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Refuge In Audacity / Real Life

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This very page is an example of Refuge in Audacity, considering the warning on the main trope page. However, Refuge in Audacity is very much Truth in Television, as you will see in the examples below:

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    World War II 
  • Dazzle camouflage can be considered a literal form of this. During World Wars I and II, ships were painted in a confusing pattern of high contrast colors that, instead of hiding ships from the enemy as regular camouflage would, attempted to actively confuse the enemy's targeting systems, primarily enemy submarines that relied largely on visual measures like identifying the type of ship and the direction it was pointed relative to them, to work out their complicated firing solutions. And even more importantly given the relatively slow speed of the era's submarines, making it harder to figure out what course to take in order to get into firing range in the first place.
  • Jack Churchill, in World War II, once took a German bunker by rushing it with a Claymore sword, with bagpipes on his hips, and screaming "COMMANDOOOO!!!!"
    • Jack Churchill was this incarnate. He was captured (while playing said bagpipes) and sent to a prison. He just walked out. He was captured again. Once again, he walked out and made it back to England.
      • And upon his arrival, he demanded to be put back on the front lines. Unfortunately for him, the war was over by that point... which also explains how he was able to walk out of the prisons. He was in Yugoslavia fighting as a British liaison among partisans, and formed a thousand-man strong partisan army to raid an island in the Adriatic. He was the only man in his unit not to ultimately be killed, and the Germans found him playing a mournful tune on his bagpipes. Existing in the company of Partisans was a kill-on-sight offense for the Germans, but they mistakenly thought he was related to Winston and thus of more use alive, and so interrogated him in Berlin before consigning him to Sachsenhausen. Sachsenhausen the concentration camp. The infamous concentration camp, designed to be able to be effectively and securely guarded by one machine gun if necessary due to the camp's panopticon design. He escaped. He was recaptured, and was transferred by the SS to the Tirol with 139 other high-value prisoners. There, a regular army unit, concerned that the SS would execute the prisoners out of hand, intervened to save their lives, and after the SS decided not to contest the issue, set the prisoners free. Churchill and a companion walked down German-occupied Northern Italy, finally being rescued by an American armored unit in the last days of the war. After recuperation, he was to be sent to Burma, but the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki intervened. His reaction? "If it wasn't for those damned Yanks, we could have kept the war going for another ten years." This man was certainly a walking, talking breathing example of Refuge in Audacity.
    • If that wasn't enough, he was the only person in World War II to have a confirmed kill with a longbow.
  • Bill Millin was another famous WWII bagpiper. He was the only bagpiper that took part in the Normandy invasion. With friends being shot constantly around him all day, he continued to play the bagpipes throughout D-Day. It was eventually revealed that German snipers had him in their sights several times, but, didn't fire because he "seemed to be on a suicide mission and was clearly mad".
  • Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg prevented as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from being deported to the Auschwitz-II/Birkenau processing facility (for enslavement/euthanasia depending upon their fitness for work) using nothing more than a printing press, his expense account, and sheer audacity. He rented 32 buildings in Budapest, declared them to be auxiliary embassy facilities — technically Swedish territory, and therefore off limits to the Hungarians and their German allies — and used them as safe houses. He also printed up thousands of "protective passports" identifying the bearers as Swedish citizens, and handed them out to every Hungarian Jew he met — even, on one occasion, those locked in the boxcars on a train departing for Auschwitz! At one point, he ran on top of a train carrying Jews to be killed and stuffing papers into the cars that the Jews could use to semi-legally escape. While Nazis shot at him. First, immediately after being shot at while stuffing papers into the train, he walked up to the German guards and demanded that they let everyone with a passport off the train... which they did immediately. The second is to make it clear that he had absolutely NO legal authority to do any of this on behalf of the Swedish government. It was all smoke and excellent forgeries.
  • While not as outrageous as Wallenberg, Oskar Schindler's similar work on behalf of the Jews deserves recognition here. Schindler ordered Concentration Camp Authority security personnel to return a trainload of Jewish children en route to the Auschwitz-II/Birkenau processing facility by lying about the SS Main Business Office having designated them "essential workers" (those with skills vital to Germany's war effort, and so even during Operation Reinhard could not legally be euthanized). "Essential workers" at a munitions factory that he operated for several years using (and protecting) many Jewish workers, while deliberately never producing a single working artillery shell. Yes, this is the same Schindler that Steven Spielberg made a film about. As depicted in the film, Schindler's argument for the essential nature of his child workers was that nobody else had small enough hands to polish the inside of 8.8cm shell casings. Fortunately for all involved, none of the SS guards he argued with had any background in munitions, and thus were unaware that artillery shells are not polished on the inside.
  • Far less well-remembered than either Wallenberg or Schindler was John Rabe, a German diplomat in Nanjing who created a safe zone to keep Chinese civilians out of the way of the Nanjing Massacre. He's credited with saving between 200,000 and 250,000 civilians by basically standing up and telling the Japanese not to come into his zone, with no backup, military force, or way of enforcing it. It worked.
  • Tommy MacPherson was a Scottish officer who got 23,000 Germans to surrender when after voluntarily winding up in their territory he bluffed that he had tanks, artillery, the French military and the Royal Air Force waiting for his orders. The Germans didn't think he could possibly have been bluffing, because who on earth would be stupid enough to head into enemy territory and demand their surrender if he didn't have a significant amount of firepower behind him?
  • Albert Göring, the younger brother of Hermann Göring, who actively helped Jews to escape the Third Reich — and is today remembered as one of the Righteous among the Nations in Israel. This was a man who brazenly forged his brother's — Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering — signature on release forms for dissidents, actively sabotaged his own munitions factory in Czechoslovakia, and dealt with the Czech Resistance, and who at least once, was able to get a group of Jewish women released from being forced to scrub a street by joining with them... and then telling the Nazi thugs who were about to arrest him that he was Goering's brother. His better-known notorious brother was well aware of his actions, and turned his eye. Hermann Göring once said "I decide here who is a Jew", and allowed Air Marshal Erhard Milch (whose mother was Jewish) and Rear Admiral Bernhard Rogge (whose grandfather was a Jew) to rise in high positions, as he couldn't have cared less about Nazi ideology and simply used it as a pathway to power.
    • And then he followed it up with one of these. Albert Goering survived the war and died peacefully in the '60s, but not before marrying his housekeeper a week before he died. Not out of any actual romantic feelings for her, but because she was a widow only scraping by. He married her so that, as his widow, she would be able to access his pension after he died.
  • Giorgio Perlasca is the incarnation of this trope: he was an Italian businessman who posed as the Spanish consul-general to Hungary when the Spanish embassy was moved to Switzerland. Apparently him and Wallenberg were the ones going and constantly saving people (Perlasca was in Budapest too). He saved thousands of people without any authority at all and managed to fool the Nazis, the Hungarian government, and everyone else. For three months. His named himself Spanish consul; another memorable one was saving two children from Adolf Eichmann, throwing them in his car, and saying the car was Spanish jurisdiction and taking them would have caused a diplomatic incident between Spain and Germany. Even Wallenberg was without words, and that means a lot.
    • Ángel Sanz Briz, the man that Perlasca "replaced". With the full knowledge of the Spanish government, he managed to convince the Hungarian government to protect 200 Sephardic (with Spanish ancestors) Jews, and, through some creativity, he transformed those 200 'units' into 200 families, and then issued the same 200 passports and letters of safe-passage again and again, saving 5200 Jews from the Nazi depredations.
  • The Danish as well: not only did they actually want to save their Jews (you have no idea how rare that was), but their regional SSPF (Shutztaffeln und Polizei Fuehrer) supported their decision. Not because he liked Jews, mind, but because his orders were "to remove the Jews question from Denmark" and he was opposed to the use of murder to do so (both on principle and for ideological reasons). The Danish resistance sailed the entire Jewish population of Denmark over to Sweden in one night while he sat by and let them do it. When Reinhard Heydrich found that he'd been completely cheated out of any role in rendering Denmark Judenrein (Jew-less/Jew-free), he threw a fit but was ultimately unable to do anything about it. As his boss Himmler pointed out, the Danish SSPF had followed his orders to the letter.
  • More war stories; Juan Pujol García, after being rejected by both the American and British intelligence agencies, managed to join with Germany as a spy by promising them information on shipping movements and an extensive spy network. In actual fact, he had never been in Britain in his life and all the information he gave the Germans was based on film footage and library research. He created a fictitious network, just so the Germans would believe him and he'd be able to work for the British cause as a double agent known as Agent Garbo. The information of his "network" has such breadth that his German handlers stopped recruiting agents for the UK. The Brits finally hired him because his "infiltration" of their network consisted of marching up to their HQ, telling them he had been hired by Germany to spy on them, and offering to give Germany anything the British felt would hurt the German war effort - that and the fact that the Germans trusted him and his "network" so much that he had convinced them to expend significant resources tracking down an Allied convoy that did not exist.
    • For his efforts, Pujol was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire... and received the Iron Cross, becoming one of the very few people decorated by both sides in WWII.
    • The best example of how impressive this was: the Germans were sending money to Pujol to pay all of his "contacts"... but all that money was sent straight to the British Treasury.
    • As icing on the deception cake and possibly just see how much more German intelligence agency money he could funnel away, Pujol once sent a somber report to his German handlers announcing that one of his top agents had died of sickness with vital intelligence in hand, too late to assist Germany, and leaving behind a grieving widow. This sob story was so convincing that he managed to scam the Abwehr into issuing the widow a survivor's pension out of respect for the man's service to Germany. Needless to say, none of the events or individuals ever existed and Pujol just kept the pension money.
    • In the days preceding Normandy, Garbo convinced Hitler to not divert troops because this was testing for a much larger landing that would come sooner... a fiction that is worthy of its own entry.
  • Operation Fortitude. The Allies were working on trying to hide the massive troop build up in preparation for the Normandy Invasion. They hit a lucky break when intel revealed that the Germans believed the skeleton army the First United States Army Group was a fully functional Army Group. So the allies built a bunch of props (including balsa wood troop transport ships and inflatable tanks and maintained fake radio chatter around the clock to make the army seem larger than it really was. They assigned Patton to be in charge of the Group, which allowed them to bench him from Normandy for the slapping incident and which they hoped would further convince the Germans that the dummy army was realnote . The net result was Hitler never mobilized counter forces to counter the "test landing" at Normandy and Hitler was convinced an invasion at Calais was likely because the above mentioned Garbo told him it was still coming... AFTER THE FIRST ARMY WAS STOOD DOWN!
  • On a much darker note: the Nazis used this trope to conceal the Holocaust. They deliberately made the concentration camps sufficiently horrific that anyone who told another country about them would be assumed to be exaggerating irresponsibly.
    • In a newspaper article dated 5 years before WWII started, Hitler announced to the world that if they didn't accept the Jews deported from Germany, every one of them would be killed.
    • Hitler was probably also counting on the "once bitten, twice shy" reaction that the world had had to the mostly false reports of German atrocities on the Western Front during World War I (stories such as Belgian nuns having their breasts cut off by the Hun, for instance) and probably assumed that they would not so easily believe another series of reports, even if these turned out to be all too true.
    • One of the real tragedies of that approach is that reports of the atrocities early in the war were accused by prominent Jewish figures of being nothing more than anti-German propaganda. Individuals reporting the atrocities were often denounced for creating such unbelievable exaggerations, and accused of harming their own cause, because no sane person could possibly commit such monstrous acts.
    • There were also Jewish and anti-Nazi groups who refused to believe actual survivors of the camps telling them about their experiences — again, monstrosity on such a scale simply couldn't be anything but fantasy.
  • Hitler described the tactic of the "Big Lie" in Mein Kampf — claiming something enormously, outrageously false as true, because people are used to lying about minor things, but they find it hard to believe that anyone would lie about something major. Basically the idea is to get people to think "there's no way he's making this up"... even if you are, in fact, making it up. Being Hitler, he insisted that it was a tactic of the "international Jewish-Communist conspiracy," you know, the one that not even the Soviet Union's archives document. What makes this Refuge in Audacity is that, having described the tactic in so much detail, he used it himself — and got away with it until the Allies started physically overrunning concentration camps. When using a Big Lie, it helps immensely to talk oneself into believing it. Hitler apparently managed to do that with his "international Jewish-Communist conspiracy" — although some of his lieutenants had rather more sense.
  • Some of the escape attempts from various POW camps in World War II were utterly ludicrous yet (on occasion) successful. At Colditz alone, one man almost escaped by crossdressing (being foiled by a fellow POW's politeness), others nearly made it out via a tunnel exiting in a high-ranking German's office, and one man simply vaulted the wire acrobatically and legged it. And the glider built by a group on inmates including Douglas Bader (a man worthy of many a trope himself) near the end of the war.
    • In fact, just go read The Colditz Story and The Wooden Horse (another escape book that really happened). The sheer audacity and cunning of the prisoners is worthy of any fictional character.
      • The TV show Hogan's Heroes (and the play and film that inspired it, Stalag 17) was, in part, inspired by real-life POW exploits. The authors of the original play had, themselves, been captives of the Nazis.
  • Operation Chariot where in WWII, a group of British Commandos and sailors had to destroy the gate of a German-controlled dry dock in France by ramming it with a disguised, obsolete destroyer filled with explosives. The estuary they had to pass through to reach the dry dock was so heavily defended that the army, Royal Navy, and RAF command believed it to be impossible, and it would be a waste of resources. The commandos, the naval personnel, and Lord Mountbatten (Head of the Combined Operations Headquarters) believed that it was the impossibility of the operation that made it possible, as the German soldiers defending the dock wouldn't believe anyone would have the audacity to try it. Indeed, the destroyer sailed down the estuary virtually unchallenged until just a few hundred yards from its target, rammed it successfully, and later exploded a few hours behind schedule. Despite a catalogue of errors, leaving most of the commandos and sailors dead or captured, the mission was considered by all to be a success, as it rendered the dry dock useless to Germany's larger and more fearsome ships, in particular, the biggest and most modern of them all, the Tirpitz.
    • So daring was the raid, along with countless incidents, five Victoria Crosses were awarded to the raiders, more than in any other operation.
    • Operation Chariot, aka The Saint Nazaire Raid, is taught today at military academies (but otherwise virtually unknown) and is called The Greatest Raid of All Time.
    • When a large group of commandos were ready to leave, they saw that almost all of the small escape boats had been destroyed and decided on the spot to fight their way through the town, through several thousand heavily armed German troops, and make their way to Spain. It was in the process of this that their dwindling group decided to charge across a well-defended bridge, while the majority were low on ammo and seriously wounded. The Germans, awestruck by such audacity, couldn't keep them back. When the fighting was over, the Germans congratulated the plucky Brits for their guts.
  • The hits just keep on coming with this: Lieutenant-Commander Beattie, who had gallantly guided HMS Campbeltown into its target while under heavy fire, was being interrogated by an English-speaking German officer. Just as the German officer was telling him how futile it was to use such a flimsy ship to ram such a great and strong dock, the several tons of explosives hidden in the ship's bow, which the Germans still didn't know about, exploded and blew the office windows in. Beattie's response? "We're not quite as foolish as you think!"
    • This is a man who, when successive people were being shot at the helm and replaced five or six times, continued to stand at the conning position and calmly give helm orders with a complete lack of excitement. Total sangfroid and utterly nails.
  • When the Nazis gained power and began cracking down on the German film industry, Jewish actor Peter Lorre and one of his friends drove out to an isolated area to destroy various documents that "incriminated" their friends as prime blacklist material (or worse). When a policeman caught them burning the documents, Lorre successfully convinced the cop that they were filming a scene for his next movie and asked for his help. The policeman happily helped them destroy all the documents and left with an autograph. The best part? The pair had no film equipment with them whatsoever.
  • One group of German prisoners in an internment camp during WW2. They weren't allowed to have radios, but wanting to know how the war was going, they built a radio into the seat of a chair. The camp commander suspected they had a radio and had their rooms searched repeatedly. Each time, the commander came along to see that the search was done properly. Each time, the prisoners offered him a chair — the one with the radio in it. Each time, the chair wasn't searched, because the commander was sitting on it. After the war, one of the ex-prisoners told the commander how it was done; the commander apparently thought it was pretty funny.
  • During the Ardennes Offensive, when the Germans asked for the surrender of the encircled 101st Airborne Division, their famous reply was only the word "Nuts!", which might count as Refuge in Audacity.note  But the real example is the German demand for surrender. Bastogne was surrounded by a single infantry division, the 26th Volksgrenadiers, made up of poorly trained recruits and exhausted from over a week of hard fighting in winter snow. They only had a few units of support troops and were very likely outnumbered by the Americans in Bastogne. Their corps commander Von Lüttwitz realized he had no reinforcements to spare for an assault on the town. He realized American reinforcements in massive numbers were on their way. So what did he do? He demanded the American surrender.
  • Adrian Carton de Wiart, a British officer whose biography reads like a very unlikely movie plot, escaped from an Italian POW camp at Vincigliata. While on the run, he pretended to be an simple 'Italian farmer' - despite having an eyepatch, missing an arm, being riddled with scars and old bulletholes, and not being able to speak a word of Italian. He kept up the charade for eight days.
  • The "Siluro a Lenta Corsa" (Italian for "Slow-Moving Torpedo"), or Maiale (pig), is a manned torpedo fired from a submarine that moves very slowly but has longer range and a removable limpet mine in place of the warhead. The Royal Navy had turned down the idea as insane during World War I. In World War II, six Italian frogmen with three maiali penetrated Alexandria's harbour and sank two battleships and damaged a tanker and a destroyer (the latter was collateral: she was too near the tanker when the mine blew up). After that, the British became even more paranoid, as it doesn't do any good to catch the frogmen after they've already placed the mines.
    • And just to add to the awesomeness, not only were those the only two battleships the British had in the entire Mediterranean, the combination of the Kriegsmarine still menacing the Atlantic convoys, the Japanese rampaging through the Far East, and prior capital ship losses meant one of the primary naval theaters of the war saw no British battleships for months.
    • Also, Admiral Cunningham's reaction: he had the battleships raised (this being the downside to sinking a ship in a shallow harbor instead of out at sea) and told his men to act like the ships had not been disabled. Due to the capture of the frogmen, the Italians didn't learn the action had been successful until 1943, when Italy switched sides and the frogmen were released. Two years later, when all the warships had already been repaired and used in battle.
    • To be fair, the British had earlier done considerable damage to the Italian fleet at Taranto, in another famously daring raid.
  • Operation Mincemeat, which may well have allowed the Invasion of Sicily to happen. The British intelligence service at the time took the body of a dead Welsh tramp, dressed him up like an army officer, and attached a briefcase containing false details of an invasion of Sardinia and Greece to him. They then dumped the body off the Spanish coast, making it appear that he'd died in a plane crash at sea. German spies got their hands on the briefcase and sent it to Berlin. It got to Hitler himself with no one suspecting a thing. The Nazis only figured out they'd been duped when the Allies landed in Sicily.
    • Amusingly, this operation had a slight unintended side effect. When real Allied plans were captured later, they were never believed as quickly. This notably happened on D-Day in which Allied plans were captured early on, but due to the even larger deception campaign, it wasn't believed. Full German reinforcements didn't show up until the Allied forces already landed were too numerous.
      • In order to preserve the credibility of some of the double-agents involved in the D-Day deception campaign, British intelligence had them report to the Nazis that they had uncovered the ruse and that the real attack was to be at Normandy... before the landings began, but too late for German reinforcements to get there in time to matter.
  • The Doolittle Raids in 1942 were a suicidal mission waiting to happen, especially with the carriers forced to deploy their bombers — which were large, land-based aircraft that were completely unsuited for carrier operations — hundreds of miles away from their intended launch position off the coast of Japan; a number of bombers ended up either landing in the sea or in Japanese-occupied China. In fact, it had no significant purpose other than to provide a sorely-needed morale boost to the Allies in the Pacific War. And it succeeded. It was also considered important to conceal the nature of the attack, so that Japan would be unaware that aircraft carriers had penetrated so deeply behind their lines. Instead, President Roosevelt claimed that the bombers had been launched from the fictional land of Shangri-La.
  • While the notorious exploits of both Reinhard Gehlen and Otto Skorzeny during the war could certain qualify, perhaps their most audacious act was after the war ended: they each escaped from prison and together formed a new intelligence agency for the Americans.
  • Taffy 3 at the Battle Off Samar. Everything about this battle screams this from the Johnston sailing onto weapons splashes to the Samuel B. Roberts engaging a Japanese heavy cruiser at such close range that the enemy ship couldn't depress its guns low enough to effectively fire back. It takes a lot of guts to lead a force of tin cans against a massive squadron of battleships. Just one of those battleships on the Japanese side was larger than all of the ships in Taffy 3 combined. This battle also was the only time a carrier sunk a warship; not the carrier's planes, but the carrier itself. The White Plains' single five inch gun hit the Chokai's torpedo rack and the explosion disabled the heavy cruiser, which had to be scuttled by the Japanese during retreat.
  • The British Secret Service's Office 20 (that is, Office XX or 'double-cross'), which ran the largest counter-espionage operation in history up to that point. Their effectiveness in turning German agents surprised even themselves, when after the war they learned that they had succeeding in doubling every single German agent in British-held territory. Even before this realization, they were already deliberately having some of the turned German agents not make any reports back to Germany, since the Germans would've gotten suspicious if it seemed that so few of the spies they'd sent were getting caught.
  • The two-day Tatsinskaia/Tatsinskaya raid of December 1942, part of Operation 'Little Saturn', which targeted a weakly held section of the German front line where the German 6th Army, elements of the German 4th Panzer Army, and the Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies had just been encircled and trapped in a pocket centered around the city of Stalingrad. Major General Vasily Badanov was commander of the 24th tank corps, with a hundred tanks and ten thousand men. A new breach in the German lines was opened by infantry forces and his corps was committed to exploit it. Advancing 150km into the German rear areas his men drove straight onto Tatsinkaia airfield, where half the Luftwaffe's transport fleet was labouring night and day to keep the Stalingrad pocket supplied, and shot up everything in sight. Running out of ammunition halfway through the engagement, his men resorted to ramming the aeroplanes as they scrambled to take off. His force failed to encircle any more German forces as originally intended and suffered heavy losses when twenty thousand German panzer troops came to the Luftwaffe's rescue, but they still managed to destroy as much as a tenth of the Luftwaffe's entire transport fleet.
