Follow TV Tropes


Obfuscating Disability / Live-Action TV

Go To

  • Lori & Bolo tried this at the beginning of Season 6 of The Amazing Race to get help at airports. Luckily, they dropped it quickly.
  • In Angel the demon sorcerer Cyvus Vail appeared reliant on a complex intravenous drip, physically vulnerable and weak. However when under genuine attack his IV was broken and he ignored it, he shrugged off being hurled twice into a wall, and gutted his opponent with a kukri.
  • Arrested Development subverts the trope quite humorously. A female attorney who can actually see claims to be blind in order to get the sympathy of her jurors; the Bluths try to expose her fake disability, but fail spectacularly because (only) on the day that they decided to prove she was not blind, she actually WAS temporarily blind due to an accident. She regained her sight in full the following day.
    • It's even more wibbly woobly when you add the fact that Michael doesn't realize she's (faking) blind at first.
  • Arrow. In "Damaged", to throw off suspicions that he may be the Vigilante, Oliver Queen shows his torture scars to Laurel Lance and tells her his PTSD makes him barely able to sign his name let alone shoot a bow and arrow.
  • An episode of The Brady Bunch had a plot where a man claimed to have received a neck injury in a minor car accident with Mrs. Brady. Mr. Brady proved the man was lying by dropping his briefcase on a desk, startling him and causing him to turn his head.
  • On Baywatch episode "Face of Fear," Caroline befriends Cory, a blind man who hangs out at her beach section. She's surprised when Logan identifies Cory as a former champion horse jockey who was blinded after suffering a terrible fall. When a trio of young girls are in danger, Cory seems to react, despite how there's no way he could have heard their screams over the sounds of the beach crowd. When at a cafe, the waitress appears about to pour hot coffee onto Caroline's lap with Cory yelling a warning...and Caroline reveals it's iced tea. Cory admits he was truly blinded but it was temporary. He was so shaken by the accident that he kept up being "blind" an excuse to never race again. Caroline points out Cory can't fake this for the rest of his life and gives him the confidence to (literally) get back in the saddle again.
  • Advertisement:
  • Blue Bloods: "In Too Deep" has a man who was accused of being a serial killer, but seemingly could not have as he's paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. However, it turns out he faked it, and really did commit these murders (this is even compared to Ted Bundy, who faked disabilities too so women wouldn't view him as a threat).
  • Downplayed in Breaking Bad: Hector "Tio" Salamanca's disability, following a stroke, is legitimate. When he is introduced, however, he obfuscates senility to learn of Walt and Jesse's plan to kill his nephew Tuco with poisoned food, then use what motor control he still has to thwart the plan.
  • On Bull, Hazel Diaz has been a major drug lord for almost 30 years. She brilliantly acts in public like she's mentally ill, even talking to thin air and wild acts. Thus, any time she's arrested, her lawyer argues she's not fit for trial, she goes to a mental ward for a bit then back on the streets. Bull, of course, sees through her act (as he points out, she's showing too many symptoms to be real) and accepts the challenge of proving she's a fraud in court.
  • Advertisement:
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the last four episodes of season 2, Spike is only pretending to still need his wheelchair.
  • Happened in an episode of Cadfael, when the cripple had hidden his disability-less-ness from everyone including his sister, then tries to collect money after he is "healed" by touching a reliquary. He is revealed when he runs away, sans crutches.
  • Castle:
    • In "Under the Gun", one of their suspects is an aging ex-con who needs a walker to get around...until he has to get away, at which point he ditches the walker and makes a run for it.
    • In "What Lies Beneath...", a blind priest is revealed not to be blind when he runs away from Castle and Alexis. He later admits that he faked the blindness so he would be given his choice of parishes.
  • Cold Case: The killer in "Metamorphosis" suffers from cerebral gigantism and uses the fact that people expect him to be mentally challenged to conceal his true intelligence.
  • In Copper, Corcoran uses his badly broken leg as a great alibi. No matter what his superiors might suspect, people are not going to believe that someone in his condition could travel across town, climb up to a second story window, kill two people and then get back to Five Points without anyone noticing him.
  • In the CSI episode "The Two Mrs. Grissoms", a student pretends to be deaf in order to get a scholarship. And he and his partner in the deception end up committing murder in order to keep the secret.
  • Matt Murdock in Daredevil (2015) uses obfuscating ignorance in everyday life. He can effectively "see" just fine, can hear conversations from blocks away, and can tell whenever anybody is lying to him, but he has to act like an average blind man anyway and play along.
  • Once used by Logan on Dark Angel. He's a real paraplegic most of the time, but an easily hidden exoskeleton allows him to walk.
  • Dead Man's Gun: In "Next of Kin" a seemingly infirm man is revealed to be in perfect health at the end of the episode and is lulling those disloyal to him, and who would pose a threat to his successor, into a false sense of security.
  • In the Decoy episode "Earthbound Satellite," Casey wears a cast on her left arm and tells people she sprained it. She's actually using the cast to hide a radio receiver that won't fit in a purse.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Rescue": Bennett pretends to have been crippled in the explosion which killed everyone else on the crashed spaceship apart from Vicki, disguising himself as the alien Koquillion to convince her that the natives of the planet Dido are monsters. In fact, he was the one who caused the explosion to cover his tracks after he killed another crew member shortly before the crash.
    • "The Unicorn and the Wasp": Colonel Curbishley, Lady Eddison's husband, is in a wheelchair. He is hosting a party where, among other things, Agatha Christie is a guest and there is a murder at the house. When Agatha goes through the summation to identify the killer, she looks at the Colonel, and the Colonel reveals he has been faking it because he was scared his wife would leave him. Agatha was only going to say he was innocent, and had no idea he was faking it.
  • On Dynasty (2017), Claudia is the wife of an engineer who had an affair with Cristal and had a brain injury during an accident. When her husband is killed in an explosion, she blames Blake for it. After accidentally hitting her with their car, Blake and Cristal let Claudia stay with them, but Cristal is concerned when she discovers Claudia isn't taking her medications. She confronts her and when Claudia pulls a gun to hold the family hostage, Cristal realizes she was faking being sick. Fallon arrives and quickly figures out Claudia was never sick in the first place. She was faking it to ensure her husband never left her. But Fallon also points out there's another reason...
    Fallon: Why keep faking it even after he died?
    Cristal: Because it's the perfect alibi.
    Steven: No one's going to suspect the brain-damaged widow.
  • Elementary: An extreme example occurs in "While You Were Sleeping". The killer fakes a suicide attempt via drug overdose, then has her doctor accomplice place her in a medically induced coma. She is a admitted to hospital in a comatose state: supposedly the result of the overdose. The doctor then revives her so she can commit the murders. She then returns to the hospital after each murder, and the doctor places her back in a coma. If anyone checks, she is still in a coma and appears to have an airtight alibi.
  • Endeavour: In "Ride", a magician's assistant (actually his son) lives as a badly disfigured mute (supposedly crippled in the bombing of Coventry). This allows him to ditch and appear as someone else whenever the magician requires a stooge.
  • In the Mexican soap opera En Nombre Del Amor, Carlota the head villainess pretends to be paralyzed in order to not go to prison after trying to murder her niece Paloma. Doctors cannot figure out what is wrong with her. The audience may even be fooled. Carlota tries to bribe a nurse in order to get assistance in leaving the hospital- but the nurse refuses. Carlota then hits the nurse with a bottle and steals her scrubs and mask, then places the unconscious nurse on the bed and flees the hospital without incident.
  • Father Brown: The killer in "The Shadow of the Scaffold". Father Brown discovers this when he realises that they could not have seen they claimed to have witnessed unless they were standing up.
  • Dr. Harrison Wells in The Flash (2014) claims to have been injured during the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator explosion, and become paralysed from the waist down as a result. Nine months after the accident, he's shown to be riding around in a wheelchair. Except the end of the pilot episode shows that he needs neither his wheelchair nor his glasses. His reasons for faking the disability are eventually revealed to be twofold: 1) to avoid suspicion of being the Reverse-Flash, and 2) to use the wheelchair as storage for the battery he uses to fuel his super speed.
