Created By: Nivena on April 18, 2015 Last Edited By: WolfMattGrey on September 21, 2017
Troped

Noiseless Walker

When someone doesn't make noise when they walk

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Trope
Walking isn't a silent action. It can be a loud, elephant-like sound or graceful steps. But people still make some noise when they walk. Except this character.

Meet the Noiseless Walker. For some reason, their steps are completely silent. They may have ninja-like skills, or something magical in their nature which negates the sound of walking. It may be used to show they're a badass for managing to move around without people noticing them, or to establish an alien or otherwordly nature because the absence of a natural sound often looks off.

Or perhaps they just use artificial means such as a noise-cancelling suit or spell. Such cases are likely to be temporary, unless moving silently is a character's whole shtick.

This trope is one of the most plausible reasons for managing a Stealth Hi/Bye (the other being offscreen teleportation). See With Catlike Tread for when this trope fails.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Hunter Hunter: When teamed with Killua, secondary character Melodynote  (a very sensitive to sound Musical Hunter) asks if Killua is an assasin by trade, explaining that his footsteps are the quietest she's ever heard, barely audible at virtually no distance. The screen shows them jogging along a street flooding in the rain and Killua's steps don't make any splashes. Killua says it's become a habit.
  • Lafitte in One Piece is incredibly stealthy depite wearing tapping shoes. He once infiltrated the high security Marine headquarters in the middle of a meeting, and wasn't noticed until he decided to speak.

Comic Books
  • Played for Laughs in Asterix the Gaul with Cleopatra. She is always accompanied by a huge procession of servants and slaves, and carried from place to place on a golden throne, yet somehow she consistently manages to sneak up on people.

Fanfiction
  • In Beauty Will Tear Us Apart, Ditzy Doo can walk silently, by employing magic and paper bags to channel the sounds of her hooves into another dimension.

Literature
  • Artemis Fowl: While moving through an underground fairy base, Butler is described as making only slightly more noise than a panther. Note that Butler is also described as a seven-foot-tall Husky Russkie with muscles like a Michelangelo statue.
  • In The Belgariad, this is Hand Waved with a brief mention that Garion learns the trick of walking soundlessly through a forest full of twigs and leaf litter by watching his Loveable Rogue friend Silk.
  • In Discworld, members of the Igor clan, the lab-technicians to mad Marsters and eager surgeons of last resort, have a nasty ability to move right behind you without you even noticing, and time this to just the moment the Marster summons them.
  • Hobbits in the titular book and The Lord of the Rings pride themselves on being able to walk very quietly when they want to. Bilbo once sneaked up on trolls to steal a purse, and would have succeeded if the purse didn't squeak.
  • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the duffers warn Lucy that the magician who made them invisible walks about noiselessly.

Live Action Television
  • Kung Fu: Shaolin Priests are trained to walk silently.
    Master Kan: Your tread must be light and sure, as though your path were upon rice paper. It is said, a Shaolin priest can walk through walls. Looked for...he can not be seen. Listened for ... he can not be heard. Touched ... can not be felt. This rice paper is the test. Fragile as the wings of the dragon fly, clinging as the cocoon of the silk worm. When you can walk its length and leave no trace, you will have learned.
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Merv Griffin Show" contains a subplot about Elaine's new coworker constantly sidling up to her and sidling up behind her taking credit for work she does, among other things, to which she and the others label him "The Sidler". She eventually fixes the problem by giving him a pack of Tic-Tacs to carry around with him, causing him to make a rattling sound when he walks through the office.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons justifies this for incorporeal creatures, who, lacking physical bodies, move in complete silence except when they choose to make noise.
    • Thieves could do this using the Move Silently skill (incorporated into the rogues' Sneak skill in later editions). Boots of Elvenkind also allow this.

Toys
  • BIONICLE:
    • One of the Dark Hunters, Silence, has the natural ability to create an energy field around himself that completely negates sound, allowing him to move silently. No wonder he was specialized in abducting anyone who could be a problem to the Dark Hunters.
    • The Kanohi Volitak (Mask of Stealth) has this effect on its user, along with making them blend with the background.

Video Games
  • The Wrench Lurker tonic in Bioshock completely silences your footsteps, no matter whether you're walking, crouching or running full tilt. It also increases the wrench's damage to unaware targets.
  • Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided can, as he grows accustomed to his augmentations, enable a noise-cancelling shock-absorbing ferrofluid liquid on demand while walking and running. According to the in-game advertisement, this means he, while pelting forward at full sprint, makes no more sound than 'A gentle breeze'. In terms of game mechanics, however, it completely nullifies the sound generated by these actions.
  • The Muffle spell from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim reduces or completely silences the sound of your footsteps. Joining the Dark Brotherhood gets you a pair of boots enchanted with a permanent Muffle effect.
  • In Suikoden II, you can have Richmond investigate Pesmerga. He says he finds it "a little spooky" that he can move around quietly with all that armor.

Real Life
  • Cats have padded paws that make their steps practically soundless. Many cat owners have experienced their cat doing a Stealth Hi/Bye.

Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • May 6, 2015
    AgProv
    In the Discworld, members of the Igor clan, the lab-technicians to mad Marsters and eager surgeons of last resort, have a nasty ability to move right behind you without you even noticing, and time this to just the moment the Marster summons them.
  • May 6, 2015
    Arivne
  • May 6, 2015
    Antigone3
    Seconding Silent Walker.
  • May 6, 2015
    SetsunasaNiWa
    Silent Step. Silent Walker could be someone who simply does not talk.

    • Hunter X Hunter: When teamed with Killua, secondary character Melodynote  (a very sensitive to sound Musical Hunter) asks if Killua is an assasin by trade, explaining that his footsteps are the quietest she's ever heard, barely audible at virtually no distance. The screen shows them jogging along a street flooding in the rain and Killua's steps don't make any splashes. Killua says it's become a habit.
  • May 6, 2015
    HeroGal2347
    Not necessarily an impressiveness thing.

    In The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, the duffers warn Lucy that the magician who made them invisible walks about noiselessly.
  • May 6, 2015
    crazysamaritan
    The Igor thing is mentioned in reference to their Stealth Hi Bye.

    Killua's silent footsteps is part of how Melody knows he is an assassin.

    The duffer's magician isn't really silent, the duffers are just never quieter than a dull roar, so they can't hear him.

    Quiet footsteps probably isn't a trope by itself, only in conjunction with a narrative.
  • May 6, 2015
    SetsunasaNiWa
    ^ Checked and tweaked the HxH example
  • May 6, 2015
    LadyEvil
    Real Life examples: Cats have padded paws that make their steps practically soundless. Many cat owners have experienced their cat doing the Stealth Hi Bye. If flying counts, owls make absolutely no sound while flying.
  • If we didn't have the trope-namer prohibition, I'd suggest The Sidler, because the only example of this I can think of is from the Seinfeld episode "The Merv Griffin Show", which contained a subplot about Elaine's new coworker constantly sidling up to her and sidling up behind her taking credit for work she does, among other things, to which she and the others label him "The Sidler". She eventually fixes the problem by giving him a pack of Tic-Tacs to carry around with him, causing him to make a rattling sound when he walks through the office.
  • May 7, 2015
    MetaFour
    • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic Beauty Will Tear Us Apart, Ditzy Doo can walk silently, by employing magic and paper bags to channel the sounds of her hooves into another dimension.
  • May 8, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Kung Fu: Shaolin Priests are trained to walk silently.
    Master Kan: Your tread must be light and sure, as though your path were upon rice paper. It is said, a Shaolin priest can walk through walls. Looked for...he can not be seen. Listened for ... he can not be heard. Touched ... can not be felt. This rice paper is the test. Fragile as the wings of the dragon fly, clinging as the cocoon of the silk worm. When you can walk its length and leave no trace, you will have learned.
  • May 11, 2015
    KTera
  • May 11, 2015
    Tiiba2
    See With Catlike Tread, but don't confuse the two.
  • September 18, 2017
    WolfMattGrey
    Bumping and grabbing.

