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Spot The Imposter / Live-Action TV

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Imposter-spotting on live-action TV.

  • The 4400: In "Being Tom Baldwin", Alana is held at gunpoint by Boyd Gelder, who has the ability to Lie to the Beholder and is posing as Tom. The real Tom soon arrives and wrestles the gun from him. Now holding the gun, Alana must decide which is them is Tom and which is Boyd in disguise. She notices that one of them is bleeding profusely and realizes that this is Boyd as she hit him over the head with a vase just before Tom arrived.
  • Alias had a technology, Project Helix, based around turning people into physical doubles of another. This technology was used no less than four or five times in the course of the show; most notably in the case of Allison Doren, who killed and replaced Sydney Bristow's best friend, Francie. Immediately upon getting a message warning her of the switch, Sydney casually offers her ice cream to "Francie" and goes off to find a weapon. Too late does Allison realize her mistake ("Francie doesn't like coffee ice cream."). Cue Cat Fight.
    • Before that, Allison knew the group were onto some sort of imposter around them. Having already been hypnotizing Will into giving information, Allison put in a trigger so that Will would occasionally forget some important details or behavior to make himself look suspicious. This nearly got Will choked to death by Dixon who thought "Will" was the man who killed Dixon's wife.
    • In "Out of the Box," Sydney and Renee find a figure cryogenically frozen for 20 years. Revived, he identifies himself as Renee's father, Luc. He gushes with amazement on how things have changed, speaking of how "it was only yesterday" when he saw Renee as a child. But Marshall contacts Sydney to state the brain patterns of the man and the real Luc don't match and this is an imposter. Sydney has already been suspicious as the man had mentioned a pack of gunmen coming after them homing in on the beacon with her asking "what beacon?" Renee is unsure but when her "father" can't recall where he hid her from some enemies as a child, she knows it's not him.
    "Luc": It was twenty years ago, angel!
    Renee: But for you, it was only yesterday. (raises gun) Who are you?
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  • Outright trope mockery: All That featured a Superdude sketch in which the villain was a Superdude impostor (played by then-11-year-old Amanda Bynes) who no-one could distinguish from the true hero (though he was played by Kenan Thompson). The real deal is finally determined by throwing milk on both, since Superdude is lactose-intolerant. This works too well... Superdude is crippled, allowing the fake to continue robbing the bank until bystanders dry the milk off of the hero.
  • Andromeda
    • The episode "Double or Nothingness" ends with a final test by fanatic gamblers where Dylan fights Dylan. But before they fight, real Dylan tries to seduce Romie and gets close to her. When the two Dylans separate, without saying anything Romie shoots the fake one, then says "I read your biosigns" while the real Dylan stammers to explain why he acted so weird.
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    • Also used to a lesser extent in the episode "The Warmth of an Invisible Light", where Dylan, in an alternate reality where he's long dead, confronts Andromeda's AI. The AI tries to strangle his computer self (how that's even possible is questionable) since it assumes the only logical explanation is that he is a program made to look and act like Dylan, but while he's choking, he lists off information that only him and Andromeda would know.
  • Angel's season 3 episode "Carpe Noctem" featured an old man called Marcus who switched bodies with Angel.
    Marcus-in-Angel's body: "It's him — he's the one who's been casting that spell."
    Cordy: "You're Angel? With that cologne? I don't think so."
  • The Aquabats! Super Show!: In "The Thingy!", MC Bat Commander and Eaglebones are confronted with two versions of Ricky Fitness, and have to work out which one is the shape-shifting alien Thingy. Naturally, the Commander picks the wrong one and declares him to be the real Ricky.
  • Noticeably subverted in the 1995 Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Chameleons", where it appears that the imposter actually manages to survive while the impostee is killed. Also notable for the fact that the imposter and impostee were played by different people (namely the Mowry twins).
  • In The A-Team, B.A. faces a sympathetic character who is standing right next to his imposter, who resembles him in every way, except that they each have different colored lapel flowers. He claims that he can use those flowers to identify the imposter, a bluff based on the (successful) gamble that the imposter would bolt in a panic, thus revealing himself.
  • The Bionic Woman and Gemini Man both shared a Recycled Script in which each show's hero must cope with an identical imposter. The Bionic Woman proves her identity while standing side by side with the imposter by calling attention to herself and then jumping several metres up, a move the imposter cannot duplicate, thus exposing her. The hero of Gemini Man simply turns on his invisibility.
    Jaime Imposter: Oh, honey, I can copy your voice but not your moves.
    • There was a second episode of The Bionic Woman involving Jaime's imposter, who was now taking pills to duplicate her bionic strength. When Jaime was cornered by Oscar and the authorities, she proved she was the real one by telling Oscar to ask her a question without using the bullhorn he had, which only she could have heard because of her bionic hearing.
  • Subverted in the final episode of the second Blackadder series: Blackadder tells a would-be assassin that Queen Elizabeth's nursemaid will attend her costume party dressed as a cow. After he escapes, Edmund hurries to the party and stabs the person in the cow costume. The others think he's killed Nursie... until she rushes in, wearing a costume with four udders, at which point Edmund points out: "Ludwig was a master of disguise, whereas Nursie is a sad insane old woman with an udder fixation."
