Created By: CaveCatMarch 4, 2012 Last Edited By: LakijaMarch 17, 2014

Crawling Like A Snake

A character crawls on his belly like a snake.

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Trope
Do We Have This One
Some slippery slimy slinky or stealthy characters move in strange manners. This trope describes a character who is able to move their body like a snake to slither along the ground.

Oftentimes, when a character is trying to remain in stealth mode or trying to stage a sneak attack, he will get down to the ground and slither on his belly to avoid being seen by the enemy. It is often good way to sneak past the guards or to sneak up on the Big Bad noiselessly.

Unlike crawling, it is typically more comical. When done with actors or realistic looking characters, expect them to go into Uncanny Valley Mode.

Needs More Examples Keep these examples to characters who slither, not crawl. If the characters uses his or her elbows, forearms, knees, or feet, then it doesn't count. The character must slither.

Examples

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Anime and Manga
  • Jubei Jimushi from Basilisk does this thanks to his scale armor. And the fact that he's limbless.
  • Servine from Pokemon moves like a snake even though it has limbs...because it is a snake with limbs.
  • One Piece. Zeo, a carpet shark fish man, can crawl on the ground like his namesake shark, along with blending in his surroundings like a chameleon.
  • Nishijima moves like a snake frequently in Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple. He's a Non Action Guy and his weird habits have convinced his friends and allies he's actually an alien.

Film Animated

Film Live Action
  • One of the Co Dragons in Raging Phoenix is a master of drunken kung fu. At one point in the fight, he gets knocked down and rather than get up, slithers at his opponent like a snake, looking very creepy.
  • In the Lon Chaney classic West Of Zanzibar, Chaney plays a paraplegic who sometimes gets about by slithering around on the ground much like a snake. It's an unsettling image that helps characterize Chaney's character, who is executing a cruel Best Served Cold revenge plot.

Video Games
  • Fittingly, Solid Snake can move like this in Metal Gear Solid 4. It is different from his usual crawling animation, and is much slower so as to avoid detection.
  • Ganbare Goemon. This is Goemon's crawling animation in the first N64 game.
  • In Prince Of Persia 2, the Prince has to crawl like a snake to go through the wall passages in the ruins levels (which also have snakes as enemies) and duck under the wall slicers.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • There are a variety of dance moves that are ground-based and resemble the movement of the snake or worm.


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Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • March 4, 2012
    Arutema
  • March 5, 2012
    Arivne
    Edit: Top Secret! example removed since it doesn't fit the trope.
  • March 5, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Hmm. This sounds like a visual from the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, with the Grinch moving this way along the floor in one of the Who houses he robs.
  • March 5, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Jubei Jimushi from Basilisk do this thanks to his scale armor. And the fact that he's limbless.
  • March 9, 2012
    CaveCat
  • March 11, 2012
    CaveCat
    Bump again
  • March 18, 2012
    aurora369
    Err... Kinda Every. Soldier. Ever. during WWI and WWII, since this kind of movement is really handy in trench warfare, when someone is spraying bullets over your head.
  • March 18, 2012
    abk0100
    I'm gonna say this isn't a trope.

    Maybe there's a trope about crawling through a battlefield or a trench with dead bodies all around you. Maybe there's a trope about ineffectively trying to crawl on your stomach as a visual gag in comedies. But "Person stays hidden by getting really low to the ground and crawling on their stomach" - I'm not seeing it.
  • March 18, 2012
    CaveCat
    ^That's exactly what this is. Crawling on their stomach through a battlefield, and crawling on their stomach as a visual gag.
  • March 18, 2012
    TBTabby
    This is Goemon's crawling animation in the first N64 game.
  • July 13, 2012
    Cider
    Part of the problem is that a man on his belly crawling will not naturally look like a snake. Snakes can, to a degree, slide along straightly at good speeds and humans can't. If you mean a visual gag where a man is actually slithering like a snake(despite or because of the real life difficulty of doing so), trying to slither even, I could see a trope.

    Servine from Pokemon moves like a snake even though it has limbs...because it is a snake with limbs.
  • March 5, 2014
    DAN004
    • One Piece: Zeo, a carpet shark Fish Man, can crawl on the ground like his namesake shark, along with blending in his surroundings like a chameleon.
  • March 5, 2014
    FerrousFaucet
    There should be a difference in a character who crawls with his arms and legs and a character who crawls like a snake, without using the extremities at all. In Metal Gear Solid and Top Secret!, the characters use their limbs. In How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch actually slithers on the ground like a snake. He keeps his arms down to his sides and his legs straight and his entire body (and legs) curves in an S-shape while he slithers across the ground. Crawling with the arms and legs like a human isn't tropeworthy, I think, but when the Grinch slithers like a snake it is actually the artists way of visualizing that the Grinch is like a serpent i.e. untrustworthy, and therefor it's used a storytelling function and is a trope.

    I am not familiar with all of these examples but I can tell you that the troops in the Real Life military almost certainly do not slither like a snake. No matter how close to the ground they are, even crawling on their bellies, they use their arms and legs to propel themselves. That is crawling like a human, not like a snake.
  • March 5, 2014
    Lakija
    Firstly, I'd like to apologize to all you troopers for this example. I am deeply sorry that you have to witness this example that unfortunately perfectly illustrates this trope. It is... ugh...

  • March 8, 2014
    Arivne
    ^^ I agree that my Top Secret example doesn't fit. Removing it.

  • March 8, 2014
    BOFH
    Anime And Manga
    • In Maison Ikkoku, Yotsuya crawls like a snake through a hole in the wall between two bedrooms.
  • March 8, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Anime and Manga
    • Naruto: Orochimaru, the Big Bad of the first half of the manga, has this going on as a part of his snake motif. He also does other snake-like things, like sheds his skin, and all these traits are played for the Reptiles Are Abhorrent effect.
  • March 8, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Description needs help. The entire second paragraph just seems like it's including standard belly crawling, which is not snake-like in the least.

  • March 8, 2014
    TonyG
  • March 12, 2014
    Prfnoff
    • In Prince Of Persia 2, the Prince has to crawl like a snake to go through the wall passages in the ruins levels (which also have snakes as enemies) and duck under the wall slicers.
  • March 12, 2014
    gallium
    Film
    • In the Lon Chaney classic West Of Zanzibar, Chaney plays a paraplegic who sometimes gets about by slithering around on the ground much like a snake. It's an unsettling image that helps characterize Chaney's character, who is executing a cruel Best Served Cold revenge plot.

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