The opposite of Latex Perfection, and often a special case of Wig, Dress, Accent. A character that the other characters should recognize (or at least recognize as not belonging) dons a disguise. This disguise is so completely transparent that the audience wants to shout "For the love of God, it's him!" Thin french mustache.
The reason may be that they want the audience to know before the character does (a sort of Reverse Whodunnit ), but it seems more likely that it's a matter of the character being a Special Guest, and the director wanting to get his money's worth out of them.
This trope differs from the general case of Wig, Dress, Accent in that a Wig, Dress, Accent disguise is always plausible. Paper-Thin Disguise also includes the element of being staged as if the disguise really is convincing, which is not generally present in Wig, Dress, Accent.
While this is not quite a Discredited Trope, it appears in parody at least as often as it is used seriously. Children's shows still employ this regularly without remorse, and it is a dramatic convention in theatre and opera as the character still needs to be recognizable to the audience from the seats (similar to becoming totally inaudible by walking upstage).
This can sometimes be exaggerated to the point of comedy. For example, you can wear bunny ears and become indistinguishable from a real rabbit, or pretend to be an ancient statue by simply standing still in a specific pose.
The Trix rabbit has tried about a million of these. Subverted in that they never work for more than a few seconds.
Similarly, Barney Rubble in the Pebbles commercials.
An ad for cheap cell phone service featured a woman who was saving money for her expensive cell plan by having her son travel free on a plane trip. She'd dressed him in a floppy-eared Halloween costume and stuffed him inside a pet carrier; hearing them converse, a baggage handler marvels at the "talking dog".
The dog from the Bush's Baked Beans commercials recently appeared in a labcoat and false mustache, posing as a food science researcher. For those who haven't seen these ads, be aware that the dog is a real golden retriever, not a cartoon mascot.
He also shows up as a Bedsheet Ghost of the recipe owner's grandfather, only to be revealed when the man explains "Grandpa didn't have a tail."
Seen in ad for Speedway featuring a contest for their Speedy Rewards card loyalty card. A man keeps coming in and using his card, wearing a series of ridiculous disguises. Finally, the clerk, who isn't fooled for a minute, tells him that he can use the same card as many times as he wants and still be entered in the contest each time. MST3K Mantra, since if you think about it for more than a few seconds, you realize that no matter how well he disguises himself, the card always carries the same computerized details about his identification. (Then again, he might not be smart enough to realize that.)
Anime & Manga
One of the hobbies of All Powerful Bystander Seravy (and occasionally his rival/love-interest Dorothy), whenever he's secretly watching from the sidelines in Akazukin Chacha . Ironically, everyone falls for it, except for Riiya, but nobody believes him anyway (or considering how powerful Seravy and Doroth are, it could be a case of "The Emperor's/Empress's new clothes).
This is the primary running gag in the earlier arcs of Reborn. The titular character is (at first) the only toddler that the main cast knows who's capable of intelligent speech and simply manhandling the strongest of adults with ease. Yet every time he puts on a different pair of glasses or a fake mustache he seemingly becomes unrecognizable despite his distinctive size, hairstyle and baby face. Protagonist Tsuna is usually the only one who sees through the disguises, but the tables turn in a later chapter when he's the only one who doesn't recognize Reborn's adult self.
In Magical Project S , Sasami, when transformed, is only wearing a different outfit, and everyone apparently is fooled -- at least until it is revealed it wasn't a secret at all. Still, her archenemy Pixy Misa only has a light Palette Swap, and no one can put them together...
Parodied in an episode where Washu shows up disguised as Santa in the middle of summer to help Pretty Sammy. Sammy sees through it immediately, but plays along as "Santa" gives a gift of a machine specially tailored for the situation and also places some diagnostic equipment on Sammy's forehead because "Santa likes to get scientific research". It's later revealed that Rumiya fell for it completely, though.
Completely blown through in the last episode, when her Mentor shows up in her classroom and addresses her as "Pretty Sammy" in front of everyone. It turns out that the entire class knew her secret identity but they didn't say anything because it was traditional for Magical Girls to have secret identities - they didn't want to embarrass her by mentioning it.
Both included and subverted in Otogi Zoshi in which the female protagonist spends half the first arc in male drag. It fools random grunts and obnoxious nobles, but Seimei, Sadamitsu, Urabe and some minor characters pretty quickly figure out that she's a girl wearing pants.
This is one of the defining characteristics of Team Rocket in Pokémon . The "twerps" don't know it's them until one of the trio starts the motto (or accidentally starts it upon hearing the motto's words out of context), even when it's painfully obvious to a casual observer who they are. To be fair, sometimes they really do put on some good disguises (including of the other gender ). However, more often they simply don't, and in any case they very rarely disguise their voices and distinctive hairstyles. Given that they show up Once Per Episode, you'd think the heroes would be intimately familiar with them.
Since Jessalina is Jessie (props for switching Contest disguises when they got to Sinnoh), she actually beat Dawn in a contest!
Played with in an episode which has James dressing up in Jessie's contest disguise to take her place when she is sick. Everyone is still fooled. He even wins!
Subverted in "Holy Matrimony!", when Jessie and Meowth wear all black to become "invisible"; James' family pretends to be fooled by it.
Subverted in another episode where Team Rocket decides to help the protagonists. They don their usual style of disguise, help them and then go on their merry way believing they fooled Misty says goodbye by shouting "Thanks, Team Rocket!" Ironically, that was their first attempt.
Also inverted, as they actually were disguised pretty well.
Played with interestingly where Meowth dresses up as a Shiftry. While it initially works (despite the 3 foot difference between the two Pokémon species), having never seen one before, Dawn scans the "Shiftry" with her Pokédex which then proceeds to give her the entry for Meowth.
In a Hoenn episode, Meowth and Jessie attempt to disguise themselves as Kirlia and Gardevoir, respectively, in an attempt to grab a Ralts that Ash and friends were taking care of. Ash proves that the Pokédex is disguise-proof by scanning the "Kirlia" and getting the data for Meowth instead. So much for that disguise.
In several episodes Meowth disguises himself as a Sunflora by taping his eyes shut and holding cardboard leaves.
The worst offender was an early Diamond and Pearl episode in which they pretended to be traveling putting on green jackets over their not even zipping them up! Ash and co. somehow fail to spot the enormous red "R"s on their chests, even though they couldn't be more obvious.
The above post may be forgetting the episode in which Team Rocket dresses Meowth up as a Croagunk in order to win a contest revolving around them. This is an entire town, a freaking Gym Leader among them, all of which are obsessed with this particular Pokémon to an almost creepy level (and in the case of Brock, actually owns one), and they are not only fooled down to the last person, they actually consider him the best looking one of the bunch .
Subverted in Fire and Ice by Brock when Jessie pretends to be Nurse Joy. "My beloved Nurse Joy's lips actually move when she talks!" Brock is known to have the unique ability to tell all of the apparently identical Nurse Joys apart at a single glance, which is probably why he wasn't fooled.
Lampshaded at the beginning of "Pursuing a Lofty Goal", when James, in a suit and dark sunglasses, curls up in a ball when he first sees the twerps. When they ask if something's wrong, he remarks in an aside, "I forgot, the twerps wouldn't recognize me if I paid them!"
In two Hoenn episodes, Team Rocket disguised themselves as May's family. In one episode, it was just James disguised as Norman, whereas in the other even WOBBUFFET played along. James was Norman in the second episode, while Jessie was Caroline, Meowth was May, and Wobbuffet was Max.
In Mazinger Z , Dr. Hell fabricated a cyborg seemed right like Prof. Yumi... except his nails were black. The reason why Hell did not strive to create a perfect duplicate is a mystery, but if he thought nobody would notice, tough luck because Sayaka, Prof. Yumi's daughter did. At least he did not make that mistake again when he fabricated cyborgs looked like Kouji Kabuto or his mother.
Apparently The Dragon Baron Ashura's Mooks can't tell the difference between Boss in a helmet and one of their co-workers. The mooks that were assigned to guard him and Kouji specifically, no less.
Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series , despite hiding his face and body well, Bandit Keith still frequently uses his catchphrase America!) while disguised, and still uses the same deck (but to be fair, seeing as how he was a regional champion, it could have easily been Netdecked to hell and back).
Averted in the anime, as Yugi's smart enough to figure out who it is from the deck theme. However, it's played straight a few arcs later when Yugi's grandfather enters the KC Grand Prix and duels only one who didn't see through his disguise.
Played straight with "Malik".
In Yu Yu Hakusho , there is some "mystery" about who the "Masked Fighter" is during the Dark Tournament. Despite "him" being the same size as Genkai, who is so short as to invite Lampshading. And having the same moves, down to the one-of-a-kind super move only Genkai knew. And there being no one else competent who would show up.
But the trope ends up subverted when the fighter's mask falls off, revealing the face of a young woman who nobody has seen before. It's actually a Double Subversion, though; the young woman is Genkai. Reikohado-ken reverts the body's cells to their most powerful state whenever it is used, and naturally, her peak was in her youth.
To his credit, Kuwabara was positively convinced Mask (as the Urameshi Team called their teammate) was Genkai, but The Un-Reveal caused him to change his mind. When the mask comes off again and it really is old lady Genkai beneath it, due to her giving her powers to Yusuke, Toguro has to come up and explain everything so the Urameshi Team won't be disqualified for cheating.
Lampshaded in the English dub by Koenma, "C'mon Yusuke can't you see through a simple disguise?!" Jorge is wearing a bodysuit with his initials on it, Koenma is cosplaying as Tuxedo Mask, and Botan is wearing a cloak and glasses.
Also subverted in an episode of Mega Man NT Warrior . What initially appears to be the character Maddy in a Paper-Thin Disguise turns out to be the aged mystic Yahoot in an extremely effective disguise, which just looked like Maddy in a transparent disguise.
A straighter example is Commander Beef. The only physical difference between Beef and fish-peddling Masa is that Beef wears a cape and a helmet styled after a fish. Commander Beef wears a fish helmet. And they both wear an apron with a fish on it. In one episode in the anime, Lan makes the connection and calls him out on it. He is then dissuaded by Masa showing up while he's confronting Beef. A couple minutes later, 'Masa' removes his face, showing the face of Sal in a disguise, who then comments that she is not doing that again.
There's also his subordinates Black Rose and Mysteriyu. While Sal wears a Zorro -like mask and cape as Black Rose, Miyu as Mysteriyu has the worst disguise of all of them wearing only a big red bowl with eye holes over her head. But where the two girls really play this trope straight that They use the SAME NET NAVIS their civilian selves used in the N1 Grand Prix!
Actually, as shown in an episode from Axess, everyone but Lan knew about it.
Dinosaur King has this being subverted, the Team Rocket -esque bad guys show up at on a game show pretending to be 13 year olds. However the Power Trio heroes not only see right through the "we're just really advanced looking for our age!" Blatant Lies but pretty quickly figure out who they actually are.
Oddly and ironically played with in Black Butler : In the second season some mysterious trenchcoat man (not only trenchcoated) appears at the Trancy Estate in the first episode. Ironic in the Latex Perfection that occurs in the slightly Alternate Continuity manga with the same character. It's Sebastian, by the way. Not that this spoils anything.
In One Piece , Usopp adopts the guise of Sogeking, which doesn't disguise much and leaves his big nose obvious. All of his team members think it's ridiculous, except Luffy and Chopper, who are clueless enough to fall for it.
It's so obvious that when Sogeking's wanted poster comes out, Kaya and the Usopp Pirates back in his home town immediately recognize him as Usopp. However the rest of the town doesn't.
And who can forget Foxy the Silver Fox who managed to fool Luffy simply by wearing a papier-mache head. Twice.
After the time skip, when, upon the real crew's two-year disappearance, a group of impostors pretend to be the Straw Hats. Despite their bad disguises and ridiculously different looks and body shapes, absolutely everybody is fooled - even some members of the real crew!
Usopp didn't happen to fall for any disguises, but acted surprised when the impostor imitating Sogeking showed up.
Chopper couldn't tell the difference until Nami and Usopp found him. Meaning he's either still really gullible or he's blind as a bat. Luffy can maybe be forgiven, since he thought Fake Zoro and Fake Sanji were disguising themselves like he was to avoid causing a scene.
You forgot to mention that Luffy's said disguise was nothing but an obviously fake moustache.
Well, in Chopper's defense, it's not so much that he's blind or particularly gullible, it's that, as a reindeer, he sometimes has a hard time telling humans apart and has to rely on things like clothes and hair color. Kind of like how most humans would have a hard time telling reindeer apart.
Konohamaru in Naruto carries a blanket whose pattern blends into wooden fences. Or at least that's the idea. Also, the portable "one-foot-tall brick wall".
Also Might Guy, despite being able to use transformation jutsus to alter his appearance, went out of his way to don a gray afro wig and an accompanying mustache in a filler episode in order to fool Rock Lee. Naturally, no one is fooled except for Lee.
Another filler episode involves two thugs dressing up (badly) as Might Guy and Rock Lee, and infiltrating the Leaf Village. In this case, Naruto is the only one fooled.
A flashback filler from Shippuden involved Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke sneaking into a fortress run by cats by wearing cat-ear headbands.
Played straight during the Chunin exam arc, when Orochimaru is able to pass himself as a Jonin instructor from the Sound village (which he is actually in charge of!) by having a different hair do and slightly less snake-like appearance. He also passes as the Fourth Kazekage by hiding himself entirely in the Kage hat and cloak, which failed to arouse any suspicion.
Beyond that, Orochimaru borders on Latex Perfection due to his unique and rather horrific habit of physically removing and wearing the faces of people he impersonates.
Sailor Moon : the Sailor Soldier's main disguises are... school girl uniforms almost identical to the uniforms they wear everyday. Yup, no masks, no hair color changes, pretty much nothing concealing their identities. Superman at least has enough sense to wear glasses. Despite this, no one seems to recognize Usagi and her pals. This is particularly worse for Sailor Moon herself, whose Sailor outfit and School uniform not only share the same colour scheme, but she wears her transformation brooch on both - not to mention that rather distinctive hairdo.
Subverted with Usagi in the manga when she turns into Princess Serenity, her hair turns silver then.
They wear tiaras. There's no way that all those schoolgirls would wander around wearing tiaras.
Minako wore a Mask in her days as Sailor V. Doesn't hide the fact that she has the same hairstyle and even retains the same bow in it. (Which she gets recognized for in Codename: Sailor V ) Sailor Moon had one too at first. She hates it and tosses it after she transforms each time. Aside from a single use during the second arc, it never appears after the first one.
When Minako first joins the Inner Senshi, she meets them at an agreed time and place but fails to recognize them in their civilian guise.
Not to mention the villains. Rewatching the first season on dub, they run into a hot blond who calls himself "Jed" about four times and it never seems to dawn on them...
What makes this even more frustrating is that the villains don't really care about maintaining their disguises. When their evil scheme of the week is figured out, they usually change right in front of the heroines, only to be completely unrecognisable again to them the next episode. Even worse considering that some of them never really change their civilian outfits.
Averted in the live-action adaptation, where all of the sailor scouts have fairly normal hair color, only gaining their anime hair only when they transform.
Somewhat justified in the manga, because no one actually gets a good look at the Senshi. The victims are usually unconscious or stuck where they can't see the heroes, and even surveillance cameras just seem to record blurs around their faces. (It should be noted that the manga is much shorter than the anime in terms of storyline, so there aren't as many opportunities for people to see Sailor Moon and co.)
Plus for some time the Inner Senshi never figured that Haruka and Michiru were Uranus and Neptune and vice-versa until the episode when they transformed in front of each.
The Luna Pen can create a charm that makes the user's face unrecognizable. One can assume the same principle is used in the actual transformations. It seems to work best against casual observation, and certain sayings and behaviors can still give them away. In the novelization, the charm actually manages to fool Serena's own father, but only partially, as he remarks to a disguised Serena that "You look like my daughter, if she was a little older."
In a chapter of Urusei Yatsura , we see the kunoichi Kaede (now branded as a nukenin) trying to find jobs after quitting ninja school. But, as a nukenin, she must be hunted down and killed, so she has two pursuers in the forms of her childhood buddies Kumade and Mukade. At one point, she adopts a disguise to evade them and Ataru (whom she keeps running into): a pair of glasses. No fake nose and mustache with it, just the glasses. At the same time, we see that her pursuers have also taken jobs in the same inn Kaede is, and that they too are wearing disguises: Mukade (the long-haired one) wears a mask on her lower face, while Kumade (the one with an eyepatch) just has a striped eyepatch in place of the one she usually wears. The worst part of it is, the three walk past each other in a corridor... and are unable to recognize each other!!! Ataru, however, isn't fooled, and ends up inadvertently giving Kaede away.
Subverted early on in Hayate the Combat Butler , which sees the reclusive Nagi donning a mask and calling herself "Mask the Money", using her vast wealth to get Hayate out of a jam. Hayate sees through the disguise almost instantly, but plays along for the sake of Nagi's pride. When he accidentally lets slip he thinks Nagi's mask is silly, she explodes in his face.
Later it become something of a running gag, that every time that Maria dons disguise she is almost instantly recognized, but the other character either play along and/or think that she is cosplaying.
When Maria and Saki show up to distract one of the butlers during the school race, they expect to be seen through, but still go through the motions.
Both Klaus and Tama as well as Kotetsu are fooled into thinking Hayate is a girl when he's forced to cosplay.
Particularly notable when Hayate can see through a disguise as he's continually fooled by Paper Thin Disguises
Chiharu seems to be the only one who can pull this off, she's Sakuya's personal maid, as 'Haru' but she's seen by Wataru, Hayate and Nagi and they don't know it's her. Aika can see through it though.
Chiharu actively convinces Sakuya to allow her to play this one straight in Chapter 309 of the manga.
Hayato Fuurinji, Miu's Badass Grandpa in Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple enters a tournament intended for martial artists 20 and younger by putting on a Sentai mask and dubbing himself "Mysterious Teen Garyu X." Only Apachai is fooled. Worth noting, "Garyu X" entered the contest to ferret out another master who was hiding within his team for the purposes of winning. Then he just kept going for the hell of it...
Double subverted (or maybe just normally subverted): Garyu X is an incredibly thin disguise donned by the elder to compete in the 'age 20 and under' tournament, and of course everyone (except Apachai ) can see through it immediately. The big flowing beard? It's uh... part of his mask! Right! However, it doesn't matter because the referee is the bad guy and decides to let him compete anyway for shits and giggles.
Though "The Phantom Renegade" from Medabots already had a decent disguise, during the Tournament Arc a similar fellow named "Space Medafighter X", who wore the exact same (albeit gold plated) mask and used the exact same 'bot as the Phantom. Needless to say, it wasn't much of a "Reveal".
Not to mention the fact that the supporting characters did this too, dressing as "Space Medafighter X" whenever the real one was unavailable for some reason. And frankly, their disguises weren't much better.
In Mahou Sensei Negima , Negi and his students in the Magical World, being wanted criminals for a crime the villains committed, often disguise themselves in public by using pills to make them look five years older or younger than they really are and wearing Neko themed adornments such as ears and tails. They've yet to be caught. Of course, few Real Life people would look at a child when searching for a teenager. Later, they even get magical Clark Kent glasses.
Subverted by Natsumi, who is able to tell her adoptive brother Kotaro right off the bat simply by his personality and hairstyle.
In Code Geass , Euphemia tries to sneak through Ashford Academy's school festival by donning a hat and a pair of glasses. It doesn't help that she has waist-length pink hair.
