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Wig, Dress, Accent

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When a character uses physical Props to disguise themselves. This is a staple of Spy Drama, where the hero will often use a wig and dress and affect an accent, thus the name of the trope. For impersonating a man, a fake mustache and beard may be used for extra facial concealment, and the dress is (usually) counterproductive.

While never as impenetrable a disguise as Latex Perfection, this disguise is usually plausible and may even fool the audience as well as other characters. If it isn't plausible, then it's a Paper-Thin Disguise.

Sometimes two young children will do this to pretend to be a tall adult in a trench coat.

See also Clark Kenting for how a disguise can be complemented by mannerisms and behaviors.


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  • In a commercial for the Seattle Mariners baseball team, the team's star pitcher Felix Hernandez attempts to trick the coaches into letting him pitch on days where he's supposed to be resting by disguising himself as "Larry Bernandez" His disguise consists of a wig, fake sideburns, and converting the "H" on the back of his jersey to a "B" using electrical tape. The coach sees right through it. However, his "Jerry" disguise in the stinger, which consists of a full blonde beard and pretending to be left handed is a bit more successful.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens quite often in Osamu Tezuka's works. In Phoenix, the protagonist disguises himself as a surprisingly attractive maiden to get himself closer and kill the rival king.
  • In one episode of Pokémon: The Series, Ash has to dress up like a girl to get into one of the gyms to battle its leader for a badge. Here is the result.
    • Jessie and James have a tendency to do this in a number of episodes, usually involving some Gender Swapping and including, but not limited to, dressing as vikings, Pokémon stylists and traditional Japanese samurai.
  • An episode of Outlaw Star involves Gene dressing up as a woman so he can enter an all-female wrestling tournament. He is defeated in the first round. There was at least the explanation that they bribed the judges, and the one guy who knew him, but was not in on the plan, recognized him instantly. In the same episode, Aisha infiltrated the competition by stealing the costume of one of the regular entrants, since Ctarl-Ctarl weren't allowed to enter.
  • Monster has an interesting take on this: a wig, dress, and an affected voice (and, in the anime, some make-up for skin tone) is quite literally all Johan needs to fool the reader/viewer.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
  • Misa does this twice in Death Note: once to avoid being spotted by Light and L in Aoyama, and once to trade places with a friend in order to get close to Higuchi.
  • Ranma ½: When Ranma Saotome needs further disguise than what his Gender Bender Jusenkyô curse can provide, this trope is more or less how he goes about it. Though he does on occasion go a step further by pretending to be a Meganekko (see the Japanese Nanniichuan and Ryôga & Akane's First date storylines) or applying make-up and other accessories (lipstick on date with Tatewaki, make-up powder when pretending to be Ryôga's fiancée, etc.). This trope tends to work because the people he plays it against are either desperately lonely (Ryôga), utter perverts (Happôsai) have rotten vision (Mousse) or are just plain stupid (Tatewaki Kunô). And even he was surprised it worked the first time he tried it: he was expecting Ryôga to see through it, though since it did work, he does it again and again.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), when Ed goes on the run he spends some time transmuting his hair a dark green and wearing platform shoes (to disguise his trademark short height). The disguise actually works remarkably well, even for the viewer.
  • Yozak from Kyo Kara Maoh!, everyone's favourite spy, has this as his first resort. He carries around a dress for good luck. For a huge, muscular man, it's surprisingly effective.
  • Minoru in AKB49 – Renai Kinshi Jourei relies on a blond wig, a change in dress and a heightened voice to disguise himself as "Minori".
  • Holyland: Yagi tries to do this in chapter 170, going In the Hood and wearing Sunglasses at Night. Yuu isn't fooled for a second.
  • Olèander fools Lupin & gang in Lupin III: Dead or Alive with a wig and dress. Obviously, Inspector Zenigata is taking lessons from Lupin, now. Zenigata had disguised her as Emerah when Lupin announced that he would steal General Headhunter's daughter.
  • In one Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO, there's an interesting mecha version of this trope. The GM Camouf, a mobile suit built by Zeon with zeonic MS parts, but made to look like a feddie GM, for covert false-flag operations. It turned out to be TOO effective, when in its first (and only) sortie, the entire squadron got shot down by friendly fire.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Kaguya's personal maid Ai Hayasaka is actually a master of disguise, but uses this trope to keep Miyuki Shirogane from recognizing her from school when he visits a sick Kaguya. She styles her hair differently, puts in colored contacts, pads her bra, affects an accent to make her sound like a foreigner, and introduces herself as "Hayscaya A. Smithee".

