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Sometimes related to Paper-Thin Disguise, a plain paper grocery bag is often found to be a simple, yet effective way of concealing one's identity. In many cases, this usually involves a simple bag with a couple of eyeholes cut out, but variations exist. This usually does not occur when a person is planning a disguise, but rather, when a simple one is quickly needed.
This also seems to be commonly used as a mark of shame, whenever something embarrassing or humiliating has occurred. People will usually be able to recognize characters by voice, but it makes things painfully clear that something humiliating has happened.
Compare Newspaper-Thin Disguise.
- Zetsubou-kun (AKA Sad Sack) from Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo.
- In Change 123, when Kosukegawa and Fujiko stroll through town, they get confronted by a mysterious man with an improvised bag mask. The close-up of this mask is a must-see.
- In Tenchi Muyo! GXP, Seina and his classmates were forced to wear paper bag masks to cover up the obscene-looking tattoos that appear on their faces.
- In Hayate Cross Blade, when Hayate and Ayana visit the orphanage (to tell them they don't need to worry about the loan sharks anymore), Hayate insists on wearing shopping bags on their heads, and introduces herself as "Famima-kamen" and Ayana as "Lawson-kamen" (named after the store chains the shopping bags were from, Family Mart and Lawson). This disguise gets seen through right away.
- A variant as they're plastic shopping bags and thus highly uncomfortable (they aren't labeled as a suffocation hazard for nothing). Much to Ayana's chagrin, especially when she goes out in one solo.
- Recently, many characters from Hetalia were given cat versions of themselves. Turkey always wears a plain white mask over his eyes, but a cat can't wear a mask—that would be silly. The feline Turkey wears one of these instead, complete with a drawn-on smiley mouth, in an odd non-disguise example.
- After the Fantastic Four freed Spider-Man from the Venom symbiote, he needed a temporary costume. A spare uniform was easy, but the FF don't wear masks. Johnny provides a grocery bag, and ta-da! Introducing the Amazing Bag-Man!
- And when he didn't have a real costume handy again, he was forced to go into action as the Bombastic Bag-Man. When you make up a distinctive adjective to describe what is basically your hobo costume, you're pretty much admitting it's going to see some serious usage.
- Vanity Smurf uses one in "The Smurfs and The Book That Tells Everything."
- Rat-Man as a young kid in an orphanarium used one to pass unnoticed to the bully who had previously threatened him. Unfortunately, he forgot to remove it during the classes...
- The titular character of Le Bagman, hilariously violent amateur film, is called just "Bagman" because of this.
- The protagonist in Almost an Angel robs a burger joint of many fish burgers (he wants to feed the hungry, and he's following a bible very literally), wearing their own clown-face burger bag as a mask. Later, a reporter informs people to be on lookout for a man looking exactly like that (even donning a bag herself to demonstrate).
- Naturally, The Elephant Man does this, but with a sheet instead of a paper bag, to cover John Merrick's deformed face.
- The film Baghead. Aside from the title character, all four of the main protagonists wear one at least once.
- In the film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, as a kid, the Grinch once shaved after an insult by August Maywho. The results were disastrous, and he hid his face in one of these.
- Real Life example: the Unknown Comic, who appeared on The Gong Show and Celebrity Bullseye.
- All That's parody of The Wizard of Oz featured the Wizard giving one of "Dorothy's" companions a bag to wear on his head, his problem being that he thought he was ugly, so the bag would solve the problem.
- Wiseguy: Undercover agent Vinne Terranova wants to testify about a Government Conspiracy, but his superior, Frank McPike, insists that he testify behind a screen with his voice electronically altered, as he doesn't want Vinnie to blow his cover. An annoyed Vinnie goes into the bedroom, then reappears wearing a pillow case with eyeholes cut in it. "Is this how you want me to appear ? Agent X?"
- On Pretty Little Liars, Aria and Ezra were angsting about how they couldn't ever go out or take a picture together. Aria solves part of this by making two brown paper bang masks with doodle faces on them, and they take a picture.
- On Mad Men, Joan's advice to Peggy on her first day in the office is to go home, put a paper bag over her head, and assess her own body in the mirror in order to decide which features to play up when dressing for work.
- The first time Numberwang is played on That Mitchell and Webb Look, the loser has a paper bag put over her head with the word "NO" written on it.
- The titular crazy bastard in the music video for the They Might Be Giants song "Bastard Wants to Hit Me" dons one of these when being snubbed by the narrator pushes him completely over the edge.
- In the Lonely Island video for "I Just Had Sex", one of the characters has one of these foisted on him by his girlfriend before they can get it on. Still counts as sex!
- In a 1970s Peanuts story arc, Charlie Brown wore a grocery bag on his head to hide a rash that resembled the stitches on a baseball. At camp, Charlie Brown became known as "Mr. Sack" and, as long as he wore the sack, his popularity improved greatly.
- TNA's tag team "The Beautiful People", essentially two fully-grown Alpha Bitches, give some people the "paper bag treatment", in which they stuff a paper bag with construction paper hair and make-up decorations over the victim's head.
- Cody Rhodes has taken to handing these out at ringside to the front-row fans ("at great personal expense"), as well as placing them over the heads of his defeated opponents. It's a part of his Heel gimmick, wherein he's "doing them a favor" by hiding what he perceives as their hideousness from the world.
- As World Championship Wrestling decayed, one spectator was witnessed wearing one of these and holding a sign saying "I'M AT A WCW EVENT."
- This often denotes shame rather than the desire to conceal one's identity for nefarious purposes. For example, for a period in the 1990s, the New Orleans Saints, an American Football team, had notoriously lousy teams. Their fans took to calling them the "Aints" and wearing paper bags over their heads.
- Another Real Life example: Fans of sports teams who are on a particularly painful losing streak will wear brown bags over their heads at games to express dissatisfaction at the way a team is being run. The Detroit Lions have gotten a lot of this since 2002.
- Faust from Guilty Gear wears one as a self-imposed mark of shame. There's a reason he's sometimes called "Dr. Baghead".
- Certain Mooks in No More Heroes wear brown paper bags, mostly just so that they look strange.
- Interestingly enough, used to scary effect on Persona 2 by Joker. Seriously, just look at this guy. Does he LOOK like someone you'd want to mess with?
- The Aristocrats in Rule of Rose wear paper bags on their heads while committing more nefarious deeds, presumably to distance themselves from the act, and this trait is passed on some of the Imps, as well. This is probably one of the creepiest instances of the trope in the near history.
- In The Sims 3, this is the symbol for the "humiliated" moodlet.
- In Team Fortress 2 these are available for all classes as the "Halloween mask."
- In Megatokyo, Ed goes around with a paper bag on his head for a while after having his face blown off in an explosion, until he gets it surgically replaced.
- Iliad, the cartoonist of User Friendly, always represents himself with a paper bag on his head when he makes a cameo appearance.
- Millie in Ozy and Millie once wore one to hide her teal hair elastic. Ozy questioned her judgment of which was more shameful.
- In Fairly Oddparents, Chester's father, Bucky McBadbat, wears a bag on his head because of his shame at losing a major league baseball game.
- Notoriously reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon was depicted this way in two episodes of The Simpsons.
- In an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot, Jenny hides under a paper bag when she gets robo-pimples.
- Ugly Bob from Terrence and Philip is forced to wear one, because, he's so damn ugly!
- The Movie of The Powerpuff Girls has Mojo Jojo wear a paper bag as a hat when he's "Hobo Jojo" to cover up his mutated brain.
- An episode of the TV series has Bubbles wear a paper bag after Professor Utonium embarrasses her badly.
- In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, Candace dons a paper bag to hide the skin condition caused by her parsnip allergy (which also gave her the voice of a male blues singer!).
- When Sylvester is beaten by Hippety Hopper yet again, his son (if he's along) wears a paper bag over his head as he feels he cannot show his face in public due to the shame of having a father who gets beaten up by a "mouse".
- In the Veggie Tales episode Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah's Umbrella, Larry wears one (with a little frown face drawn on it) on the countertop, due to being ashamed after some kids in another booth at Burger Bell laughed at him for praying over his food. After the episode ends, he still has the bag on, but now it's smiling. Bob gets quite a shock when Larry has no idea that there even was an emotion on the bag, and an even bigger one when it changes emotions by itself!
- An earlier instance of this happens in the Larry-Boy spin-off series The Cartoon Adventures of Larry-Boy episode "The Good, the Bad, and the Eggly", where Larry-Boy and Dark Crow wear these (and pajamas) after their original costumes were reduced to over easy eggs.
- In Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius wears a bag over his head after he gets a bad haircut.