  • This was the stock-in-trade for the United States Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, a unit made up entirely of artists who among other things made inflatable tank decoys and recorded sounds of people building bridges that they would then play on speakers to make the Germans think a bridge really was being built and misdirect their attack. On one particular occasion shortly after D-Day two Frenchmen were riding along and to their astonishment saw four American soldiers effortlessly lift an (inflatable, unbeknownst to the Frenchmen) Sherman tank by the corners and turn it around. They looked at Soldier Arthur Shilstone, who could only come up with this as an answer:
    "The Americans are very strong."
  • The Civil Air Patrol, one of many Civil Defense organizations formed in the United States during the lead-up to the American entrance into the war, was employed in Coastal Patrol missions to hunt for German submarines off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from 1942 to 1943. Given that these were civilian pilots flying small private planes that would ordinarily never dare fly over open water, let alone the freezing waters of the Atlantic, their employment in anti-sub patrols was seen as a desperation measure illustrative of the state of American readiness in the early years of the war. When they spotted a German sub, they would call for the Army, Navy, or Coast Guard to send ships or planes to destroy it or chase it off. If the submarine was already preparing to attack a ship, the CAP pilots would make mock attacks, diving at the periscope to spook the sub into diving and trying to escape. Later on, Hap Arnold authorized the CAP Coastal Patrol squadrons to be armed with bombs and depth charges, itself another employment of this trope given CAP's civilian status, and the CAP would go on to claim two enemy subs sunk (at the cost of 26 CAP airmen lost) before the Coastal Patrol squadrons were deactivated in August of 1943.
  • Polish/British agent Krystyna Skarbek was this in spades - she would always found a way to escape from a tense situation through combination of wit, audacity and personal charm. Notable feats includes:
    • Escaping from Gestapo prison in Poland by feigning tuberculosis (she bit her tongue until it started bleeding) and being sent to Hungary (from she escaped. Note that nothing prevented the Gestapo from simply killing her
    • Asking German patrol for help repairing a broken car, whilst smuggling officers through the Balkans.
    • Making a bargain for lives of her fellow agents when they got captured by the Gestapo. She literally walks in and introduces herself as a niece of Bernard Montgomery (which was a complete lie), then told the Germans that if they execute her husband (another lie) "going medieval" wouldn't even be close to describe what the Allies would do to them (well, she was kinda right about that part). To further prove her point, she then showed them (broken and useless) parts of a radio equipment and states that she has "wireless contact" with the Allied forces. After a staggering three hours of negotiations, the Germans decided to release the prisoners.
  • Polish resistance fighter Witold Pilecki decided that more information was needed about a Nazi concentration camp. So he forged a false Jewish identity and arranged for himself to be sent to Auschwitz. After 2 and a half years, he decided his attempt to create an underground resistance in the concentration camp had failed, so he simply overpowered a guard and broke out, stealing German documents above the operation of the death camp in the process.
  • The Dutch minelayer HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen was behind enemy lines when the Dutch East Indies were overrun by Japan. In order to escape to safety in Australia, the ship's crew disguised it as a small tropical island by completely covering the ship's superstructure in palm trees and other foliage. It worked.
  • The Charge of Izbushensky. During the fights that led to the Battle of Stalingrad the Italian "Sforzesca" division had been routed, and the "Duke of Aosta" fast division deployed reinforcements in the form of the Savoia Cavalleria, a cavalry regiment, and a detachment from the "Voloire" regiment, only for said reinforcements stopping for the night and waking up surrounded by a Siberian regiment for 2,500 troops supported by at least 4 cannons, 10 mortars and 50 machine guns. The only sane option would have been surrender... And the Italian commander, incensed at the idea, ordered his squadrons to charge one by one using their sabers and hand grenades, supported by rifle fire from the squadrons that still had to charge and the detachment from the Voloire-proper name, Horse-Mounted Artillery Regiment. Surprised by the charges and the unexpected firepower, the Soviet troops ran at the third squadron, their losses amounting to 150 dead, 300 wounded, 600 prisoners, and the capture of 4 cannons, 10 mortars and 50 machine guns.

    World War I 
  • The Germans launched a gas attack against Russian soldiers who were occupying Osowiec, a fortress located in Poland. The Russian soldiers who survived the gas attack, with their faces covered in bloody rags and while coughing up blood and their own lungs, charged against the German soldiers. The German soldiers retreated because were so scared and caught off guard by the charge of the half-dead Russian soldiers. The half-dead Russian soldiers shot the retreating German soldiers. Obviously, audacity worked in favor of the half-dead Russian soldiers. The charge became known as "the attack of the dead men."

  • This was a frequent tactic of King Richard I of England, famously nicknamed “the Lionheart” for his personal courage. For example, during the Battle of Arsuf, Richard’s battle plan was ruined at the last second when some knights, tired of being harassed by Arab archers, charged out of formation. Richard decided to wing it and ordered his entire army to charge, hoping that such a sudden, brazen attack would shock and frighten the Arab forces into a rout. It worked.
  • Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair, and his outrageous list of suggestions for cutting costs on his airline.
    • One of the best was the idea of increasing the number of passengers by replacing some of the seats with standing room. When this was mocked in the press as being utterly ridiculous, a spokesman responded by saying it was just a joke, but one gets the impression that if it had been better received—and if not for the fact that neither the FAA nor EASA would ever allow it—there would be people standing for their plane journeys right now.
    • Also an ad campaign suggesting having only one pilot flying the plane. (Again, this is something that safety regulators would never permit.)
    • Another one that got attention was making you pay to use the bathroom. This idea was also scrapped, for three reasons: (1) the massive negative outcry, (2) the difficulty of finding a fair pricing scheme in Ryanair's market (basically, Ryanair flies in Europe, where there are enough currencies with enough weird coin shapes to make problems), and (3) the regulators again (who don't have much in the way of official rules on this but would probably object on the grounds of "basic human decency"). Of course, it's suspected that many such pronouncements by Ryanair are simply ways of drumming up publicity for its absurdly low fares....
  • For Scottish stand-up comedian Frankie Boyle, it's not so much refuge from audacity but a full-time domicile. It's arguably part of his comedic charm.
  • All of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's characters — Ali G (a white guy pretending to be black who does interviews in character with very important political figures), Borat (a clueless and, let's face it, tactless most-of-the-time news reporter from a fictional version of Kazakhstan), and Brüno (a Flamboyant Gay fashion reporter for Austrian Gay TV); most of the sketches focus on real people not in on the joke taking their outrageous statements at face value. Since no one living above ground is taken in anymore, Baron Cohen no longer uses them in public.
  • This and Bavarian Fire Drill were Frank Abagnale's bread and butter. While his film exploits were impressive, there were some that didn't make the cut that were apparently more so. When he was held in federal prison, he escaped by impersonating an undercover FBI agent who was supposedly investigating the prison conditions.
  • Vassilis Paleokostas. Greek bank robber and kidnapper for ransom. Escaped from prison with a helicopter. TWICE. FROM THE SAME PRISON.
  • Many of the attempts to cross the Berlin Wall would fall under this category. Such attempts included leaping over low parts of the Wall in broad daylight, stealing an APC and driving it through the Wall, using a sports car modified to pass under the checkpoint barricades at full speed, commandeering a steam locomotive and charging right through a checkpoint, and building ultralight planes and hot air balloons to fly over the Wall.
    • Special mention to the guy who used a power line as a zip-line.
      • And the two guys who escaped over a different wall out of Communist Eastern Europe, using home-made chairs that ran along high-voltage power lines (the kind you find up the tall steel towers). (They just had to climb up the last tower before the border, hook on the chairs, cross to the next tower, and climb down in a different country. The first half of the trip across was easy. Getting up the slope to the other tower, not so much.)
    • Also, one East German journalist managed to flee East Germany by organizing a photo shoot at one of the Inner Berlin checkpoints with a famed athlete. He asked the guards to pose for a picture with the athlete - then darted over the turnpike and ran across the death strip into the American sector.
  • Barack Obama makes an appearance at a Buffalo, NY restaurant; patron goes up to him and says, "You're a hottie with a smokin' little body."
  • A German student "mooned" a group of Hell's Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said. The use of this trope is probably how the guy managed to escape the bikers.
  • An eccentric nobleman during the 17th Century, the Comte de Saint-Germain was all about this trope. Claiming to have discovered the secrets of alchemy and repairing, duplicating, and melding gemstones, he managed to wheedle his way into the royal courts of Europe. Among his real skills, he was a brilliant philosopher, composer, violinist, and a master conversationalist. He liked claiming that he was immortal, over five hundred years old. His servants would say that he was lying. They had been in his service for over 70 years, and he was only 300 when they started.
  • During The Hundred Years War, you had the Conspicuously Public Assassination of Louis, Duke of Orléans. Jehan Sans Peur, Duke of Bourgogne, was transparently responsible for his death but unlike most chessmasters in history and fiction, he didn't bother with token alibis and polite disavowals, no. He had a theologian Jean Petit present a case before a Church Committee that the death of Duke of Orléans was a justifiable act of tyrannicide since Louis was deeply unpopular among Parisians and painted as an Asshole Victim. Then he arrived in Paris and publicly admitted to killing Louis and even insisted he be rewarded for it, which the city proceeded to do so. His argument, backed by soldiers, actually won the day, at least until the Orléans faction regrouped under the Armagnac faction which formed a bitter Civil War against the Burgundians. Years later, Jehan Sans Peur would himself be assassinated on his way to discuss peace.
  • When Henri IV of France and Navarre was excommunicated by the pope, he retaliated by excommunicating the pope. Which is completely impossible. Possibly the most epic use of, "No, You" in the history of the world.
    • That one is easily topped by the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicating each other after a spat, resulting in a rift between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches that has continued to the present day. While the current Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch are on friendly terms, there is no consideration whatsoever to reunifying the churches.
  • Read Silvio Berlusconi's Wikiquote page and marvel at how he stayed in office as Italian Prime minister for 17 years. And the probable ties with the Mafia and multiple scandals. One gets the feeling that if he hadn't been voted out, a good number of his countrymen wouldn't really have minded too much if someone invaded them on a mission of liberation from the trope.
    • Also, from Wikipedia:
      After the family of Eluana Englaro (who had been comatose for 17 years) succeeded in having her right to die recognised by the judges and getting doctors to start the process of allowing her to die in the way established by the court, Berlusconi issued a decree to stop the doctor from letting her die. Stating that, "This is murder. I would be failing to rescue her. I'm not a Pontius Pilate", Berlusconi went on to defend his decision by claiming that she was "in the condition to have babies", arguing that comatose women were still subject to menstruation.
    • Also this gem, said during the Sme trial.
      "All citizens are equal (in front of the law) but maybe the undersigned is a bit more equal than the others, since the 50% of Italians gave him the responsibility for governing the Country."
    • At the opening of the European Food Authority in Parma, June 21, 2005, asked to explain how Italy managed to get the support of its biggest competitor (Finland) over the EU Food Authority dispute, he claimed: "I used all my playboy skills and courted the Finnish President". The Finnish parliament took the claim rather seriously and questioned the President about it. Berlusconi then attempted a saving throw by using this very trope... only to make it worse. He said something in the line of: "Of course I was joking, I mean look at her: do you seriously think I could...?"note .