  • On Bones, Arastoo talks in a thick accent, often in Iranian or very broken English. During an examination, everyone is ignoring his attempts to break in until Arastoo suddenly shouts out and proceeds to detail his findings in perfect, non-accented English. He explains to their shock that he was worried a devout Muslim among a bunch of scientists would get grief for it and thus took on this act to fit in. He apologizes to Brennan but she responds by relating she knew from the start it was an act as she found it odd an Iranian would speak English with a Jordanian accent. She just didn't see any reason to bring it up.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • The split personality type is used when Xander is split into his "Cool" and "Lame" sides by a magical artifact. We follow the lame Xander around and discover suddenly that they're the same person. Surprisingly, the dual body effect was done so well because the actor Nicholas Brendon is actually an identical twin whose brother guested on the episode, although the twin was mainly used as a body double — Nicholas Brendon played all of the scenes in which one twin was alone, and whichever role was larger in the scenes where they were together.
      • This episode has both Xanders simultaneously saying the line "Kill us both, Spock".
    • The episode where Giles is turned into a demon, Buffy is able to tell it's him when she looks into his eyes "because no one else can look quite that annoyed with me."
    • Something similar happens when, after being attacked by zombies, Cordelia suddenly runs into Giles.
      Cordelia: How do we know it's really you and not Zombie!Giles?
      Giles: Cordelia, do stop being tiresome.
      Cordelia: It's him.
    • Faith and Buffy switch bodies. When told by Buffy (in Faith's body) to ask her a question only she would know, Giles asks, "Who's President?" "We're checking for Buffy here, not a concussion," Buffy replies. Giles eventually gets it. Tara knows right away (because Buffy has the wrong aura). No one else clues in, however.
    • When Spike, unknown to the rest of the Scoobies, has a robot double made of Buffy and has it programmed to sound and act like the real Buffy (with some "upgrades", like being nice to Spike instead of beating him up), the others fall for it when they first encounter the double, which gets Buffy mad, "You guys couldn't tell me apart from a robot?" (Given the poor quality of the impersonation, she had a point).
    • In "Doppelgangland", Buffy and Xander are traumatized when they meet an alternate universe counterpart of Willow who's a vampire. When the real Willow appears in the library, Xander reacts by brandishing a crucifix, but when it doesn't cause Willow to recoil in pain, Buffy realizes that Willow hasn't been turned after all. Angel was also thrown by Vampire Willow's appearance:
      Angel: Buffy, I... I just... Something's happened that...Willow's dead. (distractedly) Hey, Willow...Wait a second...
      Xander: We're right there with you, big guy.
    • Spoofed in "Gone" when the Trio accidentally turn Buffy invisible. Andrew comments that Buffy could be anywhere, even right there among them. "For all we know, she could even be one of us!" The Trio look at each other in alarm until they realize how ridiculous that sounds.
  • An episode of The Commish involved twin brothers confessing to the same crime (a case of Artistic License – Law as both could be arrested for conspiracy, even if you couldn't prove who did the actual murder). The real murderer is uncovered because he's dyslexic, and when telling his brother about the crime he passed on his incorrect reading of a sign.
  • Those Wacky Nazis have created doppelgangers of the two female members of Danger 5. Tucker starts by asking Claire some personal questions, but both know the answer. Pierre says that while memories can be duplicated, emotions cannot. So Tucker starts playing the flute until the real Claire starts crying, leading him to Boom, Headshot! the imposter. This technique won't work on Ilsa as "Russians don't have emotions."
    Jackson: The cloned Ilsa will tell me whatever she thinks I want to hear to stay alive. But the real Ilsa... I don't know what she wants, and I don't think she'll ever really know. So... why shouldn't I kill you?
    Fake Ilsa: So we can spend the rest of our lives together?
    Jackson: Too easy. [Boom, Headshot!]
  • Doctor Who:
    • Happens in "The Claws of Axos" when one of the Axons takes on the form of Bill Filer. The imposter gets in a struggle with the real Filer and the Doctor is unsure of which one to help, until the real Filer calls him "Doc".
    • "New Earth": After Lady Cassandra possesses Rose, she gives herself away early via her ridiculous attempt at 21st-century English, coupled with knowledge of New Earth computer systems. You might also add her passionate snogging of the Doctor, but he seems to put that down to his irresistible charm. But what really gives away to the Doctor that something's wrong is how apathetic "Rose" is to the plight of the clones being experimented on.
      The Doctor: These people are dying, and Rose would care.
    • "Forest of the Dead": Anita gains a second shadow, a sign that the Vashta Nerada have latched onto her as their next target to devour. Eventually, the swarm manages to kill her and starts impersonating her. The Doctor is the only one who notices, however, that she's gone back to one shadow, which he reveals in a Wham Line.
    • "The Zygon Invasion": A group of UNIT Red Shirts prove spectacularly bad at this. When attacking a church they know to be a stronghold of the titular shapeshifters, the whole squad finds it to be full of their family and loved ones (who shouldn't even be in the country). Their leader's "mother" proves unable to answer basic questions about his life, but he can't bring himself to shoot her and orders his men to disarm and follow her inside the building anyway. Three guesses what happens.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard
    • The episode "Too Many Roscoes". Not a comic episode where Rosco is somehow duplicated in some weird contraption and then wreaks havoc on Hazzard County. A double DOES wreak havoc, however ... via plastic surgery and a sinister plan (along with his cronies) to rob Hazzard Bank. The set-up: The real Rosco's patrol car is run into the lake, and the sheriff is promptly kidnapped by the bad guys, which includes Woody (James Best in a dual role), the bank robber who had plastic surgery specifically to prepare for this heist. Rosco — thought to be dead, then discovered alive and stumbling down the street — fools everyone in Hazzard (especially Boss Hogg and the Duke boys) by bungling simple facts, but the tip-off that "Rosco" wasn't who he said he was (remembering in exact detail the schedule arrival of an armored car and a $1 million shipment) goes unnoticed. But then, the robbers take them to the same place where the real Rosco is being held captive, where Woody exposes himself. But it is Rosco who deals the death blow to the caper. After the Dukes knock the robbers' car into a lake, he instructs them to guard the thieves, while he moves toward the shoreline to await his impersonator. Once Woody is ashore, Rosco confiscates the loot bag and flattens the phoney with one good punch.
