever character flaw everyone in this new world possesses, or can't just sit back and go with the flow on a world where everyone kicks puppies, listens to that newfangled rock-and-roll and women dress in navel-revealing slut-wear.

In many cases it's an example of Villains Act, Heroes React; villains are much better at patient planning than (most) heroes, and put lots of points into blending in with society — otherwise, how would they have amassed power behind the scenes anyway? The hero often puts all his points into fighting the villain rather than adapting to the circumstances. If the hero gets to the villain, he wins, but the villain's best defense is having nobody take up arms against him to begin with, and then delaying the hero as much as possible. Both hero and villain make pretty reasonable bets. A side effect of this is that a sudden change of scene often permits the villain to call upon The Lopsided Arm of the Law to get the hero Arrested for Heroism.

Or, more pragmatically, it can just be to make things easier for the villain and therefore harder for the hero. An extension of this is the Outside-Context Problem, who keeps all their advantages and abuses them in their new location.

As a corollary, it will generally be easier for the villains to convince the locals that they're friendly than it will be for the heroes to convince them that they're not evil. Even if the evilness of the villains is writ large enough to be detectable from space (via Namedar). This mostly seems to result from the hero's stubborn refusal to shut the hell up about how great it was back in their world and to refuse to take on any native culture. They will wear the same outfit they had when they came in and constantly complain about the local food. This isn't helped by the fact that the hero will usually insist on going around shouting at people near-hysterically about how they're from the past/another planet/what-have-you and how utterly evil the villain is, in a fashion that only makes them come across like a complete lunatic. The villain on the other hand will immediately trade in his duds for local wear and tuck into the native cuisine with gusto. He will never mention that he is from another world and be immediately accepted.

A heroic inversion of this trope is possible, but much rarer — see Like a Duck Takes to Water.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: While Sasha is shown to have difficulty adjusting to life outside her isolated village, none of the Titan Shifters from outside the Walls seem to have had any issue passing themselves off as refugees from Wall Maria. Considering that the society within the Walls was supposed to have been isolated for a century, it gives an early nod to the Ancient Conspiracy at play within the upper ranks of society.
    • Even before the Warriors came Eren's father, Grisha was able to uncover the truth about the Royal Family and the location of the Founding Titan within a few years. Same thing with Ymir, who was able to learn that Christa Lenz was important somehow just by eavesdropping. Maybe the Royal Government's information security just needs work.
  • Katushiko Jinnai in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World almost immediately becomes the supreme general of the Bugrom.
    • It helps that being transported to El Hazard specifically gave him the superpower to control Bugrom.
      • Except in the Wanderers continuity, where his only ability was to merely communicate with Bugrom. It is unclear whether he controlled the Bugrom or communicated with them in the first OVA series as it was only apparent that he got along with them very well somehow. In The Magnificent World however, it definitely helped that he supposedly fit a prophecy regarding a messenger who would lead the Bugrom to victory...
  • Re:CREATORS is about fictional characters coming to life in the real world, akin to Last Action Hero mentioned below. Magane Chikujoin couldn't look more Obviously Evil if she tried (black, purple and red uniform, shark teeth, creepy mannerisms and a somewhat Nonstandard Character Design), despite this nobody seems to find anything strange with her and she has a great time cheating, stealing and murdering to her heart's content, even becoming somehow the owner of a penthouse. Meanwhile the good guys mostly come from fantasy or sci-fi stories and, as such, have a harder time getting adapted to the real world.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America had a bit of trouble fitting into the future at first, but his archenemy, The Red Skull, apparently hit the ground running as soon as he was revived. The difference is that Red Skull actually went into suspended animation by choice (sort of), while Cap fell in the water in 1945 and woke up in... the present day.
  • Unlike most Gods, Ares from the Wonder Woman comics is adjusted to the modern world, often wearing casual clothing, knowing how to use computers, operate machinery, and able to pass as an ordinary person.
    • His counterpart in Marvel Universe has been able to adjust very well both before and after his Heel–Face Turn – as a villain he managed to become the leader of terrorist organizations in all the world and as a good guy he quickly found a job and became a completely normal parent. Justified because he was spending all his free time between Ancient Greece and the modern Age of Heroes causing and taking a part in Earth's conflicts, so he really has time to learn.
  • In Locke & Key the main antagonist Dodge is a demon possessing the soul/body of a teenager from the 80s, in mid to late 2000s Maine. Despite often being wowed and occasionally confused by the technology, (considering the last computer he saw was a Commodore 64) Dodge nevertheless takes to it well and never blows his cover, even though once or twice people note his lack of familiarity with certain bits of technology or culture as odd.

  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse:
    • The Changelings have managed to worm their way into the notoriously paranoid Zaldia, and Zaldia's secret police, without anyone being the wiser. Including one who's best friends with Zaldia's king.
