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"The wheelchair is for respect."
Guy Caballero, SCTV

Sometimes a person with an apparent disability will be more than they seem. Sometimes they will turn out not to be disabled at all. The reasons for faking a disability vary, but it is usually to cause others to underestimate them.

A particular form occurs in Crime and Punishment Series where one suspect will be obviously be ruled out because they are in a wheelchair and physically incapable of committing the crime. However, at The Summation, the detective announces that the criminal is in fact the paraplegic. This is then followed by the supposed paraplegic getting up and attempting to run. Another variant, commonly used in Courtroom Episodes, involves an Ambulance Chaser lawyer persuading his client to feign injury such as whiplash in order to win a Frivolous Lawsuit settlement.

See also Throwing Off the Disability, Pillow Pregnancy, Faking Amnesia, and Playing Sick.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Examples of Obfuscating Disability include:


Anime & Manga

  • The first criminal seen in Detective Conan. To be precise, the villain claimed to have a broken leg and couldn't walk. Just a check of hospital records revealed otherwise.
  • Rachel from Tower of God was supposedly paraplegic after Ho stabbed her in the back and Yu Han Sung prevented any treament to stop Baam from climbing the tower. Then she stands up and pushes Baam down the "The Wineglass", the lake their test takes place in. This is only the beginning of the Wham! Episode.
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Rufus Shinra always sits in a wheelchair and is covered in a long cloak, making him appear to be crippled and highly disfigured. That way Kadaj constantly keeps turning his back to him, which comes in handy in the end, as he can stand, walk, and use guns without much problems, at least for a short time.
  • In Ghost in the Shell:Stand Alone Complex, the Laughing Man went into hiding by hacking the computers of a mental hospital for children and youths and creating a fake identity of being a patient suffering from severe mental disabilities and being almost unresponsive to other people. Which is particularly appropriate as his Calling Card was an image that included the quote from The Catcher in The Rye "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes."
  • This is possibly what Shiba'i in Ikki Tousen's second season was doing, since in the final episode she gets up and starts running around. It might have been related to her now being the Soul Jar of the Big Bad, but it's never made clear.
  • Saint Seiya portrays at least two examples of this trope:
    • Libra Dohko: an old man of more than 250 years old that walks using a stick (and that's actually an Expy of Star Wars Yoda), can be even more Badass than any of the younger Saints. Not to mention that he actually hides his young shape intact, shelled inside his old body, ready to use if becomes necessary
    • In the spinoff Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, is revealed that the ancient Virgo Saint, Asmita, is in fact blind. However he absolutely doesn't need sight, as his powers and perception are in the ranges of Pure Awesomeness .
  • Suitengu spends a short time pretending to be wheelchair-bound after Shinzen shoots him in both knees. He drops the act at his earliest opportunity, as it annoyed him to act so confined.
  • In one chapter of Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, a rich businessman pretends to have had a stroke and be suffering from dementia, so that he can see how his family members acted when he seemingly wasn't watching. Because of this, he sees his wife work hard to take care of him, their child, and her in-laws, foils a plan to trick him into divorcing her, and leaves her half of his estate.


Comic Books

  • The Batman comic, Dark Victory.
  • In Red Robin, Tim Drake has faked getting shot through the spine to prove he isn't the title character.
  • Richard Dragon in The Question.
  • Charles Xavier in Twisted Toyfare Theatre has been shown to do this a few times; like jumping up and running when he was caught using his mental powers to cheat at Blackjack.
  • In one EC Comics story, a woman pretend to have paralyzed in an accident, so as to gain control over her husband. She plays the role for three months flawlessly, then when a fire breaks out in her house when she's alone, she learns that her legs have become atrophied.