    The description says "Usually done to prove how badass someone is" but I don't think this should be the only reason for this trope to occur. It can be used to show a character is strange/alien/otherwordly because they don't make any noise when walking, or it can show their inherent magic. I remember Hobbits being described as noiseless walkers in the Lord of the Rings. I'll have to find the exact example.

    Anyway, adding the few examples we got here (we need more) and rewriting the description. I think a better name would be Noiseless Walker. Any thoughts?
  • September 18, 2017
    PistolsAtDawn
    • Played For Laughs in Asterix The Gaul with Cleopatra. She is always accompanied by a huge procession of servants and slaves, and carried from place to place on a golden throne, yet somehow she consistently manages to sneak up on people.
  • September 18, 2017
    Folamh3
    Not quite the same thing, but in Double Indemnity, after committing a murder, Neff reports that he can no longer hear his own footsteps. This is assumedly symptomatic of his Sanity Slippage owing to his sense of guilt.
  • September 18, 2017
    Chabal2
    Artemis Fowl: While moving through an underground fairy base, Butler is described as making only slightly more noise than a panther. Note that Butler is also described as a seven-foot-tall Husky Russkie with muscles like a Michelangelo statue.

  • September 18, 2017
    Snowy66
    Any reason why this isn't called Silent Walker? No Noise Walker just sounds weird.
  • September 19, 2017
    WolfMattGrey
    Not sure why the original poster chose this. I find it weird too. Silent Walker is good, but as someone said above, it could just mean the walker doesn't speak. So I'm thinking of changing it to Noiseless Walker.

    @Folamh3: seems more like a symptom of Sanity Slippage indeed. Especially if it's never explicitly confirmed he somehow unlocked the power of walking silently after killing someone.
  • September 19, 2017
    intastiel
    Literature
    • In The Belgariad, this is Hand Waved with a brief mention that Garion learns the trick of walking soundlessly through a forest full of twigs and leaf litter by watching his Loveable Rogue friend Silk.

    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons justifies this for incorporeal creatures, who, lacking physical bodies, move in complete silence except when they choose to make noise.
  • September 19, 2017
    Koveras
    Another title idea: Zero Noise Walker? Because I like the word "zero".
  • September 19, 2017
    Theharbo
    Adam Jensen from Deus Ex Human Revolution and Deus Ex Mankind Divided can, as he grows accustomed to his augmentations, enable a noise-cancelling shock-absorbing ferrofluid liquid on demand while walking and running. According to the in-game advertisement, this means he, while pelting forward at full sprint, makes no more sound than 'A gentle breeze'. In terms of game mechanics, however, it completely nullifies the sound generated by these actions.
  • September 19, 2017
    WolfMattGrey
    ^^That's a nice title, and I would probably use it, if it wasn't for the fact that it implies "absolutely noiseless examples only". As you can see there are a few examples described as "barely audible" or "practically soundless". I allow them because for our human ears practically soundless and no sound whatsoever are nearly the same thing (air molecules probably make noise, but can you hear it?) and making a separate trope for the former would be splitting hairs. Thanks for the suggestion, though!

    That said, I'd still rather have more "no sound whatsoever" examples than "almost noiseless" ones. Please keep this in mind when adding examples, everyone. Ideally, at least 3/4 of the examples should fit the title.
  • September 19, 2017
    BKelly95
    Video Games
    • In Suikoden 2, you can have Richmond investigate Pesmerga. He says he finds it "a little spooky" that he can move around quietly with all that armor.
  • September 19, 2017
    Exxolon
    In Dungeons And Dragons, thieves could do this using the "move silently" skill (incorporated into the rogues' "sneak" skill in later editions), magical "boots of elvenkind" also allow this. A low level cleric spell silences all noise within 15 feet of the person/object it was cast on also.
  • September 20, 2017
    REV6Pilot
    • The Wrench Lurker tonic in Bioshock completely silences your footsteps, no matter whether you're walking, crouching or running full tilt. It also increases the wrench's damage to unaware targets.
  • September 21, 2017
    WolfMattGrey
    Launching it. Thanks for the help, everyone. Feel free to add more examples to the finished page.
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