  • In the Frasier episode Wheels of Fortune, Lilith's conman brother Blaine turns up in a wheelchair, claiming to have found God, and Frasier spends the entire episode attempting to prove he's a charlatan, making himself look worse and worse in the process. In the final scene, he's proven right, but Blaine gets away.
  • Grand Maester Pycelle on Game of Thrones feigns being a doddering, feeble old yes-man in order to out-maneuver his political enemies. It's an elaborately calculated act that involves pretending to have a hunched back, a chronic respiratory ailment of some sort, rheumatism, dementia, and a general lack of energy. Only once has he dropped the act, when he was certain no one was looking. The second time it happens is in a deleted scene where Big Bad Tywin Lannister calls him out on it and he reveals himself to be a physically formidable man whose real speaking voice is a deep commanding baritone. Tywin openly asks if he's the only person who can "see through this performance" and Pycelle admits even he's surprised it works so well.
    • He also drops the act while doing some Evil Gloating over Tyrion's injuries and fall from power at the end of Season 2.
  • Used in the two-part Get Smart episode "Ship of Spies". It involves a wheelchair-bound water polo player.
    • Get Smart also featured Leadside, a villain in a wheelchair. He pulls off an impressive infiltration because while he is incapable of walking or standing up, the act of running is still within his power.
  • Tina's stutter in early episodes of Glee. She reveals to Artie she was doing it to seem more unique but the wheelchair-bound Artie slams her for mocking people with real disabilities like himself.
  • The Good Wife: Though he is legitimately disabled, Louis Canning (played by Michael J. Fox) habitually plays up his disability to gain sympathy with the judges and juries he faces in court, much to Alicia's annoyance.
  • An episode of Highlander has Immortal Duncan having to revisit a club he used to frequent in the 1970s. Knowing it'll be suspicious if he shows up looking exactly the same after nearly 30 years, Duncan dyes his temples grey and and walks with a cane and a limp to sell being older like a mortal.
  • A variation: in a flashback in How I Met Your Mother, Barney pretends Ted is deaf to make him appear sympathetic to a woman. Little does he know that both that both the woman and Ted know sign language (while Barney does not), and Ted simply tells her, in sign language, that Barney is lying and to give him a fake phone number.
  • The Hustle episode "Picture Perfect" has an art forger who is pretending to have suffered a stroke to avoid having to stand trial for forgery.
  • Roy ends up doing this on one episode of The IT Crowd to avoid getting in trouble for using the disabled bathroom stall.
  • In the JAG episode "Yesterday's Heroes"; retired navy diver Artemus Sullivan (played by Ernest Borgnine) is avenging the death of his grandson by a drug dealer. When meeting Harm & Mac at first, Sullivan pretends to be in a senile vegetable state of mind.
  • Jonathan Creek: In "The Problem at Gallows Gate", a friend of Adam's is a famous blind blues musician. However, he actually had an operation several years earlier which restored his sight. He maintains the pretense of being blind because people respect blind blues musicians, and because it allows him to spy on women and "accidentally" grope them.
  • Downplayed on Justified: Johny Crowder really is disabled. He was shot in the gut with a shotgun and it did major damage to his body. He spends most of his time in a wheelchair and people tend to assume that he is a paraplegic. In fact he can walk on his own but it is painful and tires him out. When two men come to kill him they are surprised to find that he just walked out the back door and left his wheelchair behind.
  • Just Shoot Me!
    • Elliott's brother Donnie pretended to be mentally disabled since he graduated from high school in order to avoid having to get a job and start supporting himself. Jack blew this for him when his idiocy caused Donnie to break the act chewing him out.
    • Later, Donnie's girlfriend appears to be deaf and they use sign language together. However, it turns out she's a sex worker and faking it for him.
  • In several episodes of Law & Order and its spinoffs;
    • Law & Order: Criminal Intent had a Stephen Hawking expy who still had more mobility than he let on.
    • Another episode had a man who stole a woman's identity and pretended to be deaf to excuse not being able to speak.
    • In "Assassin", a hitman pretends to be confined to a wheelchair in order to smuggle a gun through security checks.
    • An episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had a woman who had long since made a full recovery from an accident keeping her wheelchair and making herself sick for the sympathy and to control her husband, who she was framing for a couple murders - it's revealed when he shoves her wheelchair into a pool. Just to double up on the trope, she may have been faking the Munchausen's Syndrome as a defense.
  • The obscure TV movie Lifepod featured a killer who faked being blind. The game was up when someone thought to simply shine a light into his eyes.
  • Played for laughs in Little Britain with Lou and Andy, Lou being a bumbling social worker helping Andy, who uses a wheelchair and is possibly mentally disabled. However, Lou always manages to turn his back, at which point Andy gets up from his chair and does something amusing and dramatically ironic.
  • Little House on the Prairie: Nellie Olson faked paralysis after falling off a horse so her parents would give her presents and Laura would be her slave out of guilt.
    • Another episode featured a boy faking that an injury made him go blind in order to keep his parents from splitting up. Later in the episode, he suffers a serious head injury, but rather than it making him go blind for real, it simply gives him amnesia so he doesn't even remember pulling the prank.
  • One episode of Lois & Clark centered on a slacker whom Superman saved from an explosion; the slacker faked nerve damage to a broken arm to sue Superman for injuries he supposedly sustained while being rescued. When Superman prevented another bomb from taking out the courtroom, the slacker attempted to play up his "injuries" again, only for his put-upon girlfriend to blow the whistle on his charade, moments before dumping him.
  • On Lucifer, the team investigate the murder of a ballerina. One suspect is Miles von Strucker, a brutal but respected dance teacher who lost a leg in a car accident just as his career was beginning. Under Lucifer's "deepest desire" trick, Miles confesses that he wears a prosthetic over his real leg as the accident did almost no damage. He realized the accident would actually help his career as he was just an average dancer but could now sell himself as a teacher on the idea he could have been a legend if not for this "tragic loss." The team sees video of him taking off the fake leg and then some rather poor dance moves.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "The Assassin", Piedra (the eponymous assassin) disguises himself as an infirm, elderly man in order to get close to the archbishop who is his next target.
  • The premise of M.A.N.T.I.S. is a variant, in which the protagonist uses his disability as an alibi for his Secret Identity as the titular power-armoured vigilante. In the pilot it's taken even further, with Miles Hawkins/Mantis wearing a Coat, Hat, Mask getup over his exoskeleton to hide the exact nature of his superpowers, but the series proper dropped this element.
  • A M*A*S*H episode has Radar apparently hitting an elderly Korean villager with a jeep. When the uninjured man demands $50 not to report Radar to the MPs, a visiting officer susses out that he's a well-known con man known as "Whiplash Hwang".
    • In the episode where Hawkeye is temporarily blinded when he tried to fix the nurses' heater, even though he can't see them, some of the nurses still want him out of the tent as they change. Later, when he over-emphasizes that, due to a relapse, they can go ahead and take off their clothes while he's there, one of them tosses a cup at him, which he catches. Busted!!
  • On The Mentalist Jane knew the Perp Of The Week was the guy in the wheelchair because Jane checked his shoes; they were scuffed (but for the record, this is total BS; a wheelchair user's shoes get just as scuffed as everybody else's, believe it or not). Jane is apparently very wise about this.
    Patrick Jane: Whenever I meet someone in a wheelchair I check the bottoms of their shoes. The bottoms of your shoes were scuffed. I've been checking shoes for years. This is the first time it's ever paid off. First time. That's gratifying, man. Very, very gratifying.
    • In another episode the killer was pretending to be mentally disabled. The killer came up with this dodge when caught stealing a car at 18, and kept it going because it rendered him effectively invisible. Jane says the guy went too far by showing up at a funeral wearing a death metal t-shirt (even a mentally disabled person would have enough realization not to wear a skull in front of a grieving family).