Film

  • Jason Bateman's character in The Ex.
  • Played for laughs in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
  • Subverted in The Big Lebowski. After the Dude and Walter find out the "Big" Lebowski stole the money, Walter assumes he's also faking his disability. He's not.
  • Also turned up in There's Something About Mary.
  • This basically applies to Kevin Spacey's character in The Usual Suspects.
  • Sampson Simpson in Half Baked.
  • Willy Wonka's introduction in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. As Wonka walks out limping with a cane, he apparently trips and suddenly does a somersault. Gene Wilder wanted to do this so that neither the audience nor the characters could completely trust Wonka.
  • An elderly Chinese stage magician in The Prestige is shown doing this, pretending to have frail and stiff legs even off stage for the sole purpose of a trick where he makes a fish bowl appear: the fishbowl is hidden between his legs but since the audience thinks he's a cripple, they don't consider the obvious. This inspires one of the main characters to do something similar. Not that "being only a single person and not twins" is a disability per se.
    • The Chinese magician was actually a real historical figure, who indeed was recorded having done this very thing. He wasn't even Chinese!
  • "Four-Leaf" Tayback in Tropic Thunder.
  • Jean-François in Brotherhood of the Wolf, although the exact motivation for doing so is a trifle hazy.
  • Mei in House of Flying Daggers.
  • In A Very Long Engagement, Mathilde, who has a lame foot due to polio, pretends to be wheelchair-bound in order to play on her uncle's heartstrings and get him to help her investigating her boyfriend's disappearance.
  • This occurs in one of the plots to New York I Love You. It was an actress practicing her disabled character around the outside all along.
  • Zatoichi? (Kitano version)
    • Subverted; during the final confrontation Ichi, supposedly blind, opens his eyes and stares at the mob boss. However, the last line of the film reveals that, even though he can open his eyes, he is actually blind.
  • Waking Ned Devine.
  • The villain in the grade-Z James Bond knock-off A Man Called Dagger is another one who spends most the flick in a wheelchair because.. he feels like it, evidently.
  • Jack Teller (Edward Norton) in The Score pretends to be mentally disabled, although the viewer is in on the scam from the start.
  • In Quest of the Delta Knights, Tee pretends to be a mute while a slave.
  • Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie has Jack Lemmon as a TV cameraman who's accidentally tackled during a football game. His Ambulance Chaser brother-in-law, played by Walter Matthau, convinces him to feign paralysis of the legs in order to collect a huge insurance indemnity.
  • Ron Perlman's version of the deformed, mentally disabled hunchback Salvatore in The Name of the Rose is smarter than he seems.
  • Haghi, the leader of the spy ring in Fritz Lang's Spies.
  • Yoda in Star Wars. Don't piss him off. He will PWN you.
  • The eponymous villain in The Alphabet Killer fakes being wheelchair-bound to remove any suspicion that he might be the killer.
  • Played for Laughs in The Ringer.
  • Huey in Nick of Time pretends to be a deaf shoeshiner (complete with a sign identifying him as handicapped), allowing him to listen to Smith and Watson talk about the assassination plot. While Huey really is disabled, his disability is that he's an amputee.
  • In Petes Dragon, Doc Terminus, a quack doctor, comes to the town of Passamaquoddy. Unfortunately for him, the townspeople are well aware of his previous quackery and are getting ready to run him out of town. He gets them to believe him by performing fake miracle healings. One of the participants is an old man who comes up to the Doc's sailboat on wheels and picks up a pair of crutches so he can pretend to need them to walk for his performance. Doc Terminus gives him a tonic and the old man immediately throws off the crutches and dance in front of the onlookers.
  • The brother of one of the main characters of Bitter Lake gets mentioned twice: Once in the movie and once on the movie's website. Both times he's alluded to as being mentally disabled. Then he actually appears at the end, and it turns out he's actually not retarded in the slightest; his brother just always said he was on account of everyone in this movie is a giant, gaping asshole, and everyone else ever just automatically believed it.
  • In The Good Shepherd, one woman is pretending to be deaf, and gets found out when the main character calls to her from behind, and she reacts.
  • The film version of The Man with the Golden Arm has the protagonist's emotionally-needy wife pretending to be wheelchair-bound from a car accident some years before. (In Nelson Algren's original novel, by contrast, her disability is implied to be psychosomatic rather than deliberately faked.)