She also manages to get away with this during an attack on a hotel by terrorists by hiding behind a pair of glasses. No-one notices her until she stands up and says who she is, despite being a royal princess and public figurehead.
At that point she hadn't made her public debut, and as for her being a royal princess... there are quite a lot of those in the Code Geass world, so it's not as big a deal as it sounds (Nunally, another royal princess, is 87th in line for the throne).
Code Geass plays this trope to hell and back given the ridiculous variety of hairstyles in the characters. Kallen has spiky crimson hair, yet her classmates fail to recognize her until she takes off a pair of sunglasses. An even more egregious example is C.C, who has massively long green hair, was not recognized by Suzaku, who had been searching for her on and off for two years at this point, because she had a bag barely covering her face.
In Ranma One Half , Ranma is frequently able to fool Ryoga into believing he is anyone up to and including Ryoga's own sister (Ryoga doesn't have a sister) with little more than a change of clothes and occasionally hairstyle.
To be fair, Ryoga falls for it because everyone in his family has such poor sense of direction that they hardly ever see each other. They tend to be lost for months at a time, returning home for a day or two, at most, before getting lost again.
He still doesn't have an excuse for every other time he fell for it.
Ranma has fooled other people with Paper Thin Disguises as well. For example, in the manga, he pretended to be Soun's wife in order to trick Hinako into giving Soun up. He was successful with nothing more than an apron and something akin to a bandana.
Ranma even lampshades this trope from time to time by remarking how he's surprised his disguise worked so well or thinking about what an idiot Ryoga is for falling for it.
In one arc, Shampoo and Kodachi wear glasses in order to fool Hinako. After they take the glasses off, she says:
In one anime adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood the wolf's disguise consisted of nothing but the grandmother's bonnet and Red Riding Hood was somehow fooled by it.
The entire concept of the tale of Red Riding Hood could fall under this, since one would hope that even a young girl would notice that "grandma" was looking a lot fuzzier and had a lot more teeth than usual no matter what else it wore. Lemony Snicket even notes this in A Series of Unfortunate Events , when he points out that family members know each other very well and in real life, a child would certainly know the difference between their grandmother and a wolf in a bonnet, glasses, and nightgown.
A cartoon in a magazine shows Red explaining to her grandmother afterwards that she never would've fallen for the deception if Grandma didn't look so wolflike. The grandmother is in fact shown to look almost exactly like the wolf who's being dragged off by the woodsman.
Terry Pratchett wrote in The Wee Free Men that "any girl who mistook a wolf for her own grandmother is either as dense as a teak or comes from an extremely ugly family."
Vega from GEAR Fighter Dendoh has the sense to wear a wig and a completely different clothing style from her civilian identity in addition to her Char!mask, but it's still just a wig and a mask.
In Turn a Gundam a group of people try to discredit Loran by attacking some towns with a Mobile suit "disguised" to look like Loran's Gundam. This disguise consists of nothing more then taping a mustache onto a FLAT. A FLAT looks like this. The titular Gundam looks like this.
It was probably helped by the fact that it was dark and foggy when they attempted this, so visibility was low, and most people had never seen the Gundam, only heard it referred to as "the Mustached Machine Doll".
Averted and possibly parodied in Axis Powers Hetalia . When Japan visited Greece's land, Turkey attempts to spy on them donning a hooded green coat. It doesn't work.
In the anime, Italy uses the disguise of the 'tomato box fairy' upon meeting Germany. It doesn't work.
Also averted with England's fail attempts to escape from Italy. First time he tries to blend into the Italian crowd, his "disguise" consisted of his civilian clothing. He really wasn't trying to blend in all that much, especially considering how different the styles in Britain and Italy are. So of course he got caught. Admittedly his second attempt at dressing as an Italian improved but... you just can't hide those eyebrows.
It was less about the eyebrows and more about his behavior. He didn't chase skirts around like Italians were supposed to do.
Mr Ando's penguin "disguise" in Mori no Ando is just a black suit... plus he's in the forest... Fridge Brilliance though because all of the other animals don't look much like their respective animals.
Onsokomaru, from Ninin ga Shinobuden , disguises himself when appearing as "The Master" by wearing a fake beard. For the record, he's a yellow ball with wings. THE ONLY yellow ball with wings.
Although Shinobu is the only one who falls for it. At one point she even says "Aaah! Master and Onsokomaru keep disappearing!" when he repeatedly puts on/takes off the beard right in front of her.
To his credit, he must use a really good adhesive for the beard, as seen when Kaede tries to tug it off his face in the first episode.
Subverted in Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne where her hair colour and style changes and her eye colour. (And people STILL think she looks similar to Maron.
Kamen no Maid Guy has Strawberry Mask, who's pretty much Liz wearing a riding helmet and pink lone ranger-style mask. Everyone knows it's her.
Subverted with Mister Bushido from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 : it was transparently obvious that he's Graham Akre from the moment he was spotted, but in-universe Graham isn't really trying to hide his identity, and even cops to it when his old friend Billy Katagiri meets up with "Bushido".
The "Pekoponian Suits" from Keroro Gunsou . Keroro and his squad of frog aliens disguise themselves by using robot bodies. Their heads, which look nothing like a human, are completely exposed. Nobody ever notices this.
Actually, people do notice at first. But after a while they just get used to it, and stop caring.
There was apparently a sale at the generic gray cloak shop during Season 3 of Yu-Gi-Oh GX , as at least five separate characters don them.
When Inuyasha is in public in the present, he generally wears a baseball cap to cover his dog ears. Never mind his anachronistic clothing and sword, lack of shoes, waist-length white hair, fangs, and claws. At one point someone comments he must be a cosplayer so maybe the paper-thin disguise isn't so bad.
Randoll from Future GPX Cyber Formula dresses up as "Prince Roscencruz" in Zero to return to Cyber Formula racing, complete with shades that resembles Knight Schumacher's sunglasses.
Randoll also suggests Shinjyo and Miki to do the same in Saga as they join Union Savior, but the disguises fails in a split second because of Hayato and Asuka. Apparently, Randoll has taken this trope as his Running Gag.
Schumacher himself was one, as he does this to keep an eye on Hayato and his team to keep Smith and his men from stealing Asurada, but after the incident with Smith, it's been revealed that it is Osamu Sugo, Asuka's long lost brother in that disguise.
The population of the Dragon Ball universe are notorious for falling for these. During the original run, King Piccolo not only produced demon armies that killed hundreds but on live tv threatened to destroy the world, removed the rule of law and deposed the World Government holding them hostage. So what does he do three years later when he wants to enter the World Martial Arts Tournament? he calls himself Junior and wears a turban. Everyone falls for this. Lesser examples include Master Roshi passing himself off to his closest students as "Jackie Chun" by wearing a blue wig and Gohan not being revealed as a notorious vigilante despite his disguise consisting solely of sunglasses.
Well, to be fair, Goku figured it was Piccolo in disguise almost immediately and Ten Shin Han also was suspicious; moreover the crowd immediately recognized Piccolo as soon as he lost the turban. While Master Roshi used a wig, he also took out his glasses, something he never does in normal circumstances. Yamcha figured this after their encounter and so did Master Tsuru during the second tournament. Finally, Gohan's classmates recognized him immediately as soon as he came out to the arena.
On the Gohan case, he also wears a full headed helmet, not just sunglasses. This does not keep Videl from recognizing him instantly because of his voice. Later, he wears a turban with his sunglasses at the Martial Art Tournament and the aforementioned classmate recognizes him as soon as he loses it.
In a Filler episode of the Red Ribbon Army Saga, Emperor Pilaf disguises Shu as Goku in order to infiltrate the Ox-King's village. The disguise consists of nothing but a giant plastic head that resembles Goku's. Everything else is exposed, including Shu's fur-covered hands and tail (he's a dog). Again, everyone falls for this.
Played straight in Samurai High School with the sakakido twins who by circumstances must swap gender roles or face exile... which is hilarious since not only the sister is two feet taller than the older brother, like 36DD, ankle long hair and is master swordwoman while the brother is a pocket size Quintessential Yamato Nadeshiko but it takes a girl with supernatural analytic abilities to just realize the difference. Of course nobody believe her.
In Sekirei Musubi recognizes Kagari from behind, until she looks at his face and says that he isn't Kagari because "Kagari doesn't wear a mask."
Quattro Bajeena, better known as Char Aznable. He essentially trades out his mask for a pair of Cool Shades, and loses his uniform. In the end it really doesn't matter, since the Quattro identity was just established to keep people from immediately realizing that the Red Comet of Zeon had entered the Federation registry; in private with members of the A.E.U.G. he's pretty lax about it. It even gets a potential lampshade when he reveals his identity to the whole A.E.U.G., and Kamille 's reaction is effectively "No duh."
Justified in the MSV-R manga. It's mentioned that there was a real Quattro Bageena who was a Federation soldier declared Missing In Action during the One Year War from the original Mobile Suit Gundam . Some corrupt Federation bureaucrats were selling the identities of MIA military personnel and Char simply picked out the most similar looking guy to himself he could find, so the disguise would only appear Paper-thin to people who had already met him as Char.
The Alternate Continuity manga Gundam: The Origin tries to explain how Casval rem Deikun could pass as Char Aznable without being identified as the son of a famous leader. To that end it introduces a real Char Aznable, who is identical to Casval in every way except eye color. When Casval learns that the Zabis are trying to kill him, he rather cold-bloodedly swaps places with Char, taking his identity and letting Char get killed in his place.
This was the base of a huge Me Me centered on a certain letter in Engrish that Kai leaves for the AEUG higher ups: "Captain Quattro, HE IS A CHAR!"
Athrun Zala in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny attempts to gain a new identity after the war: Alex Dino. This absolutely does not work, as pretty much everyone who runs into him immediately recognizes him as Athrun Zala, though some play along out of politeness. It may have been a Shout-Out to the Quattro deal mentioned above, though.
Ringo Noyamano from Air Gear wants to help Ikki in his quests, but can't abandon her own team. She tries to Take a Third Option by disguising herself as a masked girl named "Croissant Mark" when going to Ikki's aid. No one is fooled.
During the physical exam episode of Ouran High School Host Club , Tamaki disguises himself as Haruhi, so nobody finds out he's really a she. His disguise consists of...putting on a wig. Everyone see's through it immediately.
THE iDOLM@STER - Makoto dressing up as a boy so she wouldn't be recognized by her fans. It doesn't always work that well. Haruka also wears glasses and a beret to avoid detection.
In an episode of Macross Frontier , Ranka, currently a hyper-superstar with posters of herself up all over town, manages to skip out on the huge parade she's supposed to be in and wander all over town undetected, cleverly hidden by a pair of big dorky lensless glasses. The other main characters recognize her easily and don't even comment on her "disguise," but no one else pays any attention to her, even though the whole city is trying to find her.
Dragonaut the Resonance has Toa wearing glasses as a disguise during the year long period she, the former Dragonauts and their dragons were being hunted down by the ISDA. Sieglinde lampshades how ridiculous the disguise is.
An interesting subversion: in Read or Die any Paper Master interested in doing so can make a disguise that is literally paper thin, yet is detailed enough to be considered Latex Perfection.
In a Silver Age Superman comic, actors are being auditioned to play Superman in an alien race's film. Since all humans look alike to the aliens, a severely overweight, middle-aged actor gets the role, because he heroically saves the day. The aliens can't distinguish him from Superman physically, but his bravery was enough to get him cast.
In one of the original Justice Society of America comics, Johnny Thunder puts on a cap and gown and an obviously fake mustache (that make him look like... Conan O'Brien in a cap and gown with a big mustache, for some reason) to fool some criminals, who are more puzzled than fooled.
Green Arrow, despite having facial hair that can most kindly be described as 'extremely distinctive' used to hide his identity as Oliver Queen behind a mask that was little more than a pair of tiny, diamond-shaped pieces of cloth with eyeholes cut out. Finally subverted in Longbow Hunters, when Shado openly expressed surprise that it was supposed to be a secret. Oliver Queen was also the mayor of his city. So literally the Mayor with very distinct facial was fighting crime in a lazy disguise and it worked. Also subverted in Mia Dearden's origin story.
In The Tick comic, the story "Night of A Million Zillion Ninja" features scores of evil Ninja standing around a house that they are staking out, each one holding a single twig. To passers-by they state, " We are a hedge. Please move along." The homeowner is entirely fooled, though he doesn't remember planting a hedge in the first place.
The Superman Expy, Caped Wonder took Clark Kenting Up to Eleven. He wore glasses, which fooled everyone except the Idiot Hero. A fight between the two heroes occurs and the glasses are broken. The Caped Wonder does the "nerd glasses" hand signals in order to disguise himself when a co-worker shows up.
In PS238 , it is suspected that this may be Tyler Marlocke 's only super power. Keeping your secret identity in this world full of supers is described as being "as hard as keeping your email from spammers." Yet no one recognises him as Moon Shadow. Not his classmates, not his parents. He goes so far as to leave the room as Tyler and come back as Moon Shadow and nobody figures it out. He's very disturbed by this.
However, his non-superpowered best friend is unaffected by this, to the point of wondering why Tyler is wearing a silly costume when he first meets Moon Shadow.
In "Asterix in Switzerland", in order to sneak past the Romans, Petitsuix disguises Asterix and Obelix with a bow and arrows.
In all fairness, the Romans in Geneva did not know Asterix and Obelix by sight, so all the disguise was supposed to achieve was to make them appear like Helvetii, not foreigners.
From Sonic X , Dr. Eggman wears these all the time, usually fooling everyone except for Sonic.
Kate's "mask" is a pair of sunglasses (hopefully she never wears those when not in costume).
Cassie and Eli wear actual masks, but their secret identities are already closely associated with the legacies they take on: Cassie, publicly known as the daughter of the second Ant-Man, wears a variant of his costume and doesn't hide her hair or most of her face ( Domino Mask ); Eli's grandfather is likewise publicly known to have been the prototype Captain America, and Eli, likewise with a Domino Mask, is the Patriot. Both have been easily found out (though, thankfully, not by villains).
Wiccan has no mask at all and yet somehow avoids detection.
Subverted in Don Rosa 's story "The Last Lord of El Dorado", in which Flintheart Glomgold follows Scrooge and his nephews with a series of incredibly obvious disguises (including a female waitress and a nun - Glomgold's beard made things even more obvious). When he reveals himself, however, Scrooge mocks him and tells him that he'd known all along it was him. (Donald was fooled, though.)
Hey, he's still better at disguises than the Beagle Boys. At least he doesn't wear a black mask while he's trying to disguise himself as a waitress. They pulled it off well a number of times. A group of Beagles wearing hollowed out Robots passed undetected for robot workers, and a latex mask was all it took for each of them to look like a grizzled old lighthouse keeper. And those are examples of when they were really making an 'effort. Their favourite disguise is a false beard.
Magica De Spell tends to use magic for her disguises, but unless copying someone who looks nothing like her, she tends to end up looking like herself in different clothing and a wig. Add to this the fact that even allowing loads of Negative Continuity, she must have pulled off the same trick almost as many times as the Beagle Boys. You'd think Scrooge would learn to beware of groups of identical stout guys with beards and sunglasses or duck women with green eyelids making him offers that are too good to be true. But since most writers in the comics aren't anywhere near Don Rosa's level, one of their favourite moves for getting the story going is to hand Scrooge the Idiot Ball at the beginning, to this effect or some other.
At least Magica often uses various kinds of hypnotic perfumes or other substances to make Scrooge a bit more suggestible, though they usually aren't effective enough to actually make him give up money, let alone his First Dime.
Justified in The Maxx . The Isz have a latent psychic ability that convinces people looking at them that they're actually human whenever they put on a disguise, despite the fact that they're little dark blue Plant Aliens with lots of teeth. Note that this apparently only works on people who don't know they're doing it.
Super Goof is just Goofy in long underwear, but only his nephew Gilbert can recognise him.
On House of Mouse , when everyone tries to figure out who Super Goof is, they come to the conclusion that it's Dumbo.
In the original four part Sonic the Hedgehog comic, Sonic manages to fool Robotnik into thinking he's been roboticized with just some fake teeth and glasses. Then again, that's what Robions looked like back then.
For a while, Captain America disguised himself as a hero known as The Captain. The costume looked identical to his normal Captain America costume except for darker colors and a slightly different chest-insignia. He even threw a shield around which was also had a slight color-change. Here is a cover depicting both costumes. This costume somehow fooled everyone, including his allies in The Avengers. The costume would later be worn by the USAgent.
The reason he put on this new costume was that the US government forbade him to use the old one.
An early Paperinik story has every belittled husband in Duckburg dressing up as Paperinik and playing mean pranks on their Paperinik-worshipping wives to ruin his reputation. Despite the fact that none of them look remotely like him (most of them aren't even ducks!), it works perfectly - At least until the real Paperinik takes action and exposes them.
Parodied by Megaton Man , in which the title character is a grotesquely over-muscled hulk three times the mass of a typical human being, who is convinced that wearing a blue suit and a pair of glasses makes him fade into the crowd. The crowd does not agree.
A large degree of Kirby fanfiction gives Kirby the ability to become completely indistinguishable from whoever he's taken the power/costume of, despite the obvious size differences.
The incredibly useless Invisibility Cloak in My Immortal : people can see the cloak when it is in use, so basically the users are walking around with a regular cloak over their heads.
In the Calvin at Camp episode "The New Kid," Larry Koopa infiltrates the camp while wearing nothing but a Mickey Mouse hat.
Films -- Animated
Both subverted and invoked for laughs in Monsters vs. Aliens : The monsters try to rescue Susan from an alien ship by dressing as clones of the evil alien overlord. The disguise consists entirely of a vest, with the evil alien overlord being a purple tentacled creature, and looking nothing like the monsters. Link stops the clone escorting Susan, saying that he, Galaxar, demands the prisoner be released, leading to this:
In Disney's The Jungle Book , Baloo the Bear impersonates a primate by putting some leaves on his head and two large coconut quarters on his lips.
And just before that, Bagheera has successfully passed himself off as part of the ancient ruins by assuming the same pose as a row of jaguar statues, even though he's nearly solid black and the statues are all a light shade of gray.
Mulan : All Mulan has to do to pass for a man is put on some men's clothing and put her hair up. As The Nostalgia Chick wisely said when Mulan's cover was blown: "Just put your hair back up, it's like the gender equivalent of Clark Kent's glasses."
Megamind has a standard yet humourous approach to this with the minion-fish in his great big metal body - where he becomes the new hero's "space step-mom" by putting on an apron and a wig.
In Team America: World Police the gang has Gary disguise himself as a terrorist; he goes through a montage of what seems like extensive plastic surgery only to reveal that they just painted his face brown and glued some hair to his face.
Old time mustache
Played with in Robin Hood . Prince John figures out Robin's disguise as a stork (though the stork costume was convincing), while the Sheriff claimed he could see through any disguise Robin could cook up (he doesn't). Earlier, Prince John and his guards failed to see through Robin and Little John's gypsy costumes, though it did make John more perceptive to catch on to Robin the second time around. Hilariously, none of the bad guys see through Robin's blind beggar disguise, though Trigger suspected something.
Aladdin : Just a change of clothes is all it takes for people to not recognize Aladdin as Prince Ali. One would think that Jasmine, who spent quite some time with the street rat, would have noticed that the boy she met in the market was the same as this guy. It isn't until he asks if she trusts him, just like earlier, does she suspect something.
In Home on the Range cattle rustler Alameda Slim works with henchmen so moronic that no matter how many times he demonstrates before their eyes that he can put on the hat and the glasses and it's still him, they react with shock that a stranger has suddenly appeared before them... every. single. time.