    • Another episode featured a visit from Boss Hogg's identical twin brother, Abraham Lincoln Hogg. Abe dresses in all black and is a good man, unlike his brother. Boss gets Abe out of the way and tries to pull a scam where he's playing both of them until the Dukes show up with Abe and the only one who can tell them apart - Roscoe's dog, Flash, who only barks at Boss Hogg.
    • Yet another episode featured Boss Hogg hiring two thugs to impersonate Bo and Luke (wearing latex masks) and rob a bank or something like that.
  • An episode of Eureka has a number of characters being replaced by clones. Allison has figured out that Jack is a clone and is trying to get her kids to stay at her relatives. Unfortunately, Evil Jack is already home. Allison is trying to explain that Jack is sick. SARAH comes on and says that her CT scan of Jack reveals perfect health. A few seconds later, a Stun Gun comes out of the ceiling and knocks him out. When asked, SARAH confirms that her CT scan was accurate and matched Jack's DNA perfectly... except his cells are one day old.
  • Interestingly, The Famous Jett Jackson had one in The Movie finale where Jett (the actor) met Silverstone (the character he plays) for real as well as an evil shapeshifter, resulting in the shapeshifter changing to match the two already-identical good guys and complicating the crap out of the bit. To explain, Jett has to guess which one is Silverstone while Silverstone is guessing which one is Jett and anyone who walks in the room is guessing which one is Jett, which one is Silverstone, and which one isn't. Finally, Silverstone remembers what Miz Coretta told him about how she figured out he wasn't her great-grandson, which allows Jett and Silverstone to get the drop on the Big Bad looking like them.
  • From Farscape:
    • In "Exodus from Genesis", the aliens-of-the-week create voiceless duplicates of the crew. The real crew give themselves markings to try to spot imposters, but Crichton discovers that the duplicates can change their bodies to reflect such markings at will.
    • In "Beware of Dog", an alien parasite takes the form of victims that it captures, which it stores in cocoons to feed off of their memories. When Crichton and Aeryn find Rygel in one of these cocoons, Chrichton asks him how he can tell if he's the real Rygel. Rygel simply... farts. note 
  • Fringe season 2 ends with the team returning from the Alternate Universe, with Olivia's Evil Twin having switched places with her. This is known to the audience but not the other characters. In Season 3, the alternate Olivia has noticeably different mannerisms; she's not as cold, and seems more feminine. It's not immediately apparent whether this is merely a reminder to the audience or is noticeable to the characters. When it becomes evident, she explains it away by saying her experiences in the alternate universe changed her. She gets away with it to the extent of getting intimately involved with Olivia's Fringe-team partner, and is not caught until the real Olivia shows up. (at which point a Bluff the Impostor game ensues).
    • In "Entrada", Fauxlivia takes a woman hostage right as the team closes in. A young girl runs up screaming that the hostage is her mother. Something (possibly the hostage not reacting to her daughter) tips Peter off, and demands the hostage tell him her daughter's name. When she doesn't reply, he shoots her revealing that she was a shapeshifter.
    • On the other side, some Applied Phlebotinum allows the original Olivia to remain completely undetected by those in the Alternate Universe who don't already know, despite some revealing mistakes.
  • In F Troop, bandit Kid Vicious has tied and gagged his good twin, Captain Parmenter, preventing him from shouting about the switch. However, as the sheriff prepares to take Parmenter away, the captain trips on the rug in a very familiar fashion. Sergeant O'Rourke has the gag removed, allowing Parmenter to prove his true identity.
  • Get Smart must have the highest ratio of evil imposter plots, Max, 99, and the Chief all being impersonated at least twice in its 5-year run.
    • In one episode Max is unable to prove himself legitimate, as the imposter who replaces him is well-informed. Why no-one finds it suspicious that normally lame-brained Max would be so up on top-secret information is a mystery.
    • In another episode, Max, 99, the Chief, and a KAOS defector were all in Max's apartment when a KAOS assassin master of disguise who looks just like the Chief slips in. When the two lookalikes end up in the same place, Max, knowing the assassin is very sensitive to light, holds a lamp up in his face. When he reacts sharply, Max shoots him. Then he tells the others how he knew, holds the lamp up, and they all react sharply - he has an Oh, Crap! reaction.
  • Gilligan's Island had several impostor episodes. One featured an impostor Gilligan, who was actually a Russian spy. Gilligan discovers him and the two do a "mirror scene" in a doorway until Gilligan pretends to sneeze, but the imposter actually does sneeze. A second featured an imposter Ginger, who couldn't see well without her glasses, which gave her away. The third featured an imposter Mr. Howell, who first turned up on the mainland claiming he was the only survivor of the castaways, then wound up on the island after falling off his yacht.
  • The Goodies had an episode called "The Baddies", where robot doubles of the lads were made. Tim eventually yells that they should try and unscrew the doubles' heads, to which the inventor of the doubles panicked, revealing them. (However, Rule of Funny set in during the following chase scene, where the boys routinely confused the fakes for the real ones, thus ambushing the wrong people, etc.)
