Created By: stardust_rainJuly 4, 2011 Last Edited By: morenohijazoJanuary 6, 2012
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Chameleon Camouflage

A character seamlessly fades into the background.

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Trope
Just a thin line above Invisibility, a character simply fades from sight by becoming part of the background. Generally done by characters of supernatural leanings, but without actual possession of Invisibility, cloak otherwise.

See also Wallpaper Camouflage. Related to Visible Invisibility. Worth noting that chameleons can't actually do this.

Examples:

Anime And Manga
  • In the various Ghost In The Shell incarnations this is known as thermoptic camouflage, presumably because it also works in infrared.
  • Teana's Optic Hide spell in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S works this way.
  • In One Piece the minor villain Zeo is a carpet shark fishman, and can change his color to blend with the ground and apparently disappear. Played for Laughs when he gets stomped and clubbed by his own men.

Comics
  • British comic Cor!! once featured a 2-page strip entitled "Kid Chameleon". The title character was raised by lizards (!) in the Kalahari (with a little help from some local Bushmen), and wore a suit of chameleon scales to camouflage himself. Don't ask how he did it, but the effect was achieved by letting the background colours show through his outline.

Film
  • Played for laughs in Toys. Patrick is usually introduced to a scene dressed exactly like some part of the scenery.

Literature
  • Being raised by ghosts, Bod does it very well in The Graveyard Book.
  • From Discworld Susan Sto Helit, Granny Weatherwax, and her apprentice Tiffany Aching have powers to do this. The young Vetinari learns this in Night Watch, and Vimes has an uncanny ability to blend neatly into shadows.
  • Harry Potter: The Dissillusionment Charm has this effect, and if done well enough can confer actual invisibility. Putting it on a garment is one way to make an Invisibility Cloak, though the charm fades over time.
  • The Sword Of Truth has mriswith, lizard people capable of changing their color for a fairly good concealment. They also wear capes which do the same, but much better.
  • In Hyperion, military Power Armor works that way.

Live Action TV
  • Zhaan did this in an episode of Farscape when she turned invisible by blending with other foliage (she's a plant).

Tabletop RPG
  • Dark Conspiracy supplement Darktek. The alien ET's had a Chameleon Suit which changed its colors to match the background.
  • Shadowrun supplement Shadowtech. A chemical compound called ruthenium polymers could be used to change something's color (e.g. a stealth suit or vehicle) to match what was behind it, allowing it to blend in and disappear.
  • Dungeons And Dragons
    • The 1st Edition Fiend Folio introduced the Skulk, a humanoid creature whose camouflage ability allowed them to blend into any background. They used this ability to sneak around stealing and murdering.
    • The Cloak of Elvenkind had chameleon-like abilities, allowing the wearer to be almost invisible in natural surroundings. The Ring of Chameleon Power had a similar power.
  • Iron Crown Enterprises' Cyberspace RPG. The C-Cloth (Chameleon Cloth) coverall could change colors to match its surroundings.
  • The Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Secrets of the Surface World had a Chameleon Suit as a possible Weird Science gadget.

Video Games
  • In Bloody Roar 3 and Primal Fury, Busuzima's beast form is that of a chameleon, which allows him to blend in with the arena; effectively making him invisible.
  • The Elder Scrolls games have "Chameleon" spells, enchantments, and potions that do this.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 features the OctoCamo suit worn by Snake, named after the octopus and designed to mimic its natural camouflage skills. With it, Snake can change the color and texture of his suit to match whatever he's pressed against in a matter of seconds. Later in the game this is partnered with FaceCamo, which normally looks like a sock draped over the wearer's head, but can also make a flawless disguise by mimicking someone else's face.
  • From the Mortal Kombat series, Reptile, who has this as a special in several games, and as his intro stance in 9. His introduction in 9's Story Mode is also done this way. Strangely, Khameleon and Chameleon, the bonus characters of Mortal Kombat Trilogy and Mortal Kombat Armageddon, doesn't have this power.
  • The Camouflage bonus adrenaline combo in Unreal Tournament 2004 allows the user to become a piece of the level he's playing.
  • In the Sonic The Hedgehog series, Espio the Chameleon has this ability, and in Sonic Heroes, it's required to pass certain stages.
  • In the Warcraft universe, Night Elves can Shadowmeld, allowing them to turn invisible as long as they don't move by merging into the shadows. Also in World of Warcraft, rogues, druids and hunters all have some kind of stealth or camouflage ability that allows them to fuse with their surroundings and be partially or totally invisible.
  • The Stealth Parasites can do this in Evolva.
  • The cloaking devices in Starsiege, when active, painted your mech the same color as the background terrain (which you could verify with the third-person camera).