  • This was the essence of Attorney General Philander C. Knox's advice to Theodore Roosevelt when TR asked him to come up with a legal justification for America's having assisted Panama in gaining her independence:
    "Mister President, do not let so great an achievement suffer from any taint of legality."
  • Chelsea Manning—who at the time had not yet transitioned and was known as Bradley Manning—was a US soldier of second-to-lowest rank. Yet she was still able to access hundreds of thousands of classified intelligence documents using her workstation, and smuggle them out on a Lady Gaga CD. All while avoiding suspicion by simply acting normal. She didn't get found out until after the documents were published by Wikileaks.
  • A fan dressed in a rooster costume interrupted an interview during the 2012 US Open. He didn't have any media credentials, even fake ones, to be where he was, apparently this trope was just responsible for nobody stopping him.
  • You'd be surprised how much you can get away with just by telling people what you're doing. Stealing a stapler? Okay. Taking their car that they let no one else drive? No problem. Just act like it's just a normal, routine thing, and you can get away with a lot. Note: requires confidence and balls.
    • You'd be surprised what parents will swallow, if you pass it off as a joke.
      • "Whatcha doin', kiddo?"
      • "Oh, I was just gonna get stoned and party naked until I pass out from sexual exhaustion" *Laugh*
    • From The Graphing Calculator Story: It's midnight. I've been working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. I'm not being paid. In fact, my project was canceled six months ago, so I'm evading security, sneaking into Apple Computer's main offices in the heart of Silicon Valley, doing clandestine volunteer work for an eight-billion-dollar corporation. People around the Apple campus saw us all the time and assumed we belonged. Few asked who we were or what we were doing.When someone did ask me, I never lied, but relied on the power of corporate apathy. The conversations usually went like this:
      "Do you work here?"
      "You mean you're a contractor?"
      "Actually, no."
      "But then who's paying you?"
      "No one."
      "How do you live?"
      "I live simply."
      *** "We wanted to release a Windows version as part of Windows 98, but sadly, Microsoft has effective building security." Oh snap.
  • Eric Raymond advises in hacker culture, particularly in open source mailing lists, that because subtle emotions don't carry well in text, it's better to flame so openly and over the top ridiculously, if you're going to flame at all, so that everyone knows you're just being silly. Haha, only serious.
  • Many of these test answers qualify as well, with varying degrees of success.
  • The Three-Toed Sloth, one of nature's better animals.
    • Mr. Sloth harbors no fewer than four separate kinds of algae in his fur, causing him to mold green during the wet seasons, allowing plenty of delicious ecosystem for bugs, moths, and worms that decide to infest his fur. Even better, the sloth's digestive system is so slow that he's just a mobile compost heap wrapped in a moldy sweater... how does this crazy critter survive living in the Amazon, where there are more predators than leaves? Simple: No predator would ever want to eat Mr. Sloth, due to his extremely revolting niche lifestyle. Except for harpy eagles, that is.
    • Unfortunately, sloths have evolved against every conceivable predator except cars. They are being roadkilled out of existence. There are some people who block off roads so the sloth can cross peacefully. No matter how long it takes.
  • A corollary to this trope is something too crazy not to be true. This was used to advantage in Ancient Athens, when the tyrant Peisistratos managed a comeback by dressing a tall woman up as Athena and then riding into the city in a golden chariot with her, fooling the masses into thinking he had the goddess' favor. (Peisistratos then failed in that particular coup. He was forced to retreat, invest in gold mines, and use the money to hire a private army to take back his tyranny.)
  • The book Cops: Their Lives In Their Own Words has one interviewee mentioning that middle-class juries would acquit people simply because they couldn't believe human beings were capable of the things they did... like a mother sewing her baby's rectum up because she got tired of him defecating all the time.
  • Giuseppe Garibaldi lived by this trope, and actually achieved quite a few moments:
    • During the Uruguayan Civil War, the Uruguayan army was crushed at the battle of Arroyo Grande in December 1842. Garibaldi, living in Uruguay at the time, led the defense of the Uruguayan capital Montevideo with a few thousand newly-freed slaves and a few hundred immigrants, against the victorious troops of Argentina's caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas and former Uruguay's Manuel Oribe. Garibaldi led the city's defense for 6 years remaining undefeated, and his side eventually won the war, causing, among other things, the fall and exile of Rosas.
    • The Spedizione dei Mille: Garibaldi attacked the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, with 999 underarmed men and one underarmed woman, against an army of over 100,000 soldiers. He won the war in the space of five months. He conquered the whole kingdom because the king of Two Sicilies and his generals thought it was just another group of pro-Italian unification patriots they could dispatch by simply telling the locals they were bandits (it had already worked once), but the Sicilians knew Garibaldi's face and didn't lynch him long enough for him to declare he was there to conquer the place and cut the taxes. By the time the king and his retinue started taking him seriously, he had already conquered the Sicily proper (half of the kingdom) and increased the force of his army to fifteen thousands, and most of the Sicilian army had either deserted or switched sides. The last battle of the war was between Garibaldi's army, now increased to thirty thousands (about thirty times than the one he started the war with) between volunteers from Sicily proper, the continental part of the kingdom and former military, and a very demoralized Sicilian army of twenty thousands...
      • In this one, Garibaldi was helping someone even more audacious than himself: the Count of Cavour, prime minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The plan to create the Kingdom of Italy was as following: send in Garibaldi to conquer the Two Sicilies; when Garibaldi is almost finished, send in the King of Sardinia Vittorio Emanuele II with the Sardinian Army, taking over the minor duchies and most of the Papal States through which they would march, ostensibly to stop Garibaldi; have the King tell Garibaldi to stop and disband his army, upon which he would do just that; organize a referendum through all the conquered territories to have the people legitimate it; organize another referendum to change the name of the country to Kingdom of Italy; when the great powers finally realize what has just happened, point at Garibaldi and tell them it's the only way to prevent the mad general from starting another war, and that now they would guarantee the independence of what remained of the Papal States. It worked (especially after they saw Italy was serious about guaranteeing the Pope's independence as long as France was willing and capable to defend it, what with stopping Garibaldi and locking him into jail every time he tried but one, with the exception justified by him breaking out and still having the volunteers from the latest attempt and outrunning the Royal Italian Army. They still locked him in when he realized it wouldn't work and gave up).
      • Also, the typical reaction of the Sicilian governments to patriots coming from other Italian states to start a revolution: call them bandits, warn the local population they were coming, and then send in the army to arrest the patriots and save them from the local population. It had worked three years earlier, when a group of patriots first overran the prison of Ponza to increase their numbers with the inmates (they had aimed at the political prisoners, but Ponza's inmates were mostly common criminals) and get some weapons and then landed on the mainland near the capital (in spite of the name, the capital of Naples was not in Sicily proper but on the mainland), only for more than half of the group to be lynched and the survivors given to the soldiers that were coming. Then they tried it again with Garibaldi, only to fail due his expedition landing in Sicily, where pro-government sentiment had always been much lower than on most of the mainland, and Garibaldi's own fame allowing him to tell the locals why he was there.
    • The Franco-Prussian War: In this war, tactfully summarized as "The German states play the role of drunken fratboy to France's ugly girl home on a Saturday night", Garibaldi raised a volunteer legion to fight for the new French republic. The reason there was a new republic was that the Emperor had already been captured by the Germans, along with most of his army, and they were setting off to besiege Paris and proclaim their own empire. In Versailles palace, too, just to rub it in. Sounds like a less-than-ideal time to pitch in with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits? Well, he didn't quite save France, but Victor Hugo called him "The only undefeated "French" general of the war".
    • Although he was turned down, the fact that when, offered a position as a Major-General for the Union in 1861, he demanded total command of the US Army serves as a good example of his Modus Operandi.
  • Ralph Fiennes having unprotected sex with an air hostess in the bathroom of the plane on his way to an AIDS awareness convention as their spokesperson. And he was allowed to continue being their spokesperson. She got fired, though.
  • The Chaser's War on Everything managed to get through the heavy security at the 2007 APEC summit using nothing but a Canadian flag, fake passes which actually said "joke" and "it's pretty obvious this isn't a real pass", and a heavy helping of this trope. With it they actually drove past the entire guard of honor, who were armed. In the end, the Chaser team was only caught by police because one of them exited the car disguised as Osama bin Laden...though in another example of this trope, the officers walked up to and arrested the plainclothes guy standing next to him, leaving "Osama" to awkwardly follow the group off the premises. This was just outside of the hotel George W. Bush was staying at during the meeting. Buoyed by their success, the members of The Chaser who weren't arrested tried to infiltrate the APEC meeting again the very next day. All of them disguised as black limos. It's a surprise none of them got shot.
    • In another example, they managed to sneak a bunch of people into some very secure spaces (including the Sydney Opera House and an Australian Military Base) by way of a Trojan Horse... A literal Trojan Horse... they dressed them up as Greek Soldiers who would exit after dropping off the horse. The only site that wasn't fooled was the Turkish Embassy. Apparently, they were suspicious for some reason.
  • Many scams — an example is Bernie Madoff. As one commenter said: "The SEC is very good at rooting out sophisticated fraud, especially in accounting gimicks [sic]. But they, like most human beings, are simply not that good at identifying accounting statements that are simply made up out of whole cloth."
  • In 168 BC, the Egyptians petitioned the Romans to aid them in fighting off the Syrian Empire. The Romans sent a small delegation headed by Gaius Popilius Laenas, who travelled to the Syrian camp and demanded an audience with Antiochus IV, the king of Syria. There, he wordlessly handed him the Roman Senate's ultimatum: Withdraw, or face war with Rome. To make sure that Antiochus understood the stakes, he then took a branch, and drew a circle around Antiochus, telling him that he could have all the time he needed to think, but that he had to reach a decision before he left the circle. The Syrians decided to heed the warning of the Senate and withdrew from Egypt.
    • He probably would have left anyway, though; Rome was the most powerful state in the Mediterranean at that point and had proven it during the Punic Wars.
  • In February 2009, a young man walked into a Chicago police station and worked a shift despite having no badge or identification. That same kid, 14 years old at the time, was later arrested for driving off with a Lexus from a Lexus dealership. He was caught three hours later after a car chase ending in a crash against a telephone pole. He tried to get away by grabbing a stroller and casually walking away.
    • Autistic ace Darius McCollum, who is obsessed with the New York transit system. At 5, he had memorized all of the routes. At 15, he hijacked a train and drove it along its ordinary route. Passengers did not notice. To this day, he is still being arrested for impersonating transit workers, having been arrested 32 times as of 2019. He has spent several years in Sing Sing. If you're wondering why the MTA doesn't just hire him and nip the problem in the bud, it's both because of his criminal record and because hiring someone with a mental disability might leave them open to lawsuits.
  • L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, revels in this trope, and has cited it as a defense against its critics.
    • The "Miss Blood" incident is the most famous example of this.
    • Who pulled off the largest infiltration of the US government in history? The Soviets, you say? Nope. The Nazis? Naah. The Confederacy, perhaps? Not even close. It was... well, you can see what this entry is under, right? Operation Snow White was a bald-faced attempt to scour clean every record that the IRS and the FBI held on their church, led by the founder's third wife, and even now no one knows for certain how many incriminating documents were destroyed. And it was only uncovered by accident.
