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Current projects: drafting pre-TL Ps for fainting tropes, and reducing the length of Secret Identity (current is huge Wall of Text)

Some tropers are trying to clean up the very awkward soft-split in Fainting, and we think that some of the situations deserve their own tropes.

Pregnancy Faint

A woman fainting without an obvious reason? She must be pregnant.

While it is possible to faint because of a pregnancy, either due to a medical conditionnote  or to over-extending a body's resources, —Hey, building a miniature human is a big project!— fiction-land tends to exaggerate how common it is. In some works, an unexplained faint is a sure-fire way to detect early pregnancy.


A sister trope to Morning Sickness, and a sort of half-sister to Wacky Cravings, which tend to continue throughout pregnancy.

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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Zira fainting in the movie Escape from the Planet of the Apes.
  • This type is used a lot in the Carry On movies, mostly with the wives married to the womanising Sid James characters that he doesn't find attractive anymore.

  • The Parasol Protectorate: Near the end of Changeless, Alexia faints into her haggis while Lord Maccon is carrying out the very gory process of changing Lady Kingair into a werewolf. When she wakes up, Lord Maccon points out that despite the bloody goings-on, Alexia practically never faints. Madame Lefoux then takes it upon herself to reveal that she's figured out that Alexia is pregnant, to the surprise of her and her husband.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chloe from 24 discovered her pregnancy this way.
  • Lidia in Cable Girls discovers she is pregnant when she is taken to hospital after fainting.
  • Phoebe in Charmed fainted twice because of demonic pregnancy.
  • How Days of Our Lives' Billie discovers she's pregnant—she's taken to the hospital after collapsing for the second time in a week.
  • Jane in Jane the Virgin finds out that she's pregnant after fainting on the bus. Of course, she hadn't even entertained the possibilty because she's a virgin.
  • Hatice Sultan of Magnificent Century faints early in her pregnancy. She didn't know she was pregnant until a physician was called after she fainted, to examine her.
  • Happens several times in The X-Files episode "Requiem", which ends with Scully's pregnancy being revealed.

  • Roxie Hart from Chicago faked this to attract media attention and help influence the jury in her murder trial.
  • Parodied in Of Thee I Sing, where President Wintergreen's impeachment proceedings are interrupted by his wife bringing the news that he's going to have a baby. He faints, and the Senators have no choice but to exonerate him, since they would never impeach an expectant father. (If you wonder how on earth a show from 1931 could parody a musical from 1975, see Adaptation Displacement.)
  • In The Most Happy Fella, Rosabella finds out she's pregnant after she faints during a wild dance. The doctor tells her the truth, but tells Tony that she's "just a little dizzy from all the excitement."
  • A Raisin in the Sun has Ruth fainting at the very end of the first act for this exact reason.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Quest V, your wife faints on the trip to Gotha. Eventually, it's revealed to be this trope when she faints again while meeting King Albert.


    Web Original 
  • A reversed version in this Not Always Healthy story. When the poster goes in for a routine follow-up appointment for a fractured wrist, the doctor wraps up the appointment by congratulating her on her pregnancy (the first she'd known about it). Her boyfriend immediately faints.


Secret Identity

"Rita, a secret identity is as precious as a baby dipped in diamonds. NEVER give it out, especially to mutants."

Put simply, a character (usually a superhero) keeps their involvement in the events of the plot secret from some or all of the other characters. Usually, they do this by creating a second, separate persona for themselves, which they use while participating in the plot.

This may be done for several reasons:

  • The World Is Not Ready to know about them, or their enemy, if they have one.
  • Despite their superpowers, they still want to have a normal life during those times when they are not fighting crime or evil, and they want to keep that normal life separate from their life as a superhero. Especially if they're a vigilante and what they do is against the law.
  • They may wish to protect their loved ones from possible retaliation by their enemies. (Oddly enough, they often don't inform said loved ones of any risk. And in some cases, it doesn't even work.)
  • Their insurance policy don't have a superhero clause.
  • They have been accused, or even convicted, of a crime (in either identity) and need the separation to protect them from the law.
  • Someone may go after the hero themselves, and use them for unethical experiments, probably to attempt to replicate their powers. Or just kill them in their sleep.
  • Similarly, the hero uses a special item to have powers and become the hero, both the big villains and small crooks may try to steal it, leaving them without powers, and bad people with it.
  • The hero wants to be something mysterious or even scary, to strike fear in bad guys.
  • They just enjoy the privacy.
  • They are using their secret identity as a way of keeping tabs on the world, the way Superman uses his guise as Clark Kent to learn about problems Superman may need to fix.
  • Both identities may be useful for crimefighting, if the civilian identity is someone rich, with political powers, or has a job with authorities, they may be able to do stuff in their civilian identity that the hero identity cannot.
  • Any combination of two or more of the above.

While trying to protect that secret, the superhero is often placed in the worst kind of situations that threaten to expose it. For instance, there is the Bruce Wayne Held Hostage scenario. In more mundane moments, the superhero often has to quickly come up with a Secret Identity Change Trick in order to get out of sight. They may have to cut off most relationships to prevent this necessity. Especially romantic relationships. And those that survive may have to be secret.

People who guess at the connection almost invariably guess correctly. No matter how closely two superheroes resemble each other, no one will confuse them.

In superhero stories, these are particularly vulnerable to to the superpower The Nose Knows.

This is effectively a single-person variant of the Masquerade. Sometimes a select group of people are allowed to know the hero's secret identity. If they stay largely out of the action, outside an occasional errand or trap setup, they're simply Secret Keepers. If the relationship with the hero is deeper, at least on a professional basis, then the insider may be a Battle Butler. If one or both of a hero's parents were ever heroes themselves, they'll often be overjoyed rather than shocked at the child's heroism, and reveal it as part of their Secret Legacy.

See Secret Identity Identity for heroes where the secret identity isn't necessarily the "real" one. For the logical inverse, see Collective Identity.

One of the archetypal Secret Identities is that of the Rich Idiot With No Day Job. The family and friends of such a hero are usually at risk of having tea with the villain. Other good personas include the Ridiculously Average Guy, The Nondescript, or The Generic Guy.

It is less common, but villains may also have secret identities. These examples are easy to justify: most of these villains are wanted criminals that would be locked up in seconds if their true identity was known. It's common for this kind of villain to be famous, rich, and powerful, and to secretly use their money and political powers for their evil deeds — on the other hand, the villain may have become rich and famous thanks to their secret evil powers in the first place. The general public believes they are just another celebrity/businessman or even idolize them, while despising their evil alter ego. It's also common for these villains to have their identity hidden from even the audience, so it can be revealed later, often as a huge twist.

Experts point to The Scarlet Pimpernel, written at the turn of the 20th century by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, as one of the earliest pure examples of this trope. However, the Older Than Print Chivalric Romance Roswall and Lillian has the hero work as a servant at court and fight three times at The Tourney disguised in armor, without revealing his identity; it also appears in various Fairy Tales, though in all these it is a temporary measure, and not the perpetual double identity of the modern secret identity, and so is more of an Ur-Example.

Bob Ingersoll considers secret identities to be actually detrimental to fighting crime. Even so, it has become a staple of the Super Hero genre, to the point where it's easier to list exceptions, subversions and variations than straight examples.

A Sub-Trope of Living a Double Life, Two Aliases, One Character, Invented Individual.

A Super-Trope to:

Exceptions, Subversions and Variations: