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"I'm Tamera, and I'm the one with the mole."

"And I'm Tia, and I'm the one without the mole."
Tia and Tamera Mowry

Being identical twins is awesome! You have an identical best friend and worst enemy (...wait, there's a difference?). Best of all? No one can tell you apart! ... except you are not one person, and having everyone constantly confuse the two of you can get grating very quickly. So the twins will develop different clothing styles, hair styles, and mannerism to help differentiate each other. They now have two identities rather than one... though they may ensure the superficial changes are small/impermanent enough to allow for future Twin Switches just to keep messing with people.

If one twin is absolutely sick of the prospect of their twin and them being confused, or has a falling out with their sibling and no longer trusts them with casual impersonation, they'll make permanent alterations such as tattoos, scars, piercings, very deep tans, or even cosmetic surgery to really avoid confusion.

This is almost always Truth in Television - usually either because there's a biological distinction (e.g., a mole on one twin's cheek that the other doesn't have, or the natural part in their hair may be a mirror image of each other) or because they like to do something to differentiate themselves (like a different hair style - even a different hair colour, sometimes). Even more Truth in Television: Even identical twins can be told apart by their fingerprints.

See also/compare Twin Desynch. Tareme Eyes and Tsurime Eyes are a common way to tell twins apart. Any personal examples should go in the Troper Tales Wiki.


Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • For Zazie and her sister in Mahou Sensei Negima, this is the only way to tell them apart. And Fuuka and Fumika have distinctive hairstyles.
  • Ouran High School Host Club, where the twins can be told apart from how they comb their hair. This is later taken to its expected conclusion when the twins finally do change enough emotionally that they want to look different and be individuals; they achieve this by one dying his hair black.
    • Subverted in the anime, when Hikaru and Kaoru get fed up with being identical and dye their hair pink and blue. It ended up being another game to mess with everyone.
  • Eyeshield 21: Unsui is bald and Agon wears his hair in dreads.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Amiboshi wears blue and carries a flute. Suboshi wears orange and wields a Killer Yoyo. Remember that now.
  • In the first Cardcaptor Sakura movie, we are introduced to a set of enthusiastic teenage quadruplets, Syaoran's sisters. It's not mentioned in the movie, but according to some related promo material, each of the girls wears a different color dress, and two of them have different hairstyles. (Fuutie = yellow, Fanren = green, Feimei = blue, Xiefa = red)
  • Used to the Sonozaki sisters' advantage in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. From an early age, Mion wore a ponytail and dressed more boyishly, while Shion tied only half her hair back and wore more feminine attire. They are frequently pulled twin switches when they were younger with one permanent switch thrown in, and can often only be told apart by the way that each styles her hair.


Comic Books

  • Although not technically twins, Thompson and Thomson from Tintin have slightly different mustache styles.
    • To be precise, Thompson's mustache curls in while Thomson's flares out.
  • Huey, Dewey, and Louie from the Classic Disney Shorts and Disney Ducks Comic Universe dress in a Chromatic Arrangement of hats and shirts (Huey being red, Dewey being blue, and Louie being green -- usually). In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe they wear black shirts and frequently go hatless -- and when they do wear hats it's not a given that the colorist will follow the "official" colors, leaving it impossible at times to tell who's who.
    • Their Distaff Counterparts April, May and June vary wildly whether they wear different colors or not -- or which colors they wear. Sometimes they follow the red/blue/green Chromatic Arrangement of Huey, Dewey and Louie, sometimes they'll go for a yellow/magenta/cyan theme instead. However, in later years Dutch comics featuring the girls gives them more individual clothes and different hairstyles (yes, hair on ducks, just go with it): April has a ponytail, May has short hair and generally wears a headband, and June has twin pigtails.
    • In a comic story from Don Rosa, Huey, Dewey and Louie HAVE differences... It's just that they're subtle enough that only themselves and Donald (who is revealed to be able to see details as subtle as flee prints on a donut) can tell them apart without the hats. That doesn't prevent the triplets from taking offense by anyone else's inability to tell them apart.
    • By Quack Pack, Divergent Character Evolution has given them different hairstyles and fashion choices (as well as more unique personality traits). They still keep the color scheme, though.


