Created By: sageoftruth on April 17, 2012 Last Edited By: sageoftruth on May 23, 2016
Nuked

Badass Spot Check

Showing an uncanny ability to detect spies or tails

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Mr. Badass is being tailed by Mr. Spy. Mr. Spy darts from shadow to shadow as Mr. Badass goes about his daily routine. He goes shopping, chats with some friends and then walks into an alley supposedly for some secret business. Just then, without facing Mr. Spy, he calls out, "Sir, you've been hiding all day. Why don't you show yourself?" Mr. Badass just pulled a Badass Spot Check. A Badass Spot Check can be performed many ways. A man could also be traveling in a group and suddenly halt everyone and whisper, "Be on your guard! We're not alone." This trope does not apply if the person tailing him does something to give away his position, like trip and stumble into view. It is important that the person being tailed gives no sign (to his follower or the audience) that he is aware he his being followed. The audience should be just as surprised as the tail that the man was aware of his presence. If he's less of the honorable sort, he can perform his Badass Spot Check by firing/throwing a projectile at the spot where the tail is hiding instead of calling out to him. If he is a trickster, he can refrain from revealing that he spots his tail until after the mission, by tricking the tail into steal a fake version of whatever he was after.

Examples: In "Uncharted 3", Victor Sully performs one on young Nathan Drake after being tailed all over town.

Done twice in "Blade of the Immortal", first by Annotsu to Rin when she covertly watches him train, second by Kasekage, again to Rin, when he mentions that he had been aware of her spying on him every day.

Done in "Rogue Galaxy" by Seed to Jaster and his allies as they spy on Valkog. Without looking, he says, "We are being watched."

In "Red Cliff" Zhou Yu plays dumb and pretends not to suspect one of Cao Cao's spies. He has a "secret meeting" where he discusses false battle plans with a subordinate within earshot of the spy, and later pretends to get drunk and allows the spy to steal a paper from his pocket that falsely incriminates two of the enemy officers as spies.

Throughout Afro Samurai, the eponymous character is fully aware of when he's being watched by a member of the Empty Seven Clan. When he's defeated most of them, he proceeds to kill the one who was watching him by shoving his own binoculars into his head.

In The State Counsellor, Mr. Green and the Needle, both experienced terrorists, have an uncanny ability to detect police agents tailing them.

Keith Mars from Veronica Mars pulls this off several times, most notably the "trickster" variety to the Russian mafia in the first season. He drops his car off at a hotel, gets the mobsters to follow him inside, doubles back to the mobster car and breaks in to take a look at the documents in the glove box to figure out why he's being tailed. And he gets away with it.

Subverted in Hanaukyo Maid Tai La Verite episode 4 "Konoe Rises". When Taro goes into town to do some shopping, his bodyguard Konoe Tsurugi stealthily shadows him. At one point he's looking in a store window and calls out to her. Later on she asks him how he knew she was there and he says he didn't know, he just assumed she'd follow him.

Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • April 17, 2012
    Bisected8
  • April 17, 2012
    Koveras
    • In The State Counsellor, Mr. Green and the Needle, both experienced terrorists, have an uncanny ability to detect police agents tailing them.
  • April 17, 2012
    CharacterInWhite
    • Keith Mars from Veronica Mars pulls this off several times, most notably the "trickster" variety to the Russian mafia in the first season. He drops his car off at a hotel, gets the mobsters to follow him inside, doubles back to the mobster car and breaks in to take a look at the documents in the glove box to figure out why he's being tailed. And he gets away with it.
  • April 17, 2012
    Routerie
    No reason for the description or name to include the word "badass."
  • April 17, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
  • April 17, 2012
    akazilliadenaro
    • Taskmaster in Young Justice has been known to spot M'gann's perfectly camouflaged Bio-Ship.
  • April 18, 2012
    Arivne
    Anime and Manga
    • Subverted in Hanaukyo Maid Tai La Verite episode 4 "Konoe Rises". When Taro goes into town to do some shopping, his bodyguard Konoe Tsurugi stealthily shadows him. At one point he's looking in a store window and calls out to her. Later on she asks him how he knew she was there and he says he didn't know, he just assumed she'd follow him.
  • April 18, 2012
    Bisected8
    @Routerie: Being able to tell when you're followed is a pretty good way to show that a character's Badass, surely?
  • April 18, 2012
    Nithael
    Yes, but we're trying to get rid of the habit of putting "badass" in every trope name as per this thread.
  • April 18, 2012
    Arha
    We're trying to cut down on the number of Badass tropes and so far as I know the general policy we're going for is to only use it in tropes where it's a character trope with some conditions on it and when it's an establisher of some sort. I don't think this is the latter because I've seen it played for laughs. Plus it would be helpful to simply have less of them.
  • April 18, 2012
    HawkofBattle
    • Played with early on in the fifth Dark Tower novel, the group is being unknowingly followed through a forest until Jake points it out to the rest of the group. The trope is invoked more by Roland however, who tells the others he actually noticed them yesterday and was waiting to see who would be the first out of the others to do so. Even better, Jake only thought there were four, Roland reveals there are five, possibly six and one's a woman.
  • April 18, 2012
    sageoftruth
    I understand the concern about the over-usage of "badass". Would it be better if we simply called it "Uncanny Spot Check"?
  • April 18, 2012
    condottiera
    I also think this might be a little too similar to Scarily Competent Tracker.
  • April 18, 2012
    sageoftruth
    It is definitely an ability a Scarily Competent Tracker would have, but Scarily Competent Trackers are particularly defined by their ability to track in the predatory sense, rather than thwart attempts to be tracked by others. Also, the Badass/Uncanny spot check can be used by characters with no tracking skills who simply understand the nature of people well enough to detect spies or who have been tracked or tailed enough times to notice it when others wouldn't, making the savvy urban diplomat just as capable of pulling it off.
  • April 20, 2012
    Raso
    Sherlock Scan can cause this.

    This needs some serious formatting....
  • April 20, 2012
    Bisected8
    @sageoftruth: Just so you know, if you click on the edit button for a reply (the little pencil icon to its left) you can copy the source markup.

    You might also want to take a look at Text Formatting Rules.
  • April 20, 2012
    WackyMeetsPractical
    I see this a lot, especially when characters try to spy on spies. I believe this happened in Knight And Day, though I forget the context, exactly. I remember the girl, not a spy, tried to follow the guy, who was a spy. She was eventually caught.

    I think a good title for this would be Spot The Tail. At least that's what I've always called it every time I see it.
  • April 20, 2012
    mzytryck
    Pandoras Star has one bit where the POV character is the tail who gets caught. It's not particularly surprising or extraordinary, since the mark is a highly experienced police inspector and the tail is a totally untrained and not particularly bright teenager, but it has this sort of effect on the POV character.

    I agree that this trope is separate from Scarily Competent Tracker, since they cover different skills, even if there is some overlap, but I also think that the word "Badass" is unnecessary. It may be an ability that a badass demonstrates, but being a badass is not required in order to do it. I think "uncanny" is better.
  • April 20, 2012
    Earnest
    So, this is a badass version of Being Watched?
  • April 20, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Subverted in Moscow On The Hudson. Having defected from the USSR to the USA, Vladimir is walking the streets of New York and spots someone following him. Vladimir confronts him.
    Vladimir: FBI?
    Man: FBI? No.
    Vladimir: KGB?
    Man: No. G-A-Y.
    Vladimir: Gay? Oh, no. No.
    Man: Sorry. You have a nice face. I thought we had a moment back there.
  • April 25, 2012
    akazilliadenaro
    I was thinking up names for this that didn't involve the word "Badass"
  • May 22, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    This needs a better name. We're trying to move away from the problematic Badass naming scheme.
  • May 22, 2016
    captainpat
    first paragraph is an Example As A Thesis. You don't need an example in your trope description when you have an example section right below it.
  • May 22, 2016
    DAN004
  • May 23, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    ^ Throwing in a bomb, since this is a duplicate and a bad snowclone.
  • May 24, 2016
    AgProv
    In the Illuminatus series novel, The Earth will Shake, Sigismundo Celine, walking with his uncle in an italian town, communicates his suspicion they are being followed. Uncle Pietro demonstrates practical counter-espionage techniques, pretending to browse goods in a shop windlw, but using the glass as a semi-reflective mirror to scan the road around them so as to discreetly identify the person tailing them. He tells Sigismundo in a low voice
    Never be so stupid as to think there is only one. surveillance teams come in twos. While you are congratulating yourself on spotting the one you are meant to see, the second is still there, unobtrusively. I am still looking for him, but he is good.
  • May 23, 2016
    MiinU
    Agreed with Earnest. This is already covered by Being Watched.
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