  • Scientology's Sea Org contract goes for a billion years, including future reincarnations. An NCAA (all sports, not just [1]) contract for the use of a player's image lasts "forever and throughout the universe". At least the college won't sue the player if they decide to leave...
    • However, the NCAA may soon be having a change to its policy on image rights shoved down its throat. In 2019, California enacted a law that, effective in 2023, will give college players their image rights. Several other states are considering laws similar to California's.
  • Josef Fritzl successfully imprisoned his daughter and their eventual seven children in the basement of his house for 24 years without his wife or their other children or neighbors noticing anything. Really, the idea is so outlandish and monstrous that no rational person would ever entertain the idea of someone doing it. To be fair, apparently his wife is 95% deaf and has cerebral atherosclerosis, so not all there either.
  • Two people escape from maximum security prison in a helicopter. That isn't what makes it an example; what makes it an example is that they were in prison awaiting trial for doing it BEFORE. The fact that you can get away with having a fan club for the two of them says a lot.
  • A German Prisoner had escaped from prison via... hiding in a cardboard box.
  • The Yiddish word chutzpah has been defined as "clever audacity; for example, a child killing both parents and then asking the courts for mercy because they're an orphan."
  • In the late 1950s, the Navy was determined to launch the first US satellite with their Vanguard rocket. Which meant that even though Wernher von Braun had built better rockets for the Army, he couldn't launch anything into space, only launch tests. So, without getting permission from his supervising officer, von Braun moved one of his rockets out to the pad and decided he'd launch it into space and then go "Whoops, it was an ACCIDENT!" The supervisor found out before he could actually do the launch, but man, that took GUTS!
  • In an example from the animal kingdom, this. A mouse, caught on camera, stealing meat from a leopard. Right in front of the leopard.
  • The UK is much more liberal when it comes to swearing on television and radio, but is generally frowned upon before the 9pm watershed. But when one hears, for instance, the word "wanker" in an episode of tea-time gameshow Countdown, or the word "bullshit" on The News Quiz at quarter-to-seven, one tends to brush it off as if nothing happened. Or maybe the Media Watchdogs are just watching the wrong shows.
    • The Wankers on Countdown was recorded but not broadcast, and The News Quiz is a radio show (the watershed only covers television).
      • Radio broadcasts in the UK supposedly don't allow any swearing at all, but this varies: Radio 4 (home of the aforementioned News Quiz, among others) has more leeway as a non-commercial adult-oriented station, but you still can't drop a Cluster F-Bomb before 9 pm.
    • Perhaps some of the greatest uses of this trope in the UK, accidental or not, come from none other than the BBC, who apparently have a really difficult time saying the phrase 'Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary' without defaulting to a very Country Matters-filled Freudian Slip.
  • Every scheme listed here is flat-out insane. This did not stop people from trying them. See if you can spot which ones are simply stupid and which are stupid yet take cojones.
    • The IRS website lists here more arguments whose use make the user liable to a $5,000 fine at least.
  • Zhuge Liang was a general in China's Three Kingdoms period with an unparalleled knack for audacious feats of strategy that always caught the other army off-guard and always worked. Then he gets caught off-guard: Sima Yi, an opposing general, managed to annihilate the forces tasked with protecting Zhuge Liang's flank and marched an overwhelming force to the gates of the city Zhuge Liang was in. There was no way to win the battle. Zhuge Liang walked out of the city, unarmed, and sat down in front of the walls in full view of the army and started playing his lyre without an apparent care in the world. Convinced that Zhuge Liang had some nasty trick up his sleeve and he was facing annihilation, Sima Yi turned his army right around and went home without even attempting battle. Which he would have easily won.
  • There's an old story of two strangers sitting at a table and eating their lunches. Alice looks up and notices Bob is eating a cookie from her bag. So Alice reaches out and takes another cookie, with a meaningful stare. Bob helps himself to another cookie. Alice takes another. They go all the way to the bottom of the bag, and there's one last cookie. Bob breaks it in half, gives Alice half, and leaves. That's when Alice looks again in her lunchbox and sees her own, untouched, package of cookies. She was eating Bob's cookies all along.
  • Our very own Ad of Lose page is typically displaying at least one, and frequently two, ads for marketing services. What else could this be?
  • T. E. Lawrence based his entire military career upon this principle. As a young man, he had been profoundly influenced by the heroes of classical mythology, so he acted like he was the protagonist of a heroic epic. The act was so convincing that everyone around him sort of just rolled with it.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte, when he returned from his exile to Elba island. He essentially decided one day that he'd had enough of this 'exile' silliness and caught a boat back to France, where he gathered an army of volunteers while heading for Paris. When Louis XVIII sent his army to kill the renowned general, Napoleon left his own forces behind, walked up to the attacking army, and asked if they were really thinking of trying to kill him. He captured Paris two weeks later.
    • On an earlier occasion, Napoleon's army needed to seize a vital bridge that the Austrian army was preparing to blow up. Two of Napoleon's marshals, Murat and Lannes, ride up and demand to know what the Austrians think they're doing. Didn't they know that this bridge had been ceded to the French under the terms of the armistice? One Austrian sergeant on the scene did realize that they were bluffing, but Murat then demanded of the Austrian officer if he took orders from sergeants. Suffice it to say that the French were able to seize the bridge.
  • This was the only reason why Skippy, from Skippy's List, wasn't beaten up, court-martialed, or drummed out of the army, according to him.
  • When it was first proposed, Quantum Physics was this. Or, as Niels Bohr put it:
    "We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct."
  • In 2007, Timothy Rouse escaped from jail in Kentucky on some very serious charges by having a friend send a fax from the corner grocery store claiming that a court order demanded his release. The 'order' was incorrectly formatted, on plain paper, with no identifying marks or seals. He was promptly released from jail.
  • In social-engineering attacks, the easiest way to break into a secure facility is to act like you belong there. If there's a "code of the day" system, strike preemptively by asking the other person for the password. Someone broke into an army base by dressing as an officer and ordering his way in.
  • Phillipe Petit, when arriving in America with his equipment to walk between the Twin Towers, was asked by a customs official what it was for. He responded that he was going to use it to put a wire illegally between the Twin Towers and walk across. The custom official laughed at him, wished him luck, and called for the next person.
  • A disturbing rather than awesome example: As documented by United 93, one of the chief reasons the FAA and the military were slow to react to the September 11th, 2001 hijackings was that an airplane hijacking was simply absurd. It had been decades since the last one, and no one anticipated a hijacking on that day, much less four. The idea of hijacked planes being used as weapons had been considered by the military, but they assumed it would be planes coming from outside the United States and so there would be more time to react. Furthermore, once a hijacking was underway the protocol at the time was for flight attendants and passengers to cooperate with the hijackers and not try anything reckless. The assumption was that the hijackers would use their hostages to negotiate and then land the plane; nobody on the first three planes suspected that the hijackers were planning to use the planes as kamikaze missiles and kill everybody. The reason that United 93 turned out differently is that it had been delayed, and therefore the passengers had time to recieve news of what was happening.
  • John Giles, the Alcatraz escapee who veritably made it to dry land before being intercepted. While washing military clothing in the prison laundry, he managed to purloin a complete Army uniform one piece at a time; thus disguised, he simply stepped onto a military launch as if he belonged on board. Had his absence from the prison not been noticed immediately, or had the launch not been bound for Angel Island rather than the mainland, Giles would've been the guy Escape from Alcatraz was written about.
  • In the case "R. v. Sharpe", Canadian Chief Justice openly admitted that "person" has a clear definition given in the Canadian criminal code, but that she will impose a separate definition for this one law (mostly to put a ban on drawn Lolicon and Shotacon that would otherwise not be considered as depicting an underage "person").
    • Ignoring the plain text of the law is surprisingly common for courts to do in order to prevent Loophole Abuse and blatant miscarriages of justice.
  • Averted with a Qatari diplomat traveling into the United States sneaking cigarettes aboard his plane and smoking in the restroom. Eventually, one of the air marshals noticed smoke drifting out through the door and asked what he was doing. The diplomat's response? "I'm trying to light my shoes on fire."
    • Yeah, while we're at it — do not attempt Refuge in Audacity with airline security. Ever. Seanbaby put it best when he wrote: "Federal regulations require them to have no idea you were only joking as they riddle your body with bullets." This especially goes for using Refuge in Audacity by claiming to do something that was done in an actual terrorist attack or attempt thereof, as the diplomat did. A terrorist once tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with a bomb in his shoes, but was stopped when a flight attendant noticed him trying to light his shoes on fire.
  • Sad but true with atrocity-committing dictators and terrorists-turned-public-figures being given little more than a judiciary "slap on the wrist" (if that) because slaughtering people by the village-load and establishing a military junta apparently makes you untouchable. As the saying goes, "You kill 1 person, you go to prison. You kill 20 people, you get institutionalized. You kill 100,000 and you're granted political asylum."
    • In his Dressed to Kill show, Eddie Izzard points out that "[Hitler] was a mass-murdering fuckhead, as many important historians have said. But there are other mass murderers who got away with it. Stalin killed many millions, died in his bed. Well done there. Pol Pot killed 1.7 million Cambodians, died under house arrest, age 72. Well done, indeed. And the reason we let them get away with it is because they killed their own people. And we're sort of fine with that. Oh, help yourself, you know we've been trying to kill you for ages, so you kill your own people... Seems to me Hitler killed people next door. Oh, stupid man. After a couple of years: well we won't stand for that, will we? Pol Pot killed 1.7 million people. We can't even deal with that. I think we think that if someone kills someone, that's murder, you go to prison. You kill ten people, you go to Texas they hit you with a brick, that's what they do. Twenty people, you go to a hospital and they look through a small window at you forever. And over that we can't deal with it. Y'know? Somebody's killed 100,000 people, we're almost going 'well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning.'"
  • The state of Georgia finally caved in to the pressure to change its state flag in the early 2000s because of its depiction of the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (often erroneously called the "Stars and Bars"). The new flag is simply a recreation of the less-famous firstnote  Confederate national flag (the actual Stars and Bars) with the state seal within the blue field of stars.
  • In an interview, Johnny Depp recounts a story in which he buys some paint with the intent of defacing a billboard with his face on it because he doesn't like the picture. He is caught by a security guard, who, upon realizing who he is, tells him to get on with it.
    "That's... you!"
    "Yeah, I know!"
    "... Hurry."
    • From that same interview:
      "On rollerskates... It's such an absurd thing to do, you have to try and top yourself."
  • Halloween (and in some places, Mardi Gras) relies on this. It is the only time of year you can dress in sexually charged and/or bloody costumes without the police trying to arrest you. Hence committing a crime should be easier. Right?
  • An Arizona restaurant called the Heart Attack Grill has food items like the Quadruple Bypass Burger or Flatliner Fries, dresses their servers as sexy nurses, and bears the slogan "A taste worth dying for." Its Youtube commercial offers the warning that side effects "may include sudden weight gain, repeated increase of wardrobe size, back pain, male breast growth, loss of sexual partners, lung cancer, tooth decay, liver sclerosis, stroke, and an inability to see your penis. In some cases, mild death may occur."
    • There is a documented case of a man suffering a fatal heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill. Which means that their place is probably way too unhealthy to trust again.
    • The Quadruple Bypass Burger — fried in lard! — is too big to be eaten as is, because the human mouth doesn't open that wide, yet it is still actually ordered. You just take it apart.