Films -- Live-Action
King Henry V in Kenneth Branagh 's film on William Shakespeare play Henry V . King Henry dresses himself as an archer and visits his troops during the night before the battle of Agincourt, using a pretty transparent name "Harry Leroy". Harry is, of course, colloquial from Henry, and while Leroy is a Welsh name, it is also French for le Roi, "king". When one of the archers asks him if he is of Welsh origin, he answers affirmatively; before he became king of England, he was Prince of Wales.
Lampshaded in Mystery Men , when the city's resident superhero appeared as his mundane counterpart. There was an argument between two of the titular Mystery Men at one point, in which The Shoveler insisted that they couldn't be the same person because the regular guy wore glasses - and the superhero didn't. "He wouldn't be able to see!"
The Princess Bride : Despite being his true love, Buttercup can't figure out who the Dread Pirate Roberts is based on the fact that he wears a Zorro mask and hair wrap. She's also blindfolded when they first meet and has plenty of time to listen to his voice before looking at him.
In the ( extremely loose ) film adaptation of The Dark Is Rising , the Black Rider spends most of the film disguised as an extremely goofy country doctor with huge glasses and a tweed suit.
In A Hard Days Night , all it takes for Super Famous Beatle Ringo Starr to slip into anonymity as he wanders around London is a cloth cap and an overcoat. The disguise even lasts when he loses the overcoat, so the cloth cap must have special powers. Reaches heights of absurdity when, having been arrested, Ringo insists to the policemen that he's Ringo Starr, but they refuse to believe him - because he's wearing the cloth cap.
A couple of fangirls see through the disguise at one point, forcing Ringo to make a hasty retreat.
Similarly in Help , the Beatles go to the airport in fake beards and mustaches to avoid being noticed by Cult members.
To be fair, in Help! those were much more elaborate costumes. John even went so far as to stay in a wheelchair to avoid recognition, far from simply wearing a cloth cap.
In Enchanted , Nathaniel goes unnoticed in a restaurant kitchen because he is wearing a chef's hat as his only disguise element.
Done in the old WWII propaganda film Beasts Trom The East . The Japanese soldiers are disguised as trees throughout, even when moving or shooting.
This trope was quite commonplace in the short films of The Three Stooges . In one, the boys end up cooking/catering at a party for a judge who wants to send them up the river. Moe: "Oh, he'll never recognize us in these outfits!" (Apparently, just wearing a white jacket and chef's hat renders you totally unrecognizable.) In another Western-themed short, Curly masquerades as a Justice of the Peace, but is not recognized by Christine McIntyre until he lifts the tiny (and I mean tiny) little toupee off his head, points at his face, and mugs.
Alfred's "disguise" was to cover the top half of his face with a black cloth with eye-holes, (like 50's Disney Zorro ). He was still wearing his suit and put his glasses on over the mask.
In the Live Action Adaptation of Cutey Honey , the title character had several costumes/disguises, but she invariably had bright red hair. Imagine it; you're in a Tokyo train station full of girls with black hair, and you're trying to find Cutey Honey. How long would it take you to spot the redhead?
In Velvet Goldmine blue-haired rock star Brian Slade turns up to a concert in a "disguise" consisting of a large hat and coat. Although his ex-wife reveals that she recognised him, and public opinion towards him had already soured somewhat, it seems a bit odd that no one bats an eyelid at his appearance, given that he is still very famous, and very poorly disguised.
In What's Up Doc? one of the characters attempts to disguise himself by wearing a fake mustache. Not only that, but it's upside-down. The main characters seem to realize who he is, though.
Two female soccer players in Shaolin Soccer disguise themselves as men by sporting a fake mustache and goatee and talking in a deeper voice.
In Friday the 13 th Part 2, Ginny convinces Jason she's his mother by simply putting on Pamela's sweater and acting like her. Jason eventually does see through the ruse, but only after spotting his real mother's severed head.
In The Legend of Zorro , Zorro's son is unable to recognize his own father's face or voice, while talking to him, because part of Zorro's eyes are covered by his facemask.
Parodied in Hot Shots: Part Deux in a Shout-Out to the film The Guns of Navarone . When intercepted by an Iraqi patrol boat, the heroes pretend (poorly) to be local fishermen. Ramada 's disguise consists of a very fake looking mustache. The soldiers don't notice anything amiss until they see her enter the ladies' room.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show : Dr. Frank. N. Furter fools both Brad and Janet with his paper thin disguises, first as Brad to seduce Janet and then the other way around, and all he's wearing for a disguise are glasses and a wig for Brad and a wig for Janet. Then again, it's dark in both of their rooms and he seems to be able to imitate their voices perfectly.
In the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Palpatine doesn't do much more than wear dark robes and speak in a raspier voice to disguise his identity, in spite of being a public figure.
Played straight and averted in The Major and the Minor, where Ginger Rogers' character dresses like a little girl to take a train for half price. The Major falls for it, as do the cadets at his school, but most other people realize that she can't possibly be under twelve, with an actual teenage girl pointing out her distinctly adult features and the fact that she's acting more like she's six than eleven.
In Heroic Trio , Anita Mui's character wears a small mask that molds to her face so much that it shouldn't really fool her husband. Judge for yourself here and here.
Played with in the first of The Green Hornet movie serials. One episode has the gangsters trying to steal an election, and they use the classic "wear disguise and vote multiple times" method. Some of the reporters watching the polls see through the rudimentary disguises. However, it's not clear if the disguises were paper-thin to make things easier for the audience or an attempt by the gangsters to give the poll workers Plausible Deniability -- the gangsters used bribes other times....
Played with in Green Lantern . Hal Jordan's Domino Mask is supposed to protect his identity. After saving Carol Ferris' life, Hal appears at her window in his Green Lantern persona in an attempt to "get the girl". Carol almost immediately sees through his disguise, pointing out that she had known him all her life and she wasn't dumb enough to not recognize him because she couldn't see his cheekbones.
The 'men' at the stoning in Monty Python's Life of Brian are all women with fake beards. They keep forgetting to speak in a lower voice and refer to each other as "she" before catching themselves. Ironically, many of the women in drag are actually played by members of Monty Python, who often play female characters.
In Zookeeper , Griffin ( Kevin James ) and Bernie the gorilla (voiced by Nick Nolte) sneak out of the zoo and go to a TGI Friday's ( It Makes Sense in Context ). How is it pulled off? Griffin simply has Bernie wear a shirt and they pretend to have come from a costume party. Works like a charm.
In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang , the Child Catcher disguises himself as a candy vendor by putting a coat on over his normal clothes. Yeah, that coat made him look completely different . But said coat was enough to fool Jeremy and Jemima, who had seen him earlier.
In She's the Man , it's fairly obvious when twins Viola and Sebastian (played by Amanda Bynes and James Kirk) are on screen together no one could possibly confuse them for the same person. However, it is lampshaded and justified in the beginning because no one at the school had seen Sebastian before. But later on, it becomes less plausible.
In Skyhigh , The Commander almost only differs from Steve Stronghold by the glasses the latter wears, as Layla points out...
This trope gradually came into play for the 1972 film adaptation of Sleuth . The young Michael Caine 's "Inspector Doppler" disguise was genuinely convincing to audiences forty years ago, and resulted in an astonishing reveal moment. But to current audiences sitting down for a re-watch, the fake inspector looks uncannily like a present-day Michael Caine, so the surprise has been retroactively spoiled.
The film and books A Series of Unfortunate Events spoofed this, via the villain "Count Olaf" appearing in countless bad disguises, with no one but the main characters able to recognize him. Ironically, in the film, actor Jim Carrey has been made up to the point where he's almost unrecognizable. This was parodied even further in Mad 's spoof of the books, where Count Olaf's disguise of choice was a T-shirt that read " I am not Count Olaf ". And it worked perfectly.
Hilariously subverted in the last book though. While on an uncharted island, Olaf tries to fool the natives by disguising himself as a pregnant Kit Snicket. The orphans expect the island's residents to fall for the disguise immediately, especially since they don't know Olaf at all and thus have no idea what he normally looks like. They aren't fooled for an instant.
Justified Trope in John Buchan's spy novels, at great length: pretending to be someone else with a heavy disguise is taken to be nowhere near as effective as becoming someone else in every way: mannerisms, way of thought, bearing. See below for a real life example.
All the Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas needs to be indistinguishable from Santa Claus is a red coat and hat. Then again, the only person who saw him in that disguise was a two-year-old girl.
Even the normally-competent Carrot falls prey to this trope, being too honest at heart not to bungle such a deception. When required to appear in disguise, he dons a fake nose/glasses/mustache set from a joke shop, which Angua points out is actually intended for a potato. Subverted in that he fools no one at all, and is snidely addressed by another character as "Mr. Spuddy Face".
The dwarves of the Disc in general are unable to lie and are quite Literal Minded, so Carrot, having been raised as a dwarf, isn't quite able to grasp deception.
Played straight and subverted at the same time in Moving Pictures. The staff of Unseen University are attending the grand opening of CMOT Dibbler's film. The problem is, they simultaneously wish to use their prestige as wizards to skip to the front of the line and also not let it be known that wizards would be interested in something so pedestrian as a motion picture. The solution is to stick blatantly obvious wires in their beards, hooking over their ears so as to make it look like they are wearing paper-thin wizard disguises.
In Caress of Twilight, one of Laurel K Hamilton 's Merry Gentry series, Rhys puts on a fake beard for disguise.
Sometimes HP Lovecraft 's stories can unfortunately drift into this territory, as it's hard to believe that a walking mass of maggots wrapped in a cloak, or an alien fungus in a bathrobe and stolen human face, could fool anyone over the age of three.
To be fair, the fungus was in a dark room, and the observer did get the feeling there was something amiss.
There is a Hungarian fairy tale about three con men who somehow got a tamed bear and decide to use him for a con. They don him the clothes of a deliriously drunk rich man, go to a merchant and claim that the bear really was the baron of the gypsies who wanted to buy a feast for his marriage. (They taught the bear to say the word "Igen", Hungarian for "yes", so the con goes like this: Con Man: "Sir, should we buy this barrel of beer?" - Bear: "Igen, igen.") The merchant really is fooled.
Apparently all the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood needs to pass off as Red's grandmother in front of the girl herself is the woman's night cap and gown.
Gahan Wilson did a cartoon showing that this worked because Red's grandmother just happened to look an awful lot like a wolf.
In Watership Down , El-ahrairah's companion Rabscuttle passes for a divine messenger by sticking leaves in his ears, dyeing his tail red, and holding a cigarette in his mouth. Justified because for a rabbit, this is quite an elaborate disguise, and the primary goal was to confuse the (rather gullible) audience.
One of The Adventures of Samurai Cat books has a Lovecraftian monster trying to hitch a ride... by "disguising his hideousness with kerchief, raincoat, and black nylons." A truck driver actually offered him a ride, but -- turned on by the nylons -- got fresh with the monster, who called him a beast and beat him to death with his own truck.
In contrast to the Latex Perfection of the film adaptation, the disguise in Madame Doubtfire is simply the costume of a pantomime dame the father used to play. That the mother didn't immediately recognise her ex-husband is puzzling enough, but it becomes downright baffling when it is revealed she actually took the children to see the very show the character featured in, using the same name no less.
Subverted in Lois Bujold's novel Brothers in Arms, where Miles Vorkosigan is forced to assume his covert role as mercenary admiral Miles Naismith and occupy his real rank and role (a lieutenant in the Barrayaran military) at the same time. On the same planet (Earth). Miles worries that two identical, very short, hyperactive nonresidents appearing at the same time will raise eyebrows in various intelligence services, but his cousin Ivan scoffs that on a planet like Earth, they have to have six of everything. Ivan was wrong; they had three. Miles' cloned evil twin is also on planet. "Admiral Naismith" manages to talk his away out of a perceptive reporter's suspicions by pretending to be his own clone, justified in-universe.
Subverted in George Martins's "Tuf Voyaging", Tuf wears a paper thin disguise on a world where all the natives were half a meter shorter than him. He believes the disguise is working until another off-worlder explains that the natives are too polite acknowledge his identity when he obviously wanted to be left alone. On his second visit, the world famous Tuf wears a new disguise only to have his Dramatic Unmask fizzle, since he looks nothing like the actor who plays Tuf in that world's movies.
In A Song of Ice and Fire , Jaime Lannister makes a pretty good effort at a disguise by growing a scraggly beard and shaving his head. However, no one who's ever seen him before is fooled for an instant.
Pooh, pretending to be a small black cloud by covering himself with mud and dangling from the end of a blue balloon. And singing a little Cloud Song, such as a cloud might sing.
Live Action TV
A few on Hannah Montana have this. Especially Robbie Ray which is just a fake mustache.
Robbie's mustache is made even thinner as anyone could easily put 2 and 2 together that Robbie Ray and Robbie Ray Stewart are the same person especially when one considers that he never hides the fact that he is Robbie Ray even without the mustache. It very possible this is an attempt to Lampshade this trope as Robbie seems to be the same person with or without the mustache.
Many episodes of I Love Lucy have Lucy and Ethel dressing up in paper thin disguises to fool their husbands in some scheme. Depending on what the plot demands Ricky and Fred are either completely fooled or recognize their wives right away.
Tennessee Ernie Ford doesn't recognize the Wicked City Woman trying to seduce him (just Lucy in a black wig.)
The Blackadder Goes Forth episode "General Hospital" features Blackadder trying to find a German spy in the field hospital. One of the men recovering there has a very thick German accent, introduces himself simply as "Smith" and behaves rather suspiciously... Subverted in that as Blackadder points out, not even the Germans are stupid enough to send a man with such a pitiful disguise to be a spy; he's actually a British spy who's been in Germany for so long he's developed an accent.
Similarly, George's suggestion that they find the German spy by going to the hospital and looking for the person whose name begins with "von" receives understandably short shrift from Blackadder.
Similarly, in "Major Star", Private "Bob" Parkhurst is just a woman dressed up in mens clothing, without any facial disguising of any sort, and yet she is able to fool the General into thinking she is a man, to the point where he is disgusted by her "disgusting drag act" when she gives a cabaret performance (as opposed to earlier, when he thought George's actual drag act so real, he tried to date "Georgina").
In Blackadder The Third, the Prince of Wales and his butler exchange clothes and fool everyone, even their Igor, Baldrick or the King, the Prince's father.
To be fair, the King was a complete nutter, Baldrick was a complete idiot, and the entire setting is a Crapsack World where the character of Blackadder is typically the Only Sane Man (with the exception of the first season).
This is theoretically actual history this is taking place in, so the fact that the king is off his nut shouldn't come as a surprise-he's George the Third.
In "The Witch-Smeller Pursuivant" in Blackadder I, Blackadder goes King Incognito to avoid detection while he consults a wise woman. His disguise consists of a leather strap across his face.
Used in the Farscape episode 'Coup by Clam'. A female character has disguised herself as a man by covering up her breasts in spite of the fact that her face is completely unchanged. She manages somehow to fool the guard she works with (possibly justified by the guard being an idiot as well as a misogynist dickhead) but Chiana sees straight through it. Also used again in that episode with John dressing up amusingly as one of the least convincing women ever, in order to enter a club where all the male clients are known.
On Doctor Who , the Master, whose skills involved being a master of disguise, disguised himself frequently during Roger Delgado's tenure with a pair of glasses. Anthony Ainley also adopted paper-thin disguises in "Castrovalva" and "Time-Flight" (In the latter case, they actually intended to fool someone, as Ainley even used a pseudonym in the credits). The Master hid behind pseudonyms like "Colonel Masters", "Mr. Magister", "Dr. Masterly", etc. In the new series, he hides behind an unintentionally Significant Anagram.
In The End Of Time he even lampshades it, sort of.
In "The Visitation" (Peter Davison Doctor) the villain travels to London wrapped up in a huge cloak. Seeing as he's a lizard-like alien with nothing covering his large green snout this disguise is particularly unconvincing.
In the Eighth Doctor Adventures, Sabbath demonstrates just what an Expy of the Master he is, with a dreadful pseudonym (Mr. Holiday) and a disguise which, being Bigger on the Inside, makes him very slightly thinner than he actually is. The Doctor is thrown off, while the readers wonder if the Doctor recognizes people who've been on a diet.
Subversion: On Top Gear , the presenters occasionally switch out James "Captain Slow" May for their "tame racing driver", a masked man known only as The Stig. The whole disguise is The Stig wearing one of May's iconic shirts (a ghastly purple-and-pink striped number) over his white racing suit. Mysteriously, no one finds it convincing.
Also played with during the Hammerhead i-Eagle Thrust challenge when the " independent tester " was clearly May with a gaffer-tape mustache and his hair tied back.
And in the "Three Wise Men" special, when Clarkson and Hammond dress up in niqab.
In Glee , the kids switch names to screw with the substitute teacher. What name does the blonde, female Brittany choose? Mike Chang.
Someone handed MacGyver the Idiot Ball in the episode "Cleo Rocks". Despite clues so obvious that a child could work it out, it takes Mac most of the episode to realize that his old nemesis Murdoc is back, even though his disguise is so thin that it's obvious who he is the first time we see him. From behind. In the dark. And he's only halfway in the frame. They clearly thought it was working, too, since even after the first reveal where Murdoc appears undisguised, it's only after we get a second reveal that anyone realizes that he's been in disguise all along.
From Allo Allo , there is the character of Monsieur Roger LeClerc, "Man of a thousand faces - every one the same." Most episodes see him donning a completely useless disguise and conspiratorially whispering "It is I, Le Clerc!"
Subverted: A 'Duck Seller' enters the cafÃ© approaches the bar and identifies as Le Clerc only for Le Clerc to pop up and out the Seller as an impostor. It is in fact Mme. Edith in a very convincing disguise.
In Leclerc's case, Rene almost always recognises him immediately. However, when events like the Colonel and the Captain being trapped as British POWs in a Stalag Luft, and examined closely by their own General, or Herr Flick posing as a temporary typist, Gruber or the airmen (complete with large handlebar moustaches) posing as nuns, and going completely unrecognised, the trope is played much straighter.
As mentioned, Gruber's disguises are usually pathetic, but one episode features him disguised as a nurse so convincingly that most viewers don't realise it's him until he speaks. Judging from the explosion of laughter, the studio audience didn't recognise him either.
In another case, Michelle of the Resistance comes in dressed as a very old lady. Though the identity of the person under the disguise may not be immediately apparent, it is quite obvious that it is a disguise due to the fact that her skin is very young looking apart from the false nose... and the fact that when she sits down a pair of decidedly not old lady legs emerge from the coat.
Beautiful subversion on Arrested Development , where Tobias steals the plot of Mrs. Doubtfire and dresses himself up as a British nanny in order to try to get closer to his daughter - complete with Mary Poppins -style song-and-dance numbers and Tobias' own total lack of competence at housework. The other characters, apparently far more Genre Savvy than Tobias himself, recognize Tobias right away, as well as the movie he took it from, and their trying to deal with this without breaking Tobias' heart create some of the show's most hilariously painful scenes.
The best part is that in order to impersonate a woman, David Cross had to shave off his signature mustache - thus, whenever Tobias reappears as himself, he's wearing a painfully fake mustache.
Terryin Al Murray's Time, Gentlemen, Please! is frequently able to pass himself off for someone else just by wearing different clothes, an obviously fake moustache and in some cases simply saying he's not Terry. This doesn't last for long however since Terry is known to be 'very gassy'. He is however hailed as a master of disguise by everyone he fools.
