Created By: LokIago on January 29, 2013 Last Edited By: LokIago on March 24, 2013
Troped

Ghostly Glide

If it glides instead of walks, you should get VERY nervous.

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Trope

The simplest trick in horror is to make something natural act in a way that isn't. Ghosts can usually fly, walk through walls, disappear, and so on. But one need not invoke the whole suite of supernatural effects to achieve unsettling ends. Sometimes, a more subtle approach can achieve truly disquieting effects. Ghostly Glide is when a character gets around by less than ambulatory means. The trope is usually invoked in one of two ways. Sometimes, fluid movement gives a character the appearance of floating, meant to highlight the character's grace and beauty. More often, however, it creates an unsettling effect. In most cases, the floating is clearly a sign of supernatural influence.

Compare Power Floats, which is when the floating is done as a show of power, rather than to disquiet, though the two can overlap. A good rule of thumb is if it looks like the director put the character on a skateboard and then pulled the character across the screen, that's a Ghostly Glide. If a menacing character hangs in midair, that's Power Floats.

Examples

Anime
  • The Slayers: Copy Rezo begins exhibiting eerie symptoms, including this trope. Later melds with Power Floats when its revealed he merged himself with Zanaffar's spirit.

Film
  • The Blues Brothers. At the end of the scene with the "Penguin" (Sister Mary Stigmata) and Jake and Elwood Blues, she moved back through an open door into a room as if she were floating on air. Along with the other magical effects she demonstrated earlier in the scene, this was the crowning moment of creepiness.
  • Death Becomes Her: Creepy nuns float down the hallway past Bruce Willis leading to the morgue.
  • Nosferatu: Count Orlock rises slowly and mystically from his coffin without any visible means of doing so.
  • In Dracula Dead and Loving It, Dracula's wives do this. Both lampshaded and subverted when he tells them to knock it off, and the women stomp off instead.
  • Beetlejuice: A very subtle example. The Maitlands actually do glide while wearing sheets and "pretending" to be ghosts. However, when Lydia begins taking pictures of them, they begin to show more normal signs of movement.
    • A more direct example comes at the climax when Lydia, suddenly garbed in her red wedding dress, slieds effortlessly to Bettlejuice's side. Though this is not of her own accord.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: Lo Pan floats like this when he's in his ghost form.

Live-Action TV
  • Carnivāle: During one of Brother Justin's visions, the ghosts of children float into, then out of, view.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Gentlemen in the episode "Hush" hovered inches off the ground rather than walking, adding to their creepiness.
  • Babylon 5, Kosh (and other Vorlons in contact with younger races) wore an "encounter suit" to conceal his true form, and moved in a silent, gliding motion. He could have moved pretty much any way he wanted to in his true form (even through bulkheads), but chose to present himself in this way. He could seem to suddenly appear to a character due to this silent movement--not necessarily to scare but to make a dramatic impression.

Professional Wrestling
  • The Undertaker is said to have this power as part of his gimmick, and in at least one Wrestlemania event "floated" to the ring via a moving platform concealed under fog.
  • Dustin Rhoades floated to the ring via invisible wires in his one and only appearance as "Seven" in WCW, after which he cut a Worked Shoot promo berating the gimmick. A rare "visible feet" occurrence of the trope in a live action setting.

Real Life
  • The page quote from Nuns Are Spooky
    "They have the skirts too of course, so many skirts and veils that you could never hear or see their feet. "Hover Nuns" we used to call them. [...] They're damn spooky."

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer 40k: Necron Monoliths, like most other Necron vehicles, hover as a means of movement. Unlike most other vehicles, however, the Monolith's slow, ponderous approach is infinitely more eerie and menacing.

Video Games
  • Twilight Princess: The Death Sword hovers in the air until it crashes down on you. Then floats back up and heads slowly for you. Only when you use the wolf's senses do you see the robed ghost holding it up.

Western Animation
  • The Venture Bros.: The sinister cadre known as The Silent Partners are shown not only gliding smoothly from place to place, but also have the habit of entering or leaving a room by levitating out of/ in to the floor.
Community Feedback Replies: 38
  • January 29, 2013
    JonnyB
    The Gentlemen in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode, "Hush", hovered inches off the ground rather than walking, adding to their creepiness.
  • January 29, 2013
    Koveras
  • January 30, 2013
    Chabal2
    • Necron Wraiths in Warhammer 40 K. Of course, they have no legs, but their hovering is a part of their general creepiness (that, and they can phase through walls). The Necron Monolith also floats and moves very slowly, creating the same effect.
    • Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) once faces off against three rogue psykers, one of which is gliding a foot off the ground while lightning shoots from his fingers.
    • The Death Sword of Twilight Princess hovers in the air until it crashes down on you. Then floats back up and heads slowly for you. Only when you use the wolf's senses do you see the robed ghost holding it up.