  • There's one Midsomer Murders episode where a guy who is always seen in a wheelchair is in fact revealed to be able to walk (when no one's around, possibly collecting disability benefits). However, the scene is a !red!herring, as he is neither the killer nor a victim.
  • Regularly done in Mission: Impossible as part of a mission. For example, in "A Game of Chess", Rollin pretends to be a deaf chessmaster, so he can receive moves from a chess computer offstage. He soon gets discovered by the mark, but that's part of the plan.
  • An early Monk episode has Monk realize that the assassin is not really a cripple because his shoes are heavily scuffed, something that would not happen to a man who had to use a wheelchair all the time (again, not actually true - see above). This revelation does not come in time and the assassin manages to get away.
    • "Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus" - an unliked ringmaster is shot and killed by a masked acrobat at a restaurant. Monk immediately suspects the victim's ex-wife, Natasha Lovara, but Natasha had broken her leg in a fall from a trapeze weeks ago. Monk initially assumes that this trope was in play and Natasha faking her injury, especially when he finds out that as a Romany Gypsy, she doesn't believe in doctors and had set the bone herself. However, a quick trip to the hospital reveals that her leg was indeed "smashed." Monk eventually realizes that the doctor's evidence confirmed that her leg was broken but not when she'd broken it. She had faked the injury from the initial fall, then after the shooting, had an elephant crush her foot so that the X-rays the police demanded would show a broken leg.
    • Mentioned in season one episode "Dale the Whale." Dale, a massively overweight crime boss, is accused of killing a judge against him, but he's so fat he can't get out of bed. He quickly disproves any theories that he is faking his weight by lifting his bedsheets to them. Sharona even vomits. Played straight by the ending. The judge was killed by a thin man in a fat suit who knew that suspicion would fall upon the boss, who could not be proven guilty.
    • Another early Monk episode has a perpetrator who is supposedly blind. Cue the streaker.
      • The woman who was pretending to be blind actually was blind since a drunk driver hit her as a child, killing her parents. She regains her sight when she slips in a store and pretends she's still blind, so that she can shoot the man and then have the cops rule her out as a suspect.
    • A Tie-In Novel subplot in Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop (an insta-solve file that is only mentioned in one page) involves something with a man smuggling secrets from a helicopter company factory to a rival by using his wheelchair to remove documents.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "When Thieves Fall Out", one of the suspects is in a wheelchair following a car accident. It turns out he is faking paralysis to scam an insurance payout. Jessica becomes suspicious when she a footprint of a man's shoe in his size outside his home, and tricks him into revealing himself.
  • In one episode of Murdoch Mysteries, the killer turned out to be someone who pretended to be a stroke victim so he would avoid suspicion.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring Night of the Blood Beast, Crow attempts to fake being pregnant (don't ask) because he feels that, if one is pregnant, the entire world bends over for them and he wants that attention.
  • Never Have I Ever: Some of Devi's peers accuse her of having faked her leg paralysis. She didn't.
  • New Tricks: The killer of the week in "Magic Majestic" has pretended to need a wheelchair for his entire adult life, referencing Real Life magician Chung Ling Soo. This allows him to escape from custody at the end of the episode.
  • A Night Gallery episode had a con man faking being crippled to collect a fat settlement visiting a shrine in Mexico with reputed miraculous healing powers visited by sick and infirm pilgrims - he intends to get "cured" and walk out scot-free in front of an insurance investigator. As he saunters out, a miracle does occur - he's miraculously stricken blind.
  • NTSF:SD:SUV::: Subverted when The Mole reveals himself in one episode and the agents expect him to get out of his wheelchair.
    No, actually I do need it. My parents didn't believe in vaccines. Bummer.
  • One Life to Live's Sarah Gordon is on trial for murdering Carlo Hesser. Suspecting that a wheelchair-bound woman is the real killer, her lawyer badgers her when she's on the stand until she finally leaps to her feet, screaming about how much she herself hated Carlo. Ironically, she was not the murderer.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Cindy and Suzanne pretend they're deaf in the wake of the riot to explain why they didn't come out from hiding before. The CERT team, who don't know otherwise, buy it.
  • On The Practice, the firm is unsuccessful defending a man of murder. The only other suspect would be the man's wife who has a pretty good alibi of being in a wheelchair from a car accident some time earlier. In the final scene, after the man is found guilty, the camera focuses on a street in Boston where the perfectly healthy wife walks down the street with a smug smile.
  • In Pretty Little Liars, after Jenna gets surgery to restore her eyesight, she pretends it didn't work until it's discovered and she's confronted.
  • In a season 2 episode of Pushing Daisies, there's a brief flashback to Emerson Cod's childhood. His mother faked putting him in danger to expose a man who had made fraudulent insurance claims. She pushed a stroller with a baby doll in it down a flight of stairs- the allegedly wheelchair-bound man with a neck brace and a broken arm ran from his wheelchair to catch the baby with both hands.
  • Happens several times on Quantum Leap:
    • Sam leaped into a blind piano player and had to pretend he was blind. The mother of the leapee's girlfriend caught him, though, and thought the character was really pretending. Later, she decides to test it while lighting a cigarette by holding the match right in front of his eyes. As it happened, Sam had earlier been up close to a camera bulb when it flashed and thus really is temporarily blind. His utter lack of reaction makes the stunned woman think she was wrong all along and apologizes.
    • He also leaped into the body of a legless Vietnam vet. To one "unfortunate" sadistic orderly, Sam looked like he was floating above the ground when he got up and walked. Naturally, no one believed the orderly's claims as he was fired.
  • Red Dwarf: In "Cured", the hidden psychopath turns out to be the wheelchair bound Professor Telford, who reveals that he is not crippled when he stands up and points a rifle at the crew.
  • An episode of The Riches has Dahlia seeing a little kid in a wheelchair with a bald head, holding a sign claiming to be a cancer victim at a fair. He's surrounded by local women who gladly donate money and wish the kid good luck. When they leave, Dahlia (a con artist herself) tells the kid he's doing a good job but he needs to shave his head more often and gives tips on how to look more sickly. The two share a knowing wink and smile before heading their separate ways.
  • Resurrection Ertugrul: During season 5, while donning his Bell Ringer persona, Dragos uses a small pouch placed beneath his garbs to make it appear as though his back is hunched.
  • One Saturday Night Live sketch in 1986 featured an alternate ending to It's a Wonderful Life. A mob lead by George Bailey goes after Mr. Potter, discovering that he is not actually a cripple. However, they start beating him before he can explain.
  • Happens a few times on Seinfeld:
    • In "The Butter Shave", George has to walk with a cane due to the injuries he received in "The Summer of George". He goes to a job interview and the cane makes his new employer think he's disabled. George is about to clear things up when the guy mentions that George would be getting a private bathroom because of his disability. George then fakes being disabled to keep the bathroom as well as getting a number of other perks, like having a secretary carry him to his office.
    • In "The Jimmy", Kramer does this by accident when he meets a man who is organizing a charity dinner for the mentally challenged. He ends up as a guest of honor because the Novocaine he was injected with at the dentist made him slur his speech, and he's wearing strangely shaped training shoes, so the man thinks he's a shining example of a mentally challenged person able to live on their own.
    • In "The Lip-Reader", Elaine fakes being deaf so that she doesn't have to make conversation with the driver of the car service. It doesn't work for very long. To quote Elaine, "he caught me hearing".
  • Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators: In "The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit", Shakespeare and Hathaway are hired to investigate an employee who is suspected of faking an injury as part of a workers' compensation scam. Later, the employee uses the fake injury to establish an alibi while she murders her boss.
  • Lionel Luthor of Smallville uses this. In the beginning of Season 2, a life-saving surgery left him temporarily blind. He eventually regained his sight, but neglected to mention it and faked being blind for a few more weeks because people let their guard down around someone they thought couldn't see. Street-wise Lucas Luthor, however, sees through the ruse immediately upon first meeting him; Lionel pours himself some water and doesn't put his finger inside the glass to know when it's full. Lucas tests his theory later by signing "BITE ME" on an important contract instead of his name, and when Lionel can't hide his reaction, Lucas forcibly throws a billiards ball at his head. Lionel reflexively dodges and is fully exposed.