    Comic Books 
  • When Thor lost his ability to transform into a nebbish doctor, some of his fellow Avengers (in their series) took him out to see "some guys they knew," to help him work up a "civilian" hairstyle and outfits. On the way out there's a shout-out to Clark Kent.
  • When Dinah Lance (either of them) fights crime as the Black Canary, she wears a disguise consisting of a wig and a stripper-like outfit. Even though her face is covered up even less than Clark Kent, she still maintains a secret identity. Hey, nobody is looking at her face...
  • Super Mario World:
    • In the comic, Luigi swaps clothes with Princess Peach (or Toadstool) and dons a wig to infiltrate the Koopa Kids' stronghold, in which Mario is kept. In his defense, he at least tried to hide his face with a mask, which also justified her deep voice as "having a nasty cold."
    • Peach also disguised herself as Luigi, in a comic. The difference in size between herself and Luigi was made up for with Bob-ombs.
  • There are quite a few examples in Tintin, particularly the Thompson twins, who fail utterly. Tintin is also known to do it a fair bit, and several villains have tried to pull beards off certain men of short stature who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time — needless to say, Tintin shows up on the next page having hidden in a large Chinese vase or having been disguised as a black waiter. In another story, Tintin and the Captain don burqas in Arabia in order to get out of the city where there is a bounty on their head — Snowy is carried in a vase on the Captain's head. Of course, the alarm is raised when a real Arabian woman tries to speak with them.
  • Shows up surprisingly often in Diabolik, even with the title character having access to Latex Perfection. Justified as only Diabolik can make the plastic for those masks, so everyone else can only hope they somehow get their hands on those (the police in fact keeps many confiscated masks just for this purpose) or resort to this trope-and, as Diabolik's mask are known, Diabolik himself sometimes uses this kind of disguise to get around face checks.

    Fan Works 
  • Ryuji Sakamoto is sent in a short story in The AFR Universe to hunt down Ren and Ann who are hiding from their significant others to eat sweets and junk food when they're not supposed to. Ryuji eventually finds the duo near a fishing pond wearing long white fake beards, sunglasses, and heavy coats to try and hide as old men. Ryuji sees through it instantly.
  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs: When Jake gets his morphing ability back in "What if Jake was stuck in morph?", he turns up at Rachel's academic award ceremony in human form with dyed hair, a pair of sunglasses, and a scarf so his aunt and uncle don't recognise him, since Rachel faked his death.
  • This Chainsaw Man fanart features what seems to be a desperate Makima begging people to let her step on them for 5 dollars at an anime convention... except the context and the moles on her face make it clear that it's actually Kobeni cosplaying as her (i.e. impersonating the woman who tried to kill her), using a red wig and ringed contact lenses and in her usual situation of desperately trying to raise money for her abusive family. One can easily imagine that she's (rather poorly) attempting to copy her former boss' Creepy Monotone too.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inspector Clouseau of The Pink Panther series does this a lot, to mixed success. He is so committed to being the Master of Disguise he thinks he is that the proprietor of the costume shop he frequents is a minor recurring character.
  • In the Charlie's Angels (2000) movie, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz are disguised as men in one scene. Maybe it was Lucy Liu in her dominatrix outfit who distracted everyone.
  • The whole premise of the Wayans brothers' White Chicks.
  • Subverted in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. When the three drag queens are stranded in a Midwestern hick town, it seems that the townsfolk don't know the true sex of the "career girls". However, it's revealed at the end that they knew for awhile and simply didn't care.
  • In the first Scooby-Doo live action movie, dogs aren't allowed on the plane, so Shaggy brings his grandma...
  • Used in 12 Monkeys at the end, when the protagonists use store bought disguises (a glued on mustache for the man and a blonde wig for the woman) to get through airport security and escape to Florida.
  • In the Universal film Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapons, his disguise as a German book salesman. Sherlock doesn't typically appear at the very beginning of the films and the make-up work was very good. Much more noticeable in the earlier Hound of the Baskervilles film.
  • Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009) adaptation has a scene where Holmes disguises himself with a false nose, hat, coat, scarf, eye patch, and some stones in his mouth when following Irene Adler.
  • FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) in The Boondock Saints dresses up as a woman and hams up a Brooklyn accent to help out the brothers, completely (and I do mean completely in one case) fooling two mob goons.
  • Chevy Chase in Fletch swaps into and out of about 10 different disguises throughout the film. Including insurance adjuster, busboy, vagrant and basketball star (with afro and going one-on-one vs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
  • In Disney's Condorman, this is used twice. First, after The Hero Woody and Defector from Commie Land Natalia have been arrested by local cops, his Sidekick Harry shows up in a trenchcoat, fake glasses and moustache, and a truly absurd accent to spring them. Second, after Natalia gets captured by the Big Bad, Woody and Harry together don Arab Oil Sheikh disguises to infiltrate the palace and pull off a rescue.
  • Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby - On the run and disguised as a prostitute, one of the main characters wears a wig, a skirt, and talks like The Ditz.
  • The Adventures of Tartu: In order to infiltrate a Nazi gas plant, Terence dons the name Tartu, an accent, pimp-looking suit to hide his reserved Britishness and become a flamboyant Romanian. There’s no wig, though.
  • In Help! (1965), in order to travel incognito, the boys sport fake beards and moustaches, long-haired wigs and glasses... ironically making them look very much like what became their post-1967 trademark look.
  • In The Prestige the magician Alfred Borden is actually a pair of identical twins. To keep the secret, one or the other of the twins, alternately, disguises himself as Borden's assistant, "Fallon," using a false beard, spectacles, and a hat worn low over his forehead. "Fallon" also pretends to be a mute, because his voice and accent would give him away.
  • At the beginning of the Brazilian film "Segurança Nacional", the main character is in a drug cartel disguised as an outsider with sunglasses, a beige hat, a flowered shirt and smoking a cigar. In the Tralhas do Jon's review of this film, he makes fun of it, saying:
    Jon: Look, Thiago, you're forgetting your fake mustache and your "absolutely not a disguised policeman" badge.
  • Enola Holmes 2: Sarah Chapman + a posh accent + a wig + a ballgown = Cicely, the friendly noblewoman trying to catch Tewksebury's attention at the ball. To help this reveal along, Sarah is never shown from the front before Enola makes the connection.

