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The Messiah, his True Companions, and even several members of the Redshirt Army have been defeated and captured by The Empire. The Big Bad or The Dragon shows up, demanding to know who led this rebellion, presumably to drag them away for some horrific punishment. If he is given up, the rest are free to continue living.
One by one, the entire Redshirt Army stands up. They would all rather suffer his fate than turn him over to the enemy. At this point, events usually play out in one of two ways:
The villain simply decides to kill everyone, including the hero. Sure, it's more bloodshed than planned, but at least the villain's point is made.
The ploy ends up distracting the villain, allowing the hero to get the upper hand or escape.
Variations on (and parodies of) this theme have led to it becoming a trope of its own: someone else claims to be The Hero to protect the real one. There's also sometimes the inspiring subtext that "we are all The Hero; kill one and the rest still stand."
Do not confuse with Punctuated! For! Emphasis!.
- Parodied in a Coca-Cola (TM) ad. A teacher asks his class who emptied a Coke dispenser. One student slowly stands up and says: "I did it." After that, another student also stands up and says: He did it. Guess what the others do next.
- A Pepsi commercial took the "I'm Spartacus" scene from Spartacus, but replaced the beginning with a bit where a Roman soldier finds Spartacus's bag lunch and asks who it belongs to. Because it includes a Pepsi, everyone starts claiming it's theirs. The soldier then decides that he is Spartacus and drinks the Pepsi. Cue a shot of Kirk Douglas crying.
Anime and Manga
- At the climax of season one of Durarara!! Rryugamine outplays the people who come after fake Celty by using his position as leader of the dollars to gather a massive crowd of Dollars at that spot and stop his pursuers in their tracks.
- This is a true Moment of Awesome. Up until this point in the anime, people that weren't important to the plot were literally faceless and gray. When Ryugamine sent the message to everyone, the sea of gray suddenly became colored.
- A variation occurs in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. Honda/Tristan wants to tell a girl in his class that he loves her, but he's too shy to do it himself. So he gets a blank jigsaw puzzle and gets Yugi to write the message for him. Then, Jonouchi/Joey leaves the message in the girl's desk. Unfortunately, it's against the school rules, and when the teacher (who's incredibly strict, not to mention in a bad mood and looking for a student to punish) finds out, she wants to know whose puzzle it is. Yugi, Jonouchi/Joey, and Honda/Tristan all stand up and admit it, and of course, in this case, all of their statements are true.
Yugi: "I wrote the message!"
- A variant shows up in the finale of Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, when Kyouka is threatening Ouka to kill her since she's the true child of Enka, the rest of the family stands up and declares that they are, establishing their family bonds. Even Chika tries to get in on it, even though it was known from the start that she really isn't.
- In Code Geass the Brittanians announce that they intend to exile Zero, who wants to create a new area for the Japanese to live in. So he says he'll go along with it, but during the meeting he gets them to say that Zero's real identity isn't important and that anyone who shares his ideals is "Zero". Then, during the ceremony, after the announcement a cloud of smoke is released and when it clears, everyone—including a DOG—is wearing a Zero costume! And then a ship made out of an iceberg comes in to escort them! Reluctantly, the Brittanians allow them all to leave (primarily because the alternative would have been starting a massacre).
- In Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor, when Yumiko is put on trial for tampering with Maya's pilot data, most of the main cast confess to the crime... with the final confessor being the human computer that controls the entire island - and has data to prove that all the confessions are true.
- Happens in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: The Yomi assassin "Spark" tries to destroy the Shinpaku HQ and demands to fight Kenichi. Since he's not there, several other members claim to be Kenichi, presumably to buy him time. Spark is not fooled.
- In Kodomo no Jikan all the year six students confess to being be person who posted that they had had sex when challenged by the principal.
- Awesomely subverted in Ressentiment. Halfway through the series we're introduced to the Big Bad Ehara - an MMO player who has assembled a huge military guild and is using it to threaten both the game and the real world. All members of the guild are required to have avatars identical to his. In the final chapter it's revealed that Ehara is a monkey in a zoo who inexplicably has internet access in his cage and who has copied the face and name of the guy who usually brings him food.
- Space Pirate Mito combines this with Lost in a Crowd: when the Galactic Patrol demands that Aoi, currently at school, give himself up, his classmates don Aoi masks and rush out of the building. Most of them end up captured, but they were able to buy Aoi the time he needed to get away.