Film

  • Dead Ringers: Elliot and Beverly Mantle are identical twins who begin the film as nearly inseparable partners in a gynecological practice. As the story progresses, Beverly and Elliot personalities diverge due to one of the twin's advancing mental instability. This is reflected in their appearance, with Elliot maintaining a healthy, well-tanned look while Beverly develops bags under his eyes, a sickly pallor, and a nervous twitch. Guess which one's losing his marbles?
  • Parodied & Inverted in The Great Muppet Caper where Kermit (a frog) and Fozzie (a bear) play identical twins.

 Editor: You two guys don't look anything alike!

Kermit: That's 'cause Fozzie's not wearing his hat. Fozzie, put your hat back on.

Fozzie: Yes sir. puts hat on See?

Editor: Oh, yeah, I can see it now.

  • This trope is inverted in both versions of The Parent Trap, with the identical twins starting out easily identifiable by hairstyle, choice of clothing, and accents. When they decide to do the swap to try to get their parents back together, they make adjustments so that they are indistinguishable.
  • In Scott Pilgrim Versus the World Kyle & Ken Katayanagi, Evil Exes 5 and 6 respectively, have very different outfits and Ken has bleached his hair. Interestingly, in the movie at least, they lack individual characterizations.
  • In some of the scenes of The Social Network the Winklevoss twins are differentiated through hairstyle: Cameron wears his nomrally and Tyler has his slicked back. Other features, such as differing ties, are sometimes used as well.
  • Pictured above are the Stabbington brothers from Tangled, who are only differentiated by: sideburns, the Eyepatch of Power one of them wears, clothes, and weapons.


Literature

  • In most versions of Alice in Wonderland, Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee have their names embroidered in their collars.
  • In Harry Potter, Fred and George Weasley are identical enough that they're seen pulling a Twin Switch on their own mother. Mrs. Weasley will routinely make them jumpers with F and G on them ("For Gred and Forge" the twins joke). In Harry Potter, George loses his ear getting Harry to safety. One of the first things the twins tell their mother is now she can tell them apart. ...And then Fred dies in the final battle at Hogwarts which, while tragic, probably makes telling the difference even easier.
    • There're also Padma and Parvati Patil. In the books, Padma is in Ravenclaw and Parvati in Gryffindor. Goblet of Fire states the two could usually only be told apart by their uniforms; both are in Gryffindor in the films.
      • Though it should be noted that in the movies they are played by two non-sibling actresses and made fraternal.
  • In Ngaio Marsh's Death of a Peer (UK title A Surfeit of Lampreys), A pair of near-identical twins both claimed to have taken the elevator with their uncle just before he was found dead in it. Only one of them did, and Alleyn points out that the twins can't cover for each other since he can tell which twin is which.
  • The Midnight Twins is a book about seer twins, one who can see into the future and one into the past. Meredith, aka Merry, is cheerful and girly. Her hair is parted on the right, she's right-handed, and she has two piercings in her right ear. Mallory, aka Mally, is a tomboyish loner with all of the aforementioned characteristics on her left side.
  • In The Stainless Steel Rat books, Jim's sons James and Bolivar are distinguished only by a small scar behind James's ear, from when Bolivar bit him when they were four.
  • In The Vorkosigan Saga, Mark deliberately gains huge amounts of weight so that he can be easily distinguished from his clone-brother Miles.
  • The St John twins from David Weber and John Ringo's Prince Roger series have opposite sides of their heads shaved, due to one of their old COs being unable to differentiate them.
  • In The Truth-Teller's Tale by Sharon Shinn, Eleda and Adele are "mirror" twins, able to be told apart by which of their Mismatched Eyes is on the right, their handedness, and the way they part their hair. However, since Eleda is a Truth-Teller and Adele is a Safe-Keeper and the consequences of them pulling a twin-switch on you are very serious, the townspeople have worked out a question to tell them apart: "Is it safe to tell you a secret?" Eleda will always say "no" and Adele will always say "yes."
  • In the Garrett P.I. novels, Garrett makes the groll brothers, Doris and Marsha, wear different hats so he can tell which is which.
  • The Calendar Mysteries features twins Bradley and Brian Pinto. Brian is the twin missing a tooth.