  • Played in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Most characters' disguises involve some combination of these or similar items, and the three stages of V.F.D.'s disguise training— Veiled Facial Disguises, Various Finery Disguises, and Voice Fakery Disguises — resemble this trope.
  • Subverted in a Bureau 13 novel: an agent "disguises" himself by putting on a wig that looks like his own hair, colored contacts the same color as his real eyes, subtle makeup, and wears shoes that look like they have lifts (but really don't). When enemy agents look at him they easily spot the wig, contacts, makeup, and shoes and assume that they're seeing a decoy, not the agent himself.
  • Sherlock Holmes successfully pulls this off a few times, even fooling his best friend Watson.
    • In A Scandal in Bohemia, the tables are turned on Sherlock when opera singer Irene Adler disguises herself a man so successfully that she's even able to wish the detective a good night without him recognizing her as the woman he's supposed to be investigating.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • In Monstrous Regiment this is played straight by the only male in the group acting as a washerwoman to get into the enemy base (who fools the guards but not the other washerwomen who let him continue the charade because he seems to enjoy it) but it fails when the female soldiers (who have been pretending to be male) don the same disguise and are stopped by the guards. Of course, they get around this just by having one of them lift her dress...
    • In Moving Pictures, in order to enter a clicky theatre without being found out, the wizards of UU remove their hats and use some wire to make their beards look like cheap fake beards. It works surprisingly well; no-one would assume a guy in a fake beard and without the trademark hat would be a wizard.
    • Re-visited in I Shall Wear Midnight, when Mrs. Proust disguises Tiffany's genuine witch hat by sprinkling glitter on it and attaching an "Apprentice Witch Hat, AM $2.50" costume-shop label to its brim.
    • Though wizards occasionally have trouble letting go of the hat; in Sourcery, Conina suggests Rincewind could avoid getting lynched as a wizard simply by taking off his hat and not be a wizard at the moment. Rincewind has severe trouble wrapping his mind around the concept, particularly "not be a wizard".
    • In The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, the wizards have to disguise the Librarian to hide him from some eighteenth-century Englishmen. A dress and a large hat is all it takes to convince them that he's a Spanish lady. The Librarian is an orang-utan.
    • In The Truth, Gaspode the Wonder Dog (a terrier mix) is disguised as a poodle named Trixiebell, so the thugs out hunting for Wuffles (another terrier) won't catch him. Gaspode's disguise, applied under duress by Anhk-Morpork's premiere grooming shop, consists largely of an all-body pink dye job.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Leia's childhood friend, Winter Celchu, was frequently mistaken for Leia, due to Leia's tomboyishness and Winter's more ladylike behavior. As they grew older and joined the Rebellion, they had the bright idea to put this to good use, with Winter occasionally going in disguise as Leia to protect her. Winter would later become a full-fledged Intelligence agent and put Wig, Dress, Accent to more use.
    • Also, Mara Jade disguises herself as Jabba's dancing girl Arica. Sometimes Arica is depicted with black hair, unlike Mara's actual hair color (and is therefore most likely a wig), while other times Mara appears to be using her real hair. Here's some comparisons, for the curious.
  • Les Misérables:
    • There's a rather clever use of disguise by the villain Thenardier at the end of the book. The narrator discusses how his disguise as the respectable "Thenard" was simply purchased from a shop which sells clothing to rogues to make them look respectable, and that his outfit belonged to a statesman. What makes his disguise clever, is that it came with quill pens as an accessory. Thenardier sticks the pens up his nose, altering the shape of his nose and changing his voice tone, rendering him unrecognizable.
    • Valjean inadvertently disguises himself from Javert, simply by dressing well and being clean (reflecting his status as mayor), simply because Javert doesn't expect an escaped convict to be successful.
    • Javert himself uses a disguise when he infiltrates the barricades and Eponine disguises herself as a boy for most of the end of the story.
  • Used repeatedly by Harry Dickson and his pupil Tom in Jean Ray's novels, so successfully that they even fool close friends like their cook or the police chief. Or each other.
  • In the Shadow pulp novels, recurring character Myra Reldon is Caucasian but easily able to pass as Chinese. Walter Gibson specifies that she uses tape to create a fake epicanthic fold, but doesn't explain how she turns her brown eyes black — it's a bit early for contact lenses in this time period.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star, the narrator follows the theory that a thin disguise can be the best. He makes a few small changes to Dak Broadbent's appearance — posture, mainly — and predicts that any acquaintance seeing him would say, "That guy looks a lot like Dak Broadbent. Of course, he isn't Dak. But he looks like him." And the observers' inability to pin down why they were so certain it wasn't really Broadbent would actually make them still more certain.
  • In The Red Vixen Adventures the titular character maintains her double life as a bored noblewoman and a pirate captain using colored contacts, fur dye, heavy perfume, and less clothing than her civilian alter ego.
  • Isaac Asimov's Spell My Name with an S: Dr Zebatinsky wears old clothes and a hat, neither of which he had been in for years, and left his prescription glasses in their case so that nobody recognizes him on his way to the numerologist.
  • Florinda: Florinda can pass for a cisgender man by simply cutting her hair short and dressing up in men's clothing. which even fools her father. It works right up to the point that she must bathe naked as others watch, at which point she's turned male by Jesus.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks impersonates her non-existent identical twin sister in "Connie and Bonnie" and "Twins At School". At the end of "Twins At School", Mr. Conklin tries to get even with Miss Brooks by inventing and impersonating a cowboy relative.
  • Alias does this an average of Once an Episode. In the season three premiere, Sidney puts together a whole character for literally no reason at all, as her entire plan is to start shooting immediately.
  • In Arrested Development, Tobias dons a dress, wig, and accent in order to disguise himself as a nanny and spend time with his daughter while he and his wife are separating, a la Mrs. Doubtfire. He doesn't fool anyone, especially since he can't get rid of his habit of accidentally saying homoerotic things, but everyone plays along so he can keep the house clean.
  • In Young Blades, the Musketeer Jacques LePonte is actually a woman who merely wears a fake goatee, and sometimes not even that.
  • In Orphan Black, this is basically how Sarah impersonates Beth and Katja. With Alison it's basically hairband, blouse and accent. Though given that they all look exactly the same, that's pretty much all she needs.
  • Due South: In the second-season episode "Some Like It Red", Fraser goes undercover as a female teacher in an all-girls' Catholic school. It's a convincing woman disguise, even though he's six feet tall and not even close to slender and willowy.
  • Roseanne: The titular character has gone in drag a few times on her sitcom, once in the Halloween Episode as her costume, and in a Christmas Episode where she acts as Santa Claus at her mall (Jackie was the Missus). In both cases, one would think her ear-piercing voice would give away her gender, but she actually got past most people. In the Halloween episode, she even almost gets into a fight with a drunk bar patron and has to be rescued by Dan, who inexplicably plays gay while defending her.
  • The Granada TV production of Sherlock Holmes mostly manages to avoid this trope; Holmes' disguises tend to be fairly convincing. Once in a while they go overboard: in "The Final Problem", Watson boards a train and sits down in his cabin opposite a man with an unrealistically long nose and a frizz of grey hair under an enormous hat, and doesn't realize it's Holmes until Holmes addresses him by name. When you get a good look at him in the moment before he takes off the disguise, you wonder how anyone could look at him and not think "that's a bloke in a costume".
  • Reality TV example: In a season premiere of Hell's Kitchen, Ramsey wanted to see what the contestants were like before he met them. So he put on a wig, a fake nose, and some shabbier clothes and was on the bus with the real contestants. Nobody caught on.
  • Although Mission: Impossible is remembered for latex masks that could even alter height and body type, they did a lot of this too, especially when someone other than the team Master of Disguise had to play the role.
  • Leverage:
    • Featured often when Sophie is running her part. Lampshaded and almost subverted in "The Rashomon Job" when a museum head of security notes that a duchess in the main hall bears a striking resemblance to one of the lab girls (both are Sophie's acts, one in a slinky evening gown with her usual accent, and the other in a white lab coat with what sounds like a Jersey accent) and almost seems to make the connection. Due to the style of the episode, that is debatable.
    • Parker often does this as well but isn't as good with the accent bit, though she more frequently is seen using wigs than Sophie. She generally also uses Beneath Notice as well as a part of her infiltrations, occasionally switching to Show Some Leg.
  • Artemus Gordon from The Wild Wild West wears a disguise in almost every episode. Generally, his disguises consisted of a wig, a new outfit (occasionally a dress), some makeup or facial hair, and an accent. Since Ross Martin could speak several languages, he also sometimes spoke the language of the character he was portraying.
  • In iCarly, the main character's brother Spencer tends to do this a lot. In fact, he does it so much that one episode, he insists that he be the one who dresses up as a woman and, when the main characters agree, exclaims:
    Spencer: I'll go get my boobs!
  • Bones occasionally does under-cover assignments, which Brennan seems to throw herself into enthusiastically. Notably, in "Double Trouble in the Panhandle" they investigated the death of a pair of conjoined twins at a circus by posing as a knife-throwing act called Boris and Natasha.
  • In "And the Hidden Stash", the second-season premiere of 2 Broke Girls, Caroline attends the auction of her family's property wearing a brunette wig, which causes Max to variously introduce her as Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Katie Holmes.
  • Many of Michael Weston's disguises in Burn Notice rely on this (albeit it's Hairstyle, Clothes, Accent).
  • White Collar: Neal Cafferey uses similar methodology in his work, relying less on disguises and more on the outfit, hairstyle and accent.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Reign of Terror", the Doctor obtains a policeman's uniform and a ridiculous plumed hat and spends the rest of the episode pretending to be a gendarme and bossing everyone else around.
    • In "The Daleks' Master Plan"'s Wacky Wayside Tribe episode "The Feast of Steven", Steven dresses up in a police uniform and affects a Northern accent to talk his way into where the Doctor has been taken for questioning (and also, because this is a Panto episode, for reasons of Fanservice). The Doctor asks Steven why he's speaking in a ridiculous voice, to which Steven explains that everyone else was doing it.
    • When the crew land in Tombstone in "The Gunfighters", Steven and Dodo (who are excited to get to be cowboys) dress up in ridiculous cowboy clothes and affect ghastly American accents. The Doctor doesn't bother with an accent and sticks with his usual outfit, which is actually appropriate in this setting, and repeatedly points out to the others how ridiculous they are coming across, at one point being forced to use a cover story that they are a Wandering Minstrel troupe and Steven and Dodo are in costume. The contemporary cowboys find them ridiculous, too, mocking Dodo's outfit and Steven's accent.
    • Faking an accent and a new set of mannerisms was pretty much the first thing the Second Doctor would start doing in a crisis. In "The Highlanders", he first pretends to be Scottish, then English, and when he realises both of these will get him hanged, decides to pretend to be German, affecting a silly German accent and calling himself "Doktor von Wer". Pretending to be a doctor puts him in a brilliant position for bullying the others throughout. He later ends up using a Harmless Lady Disguise as well.
  • In Batman (1966), The Clock King is pulling off a caper in a thin disguise with glasses and hair appliances. As the Dynamic Duo watch him from the Batmobile's TV, they confirm their suspicions of his identity by faxing a mug shot of the Clock King and then drawing glasses and a beard on it.
  • MacGyver (1985): Mac in his nerd alias of Dexter Filmore, which simply consists tying his mullet back, throwing on a jacket and some glasses and slightly changing his voice.
  • The Cape: Orwell's preferred M.O. for disguises.
  • Done almost literally in Help! I'm a Teenage Outlaw, where Lady Deveraux's 'disguise' as Deedee consists of taking off her wig, changing her clothes, and putting on a country accent.
  • My Dead Ex: Ben puts on a wig with glasses, passing easily as a fictional cousin of Charley's even with other people who knew him though he doesn't really act much differently aside from this.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Older Than Feudalism: Old Testament, 1 Kings 20: A minor prophet disguises himself by wearing his headband down over his eyes.
    • Earlier, Jacob pretended to be his elder brother Esau by by dressing up in his brother's clothes and wrapping sheepskin around his arms (Esau was a hairy man). This caused their father Isaac to give the firstborn's blessing to Jacob by accident, as Isaac has gone mostly deaf and blind by that point.
  • Possibly older than The Bible: Greek Mythology has the myth of goddess of wisdom and crafts Athena disguising herself as an old woman to confront the young and foolish Arachne about Arachne's boasts that her weave-work was better than Athena's. Athena thus took off her disguise and challenged Arachne to a weaving contest. Athena wins, naturally, and Arachne — so upset — hangs herself. Athena feels pity for the poor thing and thus turns Arachne into a spider, which is, according to the mythology of the Greeks, why spiders weave webs.
    • ...Another version has it that Arachne wove scenes which offended Athena or she was simply better (your call) and Athena transformed her out of anger.
    • And yet another version combines all of the above. Arachne wove better but was arrogant and used designs making fun of Zeus and his many sexual conquests. Athena broke the loom over Arachne's head and the girl tried to hang herself out of humiliation. Athena then turns her into a spider.
  • Many different tales of mythology deal with gods or other powerful beings disguising themselves as mortals (almost always old people or beggers). The usual reason is to request food, shelter, or some other sort of favor or aide as a test of goodness. If the person being tested is smart (or kind) enough to comply, they are granted wishes, good fortune, or the general favor of the magical being. If the person isn't that smart or good, they can expect things not to go so well for them in the future.
  • It is often said that Odysseus recruited Achilles for the Trojan War by seeing through this. Achilles's mother sent him off to Scyros and disguised him as a girl, hoping to prevent his fated death in battle. Odysseus brought a cart of stereotypically feminine items and a cart of weapons to Scyros. Guess which ones Achilles found more interesting.
    • The other story being that Odysseus simply saw Achilles' huge, muscular arms and legs and took a rough guess at his true gender.
    • Yet another has Odysseus fake an alarm and note which of the "girls" goes for the spear.
  • Norse Mythology: Thor and Loki went in disguise to retrieve Thor's hammer, which was held for ransom in exchange for Freya. Freya having made it very clear she wasn't getting married to a giant, Loki came up with the idea of disguising Thor as the lovely bride thatnks to lots of veils. It then fell to Loki to explain "Freya's" prodigious appetite, bulging muscles, beard, etc. Fortunately when the hammer was brought outto bless the couple, Thor grabbed hold of it first.

