The mass version of a Cat Scare
, a Bat Scare
is when characters who are exploring an apparently-deserted location -- a cave, vacant house, abandoned barn, etc -- unexpectedly disturb a colony of winged animals which has taken up residence Behind the Black
. As startled by the characters' presence as vice versa, the whole flock explodes into flight, fluttering en masse
from their roosting-place and right at the explorers' faces. Both the characters and the audience get to jump out of their skins
, but the animals don't actually hurt anyone, flying away as quickly as they'd emerged.
Moreso than a Cat Scare
, this trope is often used to emphasize the forsaken and/or unexplored nature of the site itself: while a lone cat won't hesitate to wander around near people, a whole colony of bats (or birds, moths, pterosaurs, whatever) is unlikely to settle for long in a place where humans regularly venture. Sometimes combined with Hand in the Hole
for added tension.
Compare Disturbed Doves
, in which doves take flight to symbolize a dramatic event. Contrast Wallet Moths
, which also indicates a vacancy (of money), but isn't played for scares.
- Generally associated with Batman, and clouds of bats often appear when he enters the Batcave. On at least a few occasions he has weaponised this, using bat-influencing ultrasound to set up a Bat Scare which distracts an opponent.
- In Raiders of the Lost Ark, a flock of birds emerges from the mouth of a statue in the jungle, scaring one of Indy's porters.
- Subverted in Pitch Black, in which the flock of small flying aliens that gets disturbed and flies around frantically actually turns out to be very dangerous.
- How to Train Your Dragon: When the vikings approach the dragons' nest, they go inside expecting to fight hordes of dragons. All the dragons fly out, fly past the vikings, and flee, without a single one attacking. Of course this only leads up to something even worse coming out of the cave.
- In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne develops a fear of bats when he falls into a disused well and disturbs a colony of bats that live there.
- Beauty and the Beast: While lost in the woods, Maurice wakes up a flock of bats, which spook his horse and leads to him being left behind.
- In Skyrim, swarms of bats are scripted to fly at the player character in response to certain triggers, such as when they enter the final chamber of Bleak Falls Barrow.
- It is possible to kick up a handful of bats in Minecraft whenever you start lighting up a cave with torches. Normally they're pretty harmless, unless there are hostile creatures nearby, which will hear the bats and start moving toward them.
- Occasionally used as a barrier in hidden object casual games, in which the flock can be dispersed by sound or bait.