  • On Hawaii Five-0 Grover and his family are being taken to safety from a vengeful mobster by Grover's old FBI buddy. He introduces them to a pair of agents on loan from the Hawaii field office. However, Grover notices that these men fail to have the tans that should come from spending time in Hawaii and that his "friend" has sold them out to the mobsters and has to escape.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys gave us some heroic examples in their Other World episodes. In "Stranger in a Strange World", Iolaus has to masquerade as his cowardly jester counterpart after an accidental switch. Later in "Stranger and Stranger", Hercules briefly masquerades as the Sovereign to get information from Nebula 2. To ensure his success, he actually throws a man out a window (though he had a soft landing arranged).
  • On Jericho, a group of Marines come into town, complete with tank, saying the U.S. government is mostly intact and trying to help Jericho out. Johnston is first thrown when one soldier refers to the sergeant in charge as "sir", although the man covers by saying things are loose since the nuclear attacks. The town is eager to help and share supplies with them. The Marines are about to leave and the town gives them a major dinner, during which, Johnston shares the typical motto of "Semper Fi". The Marines all respond with "HUA"...which is an Army slogan. Meanwhile, Jake had gotten one of their walkie-talkies to listen to the Marines' contact in Dodge City, which is miles away. However, he hears on the other end the same fireworks going off across Jericho, meaning the contact is in the vicinity. It turns out these are just a bunch of refugees who found some dead soldiers, took their gear and using this scam to survive.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • This was the entire premise of Kamen Rider Blade's Hyper Battle Video, "Blade Versus Blade", in which one of the Trials becomes an evil copy of Kazuma (and by extension, an evil copy of Blade). Played for laughs all the way, his comrades' attempts at identifying the real Kazuma result in him getting shot in the ass and smacked on the head, despite the fact that the copy is wearing an extremely obvious red scarf. When resident Anti-Hero Hajime comes along, he easily identifies the real one by calling out Kazuma's name; the superhuman reflexes of the Trial cause it to react first, but as Kazuma later complains, "That kind of makes me look slow, doesn't it?"
    • This happens a lot in Kamen Rider Kabuto thanks to the fact that the main villain faction are shapeshifters who can copy a host's memories as well as their appearance. The most notable example comes when they imitate one of the main Kamen Riders so well that even the sentient Transformation Trinket is confused. His Mysterious Waif sidekick, however, knows exactly which one is the fake. The fake is right-handed, while the original is left-handed. This is never pointed out in the show, making it more of a bonus for eagle-eyed viewers.
    • It also happened in Kamen Rider Decade when the heroes visited an Alternate Universe version of Kabuto's world and a Worm took on the form of Tsukasa (Decade). Natsumi quickly sorted things out with her Laughing Pressure Point: instead of laughing, it makes the fake start crying.
  • Parodied in The Late Late Show With James Corden, where a Q&A session degenerates into a supposed impressionist (who, it's about to become relevant, looks nothing like him) doing an obnoxious "I'M JAMES CORDEN!" routine. The real James Corden gets fed up and calls security, but they get confused about who's the real one and end up swayed by the other guy's screeching caricature.
  • In the Law & Order episode "Brother's Keeper", the detectives found that their gangster murder suspect has a respectable look-alike younger brother who could have committed the crimenote . The cops have a witness, but the gangster's lawyer forces the cops to include both brothers in the line-up. As it turns out, the witness is a nurse and could easily tell the brothers apart because the gangster is a heavy drinker with all the body wear from the habit.
  • Played for laughs in LazyTown when Robbie Rotten impersonates Sportacus. The other characters can't tell the difference despite Robbie being, among other things, 4-5 inches taller and a lot less muscular. Stephanie suggests a race to tell them who is the real Sportacus, and Robbie wins because Sportacus is forced to forfeit the race halfway through to rescue Bessie. Stephanie realizes that the one who forfeited to rescue Bessie must be the real one, says so, and unmasks Robbie by pulling his false moustache off. The tag would be a very touching Aesop on friendship if it wasn't for the simple fact that Robbie and Sportacus look nothing alike, and they should have been able to tell them apart by looking at them.
    • Though it made a great "I am Sportacus" gag.
    • Then there's the episode 'Double Trouble' where Robbie impersonates the mayor, and once again everyone falls for it, despite the fact that Robbie looks nothing like the mayor.
  • The fifth season finale of Lost, "The Incident", provides an interesting variation on this. At the end of season 4, it was revealed that John Locke was dead. However, in the fifth season, after the Oceanic 6 return to the island via a plane that was carrying John's coffin, John is revealed to be very much alive. This is lampshaded by Ben, who is just as confused as the viewers, saying that the island has never brought someone back to life before. In the season finale, it is revealed that this John Locke is actually an imposter (Jacob's as-yet unnamed rival, who was looking for a "loophole" to kill Jacob). The body of the real Locke was still in the cargo hold of the plane, and it is not yet known how this man could have turned himself into an exact duplicate of Locke.
    • As it turns out, the imposter is Jacob's twin brother, also known as The Man in Black, also known as the Smoke Monster that had been antagonizing our heroes since Season 1. The Man in Black has the ability to take on the form of any person who had died in order to manipulate their loved ones into doing his bidding; after Jacob is murdered, he is somehow "locked" in the form of Locke for the rest of the show. However, the other characters eventually discover his true identity, aided by the fact that he slips into his smoke form from time to time in order to slaughter anyone who stands in his way.