  • eBay sellers that charge something like $100 for an item or more when there are others selling for way less. Possibly justifiable if you're the only one who ships internationally or something, but otherwise, who do they think they're trying to kid?
    • By the same token, people that use eBay to literally sell nothing at all. Things like an "air guitar" (an empty box) have sold for more than $100, despite the picture and description specifically saying that the item does not exist.
  • Same thing happens with mobile apps that only pretend to do something. While the app's creator explicitly states (sometimes in all caps) that the app is not the real deal, there will still be a dozen bad reviews from people who don't bother to read descriptions, buy apps, and then complain about them.
    • One deserves special mention: "I am rich". It shows a red gem, and displays a short (and badly worded) poem when the gem is pressed. Its cost? A thousand dollars. In the one day it was available before Apple pulled it from the store, eight people bought it.
  • A group of 5 people steal a GAS STATION from a Kansas small town.
  • This. It takes Breathless Non Sequitur Up to Eleven.
  • A house was stolen.
  • John Wilkes Booth managed to escape capture at the Ford Theater due to the simple fact that what he did was so outrageous nobody realized what he'd done. He had time to jump onto the stage, breaking a leg, deliver a Bond One-Liner, and then limp to his horse on the aforementioned broken leg before riding off into the night... while the majority of the theater was still trying to figure out what he'd done. (That is, shooting Abraham Lincoln.) He even did this while there were military personnel at the theater!note 
    • Booth basically relied on this trope in order to be able to approach the president during a time when everyone was Properly Paranoid that Lincoln would be assassinated because he insisted on making public appearances in the wake of a civil war. Anyone who saw Booth walk towards the president's box didn't question why he was there. He was an actor, so him being in a theater wasn't unusual. There wasn't a guard at the door when Booth arrived at the box, but even if he wasn't off drinking, most historians believe that he would've allowed Booth into the box. Hey, it's the most famous actor of the time coming to see the president. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Hizzoner Da Mare Richard J. Daley of Chicago could have listed an example every day. His son, Richard M. Daley, as mayor, wanted to get rid of Meigs Field Airport on the lakefront, so he could reclaim it as parkland. The rich folks who enjoyed their airport pulled every loophole in the book to prevent this. As a result, Daley sent bulldozers to the runway in the middle of the night to carve huge X's into the runway, rendering it unusable. This circumvented a restraining order that prevented him from closing the active airport, and allowed him to condemn the now-unusable site.
    • He was fined by the FAA for failing to give appropriate notice (a slap-on-the-wrist $33,000, the largest amount possible at the time); his actions endangered lives (an aircraft on short final had to be diverted as his equipment began work), and he stranded sixteen airplanes at the field through his antics.
  • One anecdote tells of a white undercover FBI agent who successfully infiltrated a black gang in South Central Los Angeles and got them all busted for drug trafficking. Later interviews established that the gang members trusted the agent because they didn't think the police would be stupid enough to send a white guy to infiltrate a black gang.
    • The same agent was also famed for keeping a country music tape in his car that contained a song with the lyrics "He's an undercover agent for the FBI" in it and ensuring that as many people as possible got into the car and heard that song.
    • This song in question is "Uneasy Rider" by Charlie Daniels and itself is a musical example of this trope
    • There's a list of such improbable moles here, including a black man infiltrating the KKK and chatting with their Great Wizard David Duke (famously depicted in the 2018 film BlacKkKlansman) and a Jew infiltrating a Neo-Nazi group.
      • The story about the black man is made slightly more probable by the fact that, whenever Stallworth (the officer) had to appear in person, they would send in a white officer. That said, Stallworth earns double points for actually asking the Grand Wizard if he ever worried about being infiltrated by a minority. The Grand Wizard reassured him that he could tell if a person was black by the way they talked.
  • Quite a lot of internet phishing (not to be confused with hacking) relies on Refuge in Audacity. Not as common now that the average joe knows about scam letters and phishing methods, but in days when the average AOL'er and secretary was less savvy, it was quite common for accounts or entire systems (occasionally very big systems) to be compromised simply by someone calling/emailing pretending to be a serviceman asking for their information. They did it by burying their intentions under technical jargon and functioning on the premise that it was assumed that no one with bad intentions would simply call and ask for your password or to be keyed into your system.
    • This is still done in retail circles, especially at stores that sell gift cards. Scammers who have knowledge of how the gift-card system works on the back-end will call a retail outlet, claiming they are either from the company that issues the cards, or from the retail company itself, and simply ask the clerk on the phone to enter some numbers into their computer to "test" the system. Clerks used to such random shenanigans from corporate will not really pay attention to the fact that they're transferring thousands of dollars.
  • Copyright-lawsuit outfit Righthaven, after losing a case because the 'right to sue' that they had obtained from their parent company cannot exist under law, as you need to hold the copyrights before you can sue over them (a thing called 'standing'), then argued that, as they lacked standing, the court lacked standing to order them to pay defendants costs. The judge didn't find their arguments persuasive, surprisingly.
  • Steven Jay Russell, the con man who inspired the movie I Love You Phillip Morris, certainly counts. It takes some balls to fake your own death from AIDS in order to escape from prison.
  • Ricky Gervais' hosting duties during the 2010 Golden Globe Awards would have been enough to get anyone, regardless of their star power, blacklisted in Hollywood for eternity. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, desperate to get its ratings back up, hired Gervais to host the ceremony. Gervais then proceeded to mock every Hollywood institution in the room — he made jokes about The Tourist (right in front of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp), heavily indicated that awards could be bought from the HFPA, mocked Mel Gibson (who was facing charges of abusing his then-wife and child under the influence of alcohol) right in front of him, pimped his own film The Invention of Lying, drank several glasses of beer during the telecast, told everyone that he would never host again, and generally mocked the entire concept of the award ceremony. To the HFPA's surprise, ratings went through the roof, and Gervais was asked to come back and host the 2011 awards (where he did more of the same).
  • This attack by Anonymous, known as "Military Meltdown Monday." Not only did Anon break into the US military's database and make away with some 90,000 military email usernames and passwords, they also left an invoice for their "audit" of the security company's encryption, totaling to $310.
  • In January 2011, a man in Russia managed to get off of being charged with armed robbery for stealing a truck containing a shipment of vodka by arguing that he was stealing the Vodka and that the truck just happened to be how he was transporting the Vodka.
  • Conman Victor Lustig literally lived off this:
    • As early scam of his consisted in him walking in a bank, offering to exchange $ 20,000 in Liberty Bonds for a repossessed ranch and exchange for cash other bonds worth 10,000 dollars, and then waltz out with the cash and the bonds. The bank director later tracked him down, but Lustig forced him to give him more money otherwise he'd tell everyone how easily he scammed them;
    • He invented the money box scheme: first, you take four $ 1000 bills with similar serial numbers, erase the last number to make them identical, and put three inside a little box; then you go to someone and use the fourth bill to prove the mark that the 'magical' box can duplicate that bill while complaining it takes it six hours to do the job and you need cash now; sell the box for $ 30,000; when, two 'duplications' later, the mark realizes he's been had, Lustig's already away;
      • He once scammed a cop with this trick. Later the cop tracked him down... And he bartered his life and freedom for the correct way to make the box work.
    • At some point he started scamming mob bosses;
    • One of Lustig's nicknames is "The man who sold the Eiffel Tower. Twice". Here's how he did it:
      • He was in Paris when he read on a journal that the (then) pre TV/Radio landmark was a costly waste of space, metal, and, due the maintenance needs, money, suggesting to sell it. So he went to six scrap metals moguls and told them the government JUST realized this, and was quietly looking for buyers to get rid of it;
      • The chosen victim (he scammed only one for realism) grew suspicious, so he asked for a bribe. Which was taken as proof that he was genuine because everyone knows the government is corrupt;
      • After getting the money from the bribe and the first payment he ran, and saw that the victim had not pressed charges out of shame. So, what did he do? He chose six other moguls and did it again. This time, the chosen victim had the sense to check, and the conman had to run...
    • Lustig's other masterpiece: conning Al Capone in spite of him knowing who he was. How? He asked him to give him 50,000 dollars for a con with the promise to give him back twice the sum in a month and the understanding that Capone would have him killed if he tried any funny business, and then, after a month, told him he had failed, gave him back the money, and begged for forgiveness, resulting in Capone rewarding his "honesty" with five grand.
  • []. If it hadn't been for a terrified woman going to the FBI after the "hitman" tried to blackmail her, they might have never realized the man behind it was soliciting actual offers.
  • While ultimately unsuccessful, the arguments put forth by Charles Guiteau during his trial for the murder of President James Garfield, ranging from accusing the latter's doctors of the actual killingnote  to seeking the intervention of President Chester A. Arthur on his behalf in return for the raise he got due to Garfield's death, essentially defines this trope.
  • has an article on the ballsiest con artists of all time.
  • Any person who calmly walks into a public restroom, straight past the queue, and into the cubicle that just opened up. They get away with it because by the time people's brains catch up to the idea that someone would so blithely ignore the queue, they're already in the cubicle and safe.
  • There are several well-known stories (possibly urban legends) involving celebrities who do insane feats in front of random people, then dare them to tell someone about what just happened. One such story involves Bill Murray, who supposedly walked up to a random customer at a fast-food restaurant, took one of his fries and ate it in front of him, then said, "No one will ever believe you" before walking away. For his part, Murray has heard the stories before, and said in a GQ article in 2010 that he himself thinks it's "crazy and unlikely and unusual". The myth may have stemmed from a biography of James M. Cain in the mid-80's, which featured a passage where the actor and a group of friends (including a famous actress) were driving on the Pacific coast and stopped at a roadside diner — as they were getting up to leave, the actress walked up to a customer, exposed her breasts, and walked off, saying to her friends afterwards, "C'mon! No one will ever believe him."
  • After one too many "OJ is guilty" weekend update jokes, Norm MacDonald got fired from SNL, only to be inexplicably brought back as a guest host 18 months later. To say Norm revelled in the irony would be an understatement, as he used his opening monologue to point out he hadn't become any funnier in the interim and had no intention of curbing down the Black Comedy that got him fired to begin with. He then hilariously proved his point, using guest host immunity to prevent the NBC execs from pulling the plug.
  • Peter Wessel Tordenskjold, a Norwegian naval officer in the Danish-Norwegian navy, fought a Swedish frigate 'De Olbing Galley' twice the size of his own ship in July 1714. After a having fought a whole day and night, he was running out of ammunition. He then sent out an envoy to the Swedish ship asking to borrow some more gunpowder, so they could continue fighting. The request was refused, but the captains drank to each other's health and promised to meet another day.
  • A story taken from Tumblr: "When I was in preschool, there was this really weird system of time-out where they'd put you in this giant plastic bucket [..] And the rule was you couldn't leave the bucket for ten minutes. In case you didn't know, I was what the teachers referred to as a "difficult child" which is code for "walking entity of sass", so I was in the time-out bucket quite a bit. Once they put me in the bucket for thirty minutes, and I thought that was incredibly unfair, so I grabbed the handles and shifted my body repeatedly until the bucket and I were out of the classroom, in the hallway, and through the front door. They found me in the parking lot scooting to freedom in the time-out bucket. The teachers were furious and I said, "Hey, I never left the bucket". So they called my mum and told her what I did and she just said, "Well, he never left the bucket.""