- Played straight in an issue of Spider-Man that took place just before Civil War, wherein Spider-Man agrees to reveal his identity in front of the Daily Bugle so long as Jonah gives him the opportunity to address New York in his paper. He wrote a long article about what he does and why he does it and shows up the next day to unmask. Gathered in front of the Bugle are hundreds of people, ostensibly there to see Spider-Man unmask, and then—someone yells "I'm Spider-Man!" Dozens of people in costumes of varying quality (including Aunt May!) take off claim to be Spider-Man, so that when Peter does do it, Jonah just yells at him to stop making jokes and take some pictures.
- Following the Civil War storyline, Parker is a fugitive who gains some help from a group called Scarlet Spiders, who cast doubt on Parker's claim of being Spidey by claiming that he was a fired member of their organization, all of which claimed to work as Spider-Man.
- Bio aka Orlando of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was one of the slaves present at the trope namer. S/he recalls with bemusement how the Romans let him/her go just for standing up and saying his/her name, "everybody else apparently being named Spartacus".
- Inverted in Invincible Iron Man at the beginning of the Dark Reign Crisis Crossover. The Green Goblin now has Tony Stark's old job, and thus has (in theory) access to the secret identities of every registered superhero. When he tries to pull up the list, it only contains one entry: "IRON MAN: TONY STARK." Tony chooses to be Spartacus for every other hero.
- Not really this trope. To give context: Stark gave Osborn a chance to do the right thing and enforce the law/protect the country.planet. The first thing Osborn did is try to access the data without a warrant/legal authority, causing the entire database to be wiped (aside from Stark's name).
- A variation appears in an issue of Gotham Adventures. After a jury that includes Bruce Wayne finds a man guilty of kidnapping, he grabs a gun and holds it on his defense attorney, blaming her for the verdict. Bruce intercedes, saying that he should take the blame since he persuaded the rest of the jury of the man's guilt. Then the elderly witness says that no, she should take the blame, since she was the only one to come forward and testify against him. Then the forewoman says it's her fault, since she didn't tell the judge they had a hung jury. Then other members of the jury start coming forward and claiming responsibility. The man, confounded, decides to start off by shooting Bruce. Enter Robin.
- Referenced in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Harry Potter Crossover story His Only Son by atticus. Jesse Harris (Harry Potter as raised by Xander Harris) convinces almost everyone he meets on the Hogwarts Express to put a lightning bolt on their face with a Sharpie and claim to be "Harry Potter". On the second day at Hogwarts there is a callback to the previous day's fun, with several students still claiming to be Harry Potter; at the end of their claims, Jesse/Harry says "I am Spartacus."
- The trope name comes from the famous (and genuinely moving) scene in Spartacus. The scene involves several Roman soldiers asking the slaves to identify Spartacus so they can crucify him, promising amnesty so long as they identify the rebel leader. Spartacus is about to speak, when suddenly slaves left and right begin claiming to be Spartacus. Eventually, they all say they're Spartacus, so the Romans just crucify all of them.
- To be precise they crucify all of them except Spartacus and Antoninus, who they force to fight to the death (then they crucify Spartacus after he wins).
- Also to give a bit more context to the whole thing, the screenplay was written by the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood 10.
- This was also parodied in this Explosm flash movie. (Mildly NSFW.)
- That Thing You Do. A repeated theme in the film, shouted by Guy. At first, it's him as a leader. Finally, when he's the last member of the band not to quit, it's a quiet irony - and the name of his drum solo with Del Paxton.
- The Mask of Zorro, played straight ("I'm Zorro!").
- This is probably more of an inversion. The prisoners were all desperately clamoring that they were Zorro, probably on the assumption that they would be getting out of there if they were chosen. It's not definitely stated such, but it's not too much of a stretch to assume this, given the conditions of that prison.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian, inverted as the 'Spartacus' that they're looking for is the person whom they're going to set free. ("I'm Brian, and so's my wife!")
- British author Terry Pratchett recounts being at a convention after having read a newspaper article that claimed his entire readership was pimply, fourteen-year-old boys named Kevin. When he told his audience this, several members re-enacted the Life of Brian scene all the way to "I'm Kevin, and so's my wife!"
- Superman II: The Vice President attempts to fool General Zod by standing (er, kneeling) in for the actual President. Naturally, Zod sees right through it: "No one who leads so many could possibly kneel so quickly..."
- To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar with the people of the small town all claiming to be drag queens.
- In & Out: "I'm (x) and I'm gay!" (one gets the reply: "You can't be gay! You're a tramp!")
- The Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers does this, in a very confusing way. Someone at the party stole the painting, and everybody has a different idea who did it. People who know they didn't start taking credit to save their loved ones, or, in Groucho's case, just to be confusing, while the real culprits remain inconspicuously silent. Harpo ends up taking the rap, and then uses sleeping gas on everyone, including, for some reason, himself.
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers twists the trope. When the townsfolk arrive to rescue the kidnapped girls and hear a baby crying, the six unwed girls claim in unison to be the baby's mother, leading to a sixfold Shotgun Wedding (exactly what the girls and their kidnappers/suitors wanted).
- Subverted in A World Gone Mad, where the heroes offer up The Mole, claiming (falsely) that he's their real leader. The bad guys buy it, because only the Big Bad even knows there is a Mole. The grunts just think the Mole's protests that he's on their side are just cowardly last words. Further subverted later on; the grunts let the heroes go, but they realize the Mole was carrying all their food (and they're stuck in the middle of the desert).
- In The Dark Knight, when Bruce Wayne is about to turn himself over as Batman to appease the Joker, Harvey Dent announces that he is the Batman, and that he wishes to be taken into custody.
- Played straight in Stalag 17, when one of the POWs throws an ocarina and it splashes mud on the Commandant of the camp.
- In the British Made for TV Movie Self-Catering John Gordon-Sinclair recounts a dream he had in which he was Spartacus, and decided to keep quiet. And suddenly everyone was pointing at him and saying "He's Spartacus!"
- From Bad Girls: "I killed Fenner!" "No, I killed Fenner!" "Actually, I killed Fenner!"
- In the cult Turkish series Kara Murat, the enemy soldiers ask which one of the prisoners is Kara Murat at least once per movie. Every time, everyone claims to be him.
- The Eddie Murphy / Martain Lawrence prison film Life uses this with a twist. The Warden's daughter gives birth to a Chocolate Baby, so he lines up all of his inmates and demands to know who the father is. When the inmates eventually all step forward and claim paternity, it has the added bonus of implying that the Warden's daughter has been rather busy. Not only does no one get punished, but the Warden is never seen again in the movie, presumably resigning out of shame.
- From Meet Dave: After the Captain regains control of Dave from the mutinous Number Two, he asks the crew for their input regarding the decision of whether or not they should save Earth.
Number Three: I say we save Earth. I no longer feel like Number Three. My life began on this planet. I am Dave Ming Cheng!
- Inverted in Zodiac, where reporters afraid of being targeted by Zodiac, who has threatened reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), begin to wear buttons that say "I'm Not Paul Avery." The only one showed prominently is on Paul Avery.
- Hilariously subverted in the opening scene of the French-Canadian film 1981. The scene is the father's recollection of a WWII incident in which a radio was stolen from the Nazis occupying his Italian town. The guard threatens to shoot an old woman unless the thief, named Benito, reveals himself. One by one, every young boy in the line steps forward. Turns out that the Italian government had given a $1 check to every family who named their son after their leader, and the community was poor enough that every boy born in the last 10 years or so was named Benito.
- Used in Cop and a Half when the gangsters round up all the kids at recess searching for Devon.
- Used in one of the final scenes of Radio Rebel: The principal announces that she'll expel Tara for her antics as Radio Rebel and the whole student body stands up and claims to be Radio Rebel, including, eventually, the Alpha Bitch who had mistreated Tara for most of the movie.
- Shannon Hale's Princess Academy has a form of this. The girls who were candidates to marry the prince are captured by bandits, who demand to know which is the future princess so they can hold her for ransom. (The prince actually left without making a decision, but the bandits don't believe this.) One girl speaks up and claims the prince secretly proposed to her. When another girl who hadn't even met the prince makes the same claim, the rest catch on and claim he proposed to all of them. This confuses the bandits enough that they don't dare kill anyone until they know which girl is the princess.
- The short story "The Three Lime Trees", by Hermann Hesse, uses this trope. When a young man is wrongfully accused of murder, his older brother claims to be the murderer to save him and he's released. Soon, their eldest brother comes to town to do exactly the same... and the younger brother (who didn't know his siblings were taking up the blame for the "crime") returns to the courtroom and says that he was the killer, so his siblings must be released. The judge decides to leave it to God's judgement and makes the siblings plant three lime trees by their crowns, thinking that the one that withers sooner will signal who is the true culprit... so when none of the trees wither and dry, but start growing healthy and normal, the three brothers are released.
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, when a brawl breaks out among the aspirants, their teacher demands to know who is responsible. The ones who started the fight admit it, and the rest pile in, to admit to joining. When asked if they all deserve punishment, they agree.
- In Legion, all the Alpha Legion are Alpharius, at least to outsiders. Magnificent Bastardry is their hat, and having the entire legion appear virtually alike is important to much of their scheming.
- Doesn't it make it easier to root them out, since if you've seen even of them, you basically know every one of them in the face?
- Identifying an eight foot tall giant in blue and green power armor usually isn't the difficult part. And when it is, they have very good surgeons available.
- Doesn't it make it easier to root them out, since if you've seen even of them, you basically know every one of them in the face?
- In Legion, all the Alpha Legion are Alpharius, at least to outsiders. Magnificent Bastardry is their hat, and having the entire legion appear virtually alike is important to much of their scheming.
- Heartbeat did an episode involving some Chinese travellers poaching Lord Ashfordley's trout stream, and also teaching Peggy and David how to go about it. When the bobbies demanded to know who was responsible, everybody confessed.
- This trope is perhaps the reason why all of the La Résistance members are code-named "Jacques" in A Tale of Two Cities (an early version of Anonymous, perhaps, as "Jacques" was the most common male name at the time); in private meetings, they refer to each other as "Jacques [Number Whatever]" to tell each other apart.
- In one of the Phule's Company books, the new CO sent to replace Phule demands to know who made a wisecrack about him while hidden in the crowd of Legionnaires. Several of them step up and take the blame, including one of the two Sinthians (sluglike aliens)--whose name really is Spatacus.
- Used by the same author in Class Dis-Mythed, when Skeeve sneaks back to Perv, a dimension from which he's been banished, to support his students' efforts to win a reality-show contest. When he's spotted by police and about to be arrested, his students first claim he's a Skeeve impersonator from the program cast; when that fails to convince the cops, they use illusions to assume their teacher's likeness and distract them as he escapes.
- In Herman Wouk's The Winds of War, Leslie Slote, a diplomatic secretary from the American embassy in Warsaw during the German invasion who is timid and considers himself a coward. While traveling through German territory with other neutral diplomats an SS officer tries to separate the Jews. In a Crowning Moment of Awesome Slote berates the officer with an imperious lecture on national sovereignity rights and announces that either all of the party or none are to be treated as Jews.
- In a partial subversion, a couple of the party say in effect, "Hey wait a minute, I'm not a Jew" only to be promptly repressed by Slote.
- This combines perhaps with Gunboat Diplomacy though doing gunboat diplomacy on the SS is kind of odd. What Slote was really implying was "America has a big, bad, navy and your boss hasn't authorized you to provoke it. Because of this we get to say who is a Jew or not where our flag is."
- A story in 1992 Wayne's World tie-in book Extreme Close-Up by Mike Myers and Robin Ruzan. Wayne, Garth, and friends are throwing snowballs at cars; a police car pulls up and they all run away, but Garth drops his notebook with his name in it. The next day, a police officer comes to school and asks, "Which one of you is Garth Algar?" Everyone in the classroom, in turn, stands up and says "I am Garth Algar!"—al except Garth, who stands up and says "I am Spartacus!"
- Played straight in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. Spock is on Romulus, secretly teaching Vulcan philosophy to a group of young Romulans. When they're caught and the authorities demand they identify Spock, they all claim to be Spock. Considering the authorities' entire goal was to get the students to give up Spock—one of those "recant or die" ultimatums—and this was more of a gesture of defiance than anything else... which is typically Romulan, not Vulcan, so one assumes the students still had much to learn.
- A partial version also happens in the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Crossover, where Spock and his students are once again rounded up thanks to a traitor. Except, when threatened, it's the traitor to gives himself up as Spock and is promptly shot, having been won over by Spock's teachings (Spock knew he was the traitor all along and was trying hard to teach him in order for at least one student to survive).
- Subverted in the memorable episode of The Brady Bunch in which Peter breaks a vase. The gambit fails when all the kids except Peter confess.
- Final episode of Power Rangers in Space "Countdown to Destruction" played straight, which had the entire city of Angel Grove, starting with Bulk and Skull, telling the villains that they were Power Rangers. Made all the more epic, in that many of them were shown doubting the Power Rangers the night before.
- Lampshade Hanging in Stargate SG-1 episode "Insiders" where all the Ba'als claim to be the real Ba'al, and Mitchell refers to them as "Spartacus" (somewhere in the midst of the Hurricane of Puns prompted by the name "Ba'al" and the word "ball").
- Done in Madan Senki Ryukendo. The people of Akebono pretend to be Ryukendo while Kenji, the actual Ryukendo, is figuring out how to break down the dome covering the city. Dr. Worm and the Mooks are confused by the Spartacus act, as evidenced by the number of question marks that appear above their heads.
- In an episode of Monk where Willie Nelson is the prime suspect of a murder, Captain Stottlemeyer arrives to arrest him. His three bandmates all step forth and say, in sequence, "I'm Willie Nelson." Given who Willie Nelson is, it doesn't work so well.
- Played straight in an episode of Radio Free Roscoe when Principal Waller insists that Question Mark identify himself. Robbie stands up, but before he speaks another character jumps up and says 'I am Question Mark'. Cue the entire assembly standing up and identifying itself as Question Mark.
- The first season of Xena: Warrior Princess did this, in the episode "The Black Wolf". An entire village stands up claiming to be the vigilante ninja(?!) who protects them from the local warlord, and the warlord takes them all hostage against the reveal of the real thing.
- In the third episode of the Legend of the Seeker, the mother of the Seeker speaks up during an inquiry and rouses her village to defy the D'Hara. Afterward, she reveals her identity to them, thus condemning herself to punishment, which inspires the rest of the women of the village also speak up and claim to be the Seeker's mother as well. Though, it turns out she's not either.
- Used in an episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide about embarrassment. Suzie "blasted the pants cannon" and Ned claims that he was the one responsible but that he is not embarrassed. He then says "I am Fartacus!", causing the rest of the class to stand up one by one and make this claim.
- In a slight subversion, the Alpha Bitch declares that she is totally not Fartacus...only for her to pass gas a few seconds after saying so. She reluctantly stands with the rest of the students.
- Done on Grey's Anatomy when the interns are questioned over the situation that forced Denny Duquette's heart transplant. Izzie, Cristina, Meredith and George all confess to cutting his wire, one at a time. Alex says. "I'm totally innocent." The others turn on him but he points out that he wasn't even in the building at the time.
- A variation appeared in the M*A*S*H episode "Operation Noselift". A plastic surgeon visits the 4077th to perform a nose job on a soldier. When Major Burns gets wind of this unauthorized 'elective surgery', he tries to find out who's had a nose job. Unfortunately for Frank, everyone in the camp chooses to wear bandages on their noses, even the camp mascot, thus foiling Frank yet again.
- Happy Days had a variant where a local law enforcement official (reflecting Executive Meddling concerns) goes after Fonzie because of his black leather jacket, which makes him look like a thug. By the end of the episode, everyone is wearing one in solidarity.
- Alex in Modern Family proposes this as a way for she and her siblings to get out of being collectively punished for burning the couch, but it's actually a trick to get Luke, the dumbest of the three, to take the blame.
- Combined with Lost in a Crowd, this happens in The 4400 when NTAC agents try to arrest teenaged Cult leader Graham in "The Wrath of Graham". As his followers, who are all wearing identical hoodies, each step forward claiming to be him, the agents are so overwhelmed sorting through them that Graham manages to sneak up and use his power on them.
- Spoofed in the Lexx parody of A Midsummer Night's Dream. To get Stanley out of marrying Oberon, Puck transforms himself, Xev, and Kai into identical Stanley clones. At Oberon's demands, all of them claim to be the real Puck and to be the real Stan. (Their wording and delivery makes it clear who's whom, but Oberon reasons that Stan is disguised as the least desirable prospect and winds up sealing a 1500-year vow with Titania the bearded dwarf wench.)
- The Sesame Street "Monsterpiece Theater" sketch "Me, Claudius" is a parody of this: it consists entirely of a bunch of Muppets arguing over which one of them is Claudius.
- In the first episode of Life on a Stick, Mr Hut demands to know who was misusing the deep fryer. Laz confesses, but then so does everyone else in the stall.
- One episode of Andromeda featured patients of a doctor/war criminal who were all brainwashed into claiming they were the doctor so the real one couldn't be identified.
- The Wonder Years episode "Day One" has Kevin being picked on by a tyrannical political science teacher. At one point he absentmindedly tears a sheet of paper from his notebook, violating one of the teacher's study-hall rules; the teacher whips around, demanding, "Who did that?", sees Kevin with the sheet in his hand, and begins to assign him a week's detention...when the rest of the class begin tearing sheets out of their notebooks, one by one.
- Spoofed on Community, where the study group is doing well in the Model UN competition Annie's roped them into, until they fall apart due to a smelly fart that no one will admit to. After melting down a bit, Annie tries to fix things by saying she did it, but then Jeff admits it. He's telling the truth, but the others assume he's trying to invoke the trope and all proudly say that they farted too. Annoyed, Jeff comments that he "wasn't doing the Spartacus thing."
Oral Tradition, Myths and Legends
- The Chinese folktale The Five Brothers features identical quintuplets who each have some kind of superpower. After one of them accidentally kills a boy (in a situation that's completely the dead boy's fault) another of the brothers is immune to the execution method he is sentenced to and stands in for him. The executioners try again the next day with a different method that another of the brothers is immune to, and so on. After they all take their turn and the trick is revealed, the judge declares that this prolonged failure of executions must indicate that the first brother is innocent, freeing them.
- In an interesting aside, three of the brothers' powers mirror those of the Fantastic Four: One has an "iron neck" (The Thing), and survives a beheading; one can "stretch and stretch and stretch his legs" (Mr. Fantastic), and survives drowning; the third is flame-retardant (The Human Torch), and survives being burned at the stake.
- There was a Caribrdn[please verify] folk tale about a little girl (think her name was Anna or something like that)[please verify] who found out her stepmother was going to sell her to a man. When Anna told her friends what was going on, they all agreed to dress like her and claim to be named Anna.
- Aida has one of the other Nubian slaves claim to be Aida to prevent the real Aida's capture.
Recorded and Stand Up Comedy
- In the opening of the 2000 Academy Awards, Billy Crystal inserts himself into the original Spartacus scene, with the rather pragmatic "I am totally not Spartacus!"
- Parodied twice in the first MTV episode of The College Humor Show. First a rival company, having won Patrick in a bet, come to take him a way. When asked which is Patrick, Dan steps up, claiming to be him. He then nudges Sam to do the same, who refuses. Later, Rick asks who urinated in the ball pit (it was Amir), claiming that if no one comes forward, everyone is fired. Dan claims it was him and once again no one else steps up, resulting in Dan getting fired.
- Forgotten Realms lore has one of these, too. Such is the mystery of Phlambror's death. "He was murdered by an enraged husband, and no one was ever punished for the crime despite the garthraun arresting a man red-handed (literally bloody-handed, over the body). As it turns out, no less than four hundred men came forward to claim that they'd slain Phlambror."
- The Alpha Legion of Warhammer 40,000 do this all the time. Even to their allies. Perhaps especially to their allies, since no one even knows who their allies are. "I am Alpharius." "I am Alpharius." "I am Alpharius." "We are legion, and we are one." This is turned Up to Eleven in the Horus Heresy novel "Deliverance Lost" where it is revealed that they use this trope on themselves. No one, not even in the Legion itself knows who the real Alpharius is.
- This trope is known in Spanish as "Fuente Ovejuna", after a famous play of that name and the real history behind it by Baroque Spanish play-writer Lope de Vega where, after the mob murder of a villainous aristocrat who oppressed them, all the inhabitants of the titular town /men, women, kids, old people, etc. stand up to King Ferdinand of Aragón and Queen Isabella of Castilla in that way ("Who killed the Commander?" "Fuente Ovejuna did it, Milord!").
- In Way of the Samurai 3, this occurs near the end of one of the endings, after you take Osei Suzuku's place to save Takatane Village. Before being executed at Lord Shuzen's hand, though, Osei shows up, claiming her (correct) place as an heir to the Sakurai clan. Then Munechika Umemiya shows up, claiming to be another heir (he's the former chief vassal). Then, one by one, each of the other villagers and Ouka clan members there claims to be an heir to the Sakurai clan. At the end of the whole thing, Shinnosuke Umemiya, a Sakurai loyalist biding his time in Shuzen's service, laughs and claims he is one more heir. The expression on Kirie Masatsugu's face when hearing this is priceless. True to the original, Shuzen orders everyone killed, even after it is pointed out he will have no one left to rule over if he did.
- Robin goes looking for Greg Killmaster at ILM in Shortpacked, and a bunch of guys claim to be him when she yells that she wants to have "five million of his babies." The real one, of course, is nowhere to be found.
- Parodied in this The Order of the Stick strip.
- Parodied in The Noob - this being an elven town in MMORPG, "Legolas" is the most common name. Of course, it also enforces unique names, so this is subverted on the next page.
- In the South Park episode "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow", Stan's attempts to confess "I broke the dam" cause the other townspeople to falsely confess the same; misinterpreting this as symbolic (as in they are all responsible) instead of literal (he took a joyride in a boat and crashed into it). They continue this into the credits as he is getting increasingly specific (and profane) about what he meant and still be ignored until he closes the episode with "Aw, fuck it!"
- Also played with in "Lice Capades"; after Kenny is subjected to a "sock bath" after being found to have had lice, Kyle admits that he was the one with lice, then Stan and Cartman do the same—then Mrs. Garrison shows up and tells them they all had lice, and everyone gives Kenny a sock bath anyway for lying about not having lice.
- Done oddly in the Futurama episode "A Tale of Two Santas", where a one-eyed mutant, a delivery boy, a ditz, and a handful of others all claim to be Robot Santa in order to save Bender from death—Zoidberg goes even further (and completely misses the point) by claiming to be Jesus. This prompts the executioner's line, "None of you are Santa! You're not even robots! How dare you lie in front of Jesus?!"
- The title of this episode refers to Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities," which played it straight with Sydney Carton standing in to be executed in place of his lookalike, Charles Darnay.
- Parodied in Undergrads: Gimpy sets up a string of pranks against his tyrannical RA, under the guise of G-Prime. When his RA threatens punishment on the entire dorm unless the real G-Prime confesses, the trope is played out. The subversion comes when Gimpy doesn't understand that they were doing it as an act of solidarity, and assumes they are trying to steal the credit and glory. One student even claims to be Spartacus.
- In The Simpsons: Bart hears the tale of a old west fort (In Springfield?) where the soldiers, surrounded by hostile natives, are told they'll be left alone if they hand over the base's commander. This being The Simpsons of course, they give him up to a horrible death, and the base is renamed "Fort Sensible".
- Played with in Canadian show Radio Active, when Ms. Atoll demands to know the identity of the mysterious "DJ X". The plan backfires when DJ X himself fails to claim that he is DJ X, thus singling him out as DJ X.
- Spoofed in Johnny Bravo when the titular character was hurled back to Ancient Rome he questioned a guy and that guys says "I'm Spartacus" prompting people who are behind him to shout the same thing, just for publicity.
- In Kappa Mikey, there is a character named Spartacus where if a group of people start doing this ("I'm Mikey!"), he pops out of nowhere to exclaim " I Am Spartacus!!"
- In Recess, when Spinelli accidentally calls the teacher mama, her friends all do the same thing in order to alleviate the humiliation, eventually leading to the whole class calling her mama. Also, in one episode Mikey rips his pants and his friends do too in order to save him from being the only one embarrassed.
- In yet another episode, when Spinelli's first name is revealed to be Ashley, the other Ashleys force her to join them. To save Spinelli, the others all claim their names are Ashley too, and demand membership.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang hosts a secret dance party for a bunch of fire nation students, they are discovered and the teacher orders the guards to capture "the one with the headband". This feat soon becomes impossible as everyone attending soon ends up wearing a headband.
- In a flashback, it's revealed that Katara's mother, Kya, claimed to be the waterbender the Fire Nation was looking for in order to protect Katara. She ends up dying for it.
- Spoofed in a Family Guy cutaway. During the climactic scene, after two people claim to be Spartacus, Peter ruins it by casually ratting out the real Spartacus.
- A possibly apocryphal but funny case of accidental Spartacus-ing set off by a misunderstanding is recounted here.
- Occured in Vietnam in the case of a legendary US Marine sniper named Carlos Hathcock, who had a trademark in the form of a white feather he wore in his bush cap. The vietcong hated him so much they eventually started sending entire squads just to hunt him down. Knowing the devastating effect losing Hathcock would have on morale, marines in the area took to wearing white feathers of their own to deceive the enemy soldiers.
- Many people on Facebook listed Hussein as their middle names in solidarity with Barack Obama after Fox News and others raised a stink over him having a "Muslim" middle name. On the other side of the political spectrum, there were all those John McCain supporters and Joe the Plumber.
- In the (possibly apocryphal, but usually treated as fact) story of Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the Major League, his Dodgers teammates responded to threats on Robinson's life during a game by all wearing his jersey: number 42, which has since been retired out of respect.
- 42 is always the answer.
- There's an apocryphal, but widely believed I Am Spartacus from World War II. In Nazi Germany and its occupied areas, Jews were forced to wear gold stars for identification. The story has it that when the Nazis attempted to impose this measure on occupied Denmark, King Christian X began to wear a gold star in solidarity with his nation's Jews, and so many Danes began following his example that it became impossible to tell the Jews apart. While this isn't true in fact, it's true in spirit—there was a widespread movement among ordinary Danes to defend the Jews, and for the first few years of occupation, the Danish government refused to impose or enforce any discriminatory measure against the Jews. When the Nazis decided to get tougher, the Danes were so successful at hiding and evacuating them that of around 8,000 Danish Jews, the Nazis only managed to capture about 450, of whom 400 were eventually rescued.
- It's also said that when some Nazis asked a mayor and a priest in a town in Greece to turn over a list of all the Jews in town, they turned in a list bearing only their own names.
- When Prince Harry announced his intention to serve in Iraq, there was understandable concern about him making his unit a prime target. In response to this, the many soldiers started wearing T shirts that said 'I'm Harry".
- The Trope Namer is very often parodied at motorbike rallies, generally after dark. Depending on the general mood at the time (and exactly how late it is), the initial "I'm Spartacus!" can be met with various obscenities, or enthusiastically taken up, generally morphing into "I'm Spartacus, and so is my wife!", and even "I'm Spartacus' wife!"
- There is a Medieval subversion and inversion. When the French king invaded Italy he met an Italian Prince, and both had Swiss mercenaries. As it was not considered appropriate for Swiss to slay Swiss, the "Italian" army gave way and the prince was smuggled away dressed as a soldier. The French general found what they were up to and paraded them offering gold to whomever would reveal "who was Spartacus". At first none of them revealed who it was, but finally one tattle-tale stepped forward and revealed the prince. This man, whose greed apparently was greater then his wits, later returned home to Switzerland where he was executed by the goverment for bringing disgrace on his comrades.
- Eric, son of Kirk, Douglas tried his hand at stand up. It did not go particularly well, and he was being heckled rather nastily. Finally he snapped and shouted at the heckler "You can't heckle me! I am Kirk Douglas' son!". The heckler got to his feet, and shouted back "No! I am Kirk Douglas' son!" Pretty soon the whole audience is on its feet joining in.
- Older Than Print: The Talmud in tractate Sanhedrin brings a couple of I Am Spartacus stories. It's kicked off by a story in which Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel brought together seven judges to declare a leap year but eight showed up and he demanded to know which one wasn't invited. This one isn't an example because one person simply took the fall for the real culprit, but it's followed by two examples:
- Rebbe was teaching and smelled garlic. He hated the smell of garlic (and everybody knew it, so there were no excuses), so he announced "Whoever ate garlic, leave." Rabbi Chiyya got up and left, but he was Rebbe's prized student and was obviously not the culprit - so one by one everyone else got up and left too, to save the real one from embarrassment.
- A woman came to the school run by Rabbi Meir, and stated that she had had relations (of a type equivalent to a binding marriage contract) with one of the students but didn't know which one. Rabbi Meir himself wrote her a bill of divorce, followed by every single one of his students, thus ensuring the divorce took place without embarrassing the student in question.
- Escort ships (the naval kind, not the Bodyguard Crush kind) often carry blip enhancers so that on radar they appear to be the ship they're escorting. In practical terms, that means that enemy ships that are aiming by radar will shoot at them instead of the ship they're protecting.
- On a flight to Canada, two members of Monty Python almost simultaneously stood up and shouted "I'm passenger Johnson" in response to a request to see said passenger. This started a chain reaction. Then they arrived and rode the luggage carousel. The flight crew was glad to see them leave.
- During an incident in the Polish Soviet War some Polish prisoners all stripped to their undershorts so that the Russians couldn't tell officers from enlisted.
- In one CMOA subversion, Genghis Khan had just won a clan war in which a horse had been shot out from under him. Ghenghis lined up the captives asked,"Which one of you shot my horse." One man boldly said, "I did." Then Genghis rewarded him.
- For not aiming the shot higher, I suppose?
- That, or he simply respected the man's bravery.
- Definitely the latter. Khan was raised in a world of unending cycles of revenge. His revolution in part consisted of uniting the Mongol people by having a genius for finding people of talent, putting them in high position, and making them loyal to Khan and the law rather than clan. Conquered clans were embraced into the fold, the men divided and dispersed into multi-clan bands, and the whole lot loyal to the Khan and the idea of a unified people. Soon afterwards, the world learned to be terrified of a people who, one generation earlier, had considered a coat of animal furs to be a sign of great wealth.
- The Twitter joke trial. After a guy was arrested for posting a joke about blowing up an airport on Twitter, thousands of people reposted the joke verbatim with the hashtag #iamspartacus.
- Comedian Lee Evans once did a brilliant joke about just saying "I am Spartacus" in response to every question asked by the people on those annoying phone calls you get when people try to sell you shit you don't want or need.
- Honda had Yugi write the message because he was too nervous to think of what to write, and Jonouchi was the one who slipped it into Ribbon's desk.
- which none of them actually did
- whose power is to unconsciously make everyone with whom he comes into contact worship him