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A Disguise Trope. The Secret Identity of a character is revealed when the character carelessly exhibits a rare skill that they are known to possess.

The skill in question is not necessarily exclusive to the character, just rare enough to set them apart from the crowd.

The distinct characteristic of this trope is that there is no moral dilemma; the character is just acting carelessly. If, on the other hand, the character must risk drawing attention to themselves in order to achieve an important goal, like getting out of a dangerous situation, it's a Cover-Blowing Superpower. If the character in question is a doctor, it's Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath.

Compare and contrast I Never Said It Was Poison, where the character's identity is revealed when he inadvertently reveals he has specific knowledge only he would have access to.

See also Something Only They Would Say where a particular character trait gives the person's identity away instead of a unique skill. I Am Not Left-Handed is when their level of skill is being hidden due to an intentional handicap.

Examples of Revealing Skill include:


  • In most versions of Robin Hood, his identity is revealed when he exhibits Improbable Aiming Skills at an archery contest.
  • As the myth goes, when Daedalus was in hiding, his identity was finally revealed when he solved the problem of passing a string through a sea shell, showing his rare intellect.
  • In Harry Potter book, Harry is revealed when he uses the Disarming Charm -- his signature move -- against a Death Eater. This element is ignored in the movie.
  • In the backstory of the current Robin (Tim Drake), this is how he learned the secret identities of Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson): by watching news coverage of B&R's escapades, during which Robin performed a complicated gymnastics move -- which it had been established could be performed only by orphaned circus artist Dick Grayson.
  • In one episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Bruce Wayne has to try and avoid this, holding back in a fight against his opponent (who knows he's Batman) in front of his Girl of the Week (who doesn't). She knows that he has some fighting skill, but doesn't want to give himself away by showing too much skill.
  • In The Long Kiss Goodnight, the protagonist is a sweet innocent soccer mom with a memory loss - she hurt her head five years ago, and her entire life before that is forgotten. Shortly after the start of the movie, she's suddenly creepily good with daggers. She says that she must have been a chef before the accident, but it's undeniable that she as well as her family have received the first clue that she was really an assassin.
  • In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Shu Lien suspected that the governor's daughter Jen was more than she claimed to be, and had martial arts training. Shu Lien confirmed these suspicions by deliberately dropping a tea cup--Jen caught it in midair and returned it to the table, without spilling a single drop.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon recognizes a Rider he's fighting as Murtagh when he flourishes his sword in a certain way.
  • The Pokémon Zorua and Zoroark, both possessing an ability which disguises them as another of the trainer's Pokémon, can be recognized when they use moves that their disguise could not possibly learn. Optionally, you could just hit them.
  • In Les Misérables, Valjean makes Javert suspicious when he exhibits a feat of strength similar to one he performed before he became a wanted fugitive.
  • The Mythic Dawn sleeper agents in The Elder Scrolls Four don't hesitate to summon up their distinctive magic armour whenever a fight breaks out.
  • In The Legend of Korra, the title character joins a pro-bending team, the Fire Ferrets, as their waterbender. During her first match though, she accidentally reveals herself to be the Avatar when she earthbends to block an opponent's attack.
  • After RoboCop outperforms everyone at the firing range, Lewis notices him twirl his Auto-9 before holstering it. Alex Murphy had been doing that in imitation of a TV hero his son watched.
  • In Volkonir: Rise of Semaphry, Hanom's fears about Hoshijo ratting out to the FBI Hanom's secret operation within HanomCorp involving the lost Cortascian prince don't just cause Hanom fear because of what could happen to himself, Vinny, Kayla, and Carlos. Almost everyone at the company - whether they will talk or not - at the very least suspects that Hanom's Special Security Team is also Team Volkonir, putting all employees at risk of federal crackdown. This is because during the Security Team's prior battles with Gwirmalesh's monsters, each of them has numerous times slipped up and solved problems to protect civilians and other employees from danger - in ways that rather blatantly reveal intimate details about their identities.
    • Carlos' accent - and reluctance to remember to hide his face - lead to almost everyone knowing he is the son of the deported Mexican criminal Juanita Alvara Modi, who once gave birth to Carlos for the sole purpose of using him as an anchor baby.
    • Vinny's frequent careless reference to Cortascian artifacts rediscovered on Earth by their legendary names (instead of their R&D-appointed working titles) raises a lot of suspicion that he is at the very least an ancient Cortascian, if not also the mysterious Golden Lion Knight. Borders on Cover-Blowing Superpower when he is nearly required to mogrify into the Golden Lion Knight several times - inside factories that have more than plenty of CCTV cameras!
      • He also mogrified inside a prison when Hiktomoph body-snatched the warden, which almost resulted in his identity being known to the entire world before his adventures with his friends even began!
    • Kayla's skills with gaining entry into places nearly give away the fact that she was the Wyoming Vacation Cabin Raider of a few years back, as her lock-picking techniques in particular are telltale of the burglar from that time. By the skin of her teeth, she avoids any of the owners of the cabins she broke into from that time deciding to press new charges against her.
      • The legal advice she gives to a down-on-her-luck employee in another part of the company betrays Kayla as either a former lawyer or an ex-con. It doesn't take the curious employee long to deduce the latter to be true, yet she decides against ratting on Kayla out of gratitude.
      • She is frequently tempted to do things that could give away to authorities her past criminal history.
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