Created By: starstar on June 27, 2011 Last Edited By: Berrenta on October 5, 2015

The Invisibility Problem

Attempting to interact with invisible objects causes difficulties

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Page Type:
Trope
Do We Have This One? Needs More Examples

Dogbert: How's your prototype invisibility device coming?
Dilbert: *grumbles*
Dogbert: Can't find it, huh?
Dilbert: Shaddap.
Dilbert

Invisibility makes things hard to see. So, even when an invisible person or object is known to be present, it can be very hard for those around them to interact with them.

A sub-trope of Required Secondary Powers applied to Invisibility. Commonly associated with the Not-So-Imaginary Friend. If one person can see through the Invisibility Cloak expect the Stock Phrase "He's over there." If the invisible person in question is a woman, expect a Thanks for the Mammary.


Examples

Film
  • In Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic has difficulty kissing an invisible Susan Storm. He ends up kissing her nose by accident
  • In Megamind, the title character forgets where he parked his invisible car.
  • Memoirs of an Invisible Man had a scene in which the main character had trouble eating with chopsticks because he couldn't see his own fingers.

Literature
  • Harry Potter
    • Hermione complains that Harry's invisibility cloak makes it difficult to hold conversations.
    Hermione: I never know whether I'm looking at you or not.
    • Harry Potter also once mentions the trouble with the "Invisible book of invisibility". (In the schoolbook shop.)
  • Stuart Little (the original book): Stuart's car has a button he can press to make it invisible, but once he does he can't find the button again to de-invisiblize it and accidentally presses the starter button.
  • In Aquilla the invisibility button in the spaceship causes as many problems as it solves.
  • In Dark Lord of Derkholm, Derk creates a breed of invisible cats which all somehow got out of their cage...maybe. He says it's hard to find them because they are, well, invisible.
  • In The Lost Fleet, common admiralty law states that any collision involving a cloaking device is automatically the cloaked vessel's fault, even if the other ship guessed where they were and deliberately rammed them.

Live-Action TV
  • On The X-Files Scully tries to autopsy an invisible boy who had been killed by being struck by a car. She eventually resorts to sprinkling some kind of powder on the corpse so she can see it.
  • Defied by Captain Jack in Doctor Who: "First rule of active camouflage. Park somewhere you'll remember."
  • Attack of the Show had a segment with Olivia Munn as Wonder Woman. She charged out into a field trying to find her invisible plane and ran into it. Hard.

Radio
  • ABC Radio in Australia did a series of sketches called The Adventures of Captain Invisible and the See-Through Kid in which all of the gags revolved around this, such as them both jumping into their car and waiting for the other to start only then to realise that they had both jumped into the back seat.

Tabletop Games
  • 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeons Master's Guide. Advice on dealing with the use of invisibility spells on characters.
    Furthermore, the associates of the invisible party are not able to see him or her any better than foes are, so this can cause problems, too. Now consider a [snip] large area invisibility cast upon a party. Imagine the chaos within the area as characters stub their toes on the heels of the person before them [snip].

Webcomics
  • One arc of Vexxarr involves aliens who built a planetwide cloaking device as a defense against the Lattrox; unfortunately, with it active they can't find anything at all, including the cloaking device's OFF switch.
  • In one comic of The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Wonderella discovers that her Invisiblimp now has an ugly flame design, which completely defeats the purpose. Of course, Wonderella ordered the paint job herself the previous weekend, while she was drunk.