Literature

  • Deliberately invoked in Encyclopedia Brown: the real thief made sandals out of cement-filled garden gloves to make it look like the guy in the chair had walked on his hands.
    • Another case had a fake blind guy as the culprit.
  • The recruiter in the novel of Starship Troopers deliberately left his prosthetics off when working to scare away gutless applicants. Unsurprisingly, this was left out of the film version.
    • The scene is actually slightly ambiguous as to whether said recruiter is a genuine amputee, which is odd given that very few branches of the armed services would have trouble finding an actual disabled veteran for the role. Then again, we are dealing with a 1st-person narrative from a character who did not strike me as especially bright. (Is it still Fridge Logic when I only thought of that ten years after reading the book?)
      • It's not really ambiguous. Johnny mentions that when he meets the recruiter off-duty his formerly-missing hand felt like ordinary flesh and blood, but this is playing up the awesome FUTURISTIC quality of the prosthetics, not implying that the recruiter was faking. Also, the actor cast in the role of the recruiter is a genuine double amputee.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, the main villain Ledroptha Curtain travels in a souped-up wheelchair, so it comes as quite a shock to the protagonists when, during the climax, he unstraps himself from the wheelchair and lunges for them. He has no problems walking, but actually uses the wheelchair (as well as goggles) to hide the fact that he has narcolepsy. He uses the same trick to great effect again in the second book in the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, this time to fool the police.
  • Liesl in the Young Bond novel By Royal Command pretends to be incapacitated by drugs and confined to wheelchair while she waits for an opportunity to escape her captors.
  • Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot series.
    • In Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, Agatha Christie's last novel starring the Belgian detective, the aged Poirot pretends to be wheelchair-bound, but is in fact still able to walk.
    • In Death on the Nile, a major suspect is ruled out because he had just been shot in the foot a few minutes before the murder and in no way could have limped all the way from the clinic to the murder scene and back in the time he was left unwatched. In fact, he faked being shot, rushed off to kill the victim and ran back, then shot his own foot for real to keep up the ruse.
  • In two points of the X Wing Series, Wedge Antilles disguises himself as Colonel Roat, an Imperial pilot who was badly wounded and given clumsy, poorly-functioning prosthetics. Imperials are biased against cyborgs, generally thinking that only someone very clumsy or unlucky can be injured so badly as to need cybernetics, and so no one managed to connect him to the second most famous Rebel pilot.
  • In later Mistborn books, the heroine consistently suspects that an enemy warlord is using this. Not on any kind of evidence, solely because of his paraplegia. He's crippled! He must be hiding some enormous powers! Yes, she is a bit of a nutter, why do you ask?
  • The killer in the John Dickson Carr novel The Problem of the Wire Cage uses his recent car accident, and its attendant injuries, to pull off a murder he seemingly couldn't have physically committed. Unfortunately, circumstances turn it into a murder NO ONE could've committed.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Live", Salome tossed the head of a murdered man to a deaf beggar -- who proves to be Valerius, who heard that the true queen is prisoner there.
  • Although he has significant mental problems, Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is not "deaf and dumb." He got so used to people disregarding him that he gave up trying to communicate with them, and finds that being considered a deaf-mute has the advantage that staff are careless about what they discuss when he's around. He throws off the charade partway through the book and - aside from Mc Murphy - none of the patients notice because they never paid much attention to him in the first place.
  • Claudius exaggerated his stutter, limp and general clumsiness in I, Claudius. This barely kept him alive when he had to work for The Caligula.
  • In the romance novel A Proper Taming, Lady Doncaster is crippled when she falls from a horse. She takes advantage of this to get companions and hopefully find one her son will marry. She also made a full recovery a full year before the story takes place.
  • Chiron from the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series. We first see him as Mr. Brunner, Percy's wheelchair-bound Latin teacher. Turns out he's a centaur, and the wheelchair is a Hammerspace Hideaway for his horse legs.
  • Norman Daniels in Stephen King's Rose Madder. While hunting for his runaway wife, he shaves his head and pretends to be a paraplegic, to avoid being recognized by the (many) people on the lookout for him.
  • The tactic of a famous magician (Ching Ling Foo) in The Prestige that inspired Borden and is used as a literary device to describe his methods without actually revealing them.