    • Another one from Tumblr: "One time, these two kids were arguing in the middle of class and the teacher goes, 'Can't you be a little more mature?' so one kid just screamed 'TAXES!' and punched the other kid in the face."
    • Then there's the story about a kid who got out of a detention by giving the teacher a Monopoly "get out of jail free" card.
      • How did he get detention? He kicked the ceiling. On accident.
  • During World War I, the German light cruiser Emden needed the keel cleaned and the machinery overhauled. Seeing he was near the British base of Diego Garcia — an atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean — and that the locals didn't know about the war yet, captain Karl von Müller claimed there was a war game and had the British personnel clean Emden's keel, overhaul the machinery, supply him with coal and food, and touch up the paint job. He paid in cash before leaving.
  • The Brazilian Constitutionalist Revolution. The Paulistans, who were opposing the government at the time, had very low resources and couldn't afford weapons, so instead, they've gone to war equipped only with instruments known as "matracas" (wooden rattles that made a noise similar to that of a machinegun) to scare their enemies.
  • And of course, people who edit Wikis with ridiculous claims, knowing full well that said ridiculous claims will be assumed as true. This is especially common with "list of notable residents" sections.
  • It's not uncommon for businesses to hire shills to represent them. However, some will hire reverse shills that will go to forums and sites that are aligned against said business and derail threads by acting like either a very VERY angry customer that needs to be cooled down or a sympathizer who just "wants to play devils advocate". This involves a large dosage of ham and balls. It works too.
  • Italian Warrior Poet (in the sense he was a poet that had joined the army) Gabriele D'Annunzio pulled a few of these in World War I, including: charging at an Austrian trenchline with a gun in each hand, a knife in his mouth, and a Badass Cape; entering an enemy harbor with three torpedo boats, firing torpedoes, and leaving messages in which he dared the enemy fleet to come out and fight (he didn't hit any ship due the Austro-Hungarian having extensive torpedo nets to counter this exact kind of raid, but him entering the harbour and getting away with it was still a morale blow); flying over Vienna and dropping leaflets in which he praised the Italians for not bombing the city into rubble when they could and suggested the citizens to overthrow the government and sue for peace.
    • The Italian navy loved this. There was a shortage of patrol ships? They strapped torpedoes on small motorboats and used those to patrol and torpedo anything they encountered. The reason the Austro-Hungarians had extensive torpedo nets when D'Annunzio attacked? The Italians had already used their torpedo boats to sink a pre-dreadnought battleship in harbour. Two of those torpedo boats encounter an enemy fleet of two battleships, one destroyer and six normal-sized torpedo boats? They fired torpedoes and sunk the Austro-Hungarian flagship (after this, the Austro-Hungarian fleet didn't dare to leave the harbours anymore). The Austrian harbours are too well guarded for the torpedo boats? They sent in men in diving suits and no breathers and using a device the Royal Navy had refused to implement because it was hopelessly insane (the human torpedo) and sunk a battleship and a freighter with mines (made even worse by the fact harbour and ships had been given by Austria-Hungary to one of the states born by the collapse just a few hours earlier, right after the attackers left their base). In World War II, the Royal Navy is superior to the Italians and can easily counter the torpedo boats? They sent men with human torpedoes (an improved model. Also, this time they had breathers) into Alexandria's harbour to sink two battleships (including the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet!!) and damage a tanker (they had three mines, but there were just two battleships and no carrier) and a destroyer (by accident). Needless to say, both the Austro-Hungarian Navy and the Royal Navy started expecting anything...
      • The British admiral's counter to that raid was just as outrageous: he had the battleships immediately raised (that's the trouble with sinking ships in a shallow harbour: they're easily raised) and their crews act like nothing had happened. Between the Italian recon airplanes reporting that the ships had no apparent damage and the attackers being all captured before they could return, the Italians only learned that the attack had been successful in September 1943, over a year and half after it, over a year after the ships had been replaced and repaired, and after Italy switched sides (and the switching sides was the only reason they found out: when it happened the Brits freed the incursors, who made their report), and utterly failed to take advantage of the Mediterranean Fleet being two battleships down (and given they played merry hell in the Mediterranean for six months after this, we can't even imagine what they would have done had they know) or try other raids.
  • This account of a wargame run by the Canadian army, in which the Not!Iraqi forces, after holding a victory parade to celebrate their invasion of Not!Kuwait, get on the highway and keep driving at the Not!Saudis and the Not!Americans, and nearly decimate them.
  • Deborah Turness, head of ITN News (until August 2013) dresses up as Lady Gaga and attempts to out-Gaga Lady Gaga, if such a thing is possible.
  • At Comic-Con 2013, actor Bryan Cranston cosplayed as his own character Walter White from Breaking Bad, complete with a mask of his own face. He was aware that if he went to the con as himself, he would get mobbed by fans, so he managed to escape notice by literally wearing the clothes that made him famous!
  • A Turkish girl who killed her parents and her sister with the help of her boyfriend had the balls to ask for an orphan's benefit pension based on her father's retirement paycheck... and had an opportunity to obtain itnote .
  • The Krak des Chevaliers, a Crusader castle in Syria, was taken from The Knights Hospitallers by the Mamluk sultan Baibars with the help of a false order of surrender from their Grand Master. There are some accounts suggesting the Knights knew it was a fake, but surrendered because they were low on supplies, their position was increasingly untenable, and their was no relief on the way, so they used the message as an excuse to do so and retain their honor.
  • One of the arguments Jerry Sandusky's lawyers are using to appeal his conviction essentially boils down to "the conviction should be overturned because there was too much evidence against him", implying that it had been fabricated. It didn't work.
  • In a stand up special, Dave Chappelle mentions a friend who got out of trouble for trying to race another car, that didn't even know they were racing, by telling the cop that pulled them over "I didn't know I couldn't do that." He was also very drunk at the time.
  • As a way to boost ticket sales for Night of the Seagulls, part of the "Tombs of the Blind Dead" franchise, marketers linked the film to the popularity of Planet of the Apes. How? By claiming that the skeletal, rag-wearing ghosts were the ghosts of shaved and blinded ape-men. Even when Ed Glaser explains it, it's hard to believe that such an idea could happen.
  • The BBC/Discovery documentary Human Planet featured a rather impressive example of this trope employed by Dorobo people in Kenya. An older man takes two younger men out to teach them an ancient method of getting meat. Said method turns out to be to find a pride of fifteen lions eating a wildebeest, walk up to them, cut off a leg, heft it over his shoulder and walk home. The lions apparently didn't believe it either and actually ran off when they saw a human walking towards them as if he owned the place.
  • Wes Craven was unable to get The Last House on the Left rated lower than X without significant cuts. So he outright stole an R rating, then advertised how ridiculously violent the film was.
  • One story from Reddit:
    "In High School, we all had a class called 'advisory'. In twelfth grade, we were asked to begin the year with introducing ourselves to each other... apparently the teacher forgot that a) we've been in the same class since we entered high school b) She had us last year, and c) she already knew us well. So we all introduced eachother with stuff like "Hi, I'm Norman and I got my drivers license.", "Hi, I'm Jacqui and I have a part-time job". The Class clown named Jason walked up and, in a very glum voice, said "Hi, I'm Jason and I'm an alcoholic". The teacher started rolling in the floor laughing - and it's a good thing she knew he was joking."
    • Another story from Reddit where a student photoshopped a picture of the principal to look like Hitler — since he was very strict about his "No Hats" rule, then printed it out and distributed it amongst the student body. The teachers and principal eventually got ahold of the image, thought it was Actually Pretty Funny, and nobody got punished for it. In fact, he started off an assembly by goose-stepping up to the microphone and speaking in a fake German accent. The same redditor had another story where they screwed with the principal by having a cell phone ringtone set to a woman moaning "Ooooh! Oooh! Harder! Harder!" and had someone repeatedly call them during another school assembly. (This time he wasn't as amused.)
  • In World of Warcraft, there was a guild named "Razorfen Down Syndrome", a play off of one of the game's dungeons. Someone thought this was a little offensive, so it was forced to be renamed to "Razorfen Downsized". Around the same time, when Saddam Hussein was executed via hanging, someone on the exact same server named a guild "Hanging with Saddam", and the GM-character name was "Saddam". It actually slipped by the censors — and apparently someone at Blizzard said that was really amusing.
  • During the 2014 Crimea Crisis, Russia sent thousands of soldiers to occupy Crimean public institutions and ports without an official declaration of war or other official declarations on Ukraine, but was careful to strip them off all their insignia (and removed the license plates and markings of the vehicles they came in) first to hide the fact that they were, in fact, Russian military. Despite the fact that they had Russian weapons, Russian cars, jeeps and tanks, Russian uniforms, came from the direction of Russia with Russian ships, and identified themselves as Russian military upon inquiry. Downplayed, in that it actually didn't fool anyone, but still managed to cause some confusion, especially when the soldiers mingled with pro-Russian militias and the Ukrainian police. The official line was that these were rogue soldiers who just wanted to help free Crimea from Ukraine that much.
  • Israelis in general are famous for having no shame, trying to call up CEO's for jobs and walking into a government building to give the prime minister advice. The government quite frequently has conversations with reporters at press conferences that basically go, "if these aggressions go out of hand, we will not be afraid to use our nuclear arsenal," "are you finally officially confirming that you have nuclear weapons," "no."
  • The single most audacious breach of intelligence in US history was perpetrated as follows: Edward Snowden, recently hired contractor for the NSA, gets an assignment to back up all the information going to the Hawaii databases, which, being in Hawaii, are the last to get backed up and the last to be updated. While doing so, Snowden makes two copies: one for the actual data back up, and one for himself. Because the Hawaii terminus was a little behind in their security updates, there was literally no system in place to detect this. Snowden then requests medical leave (despite only having been on the job for 3 months) and walks away, with millions upon millions of pages of classified documents. Snowden sought out the job as an NSA contractor specifically intending to do something like this the moment an opportunity presented itself.
  • When one of 17th century adventurer and swordswoman Julie d'Aubigny's female lovers was sent to a convent by her family in order to bury the scandal, d'Aubigny didn't let that stop her from seeing her, and joined the convent as a novice to gain access to her lover again. And then they escaped by hiding the corpse of a recently deceased nun in her bed and lighting the convent on fire. Another time d'Aubigny got into a duel against three men at once and defeated them all while wounding one of them before they fled. After learning one of her adversaries had been wounded, she snuck into his room one night to pay him a visit, seduced him, and the pair spent a number of months afterwards as lovers. She later fought a second three vs. one duel after crashing a royal ball and pissing off the eligible young men by flirting with the women with much greater success than they had, and finally sparked the duel by brazenly and passionately kissing one of the women who was particularly sought-after (she thrashed them, too). Supposedly the King was actually quite amused by her antics, and only enforced the dueling laws in this case because the fight broke out on royal property.
  • Joe Biden was once invited to a prom by a Senior. He wasn't able to make it because his schedule wouldn't permit it, so he ended up hand-picking a corsage and sending it to her instead.
  • It is hard to say for certain which escapades told by Hunter S. Thompson in his reports and novels actually happened, though the claim that he reported on the National District Attorneys' Conference on Narcotics and Illegal Drugs while tripping on LSD is fairly well documented by other sources. The same goes for several stories about friends of his, most notably Oscar Zeta Acosta; the bathtub incident, for example, actually happened mostly as Thompson describes it, though it did not occur during either of the Las Vegas trips.