Live Action TV

  • Invoked in an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Cody decides to dye his hair "Honey Mist Auburn" so that people would be able to tell him from Zack. To quote the episode: "Honey, you missed auburn big-time." He ended up as a redhead, and ironically was forced to do a Twin Switch for an interview. In Real Life, you could tell Dylan Sprouse from his brother because Cole (Cody) has a more gaunt face than Dylan.
    • This also meant that as time progressed, it got much less difficult to tell the two apart.
  • In Arrested Development, the Bluth twins can be told apart easily because George is bald and Oscar has hair. Oh, that hair.
  • Siobhan on Ringer has a burn scar on her wrist, which her twin sister Bridget finds handy when she has to convince someone she's not her sister.
  • Kamen Rider: Though they're not related, this appears with the first two Riders. Takeshi Hongo (Kamen Rider #1) and Hayato Ichimonji (Kamen Rider #2) have nigh-identical suited forms (after actually tweaking Hongo's suit to more resemble Ichimonji, especially gaining a white stripe on his helmet without which they'd be easily distinguishable. WTH Costuming Department). The only difference is that Ichimonji's boots and gloves are red. It's hard to see which is which in a fight, but eventually, Ichimonji got a black helmet in many of his later appearances. (Then lost it. The Double Riders are nigh-impossible to tell apart once again. However, Movie Wars Megamax brings back Ichimonji's black helmet, which is then carried over to Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Super Hero Taisen, indicating that the change might stick this time.


Professional Wrestling

  • The Uso twins in WWE can only be told apart by Jimmy wearing long tights and Jey wearing shorts. However their dreadlocks are different styles.
  • The Bella Twins can be distinguished if their hemline is low enough to reveal Brie's tattoo. There was a time when Brie gave herself bangs but wore hair extensions to match her sister whenever she was on TV. Though it's easy to tell them apart when they speak as Brie has a much deeper voice than Nikki.


Tabletop RPG

  • Dungeons and Dragons module EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, which was inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland stories. T. Deeous and T. Diumm (a Shout-Out to Tweedledee and Tweedledum) look exactly alike, except for the ties that secure their jackets: one is russet-red, one is plum colored.
    • Ravenloft's wererat darklord, Jacqueline Renier, got so sick of people confusing her with her sister Louise that she went in for the body-alteration version of this trope. Not by changing herself, but by tearing off her sister's earlobe in a fight.


Video Games

  • Jail Bait twins Gauche and Droite from Tales of Vesperia. They look the same for the most part, but are easy to distinguish due to the color of their hair and eyes, as well as having distinct voices.
    • Tales of Vesperia also has Hisca and Chastel from the OVA The First Strike. They are distinguishable by the fact that Chastel is "more developed" than her sister.
  • Dante and Vergil of the Devil May Cry series. Dante has a relatively simple red longcoat in all his appearances and wears his hair loose. Vergil wears a far more elaborate blue coat and keeps his hair slicked back, though occasionally it falls out of place, making it look identical to Dante's.
  • Luciana and Aegina in Yggdra Union are distinguishable because of their different hairstyles, different clothing colors, and the fact that Luciana is a lefty. Unfortunately, they still have to dress similarly because the Imperial Army would lose a huge tactical advantage if their enemies actually wised up, not to mention that there's still people in Fantasinia who are trying to kill the two of them--and this means that even most of their allies have trouble telling them apart at times. This is a plot point in the Yggdra Unison drama CD, where Luciana tries to establish her individuality much more clearly. Out of the whole cast, only Gulcasa and Emilia can reliably tell the twins apart.
  • In Gloria Union, twin brothers Ishut and Ashley are very easy to tell apart--they have different hairstyles (Shonen Hair versus a ponytail), different taste in clothing, and diametrically opposite personalities. Having lived completely separate lives for about ten years tends to do that.
  • Ami and Mami Futami in The Idolmaster. One has a side ponytail on the right (Ami) the other on the left (Mami). Becomes even more pronounced when Mami grows her hair out for the second game and anime.
  • About midway through the second year in Tokimeki Memorial 2 Maho Shirayuki's breasts grow significantly more than her twin sister Miho's. Thereafter it becomes very easy to distinguish which one just showed up for your date.
  • Angela and Lilith Pleasant in the second main instalment of The Sims franchise. To distinguish themselves from one another in their mutual antipathy, Angela is a stereotypically preppy-looking girl in a light summer dress and sparse, natural-toned make-up, while Lilith is a full-on goth girl complete with spiked leather collar, entirely black clothing, black lipstick and white face powder. Despite this, they wear their hair in identical fashion and have remarkably similar personalities and life goals.


Web Animation


Web Comics

  • While not technically twins, the parallel dimension Megaman and Bass from Bob and George put on some tags to diferentiate themselves from their local counterparts. Later, the future versions of the alternates appeared and put on the appropiate tags... AND THEN the future version of the future's alternate's appeared.
  • In the Order of the Stick, Nale is distinguishable from his twin brother Elan by his goatee and (initially) by his tendency to wear a similar outfit with the color scheme inverted.
    • When Nale pulls a Twin Switch by shaving off the goatee and stealing Elan's clothes, readers can still tell the difference by a darker spot on his face where the goatee once was. The other characters don't notice, except for Belkar who can identify Nale by scent (and only after he ditches the clothes).


Web Original


Western Animation

  • Tomax and Xamot, the twin COBRA agents from G.I. Joe A Real American Hero, can be distinguished because Xamot has a facial scar and Tomax does not.
  • The Oracle Twins in American Dragon Jake Long dress exceedingly differently. In the first season, before the animation style changed, it's easy to tell that they were just dressing differently. In the second season, their entire appearances, hair color included, are altered.
  • Ingrid and Latoyah from Slacker Cats have different colour eye-shadow - purple and green - though which one is which is another matter.
  • Susan and Mary Test, from Johnny Test, have different hairstyles, different hair clips (a star or moon) different shirt colors and designs, different eye and differently-shaped glasses (square for Susan, half-moon for Mary). The clincher though is that one has green eyes and the other blue, a Twin Switch would probably require them to wear contacts.
  • In Rugrats Phil and Lil De Vil are identical fraternal twins. They had slightly different outfits; Lil wore a pink bow in her hair and her overalls were actually tapered like a skirt at the bottom. They're still similar enough that switching Lil's bow can cause their dad to confuse them. One episode has Lil give herself pigtails and Phil mess up his hair so they can be told apart.
  • Patty and Selma Bouvier on The Simpsons. Selma's hair is parted, Patty's is not.
  • Arry from Thomas the Tank Engine has stubble, while his twin brother Bert does not.
    • The Brendham Bay Twins and Scottish Twins both wear actual name tags.
      • In the case of the Scottish Twins, the names are painted on because they pulled one too many twin switches in in their backstory.
  • This is actually commented on in The Venture Brothers episode "Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman", where Dr. Quymn's daughters Nancy and Drew explain that they're technically semiidentical. Which is to say that Drew has freckles on her nose and Nancy doesn't.
  • Subverted with Sam and Dave, the Diggers, on Recess, as they were identical best friends (though in the Japanese dub, they are twins). The way you could tell them apart was that Sam wore a red bandana around his neck, and Dave wears a white mouth cover around his neck.
  • Futurama plays with this with Bender and Flexo. As both are bending units, they were designed with identical looks... except for Flexo having a detachable metal goatee.
  • Mia and Tia from Cars.
  • The Trishas from Rated A for Awesome are nearly identical, except they're mirror images of each other. One has an earring on her left ear and her hair parts to the right, while the other has an earring on her right ear and her hair parts to the left.
    • Their cousin, also named Trisha, is identical to the latter except her hair is strawberry blonde.


Real Life

  • Mary Kate Olsen tried this when she dyed her hair.
    • It should be noted that the Olsen twins are technically fraternal. You'd never be able to guess it, though.
  • Bill and Tom Kaulitz's... everything. From a young age, Bill cut his hair short and spiked it, Tom got dreads, then Bill got an eyebrow piercing, Tom got a lip piercing, Bill got a tongue piercing, Tom starting dressing 'gangsta', Bill started wearing make-up...
  • Twin comedians Randy and Jason Sklar of Cheap Seats fame: Jason wears glasses (and has a more receding hairline).
  • Canadian singers Tegan and Sara Quin typically have differing hairstyles and have different tattoos, and only make an effort to look alike for artistic reasons (such as the video they did with Tiesto "Feel It In My Bones").
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