Created By: SharleeD on March 7, 2013 Last Edited By: XFllo on March 29, 2013
Troped

Bat Scare

A disturbed colony of bats, or similar flocking creatures, is used in a Cat Scare in a deserted locale

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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.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • 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.

Film
  • 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.

Video Games
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • Several versions of the opening credits of Scooby-Doo cartoons include a swarm of bats emerging from a spooky house's attic window or front door.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Seemingly Never-ending Story", the Simpsons get stuck in caves. The obligatory flock of bats appears, and everybody is scared but baby Maggie; being the Badass Adorable that she is, she enthusiastically greets the bats with waving.
    • Bats fly out of the card catalog drawers at the public library.
  • On King of the Hill, Dale plans to collect bat guano to sell, so he, Bill and Boomhauer go into a cave. Inevitably, they run out screaming after waking up the bats.
    Dale: We've awaken a sleeping, pooping giant!
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco and Pacha disturb a flock of bats when trying to save themselves from falling off a cliff.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • March 7, 2013
    GoopsWorld
    In The Emperors New Groove, Kuzco and Pacha disturb a flock of bats when trying to save themselves from falling off a cliff.
  • March 7, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    • How To Train Your Dragon: When the vikings approach the dragon's 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.
  • March 7, 2013
    Astaroth
    • 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.

    • 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.
  • March 8, 2013
    Arivne
    Compare Disturbed Doves, where a flock of birds taking off is symbolic.
  • March 8, 2013
    TonyG
    • 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.
    • On King Of The Hill, Dale plans to collect bat guano to sell, so he, Bill and Boomhauer go into a cave. Inevitably, they run out screaming after waking up the bats.
      Dale: We've awaken a sleeping, pooping giant!
  • March 8, 2013
    XFllo
    Western Animation
    • In The Simpsons episode "The Seemingly Never-ending Story", the Simpsons get stuck in caves. The obligatory flock of bats appears and everybody is scared but baby Maggie, being the Badass Adorable that she is, and she enthusiastically greets the bats with waving.

    There was also one Treehouse Of Horror episode where Marge was a with and she inflicted a flock of bats on villagers for wanting to burn her. The effect was similar, but it was not played as a part of a eerie location. Perhaps is't some kind of Playing With example?
  • March 8, 2013
    0blivionmobile
    • 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.
  • March 8, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^ Conjuring up a flock of bats deliberately, while it might be spooky, really wouldn't be the same thing. Possibly Bat Out Of Hell, but not a Bat Scare.
  • March 8, 2013
    Generality
    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 ultrasound to make bats flock to an enemy and distract them.
  • March 12, 2013
    Terrane
    • Another Simpsons example, the bats in the public library, which fly out of the card catalog drawers.

  • March 17, 2013
    SharleeD
    Any more?
  • March 17, 2013
    XFllo
    I cannot think of more examples myself, but there are quite a few now in your draft. The description is OK, too, so I've added my hat.

    Only one thing, The Simpsons examples have incorrect Example Indentation. It should be like this:

    • SHOW:
      • Example one.
      • Example two.

  • March 18, 2013
    XFllo
    Bumping. Any input?

    @ OP: I've just "zero edited" the article to put it on the first page. No major change.
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