    • Acosta also once allegedly burned down the lawn of a judge who was working his case because no one would believe it was him.
  • After the Battle of Cannae in the Second Punic War, Hannibal and the Roman Senate made an exchange of such actions. Hannibal knew his army was virtually invincible in any battle where they could manouver but also too small to be able to sustain a siege of Rome or even fight its way through the lands surrounding the city, so he sent the Senate an ultimatum threatening to come and storm Rome. The Senate sent back a demand for the rent of the public land occupied by his camp (they probably demanded it when Carthage sued for peace after Hannibal was finally defeated). That demand was what told Hannibal that the Romans knew exactly the situation of his army.
  • The Schutztruppe of German East Africa in WWI were a Ragtag Band of Misfits that was utterly surrounded by enemies, had no supplies, and was outnumbered roughly thirty to one. The Allies expected them to make a stand somewhere where they could be easily wiped out — instead, they led the Allies a merry chase, invaded several other colonies and surrendered two weeks after the Armistice — in British Rhodesia.
  • Fringe Republican candidate Rex Rammell of Idaho replied to a question during a debate about wolf tags by saying that many Idahoans would gladly buy "Obama tags", referring to President Barack Obama. He later refused to apologize for the remarks on the grounds that everyone knows that Idaho has no authority to issue hunting tags in Washington, D.C.
  • The strategy employed by this mouse when confronted by two cats.
  • A lecturer described an incident in which she was caught speeding. The excuse she made was that her husband overfed her, causing her to get fat. Because her weight was unevenly distributed in her body, it would put additional pressure on one of her legs, causing her to press the accelerator harder than usual. The policeman found this so funny that he let her off with a warning.
  • This is thought to be part of how Whitey Bulger managed to stay hidden for so many years after fleeing Boston in 1994 and only being caught in 2011. On at least one occasion he visited and spoke to several people at a Santa Monica bar frequented by Boston transplants. A few of those people noted a resemblance but did nothing because they couldn't believe a man who was #2 on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, just after Osama Bin Laden, would actually show himself in such a place. It was only after he was caught that they realized he was the genuine article.
  • According to his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, French Revolutionary General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas (who was at least physically the embodiment of Scary Black Man) once captured thirteen Austrian soldiers using this despite being severely outnumbered. "The [Austrians], who were unprepared for this sudden attack, retreated to a small meadow surrounded by a ditch large enough to stop cavalry. But, as I’ve said, my father was an excellent horseman; he mounted a good horse that he called Joseph. He took the reins, spurred Joseph on, leapt the ditch,… and in an instant found himself alone in the midst of the thirteen chasseurs, who, stunned by such audacity, handed over their arms and surrendered. The victor piled up the thirteen carbines in a stack, placed them on his saddle-bow, made the thirteen men march to meet his four dragoons, who had stopped on the other side of the ditch which they could not cross, and, being the last to pass over the ditch, he led his prisoners to the camp. Prisoners were rare in those days, and the sight of four men leading thirteen produced a major sensation in the camp. This proof of the young officer’s courage was much discussed; General Beurnonville wanted to see him, made him sergeant, invited him to dinner, and mentioned his name in the day’s report."
  • "A man drove down Florida’s U.S. 1 with what looks like an Israeli-built Shafrir-2 air-to-air missile in the passenger seat of his Volvo convertible and nobody really seemed to care enough to call anyone. Oh, and it was the same day that the President was visiting nearby." Pretty much says it all, from this article
  • Upon receiving his draft notice in 1967, Berkeley Barb editor (and later, technology guru) Lee Felsenstein wrote an editorial stating his intention to submit to the draft - so that he could learn military tactics that he could then use against the US government. When he got to the induction post, they told him that he'd been deferred, without any official explanation, exactly as he planned.
  • Richard Feynman with the door in his frat house: Some guys took one of the doors and hid it, so he took a different one and hid that. First no one believed different people had hidden the doors. Then, every time someone asked him about it, he nonchalantly answered that he had done it. No one believed him. For about a week.
  • In 2015, satirical website Waterford Whispers News published an article about billionaire Denis O'Brien joking about him going to prison in an Alternate History. The article featured O'Brien's face photoshopped onto the body of notorious gangster John Gilligan. O'Brien's lawyers promptly wrote to the website demanding they take the article down or face legal action. Waterford Whispers News responded by publishing an apology. To John Gilligan.
  • Sir Charles Algernon Parsons OM KCB FRS pulled one that very well could've gotten him blown to smithereens. After developing the steam turbine engine to a high level of practicality, he tried to sell the technology to the Royal Navy for propelling warships, but they showed little interest. So, he had a small turbine-driven steam yacht, the Turbinia constructed, and proceeded to crash the Spithead Navy Review at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, darting back and forth between the lines of battleships and easily outrunning the picket boats trying to catch him at the then-unbelievable speed of thirty-four knots (a high speed for a ship even today). With Her Majesty and her top naval officers sufficiently impressed, two turbine-equipped warships were built in the next two years.
  • Infamous Black Metal musician Varg Vikernes (of Burzum and Mayhem notoriety) burned down several churches, and placed the photo of one of them, Fantoft Stave Church, on the cover of his EP Aske. And this worked. He was found guilty of burning down the others, but found not guilty of burning Fantoft Stave Church.
  • Khutulun, a granddaughter of Genghis Khan and a champion wrestler known for being unbeatable and amassing a massive herd of horses from those who challenged her and lost, was also known for her peculiar habit when fighting a battle alongside her father of running straight up to the enemy's side, picking up an enemy soldier and carrying him bodily back to her father. Presumably the soldiers were too stunned by the audaciousness of this to fight back.
  • French Serial Killer Marcel Petiot postured as a figure of an escape network and killed dozen of persons before burning their corpses in furnaces in his Parisian basement during World War Two; most of his victims were Jewish fugitives, but he also killed some fugitive criminals who wanted to flee the area (the motive was to steal the goods carried by the fugitives). During his trial, his defence was to claim any victims whose bodies where found where Germans and French collaborators and any whose were not where still living in South America. It didn't work.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar often works on this principle. While sometimes it's done by being subtle, other times it's so blatantly obvious that the only explanation for how it got past is this. The infamous "Finger Prince" joke in Animaniacs is a good example.
  • Tsar Pseudo-Demetrius, or False Dmitry, who claimed to be Ivan the Terrible's youngest son Dmitry (who died of a stab wound in 1591), who ruled Russia from 1605 to 1606, when the Boyars executed him, put his body on display, cremated it, and then shot his ashes from a cannon facing west (towards Poland, who were his backers). He then came back, claiming to have survived both his original death by stabbing and being cremated and shot from a cannon, and ruled a small part of Russia from 1607 to 1609, even marrying the previous ones widow, who claimed to recognize him as her husband, before being kicked out by a joint Russo-Swedish army, and eventually died in 1610 after being shot and having his head chopped off by a Tartar prince. Then he came back in 1611, backed by the Swedes rather than the Polish (The second one had some support from Polish nobles, but they left to join up with their own King when he showed up to command a siege at Smolensk) and claiming to have survived the stabbing, cremation, and beheading. He ruled Pskov for a short period of time during 1612 after the Cossacks recognized him as Tsar and threatened the nobles of Pskov. Then he got captured, was sent to Moscow, and was executed. After this, Michael Romanov was elected Tsar, and has the 3-year-old son of the second Pseudo-Demetrius hanged, right after his step-father was killed, and the wife of the first two Pseudo-Demetriuses (Demetrii?), Polish noblewoman/warlord Marina Mniszech, died in prison shortly after the execution of her son. Since things had calmed down, people decided to stop practicing necromancy, and there hasn't been another Pseudo-Demetrius since then.
  • Want to buy cigarettes and fireworks? Underage? Don't have a fake ID? Well just present your real ID with confidence, and according to one would-be customer most cashiers don't bother checking the birth date.
  • In the 1930s, a women's group in Breckenridge, Colorado stumbled upon an 1880s map that failed to include the town. They speculated that Breckenridge had never been officially annexed into the United States, and was thus still considered "No Man's Land".note  These women created an incredibly clever marketing campaign out of this one map. In 1936 they invited Colorado governor Edwin Johnson to Breckenridge to raise a flag at the Courthouse officially welcoming Breckenridge into the union—and he came. There was a big party, and the entire event/idea of Breckenridge being left off the map made national news. The "No Man's Land" idea later morphed into a new theme of Breckenridge being referred to as "Colorado's Kingdom", and the theme of the town's independent spirit is still celebrated to today during the annual "Kingdom Days" celebrations every June.
  • A man got backstage at a Peking Duk concert by editing their Wikipedia page to list himself as a family member. Not only did it work on security, the band responded by giving him beer and calling him a legend.
  • Sindri Thor Stefansson, prime suspect in Iceland's "big bitcoin heist" escaped by climbing out of a prison window. He then boarded a plane to Sweden. With another person's passport. The plane he chose was also carrying Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir. She was on her way to meet another high profile politician, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He then sent a bizarre public statement to a Swedish newspaper, which said he was a free man when he climbed out of the prison window and that he was preparing "negotiations" with the Police about the terms of his return to Iceland. You would be tempted to think his goal was pushing the limits of this trope rather than escaping prison.
  • Appropriately enough, the very existence of Lupin III is arguably this. It's effectively an unofficial Next-Gen Fic for a character, Arsène Lupin, that was still under copyright at the time. It turned into a massive Long Runner franchise, and never ran into any legal trouble, since by the time the Leblanc estate launched a lawsuit, the name was deemed to have entered common use.
  • Convicted murderer Richard Lee McNair escaped from prison in 2006 by packing himself in a shipping crate and getting mailed out.
  • Invoked and downplayed by Lithuanian boutique Trash Kultur, who used a male model as a Wholesome Crossdresser for a skirt suit. It can be seen here, on the Wayback Machine. This was treated as a source of amusement by social media, and is this trope in a more downplayed sense.
  • How one hotel guest stole a television: "When I was working in a city centre hotel one of the guests walked out of the front door with the TV under his arm. The doorman let him out with it - he assumed he was taking it for repair because he was so brazen in walking out the door in that way."
  • Mad Anthony Wayne did this in the battle of Green Spring (American Revolution). He was leading the advance guard when he walked into Cornwallis' ambush. So he ordered his 800 men to charge the enemy force of 7,000. This surprised the Brits and gave Wayne's commander enough time to bring the rest of the army to his rescue, allowing the Americans to make an orderly retreat. While the battle was considered an American defeat, it was a shortlived one, as Cornwallis immediately thereafter marched to Yorktown for his comeuppance.
  • Rapper Tay-K, while under house arrest for charges related to an armed robbery, house invasion, and murder, cut off his ankle monitors, fled from his home, produced and released several songs on the run, notably "The Race" in which he confessed his crime, and allegedly committed more crimes, all which would take serious guts for someone to do.
  • World famous grafiti artist Banksy claims he uses a combination of this and Hidden in Plain Sight to make his works in public places where he would otherwise be arrested. He claims that dressing in a high-vis jacket and hard hat and strutting around in broad daylight like you own the place is a far more effective way of concealing yourself than dressing up all in black and trying to do your craft in the dead of night is.


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