On The Wild Wild West , Artemus Gordon was supposed to be a Master of Disguise, but most of his disguises involve little more than a fake scar or cheap mustache. They make "paper thin" seem unnecessarily complimentary. This was because the network heads complained whenever he wore a disguise that actually worked, fearing it would confuse the audience, and required that all of his disguises be paper thin. The actor and the make-up people are on record complaining about this.
Unintentionally averted in "The Night of the Avaricious Actuary", when Artie is disguised as a gas company meter man; he broke his leg during filming of the episode so he was replaced for part of the climax by a stand-in (who looks nothing like Ross Martin).
In the film version, however, it's much much worse. Gordon is introduced disguised as a saloon girl... and despite looking rather obviously like a man, and sounding very little like a woman, his disguise fools the living Hell out of everyone. Yet, even this is topped when James West dons an awkward harem costume and interrupts the villain's inaugural Nebulous Evil Organisation meeting by doing a Little Egypt dance, which despite being membrane-thin and a grossly obvious diversion tactic, somehow gains the rapt attention of every bad guy in the scene.
Of course, the movie also played it perfect with Gordon's spot-on U.S. Grant impression. (The fact that Grant was played by Kevin Kline as well helped a bit, too.)
In fairness, Artie was also occasionally disguised as a woman on the original show as well ("The Night of the Freebooters" and "The Night of the Green Terror") but never to that extent.
Eric van Helsing from Young Dracula who doesn't even shave his beard off when disguising himself as a woman.
Super Villain Sylar on Heroes has an uncanny, entirely non-superpowered ability to convince other people that he's someone he's not, mostly by using a variety of fake accents combined with acting like he's supposed to be there. Once he gains the power to generate actual illusions, he quickly manages to bluff his way into becoming President of the United States.
Kamen Rider Black plays it painfully straight with the main character. Now, while a suit that covers one's entire body is good for hiding one's features, Kotaro has a habit (shared with pretty much every Rider ever, actually) of using his Rider-motif bike in civilian identity. He gets a new bike as Black, and rides it in civilian form, too. Establishment shots frequently have it parked outside in plain view. He never tries to pretend to not be hunting down whatever Golgom is up to, or ever make an excuse for running off. Somehow, nobody notices.
Inverted in Kamen Rider Double in that, while Shoutarou rides around on the same bike that Double uses, the Fuuto Police Department inspector believes that Shoutarou is a 'friend' of Double. One could assume that he also told the inspector that Double gave him a duplicate bike and that the public simply also believes this.
Parodied in a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, where "Mr. Hilter" and his associates, "Ron Vibbentrop" and "Heimlich Bimmler" campaign for the National Bocialist Party in England. Nobody recognizes them, despite wearing Nazi uniforms, speaking in German, and denying that they're Nazis rather unconvincingly.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 subject The Rebel Set features one of the most bizarre examples of all time: the mastermind of an armored car robbery goes incognito on a train to bump off his henchmen (all of whom have spent a lot of time with him) and keep the money for himself. His disguise? A priest's collar. The MST3k guys have said that the first time they saw the film, it took them all quite a while to realize it was even supposed to be a disguise.
In the Cloris Leachman episode of The Muppet Show , pigs take over the show and fill all the roles. Cloris comes out on stage while "Kermit the Pig" is making an introduction and states her belief that he's not Kermit the Frog, despite being green (not easy for a pig) and having the collar. What changes her mind? "Ribbit!" He didn't even have to hide his ears or snout.
Any role played by Gonzo fits, as the mask has to fit that unique nose of his
Beaker once donned a lampshade to hide from testing Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's invention. This worked well, until Beauregard plugged him in.
In Tales OF the Tinkerdee, a pre-Muppet Show Jim Henson production, Taminella Grindenfall, witchiest witch of them all, is able to disguise herself as a Santa Claus, the princess, the kingdom prime minister, and an artist by wearing different wigs and hats.
In an episode of the UK version of Who Wants to Be a Superhero , after one of Dr. Dark's henchman steals the secret identity files of their superheroes, they are forced to don disguises and create distractions in an attempt to take them back off him. Most of the heroes' disguises were paper thin and if anything would make them stick out like a sore thumb. Fortunately the henchman was fooled until he saw some of the superheroes taking the files from under his snout.
Invoked totally in The Count of Monte Cristo with Gerard Depardieu, where the disguises of the Count often involve no more than a larger nose than Gerard's normal one.
Invoked in Dads Army when, on a training exercise, Captain Mainwaring decides to dress some sheep in tin hats to make it look as though they were his men dressed as sheep. Meanwhile Corporal Jones poses as a log using a pantomime costume. It gets funnier.
The League of Gentlemen contains a rare effective example. It's obviously the same actor with different makeup and hair, but because that actor plays about a third of the characters on the show, you'll never guess. Saying which two characters are the same person would be telling.
The same kind of economy casting is used on The Mighty Boosh . But it didn't make Howard and Vince's attempts to masquerade as old ladies in the Bingo Hall seem any less feeble. Howard in particular should really have considered doing something about his moustache...
In LazyTown no one ever realises the person causing trouble who looks like Robbie Rotten in a silly outfit is, in fact, Robbie Rotten in a silly outfit. This is especially hilarious because his cover is blown at the end of EVERY episode, yet the townspeople will still fall for his Paper-Thin Disguise in the next episode. (And yet, Robbie Rotten himself thinks his disguises are amazingly awesome and calls himself "The Master of Disguise.")
If he actually is fooling everyone, then he's probably on to something.
Taken to the extreme in "Play Day" where his hat falls off and not one person yells "Robbie Rotten!" like they usually do.
Subverted in the episode "Defeeted" where the mayor recognises Robbie straight away, even though the villain is wearing one of his better disguises: a superhero outfit. The characters have fallen for lesser disguises in the past.
Spoofed in the Nickelodeon series All That , where the local superhero encounters an impersonator robbing the bank. Said impersonator is a little girl. The real superhero repeatedly tries to convince the Too Dumb to Live townspeople that he's the real thing. They are unable to tell the difference between the two even when the real superhero bends a metal pole, and the impersonator just rips a piece of paper.
To make it better, the superhero was black (and a bit fat), while the little girl was white (and pretty thin).
On CSI , in the episode "Living Legend", a series of murders are committed, ostensibly by separate people. All of the killers look amazingly alike (including the one who's supposed to be black and female). All of the killers use names that are obviously cribbed from horror movies. None of the killers try to hide their identities, which don't lead back to any real people. Any viewer with half a brain cell will have figured out by the fifteen-minute mark that all the killers (plus a few other characters) are played by special guest star Roger Daltrey , but it takes the well trained and highly intelligent police 45 minutes to even figure out that any one of the killers is actually using a disguise and fake name, let alone figure out that they're all the same person.
On Robin Hood , all the outlaws had to do to render themselves invisible was to put on their hoods. In any given crowd of people, there would always be a little group of people that had their hoods obscuring their faces - this was never considered suspicious.
An especially strange example is when Will Scarlett and Allan-a-Dale put on their hoods after a guard has stormed past and told them to get out of his way.
Funny hats also did the trick, as did a fancy dress for Djaq. Guy of Gisborne stops her as she infiltrates the castle, only for him to give her some orders, thinking she's a serving girl. Just for the record, Djaq was a Saracen woman. I guess Guy sees a lot of them around Nottingham...
The 2005 Canadian series Young Blades was notorious for this. The best example was Jacqueline - a female Musketeer masquerading as a man - who used to conceal her femininity by tying back her (waist-length) hair, assuming a bizarre guttural voice and frowning a lot. In some episodes she sported a highly amusing fake goatee, which only made things worse. And yet no one penetrated her disguise, ever, even when she let her hair down, put on a dress and started pretending to be her own twin sister. It was absurd!
In fact, most of the characters seemed to think that if they just put on a mask that covered their eyes they would be instantly unrecognizable even to their closest friends. They were usually right...
Notably averted in the episode "The Chameleon," where the villain had the ability to shapeshift at will. Though of course, given the good guys' track record for recognizing impostors, an eyepatch and a cigar might have served him just as well.
Also inverted in "The Chameleon," where the Chameleon disguises himself as Jacques, and D'Artagnan claims the disguise was paper thin to him because "Jacques" acted like a man, not like a woman disguised as a man.
Common on Batman , where the citizens of Gotham City are remarkably unobservant when it comes to recognizing Special Guest Villains. On at least two occasions, The Joker is able to successfully impersonate someone else -- not by wearing makeup to hide his distinctive features, or even by changing clothes, but by simply wearing a hat.
Subverted in Chapelles Show , when Tyrone Biggums is tricked into an intervention with his friends. One of them, Rhonda, recalls the time that he carjacked her. He tried to hide his identity simply by pulling his red hat over his head like a ski mask, but Rhonda instantly recognized him anyway:
A Running Joke on The Steam Video Company where every week an exasperated cast member would express dismay at the shoddiness of Bob Todd's disguise.
In Tokumei Sentai Gobusters , villain Enter is made of data and can change his clothes in the blink of an eye, but for some reason never bothers with the rest of the disguise, and maintains his appearance and signature goggles every time.
"Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" is a hit song for the Louisiana-based John Fred and His Playboy Band in early 1968. The song was a parody of The Beatles' hit, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".
Happens a few times in The Far Side . The most notable example is a polar bear with a penguin mask that doesn't even cover his whole face. And yet the penguins wonder why their numbers are diminishing.
Subverted in Calvin and Hobbes , where Calvin assumes (probably from seeing too many TV shows where this trope is in effect) that he'll be unrecognizable in his "Stupendous Man" costume, and is thoroughly confused and frustrated when it fools nobody. Especially funny is the fact that his mom, one of the people he expects will be fooled, made the costume for him in the first place.
Similarly, Calvin also attempts to do this trope with Hobbes (wearing a trenchcoat with Hobbes on top) in order to sneak into a movie that was way restrictive for his age. Going by the ticket seller's remark in the final panel ("Well, this is new."), she evidentially did not fall for it.
Calvin also once donned a fake nose, glasses and mustache and when Mom came to ask him about a broken lamp, he altered his voice and asked, "Who ees thees Kahlveen?"
Prickly City : How to disguise a coyote as the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse: bunny ears.
Andre the Giant: In the spring of 1986 (following his Wrestlemania 2 battle royal victory), Andre requested time off to go on a tour of Japan, heal from legitimate injuries, and begin filming scenes from a movie he was hired to star in, The Princess Bride . At the time, he was engaged in a 3-year-old feud with Big John Studd over whom was the true giant of wrestling, and a storyline was contrived to have Andre "miss" several high-profile tag-team matches (with a partner of his choice) against Studd and King Kong Bundy. Eventually, at Bobby Heenan 's behest, WWF president Jack Tunney "suspended" Andre. Later in the summer of 1986, a masked wrestler, identifying himself as the "Giant Machine" appeared, targeting – along with other masked "Machine" wrestlers – Studd and Bundy. The villains insisted that the Giant Machine was in fact Andre. They were right, except they were unable to mask Andre to prove his true identity (much to the delight of fans), and the WWF's lead announcers, usually Vince McMahon, Gorilla Monsoon, or Bruno Sammartino, speculated that the "Giant Machine" might be one of several famous Japanese wrestlers.
Indeed, Bundy and Studd never were able to prove their case to the fans, which – had they succeeded – Andre would have been "fired" (for circumventing Tunney's suspension). However, the storyline was always left open so that if Andre's health forced his retirement, the "Giant Machine" would have been unmasked. However, Andre's health held up enough and – after finishing filming of The Princess Bride and concluding his Japanese tour – he was "reinstated"... and a heel turn later that led to his famous Wrestlemania III match with Hulk Hogan etched his name in history.
At the height of the Bundy/Studd-Machines feud, Heenan introduced his own stable of "masked" wrestlers during a segment of "The Flower Shop." It was obviously Studd and Bundy wearing paper masks, and they quickly revealed themselves to scornfully mock Andre.
Hulk Hogan 's Mr. America disguise came about after he was "fired" in 2003. When he left the company, footage appeared revealing that Hogan took off his mask after a match.
Pip Bin of Bleak Expectations is always fooled by his nemesis Mr Gently Benevolent's disguises, though they're always comically thin and he's prone to slipping back into his accent, saying his evil internal monologue out loud.
The late Linda Smith had a routine complaining about the use of this trope in opera: 'Someone puts on a big hat and suddenly no-one can recognize them, even people who they've been talking to for half an hour. If that worked in real life, the witness protection programme would consist of a selection of headgear.'
It's not unusual for disguises to seem paper-thin on stage, a dramatic convention to make allowance for limited props and budget. Willing Suspension of Disbelief is encouraged in this scenario.
In Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor, the theater manager's assistant Max disguises himself as the visiting tenor Tito Merelli after Tito is found dead in his hotel room. This works on the opera's audience, as they have never seen the real Tito and won't know the difference. However, Tito's Not Quite Dead, and is running around Cleveland in the same costume Max is wearing (Tito brought two identical costumes). Saunders, the manager, runs into Tito several times without realizing the costumed tenor is not Max, despite Max and Tito, even in costume, looking nothing alike.
This was the main gimmick for the Purr Tenders toy line: fluffy plush cats wearing fake ears and muzzles so they could pass as 'exotic' animals like dogs and mice. (The fact that they could all communicate with humans and came in pink and purple apparently didn't make them exotic enough.) Somehow, the disguises worked... until they started purring.
Played with in Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver, where you have to infiltrate Team Rocket's activities at the Goldenrod Radio Tower by donning their uniform. Hilariously, the same Mooks who just shoved you away from the door gives you a cursory look, then allows you to pass. Especially funny when you consider that all Rocket Grunts look alike, and generally aren't sporting a ridiculous hat and pigtails, if you're a female player.
Made better when your rival comes in, recognizes you immediately, wonders what's up with the disguise, and strips you of it, then to have the grunt finally recognize you.
Speaking of which, a variation involving inanimate objects was also used. The transmitter used to cause the Gyarados to evolve at a rapid rate at Lake of Rage (and was implied to be the cause of the Red Gyarados) was disguised as a tree near the shop. And by disguised, I mean rather obviously (the control box was clearly seen, not to mention most of the "tree" was metallic gray).
Played straight in every game of the Hitman series, where 47 can get away with some rather ridiculous disguises (Six foot white guy dressed as a Chinese triad member, anyone?). However, this is averted on harder difficulty settings where most "disguises" won't be all that effective, even against Mooks.
In Sonic Adventure 2 , a hedgehog named Shadow steals a chaos emerald from Station Square, and despite having black fur with red highlights and a different hairstyle, the military takes and charges Sonic for the crime, believing he did it.
Later in the game, even Amy who is deeply obsessed and in love with Sonic mistakes Shadow for Sonic.
Fans have explained these two as a government cover-up and Amy being retarded, as she also mistook Silver for Sonic in that one game that never happened.
In Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door , one of the members on the sailing crew you join up with is obviously Lord Crump, The Dragon to the head of the X-Nauts. No one notices, but in an aside he does ask the person 'behind the TV' not to tell Mario his real identity or else, also lampshading the ridiculousness of the disguise in the process. Since every character in the game is two-dimensional (as in, physically), this is quite literally a Paper-Thin Disguise.
Additionally, Mario can "disguise" as Luigi by wearing the L badge. All this does is Palette Swap his clothes to green, but it's still enough for a self-proclaimed Luigi fan to mistake Mario for the real thing.
Even worse is that she is so convinced that Mario is actually Luigi that when the real Luigi suddenly shows up the fan accuses him of being an imposter.
In Super Paper Mario , Nastasia dresses Luigi in black clothes and provides him with a mask, so his brother won't find out that Mr. L is really Brainwashed and Crazy Luigi. However, he keeps his hat, his mustache, his way of moving, his shoes.... virtually everything about him is shouting: "HEY, I'M-A LUIGI IN-A A BADASS-COSTUME-A!!!"
...And yet Bowser still doesn't recognize him.
In Super Mario Sunshine , Shadow Mario commits vandalism on Isle Delfino and the Piantas believe Mario to be the culprit, as despite the fact that Shadow Mario is totally blue with a watery texture he had to be Mario. Then again, there seems to be an in-game justification considering the laughably bad drawing of Mario they painted on the Wanted posters.
In Paper Mario , the first boss starts off as a boxy, conspicuously fake disguise of Bowser. The four Koopa Troopas inside converse with each other loudly enough for Mario to overhear while in disguise, which doesn't help much, either.
In Hotel Mario , Iggy wears a comically oversized Bowser mask (and nothing else to disguise himself) during his battle.
Subverted in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 and Original Generation 2, in which Elzam V. Branstein dons the identity of Ratsel Feinschmecker ( German for "Mysterious Gourmet", a fitting time for an avid chef like Elzam) in order to fight alongside the heroes again. The "disguise" consists of nothing more than a pair of sunglasses and a slightly different style of clothing. The other heroes see right through it (except Arado, who isn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, and Lefina, who is just too trusting when Ratsel tells her he isn't Elzam), but as officially having a former enemy pilot around might raise too many questions amongst the top brass, they play along with only the barest of efforts, often just substituting the name "Ratsel" when referring to Elzam, even if talking about something he did as Elzam.
The Elzam/Ratsel disguise is a Shout-Out to Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam , where Char Aznable, The Ace for Zeon, swaps out his full-face mask and helmet for a pair of sunglasses and goes by the name Quattro Bageena (it helps that he also falsified official records). At one point Ratsel even says "I am Ratsel Feinschmecker, no more, no less", pretty much word-for-word what Quattro said when Kamille accused him of being Char.
Considering the number of other enemy pilots that have joined the team (for example, Elzam's very own niece, Leona Garstein ), the going theory is that he's doing it as a form of penance. Or something. Mostly people just humor him because he pretty much is the best pilot on the planet. And he owns a battleship with a drill on the front.
To be fair, he's not really trying to fool the heroes, just keep a low profile.
Subverted in Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete . One of the five heroes of the game is Leo, a Knight Templar who eventually does a Heel Face Turn. At a point in the game before he joins you permanently, the goddess he serves throws your party in jail. A masked man named Mystere (who looks exactly like Leo-plus-domino-mask and uses the same attacks) frees the party, denies any connection, and chews the scenery a bit. Later, Mystere vanishes and Leo returns. No one's fooled, though they keep up the illusion for Leo's sake. Another character speculates that Mystere is how Leo rebels against the elements of his job as Knight Templar which offend his sense of justice.
In Mega Man 6 for the NES, a mysterious contest promoter known as Mr. X appears to be the villain of the piece...unfortunately he bears a staggering resemblance to the regular game Big Bad Dr. Wily, except he has sunglasses, a beard, and a dot on his forehead. Capcom had tried this in the last two games, with 4 having the Russian scientist Dr. Cossack as the villain until it is revealed Dr. Wily was simply blackmailing him with his daughter. 5 claimed Mega Man's brother Proto Man was the villain, but he was simply a robotic impostor called Dark Man built by - you guessed it - Dr. Wily. With this flimsy Mr. X disguise, Capcom were clearly not even trying anymore.
On the other hand in Mega Man Battle Network 6 it is actually a surprise that Wily appears, as he didn't appear in 4 or 5.
Actually, Wily does appear at the end of 5 when he erases the latter part of Dr. Regal's memory so he can live a normal life. This only happens in the Team Colonel version.
The mysterious ??? guy who manages Proto Man's shop in 10 looks surprisingly similar to Auto with a Met helmet. With his cat sleeping on the counter. Yeah.
Team Fortress 2 's Spy class has a disguise ability that will make them indistinguishable from an opposite team member... to the opponents. To the spy's friends, he looks like a spy with a cereal-box paper mask on.
The original Team Fortress mod as well as Team Fortress Classic averted this trope, with the spy's disguise looking the same for all teams. Teammates had to aim their crosshairs at him to reveal his true identity.
The team's bases themselves, disguised as such things as granaries and shipping companies, sometimes qualify. The ones in Double Cross are said to "fool nobody", and 2fort's RED base, meant to be disguised as a farm, has a wooden cow. There are mooing sounds coming from somewhere, presumably a hidden tape recorder.
Subverted in Full Throttle . The villain hosts a demolition derby as a ploy to lure out and kill protagonists Ben and Maureen. Ben and Maureen enter the derby in disguises deliberately made to fool everyone except the villain, all as part of a Batman Gambit to fake their own deaths while keeping their true identities hidden from the derby's spectators. The villain even lampshades upon seeing them, "Who do they think they're fooling with those ludicrous disguises?"
Psychonauts ' Journey to the Center of the Mind of a mad conspiracy theorist has robot- M.I.B. monotonously mimic different everyday roles of Suburbia, ranging from a housewife to an assassin, often using nothing more than one article of the occupation as a disguise. This also works for the main character, though, as merely holding a red sign functions as the perfect disguise of a road worker.
Their lines of idle dialogue are just as hilariously paper thin:
Possessing the items causes them to actually perceive you as a house wife/road worker/what have you rather than them taking for granted that the person who is holding the rolling pin is not someone remotely suspicious. Probably still qualifies but...
To a further degree, Raz can pass as the head of the mental asylum simply by using an award statue, an oil painting, and a strait jacket. The man working the elevator is nearly blind, but still....
The identity of the Cornstalker in Touch Detective 2 1/2 is supposed to be a big secret... but there is one character that has the same jawline, same hair, same basic build, very similar name, and most disconcerting of all, the same voice (or rather, squeaky tones). A visit to the portrait gallery after the very first episode is enough to figure out who he is.
Persona 4 expects even the player to think that all it takes for Naoto to be unmistakable for a boy is to put on a hat.
This is really only a problem in the English version, though. In Japanese, it's quite common for young boys to be voiced by women. In addition, Naoto's Japanese VA is Romi Paku - known for her portrayals of young men.
Edgar kept pushing Celes away in order to keep her, and Sabin if he's there too, from blowing his cover - he had a good reason to dress up.
In Final Fantasy VII , Cloud and Co. disguise themselves as Shinra soldiers and sailors in order to get aboard a Shinra vessel. The humans pull off the disguise rather well, but it's hard to believe Red XIII, the anthropomorphic dog/wolf creature, managed to fool anyone...especially considering his tail was poking through the top of his pants and he was struggling to walk on two legs.
Bosco in the first season of the Sam & Max games. He even leaves his name tag on.
Then again, essentially no one is fooled by it. Certainly not the protagonists.
And after Max becomes the President of the U.S., Secret Serv ice-cream vans become ubiquitous.
In Okami , a game based partially on using a celestial, godly paintbrush along your quest, the main character, the wolf goddess Amaterasu, must infiltrate a nest of demons whose faces are covered with a paper decorated with a Japanese character. To fit in, a piece of paper is taped to Amaterasu's nose, and the player can draw whatever squiggles they like on it. None of the demons are any the wiser, making this disguise literally paper thin.
Lampshaded in that Issun, your Exposition Fairy, says that the mask probably won't work. He seems rather depressed that it actually does.
This happens no less than Three times in the sequel ; they never catch on until the mask gets lost. Even more ridiculous, two of the three times has you infiltrating the exact same place and passing by the exact same demons, granted, you do re-paint the disguises all three times, but still...
Subverted in the Chocobo spinoffs of Final Fantasy . Mog wears an assortment of masks, disguising himself and giving himself a name like "Pop-Up Hero X", but thanks to his predictable use of "kupo", Chocobo eventually sees through him. In Choboco Tales, Shirma: "You're not fooling anyone except yourself."
This is an unusual example: the disguise works on the PCs, but the first-time player hasn't met Balthios yet and so has no idea who UH is even supposed to be!
Subverted in Fire Emblem the Sacred Stones , in that both the protagonists disguise themselves as mercenaries. Also, their cover is never blown save for one random villager mentioning that one of them "carried himself in a royal manner".
However, it is double-subverted when one of your team members, reveals himself as long-lost, self-exiled prince Joshua. It's kept very well-concealed due to the fact that a fair amount of people from his country look similar (more so than most of the others), and also to the fact that He's a gambling addict who possesses no qualms about cheating on every game of chance he participates in and STILL manages to lose due to his famously low luck stats. The only hints we get of any noble nature whatsoever is his reluctance to kill pretty women, which can be attributed to his womanizing nature anyway.
For another Fire Emblem example, Devdan/Danved in 9 and 10 has a disguise that's beyond paper thin. His constant denial is absolutely the only evidence that the two are not the same.
In Blazing Sword, the player's army sneaks into Bern. The three lords don ragged brown cloaks without hoods. This is somewhat effective with Hector and Lyn, but Eliwood never bothers to take off his highly visible crown.
A much older example is Sirius, from Mystery of the Emblem. Even though pretty much everybody knows that he is really Camus beneath his Cool Mask, his true identity is never revealed (except if you count his Suspiciously Specific Denial when he snaps Nyna out of her Brainwashed and Crazy state in the Final Chapter as a very thinly-veiled confirmation).
Tallis in the new Mark of the Assassin DLC adventure for Dragon Age II gets her hands on the MacGuffin by putting an Orlesian guard's helmet on and letting the Duke hand it to her. This doesn't make much sense, due primarily to the fact that she's a female elf and thus a lot shorter than the normal guards, but also because she isn't wearing all that much clothing.
In The World Ends With You Joshua does this in his human form he looks like his composer form only as a teenage boy,and only 2 people figure it out Sho Minamimoto and a low level reaper Koki Kariya, and it figures this is the same form he killed Neku with heck he could have just put on a shirt that said "I am not the person who killed you." and that would have been better.
Lampshaded in Banjo-Tooie , when Banjo turns himself into a Stony in order to enter a kickball stadium (he still retains his backpack, his shorts, and the shape of his face). It seemed like he was foiled when the officer recognises him, but he is let in anyway as the participating players were running short.
Also, Liquid's disguise as Master Miller in MGS1 consisted of little more than putting his hair up, putting on some sunglasses, and changing his accent. He still had his distinctively dramatic way of speaking. It was pretty easy to see that it was Liquid at first glance. This was even more humorous upon the game's original release, as Master Miller had a very dark skin tone (not to mention black hair instead of blond hair) in Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake .
Of course it was retroactively subverted in the rerelease of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, and especially in Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker , where it turns out that Miller really did look and sound like that.
Snake's "disguise" in MGS2 has to count as well. Snake's Iroquois Pliskin disguise involves... wearing different clothes. That's it.
To be fair, Raiden's never seen Snake in person, he's grown a beard since Shadow Moses, and he isn't wearing his trademark bandana while in disguise.
Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater had something similar: EVA disguised herself as a KGB operative named Tatyana so she could get closer to Volgin and steal the Philosopher's Legacy. Her disguise basically consisted of... her wearing glasses and a slightly different hairstyle. Oh, and also a different outfit. Kojima even lampshades this in the director's commentary.
Similarly enough, Snake can easily fool guards when wearing the Scientist and Maintenance disguise (as long as he doesn't wear facepaint as well), despite keeping the bandana among other things, and even if the guards get suspicious, all he has to do to confirm he's a scientist is readjust his glasses. Now, if he encounters other scientists/maintenance crew members (depending on the disguise) face to face, that's a different story.
Inverted in the case of Snake meeting Volgin while disguised as Raikov. Despite being disguised so well that Zero claimed that even Raikov's own mother would not tell the difference, Volgin easily saw through the disguise (after pulling a Groin Attack on Snake twice). Hilariously double subverted during the final battle, where you can easily gain a free hit on Volgin if you wear the Raikov mask, without even changing into his officer uniform, and was missing the hat. To further add insult to injury, Volgin is fooled even though you put on the mask in front of him!
Subverted in his appearance in the Subspace Emissionary story mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where Lucario easily saw through Snake's cardboard box trick (literally in this case, as he used his Aura sight to detect him).
Runescape uses this trope quite a few times where sometimes only changing one to three articles completely trick the NPC.
In "Eagle's Peak" quest, the player tricks other humans and eagle by disguising him/herself with a fake beak and fake wings.
In the "Branches of Darkmeyer" quest, the player fools the entire vampyre society into believing that the player is a vyrelord (one of the highest ranking vampyres), using only some quest-specific robes - despite the fact that vyrewatch and vyrelords have wings and can fly. The player cannot.
Also averted, in that even if you get a sex change, different skin color, different hair color and style, and a new basic wardrobe, most significant NPCs will still recognize you and call you by name - unless you're wearing one of the aforementioned disguises.
In Grand Theft Auto Vice City , the cops will lose track of you if you go into your house in front of their very eyes, put on a "clean" version of the same outfit you were wearing when you walked inand walk out the front door, as long as you don't have more than two wanted stars.
Not to mention that in every game from GTA3 onward, you can drive almost any vehicle into a Pay-n-Spray in full view of the fuzz and be completely ignored when you drive out in the exact same vehicle. There are a few exceptions (buses, police cars, etc) which the Pay-n-Spray employees will refuse to touch, probably because they only come in the one color scheme.
Grand Theft Auto IV averts this trope while maintaining the game mechanic. You can escape the Police if you switch vehicles out of sight, though if they see you through the window, they'll recognize you and continue pursuit. Less realistically, you can still use the Pay-n-Spray to lose the cops, if they don't see you go in.
But more realistic in that 3 hours pass, meaning your character waits for the heat to cool down.
Subverted in Mother 3 , where Lucas and his dog want to get into a nightclub, only to be informed by the bouncers that "No Dogs Allowed". The two slink away and seconds later, Lucas and his dog (now wearing human clothes and walking upright) walk up and try to enter. The guards aren't fooled, and even mention that Lucas was just here with his dog, and now conveniently walks up with a dude who looks like a dog. They only get in due to one of the staff members vouching for them.
Also played seriously when you walk in a Pig Mask base with masks for everyone except Lucas... who they mistake for their commander, of all people. That's because the Masked Man, the aforementioned commander, is actually your disappeared twin brother Claus reconstructed.
In Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2, Rayman's disguise manages to fool a Rabbid general holding a reference picture. Of course, the French titles of the original Raving Rabbids and this game translate as "Rayman vs. the Stupid Rabbits" and "Rayman vs. the Even Stupider Rabbits", respectively.
Of course, there was the immortal "It's just a big nosed bush" disguise in Rayman Revolution. Because big nosed bushes regularly spontaneously sprout on the way into your pirate stronghold. Sure.
In Assassin's Creed , all Altaïr needs to do to become a monk is to start praying. Guards will completely ignore him, including the multiple swords on his body, dozens of knives, metal gauntlets, assassin sash, etc.
However, he does have to be in the middle of a group of real monks to do this. And as most of his weapons are at least moderately concealed, and the rest of his outfit is extremely similar to that of the monks... and it's considered VERY bad form to shove into the middle of monks in the middle of highly religious societies.
The game itself appears to indicate that part of Altaïr's ability to blend comes from the assassin equivalent of the Jedi mind trick. On top of that, it's worth mentioning that the individual templar mooks stationed in the various cities and throughout the kingdom can spot you in an instant even if you are blending. The regular mooks don't notice a thing though.
Of course, with this all occurring as genetic memory being manifested by the Animus, its quite possible that Altaïr used stealthier methods of hiding, only the Animus is showing what actually happened in simpler terms.
In Etna Mode in the 2 remakes of Disgaea Hour of Darkness , Enta manages to convince many people that Laharl is still alive by attaching a pair of antenna to a Prinnie that resembles Laharl's Expressive Hair. Vyers/Mid-Boss is one of the few people it does not fool. Given who he is, this makes sense.
Strong Bad's Homestar costume in Strong Bads Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner includes a makeshift head through which his eyes are clearly exposed. No one questions that fact. Nor do they question the fact that Strong Bad is several inches shorter than Homestar and has visible arms .
Averted in Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective, where Perducci's disguise is pulled off by using another actor.
In City of Heroes , Mender Silos, the leader of the Menders of Ouroboros, has the exact same hairstyle as Nemesis. To their credit, between that, the Significant Anagram, and the fact that most players would assume there's a connection between Ouroboros and Nemesis anyway, the developers know they're not fooling anyone.
In The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker , the traveling merchant Beedle apparently runs some sort of black market near one of the islands. His only disguise is a helmet.
Similarly, in Majora's Mask , the nighttime black market is run by the same person who runs the regular daytime market... in the same building. His "disguise" is a pair of sunglasses.
Also in Majora's Mask, a few of the non-transformative masks (namely Don Gero's Mask, the Captain's Hat, and the Gibdo Mask), will make certain people and/or monsters believe you are someone or something else.
Hilarious subversion: If you put on the Captain's Hat in your fight with the undead King Ikana, he is briefly struck speechless at the sight of Captain then his Genre Savvy kicks in and he realizes the somewhat major size difference between Link and Keeta.
The Stone Mask, which looks like a weird stone face, apparently makes most people and monsters consider you to be as "inconspicuous as a stone". Interestingly, you can't see the NPC who gives it to you without using the Lens of Truth.
Not to mention every mask you can wear. Somehow people believe you are a female, a fishman or a large earth man because of it. No one seems to be able to notice you are 1/4 the size of any of them.
Link had been asleep for years and Zelda had grown up in that time, so that probably played a part.
Lampshaded in Lego Star Wars where a disguise is a moustache. Even on the women.
Stormtrooper disguises in Lego Star Wars 2. Just the helmet. This looks frankly ludicrous when it's Chewie wearing one, because it sits off kilter like a fez. It still fools everyone.
The really ironic part is that in freeform mode, you can play as a fully uniformed Stormtrooper, but all the other Stormtroopers will immediately know that you're not on their side.
The mustache disguise is particularly amusing in the vehicle levels, where the spaceships wear mustaches...
In Arcana Heart , one of the characters, Kamui Tokonomiya, who is a thousand-something years old, and protector of Earth, is spotted by one of the other characters and it is immediately made known who she is. Her response? "But, my disguise was foolproof. I tied my hair back!". Add to the fact that she certainly STANDS OUT for carrying a katana everywhere...
Day of the Tentacle : Laverne disguises herself as a tentacle with an outfit of the wrong color that leaves her head, arms and feet visible. None of the tentacles see through it, and a couple of them are attracted to her.
Xenosaga Episode III: The creator of T-elos, the more advanced version of KOS-MOS, is named "Roth Mantel". Roth Mantel translates to "Red Mantle". Guess who? Red Testament, aka Kevin. Granted, this is a bit stronger than most (since Roth only has a passing resemblance to his true self), but considering the thematic names of a lot of people in the series, and the fact that T-elos is remarkably similar to a prototype that had no plans that weren't encrypted ten ways from Sunday, Shion should have well picked up on it.
Either under this or the Wig, Dress, Accent, Wario Land Shake has a treasure called the 'Perfect Disguise'. Which is pretty much a pair of glasses and a false mustache, although apparently it works:
In Donkey Kong Country , King K. Rool seems to make a habit of this. Subverted in that he fools no one (except, oddly, whoever it was who wrote his trophy description in Super Smash Bros. Brawl), and there isn't even any real indication that he's trying to fool anyone. Apparently, he just likes dressing up in strange costumes and changing his title.
In World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, this trope is subverted. During the Death Knight (An unstoppable, undead killing machine) quest chain, you are required to intercept a messenger. You do this by disguising yourself as... a tree. Made of cardboard. Said messenger promptly remarks "What a strange tree. I must investigate". Shortly before the player leaps out and stabs him to death.
Later on in the Burning Steppes quest chain in Cataclysm, you're required to disguise yourself as a member of the Blackrock army using a mask that's the same model as the masks from Hallow's Eve. Most members of the army will fall for it, others will get suspicious requiring you to beat them to death with the cudgel one of the commanders gave you.
Averted in Fallout 3 , where it is impossible to disguise yourself. Your character is instantly recognizable, even dressed like this. Perhaps the wiki puts it best:
Although this is silly. They shoot you because they are a forgotten and zombified invasion force and damn well know who's on their side, as they've been living in a building with them for 200 years. And there is no Chinese power armor in the game that would hide your face appropriately.
If you walk up to the Outcast base in the DLC Operation Anchorage expansion wearing Outcast armor, you can fool a few lines of dialog. It is a military organization, after all. On the other hand, if you walk up the Outcast base to trade high tech stuff with them while wearing their armor, you not only don't fool them, they will immediately take your armor without payment. (As they conclude that, at best, you stole it from a dead Outcast soldier, if you didn't kill them yourself.)
In Fallout 2 Goris, an intelligent talking Deathclaw companion for the player character would wear a brown robe to cover his appearance when not fighting. Absolutely nobody seems suspicious of the giant lumbering figure completely covered in brown cloth even though he's easily twice the size of any human.
Although it is ridiculously easy to fool the guards at the gates of 'The Pitt
, just put on a slave outfit, they don't notice your wrist mounted computer or get suspicious about all your carried equipment.
Think about it like this, as far as they can tell you escaped and came back with a bunch of cool stuff. They confiscate your equipment at the gate. Nobody noticing the pip-boy could just be the guards deciding you can keep it because they can't get the damn thing off. They just let the people know they let you in with it.
Though to be fair, even if the player has seen Belleza before, the party has not.
Judas, a mask-wearing swordsman who shows up in Tales of Destiny 2 and is quite blatantly Leon Magnus from the first game. It's such an open secret that it warrants a Mythology Gag in Tales Of Symphonia: Dawn Of The New World , where Presea tells Emil about her invention the Judas Mask, which "hid your face without actually hiding it, yet mysteriously prevented anyone from realising your true identity."
Then there's Nelly Cootalot, who can fool the aristocracy of Meeth into thinking she is Angelo Lightfoot, pilot stealing and using a fake moustache.
In the Medal of Honor series, someone always eventually sees through your disguise. For example, in Frontline, the guard at the entrance to the manor house says "You're not Friedrich! That uniform is wrong. You're an impostor!" Later, at the train station, you steal an officer's uniform, then the officer finds out and comes after you in his underwear. "Hey! That man stole my pants!"
In Soldier of Fortune 's first Iraq level, you are provided with a disguise, but you soon run into a guard who asks you for identification (which you don't have), and your cover is blown.
In Golden Sun Dark Dawn , two of the main antagonists show up in an early dungeon. One is a green-haired Blood Knight called Blados. The other is a bishounen guy with long blue hair, whom Kraden seems to know from thirty years ago, at the time of the first two games, in which one of the villains was a bishounen guy with long blue hair. But this can't be the same guy, he's wearing a mask!... that covers less than half his face.
Somewhat justified when his identity is finally revealed and everyone is shocked, because Alex supposedly died thirty years ago in the collapse of Mt. Aleph at the end of The Lost Age. Nobody was looking for him. Especially since he hasn't aged since then, in a world where that's rare enough that Kraden's slowed aging is continually remarked upon. If anybody had been expecting Alex at all, they'd have expected him to be older.
In WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011, at one point in Rey Mysterio Jr 's storyline after angering the All-American American Jack Swagger you play as Evan Bourne against newcomer Todo Americano (which means All-American) who other than wearing a mask looks like Swagger, wears gear similar to Swagger, and has all the same mannerisms and moves.
