In S3E3 of Avatar, entitled The Painted Lady, a character named at different times Dock, Xu, or Bushi worked as a ferryman, fishmonger, and river cleaner respectively. The "characters" are distinguished from each other only by the hat they wear, and at one point, the character even changes his hat in front of the protagonists.

I'm almost sure this joke is referencing an existing trope or some other media, but I can't remember where. In what other media, if any, does this trope appear?

  • Well, the earliest example I can think of off the top of my head is "The Wizard of Oz", from 1939. When Dorothy and her companions arrive at the Emerald City, a fair number of the people they meet are all Frank Morgan, in various disguises. Of course he turns out to be the Wizard.
    – user888379
    Dec 15, 2019 at 2:09

1 Answer 1


Trope name is Acting for Two, but it's not really limited to two:

The character you know and love walks off set on one side, and a couple of seconds later walks in on the other side, only he's wearing different clothes! And talking funny! And everyone's calling him Cousin Rick, not Fred

Or a similar sub-trope Identical Stranger:

They say that everybody has got a double somewhere. After all, the Earth has a human population of 7 billion; it would actually be stranger if no two people were at least vaguely similar in appearance. On the other hand, it's not as common in Real Life as it seems to be in media.

On television this is often utilized for comedy, by making them very different people personality-wise.

  • I don't think Identical Stranger fits the question, since it's actually different people.
    – Luciano
    Dec 16, 2019 at 10:23

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