 Borden's Memoir: My deception rules my life, informs every decision I make, regulates my every movement... everything in this account represents the shuffling walk of a fit man.

  • In Mercedes Lackey's Free Bards novel The Robin and the Kestrel, the church of the city that the heroes are visiting uses this, among other techniques, in order to enact "miraculous healings."
  • The Harry Potter series has "p-p-p-poor s-s-stuttering Professor Quirrell".


Live Action TV

  • Charlie's Angels ("Angels in Springtime")
  • Funky Squad ("Diamonds Are a Cat's Best Friend")
  • Poirot ("Double Sin")
  • Happens in one episode of Who Dunnit!. When the host called on the real murderer to please stand up, one of the policemen dropped his notebook. The man in a wheelchair next to him stood up and handed it back to him.
  • There's one Midsomer Murders episode where a guy who is always seen in a wheelchair is in fact revealed to be able to walk (when no one's around, I think he was collecting disability benefits). However, the scene is a !red!herring, as he is neither the killer nor a victim.
  • An episode of The Brady Bunch had a plot where a man claimed to have received a neck injury in a minor car accident with Mrs. Brady. Mr. Brady proved the man was lying by dropping his briefcase a desk, startling him and causing him to turn his head.
  • In a season 2 episode of Pushing Daisies, we see a brief flashback to Emerson Cod's childhood. His mother faked putting him in danger to expose a man who had made fraudulent insurance claims. She pushed a stroller with a baby doll in it down a flight of stairs- the allegedly wheelchair-bound man with a neck brace and a broken arm ran from his wheelchair to catch the baby with both hands.
  • Arrested Development subverts the trope quite humorously. A female attorney who can actually see claims to be blind in order to get the sympathy of her jurors; the Bluths try to expose her fake disability, but fail spectacularly because (only) on the day that they decided to prove she was not blind, she actually WAS temporarily blind due to an accident. She regained her sight in full the following day.
    • It's even more wibbly woobly when you add the fact that Michael doesn't realize she's (faking) blind at first.
  • Subverted in the Frasier episode "Wheel of Fortune", with Lilith's con-man half-brother Blaine Sternin.
  • On The Mentalist Jane knew the Perp Of The Week was the guy in the wheelchair because Jane checked his shoes; they were scuffed.
    • For the record, this is total BS; a wheelchair user's shoes get just as scuffed as everybody else's, believe it or not.
    • In another episode the killer was pretending to be mentally retarded. The killer came up with this dodge when caught stealing a car at 18, and kept it going because it rendered him effectively invisible.
  • An early Monk has Monk realize that the assassin is not really a cripple because his shoes are heavily scuffed, something that would not happen to a man who had to use a wheelchair all the time. This revelation does not come in time and the assassin manages to get away.
    • Mentioned but Averted in season one episode "Dale the Whale." Dale, A massively overweight crime boss, is accused of killing a judge against him, but he's so fat he can't get out of bed. He quickly disproves any theories that he is faking his weight by lifting his bedsheets to the police. One of them threw up. Played straight by the ending. The judge was killed by a thin man in a fat suit who knew that suspicion would fall upon the boss, who could not be proven guilty.
    • Another early Monk episode has a perpetrator who is supposedly blind. Cue the streaker.
      • The woman who was pretending to be blind actually was blind since a drunk driver hit her as a child, killing her parents. She regains her sight when she slips in a store and pretends she's still blind, so that she can shoot the man and then have the cops rule her out as a suspect.
  • Happened in an episode of Cadfael, when the cripple had hidden his disability-less-ness from everyone including his sister, then tries to collect money after he is "healed" by touching a reliquary. He is revealed when he runs away, sans crutches.
  • Used in the two-part Get Smart episode "Ship of Spies". It involves a wheelchair bound water polo player.
    • Get Smart also featured Leadside, a villain in a wheelchair. He pulls off an impressive infiltration because while he is incapable of walking or standing up, the act of running is still within his power.
  • The X-Files, "The Amazing Maleeni." When a stage magician who made his head rotate 360 degrees as part of his act turns up decapitated, Mulder and Scully quickly believe his bank manager brother could have been his double -- but the bank manager proves that couldn't be the case, as he lost both his legs in a car accident. That is, until later, when Mulder tumbles him out of the wheelchair; he's got both legs, because he was the stage magician and was pulling off an illusion.
  • The "Lost Ending" to It's a Wonderful Life as seen on Saturday Night Live showed Mr. Potter was faking.
  • In several episodes of Law and Order and its spinoffs;
    • Law and Order: Criminal Intent had a Stephen Hawking Expy who still had more mobility than he let on.
    • Another episode had a man who stole a woman's identity and pretended to be deaf to excuse not being able to speak.
  • Happens several times on Quantum Leap
    • Sam leaped into a blind piano player and had to pretend he was blind. The mother of the leapee's girlfriend caught him, though, and thought the character was really pretending; but when he was tested by her later, he was blind, temporarily, due to a camera flashbulb.
    • He also leaped into the body of a legless Vietnam vet. To one "unfortunate" sadistic orderly, Sam looked like he was floating above the ground when he got up and walked.
  • Happened in Diagnosis Murder, probably more than once, usually discovered by Dick Van Dyke's character.