Estelle in Tales of Vesperia is a princess, which she thinks is a secret. However, when her cover is "blown", she finds out that everyone in the party knew who she was...except Karol.
This trope returns to the Tales series in the PlayStation 3 version of Tales of Graces through a series of skits in which Richard takes on a superhero identity named "Masque de Baronia" to do good deeds for his friends. However, his 'costume' consists of little more than a turban and a piece of cloth covering his mouth, worn along with his normal attire. Of course, everyone instantly sees through it except for Asbel and Sophie.
In the SNES Shadowrun , two morgue workers become terrified of Jake after he rises from the slab they left him on (thinking he's a zombie), and refuse to have anything to do with him. Jake solves this problem by donning a pair of sunglasses, which stops them recognizing him.
Devil May Cry 4 has Trish masquerading as Gloria, a female member of the Order. The only ones who are not fooled by this are Dante ( laughing at her and saying "the regal look suits you" ) and Sanctus ( saying "Oh, it's you, Gloria" when she is not in disguise ).
Played straight in The Sims 3. If a sim who works as a private investigator goes on a stakeout, they will hold up a pair of shrub branches, and hide behind them, usually in plain sight. As seen here.
In Ragnarok Online , in order to get to the Rekenber Corporation's laboratory for various quests, you just have to wear a pair of geek glasses and a white mustache to get pass the guard guarding the laboratory, and the guard will allow you to pass even if you have a different hairstyle, clothing or even as a female.
The 1994 PC game Eagle Eye Mysteries in London has a mystery called "Case of Blood's Bold Bauble," where the protagonists have to get information from an obstructive hotel desk clerk. Your partner borrows another character's glasses and puts them on you, then pretends that you're the star of a new TV show and he/she is your agent. The kicker: the glasses is the only thing your (unseen by you) character's avatar wears in the way of a disguise, your partner doesn't even attempt to disguise him/herself, both of you are children (which means your partner shouldn't be old enough to be a TV actor's agent), the clerk will have presumably met you before (if you're playing the mysteries in the order they're presented), and the clerk still falls for it.
Lee Chaolan from Tekken enters the King of Iron Fist Tournament 4 under the disguise of Violet - which consists of dyeing his hair purple and wearing sunglasses. One wonders who he was trying to fool.
Occurs twice in Medi Evil 2 : In the Whitechapel level, Dan needs to find a suit and fake beard so he can gain access to a nightclub, and in the second sewer level, he regains the trust of the Mullock clan by wearing the same mask as the clan shaman (despite being at least twice as tall as him).
The SNK Gals Fighters Fighting Game has "Miss X", who is essentially the Badass Iori Yagami in a sailor uniform and a bandit's mask. Predictably, no one in the rest of the all-female cast falls for it, and all of them point it out immediately. Also falls under Creepy Crossdresser and Rule 63.
Recettear an Item Shops Tale features Recette and Tear utilizing a wooden-plank structure roughly crafted to be a tree prop, and labeled "totally a tree".
The disguise used by Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist in the last act consists of a change of clothes, a neckerchief (which is actually worn around the neck), and a silver ear. Nobody realizes that the man with the silver ear is actually the one-eared pharmacist, up until the Big Bad captures him and removes the fake ear.
Despite having long green hair, horns, not altering his voice, and a tendency to wear the same blue clothing, Arle couldn't identify her long-term antagonist Satan in Puyo Puyo TSU's Alternate Ending, all because he was wearing a gold mask that only covered his eyes.
Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai has Ms. Kishido. The only different thing she's wearing is the mask. This might have worked had she not been a blonde-haired, blue-eyed foreigner in Japan with her equally distinctive not-disguise-wearing protector along with her. A few people are actually fooled, though.
In Apollo Justice Ace Attorney , Apollo never notices the uncanny resemblance between the picture on the wall at the Wright and Co Offices and the victim of his first case (not even noting familiarity) even when the only difference is a goatee. On the other hand, Phoenix notices from the first meeting.
The player, on the other hand, stands a chance of noticing at first glance, even without color.
Earlier in the same series, Furio Tigre disguises himself as Phoenix Wright in order to frame someone for murder. This 'disguise' consists of a suit, a fake attorney's badge (made of cardboard!) and loudly proclaiming himself to be Phoenix Wright. It works despite every major player in the case knowing Phoenix personally. Because they have the same hairstyle.... Furio Tigre is huge and orange.
Gumshoe mentions that many people on the court had "big question marks on their heads" when Not Phoenix made his apparition, but every time someone tried to point this out, Furio literally roared them into silence.
Even more bizarrely, the disguise is apparently good enough to fool the player -- the first you see of Furio Tigre is in the chapter intro where Phoenix Wright loses a case... and he's rendered as completely indistinguishable from the real Phoenix.
Trials and Tribulations subverts this with Dahlia Hawthorne when she appears to turn up in "Bridge to the Turnabout" with a different hair colour and nun's garments (retaining the same hairstyle and mannerisms, thus the Paper-Thin Disguise). The subversion? It's actually her twin sister.
Chris in Princess Waltz . How obvious is it? Before The Reveal, knowing how bad a job she's doing acting, Chris asks in a roundabout way if Arata is sure he doesn't suspect her of anything. And barely refrains from mentioning what: Being a girl. It gets worse. He walks in on her with no disguise (bath) and still doesn't get it. All the yaoi fangirls in the class Squee....
Parodied in El Goonish Shive , in which several aliens and magical beings successfully disguise themselves with shirts and hats reading things such as "Homo Sapiens" or "Ordinary Student". This filler comic serves as an example.
George the Dragon is infamous for using and abusing this particular trope, usually to the disgrace of any human beings present.
This is an example where the dragon 'sneaks' into a top secret meeting of the Dragon Hunters Anonymous.
Also parodied in Eight Bit Theater where the bad guys sneak into a castle by hiding behind a banner with "Doin' fine" on it.
Subverted at yet another point, where Black Mage kills an evil cultist and slices off his face to use as a mask. Upon greeting the other cultists they immediately realize that he killed their friend and is using his face as a mask, and lecture him on what a poor disguise it is.
Parodied in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja , where the doctor tries to achieve this using only a name tag. No one's fooled -- the mask, you know -- but they play along. In fact, every single time he tries to disguise himself, he leaves his mask on. Apparently Contractual Genre Blindness is not just for villains these days.
Subverted in Narbonic , where a group of intelligent hamsters operate a fake body with a paper plate with a face drawn on -- poorly -- for their disguise. They can't even get their pronouns right. Nobody is fooled, but tend to take in stride the fact that they're talking to a bunch of hamsters.
Another subversion in The Law of Purple : the human characters disguise themselves with facepaint to pass as Caligulians, but not only is this not convincing, none of the natives seem to care whether the humans are disguised or not. They ditch the facepaint relatively quickly.
With their robots even this would be too sneaky. This one believed when robots that disassembled him, basically, told him they're handless models . It gets better when Edge turns off his transponder, other robots don't even recognize him as a robot. Conversely, recognize as a robot anything with a proper transponder.
Robots are programmed to identify each other by transponder signal -- which makes sense as they can move their "brains" around. It also makes a perfect disguise, to the point that they can have a masquerade this way. And see "ghosts". They are not stupid or gullible, they just don't have the necessary shape recognition algorithms.
There is also some Lampshade Hanging on that page when another character (and Trickster at that) comments, "Your powers of deception and trickery are bewildering, child." And this comment is footnoted with "I don't think he's being sarcastic."
In the storyline where ~Roomies!~ started getting really strange, a group of aliens escape the notice of the general populace by putting funny shapes on their heads and claiming to be The Teletubbies .
In some early Sluggy Freelance strips, Aylee went out in public wearing a hat and trenchcoat to disguise her alien appearance, which surprisingly worked. In her latest form, she goes through much more effort to create her disguise.
Bun-Bun and Kiki have also operated robot versions of Torg and Riff on occasion, which people can't seem to tell apart from the real things despite their obviously blocky appearance.
Sasha dresses up as the supervillainess Monicruel in this strip. It works perfectly because, as Crushestro put it, "Boobs and a monocle. Who else could it be?"
More of Torg's miniony disguises involve a logo hat and sunglasses (at night.) This doesn't keep a former interrogator from recognizing him, though.
Later on, they managed to fool the guards of an ice world military base by disguising themselves as pizza delivery men (only for one of them to purposefully blow their cover due to refusing to use a plan used by Scooby and Shaggy )
Building 12: After The Reveal in the first chapter that Al ex is a girl, she's generally drawn in a way that, while still fairly flat, she's not likely to be mistaken for a guy. Somehow, The Masquerade remains unbroken.
Batman decided to crash a 'Welcome Back' party for Hal. He really didn't try hard. Batman and Sons.
Slightly Damned pulls this off twice with Buwaro - first he wears a pimp suit which doesn't really cover his horns or fur (people seem too busy proclaiming his friends as hookers to notice), then he explicitly wears no disguise and everyone assumes it's a perfect costume of a Demon.
Subverted in " Super Temps " as most people see right through the disguises, and just go along with it anyway because the supers themselves are loopy and rather sensitive. Bonus points for the fact that many of the supers themselves not only buy into each others' paper-thin disguises but also think that the civilian populace's paper-thin facade of being fooled is real.
Played straight in Zorphbert and Fred, as none of the humans notice the intelligent behaviour, human mannerisms and bloody obvious antennae on the title characters, who are aliens disguised as pet dogs to study Earth.
In one page of "Spiff Spoonerton and the Planet of Hot Green Women" involves Spiff and Miri infiltrating a military base. Miri wears a maid uniform and does nothing to obscure her face. Spiff wears his normal clothing with a piece of paper that reads "Also Maid". Exceptional in that Spiff is literally the only human on the entire planet and both are well known outlaws.
Terrence of Kate Modern is an unusual case. When he reinvents himself as bespectacled, cardigan-sporting religious nerd Terry, he is recognised almost immediately by the other characters. However, it somehow doesn't occur to them that quiet, harmless Terry might be the murderer. He later plays this trope straight as the straight-jacketed Patient # 12.
In Englishman , Englishman's Battle Butler (known only as Butler) also moonlights as a supervillain named The Butler. A deconstructed example in that it appears to play this trope straight (E'man never connects the two) but Butler never actually bothers with a disguise, rendering it PoMo.
Bubs' alter ego, ""The Thnikkaman", consists of him wearing sunshades and a piece of paper reading "TH" taped to his chest. And on a couple occasions he momentarily removes the shades. Only Homestar, The Ditz, ever sees through the disguise.
As part of the annual Strong Sad Lookalike Contest, the Cheat dresses up as Strong Sad's left foot by sitting in a paper bag that had an elephant foot crudely drawn on it. Nobody else's costume is particularly convincing either (except for Homsar, who was disqualified because Coach Z thought he actually was Strong Sad ), but the Cheat has somehow won the contest three years in a row this way.
In the Peasant's Quest game, Rather Dashing disguises himself as a bale of hay to sneak past the Jhonka and get its riches. When a strong gust of wind blows the hay away, revealing Rather Dashing, the Jhonka suddenly notices his presence, and asks him if he's seen his riches.
Also applies to Strong Bad's attempt to use a stunt double in the Dangeresque trilogy. The stunt double in question is clearly Strong Sad, and the terrible editing does not help.
In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog , the titular character is not recognized by Penny, even though neither his "costume" or his "normal" clothes covers his face (he wears Goggles Do Nothing, but only on his forehead until the last scene).
Possibly Justified Trope in that Penny may or may not have heard of Dr. Horrible: she never mentions him; he's not a big time supervillain (yet), and the first time she sees him, she is under a lot of stress, but still ends up recognizing him.
Most people miss Billy in the back of the soup kitchen as he glowers at Captain Hammer and pours the soup back into the pot instead of into the bowl. The irony of it is his idea of disguise is wearing a fake mustache and an apron and not wearing his hoodie.
Paper-Thin Disguise is also subverted, as when Captain Hammer meets Billy, he instantly recognises him as Dr Horrible.
Harry's Invisibility cloak, which barely covers the group's shoulders and yet it seems only Dumbledore knows they're there.
Dumbledore's (extra) beard when hiding from the Death Eaters searching for him.
And, of course, Quirrel and his magically sneezing turban.
Subverted in Kickassia , when several people recognize Spoony as "that doctor guy", despite his frantic efforts to pretend he's not Insano.
Another Kickassia example. During the invasion the President of Molossia Kevin Baugh disguises himself as Baron Fritz von Baugh, minister of making things orderly. Although it is obviously him in disguise The Nostalgia Critic decides to go along with it and lets him stay. As it turned out doing this was a huge mistake on the Critic's part as it allowed Baugh the chance to plant a Apple of Discord within his already grumbling troops further sabotaging the future of Kickassia.
Well, it was over seven since they last met.
Steve as a Shy guy in episode 2.
Hal and Jeff as Luigi and Mario, respectively in The Movie.
The Weebl's Stuff cartoon "Scampi" is a list of things that the narrator has seen that are "often in disguise". None of the disguises are very convincing, which include a hamster wearing bunny ears, the planet Earth with a big sign reading "MARS" on it, Shakespeare dressed as a party clown, and a map of Malaysia with Kuala Lumpur's name scratched out and replaced with the obviously hand-written word "France".
In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog , Sonic could fool anyone by sometimes wearing only glasses and a wig or wearing only a vest and sunglasses.
In his review of the show, The Nostalgia Critic felt it especially ridiculous that Sonic felt the need to reassure the audience it was him under the disguise every time he used one. Gee, it's good that we're being kept in the loop huh?
The "Chicken Boo" segments of Animaniacs are based almost entirely on essentially parodying this trope. Boo himself is simply a giant chicken that cannot speak and is not anthropomorphic in any way, yet when he puts on a wig, a mask, a mustache, or a suit, everyone is fooled into thinking he is one of them. Not just one of them however, but an expert in whatever field he is pretending to be involved in and often with a fully established backstory of some kind. The Cassandra will try to convince everyone that he is just a chicken but will be laughed off by everyone else until Boo's disguise comes off, at which point he is immediately recognised as not being human, The Cassandra will return to rub it in their faces, and Boo is chased away by an angry mob.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender , the kids' disguises include Aang wearing a wig and moustache made of Appa-fur and pretending to be an old man, and Sokka and Katara donning a moustache and fake baby-bump respectively and pretending to be Aang's parents. Completely believed every time.
It seems that all Aang ever has to do is cover up his arrow, and he's safe. Eh? That kid with a turban has the same yellow and orange garb as the Avatar? Well phooey, we can't see his arrow! There's no way it's him!
Though, admittedly it got a lot better in the beginning of Season Three, what with completely different clothes, actual hair, a headband, and an attempt to assimilate.
Also, it seems like people generally don't know his appearance that well...after all, there's no photography in this world - all they have is colorless drawings, and that's only in the Fire Nation.
It makes sense with Katara and Sokka most of the time because ( for whatever reason ) the Fire Nation never made wanted posters for them.
In the episode "Sokka's Master", at the very end Piandao reveals that he always knew Sokka was a member of the Water Tribe, since the name "Sokka" is very distinctly Water Tribe in the series. He recommends, for future reference, the name Li. "There's a million Lis."
Also Zuko and Iroh while on the run from the Fire Nation in season 2. Despite being on hundreds of wanted posters throughout the Earth Kingdom, no one ever manages to recognize the angry teenage boy with a huge scar traveling with his short, chubby uncle as the two fugitives on the poster.
In season 3, "The Painted Lady" this trope is both subverted and nicely averted. Katara dresses as a Spirit to help a town who's river was polluted by the Fire Nation's factories. It's actually quite a brilliant disguise, and with the help of her waterbending, she's very convincing (at least until Aang catches her sneaking off). On the more comedic side, we have a man who seems to be completely insane. He switches hats and names, telling the gang he's a trio of brothers.
In an episode of The Backyardigans , Pablo self-proclaimed himself as "Le Master of Disguise" (which just happened to be the episode's title ), and he couldn't be recognized by any of the other characters, most especially when he dressed up in the costume Austin was wearing at the episode, mustache and all (though Pablo's was over his beak), and the others couldn't tell them from each other, even if Austin and Pablo looked nothing alike.
An episode of Camp Lazlo had Lazlo, Clam, and Raj sneak into the Squirrel Scouts camp with Lazlo and Clam dressed as girls and Raj disguised as a log. None of the Squirrel Scouts seemed to notice.
In another episode the Beans Scouts fool the Squirrel Scouts by saying they have a unicorn which is actually a filthy disgusting llama with an ice cream cone on his head, later when they take the cone off they proclaim "He's hideous!" despite finding him beautiful earlier.
Amusingly subverted in Chowder ; in an escalating effort to convince Panini that He's Not Her Boyfriend, Chowder turns up on her doorstep wearing a large black moustache and fabricates a story about the "real" Chowder moving far away. Panini still knows it's Chowder, though. In the end, he foils himself after he gleefully accepts the cookie she offers him.
On one episode of Clone High , the clone of Joan of Arc had to dress as a man by wearing a fairly obvious fake moustache that nonetheless fooled all of the other characters, because the basketball team wasn't allowed to include girls or animals. When her disguise is penetrated, her place is taken by a dolphin in an equally fake moustache.
The episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets banned from Moe's Tavern subverted this trope. Somebody who is "obviously" Homer in a bowler hat with a monocle and fake mustache walks into Moe's, speaking in an oddly stilted manner with a British accent. He protests that he's not Homer, but the innocuously named Guy Incognito, but gets beaten up and thrown out anyway. Outside, we see Homer walk past the barely conscious heap of the undisguised patron, then briefly reflect upon the implications of finding a perfect copy of himself. And then on a dog with a puffy tail.
Another episode ("Burns, Baby, Burns!!") featured Homer and Burns' son Larry running from the police. They run into a costume shop, and a few seconds later what appears to be a clearly disguised Homer and Larry exit. Another few seconds, and we cut to into the shop -- the manager opens the door to the dressing room, to show Homer and Larry cowering on the floor and yells at them to either buy something or get out.
Averted in the episode "Marge vs. the Monorail", in which Mr. Burns tries to pass himself off as " Mr. Snrub ", wearing nothing unusual besides a long moustache. It does not work.
Possibly the most absurd example of all: in a parody of The Count of Monte Cristo , the Count (Homer) removes his mask, and nobody recognizes him. Then he removes his fake mole, and everyone in the room gasps in shock.
Another example of it not working is where Mr Burns dresses up in Jimbo's clothes to inform Principal Skinner his fourth-form chums and he think it would be quite corking if he were to give the school's new riches to the local energy concern. Naturally Skinner isn't fooled: "It was naive of you to assume I'd mistake this town's most prominent 104 year old man for one of my elementary school students"
A similar subversion occurred in "Kamp Krusty." The villainous Mr. Black attempted to keep the campers already lowered morale steady by hiring someone to pose as Krusty. The person he hired was Barney Gumble... whose disguise involved nothing more than slapping him in Krusty's clothes (that barely even fit him, anyways), wearing a skull cap representing Krusty's head and some makeup. Most of the kids were suspicious, and Bart ends up pointing out that he's an impostor. Barney himself unwittingly confirms it simply by speaking (his drunk voice was heard instead of Krusty's voice, not to mention he called himself "Krunchy the Clown.")
Mr Burns, Smithers, and an Assassin they hired dress up as Marge, Bart, and Homer respectively in order to infiltrate the nursing home and kill Grampa. Grampa sees through the deception... because his family never visits him.
In "Hungry Hungry Homer", Duffman disguises himself in this manner as a news reporter named Joel Duffman, from The Newsly Times.
Played straight in an early episode when Bart takes up ballet, and disguises himself by wearing a balaclava - in spite of his distinctive hairstyle remaining clearly visible. Everyone is fooled, and nothing much is made of how ridiculous it is.
Subverted in one episode where Bart ditched class. When he saw Homer, he quickly pushed his hair forward hoping to fool him. However, Homer has already seen Bart and was afraid the boy would figure out he ditched work. Homer's disguise was putting a hair comb under his nose as a moustache. Homer and Bart just pretended they didn't recognize each other.
In the episode "Burns' Heir," Burns shows Bart a "live broadcast" of Bart's family talking about how much they don't want him to come home. In reality, it is a group of actors Burns hired, including the Estonian Dwarf as Lisa. Bart is unconvinced until Fake Homer says his famous catchphrase "Duh-Oh."
Trim top of mustache
It's a bit of a subversion in that case because the disguises they wore made them look exactly like them and they perfectly mimicked their voices.
Also averted in the episode where Homer becomes the Batman-esque Pie Man. At the end, Marge finally reveals that she always knew, just because it was so obviously him.
An episode of Hey Arnold entitled "Helga's Locket" featured this when Helga attempted to get her locket of Arnold back from Arnold's grandpa. She disguised herself in a black trenchcoat, a derby, glasses, and fake mustache, passing herself off as "Bernard Flotsom", a rich antique art collector. It works for maybe a minute, and after a couple of near-misses (such as one of her pigtails poking out from her hat), Grandpa gets wise once she runs off with the locket saying, "So long sucker!" As she runs off, Grandpa, now mistaking her for some hooligan, calls out "AND YOU FORGOT YOUR MUSTACHE!"
Subverted in an episode of Family Guy : Peter is at the supermarket and partakes in a free sample, saying that it was quite good. Afterwards, a man identical to Peter wearing a Groucho Marx disguise takes a sample, then another Peter with a thin mustache and oriental haircut (plus a horrible Japanese accent). The employee informs him that he doesn't have to disguise himself to get free samples. Suddenly, Groucho Marx Peter and the actual Peter walk up behind him and ask if they can have another free sample.
Also in Family Guy, all it takes to be completely indistinguishable from the real Lois is to wear a green button-down shirt, beige pants, and orange wig. It is not necessary to fake the voice, the body shape, the ability to walk... Even just wearing her shoes, earrings, and lipstick is enough to confuse people, if not convince them.
In one episode, Brian tries to avoid Stewie over some unpaid debts. To try to sneak past him, Brian dons an elaborate mustache, and just that. He does manage to make it past Stewie with only a "good day sir" at first, but Stewie catches on after the double take.
There was the one where Peter went to his high school reunion pretending to be a space cowboy but one guy didn't believe him because his hat comes right off. A similar gag was done in "Road to Germany" when a Nazi found out Mort wasn't a priest by removing his collar.
In addition, Old Man Herbert attempts to disguise himself as a fifth grader for the school dance, for obvious reasons. However, Brian apparently sees through the disguise, and humiliates him by talking about stretching his "creamy hamstrings."
Used in The Powerpuff Girls , when three adult-sized (male) crooks put on Powerpuff Girl costumes and somehow manage to deceive the entire town.
Not to mention, once they meet up, the girls themselves and each other. And the disguises were merely correctly-colored clothing and cardboard cutout masks.
The only one not fooled by the disguises was Ms. Bellum she saw their body hair and bad manly body odor, and the fact that they kept hitting on her.
Also used when Mojo Jojo goes to the Powerpuff Girls' slumber party disguised as a little girl. Though the Powerpuff Girls (even Bubbles ) aren't fooled, the other girls and the Professor are.
Or when Mojo Jojo sneaks into a show and tell of the Professor's time machine, by disguising himself as a preschool student. Which this time seems to fool everyone, including the girls and their teacher (who is one of the more responsible and competent characters).
In South Park , Towelie assumes a fake moustache and a hat in order to get his "A Million Little Fibers" book published. The first person to realize this is Oprah Winfrey's sapient vagina.
Played with when Cartman disguises himself as AWESOM-O the robot. Butters's relatives have no trouble figuring out that he's just a kid in a cardboard costume, but everyone else is convinced that he's a genuine robot, up to and including the military.
Another episode had a male cop who went undercover as a female prostitute for sting operations. He didn't even shave off his mustache or change his voice at all and still fooled everyone.
Played for Laughs in the third Halloween episode, where one of the costumes is an incredibly well-made (and apparently fully functional) Mecha. But everyone who sees it instantly knows it's Kenny, much to his frustration.
Played for very dark laughs in "Good Times With Weapons". When the boys accidentally throw a ninja star into Butter's eye, they put him in a crummy dog disguise meant to fool an old, half-blind veterinarian. However, when Butters wanders to a hospital, the doctor and nurse who find him are convinced that he's a real dog and send him to an animal shelter. The workers there are fooled too, to the point that they try to put him down.
After failing to get the Triangle of Zinthar from the boys, Barbra Streisand dons a fake mustache and glasses on her second attempt. The boys are fooled and freely mock Streisand in her presence, much to her indignation.
It gets lampshaded in the Banana Formula story when Boris worries how, after all the times Rocky and Bullwinkle have never seen through his disguises, the Law of Averages was sure to turn on him. Natasha reassures him by pointing out that Good Is Dumb.
In DuckTales , no one ever recognizes the disguised Beagle Boys under the fake mustache (or whatever), even though they always wear their robbery masks and prisoner numbers. Considering even their own family hasn't seen them without the masks, simply removing them might be far more effective than anything else they could do.
In a (non-DuckTales related) comic story, this is lampshaded by the Beagle Boys ridiculing one of them when he pulls off a disguise that's actually somewhat more convincing than most others, since he actually bothers to make the mask less noticeable by wearing huge glasses. Earlier and later in the story, the other Beagle Boys had worn disguises that didn't even cover any of their faces.
Thoroughly subverted in an episode of Samurai Jack , "Jack And Swamp Monster". The hermit that guides Jack through various perils is very obviously Aku, Jack's arch-enemy. Jack is apparently oblivious to the fact that his new-found ally has the same color eyebrows (red), the same color skin (jet black), as well as the same voice and attitude as Aku. At one point, even the hermit's reflection in water reveals his true nature, leaving the viewer questioning Jack's sanity as he sinks deeper into Aku's trap. At the end of the episode, however, Jack reveals that he knew the truth all along, and that he's merely been playing along in order to trap Aku. The entire episode also serves to hang a lampshade on Jack's general genre-blindness; he's been tricked by Aku before in similarly transparent disguises (and, admittedly, one really good one).
Although getting tricked by a full on shapeshifter who can change anything about his appearance isn't something to be terribly ashamed of.
Invader Zim utilises the "brilliant" disguise of a wig and contact lenses, leaving his three-digit hands, green skin and lack of ears and nose exposed, a fact that only Dib recognises, while his robot henchman's disguise is a bright green dog suit with obvious zipper and stichings. Glimpses of other Invaders shows their disguises as equally pathetic, so it isn't just him. The trope is averted with Tak, who is shown to be a supremely competent Invader the moment it is revealed that her disguise is actually effective.
The paper-thin disguise is effect to the degree that at one point one of Zim's contacts falls out, which a small boy sees and begins screaming "ALIEN!". Zim promptly puts the contact back in and the boy says "Oh, never mind."
In another episode, he dismisses it as Pink Eye.
And of course when Zim gets abducted by Sizz-lor, his former boss/warden, he fails to recognize him. While at first this is somewhat justified because Sizz-lor is wearing a gas mask and body suit, when he changes back into his normal fry cook outfit, Zim still doesn't recognize him until he puts his hat on, despite his face and NAME TAG having been revealed first.
An episode of the 2006 revival of Biker Mice From Mars called "It's The Pits" has Dr Karbunkle wear a fake beard in some scenes.
In Kim Possible , Shego donned a wig and a dress to pull off a Show Some Leg distraction on a guy she'd previously tried to hold for ransom. She succeeded despite doing nothing about her green skin. Even after the wig fell off, the guy still wanted to date her.
In The Maxx , the Big Bad 's sidekicks Isz, which looked like small black chess pawns, could be disguised as anything with minimal effort. Put a gray wig and purse on them, they appear as a little old lady. Hand them a bottle of cheap wine in a paper bag and they're a hobo.
In The Replacements , when the rest of the Daring family decides to tag along on Riely's first date, they do so by donning false moustaches and posing as wait staff. This includes the talking car. This doesn't fool Riely but apparently fools her boyfriend (and leads to the brilliant panicked line of "That could be anybody's talking car!").
Evil The Cat tried this twice in Earthworm Jim . Oddly enough, it failed miserably in one episode (Evil took four Super Blaster shots to the face, once for each failed costume) and worked perfectly in a later episode.
And in the times that his disguise did work, he'd introduce himself by saying, "I am (whatever I'm disguised is) and not a cat. I'm here to (do whatever it is I want you to think I'm doing). And did I mention I'm not a cat?"
An episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3 has Kooky von Koopa building a robot look-alike of Princess Toadstool to bring ruin to the Mushroom Kingdom and then turn it over to Bowser. Somehow, Mario and Luigi are completely fooled by the robot, despite having obvious robotic lines on its arms and speaking in a voice so monotone that anyone with ears could tell it wasn't the real Princess. They do eventually begin to suspect - but only after realizing she was supposed to have been vacationing in Hawaii yet had no suntan.
Happens again in "Send In The Clowns", where Mario and the cavemen don't realize the clowns in Bowser's circus are actually Rexes until one of their noses falls off.
Subverted in "Reptiles in the Rose Garden" when the brothers try to sneak onto Bowser's ship wearing Hammer Suits. The first Sledge Brother they approach takes one look at them, and without missing a beat asks, "Putting on a little weight, aren't you, Mario?"
A subversion similar to the "Guy Incognito" example above occurs in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "No Weenies Allowed": trying to get into a tough bar, SpongeBob hits upon the idea of wearing a tough hairdo. Cut to what appears to be SpongeBob with a black pompadour out of The Fifties approaching the bar. The bouncer is unimpressed and tries to unmask him... until the real SpongeBob appears wearing a rainbow wig.
Done again on a later episode, when Spongebob and Krabs must sneak into Pearl's slumber party to make sure she's not destroying the house. Girlytingle, who just moved in from, like, Whereverville, is not Spongebob in a costume. In fact, after she left he commented on her looks.
Played humorously straight in "Imitation Krabs." Plankton builds a robot doppelganger of Mr. Krabs that's obviously a robot, complete with monotone robot voice and exhaust pipe. It fools everyone, especially Spongebob.
Actually, Squidward wasn't fooled by Plankton's disguise. He just decided to play along because "Imitation Krabs" told him he could take the rest of the day off.
In the episode where Pearl has her slumber party, Mr. Krabs tells Spongebob to sneak into the party. The scene then cuts to a girl that's obviously Spongebob knocking on the door and trying to get into the party, claiming to have moved there from "Far Away-ville". The girls throw tomatoes at the girl and she runs, shouting, "I'm so moving back to Far Away-ville!" Spongebob and Mr. Krabs then pull up in a pizza truck.
Batman looks and sounds the same as Bruce Wayne, but aside from Wonder Woman and Ra's al Ghul, very few people in the DCAU seem to notice the resemblance.
In most of his incarnations, Batman's voice and body language are very different from Bruce Wayne's, and Wayne makes himself too big of a fop to be taken seriously. But one wonders why it isn't obvious to everyone besides Ra's Al Gould that he funds Batman's operations, since he's the richest man in the city, and the only one with unlimited access to the kind of technology Batman routinely uses.
Wayne's not the only game in town when it comes to rich people with advanced toys. By that standard alone, Lex Luthor and Vandal Savage are also likely candidates.
He further covers his back when explaining to his mechanic he has "backers" funding his crusade.
In the third episode of Transformers Generation 1 , the Autobots decide to set up an ambush for the Decepticons. Hound uses his holographic projector to make a fake "rocket base" and the Autobots will be in it, under disguise, to attack the Decepticons when they show up to raid the base. What disguise do the Autobots go for? If you guessed "Disguised in their car mode in the base parking lot", congratulations, you're smarter than an Autobot. They decide to don labcoats and pass for the human scientists. Despite the fact that even the smallest of them is twice as tall as a human and about 3 times as wide.
Almost used in Transformers Cybertron . After Bud describes conventions and cosplay to the Autobots, Jetfire jokingly suggests that they pretend they're fanboys in public, to the amusement of all. However, Optimus Prime takes him seriously and thinks this is a wonderful idea until the humans talk him out of it.
And then there was Transformers Armada , when the kids dressed up the Space Team in lumpy sweaters, scarves, and goggles to take them on the bus. And it worked.
Bugs Bunny can pretend to be a human by simply wearing human clothes. This cover is usually blown when someone notices his tail or ears. Of course, no one bothers to notice the gray fur or obviously non-human face...
In "Forward March Hare" (1953), the sergeant-demoted-to-private only notices the ears pretty far along, and then mentions the fur before realizing the Army's inducted a rabbit by mistake.
In "Bowery Bugs" he impersonates several different people from a swami to a police officer, all by just changing clothes. When the villain of the short finally catches on, he mistakenly thinks that everyone is turning into rabbits, goes insane, and hurls himself off the Brooklyn Bridge.
During the "hunting trilogy" he impersonates everything from a woman to the Game Warden, Elmer is fooled every time.
An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures did the same thing in an episode where Babs Bunny pretended to be a human simply by dressing like one so she could star on a teen drama. It was even lampshaded when the makeup guy told her she should consider getting a facial wax to remove excess hair. Why the various other times the species of the characters didn't matter to other humans (including the ones that went to school with them, aside from Elmyra) is ignored.
In the Looney Tunes short "Dough for the Dodo", Porky fools the Dodo by wearing only a ragged green coat and an umbrella on his head, however in the original short " Porky in Wackyland " (which was the former was a remake of) Porky had a very effective disguise wearing a false beard that covered everything but his eyes, a false nose and glasses, a different coat, and a helmet with a light bulb on it.
Another Looney Tunes example, though this counts as a subversion: Sylvester puts on a dog suit to infiltrate a dog pound where Tweety is hiding. So unconvincing is this disguise, that the dogs inside see through it immediately and attack, forcing Sylvester to make a quick escape. Later, a Double Subversion occurs when a dogcatcher notices the still-disguised Sylvester and inattentively throws him back into the pound, where another mauling awaits.
Bugs explained this phenomenon himself to Buster and Babs in the first episode of Tiny Toon Adventures: "Eh, you'll be fine if you remember t'ree things. One, your adversaries have tapioca for brains. Two, always eat your carrots. And three, villains always fall for cheesy disguises." The last line was said while briefly disguised in a shabby-looking Taz costume (which still manages to scare Buster and Babs). The next scene (at Montana Max's) has Babs recall what Bugs said about cheesy disguises, and the two dress up as Yosemite Sam (Buster) and Elmer Fudd (Babs) to fool Montana Max.
Bugs Bunny is so notorious for flimsy disguises that somehow work that, if this trope was up for a re-naming, my vote would be "Bugs Bunny Disguise".
In "Nuclear Confusion", Dexter poses as a stuffed swordfish by clenching a poker in his mouth. Of course, his dad doesn't notice anything.
Another one had Dee Dee accidentally shutting down the lab and spending the entire episode tricking Dexter into thinking nothing is wrong by impersonating Computer, Robot, and Mandark. Somehow this worked and Dexter is none the wiser. "Boy genius" my ass.
In another episode, Dexter grows a beard and no one seems to recognize him. This is taken to hilariously ridiculous levels when he encounters his TV hero "Action Hank", who is huge and black, unlike Dexter, who's short and redhead, yet people actually mistake one for the other.
"Momdark". Mandark kidnaps Dexter's mother and dresses up as her. His disguise is actually quite good, except for the huge glasses on his face (which she doesn't wear) and his voice, which doesn't sound like hers at all. However, it fools Dexter, Dee Dee and their father completely.
On Codename: Kids Next Door , one of the villains ridicules the Toilenator by mentioning that he was once fooled by Numbuh One in disguise, even though the disguise consisted solely of a T-shirt that said " I'm not Numbuh One."
And in the KND crossover with The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy , The Grim Adventures of the KND, Numbuh One's tomato-nose Billy disguise is intended to fool Billy's dad... but fools Grim before Dad can even get home. And when Mandy disguises herself as Numbuh One with his sunglasses and shirt, she fools the entire KND organization and takes over!
And changes the name to "Mandy", no less.
Numbuh 4 -30teen-7 manages to get into a girl's slumber party. Though since the show itself would lampshade and subvert tropes, it's debatable that the girls may have known all along and merely acted surprised when his obvious wig fell off (they're supposed to be Genki Girls in general, closet or otherwise, but maybe that would be the point of their apparently not seeing through the disguise, rather than having IQ levels stereotypical for that).
It's unlikely that the girls knew all along-they seemed genuinely surprised when Numbuh Four's wig fell off. Plus, Numbuh 86 clearly didn't want to invite any boys.
Pretty much any disguise Pinky and The Brain used. Keep in mind...they're lab mice. And just a few inches tall. And yet, could be mistaken for humans, with the right outfit. Brain even points this out numerous times to people, though they pass it off as Sarcastic Confession:
Sometimes he doesn't need a disguise. Once Brain got pulled over by a cop while riding a modified motorcycle. The cop just thought he was a child out for a joyride.
Cosmo and Wanda from The Fairly Odd Parents have passed, floating and all, with signs that read "Normal" and "Human", respectively. They don't even bother with a disguise at a comic convention, as everyone assumes they're wearing costumes.
This happened again when Cosmo was being taken to the doctor. His main disguise is a green lamp with the words "Not Cosmo" written on him. This was only made worse by his line "A LAMP!!! The perfect disguise!"
Timmy's had a few, but the disguise in "Shiny Teeth" takes the cake: by simply wearing a tiara, no one, neither his enemies or a friend he has rescued before, can recognize him.
"The buck teeth look familiar but the tiara leaves me baffled!"
In "Love at First Height", Chester and A.J. put on a 'tall kid kit' to pass themselves as someone tall enough for the roller coaster. When their fake moustache fell the first time, Timmy's parents were the only people to see it and didn't suspect a thing. The second time, however, was witnessed by smarter adults.
Glaringly obvious in Liloand Stitch , where everyone notices Stitch isn't a normal dog, but Jumba, a six-foot tall purple guy with four eyes and four fingered hands and Pleakley, who has an exposed antenna, 1 eye, and three fingered hands are able to pass for human with human clothes, combined with glasses and a wig respectively.
People just assume they're birth defects.
Nani does notice the weird shape of Pleakley's head, but assumes it became swollen after Stitch chewed on it. Jumba casually replies "Actually, [Pleakley's] just ugly".
Given the fact that within just a few episodes of the series the experiments and Jumba are running amok doing what they were intended to do, the islanders may have started accepting/adjusting to the fact that there's something weird going on and decided just not to bother.
Gantu's idea of a "disguise" is to claim he's from Samoa. Gantu is fifteen feet tall and an anthropomorphic shark. It works perfectly.
Pet Alien : What's the most paper thin disguise ever? No disguise at all!
Eek the Cat once featured "famous" performers, the Squishy Bearz, being framed for robbery by four rats wearing a Paper-Thin Disguise. How bad was it? One was just wearing a cardboard box with a smiley face on it and another had a large sock over his head. Done again in the same episode when the Squishy Bearz, on the run from the law, were forced to disguise themselves to avoid detection. Among the costumes worn: A grass skirt and coconut bra combo which really didn't cover the face at all. The people in the local diner didn't recognize them until a news broadcast showed how the Squishy Bearz might look in disguise, showing the exact costumes that they were wearing. Hilarity ensued.
Subverted in El Tigre with Sergio's disguise as his villain alter ego Se Ã ±or Siniestro. It's actually a very convincing disguise and he's able to fool Manny and Frida. His habit of fawning over Frida is the only thing that could give him away.
Played straight when White Pantera infiltrates a supervillain's tournament. His 'disguise' consists of wearing a black suit instead of his usual white one and calling himself Black Pantera. Nobody is fooled, but play along with it anyway.
In Krypto the Superdog , Krypto's only disguise is a cape with a shield on it. And yet no one, not even the boy's parents, suspected that their dog is an alien dog.
Actually Chris's little sister Sophie figured it right away, but since she's a baby their parents didn't believe.
Underdog arguably does a better job than many on this list, for the way he changes his tone of voice, loses his rhyme, and generally attempts a different persona. But he does nothing to change or hide his face. And from what we see, anthropomorphic dogs are very much in the minority in his hometown.
Actually, at one point during the movie, a man noticed Shoeshine sitting on the stairs and remarked on how much he looked like Underdog.
In The Venture Brothers , the original Dr. Venture infiltrates a Super Villain Team-Up dedicated to killing him (who have also kidnapped his son) by pretending to be a Japanese super villain (from the village of Japaninawa). This is done by wearing a wig, fake mustache, a fake nipple on his chin and by pulling his eyes with his fingers so they appear slanted. He makes no attempt to hide his voice or even employ a fake accent. And his cover name, "Dr. Fandragon", is clearly composed of the only two Asian things he could think of. The weaknesses of his costume are all lampshaded by the head villain who remains Too Dumb to Live to connect the dots.
This is based, as also noted on the commentary, directly on James Bond 's nearly identical disguise in You Only Live Twice . The supernumerary nipple is based on Francisco Scaramanga, The Man with the Golden Gun and Scaramantula's namesake, put on his face because that's funnier.
Also, Hank's disguise as "Russian Guyovitch".
Played for laughs in the Wallace and Gromit short film " The Wrong Trousers ". There, a villainous penguin dons a disguise, which consists solely of a rubber-glove wig, for his crimes. No one sees through this fiendishly clever ruse, as they all think he is a chicken.
Carl the Evil Cockroach Wizard from Yin Yang Yo lives for this trope. On at least one occasion, he actually used it when there was absolutely no reason to. When his brother Herman lampshaded this, he nonchalantly responded "I love to play dress-up." Taking the tone of the show into consideration, there might be some Parental Bonus in that. Yin and Yang are not so good at disguises anyway. One episode Yang put on a mustache and tried to trick Carl. He did fall for that and said "Here, you dropped your mustache... Ah, it's one of my enemies wearing a cheesy disguise!".
And he had it clearly written on a name badge just in case there was a slight chance no one would figure it out.
In The Teddy Bears Picnic, two teddy bears are trying to sneak a human girl into the picnic, since she's trying to find her particular teddy bear. The disguise they put together for her consists of a pair of earmuffs, a clown nose, and a line drawn on her face. It manages to fool everyone else at the picnic until she sneezes the earmuffs and nose off.
Johnny Test : To convince a coalition of girls to transport them back home before their parents arrive, Johnny Test disguises himself as a girl. How does he do it? By combing his hair back, putting on lipstick, and wrapping his outer jacket around his waist. The girls are doubtful at first, but he is feminine enough, and they take him, his sisters, and Dukey back to their house. When his parents come home, even his dad is surprised with his "transformation".
And don't forget Dukey. "He's a kid with a rare hair disorder, not a dog." Sometimes he accomplishes this by walking on two legs, and nothing else. He sometimes wears a t-shirt that says Not A Dog.
In one episode of Sushi Pack , Ben needs to talk to the Pack while they're in the middle of a mission, so he dons a disguise to keep their connection a secret. His disguise? A moustache that's not even the same color as his hair. That's it. He didn't even bother taking off the apron from the shop he owns.
In American Dad , people seem to recognize Roger as an alien only when he's stark naked. If he has so much as a wig on, he's completely inconspicuous despite his obviously non-human body.
In one episode, Roger gets in a hit-and-run accident wearing nothing but a wig, a wifebeater and Kevin Bacon's nose from a disguise kit, and Kevin Bacon gets blamed for it. Even Bacon himself is convinced he did it despite not "remembering" it because "it's clearly ME in those pictures!"
Steve's friend Toshi knows Roger's an alien, but of course no one understands him.
Also played with in the episode "Con Heir", when two FBI agents come to the Smiths' home looking for a man who is 6'2", 65 years old, sometimes leaps from a helicopter, has a salty demeanor and wears a turtleneck. Francine thinks they mean Stan's father until she sees the mugshot. In which he has a mustache.
In the episode "Flirting With Disaster", the Chinese spies infiltrating the C.I.A. are incredibly obvious; they just wear blonde wigs and make Suspiciously Specific Denials while asking for secret nuclear launch codes.
This is even commented on in the "Ultimate Enemy" special. Dark Danny has Danny's family and teacher tied up and reveals who he is. He then asks them why they never noticed that "Danny Fenton" and "Danny Phantom" were so similar. Of course, Jazz does figure it out.
I dunno, I'd say that's more an example of Clark Kenting than Paper-Thin Disguise. And anyway, Jazz only knew because she saw him transform once.
Superfriends (1973) episode "The Androids". The villain Dr. Rebos sends a video message to the Super Friends that shows his real face. A short time later, he talks to both Batman and Superman at close range, with his only disguise being a small server's cap, and both of them completely fail to recognize him.
" You Look Familiar ", says Jinx to Cyborg in Teen Titans . Could the young villainess only see past her nemesis' cunning disguise as himself (without cybernetics), she'd undoubtedly fry his wirings on the spot and spare herself a broken heart.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 could fool anyone by wearing a trenchcoat and fedora, despite their green skin being clearly visible. As soon as they lost the hats, though, it was obvious to all. They did occasionally wear human masks, though.
It wasn't just the turtles. Shredder, Rocksteady, and Bebop could also easily fool anyone, including our heroes. In one episode, April can't see past Shredder's disguise despite it simply being a train conductor's outfit worn over his metal costume... and yet, she found out Bebop and Rocksteady hiding behind a sheet only by catching sight of their shoes.
On Jimmy Two Shoes , Jimmy managed to pass for Molotov in a spacesuit with nothing but a crudely made stuffed head on a pole.
We see a video recording of customers in an alien sex shop. One of the clients (who is obviously Lrr in a ball cap and sunglasses) tells the clerk he's "just some guy... RULER OF THE PLANET OMICRON PERSEI 8!! "
And when the Decapodians declared war on Earth, and Zap Brannigan couldn't spot their spy, " Hugh Mann ", despite suspecting his loyal assistant Kif (Kif seemed to be able to see through the disguise, but didn't say anything, probably because he never gets listened to anyway).
In "The Bird-Bot of Ice-Catraz", Bender is able to disguise himself as a penguin simply by squatting and putting on a tuxedo.
This is played with in the episode which introduces Flexo, the robot who's identical to Bender save for a small metallic "goatee". In a scene, we see what is clearly Flexo trying to pass up as Bender by wearing scarves and other items of clothing and referring to himself almost literally as "Not Flexo, but Bender". Later is revealed he was actually Bender all along and was wearing that clothing because of fashion sense.
When Fry and Leela visit a robot planet, all they need to blend in perfectly is to wear metal containers and pots.
Phineas and Ferb : Perry the Platypus frequently employs this trope during missions to deceive his arch-nemesis Dr. Doofenshmirtz, who is completely incapable of recognizing Perry when he's not wearing his secret agent hat.
Another time, Perry disguises himself from Linda by putting on a pair of fake glasses and nose. Unsurprisingly, Dr. Doofenshmirtz is also fooled by it.
The best example has to be when he disguised himself as a plumber with a hat and a tool-belt. When he confronted Doof, this conversation followed.
In one episode, Perry gets out of Doof's trap simply by removing his hat. Doof immediately releases him, thinking he's a perfectly ordinary, innocent platypus who was put there by Perry the Platypus. Makes you wonder why Perry doesn't do that every time. Maybe he just likes a challenge.
Not to mention in the episode "Not Phineas & Ferb" Baljeet & Buford dress up as the titular duo to fool Irving's older brother Albert, with their disguises consisting of P&F's regular clothes and some very unconvincing masks (resulting in Buford having, as Irving later states "eyes in his mouth"). Ironically, Albert is the only one fooled by them.
In "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted," Candace disguises herself as TV personality Morty Williams.
Even her own parents are fooled. When they put the same Paper-Thin Disguise on a cactus, everyone thinks it's Morty Williams. When the drill sergeant shows the guards that it's just a disguise by putting it on in front of them, they think he's Morty Williams.
Hilariously subverted in League of Super Evil , where the gang are attempting to gain access to a prestigious restaurant. A man enters the lobby who is quite clearly just all four members of LOSE stuffed inside a trenchcoat and matching hat with a pair of sunglasses and a false moustache on. He is allowed through without incident, and is immediately followed by an IDENTICAL man, whom it turns out IS the gang in a trenchcoat. After the disguise has failed epicly and LOSE have been thrown out into the bins, Red Menace remarks "Maybe we should have gone in before the other guy."
In the King of the Hill episode where Dale is a Bounty Hunter, when he disguises himself as a flower delivery man to attempt to gain entry into the fugitives house, he doesn't even bother taking off his "Bounty Hunter" hat. Unfortunately for Dale, this works about as well as you would expect. To be fair, he never takes hat off unless forced to, since he is self-conscious about his bald spot.
In the episode "Revenge of the Dark Stone" of Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders , the evil Lady Kale supposedly dresses as her good twin Queen Anya to infiltrate her palace while wearing a burqa-like robe. It's a strange disguise, as Anya is never seen wearing anything like that, her eyes are still of a different color and her voice is still different too, so presumably she didn't just change her hair color in order to smuggle her two Dweasel creatures with her under the robe. Needless to say, such disguise worked perfectly.
Newton, of Neds Newt , is a 6-foot tall Shapeshifting blue humanoid newt. But as long as he's got some human clothes on, nobody notices. Of course, pretty much all the adults in the setting are more or less idiots.
When in his civilian identity, Robin in Young Justice needs to be in disguise (apparently it's something Batman insists on). All he does is pull on a pair of sunglasses.
In Robin's defense, the team does not have any contact with Dick Grayson unless Artemis goes to Gotham Academy.
A better example of this trope would be Conner. He doesn't wear a mask or any costume at all, but so long as he isn't wearing a Superman t-shirt, no one recognizes him to be Superboy.
Brain from Inspector Gadget is able to fool Gadget sometimes just by wearing a hat, glasses, and fake mustache and he never recognizes him no matter how bad his disguise is.
From Star Wars the Clone Wars : Despite supposedly being the best Bounty Hunter in the galaxy after the late Jango Fett, Cad Bane's Jedi disguise is pretty pathetic. You'd think that a guy like him would put a little more effort into it.
Parodied and inverted in Garfield and Friends , with Orson wearing nothing but a moustache and costume posing as the Rooster Ranger to play a trick on Roy. Roy immediately recognized it as "Orson in a pathetic disguise", but when Orson fell into his mudhole Orson came up to investigate. It turned out that the Rooster Ranger was actually Lanolin in costume.
Fluttershy used a large hat and sunglasses to go unnoticed during her fashion model career, which would have been more convincing if her canary yellow body and distinctive cutie mark were also concealed.
Inverted in "Party of One". Pinkie Pie disguises herself as a block of hay. Wearing a trenchcoat and fedora. And Groucho glasses. Despite the over-the-top silliness, it could be a effective disguise, if everyone didn't already knew Pinkie Pie would be the only one crazy enough to wear that in the first place.
In " Dragon Quest ", Rarity disguises herself, Rainbow Dash, and Twilight Sparkle in a silly-looking dragon costume. This fools the dragon herd, especially since there's an actual dragon that resembled the costume.
My Dad the Rock Star : Out of desire to be a normal kid, Willy Zilla introduced himself as "Willy Zillowsky". When he told the truth to Quincy and Alyssa, Quincy's reaction was commenting that it explained Willy appearing at the cover of a Rock Zilla album.
In a Sylvester Cat and Tweety Bird cartoon, Sylvester attempts to disguise himself as a monkey in order to infiltrate Tweety's apartment. Initially it seems as though his disguise was actually working, but then he lifts his hat up and she whacks him in the head, with her also saying "Did you really think I would be fooled by that disguise?", making this a subversion similar to the Mr. Burns example.
Inverted on The Cleveland Show in the episode where Roberta dons a Fat Suit. It's a very convincing disguise and almost everyone is fooled, but somehow Cleveland, Donna, and Rallo see through it.
"Dr. Aschleppwagen" from UFM: Unidentified Flying Mater.
Even more so with Mater's disguise as Ivan in Cars 2.
In Johnny Bravo , one episode features a shark walking on its tail fin wearing a Richard Nixon Nixon Mask at the tip of its snout. Although a scarce few are suspicious, most are fooled by the disguise.
In every episode of the British children's animated series Poppy Cat, the badger Egbert appears in the characters' adventures as a villain wearing a paper-thin disguise. The catch, however, is that unlike most instances of this trope, the characters always recognize him who he is and even call him "Egbert," but he insists "I am not Egbert, I am such-and-such character."
In the "Christmas: Impossible" segment of Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, Huey, Dewey, and Louie mosey around Santa's workshop wearing their usual monochrome shirts plus green hats. Their doubts of success disappear the moment an elf addresses one as "fellow elf."
The Tom and Jerry short "Puttin' on the Dog has Tom disguising himself as a dog to infiltrate a dog pound that Jerry is hiding in, with nothing but a yellow dog mask. The short's gags revolve around Tom trying to keep track of his mask. At one point, Jerry hands a suspicious Spike this message: "Yes stupid, it's a cat."
In Get Muggsy , the title character's friends (an opossum, raccoon and spider) need only stuff sticks of white gum in their mouth to fool others into thinking that they are beavers.
In an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy , the Eds manage to sneak past Kevin by disguising themselves as Jonny. Which means all three Eds are crammed into a gigantic papier-mâché sphere vaguely shaped like Jonny's head, with the eyes cut out and all three Eds plainly visible inside and an imitation Plank glued to the side. Kevin doesn't seem to notice, saying hi to "Jonny" and muttering "What a freak" when "he" hits the fence and falls over it.
In the Rugrats episode "Angelica's Twin", Angelica pretends to have a twin sister to get two toys instead of one. Angelica becomes "Balina" by tying her hair in a knot and rolling up her sleeves. Tommy tells Angelica to stop pretending but falls for it once she plays dumb. When Betty asks Didi if she is really going to buy two toys, Didi answers that she shouldn't stifle Angelica's creativity. The babies end up liking Balina more than Angelica.
In the original He Man and The Masters of The Universe , He-Man is basically Prince Adam with different clothes and... that's it. Same face, same haircut, same body, same VOICE. Likewise, Kringer becomes Battlecat by... putting some bronze armor on.
Averted in one episode, where Kobra Khan disguises himself as a human: there is no resemblances at all, except in his speech... and Orko is still able to see through it.
In the book Secret Service Chief, a former head of the US Secret Service tells about his investigating a gang that passed fake checks. They entered a store, cashed some checks, went outside switched hats and jackets and went back in and cashed more checks with different names. Several times. To the same clerk.
This is actually very understandable, and surprisingly easy to pull off in Real Life. It's called Change Blindness. Here's a video showing a 'magic trick' where the back of the cards change color and so does the table, the background, and the shirts of both participants.
You know when the cashier just doesn't seem to care? Change blindness is a more technical word used in that sort of thing.
An author who interviewed Marilyn Monroe later wrote of an incident that occurred when they were walking down the street talking. The author was confused that, although they were in plain sight, no one seemed to recognize her. Monroe then said, "Do you want to see her?" She changed her posture, walk and way she was speaking to what she used in the movies and suddenly people saw Marilyn Monroe, movie star and sex symbol, and reacted accordingly.
A reporter witnessed Mel Gibson do something similar when accompanying him to the DMV. Mel visibly "turned off the charm", changed his expression and posture and put on a baseball cap. He made himself so inconspicuous that even the clerk who saw all his documents and renewed his license took no notice of the resemblance to a famous man named "Mel Gibson".
This article has a very funny real life example of this. A bald, bearded reporter wearing glasses showed up at NBC asking executives about Jay Leno's future... the funny thing is that they didn't know it was actually Jay Leno in disguise.
Justified in the case of a man who changed clothes to get Dr Karl to autograph different copies of the same book; Dr Karl suffers from a natural inability to recognise faces.
British TV prankster Jeremy Beadle was short, fat and bearded with one hand noticeably larger than the other, yet he frequently tricked people by wearing a false beard and dark glasses.
Tohru Furuya, in working on Mobile Suit Gundam 00 , only lists his name as the narrator. He uses the pseudonym 'Noboru Sougetsu' as the voice of Ribbons Almark. However, fans' ears cannot be lied at and judging on how similar Ribbons and the narrator sounds like... The cover is blown easily, but Furuya insists on using the pseudonym. 'To differentiate between Ribbons and Amuro...' Yeah right...
There was never really a cover to begin with; Furuya and Bandai both were up-front about his being in 00. Also, Furuya said that the main reason he used the pseudonym was to keep from stealing attention away from the show's real stars.
Similarly, when Wendee Lee was working on Rurouni Kenshin, she used her actual name when playing Yumi Komagata, but using the pseudonym Elyse Floyd when playing Yahiko Myojin. Given that Yahiko's one of the main characters of the show, it doesn't take that long to recognize Lee's voice if you're familiar with her work.
Shakira, a famous singer, managed to spend an entire summer at UCLA posing as a normal person. She went by her middle name and dressed up in a cap and pants. The fact that it hit the news after she was done with the classes proved how effective her disguise was.
For an "undercover" story, a reporter dressed as a typical college student hung around a college's dining hall. However, he Did Not Do the Research and was immediately discovered--the student body population was so small that everyone knew each other and immediately recognized that the reporter was not one of their classmates.
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., was able to successfully sneak into competitors' stores unnoticed by simply leaving his trademark hat in the car. Even Walton himself never figured out why this was so effective.
Probably because most people have only a passing familiarity with who Sam Walton is and absolutely no idea what he looks like.
The liberation of FARC's hostages, among them Ingrid Bettancourt, was carried by government officials who passed as FARC members by wearing Che Guevara and Hammer and Sickle's T-shirts.
The Rosenhan experiment, in which researchers checked themselves into psychiatric hospitals, presenting as their only symptom voices in their heads saying "empty", "hollow", or "thud", and thereafter behaved normally.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the British employed "Exploring Officers," who would ride behind enemy lines, wearing full uniform in order to escape execution as spies. One such officer, Colquhoun Grant, was captured and sent to Paris. He escaped, but then reasoned that he could do his job as an Exploring Officer just as well in Paris as he could in Spain. So he wandered around Paris in full British uniform, gathering intel. He told anyone who challenged him that he was an American. When one old French soldier who had served in the American Revolutionary Wars called him out on this, he quickly amended his tale to being an American actor who was wearing his stage costume. Luckily, the French were Too Dumb to Live, and he escaped back to England.