    • In the episode "Precipice", Lana is attacked by a drunken frat boy, and Clark "injures" him by throwing him into a cop car. The frat boy sues Clark for one million dollars, but it turns out his severe neck injury is total bullshit, and Lana calls him out on it, forcing him to drop the lawsuit.
  • In So Little Time, Riley goes to school in a wheelchair to get the attention of a paraplegic whom she has a crush on.
  • In season 5 of Sons of Anarchy, Clay suffers a gunshot wound to the chest that damages his lungs and gets him put on an oxygen tank. Midway through the season it is revealed that he has completely healed and in perfect health, but he continues to wear the tank and pretend to be weak and frail.
  • In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Zack fakes being dyslexic so his mother and teachers will get off his case about his poor grades. The ploy is short-lived, however, when his mother and the special-ed teacher get suspicious of his very quick progress in the special-ed classes and trick him into reading an essay out loud.
  • Subverted in a Taxi episode: an old lady sues Louie for hitting her with his cab, and he learns that she's a scam artist with a history of phony lawsuits. When he tries to "prove" his innocence in court by pushing the wheelchair-bound woman out the door and toward a staircase in the assumption that she'll jump off, he discovers that in this particular case she wasn't faking it.
  • In Trailer Park Boys, Ricky's dad, Ray, pretends to be in a wheelchair to receive disability money. He only gets out of the chair when he's around Ricky or close friends. In season five he's finally caught and sent to jail.
  • On Undateable, Adam meets an attractive woman just after he's gotten eye drops and she believes he's blind. Naturally, Adam continues to pretend to be blind to the disgust of the rest of the group.
    Brett: Hasn't she asked why you wear glasses?
    Adam: I told her it's meant ironically.
    • Finally having enough of seeing them together, Leslie goes over and pulls her shirt open. Naturally, Adam (who's had a huge crush on Leslie) can't help but stare, leading to an angry slap from his now ex-girlfriend.
  • Wanted: Dead or Alive: In "Dead End", a ranch manager confined to a wheelchair after an accident with a bronco hires Josh to track down a ranch hand who allegedly stole the cash from the ranch's cattle sales. When Josh finds the cowhand, he is already dead: shot in the back. The ranch manager then appears, walking with a limp. He faked how the bad accident was, then murdered the hand, stole the money, and hired Josh. He plans to murder Josh and frame him and the cowhand for the theft.
  • Phil Olivetti in We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian of the Year claims to have permanently lost mobility in one wrist. It's plainly not true - as demonstrated even within the scene where he makes the claim - but he somehow got a compensation payout for it anyway.
  • The TV movie What The Deaf Man Heard is this trope in spades. A child whose mother was murdered sits in a small town diner waiting for his mother who will never arrive. The townsfolk think he's deaf and mute since he just sits there and doesn't react to anyone (based on his mother's last words to him, "Not one more word out of you"). For twenty years he decides to maintain this charade, because everyone drops their guard around him, so by the end of the movie, when he reveals that he can hear and speak, he's got plenty to talk about.
  • Happens in one episode of Whodunnit? (UK). When the host called on the real murderer to please stand up, one of the policemen dropped his notebook. The man in a wheelchair next to him stood up and handed it back to him.
  • The villain of The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Brain" starts out in steam-powered wheelchair, but it is then revealed that he uses it because he he believes that literally every ounce of a person's energy should be devoted to thinking.
  • On an episode of The Wire, Omar is able to get into a Barksdale stash house by pretending to be an old man in a wheelchair (with one of his crew pretending to be a nurse).
  • The X-Files: "The Amazing Maleeni". When a stage magician who made his head rotate 360 degrees as part of his act turns up decapitated, Mulder and Scully quickly believe his bank manager brother could have been his double - but the bank manager proves that couldn't be the case, as he lost both his legs in a car accident. That is, until later, when Mulder tumbles him out of the wheelchair; he's got both legs, because he was the stage magician and was pulling off an illusion.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: