Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Being Mistaken for Someone Else

Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.

Conflict: Being Mistaken for Someone Else

Category: Increased pressure and ticking clocks, loss of control, miscellaneous challenges

Being mistaken for a celebrity or public figure
Being mistaken for someone whom one physically resembles
Having similar features as police suspect or a person of interest
Having similar features as a criminal, sexual offender, or war criminal
Having people mistake the character for their sibling
Sharing common ground with someone who is anonymous (similar life circumstances, a job description, or access to sensitive information), enough so that people close to the situation believe the character is this anonymous person
Having the same name as someone else
Having someone steal identifying information and use it, causing confusion over who is who
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time and so appearing to have a connection to a crime because of it

Minor Complications:
Accusations of sharing sensitive information within a company when someone else was the one doing it
Being accused of infidelity when their doppelganger is spotted on a date with someone else
Being falsely accused of a crime
Being mistrusted until the truth is sorted out about the character and someone else not being connected
Getting mobbed by “fans”
Being warned (to repay a loan, keep their mouth shut, not involve the cops) because people determined to keep information quiet have the wrong guy
Being watched and monitored
Having one’s house trashed or personal items messed with as someone seeks out sensitive information because they have misconnected the character with someone else
Being asked for favors because people believe the character is someone with influence
Being hounded for selfies, autographs, endorsement offers, etc. for looking like someone else

Potentially Disastrous Results:
Getting jumped and beaten up as “repayment” for something a doppelganger did
Being served or stalked by credit agencies because another person has stolen one’s identity and wracked up debt
Being arrested (and possibly being unable to prove innocence)
Family and friends turning their back on the character, believing the lies of others
Being taken and tortured by dangerous people
The character’s family being targeted to send a message
Being framed by the actual wrongdoer who sees this as an opportunity
The character’s family being dragged through the mud, guilty by association
Being fired or having to close down one’s business because of the bad press
Having to go into witness protection, leaving their life behind
Being betrayed by the justice system who know they made a mistake but refuse to admit it

Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
The temptation to “pretend” to be the other person (when it leads to a positive experience) but knowing it would be wrong to do so
Going along with the mistaken identity and then regretting it when things get complicated
Understanding the situation is complicated yet still feeling betrayed by loved ones who show doubts
Feeling anger toward others for turning on the character yet knowing if the show was on the other foot, they probably would have done the same
Feeling let down by people who judge yet also knowing they themselves have similarily misjudged others

People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Family and friends close to the character, the character themselves, victims of a crime who will not get justice if the wrong person is convicted

Resulting Emotions: amazement, anger, anguish, anxiety, betrayed, bitterness, conflicted, defensiveness, desperation, determination, disbelief, frustration, horror, nervousness, overwhelmed, paranoia, powerlessness, self-pity, stunned, unease, wariness, wistful, worry

Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: abrasive, confrontational, controlling, evasive, gullible, impulsive, irresponsible, paranoid, self-destructive, uncooperative, volatile

Positive Outcomes: 
Regaining a newfound appreciation for one’s “ordinary” life
Becoming an advocate for injustice and the falsely accused, helping others
Building close bonds with those who stayed true throughout the mistaken identity ordeal
Discovering who one’s friends really are (and getting rid of the dead weight)
Growing aware of the inequities in society and how some are targeted (through prejudice, racism, etc.), and working to bring about change

If you’re interested in other conflict options, you can find them here.

Need More Descriptive Help?

While this conflict thesaurus is still being developed, the rest of our descriptive collection (15 unique thesauri and growing) is available at our main site, One Stop for Writers.

If you like, swing by and check out the video walkthrough, and then give our Free Trial a spin.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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Traci Kenworth
8 months ago

This is a great idea! I’ve seen it used before but hadn’t really thought about how valuable it could be.