Inanimate While Watched
An object the audience would expect to be inanimate is animate when not being watched.
This is when an inanimate object — such as a doll, mannequin, or statue — or a subject in a picture becomes animate when nobody is watching it. This trope also includes anything else that is not animate, like an animal or anthropomorphized fungus. That is, Alice's doll looks and acts like a doll when she's looking at it, but when Alice isn't home, her doll can move around, talk, and interact with the world around it. For all intents and purposes, she's as human as any of the other characters... when there aren't people watching. An object like this one may be a Dynamic or Static Character, a member of the Five-Man Band or a Monster of the Week. Some works may have these characters as most, if not all, of their principal cast. Most Living Toys are this trope, though this trope is not exclusive to toys. A Plant Person may or may not be this trope, and it depends on whether he or she can only move when people (or certain people) are not observing it. This can happen in the story in a variety of ways.
- When in the presence of people. The toys are motionless under the bed regardless of whether someone can see them or know they are there.
- When being observed. The toys can move under the bed when nobody is looking, but as soon as someone peeks under the bed, the toys become motionless.
- When in the presence of people other than the main character. The toys are motionless in the presence of everybody except for Alice.
- This may be because the character is an innocent (e.g. a child) or a sufficiently open-minded person.
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Anime & Manga
- Kobato.: Ioryogi has to pretend to be a stuffed animal if anyone besides Kobato and Kohaku are present.
- Played with in Calvin and Hobbes. Whenever Hobbes is alone with Calvin, he appears as an anthropomorphic tiger, but when someone else appears he becomes a plush toy. The strip is ambiguous about whether Hobbes assumes his toy form in front of others or whether only Calvin can see his true form, or even if he's really alive or just in Calvin's imagination.
- Mannequin: The title character can move and interact with one person, but returns to her mannequin form when anyone else is nearby.
- The Christmas Toy: If a human is present, the toys are made immobile. To a more extreme extent, if a toy is discovered while out of place, it becomes inanimate forever.
- In The Doll People, dolls can only move when humans aren't watching. If a human sees them move, they spend the next day in The Doll State, which renders them immobile. Act too recklessly and risk allowing a human to discover you're alive, and The Doll State can become permanent.
- In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath story "Bones," Jame is stalked by animate skeletons that only move when she isn't looking at them.
Live Action TV
- In Emily Wants To Play, the black and grey doll will stop moving while you look directly at her. If you only see her in the corner of your eye, however, she will move in a very unsetteling manner.
- In Blink you have to escape from a monster that moves very rapidly when you don't look. However, one game mechanic is that you have to blink from time to time.
- In Stay Together, the mannequin monsters stop moving while a player sees them in light. If noone looks, or if the light is out they will keep moving.
- Toy Story: Played straight in most of the films. It's an unstated rule that toys never move when someone is watching. This rule doesn't seem to apply with animals, as seen with Scud in the first movie and Buster in the second and third. The one time the rule was broken, thereby subverting this trope, was when the toys scare Sid into being nicer. (Woody even says "We'll have to break a few rules.")
- SCP Foundation: SCP-173 is an inanimate statue while being looked at. Otherwise, it's an incredibly fast killing machine out to break some necks.
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