    • The villains of Nightmares Yet to Come have agents everywhere, including literally right next to Princess Luna, who's apparently never caught on (an early chapter hints that they're able to fool Trixie's Aura Vision). Gets discussed by two characters at one point, who point out that if you were going to infiltrate a government, the first thing you'd do is make sure no-one could see through your disguise.
  • Completely inverted in Fate: Hero and Sword, where the heroes that Shirou created for the Holy City Camelot have a significantly easier time blending in with the New World than the residents of Nazarick. There are several factors for this.
    • Nazarick's denizens, being monsters, almost all hold the view that Humans Are Insects. Most of Camelot's residents, meanwhile, are at lest partially human and this don't have this problem.
    • Tying into the above, the big names of Camelot are mostly heroes from myth and legend, so they naturally tend to attract others like them and are adept at building healthy relationships with the average person.
    • Finally, when choosing heroes to intervene in local politics, Agravain chose those who came from cultures similar to their target destinations (Nero to the Roman-themed Baharuth Empire and the Knights of the Round to the medieval Europe themed Roble Holy Kingdom) so that some cultural issues would already be assuaged.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future Part II, Old Biff has no trouble fitting into 1955 when he goes back in time to give himself the almanac. Justified in that he likely remembers how things were in The '50s, he's conservatively dressed, and he looks like an unassuming elderly man. Compare him to Marty, who always sticks out like a sore thumb upon first arrival. Doc Brown however is shown to be much better at fitting in at various time periods, even in the future and far past from well before he was born, so the issue mostly seems to be that Marty is just too young and has only ever known the then modern times of 70s and 80s America and wears exclusively trendy clothing vs older men that have lived through several historical and cultural changes know how to adapt and have mostly moved beyond the latest fashion for unassuming clothes.
  • Downplayed in Beastmaster II: Through The Portal Of Time - neither Dar, the hero, nor Arklon, the Big Bad, grasps 1980s California all that well, although Arklon at least eventually makes an effort. Arklon's Femme Fatale Dragon, on the other hand, pretty much fits right in, and at one point observes with scorn that Arklon is "as subtle as a rabid rhino."
  • Demolition Man: Though their violent natures clash with the saccharine-sanitized future equally, the villainous Simon Phoenix was given skills and background that helped him quickly rise to the role of crime kingpin in the future, while heroic John Spartan doesn't even know how to work a futuristic toilet. Justified by there being a future native who deliberately provides Phoenix with assistance and deprives Spartan of the same.
  • In Enchanted, Nathaniel, the evil queen's minion, has no trouble fitting into New York. He even comes up with various disguises and gets at least two jobs while there. Oh, and he apparently knows how to drive. Queen Narissa doesn't even attempt to fit in, but she does know how to use an elevator, and can hold plausible conversations when explaining why the poor girl fell unconscious after eating an apple.
    • Inverted at the end, when we briefly see Nancy marrying Edward in the animated world, and she seems to be getting along just fine.
  • A strange variation happens in Just Visiting: while the medieval protagonists have to go through the standard Fish out of Temporal Water routine when transported to the present, the utterly incompetent wizard that sent them there manages to follow them, and somehow purchase clothes, spell components and rent a hotel room with no problems. This was averted in the original Les Visiteurs by having the person helping them not be the original wizard but rather a modern descendant of his.
  • In Last Action Hero, Cowboy Cop Jack Slater and hitman Mr. Benedict are action movie characters who end up in real world New York City. Jack has difficulty understanding why cars don't explode when you shoot them and becomes despondent after about five minutes of exposure to "our" Crapsack World, whereas Mr. Benedict (after spending a similar period being bemused that murdering people in the streets has no immediate consequences) is elated to have found a world where "the bad guys can win!" The Ripper, who Benedict later brings into the real world from his own movie, also has no trouble blending into a movie premiere wearing his freakish villain costume consisting of a yellow raincoat, dirty long hair and a collapsible axe, but only because he's mistaken for his actor showing up in character, and even then he's quickly pulled aside by the actual actor's agent, who chastises him for his behaviour and attempts to order an emergency tuxedo for him.
  • The film Time After Time shows H. G. Wells and Jack the Ripper transported to the present day by the time machine Wells actually built, inspiring his novel. Wells can't adapt, and seriously freaks out at the glorification of sex and violence in modern culture, while Jack fits in fine. For full credit, Jack gets to give a speech about the decay of society helping him fit in: in their day, he was a monster; in ours, he's an amateur.
  • In the Highlander films:
    • In the first film, MacLeod hangs onto the past as an antique dealer, and uses his old mentor's sword. In contrast, the Kurgan embraces the newest music and fashions, and wields a high-tech collapsible sword. But then again, Connor is fabulously wealthy and has developed a system of creating new identities that goes unnoticed for centuries, whereas the Kurgan lives as a criminal vagrant and is so insane that he barely manages to uphold the masquerade.
    • In the third film, the villain Kane awakens after centuries of slumber and quickly assimilates into the modern world, aided in no small measure by his magical powers.
  • Terminator:
    • Downplayed in The Terminator. The T-800 knows exactly how to find his target, disguise, weapons etc., while Reese seems to be simply lucky. He's also far more willing and able to do these things, since unlike Reese, he has absolutely no compunction about cold-blooded murder, and he comes across as calm and stoic, lacking Reese's shellshock and histrionics. However, the Terminator can't really fake nuance with people very well, and if he can't get what he wants by demanding for it verbally, he falls back immediately on brute force, which only puts him at greater and greater risk of alerting police as the film continues. His overall behaviour is probably best summarized in the scene where the Terminator asks for a "phased plasma rifle with a 40-watt range" at a gun store.
    • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-1000 can look and act like any human it encounters while the T-800 is easily recognizable to those who have already encountered one and survived, though the last bit could be quite rare apart from the protagonists. Additionally, being able to act human means the T-1000 is able to put forth a front of friendliness, while the T-800 is just as much of The Stoic as the one in the last movie.
    • in Terminator Genisys, the T-3000 is easily able to infiltrate society due to having shapeshifting abilities even more advanced than the T-1000's and still retaining the personality of his human self John Connor, a very charismatic man.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: Loki has an easier time getting around 21st century Midgard than his brother. Justified in that Thor had been Brought Down to Normal while Loki could use his magic to hide from humans. It was also hinted that this wasn't the first time Loki visited Midgard since he knew enough about American fashion to don some nice suits whenever he visited. Also in general, Loki's personality of being a trickster who's manipulative and good at reading people and situations makes him a natural choice for being able to blend in compared to Thor who, while a much nicer guy, is very brutish and blunt.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Once again, Thor, the hero gets enslaved when he finds himself on Sakaar, while Loki, a mercurial trickster, is very much in his element there. Coasting on his charm, it takes him only a few weeks to climb nearly to the top of the social ladder and become part of the Grandmaster's inner circle. Thor notes that the "savage, chaotic, lawless" planet is perfect for Loki and he'll do marvelously there.
  • Wishmaster: The evil Djinn in the first film was last active in medieval Persia. After being imprisoned for several centuries and waking up in the modern day, he has absolutely no problem adjusting to his new surroundings.
  • In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the Jedi were unable to sense that the Sith had returned because the latest Sith master, Darth Sidious, had successfully masqueraded as Senator, later Chancellor Palpatine, with some Jedi like Obi-Wan Kenobi only suspicious of him due to his political power. But by the time the Jedi learned the truth, it was too late. Sidious/Palpatine had the Republic army at his bidding, who he had eliminate the Jedi through Order 66.
  • In Trancers they use a form of time travel where your mind inhabits an ancestor's body. Hero Jack Deth's ancestor is an alcoholic writer. Villain, Martin Whistler's ancestor is an LAPD Lieutenant AND he has mind control powers. He also appears to have done research to the point of knowing who Deth's ancestor will marry, which is ultimately a Grandfather Paradox.

  • Played straight in Timeline. The villain is a genius who would meet foreigners at bars and go home at night speaking their language on a fairly basic level, but with no accent. How his language ability survived severe brain damage is not explained.
  • Inverted in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. The children are always quickly accepted by the Narnians, but Queen Jadis was openly mocked for trying to take over England (it didn't help that most of her powers don't work in our world).
    • Played straight with Uncle Andrew (not villainous, but clearly not shown in a very nice light), who arrives in Narnia and promptly has a breakdown at the thought of animals having human intelligence. His time there is generally used for comic relief, with the animals viewing him as some sort of pet.
  • In H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, Nyarlathotep is able to pass off as a human surprisingly well, considering he's actually an Eldritch Abomination, whose minds typically are as alien as you can get. Later novels by other authors explained that the Mi-go, an alien race that worships him as a god, have been observing Earth for quite some time, sending him information precisely so that he could pass himself off as a human. He never does appear in our world in the human form in Lovecraft's own stories apart from the surreal prosaic poem "Nyarlathotep" that has only little to do with the deity he evolved into in later stories — unless you count the Black Man from "The Dreams in the Witch House" who never interacts with normal people (or even speaks), and is only barely human in appearance. His ability to take the guise of man is only an Informed Ability outside The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath which takes place in the Dreamlands. Only later writers have actually had him actively pretend to be human.
  • In the Discworld novel Night Watch, the hero Samuel Vimes and the sociopath Carcer are both thrown into the past. Carcer assimilates more quickly, and gets a job in the local gestapo... but Vimes catches up rather spectacularly.
    • Carcer actually points this out, saying that while Vimes requires others to believe he is a policeman in order to act as one, Carcer is better at being a criminal while no one believes he's one.
  • Inverted in Dune. The Harkonnens spend 80 years ruling Arrakis yet act as Evil Overlords to the native Fremen. The Atreides, however, make friendly contact with the Fremen and an effort to learn the local customs while they're still moving in, even before Jessica and Paul being cast out into the desert made assimilation a necessity. Granted, a Messianic prophecy concerning Paul had a great deal to do with it as well.
  • Baba Yaga in Enchantment (one of Orson Scott Card's lesser-known works) adjusted to the modern world far more smoothly than the modern protagonist did to hers, despite the fact that he happens to speak ancient Slavonic, and she speaks only ancient Slavonic.
    • Well, she was hiding the entire time, really. The only times she popped up was when she pretended to be a lost, confused old woman on a plane (she didn't speak English), when she took over a plane brutally and forcefully and when she tricked Ivan's ex fiancee into trying to poison him.
    • The fact that Baba Yaga could cast spells was an enormous advantage. If she didn't want to get noticed, she didn't get noticed. The fact that she had some idea that she was going on an adventure and thus prepared for a trip also helped.
  • The His Dark Materials trilogy has two characters, one villainous from Lyra's universe and one heroic from "our" universe who manage to adapt quite well to life in the other's universe while not being aware of each other, the former being Lord Boreal AKA Sir Charles Latrom and the latter John Parry AKA Dr. Stanislaus Grumman. However, this is still a mostly straight example since the latter managed to adapt mostly out of sheer luck (he became a respected academic due to his academy only requiring someone to submit a thesis and defend it to grant a title, which was quite easy for him due to the universe's lower technologic advancement) while the former somehow managed to become a knight and a senior member of the intelligence community in our universe despite his utter lack of background.
    • Getting a doctorate would be the least of Parry/Grumman's problems. His lack of a daemon would have made him instantly stand out, and he only hints at how he managed to resolve this. In both cases, we see only the end result of many years of work, with little indication of how easy or hard it was for either character to begin with.
  • Saint Dane in The Pendragon Adventure blends in extremely well, regardless of territory. His Voluntary Shapeshifting abilities play a part, but in some cases, he's gone as himself (Zadaa), and still assimilated fairly easily. Hero Bobby Pendragon has a much harder time no matter what the Territory.
  • Everybody Loves Large Chests: The main character evolves into a species of monster named dopplegangers who are shapeshifters that are adept at disguise and infiltrating the societies of the Enlightened.
  • Count Olaf of A Series of Unfortunate Events plays this trope fairly straight (despite his general incompetence), with one notable subversion in the last book. It doubles as Adults Are Useless, since his disguises were so transparent that the Baudelaires saw through them right away while the adults remained almost willfully oblivious.
  • Amaurn adjusts to Callisoria quite easily in the Shadowleague books, but his secret daughter and her partner have a harder time.
  • Zig-zagged in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novels. Sabbath, one of the main recurring villains, manages to acquire a terribly nice house in Camera Obscura, while the Doctor and his two companions sublet 221 Baker Street. There are quite a few other instances of him managing to insinuate himself behind the scenes while the Doctor is still having trouble keeping on top of things enough to even pretend he knew everything already. On the other hand, he seems to have trouble with the fact that the English language changes after his home era of the late 18th century: the phrase "just dandy" annoys him, and he goes from attempting to mimic 21st-century slang (drowning? "Been there, done that.") to using Antiquated Linguistics to the point of incoherence.
  • In Animorphs, the Yeerks can generally adapt to Earth customs much faster than Aximili, or Elfangor, thanks to their hosts' memories and Voluntary Controllers. Ax keeps getting too distracted to follow his friends' advice and blend in by cinnamon buns. Buhn-zuh.
    • In the Time Travel Episode Megamorphs 3, Visser Four, whose host is a struggling actor, manages to integrate himself somewhat successfully in several time periods. He's able to pose as a longbowman in medieval England, pass himself off as a colonial American spy, and get below decks on a renaissance-era Spanish galleon. He's only tripped up when he changes history so dramatically that the people he's targeting are no longer where he expects them. Conversely, the Animorphs — whose knowledge of world history is, at best, lacking — don't even bother to blend in, and are forced to adopt a strategy consisting entirely of "Find and kill Visser Four."
  • In Inkheart, Capricorn loves the modern world and gets along in it fairly well; Dustfinger, on the other hand, hates it.
  • The Fighting Fantasy book Magehunter starts with you (the titular magehunter), your newly-crowned lord and the villainous Mencius landing on an unknown world. While you struggle to even understand the natives, Mencius has been granted by the ruler a enchanted tower in the capital by the time you face him. There is some justification, as he mentions the magic-rich world has amplified his powers and he might have known of the place beforehand.
  • This is part of the metaphysics in Everyman. Ian Covey, the doppelganger, always appears to be the "real" version of the person he is impersonating, while the person being impersonating appears to be the fake. It's part of the horror.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Superman: Inverted in "Jimmy the Kid." Inverted; while Jimmy only spends a few minutes impersonating Collins, he does a better job at acting like his Criminal Doppelgänger than Collins does mimicking him. It doesn't help that Collins barely puts any effort into the impersonation. He doesn't know any newspaper slang or even basic writing skills; he smokes and places bets during work hours, and he sasses Perry White and hits on Lois Lane, who's more like a mother/big sister to Jimmy.
  • In Angel Holtz took to the 21st century pretty well for someone transplanted from the 18th century, at times seeming better adapted than Angel, who actually lived through the intervening period. It probably helped that he quickly gathered a group of modern people who could help him deal with the things he didn't understand (cars, styrofoam) by using the same, fairly timeless motivations - desire for revenge over vampires killing those close to them. Also, the demon who resurrected Holtz taught him a few basics of the modern world.
  • In Brimstone 113 souls have Escaped from Hell and are now living on earth. Some of these died more than a thousand years ago, yet they have adjusted just fine to the modern world, with some even holding steady jobs. The hero on the other hand is a cop who died just fifteen years earlier and is sent to recover the escapees, and he struggles to adjust to how much has changed in that time.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: In the second season, Panto has a much harder time blending in to our world than the Mage does.
  • Doctor Who:
    • After "900 years of phonebox travel", the Doctor is about the most conspicuous person in the universe, but he is faced countless times by aliens who have no trouble hiding in plain sight in positions of power on Earth, such as the Slitheen, who manage to take over parliament, and one of whom later becomes mayor of Cardiff, or the Master, who manages to get himself elected Prime Minister in about two years. In the Doctor's case, it's usually because he can rarely be bothered making attempts to blend into his surroundings in the first place.
    • Inverted in "The Enemy of the World", in which the Doctor is much, much better at Impersonating the Evil Twin than Salamander is at pretending to be the Doctor.
    • Inverted in "The Time Monster" (featuring the Pertwee Doctor). The Master materialises his TARDIS in Atlantis, convinced he'll easily dupe these primitives into thinking he's a god, but the wise old king sees through his charlatan's tricks and laughs off an attempt to hypnotise him. To add insult to injury, as the Master is being led off by the guards he runs right into the Doctor and Jo Grant whom he last saw in his inescapable Death Trap. The king gives these two a better reception.
    • Similarly, in "The Mysterious Planet", Sabalom Glitz is convinced that with a few explosives and a machine gun, he'll easily impress the backwards locals on Ravalox that he's the guy who should be in charge and thus be able to dismantle a valuable technological gizmo they believe to be a sacred totem. Unfortunately, he didn't count on their queen being more savvy than her primitive lifestyles would suggest, or the fact that many other con-artists have had the same idea as he did and approached her giving multiple reasons why they should be allowed to dismantle the totem as well. He's soon captured and thrown in a dungeon, much to his bewilderment. Ironically, this still works to impede the Doctor; when he goes before the queen with the real reason that he needs to dismantle the totem (it's about to explode and rip a hole in the universe), the queen's so sick of hearing all these false stories that she locks the Doctor up as well.
    • "New Earth": Subverted when Lady Cassandra possesses Rose's body, then promptly gives herself away to the Doctor via behaviour that makes it painfully clear that she has never spent a day in the twenty-first century.
  • The villain Silverthorn in The Girl from Tomorrow traveled from the year 2500 to 1990 and fit in better than Alana, but had a lot of reasons to:
    • Silverthorn was an adult and Alana just a teenager
    • Silverthorn had access to technology from the year 3000 that he used to his advantage, including a complete database of 20th-century records (and yes, it included sporting events he could bet on)
    • Silverthorn was a scavenger from the dystopic year 2500, which helped him develop a high survival instinct. By contrast Alana came from year 3000 where the world was most of the way into being rebuilt into a utopia, to the point that she grew up without ever seeing a non-automated door.
  • A Fish out of Temporal Water example with Guest from the Future. Polina, supposed to be a professional time-traveler who specializes in the 20th century, wears decidedly non-Soviet clothes on the job and is so careful with hiding the time machine's location that two schoolchildren manage to track her down. Alice becomes the legend of the school over a couple of days, saying she speaks eight languages and making a 6-meter long jump. The pirates, however, quickly get themselves clothes that are normal for the Soviet 1980s and acquaint themselves with local culture, and they can walk in the open for hours without anyone seeing anything off about them. Add to that the fact that they, unlike Polina and Alice, aren't even from Earth.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Regina (the Evil Queen from "Snow White") casts a curse which brings all of the fairytale characters to our world. They all adjust because the curse gives them new memories, but Regina herself is not subject to the curse's effects. She still manages to adjust quite quickly. Cora manages to adjust to Wonderland and goes on to become the Queen of Hearts.
  • Read All About It: On Trialveron, the three human characters stick out like a sore thumb, due to having, well, more than one personality trait apiece. Conversely, however, Trialveron's tyrannical ruler, Duneedon, has no trouble getting himself elected mayor back on Earth (under the pseudonym "Don Eden").
  • Reaper: the Escaped-from-hell Soul Of the Week that the protagonist Sam must capture is a thirteenth-century Mongolian warrior. Sam's employer urges him to hurry lest the Mongolian adapts to our world well enough to start conquering it. It never goes that far, but after the heroes lose the Mongolian for several days, he's wearing an expensive tailored suit by the time they catch up with him. Subverted in that he's still a roaring, raving and destructive brute attacking Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese restaurants. Doubly subverted when the heroes attempt to repeat a previously successful trick and scare the Mongolian with the ringing of a cell phone. The Mongolian grins and shows them his brand-new Bluetooth head-set.
  • Inverted by the final season of Smallville: Lionel Luthor's nicer counterpart from Earth-2 is transported to the main universe and easily settles in, despite the fact that on Earth-1, Lionel Luthor's been dead for three years. He claims his cover story is that he faked his death, which is pretty believable for Earth-1 Lionel and he has Earth-1 Lionel's journal to fill in the details.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • One arc had Ba'al living on Earth, undetected, and fairly successful. "Fairly successful" meaning running a major corporation. Of course, the good guys rarely try to pretend they're locals while space-travelling, and Vala-with-amnesia did alright on her own for a while.
    • Before Ba'al, the Goa'uld Setesh managed to survive on Earth since the rebellions in ancient Egypt. He's kept a comparatively low profile, founding a string of cults throughout history dedicated to worshiping him and moving on whenever local authorities get too close.
    • In an inversion, one episode has Daniel switch bodies with a dying alien. While the guy isn't necessarily evil, he is the antagonist of the episode, and his attempts to blend in with modern American society amount to him all but running down the street and screaming "I'm a normal Earth native just like all of you!"
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series
      • Inverted in the episode "Mirror, Mirror", in which our heroes manage to bite their tongues and play evil in the brutal Terran Empire, while their alternates were unable to suppress instincts gained from a lifetime of Klingon Promotions and Realpolitik. As a result, Mr. Spock, preeminent The Smart Guy that he is, instantly realized what is going on and has them hauled to the brig. Spock himself points this out, saying something to the effect of "It is easier for a civilized man to appear barbaric than for a barbarian to appear civilized." Though this also could be attributed to Roddenberry's insistence on the Federation being a Utopia - the alternates would have had far less trouble blending in on Deep Space Nine or Voyager. More prosaically, the mirror universe versions didn't realize the need to hide their natures until it was far too late to do so.
      • Inverted in "A Piece of the Action". Captain Kirk proves to be the most formidable gangster of all, see?
      • Played straight in the episode "Turnabout Intruder", in which the "bad guy" Janice adapted very quickly to being Captain Kirk, and Kirk was quickly dismissed as hysterical. This was done for a purpose, though, to highlight the Villain Has a Point in Janice's initial complaint that women were not allowed equal opportunity because they were already considered weak. The episode then unwittingly lampshaded the point by making her increasingly emotionally unstable as the crew's skepticism progressed.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,
      • The Founders of the Dominion, changelings all, can flawlessly impersonate people, allowing them to act as The Mole in various Alpha/Beta Quadrant governments. Odo, the Token Heroic Orc, can't even get a humanoid face completely right. Justified in that by changeling standards Odo is barely a teenager, and has never had any real training by his people. The Founders have centuries more experience.
      • Unlike the Prophets, who clearly don't have the best grasp on corporeal matters, and come across as off-putting on their best days, the Pah-Wraiths are much more... well, "human," for want of a better word. The one possessing Keiko O'Brien does a horrifically good impression of her that at first Miles thinks it's just kidding when it explains what's going on, and no-one else suspects a thing is up. In fact, they get suspicious of Miles, who is understandably acting off.
    • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Future's End" - from his perspective, Captain Braxton is the protagonist, trying to stop the Voyager crew from destroying the future. Naturally, when he's dumped into 1960s San Francisco, he's branded a lunatic and ends up as one of those "The end is nigh!" homeless guys. In contrast, the Voyager crew beam down in period outfits, stay quiet about their true intentions and are able to move around with no trouble at all.