Western Animation
  • This is a Running Gag in Spongebob Squarepants with Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy's Invisible Boatmobile. They tend to forget where they parked it. It was once Lampshaded:
    Barnacle Boy: I told you making the Boatmobile invisible was a stupid idea!
  • A Manatee Gag on Family Guy shows Wonder Woman sitting while flying through the air. Superman (who can fly on his own power) flies up to her.
    Superman: Hey there Wonder Woman. Flying your invisible plane, I see.
    Wonder Woman: Boy, this is awkward. I'm actually in the lavatory of the invisible plane.
    Superman: Oh, you mean right now you're...
    WW: Yeah.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • June 27, 2011
    dalek955
    • The current arc of Vexxarr involves aliens who built a planetwide cloaking device as a defense against the Lattrox; unfortunately, with it active they can't find anything at all, including the cloaking device's OFF switch.
  • June 27, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • On The X Files Scully tries to autopsy an invisible boy who had been killed by being struck by a car. She evenually resorts to sprinkling some kind of powder on the corpse so she can see it.
    • Stuart Little (the original book): Stuart's car has a button he can press to make it invisible, but once he does he can't find the button again to de-invisiblize it and accidentally presses the starter button.
  • June 27, 2011
    Psychobabble6
  • June 27, 2011
    SalFishFin
    Trying to interact with an invisible woman is virtually guaranteed to involve a Thanks For The Mammary.
  • June 27, 2011
    Generality
    There's the old throwaway joke about the invisible whatever that can't be found. Popularly applied to Wonder Woman's invisible jet, for instance.

    • Defied by Captain Jack in Doctor Who: "First rule of active camouflage. Park somewhere you'll remember."
  • June 27, 2011
    MetaFour
    • In one comic of The Non Adventures Of Wonderella, Wonderella discovers that her Invisiblimp now has an ugly flame design, which completely defeats the purpose. Of course, Wonderella ordered the paint job herself the previous weekend, while she was drunk.
  • June 28, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • 1st Edition Dungeons And Dragons Dungeons Master's Guide. Advice on dealing with the use of invisibility spells on characters.
      Furthermore, the associates of the invisible party are not able to see him or her any better than foes are, so this can cause problems, too. Now consider a [snip] large area invisibility cast upon a party. Imagine the chaos within the area as characters stub their toes on the heels of the person before them [snip].
  • June 28, 2011
    dotchan
    A subtrope of Required Secondary Powers, which does discuss the invisibility problem somewhat.
  • July 7, 2011
    TBeholder
    Invisibility Inconveniences?
  • July 7, 2011
    Arivne
    @Generality: Here's an example of the Wonder Woman joke you mentioned.

    Live Action TV
    • Attack of the Show had a segment with Olivia Munn as Wonder Woman. She ran out into a field trying to find her invisible plane and ran into it. Hard.
  • July 7, 2011
    randomsurfer
    A Manatee Gag on Family Guy shows Wonder Woman sitting while flying through the air. Superman (who can fly on his own power) flies up to her.
    Superman: Hey there Wonder Woman. Flying your invisible plane, I see.
    Wonder Woman: Boy, this is awkward. I'm actually in the lavatory of the invisible plane.
    Superman: Oh, you mean right now you're...
    WW: Yeah.
  • July 7, 2011
    Hadashi
    TV and book

    • Aquilla the invisibility button in the spaceship causes as many problems as it solves.
  • July 8, 2011
    foxley
    • In Megamind, the title character forgets where he parked his invisible car.
    • ABC Radio in Australia did a series of sketches called The Adventures of Captain Invisible and the See-Through Kid in which all of the gags revolved around this, such as them both jumping into their car and waiting for the other to start only then to realise that they had both jumped into the back seat.
  • July 8, 2011
    Frank75
    Harry Potter also once mentions the trouble with the "Invisible book of invisibility". (In the schoolbook shop.)
  • July 8, 2011
    GoopsWorld
    Lampshaded in Spongebob Squarepants. Barnacle Boy: I told you making the boatmobile invisible was a stupid idea!
  • July 8, 2011
    Laevatein
    See also Blind Mistake.
  • July 25, 2011
    starstar
    What does this still need before launching?
  • July 25, 2011
    KamenZero
    could use a picture just to make it look better, but otherwise it looks nice.. maybe add some "general" examples in the description, just to make sure if you want.
  • July 25, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    • In Dark Lord Of Derkholm, Derk creates a breed of invisible cats which all somehow got out of their cage...maybe. He says it's hard to find them because they are, well, invisible.
  • July 28, 2011
    Speedball
    I remember the Chevy Chase movie, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, had a scene where he had trouble eating with chopsticks because he couldn't see his own fingers.
  • March 17, 2015
    Gowan
    • In Dragon Bones Ward talks to a person who is invisible to everyone but him. Which is a bit embarassing when his uncle sees (and hears) him.
  • March 17, 2015
    DAN004
    Contrast Invisible Jerkass, supertrope to Invisible Streaker
  • August 31, 2015
    dalek955
    Possible page quote:
    Dogbert: How's your prototype invisibility device coming?
    Dilbert: *grumbles*
    Dogbert: Can't find it, huh?
    Dilbert: Shaddap.
    Dilbert

    • In The Lost Fleet, common admiralty law states that any collision involving a cloaking device is automatically the cloaked vessel's fault, even if the other ship guessed where they were and deliberately rammed them.
  • September 2, 2015
    Arivne
  • September 2, 2015
    randomsurfer
    re Vexxarr: Examples Are Not Recent, or in this case "current." The current arc from 2011 is probably over by now.
  • September 2, 2015
    Berrenta
    Went ahead and added the examples and the quote. Also, Exactly What It Says On The Tin refers to names, which makes the link use incorrect. Changed it to a more appropriate one.
  • September 2, 2015
    StrixObscuro
    Film Live Action
    • Played for horror in Memoirs Of An Invisible Man, where the main character becomes invisible even to himself, making it hard for him to eat or dress himself (because he can't see his hands or fingers) or even sleep (because he can see through his own eyelids.)
  • September 2, 2015
    dalek955
    ^^^Back then I didn't know that Examples Are Not Recent. I'd have fixed it already if it was a page, but I don't like to edit other people's ykttws.
  • October 4, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump
  • October 4, 2015
    KZN02
    See also See The Invisible on ways of detecting an invisible person or object.
  • October 4, 2015
    sgamer82
    • Tooru Hagakure of My Hero Academia is the superhero school's resident invisible girl. However, only her body is invisible, her clothes are never affected. This means, for her powers to be properly useful as a superhero, she has to be an Invisible Streaker and has a clear Achilles' Heel when exposed to the elements. Her superhero costume is, in fact, just a pair of gloves and boots.

    • In the Thrilling Adventure Hour's "Beyond Belief" universe, invisible men are blind. As one explains in the episode "The Bloodsucker Proxy", this is because vision is caused by light being refracted through the eyes and interpreted by the brain. Since light passes right through an invisible man, they have no way to see what's around them.
  • October 4, 2015
    DAN004
    • In another Spongebob episode, he and Patrick bought an invisible spray paint. Problem comes when Patrick suggests that they take off their clothes (while standing besides the street), then the two argue on who's gonna use the spray paint first, and during the struggle one of them accidentally sprayed the paint over their taken-off clothes. Not long after, a bus full of passengers comes across and the driver makes fun of them.
  • October 5, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer: In "Gone" Buffy has been turned invisible. Xander is trying to find where in the room she is and is groping around and ends up grabbing her breasts in the process. Later Invisible Buffy is being menaced by The Trio, who have also turned themselves invisible and claim that she's surrounded - but two of them are off playing a videogame instead of menacing Buffy. "Oh sorry, didn't see her."
  • October 5, 2015
    jedipikachu9009
    Asdfmovies deleted scenes: Narrator: Invisible Billy Adventures! Guy: Hey Billy catch the Frisbee!
    • frisbee cuts through Billy's head*
    Guy: B-Billy?
  • October 5, 2015
    Tuckerscreator
    • In the final Coda game of The Beginners Guide, the player is made to travel through an invisible maze. Hitting any of the invisible walls causes an annoying flash and forces you back to the start. Agreeing that this is an impractical and un-fun challenge, the narrator summons a bridge to let you walk over the maze.
  • October 5, 2015
    DAN004
    Somebody plz add examples...
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=o4m6bcpm8euy4d85wv4cwn74