Western Animation
  • In The Simpsons "Lemon of Troy" Milhouse has an Imagine Spot that while wearing camouflage he blends into the bushes completely.
  • Monsters Inc: Randall is able to do this.
  • Zartan from GI Joe has this ability in addition to being a master of disguise. It came at a cost though using the ability caused him to develop a painful skin condition. In the comics he eventually found a medicinal cure but had to keep taking it regularly.

Real Life
  • Several species of octopus do this both to hunt prey and hide from predators.


Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • July 4, 2011
    Aielyn
    It's spelled Chameleon, not Cameleon. And "Chameleonesque" is long, difficult to remember, and not really a word. How about Chameleon Camouflage? It's shorter, easy to remember, and still carries the whole concept, and even carries its own concept, as Chameleons don't really camouflage that well, but are often represented as being able to do so in works of fiction.
  • July 4, 2011
    SonofRojBlake
    In Discworld it's explicitly stated that Weatherwax has the power to fade into the FOR Eground.
  • July 4, 2011
    stardust_rain
    You're right Aielyn, and I've fixed the title.

    @Sonof Roj Blake: Granny, like Susan, can fade into both. She does it in Maskerade and Wintersmith.
  • July 4, 2011
    MiinU

    Video Games

    • In Bloody Roar 3 and Primal Fury, Busuzima's beast form is that of a chameleon, which allows him to blend in with the arena; effectively making him invisible.
  • July 4, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In The Simpsons "Lemon of Troy" Milhouse has an Imagine Spot that while wearing camouflage he blends into the bushes completely.
  • July 4, 2011
    Artemis92
    • Harry Potter: A spell like this is cast on Harry in (I think) the third and seventh books, both times to help him leave the Dursleys' house unseen.

    • Monsters Inc: Randall is able to do this.

    • The Elder Scrolls games have "Chameleon" spells, enchantments, and potions that do this(in Oblivion, anyway; I can't speak for the other games).

    I don't think the Discworld examples count, though. Nowhere in the books (that I recall) is anybody described as being able to do this. If this is about the superpower/magic effect they don't count.
  • July 4, 2011
    Darthcaliber
    Zartan from GI Joe has this ability in addition to being a master of disguise. It came at a cost though using the ability caused him to develop a painful skin condition. In the comics he eventually found a medicinal cure but had to keep taking it regularly.
  • July 4, 2011
    goodtimesfreegrog
    Videogame example:
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 features the OctoCamo suit worn by Snake, named after the octopus and designed to mimic its natural camouflage skills. With it, Snake can change the color and texture of his suit to match whatever he's pressed against in a matter of seconds. Later in the game this is partnered with FaceCamo, which normally looks like a sock draped over the wearer's head, but can also make a flawless disguise by mimicking someone else's face.
  • July 4, 2011
    AMNK
    I don't know if these ones qualify:

  • July 4, 2011
    Arpanet
  • July 4, 2011
    Generality
    To clarify the Harry Potter example: The Dissillusionment Charm has this effect, and if done well enough can confer actual invisibility. Putting it on a garment is one way to make an Invisibility Cloak, though the charm fades over time.