      • But even they come unstuck next to Henry Starling (the real villain) who is a 20th-century native, the CEO of a major tech company (on a par with Microsoft or Apple) who has become extremely proficient with 29th century technology and proves to be a match for them.
    • In Star Trek: Discovery, it's revealed that Captain Gabriel Lorca was replaced by his sociopathic Mirror Universe doppelganger before he was even introduced. He does such a good job blending in that Saru, who comes from a species that can sense danger and death, never suspects that he's a threat; even his sort-of girlfriend attributes his increasingly aberrant behavior to PTSD from the Klingon War.
    • As a general rule in Star Trek series, this is often justified by the Federation's own definition of morality, particularly the Prime Directive. Starfleet considers it deeply unethical to interfere with other cultures if it can be avoided, especially if that culture is less technologically advanced. Thus the heroes will usually try to do things in a way that does not draw attention to them or influence the local culture too much, while villains have no such limitations.
  • In Supernatural:
    • Most demons, even ones who had been sealed away like Lilith, seem to have a pretty good grasp on modern life. Angels, on the other hand, especially the "good" ones, especially Castiel, stick out like a sore thumb.
      • Demons, once they possess people, become completely aware of all the host's memories and emotions, making fitting in that much easier.
      • Angels run into the same trope. Castiel is almost completely ignorant of modern culture and human interaction, to the point where he has problems understanding sarcasm. On the other hand, villainous angels such as Zachariah, Bartholomew and Lucifer (who was locked in a cage for almost the entire time humans walked the earth) have no problems blending in or making pop culture references.
    • There's also the Leviathans who, despite being locked in Purgatory since the dawn of time, blend in very well and are soon practically running the country. Justified by the fact that they absorb the memories of the people they copy.
    • Amara, The Anti-God who's been sealed away in a nothing dimension since before the beginning of time, is incarnated into a human baby and grows up in a matter of days. Along the way she gives herself a crash course in 21st century culture that keeps her from standing out too much.
  • Justified in The Vampire Diaries with the vampires released from beneath the church, most of whom start fitting in pretty fast. However, they are seen being instructed in using modern technology, and some of them are too interested in feeding to bother learning much. And of course, the ability to mind control your way through most problems would help.

    Video Games 
  • In Chrono Trigger, both your party and a villain end up in 12,000 BC. The heroes stick out like a sore thumb, while the villain quickly manages to become an advisor to the Queen herself. There's a very good reason for it: he was originally from that time period, and he's able to use his knowledge of "past" events to pose as a prophet.
    • The same man was booted to the Middle Ages where he quickly took over the local fiends despite being a human child thanks to his powerful magic.

  • In Demon Thesis The Dragon and Evil Counterpart Deveneur comes from the era of the Seven Years' War (or French and Indian War) and has been kept in a sort of magical stasis until awakening in the current day. This apparently doesn't stop him from using email or catching a ride on an airplane.
  • In Apricot Cookie(s)!, the Director of Darkness has no problem blending in when it comes to business in countries other than Japan. He easily passes as a common cyclist when visiting England, while his daughter Apricot, established as an Anti-Anti-Christ figure, puts on a dirndl and clogs thinking that's what all Europeans wear.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Danny Phantom involving Time Travel had Vlad integrate himself into colonial Salem and setting Sam up for a Witch Hunt.
    • Played with in Micro Management. Both Danny and Skulker get shrunken down to a few inches tall, which also causes their ghost powers to stop working. Skulker, however, still has full use of his suit, which makes him much more capable of navigating the world while Danny has to rely on his natural ability.
  • Invader Zim has an interesting take on this. The title character, while he's been able to disguise himself as an Earthling, only succeeds because most of the people around him are too stupid or self-absorbed to notice him: the only changes he makes to his appearance are a wig and contact lenses. His efforts at fitting in are even more pathetic when you compare him to the more evil (and competent) Invader Tak, who manages to not only disguise herself properly as a normal human, but also installs herself as the heiress to a multi-million dollar weenie corporation within a short time of arriving on Earth.
    • Made even more interesting when you compare him to Dib, who is from Earth. While the kids think Zim is weird with his lack of ears and green skin condition, they think Dib is completely insane... precisely because he thinks that Zim is an alien and won't shut up about it. His sister Gaz is the only one who is also aware, but she couldn't care less due to Zim's incompetence meaning that trying to stop his schemes usually prolongs the invader's inevitable failure more than anything else.
  • Both played straight and subverted in Justice League Unlimited — when Luthor and Flash trade minds in a "Freaky Friday" Flip plot, the majority of the Legion of Doom, despite Flash's rather poor acting skills, never catch on and merely presume Luthor has just finally lost it. Luthor, meanwhile, is instantly exposed by Doctor Fate, who was in Flash's mind at the time, and spends the rest of the episode on the run from the rest of the Watchtower's inhabitants — unfortunately for them, Luthor is quick to adapt to his new-found superpower and uses it in ways that the normal Flash refuses to.
  • One episode of Superfriends had Superman switch with his duplicate from a Mirror Universe; Evil Superman figured the whole thing out within fifteen seconds of coming to in the Hall of Justice, while Good Superman kept going "What's happening? Batman, why do you have a goatee? Why did you just say 'Hall of Kicking Puppies'?" until the bad guys figured it out and Kryptonited him.
  • Subverted in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. A thrill-seeking Batwoman Expy switches bodies with Batman and does a horrible job trying to fit in with the Batfamily, speaking and acting in an exaggeratedly feminine manner. Batman does a much better job convincing her accomplice, Felix Faust, that he's her, even though he should logically suspect that she'd already gone through with the body swap. When Batman finally meets up with Nightwing and Batgirl, he doesn't have much trouble convincing them who he is.
  • In the Teen Titans cartoon, Starfire's villainous sister Blackfire quickly adapts to Earth cultures upon landing, and even has a normal pattern of speech compared to Starfire's regular confusion and odd Verbal Tics.
  • Speaking of Transformers, it ought to be surprising how often the Decepticons manage to persuade humans that the Autobots are evil. The Decepticons. The DECEPTicons. The unsubtly-scary-looking Decepticons.
    • And similarly, Cobra managed to pull this one on G.I. Joe, despite Cobra being a well-known international terrorist organization, and GI Joe being the US Army.
    • In Transformers Beast Machines we find out what happens to the Beast Wars cast as when they arrive on Cybertron. The Maximals wake up de-upgraded, missing two members, and plagued by a virus. Megatron? He returned to the Predacon underground, developed and deployed a planet-crippling virus, captured all the souls of the entire planet, and now acts as sole ruler with armies of mass-produced drones. All this happens before the first episode.
      • Well Megatron did exit the transwarp field early enough to arrive on Cybertron long before the Maximals got there. It's likely Megatron had years to put his plans into action while the Maximals were attacked immediately on arrival and had no chance at all to adapt like Megatron did.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Princess Luna is a Fish out of Temporal Water due to having been trapped in the moon for 1000 years. As such, her way of speech and knowledge of royal tradition is 1000 years behind the times, leading to, among other things, a lot of use of Antiquated Linguistics. Oddly enough, when she first returned, it was in the form of the villain Nightmare Moon, who had a modern, if grandiose, way of speech, and didn't have Luna's problem with having No Indoor Voice. It may just be that Nightmare Moon had no particular desire to be polite, and so dropped the stilted speech style.
    • Meanwhile, Discord, a different villain who has been trapped in the form of a statue for even longer than Luna was on the moon, has no trouble with modern speech patterns at all. He claims that this is partially because he was aware of his surroundings while he was locked into his statue, but considering that he's a troll of a chaos god that can freely hop around time and space, he's probably just naturally privy to such information.
    • Finally, Queen Chrysalis kidnaps and impersonates Princess Cadance on the eve of her wedding. Chrysalis puts very little effort into staying in character, yet Twilight Sparkle is the only one who suspects something is wrong, despite having not spoken to Cadance in years. Everyone else just blamed the odd behavior on pre-marital stress.
    • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Twilight has no idea how anything works when she arrives in the human world. Sunset Shimmer already has the students living in fear of her as a human, and is able to exploit that for her own gain. Of course, she's had two and a half years to practice already.
      • Also, not allowing her to play a teenage bully and manipulator while keeping her as an adult who survived years without her original means of survival or self-defense and still motivated over that time to pick a fight with Princess Celestia... could have led to a very unsuitable movie for reaffirming the franchise's target audience and launching a new toy line. For a change this trope is being used to make the villain less frightening or creepy.
  • Subverted on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), when Raphael accidentally switches bodies with a Kraang. Raph resorts to Bad "Bad Acting" and a sort of Inverted Hugh Mann act, but the Kraang in his body doesn't even try to trick the other Turtles, instead attacking them on sight. He escapes, wanders around New York in plain sight of humans, and then gets caught and hog-tied by the others pretty quickly.
  • In Gargoyles, Demona had a much easier time handling human society than her fellow Gargoyles, even before she gained the ability to turn into a human in the daytime. Then again, unlike them, she was actually awake during the past one thousand years.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Jimmy gets on fairly well in Miseryville, but is still every now and then confused by the town's bizarre customs and nonsensical laws of physics. His homicidally insane Stalker with a Crush and the only other human being(we think) in the town, Heloise, on the other hand, never shows any behavioural signs of being originally from Earth. It gets to the point that in one episode, when Jimmy questions how a bird can talk, Heloise sarcastically asks "Remind me where you're from again?"

Alternative Title(s): Antagonists Assimilate