Created By: guyy on March 1, 2012 Last Edited By: guyy on March 10, 2012

Discouraging Concealment

Something important disguised as something unpleasant, or explicitly labeled as uninteresting.

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Do We Have This One?? Seems odd that we don't. If not, Needs More Examples. I think I've seen this lots of times, but I can't think of any other examples off the top of my head.

If a character has something they don't want anyone else messing with, there's many different ways they might hide it. They could explicitly claim it's not what it is, but any decently smart person will see through that. They could put it somewhere no one is likely to look, but someone could stumble upon it anyway.

Or, they might use this trope: leave it in plain sight, but dress it up as something repugnant. Chocolate hidden in a box labeled "Dried Broccoli," for example; or a button that produces free money marked "Begin Math Test," or a questionable DVD in the box for Ishtar. If you're feeling particularly unsubtle, put a sign on it telling people to pay no attention to it.

Similar to Hidden in Plain Sight, but with something added to convince people to stay away (which often backfires).


  • The gigantic robot complex in Gunnerkrigg Court, the entrance to which is labeled "Boring Door." This isn't much of a deterrent, of course.
  • Pokemon lampshades this in one game, where a Team Rocket hideout is disguised as a gift shop, with a sign that says something about "just an ordinary gift shop, nothing to see here..."
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In Joel's last episode, the escape pod was finally found only after many years, because it was hidden in a box labeled "Hamdingers" - which was explained by the characters to be an awful snack food no one would really want to eat.
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • March 1, 2012
    Pokemon lampshades this in one game,where a Team Rocket hideout is disguised as a gift shop...there's a sign that says something about "just an ordinary gift shop,nothing to see here..."
  • March 1, 2012
    I don't really see a difference between this and Hidden In Plain Sight, unless you are talking about the lampshading aspect specifically.
  • March 1, 2012
    I think this is either Hidden In Plain Sight or a subtrope of it.
  • March 1, 2012
    It appears this is a kind of Hidden In Plain Sight where emphasis is put in that the object is of no interest instead of just leaving it like that. It looks tropable to me.
  • March 1, 2012
    The current writeup sounds exactly like a Hidden In Plain Sight with no variation.
  • March 2, 2012
    guyy/OP: If you deleted all references to the object being disguised as something "boring" and concentrated on it being disguised as something undesirable to discourage people from dealing with it, that would distinguish it from Hidden In Plain Sight as it's currently written.

    To make it clear, you could add a paragraph noting how disguising something as being ordinary is part of Hidden In Plain Sight.

    Also, change the name to something like Discouraging Concealment.
  • March 2, 2012
    If this is going with the "labeled as something undesirable" aspect, another example comes from Mystery Science Theater 3000. In Joel's last episode, I bellieve, the escape pod was finally found only after many years, because it was hidden in a box labeled "Hamdingers" - which was explained by the characters to be an awful snack food no one would really want to eat.
  • March 3, 2012
    The episode is Mitchell with Joe Don Baker.
  • March 3, 2012
    • One rpg scenario revolves around the fact that the whole island it takes part on is a sleeping giant There is a powerful magic sword stuck in his bowels and he will awaken if the heroes pull it out. The sword can be accessed by descending a "cave" in the giant's belly button - so to make sure nobody finds it, the locals built a firewood shed on top of it.

    • Also inverted in some Dungeon Crawling scenarios - players tend to try to get in everywhere, so often a door is a better bait than a pile of treasure.
  • March 3, 2012
    It's definitely similar to Hidden In Plain Sight (and I don't know how I missed that page when searching for related things), but with some aspect intentionally designed to make people avoid it, or explicitly tell them to ignore it. So, yes, Discouraging Concealment.

    Most of the Hidden In Plain Sight examples are just things that went unnoticed because they were out in the open, though parts of the description make it sound like this trope for some reason...
  • March 6, 2012
    The Holy Grail in Indiana Jones is an ordinary, worn-down drinking goblet placed alongside an array of shiny, elaborately-decorated ones. The idea is that Jesus was a working-class man and couldn't have afforded anything as grand and expensive as anything else on the shelf.
  • March 7, 2012
    In the film Young Tom Edison young Tom Edison stores all his chemicals in bottles labeled "Poison" with a Skull And Crossbones on them; there's also a numeric code on the bottle, so only he knows which bottles contain what stuff. He does this so nobody will steal any of it. But then he accidentally (non-lethally) poisons someone with one of his concoctions and he becomes a social pariah.
  • March 8, 2012
    So hiding something in a pile of stinky garbage would also count?
  • March 9, 2012
    There's a snack food ad that should fit -- the idea is that if you have a bag of the advertised snack everyone will want some, so you should hide the bag inside a bag of "boring chips". Unfortunately, I can't remember what the snack food is. It's something I don't eat, but that doesn't narrow things down much.
  • March 9, 2012
    Would those sandwich bags printed so that it looks like the food inside has gone moldy count?
  • March 9, 2012
    In Discworld, Lord Vetinari hid the last two copies of a book on camouflage (which he considered dangerous but couldn't bring himself to destroy) by putting them inside a cover of "anecdotes of famous accountants".
  • March 9, 2012
    A TV ad for [some car] shows a beat up junker, which turns out to be a nice new [some car] which has been covered with a full body tarp to make it look like a piece of shit so it won't get stolen.
  • March 9, 2012
    Antigone3 - The snack food you are trying to think of is Chex Mix.
  • March 9, 2012
    In an episode of The Drew Carey Show, Drew makes a video of him and his his girlfriend having sex. He labels the tape as a video of a seminar he gave at work, figuring no one would want to watch that. Until his parents decided it was the perfect chance to find out what Drew's job actually involved...
  • March 10, 2012
    Thanks, Night Nymph!