  • In Der Rosenkavalier by R. Strauss, the protagonist (an adolescent male played by a woman) dresses as a maid, supposedly his country-bumpkin relative, and dons an appropriate accent to avoid a relative of the woman he's having an affair with. The Baron then makes passes at our hero. Hilarity Ensues, along with plot devices.
  • In Anyone Can Whistle, Fay Apple dons a slinky dress, red wig, and puts on a french accent to become The Lady From Lourdes. While she intends to reveal the town's miracle is a fraud, she reveals to her love interest that this is also the only way she can get herself to relax and cut loose.

    Video Games 
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Zigzagged: While in-game the Spy whips out a perfect disguise of an enemy infantry unit, in-universe it's explained as applying practical psychology until they other person sees what they want to see. Animals, naturally, are immune.
  • As part of the plot of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud has to dress up like a girl. This is the logical extension.
  • In one chapter of Mother 3, Lucas and his dog Boney need to gain access into a nightclub. However, the club doesn't allow minors or pets, so Boney dons a t-shirt and hat and stands on his hind legs to look more like a person. They're still rejected, but the waitress lets them in anyway (incidentally, the waitress is also another party member in disguise; she just happens to be better at it.)
  • Metal Gear:
    • Iroquois Pliskin in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is so obviously Snake in a different uniform with his hair down that it's genuinely shocking when he turns out to be Snake in a different uniform with his hair down. Word of God is that Hideo Kojima kept pressuring them to make the disguise more and more transparent, the idea being to take advantage of paranoid gamers expecting his twisty plots to be more twisty than they actually are.
    • Exactly the opposite and a great example of this trope occurs in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater with EVA/Tatyana. Combed back hair, glasses, and a different set of clothes shouldn't really fool anyone, but instead of relying entirely on it, she also changes her body posture and movement and her entire way of acting.
    • Liquid's disguising himself as Master Miller retroactively is this, as not only did he mimick Miller in both appearance and in voice, he also changed his overall demeanor to be more similar to how Miller would act. Originally, it was closer to Paper-Thin Disguise, but the rereleases of the MSX Metal Gear 2 redid the design for Miller to match his "appearance" in Metal Gear Solid, and his appearance in Peace Walker, Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain was based on his Metal Gear Solid appearance.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: In the middle of their adventure, the brothers stumble upon a situation that requires a stand-in for Peach. They weren't aware of this earlier, but, conveniently, have one of Peach's dresses with them and a wig that looks like her hair (don't ask). Luigi dresses up in them to fool Cackletta and Fawful, barely speaking (even less than usual) and covering his nose and mustache with his daintily-gloved hands.
  • In Primal, the protagonist briefly loses her ability to shapeshift into various demonic forms and is thus forced to dress herself up as demon in order to blend in.
  • In Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, you do this to access an ATM.
  • In Tomodachi Life, some characters will say that they got a letter from someone to meet them on the roof of the apartment building. If they go there, they'll find another Mii who has donned a fake mustache (regardless of gender) and shades. This Mii will then say something random, then leave.

    Visual Novels 
  • The antagonist of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc uses this to have a spy in the group assume another identity. It's made easier by the fact that the spy already has a strong (but not identical) resemblance to the person she's imitating, on account of being her twin sister, and the fact that the manner in which most of the other characters would be familiar with her appearance gives her a plausible excuse for any discrepancies (she's a model, and can pass off any difference as the result of Photoshop). Even then, the mastermind has to go to pains to keep the other characters from seeing an actual picture of the assumed identity, knowing that it would quickly give away the imposter.
  • In The Confines of the Crown, Madeleine dons a wig and a dress to temporarily disguise herself as Princess Cassidy. In the bad ending, it works a little too well...
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, all Kaoru does when donning her persona of Momo Kuruse is put on a silver wig, a facial tattoo, and a cutesy manner of speech. Even though she keeps her distinctive gothic lolita fashion as Kaoru, most people write her off as a diehard Momo fan rather than Momo herself.

  • Red Mage in 8-Bit Theater. He already has long hair and he needs no accent (once again, because it's a webcomic). He simply puts on a dress and is able to fool anyone not in the party. He also tends to wear it even when not trying to disguise himself, which greatly disturbs both Black Mage and Thief. ("Cross-CHECKING").
    • Probably worth noting that it's actually Thief's fault — Red Mage cross-dresses so often because he has a complex that developed due to his father hating him for being a boy (he wanted a girl.) The twist? This didn't actually happen — Thief just fabricated those memories.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja shows how effective this trope can be. Thanks to a substantial number of things altering his outward physical appearance, King Radical's original identity was hidden for literally years in real life from the audience, as well as in-universe from his friends and enemies, despite the fact that the character regularly interacted with an alternate universe version of himself with the exact same facial features. Up until The Reveal, the similarity between the two characters was nearly impossible to discern, but becomes very obvious in hindsight.
  • George the Dragon has pulled this particular one off. Even though it was a rather Paper-Thin Disguise, it seems to have worked like a charm.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Roy is forced into a Gender Bender once. Roy is bald, and in his own words, "The lesson here is, if the magic item doesn't specifically SAY it grows hair, it probably doesn't." So he gets forced into a literal Wig, Dress, Accent, minus accent 'cause it's a webcomic.
    • And then there's the time Vaarsuvius' raven familiar Blackwing disguised himself to buy materials from a store where they'd been banned. Yes, the raven disguised himself. with a mustache.
  • Ruby of Sticky Dilly Buns probably isn't much of an actress, so when Dillon bounces her into helping with a Zany Scheme that requires a disguise, she sensibly resorts to props. Lots of props.
  • In Aki-chan's Life Shinji and Asuka dress up in business outfits to hide their age when dropping Aki off at Kindergarten; You know, because two teens dropping off a 4-year-old at school would raise a lot of awkward questions.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Alias example is sent up on Robot Chicken with "Whalias", substituting an orca for Sydney. The whale's disguises work just as well as hers usually do.
  • On American Dad!, Roger the Alien wears many Wig, Dress, Accent disguises, and they all fool everyone who isn't acquainted with the real Roger. Storywise, the disguises' function of hiding his alienhood is taken for granted, and what Roger really has fun with is creating a new fictitious identity for himself in each episode. If Roger were a believer in creating a stable identity for himself, nothing would stop him from using the same disguise whenever he meets someone outside the Smith family—but he prefers to go through an endless succession of identities. Of both genders.
    • This inability to stick with one disguise backfires on him in at least two occasions. One when Haley got into a fight with him over creating new personalities and ran circles around his head (when all is said and done he has no idea what just happened) and another where his persona came to care for a girl he was seducing to steal an expensive watch and he wound up Becoming the Mask.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Aang disguises himself as a old man with a mustache and hair made of fur from Appa the flying bison the first time Team Avatar goes to Omashu. He gets found out when it blows off.
    • Sokka's infamous "Mr. Wang Fire", which consists of a goofy, deeper voice, and a beard in order to pretend to be Aang's father. Sokka likes it so much, he occasionally uses it randomly after, like when trying to give psychiatric advice to Aang (which pretty much consists of Aang screaming into a sheepkoala).
      "Flameyo, hotmen!"
  • Subverted in the Gargoyles episode, "Turf," where Elisa Maza goes undercover to stop Tomas Brode, wearing only a change of clothes and a blonde wig. Although that getup is able to fool Brode, the moment Elisa's long-time gangster enemy, Anthony Dracon, gets a good close concentrated look at Elisa, he recognizes her instantly and reveals to his enemy. It does manage to fool her gargoyle friends, too.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Kim Possible wears a wig and dress to infiltrate a club in So the Drama, about the only time she wore a disguise. It doesn't fool Shego for a moment.
    • Shego wears a wig and dress to distract Martin Smarty while Drakken and Frugal Lucre implement one of their schemes. It does fool him, despite her distinctive skin color and her involvement in a previous scheme to hold him for ransom. Fortunately for the scheme Mr. Smarty is too Distracted by the Sexy to notice or care. Smarty Mart's phone tree menu includes: "To demand an enormous amount of money for the safe return of our founder, press three." so maybe the incidents all blur together.
    • In Frugal Lucre's first appearance, he disguises himself with a fake beard and accent while broadcasting his demands.
  • Bugs Bunny is willing to resort to a quite alarming drag outfit of this sort.
  • Woody Woodpecker also uses this ruse frequently, usually to get to Wally Walrus' stash of food.
  • Brain from Inspector Gadget does this a lot. Penny rarely does this, but has at least once; she likely gets points from Brain. No-one ever sees through the disguises (especially not Gadget). Brain, by the way, is a dog. Not a talking dog like Scooby-Doo, either.
  • The entire gag for the Chicken Boo shorts on Animaniacs. A giant chicken in nothing more than a wig/hat/suit/mustache. Everyone falls for it. Well, all except one person, who everyone regards as insane.
  • Grizzle from Adventures in Care-a-Lot has used this on occasion, but since he doesn't take off his mechanical suit, it also counts as a Paper-Thin Disguise. Whether or not the Care Bears are fooled depends on what kind of lesson is being taught.
  • Dukey from Johnny Test is similar to Boney's example above. In case that fails, he's usually able to pass himself off as a kid with a rare hair disorder.
  • Cellbound: The prisoner has a bag full of disguise props, which come in handy when he's forced to perform an imitation of several different TV programmes, all by himself.
  • Stōked: In "Heartbreak Hotel", Emma dons a blonde wig and a pair of sunglasses and adopts a French accent in order to become 'Gemma' and become Ty's rebound girl.