  • The Colonel in the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and The Wasp".
    • In the Doctor Who serial "The Rescue", Bennett pretends to have been crippled in the spaceship crash, allowing him to murder the other crew members while disguised as the monster Koquillion.
  • Subverted in a Taxi episode: an old lady sues Louie for hitting her with his cab, and he learns that she's a scam artist with a history of phony lawsuits. When he tries to "prove" his innocence in court by pushing the wheelchair-bound woman out the door and toward a staircase in the assumption that she'll jump off, he discovers that in this particular case she wasn't faking it.
  • Nellie Olson faked paralysis after falling off a horse so her parents would give her presents and Laura would be her slave out of guilt.
  • Tina's stutter in Glee.
  • In Trailer Park Boys, Ricky's dad, Ray, pretends to be in a wheelchair to receive disability money. He only gets out of the chair when he's around Ricky or close friends. In season five he's finally caught and sent to jail.
  • A variation: in a flashback in How I Met Your Mother, Barney pretends Ted is deaf to make him appear sympathetic to a woman. Little does he know that both that both the woman and Ted know sign language (while Barney does not), and Ted simply tells her, in sign language, that Barney is lying and to give him a fake phone number.
  • Used by Guy Cabellero, the owner of the TV station, "for respect" in SCTV.
  • Once used by Logan on Dark Angel. He's a real paraplegic most of the time, but an easily hidden exoskeleton allows him to walk.
  • The villian of The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Brain" starts out in steam-powered wheelchair, but it is then revealed that he uses it because he he believes that literally every ounce of a person's energy should be devoted to thinking.
  • The obscure TV movie Lifepod featured a killer who faked being blind. The game was up when someone thought to simply shine a light into his eyes.
  • Elliot's brother Donnie from Just Shoot Me pretended to be mentally retarded for his whole life to avoid responsibility.
  • The Hustle episode "Picture Perfect" has an art forger who is pretending to have suffered a stroke to avoid having to stand trial for forgery.
  • In the Castle episode Under the Gun, one of their suspects is an aging ex-con who needs a walker to get around...until he has to get away, at which point he ditches the walker and makes a run for it.
  • Lori & Bolo tried this at the beginning of Season 6 of The Amazing Race to get help at airports. Luckily, they dropped it quickly.
  • In Angel the demon sorcerer Cyvus Vail appeared reliant on a complex intravenous drip, physically vulnerable and weak. However when under genuine attack his IV was broken and he ignored it, he shrugged off being hurled twice into a wall, and gutted his opponent with a kukri.
  • Played for laughs in Little Britain with Lou and Andy, Lou being a bumbling social worker helping Andy, who uses a wheelchair and is possibly mentally retarded. However, Lou always manages to turn his back, at which point Andy gets up and does something amusing and dramatically ironic.
  • In a Seinfeld two-parter, George does this at his new job to receive special treatment. In another episode, Kramer does it by accident and ends up the guest of honour at a charity dinner for the mentally challenged.
  • Roy ends up doing this on one episode of The IT Crowd to avoid getting in trouble for using the disabled stall.
  • In the CSI episode "The Two Mrs. Grissoms", a student pretends to be deaf in order to get a scholarship. And he and his partner in the deception end committing murder in order to keep the secret.
  • Lionel Luthor of Smallville uses this. In the beginning of Season 2, a life-saving surgery left him temporarily blind. He eventually regained his sight, but neglected to mention it and faked being blind for a few more weeks because people let their guard down around someone they thought couldn't see. Street-wise Lucas Luthor, however, sees through the ruse immediately upon first meeting him; Lionel pours himself some water and doesn't put his finger inside the glass to know when it's full. Lucas tests his theory later by signing "BITE ME" on an important contract instead of his name, and when Lionel can't hide his reaction, Lucas forcibly throws a billiards ball at his head. Lionel reflexively dodges and is fully exposed.
  • The TV movie What The Deaf Man Heard is this trope in spades. A child whose mother was murdered sits in a small town diner waiting for his mother who will never arrive. The townsfolk think he's deaf and mute since he just sits there and doesn't react to anyone. For twenty years he decides to maintain this charade, because everyone drops their guard around him, so by the end of the movie, when he reveals that he can hear and speak, he's got plenty to talk about.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the last four episodes of season 2, Spike is only pretending to still need his wheelchair.
  • In the Mexican soap opera En Nombre Del Amor, Carlota the head villainess pretends to be paralyzed in order to not go to prison after trying to murder her niece Paloma. Doctors cannot figure out what is wrong with her. The audience may even be fooled. Carlota tries to bribe a nurse in order to get assistance in leaving the hospital- but the nurse refuses. Carlota then hits the nurse with a bottle and steals her scrubs and mask, then places the unconscious nurse on the bed and flees the hospital without incident.
  • In So Little Time, Riley goes to school in a wheelchair to get the attention of a paraplegic whom she has a crush on.
  • A Mash episode has Radar apparently hitting an elderly Korean villager with a jeep. When the uninjured man demands $50 not to report Radar to the MPs, a visiting officer susses out that he's a well-known con man known as "Whiplash Wang".