  • McMillan & Wife has a double of Mac who appeared in two episodes. Enright is able to distinguish the two by the use of the phrase "peach cobbler" (his favorite dessert), although for some reason this keeps working even after the double has heard it.
  • Referenced in an episode of Monk, where Randy asks "Which is the real one?" after barging in on a pair of twin sisters, one of whom committed murder. They decide to arrest the one who wasn't being drowned.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • During the episode when they riffed on The Giant Spider Invasion, a (painfully obvious) pod-person duplicate of Servo shows up on the Satellite of Love, forcing Crow and Mike to quiz them to decide which is the real one.
      Crow: Okay, what condiment did I pour into your sneakers only two weeks ago?
      Servo: Oh! Ah, uh...
      Pod Servo: Was it... ketchup.
      Crow: Yes!
      Servo: Damn, you are me! Gee, I guess I am a fraud...
    • When Mike asks what's Servo's confirmation name, Servo and his pod duplicate work together to answer the question, but the fake is finally outed when Mike asks about Servo's underwear collection.
  • Neighbours: When Dione Bliss returned to the show in 2019, she arrived at No. 30 Ramsay Street in time to interrupt Andrea Somers attempting to impersonate her again. Dee's initial attempts to convince Jarrod who she is by bringing up their first kiss and their wedding vows are thwarted due to Andrea having learned the same details, but she succeeds by bringing up the last thing he said to her before their car accident, before revealing that she still has visible injuries from it, caused by her seatbelt.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Replica", the clone of Nora Griffiths knocks her out and pretends to be her, trying to trick her husband Zach into thinking Nora is the clone. Zach isn't fooled for long because Nora has a scar that the clone lacks.
  • Painkiller Jane has a variant of the "shoot them both" scheme where it is viable because Jane has regeneration powers. The imposter has regeneration powers too, but he does the Shapeshifter Swan Song and its all a plan bordering on roulette anyways, so it works out well for the team.
    • Another episode has Jane imprisoned in a mental hospital and rescued by best friend Maureen. But as they change clothes on the side of the road, Jane sees "Maureen" doesn't have a recently applied tattoo and this is another shape-changer trying to trick Jane into leading her to the unit's secret base.
  • Person of Interest. In "RAM", a whistleblower is reporting a Government Conspiracy to a man pretending to be from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Suspicious, he asks what year the SSCI was founded, and leaves immediately when he doesn't get an answer.
  • Power Rangers has used this one a few times.
    • The Primator (who had impersonation as his power) gave himself away while pretending to be Tommy by saying the rangers should give up (Tommy is a Determinator who on several occasions in the series, both before and after this moment, was willing to fight even without his powers, so giving up is so out-of-character for him it had to be the Primator). Also, while Primator disguised as Trini, Jason challenged both Yellow Rangers to fight him, saying he can easily recognize her fighting style. However, Trini proved her identity by refusing to fight, lest she harm a fellow Ranger, while the Primator leaped towards Jason to attack him with way too much enthusiasm for just testing Trini's identity.
    • In "Master Vile and the Metallic Armor", Tommy journeys into the Caves of Deception to retrieve the Zeo Crystal. Among the illusions he encounters are of the team and then just Catherine. They're brief, but pretty dead-on. Tommy sees through the illusions because of their willingness to surrender and professed belief that evil cannot be defeated.
    • "The Green Candle" two-parter gave us Cyclops, a monster that took the forms of Megazord, Dragonzord and Dragonzord in Fighting Mode. In Part 1, when Cyclops first appears in the form of Dragonzord, the other Rangers fear that Rita managed to turn Tommy evil again. (A quick scan leads to the truth, though.)
    • In the Power Rangers in Space episode "Invasion of the Body Switcher", Astronema impersonates Ashley with the help of a monster. Then, while captured, Ashley tricks the monster into making her look like Astronema. Ashley arrives just as Astronema (while morphed) is about to shoot Andros, and reveals the truth by mentioning what Andros had gotten Ashley for her birthday (a necklace from his home planet, KO-35). Then, when Astronema de-morphs, she's back to looking like herself again, and the two start cat-fighting (seriously), at which point the other rangers arrive. Andros then figures out which Astronema is Ashley by shouting the team's Invocation, "Let's Rocket!" Ashley gets the morphing pose right, while Astronema is completely lost.
    • In a second season episode, Kimberly tells the real Billy apart from a copy made from a statue, by asking them to identify Billy's science project.
    • In an early episode of Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Tori is captured and replaced by a double. After escaping, she proves she's the real deal easily.
      Tori: [to Dustin] Your real name is Waldo. And Shane? You're afraid of spiders.
      Dustin: [laughs] You're afraid of spiders?
      Shane: You wanna make something of it, Waldo?
    • Dino Charge has an episode where one of the Rangers was kidnapped and replaced, but since it happened during a Halloween party and they were all dressed in identical ghost costumes they attempt to figure out the fake by testing their memory, unaware that the monster copied those as well. The impostor is found out when they repeatedly call one character by their last name, when the real one has always used their first.
  • The Prisoner (1967).
    • Subverted in "Checkmate". Number Six is able to identify the guards posing as prisoners in the Village by detecting their subconscious arrogance (e.g. by asking for help with a simple task, the guard would abruptly tell him to do it himself and walk off). Thus he's able to assemble a team of genuine prisoners and plan an escape. Unfortunately the prisoners apply the same technique to Number Six and assume that he's an Agent Provocateur trying to entrap them.
    • When Number Six poses as his own Doppelgänger in "The Schizoid Man", he's caught using the Something Only They Would Know trick.
  • Red Dwarf, "Psirens": The fake Lister is identified because he can actually play the guitar.
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina makes a duplicate of herself that can only say three sentences in order to deal with a Two-Timer Date of sorts (she agreed to go to a family party on the same night as a party thrown by a classmate.) Salem suggests sending the clone to the mortal party, as her aunts would certainly figure out what she did otherwise. This is proved true quickly when, just before leaving for the party, Zelda gives the strangely-enthusiastic Hilda a strange look and asks her to say what color her dress is. Hilda('s clone) wasn't programmed to say something so arbitrarily specific in her limit of three sentences, of course, and thus fails the test immediately.
  • On Scandal the team is attending a White House dinner with Huck meeting a man in a dress uniform. However, Huck sees the man's medals are in the wrong order and quickly figures out he's a radical out to kill the President of his own country visiting the dinner. He's able to convince the others in time for the Secret Service to stop the killer.
  • Scarecrow and Mrs. King Has an episode with an enemy agent fixed up to look like Amanda. In the wake of a fight between them, both Amandas are hanging off a building's roof. Knowing time is short, Lee is trying to figure out which one to save. The real Amanda reveals herself by going, "Oh, my God!" Lee pulls her to safety and the impostor falls to her death.
  • 7Days had a recurring imposter character, Galina Komanov, who looked exactly like the main character Dr. Olga Vukovich. She appeared in the first-season episode "There's Something About Olga" and the second-season episode "Two Weddings and a Funeral".
  • Shadowhunters has this a few times.
    • Jonathan is at home when he's met by what appears to be Clary. When Clary is unable to pronounce "bocce" correctly, Jonathan realizes it's one of his aides trying to needle him.
    • Jonathan then poses as Jace to try and romance Clary. Clary is immediately put off by "Jace's" attitude and how he talks of Jonathan kidnapping Clary earlier as "an act of love." The clincher is when Clary accidentally sticks herself with a thorn. As she and Jonathan are linked (what hurts one, hurts the other) "Jace" immediately has to check his own bleeding thumb.
  • Shining Time Station: In "Mr. Conductor's Evil Twin", when Kara has to distinguish the two doubles. Remembering the real Mr. C's whistle was out of tune, she asks both to play a note.
  • Sleepy Hollow: In the Season 2 premiere, "This Is War", Abbie ends up confronted by both Ichabod and a demonic duplicate. Fortunately for her, the imposter gives itself away when it calls her by her rank, only to pronounce it the American way ("loo-tenant"), rather than the British way ("left-tenant"), like Crane always does.
  • In Sliders, Professor Arturo meets his alternate-universe-evil-self, and with the gang about to depart forever to the next Alternate Earth, the two engage in fisticuffs and one Arturo dives through the extra-dimensional portal, which then closes, stranding the other. We're never, ever told if the team got the real Arturo or the alternate one, but he dies anyway so it probably didn't matter.
    • It's hinted a few times in the following two episodes that they took the imposter instead (Arturo was an established football fan in previous episodes but here he wasn't) until the subplot was dropped. A later interview confirmed that they were supposed to have taken the imposter which would have been followed up had the show not gone off in the direction that it did. It was never said if it was only intended to be or if the Arturo that died was the imposter and the real one still lived.
  • Stargate SG-1 has the episode "Holiday", where Daniel is tricked into switching bodies with an aging scientist who intends to use Daniel's body to continue his crusade against the Goa'uld. Though the two are different characters, they are both played by the same actor.
    • In that episode, Daniel (in Machello's body) is questioned to prove whether he's really Daniel or not:
      Jack: Okay, what color dress did your sister wear when I went out with her last week?
      Daniel: I don't have a sister, and if I did, I'd never let her date you anyways.
    • Jack is once transformed into his teenaged self (sort of, it is a clone, but we don't know that until the end of the episode) and starts revealing classified information about the rest of the team to prove who he is.
    • There is another one where Daniel is invisible and communicating through his grandfather, who is the only one who could see him. Spot the Imposter, without the imposter.
    Daniel: Repeat what I say. I'm standing right next to you.
    Nick: He's standing right next to me.
    Jack: Lost a little weight, have you?
    Daniel: Jack, don't be an ass.
    Nick: Jack, don't be an ass.
    Jack: [looking towards Daniel in surprise] Daniel?
    Daniel was just muttering the second phrase to himself, not expecting Nick to repeat it.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series loves this trope to pieces.
    • In the episode "Whom Gods Destroy", Spock sees Kirk standing right next to an insane shapeshifter who is posing as Kirk. Spock identifies the imposter getting into a fight and noticing that one Kirk orders them both shot to prevent the imposter from escaping. Knowing that the imposter would never give that kind of command, Spock stuns the other one. This may be the origin of the "shoot us both" gambit, which itself is so well-known that today it's more likely that the evil one will use it, expecting the decider to shoot the other one (several such examples are below).
      • Spock knew that the shapeshifter in question couldn't hold another identity for more than a few minutes. He says so, and explains that all he has to do is wait. That's when the "Shoot him! No, shoot us both" dialogue occurs.
      • Leonard Nimoy hated this episode, noting that as The Smart Guy Spock should have been able to easily and quickly create the kind of highly personal trick questions only his best friend, Kirk, should be able to answer properly to identify himself. According to Spock, he did not make his choice based on the order to shoot them both, but rather based on which one was winning: Kirk was recovering from an illness and thus was at a disadvantage against the healthier duplicate.
    • A variation of the above gambit happened in the episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?": The villain creates an android clone of Kirk with a copied mind, but Kirk fills his mind with anti-Vulcan racist thoughts during the copying procedure to contaminate the android's mind. This causes the android to insult Spock, which causes Spock to realize that the android is an impostor.
    • One of the worst episodes of the series, "Turnabout Intruder", used the body-swap variant.
    • The first episode ("The Man Trap") featured a shapeshifting creature that drained the salt from people. It shapeshifted several times before settling on shifting into McCoy's form. It could be spotted by its tendency to curve its index finger and nibble slightly on the arc of the finger.
      • Actually, that gesture was meant to be an outward expression of its craving for salt. See also the way alcoholics were often presented on film in that era.
    • Using the Evil Twin variant, in the episode "The Enemy Within", Kirk is split by a transporter accident into his "good" and "evil" halves. In what might be considered a subversion, it turns out Kirk's "evil" half is not so much evil, as driven by passion and base instinct, and Kirk's "good" half, the logic and intellect side, is incapable of acting competently without it (though there are those who might argue Shatner was incapable of acting competently anyway...).
      • An asexual instance of Freudianism? Id and Superego split from the Ego? Oh hey, Incredibly Lame Pun.
    • And again in "Mirror, Mirror", when Kirk, McCoy, Uhura, and Scotty are transported to the mirror universe and replaced by their doubles. Spock casually mentions at the end how easy it was to spot them, saying, "It's far easier for civilized people such as yourselves to act like barbarians, than it is for barbarians to act like civilized people."
      Spock: They were brutal, unprincipled, uncivilized, treacherous; in every way splendid examples of Homo sapiens, the very flower of humanity.
      Kirk: I'm not sure, but I think we were just insulted...
      McCoy: Oh, I'm sure of it.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did an Arc about shapeshifting imposters. However, the first episode in the arc ("The Adversary") was actually a subversion. A Founder traps the crew inside a ship it controls, then tries to pick off the crew one by one. The climax of the episode is O'Brien seeing two Odos, who demand he pick the real one. O'Brien shrugs, says "I've got better things to do than play 'choose the changeling'." and has his assistant hold them both at gunpoint while he begins reprogramming the ship's computer — which forces the imposter to reveal himself by attacking.
    • One episode had Sisko and a Jem'Hadar grappling, while an ally stood nearby with a phaser. The visibility was so poor he could only make out silhouettes. He found a way to shoot the right one:
      SISKO: You've got sharp eyes.
      EDDINGTON: Not really. I just waited to see which of you was knocked down first, and then I shot the one still standing.
  • In a weak first-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation Lore incapacitates Data and proceeds to impersonate him. Handled in a terrible, confusing way: Wesley quickly notices the impersonation, but Picard is inexplicably unwilling to believe him, telling Wesley to "shut up" - when he was the one who sent Wesley to check on Data and Lore in the first place.
  • Star Trek: Voyager does this with spaceships in "Parallex". A Negative Space Wedgie has created an identical image of Voyager. Captain Janeway and B'Elanna Torres are in a shuttle, and only have time to land on one before Voyager escapes the anomaly. They have to work out the problem based on which direction the ship is facing.
  • As could be guessed from the title Imposters uses this a few time. Maddie is a con artist who specializes in marrying rich marks and then cleaning them out. Three of her former marks, Ezra, Richard and Jules, team up to get some payback. They work cons themselves for money and their inexperience causes errors. However, Maddie shows even a professional can make some mistakes.
    • Richard's first attempt to find Maddie has him impersonating an FBI agent. Ezra sees through it fast as Richard is incapable of pronouncing the word "Bureau" correctly.
    • A disguised Maddie meets Ezra's brother Josh at an airport. They flirt before she heads for her plane and Josh is about to write off her resemblance to his sister-in-law as a coincidence. But as Maddie walks off, Josh sees she's wearing the anklet Ezra got "Ava" and realizes who she is.
    • After "Ava" reveals she was conning him in a goodbye message, Ezra re-watches their wedding video. Among the guests are Ava's "Aunt Katherine" and Elias, a worker at Ezra's company who had a "fatal" heart attack the same day Maddie let him. Re-watching, Ezra is struck by how Elias and Katherine are rather cozy for two people who have never met before. It turns out they're really Max and Sally, Maddie's partners in her cons.
    • It turns out Maddie's mother has known for years her daughter didn't work for UNICEF as she claimed. As she relates to the FBI, Maddie made the mistake of sending her a postcard from a "conference" she was attending in Barcelona. But, having looked up the organization, her mother knew Barcelona doesn't have a UNICEF branch. She didn't press it, afraid of finding out the true answer.
    • Maddie meets some crooks at a race track to find the location of a former partner, posing as a lawyer on a legal matter. It takes them ten seconds to know she's a fake, citing her cheap wig and how she had a new suit but a used briefcase.
  • This has become a pretty regular thing on Supernatural, due to how common shapeshifters, demons, and during season 7 Leviathans are. A cut with a silver blade and a swig of holy water (and in Season 7 and early parts of Season 8, a splash of borax) was and is a common test upon one of the boys coming Back from the Dead again. Parodied in "Taxi Driver": dring Sam and Bobby's escape from Hell, a demon takes on Sam's appearance, and Bobby struggles to figure out which is the demon and which is the real one, until he kills one of them and turns out to be right.
    Sam: You knew somehow, right?
    Bobby: Took a chance. [Sam scowls] Fifty-fifty. [Bobby shrugs]
  • Super Sentai:
    • In an episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger (and replicated almost scene-for-scene in Power Rangers S.P.D.), Hoji is bodyswapped with an alien criminal. To make matters worse, the criminal then breaks the translator collar around the neck of his alien body, ridding Hoji of his ability to speak Japanese (because language is biological, after all). The real Rangers figure out who the imposter is by noticing if this Hoji acts OOC (for instance, calling Ban his 'partner').
    • The typical way to expose an imposter in Sentai shows is for the leader to have the team assume their standard Super Sentai Pose. The impostee will fall in line with the team while the imposter is lost.
    • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, a Monster of the Week has the power to assume the form of anyone with whom it touches foreheads, and during a battle it manages to imitate Gokai Silver. Gokai Yellow suggests that the team transform into the Megarangers; the real Silver changes, while the impostor stands there looking dumbfounded.
    • In GoGo Sentai Boukenger, one of the Precious artifacts impersonates Souta. When Natsuki puts herself between Masumi and the two Soutas, worried that Masumi would shoot the wrong one by mistake, Masumi targets her, correctly judging that the real Souta would push her out of harm's way.
  • Taken: In "Maintenance", the aliens create an image of Jesse Keys from his son Charlie's memories in order to lure him to Morgan's Junction, Missouri so that they can abduct him. The real Jesse then arrives on the scene. Charlie does not know which of them is his father until Jesse reminds him of the time that he cut himself shaving and there was blood on his chin. As soon as he says this, blood appears on the chin of the aliens' image of Jesse as Charlie's mental picture of Jesse has changed.
  • "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?", a classic episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), features a strange spacecraft crash-landing in a lake, and mysterious tracks leading to a nearby diner, where eight people (seven, plus the driver) who've just gotten off a bus are waiting out a snowstorm. When the cops arrive, they realize that only six people got on the bus... which means that one of the patrons is an alien shapeshifter. The suspects all proceed to run this trope through the gamut: a young couple begins looking for blemishes on each other, while the officers ask questions about who won the World Series the previous year. An arrogant businessman turns out to be the alien, but he manages to elude detection by using his powers to place a phone call saying the roads are safe to travel on, which ends up killing everyone else. It's then revealed that there were two aliens in the diner—the nondescript waiter who served everyone comes from Venus, and his people will be invading shortly.
  • The Vampire Diaries has this as an issue several times, with Elena and Katherine both being doppelgangers of a girl who lived a thousand years ago and hence appearing identical. Katherine, the 500-year-old vampire, has a certain coldly vicious, cynical look in her eyes that distinguishes them, and Stefan quickly susses her out the first time she tries to impersonate Elena. With practice, she gets better at it. Guessing wrong often has disastrous results.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: The Season 5 episode "Iceman" features the Rangers hiring the eccentric Charlie Brooks (a mob associate who was placed on probation and given community service in an earlier episode) to help set a trap to capture a terrorist who hired a munitions expert that looks just like Charlie ... by having the autistic Charlie play the part of the terrorist, who is also a munitions expert. Late in the episode the real crook shows up and tries to bluff Walker by calling him "Walker". Walker immediately punches him out, saying that Charlie called him "Ranger".
  • Horrifically subverted on Westworld. Throughout the second season, William aka the Man in Black, is convinced the entire host uprising is all a massive game being played on him by Ford (who by this point is already dead). When William's daughter, Emily, comes to help him,s he realizes he's convinced she's a Host and addresses her as if Ford is looking through her. After shooting Emily, William gloats that "You overreached. You got sloppy" as she had brought up a psychological profile card that only William and Ford knew about. When looking over the body William finds the card in Emily's hand as she had found it years before and realizes he's just murdered his own daughter.
  • In the Without a Trace episode, "Doppelgänger II", the team was hunting a serial killer who had a (completely innocent) twin brother. At the end of the episode, Jack and Sam come across "Greg" (the good twin) in an elevator, who claimed Rick (the bad twin) had run off. Jack spots what looks like blood coming from the ceiling tiles and calls out "Hey, Mouse!" Being called "Mouse" was Rick's Berserk Button, and his reaction tells them that they're facing Rick and that the blood is probably coming from Greg (who was still alive, but barely).
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle is thought to be dead for a couple episodes, and when Xena thinks she's found her again, it turns out to be Gabby's identical (and evil) daughter Hope. Something of a subversion, as the actress was specifically instructed to play the role exactly as if she really was Gabrielle, as they thought that Hope should have been able to imitate her perfectly.
  • In The X-Files two-part episode "Dreamland", Mulder and a Man In Black called Morris Fletcher have had their bodies switched. Mulder tries unsuccessfully to convince Scully of this by bringing up her full name, her badge number... "I have no idea what your badge number is!" and her recent taste in yogurt. When Agent Scully is still skeptical he remarks dryly that at least she hasn't changed. Eventually Scully is convinced by the way "her" Mulder is repeatedly calling her Dana, sucking up to the Assistant Director, and coming on to her.
  • In Young Blades, Jacqueline disguises herself as male Jacques to join the Musketeers with D'Artagnan the only one who knows her secret. In "The Chameleon", the group are tracking a man who is able to "bend light" and make himself look like anyone, including Jacqueline. When Jacqueline asks how D'Artagnan knew it wasn't really her, he explains that the Chameleon was acting like a true man rather than a woman pretending to be a man.


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