    Real Life 
  • In Star Trek, the wife of Gene Roddenberry, Majel Barret, was in the first pilot episode as the female first officer. When that character was discarded for the actual show, she bleached her hair blonde and cut it short. It was specifically an attempt to get back in the show without the executives catching on. Even her husband didn't recognize her at first. She was recast in the smaller role of Nurse Chapel.
  • Stephen Colbert waxed his chest, put on a wig and posed for this photo as Raven, the stripper from Wigfield, who he voices on the audiobook.
    Stephen Colbert: When my brother Jay saw that, he said, "Hey, hey. How do we know her?" And I pointed at myself and he goes, "OK, how do you know her?"
    Conan O'Brien: And then what did he do when you explained that that is in fact you?
    Stephen Colbert: He was a little disturbed.
  • This man, who ripped-off Social Security by disguising as his dead mother with a wig, a pair of glasses, a walking cane and heavy make-up. It definitely worked, because he managed to pocket $115,000 in welfare cheques before Social Security found out.
  • In a case of Wig, Dress, Foreign Language, one Allied prisoner broke out of a German prison camp in World War II by making a fake copy of a German uniform and simply walking out the front door. This was actually extremely common, especially in camps like Colditz Castle where conventional tunnels and wire-cutting were more difficult to pull off. The Colditz Dutch contingent were the acknowledged masters of the technique and they got so good at it that one attempted escape plan was for a prisoner with a strong resemblance to impersonate the camp warrant officer, relieve the guards on a side gate and replace them with other disguised prisoners, to be followed by the entire camp slipping out and down the road. It almost worked, only failing because the last guard got chatty and the real NCO came out to reprimand him for socializing on duty. This is partly because Dutch uniforms were almost identical to German uniforms, plus the Dutch language and German are similar.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen is famous for dressing up for his various alter egos (Borat, Bruno, Ali G, etc).
  • To testify in a court case, Stella Rimington (later head of MI5) wore a wig and make-up that made her look about ten years older than she was. When she met the judge undisguised later, he didn't recognize her.
  • In Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke played two roles — Bert the chimney sweep and Dawes Senior the banker — with two totally different costumes and accents. Many people are surprised to find out that Van Dyke also played Dawes Senior, especially since Bert's Cockney accent is infamously inaccurate while Dawes Senior's upper-class accent is a lot more convincing.
  • Most cosplay veers towards this, as many enthusiasts seek to look as much like their character of choice as possible rather than simply looking like they're their everyday selves but in different clothes (as an aside, literal wigs are the norm, but not a requirement, for the hobby). Bonus points if the cosplayer actually tries to act in-character as if they were a costumed Disney cast member.
  • While shooting House Of Wax in Australia, Paris Hilton had to wear a brown wig to hide from the paparazzi if she wanted to leave her hotel room to exercise on the beach.


Video Example(s):


Fake Moustache

The hero has disguised himself to expose a gang of con-men in the bazaar. However, the seasoned con-men turn the tables on him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / OutGambitted

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