Professional Wrestling

  • There have been a few angles over the years where a supposedly injured wrestler, standing nearby with crutches, will suddenly run into the ring and attack the person he's feuding with with the crutches. Sometimes, it will be a wrestler returning from a lengthy absence due to an actual injury.
    • This was done in an utterly tasteless manner by WCW when Buff Bagwell was confined to a wheelchair after a major spinal injury. Bagwell called the man who injured him, Rick Steiner, to the ring and forgave him in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming...only to rise from the wheelchair and betray Steiner immediately afterward, turning this into yet another nWo angle.


Theater

  • Used as early as Henry VI part two, when Gloucester proves that a man who claims to have been divinely cured of blindness is a charlatan.
  • Some stage versions of And Then There Were None place Judge Lawrence Wargrave in a wheelchair, leading to a dramatic reveal of the murderer.
  • Used in We Must Kill Toni by a character in a wheelchair. Although he is injured, he exaggerated his injuries and can walk a few steps.


Video Games

  • Subverted in Ace Attorney. Acro really is wheelchairbound, he just managed to kill a guy anyway.
    • Later played straight with Quercus Alba.
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, this is played straight and inverted. Machi Tobaye is not actually blind, but Lamiroir, who is thought to be sighted, is.
  • Peter Stillman in Metal Gear Solid 2 who faked his disability to avoid facing the families of the victims of a bomb he was unable to defuse. By claiming to have been seriously injured himself, he's seen as another victim, not the guy who fucked up.
  • Belger, the final boss in Final Fight, is in a wheelchair at the fight's start. He does this to lure his victims into a false sense of security before he shoots them with his crossbow. (It also makes it easier to use Jessica as a Human Shield.) Partway through the fight, the player smashes his wheelchair and Belger continues the fight on foot.
  • Colonel Dijon of The Colonel's Bequest was apparently wounded and rendered unable to walk during the Spanish-American War. You can see him stand and/or walk under his own power at two separate points in the game.