    • Played for laughs in Toys. Patrick is usually introduced to a scene dressed exactly like some part of the scenery.

    Also, the Doctor Who example doesn't count. That's straight use of a Perception Filter, no physical camouflage effect.
  • July 4, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
  • July 4, 2011
    LeeM
    British comic Cor!! once featured a 2-page strip entitled "Kid Chameleon". The title character was raised by lizards (!) in the Kalahari (with a little help from some local Bushmen), and wore a suit of chameleon scales to camouflage himself. Don't ask how he did it, but the effect was achieved by letting the background colours show through his outline.
  • July 5, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • July 5, 2011
    Kharonthe
    Another Videogame example:

    • In the Warcraft universe, Night Elves can Shadowmeld, allowing them to turn invisible as long as they don't move by merging into the shadows. Also in World of Warcraft, rogues, druids and hunters all have some kind of stealth or camouflage ability that allows them to fuse with their surroundings and be partially or totally invisible.
  • July 6, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dark Conspiracy supplement Darktek. The alien ET's had a Chameleon Suit which changed its colors to match the background.
    • Shadowrun supplement Shadowtech. A chemical compound called ruthenium polymers could be used to change something's color (e.g. a stealth suit or vehicle) to match what was behind it, allowing it to blend in and disappear.
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • The 1st Edition Fiend Folio introduced the Skulk, a humanoid creature whose camouflage ability allowed them to blend into any background. They used this ability to sneak around stealing and murdering.
      • The Cloak of Elvenkind had chameleon-like abilities, allowing the wearer to be almost invisible in natural surroundings. The Ring of Chameleon Power had a similar power.
    • Iron Crown Enterprises' Cyberspace RPG. The C-Cloth (Chameleon Cloth) coverall could change colors to match its surroundings.
  • December 16, 2011
    morenohijazo
    The stealth parasites can do this in Evolva.
  • December 16, 2011
    VincentGaribaldi
    The Chameleon from Tuff Puppy.
  • December 16, 2011
    Generality
    In the various Ghost In The Shell incarnations this is known as thermoptic camouflage, presumably because it also works in infrared.
  • December 17, 2011
    Koveras
  • December 17, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Zhaan did this in an episode of Farscape when she turned invisible by blending with other foliage (she's a plant)
  • December 17, 2011
    Stratadrake
    • The cloaking devices in Starsiege, when active, painted your mech the same color as the background terrain (which you could verify with the third-person camera).
  • December 17, 2011
    TonyG
    ^^^^^Tuff Puppy's Chameleon is more of a Shape Shifter.
  • December 27, 2011
    morenohijazo
    Could the Assassins from FEAR fit here? What do you think? I'm not sure about this one.
  • December 27, 2011
    Sheba
    Holmes does this in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.
  • December 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^That's the already cited Wallpaper Camouflage, if the ads are anything to go by.
  • December 29, 2011
    Ryuuma
    In One Piece the minor villain Zeo is a carpet shark fishman, and can change his color to blend with the ground and apparently disappear. Played for Laughs when he gets stomped and clubbed by his own men.
  • December 29, 2011
    JoeG
    • Real Life: Several species of octopus do this both to hunt prey and hide from predators.
  • December 29, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • The Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Secrets of the Surface World had a Chameleon Suit as a possible Weird Science gadget.
  • December 30, 2011
    Omeganian
    The Sword Of Truth has mriswith, lizard people capable of changing their color for a fairly good concealment. They also wear capes which do the same, but much better.

    In Hyperion, military Power Armor works that way.
  • January 6, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    In the Redwall novel Marlfox, this is the ability that marks the eponymous Marlfoxes.
  • January 6, 2012
    TrustBen
    Eugene Bryant in the Fringe episode "Wallflower" has this ability, since he's been genetically modified to shift his pigment around like an octopus.

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