Western Animation

  • An episode of Fillmore had an exciting chase sequence when a wheelchair-bound suspect got up and ran unexpectedly. She claimed without much remorse that she never told anyone that she NEEDED the wheelchair, she just preferred it.
  • One Hey Arnold episode had Phoebe taking advantage of Helga's niceness when she broke a leg and kept the cast even after it healed.
  • One episode of The Simpsons has Bart pretending to be blind so he and Homer can pull off confidence tricks.
    • On another one, Bart had gone temporarily deaf as a result of a flu vaccine. When Marge is trying to explain this to principal Skinner, he claims that he has heard it before, and proceeds to pull photos of Bart with several fake disabilities.

 Skinner: And my personal favorite: pregnant Bart!

    • In another, Homer goes into the Springfield Retirement Home and starts using a wheelchair as an excuse to slack off.
  • An episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers had Dale fake a broken toe to get out of doing work, and get spoiled by Gadget. Later in the episode, Dale saved the day, breaking his toe for real, and got his comeuppance when he had to miss a party because of it.
  • The Rugrats episode "Angelica Breaks A Leg" has Angelica pretending to break her leg by shoving a bowling ball down the stairs in an attempt to garner tons of attention. It's even compounded by the fact that her doctor got her X-rays mixed up with a football player's. It comes back to bite her when her mom really does break her leg.
  • An episode of The Garfield Show has one where Nermal fakes that he broke his leg to get sympathy from Jon. Every time Garfield and Odie try to prove he's faking, they get in trouble with Jon. At the end where they unravel Nermal's foot, Jon believes Nermal's injury was healed. To make matters worse, Garfield and Odie were actually injured, but instead of getting rightful sympathy, they were put in full body casts and not able to eat anything while Nermal gets the last laugh. The whole episode was one large Karma Houdini.
    • Of course, seeing as this is perfect payback for all of the times Garfield's tried to send Nermal to Abu Dahbi...
  • In the South Park episode "Up the Down Steroid", Cartman fakes being retarded in order to enter the Special Olympics and win the $1,000 prize. During the actual events, it becomes apparent that he spent more time on his efforts to appear disabled than actually training for the Special Olympics. In the end, Jimmy outs Cartman as a cheater, then realises that he cheated too with his use of steroids. After Jimmy apologizes publicly, Cartman claims that he only faked his retardedness to teach Jimmy a lesson on steroid abuse.
  • Even though Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender is actually blind, thanks to her Disability Superpower she is a good deal more aware of her surroundings than her sighted friends. She pretended on more than one occasion to be helpless because of her blindness, in order to get what she wanted from someone.
    • So much so that for most of her life, her parents believed she would never master Earthbending... While she was secretly the all-time champion of the Earth Kingdom analogue to Pro Wrestling.
  • In King of the Hill, Bill was told by a doctor that he had diabetes that would take his legs away within a year, so in order to prepare, he started making all his movements in a wheelchair and seems to have forgotten he could actually still use his legs until he was drunk in a bar and stood up, shocking and majorly pissing off the wheelchaired basketball players he had befriended.
  • Nigel, the Card-Carrying Villain cockatoo of Rio takes advantage of this: at first he looks just as an old and sick bird being treated at a birds rehabilitation and research centre in Rio de Janeiro. Later, after taking active part in Blue and Jewel kidnapping, he shows himself as really is: a very dangerous sadistic janitor with cannibalistic tendencies.


Real Life

  • Faith Healers will often supply crutches and wheelchairs to audience members that have trouble walking so as to make them appear more disabled than they actually are, before telling them to throw away those same crutches or to get out of those same wheelchairs and walk.
  • Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts, was completely deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. She would play it up to get what she wanted by forcing people to repeat themselves until they said what she wanted to hear. Considering the barriers women had to face in 1912, this was probably a huge asset in the early days of the organization.
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