  • January 31, 2013
    aurora369
    Related to Power Floats?
  • January 31, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    In Devil Survivor 2, Al Saiduq moves by floating when he joins your party.
  • January 31, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • The Blues Brothers. At the end of the scene with the "Penguin" (Sister Mary Stigmata) and Jake and Elwood Blues, she moved back through an open door into a room as if she were floating on air. Along with the other magical effects she demonstrated earlier in the scene, this was the crowning moment of creepiness.
  • January 31, 2013
    LokIago
    No, this trope specifically caters to a different class of flight than Power Floats. That sort of floating is intimidating, not just creepy. Al Saiduq, and Ignus are all examples of Power Floats. Necron Wraiths are creepy and hover, but the hovering in those circumstances is their normal means of movement. As per the trope description, this when something that SHOULDN'T hover does. The Monoliths count because they're buildings. Floating buildings = creepy.
  • February 1, 2013
    ShadowKaiser
    Film
  • February 6, 2013
    LokIago
    Does this need any more examples? I feel like this is a pretty solid trope, but I'm not seeing much feedback. Anybody care to chime in?
  • February 14, 2013
    aurora369
    Combined with Power Floats with Copy Rezo from The Slayers. After he merged himself with Zanaffar's spirit, he started this behaviour to showcase his unnaturalness.
  • February 15, 2013
    Quag15
    It's a solid trope indeed, but if it had a few more examples, that would be great.
  • February 15, 2013
    GuesssWho
    Would Hover Creep be a good name?
  • February 15, 2013
    LokIago
    Its about the same, but loses the pun.
  • February 15, 2013
    LokIago
    I just thought of exorcism movies. But since I don't usually watch that genre, folks more familiar with them could be so kind as to list them for me.
  • February 19, 2013
    GuesssWho
    ^^ It's a rhyme, not a pun. And a pretty forced one, at that.
  • February 19, 2013
    LokIago
    "How very creepy". If it was supposed to be a rhyme, I could do a hell of a lot better than that.
  • February 20, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    ...it's a pretty forced pun, too.
  • February 21, 2013
    XFllo
    • I did not get the pun at all, but then again, I'm not a native speaker. Oh well.
    • I like the picture, only maybe I'd adjust it a bit. Perhaps resizing or choosing a smaller part of it would be better.
    • I think it's standard practice to list Real Life section with examples at the end of the page. It's the exception form the alphabetized order because fiction is more important here. (Hope I'm right on this one, I actually never saw the official guidelines, but somebody mentioned it once and it made sense to me.)
    • I think there are many examples in The X Files. I'm not sure they absolutely fit though, so feel free to adjust them or not add them at all.

    Live Action TV
    • The X Files:
      • In many Myth Arc episodes, Agent Mulder's sister Samantha is seen floating in the air and pulled out of the room by strange light. It's a part of her alien abduction scenario. Or at least that's how Mulder remembers it, though it might have been inserted into his mind by hypnosis.
      • "Fallen Angel": Mulder sees Max Fennig, a multiple alien abductee, caught in a light and his feet do not touch the ground.
      • "Excelsis Dei": An unseen force throws a nurse onto a bed. Poor woman, she then gets raped by said invisible entity. Viewers are later shown some shadowy figures, looking like ghosts, representing minds of old people from the nursing home.
      • In "Fearful Symmetry", aliens keep abducting animals from a local zoo. There is an elephant moving at incredible speed, though it was also turned invisible for some of the time. The same thing happens with a tiger and a gorilla.
      • "Tempus Fugit"/"Max" two-parter featured another alien abduction. Max Fennig literally levitated out of the plane.
      • "Bad Blood": Ronny, a teen-aged vampire killer, makes one huge leap across Scully's motel room. It's a humorous Rashomon Style episode, and Mulder and Scully, trying to adjust their reports, describe it as such:
        Scully: And then he sort of flew at me like a flying squirrel?
        Mulder: Well, I don't think I'll use the phrase "flying squirrel" when I talk to Skinner, but yeah, that's what happened.
      • "Rush" combines levitating above the ground with incredibly fast spinning for a creep out effect. A group of teenagers were using a secret cave with light beam as a source for their super-speed-time-perception-altering superpower.
      • "Requiem": Similar effect of being lifted up and spinning one's body impossibly fast is used in season 7 finale, but this time it involves alien abductions.

  • February 21, 2013
    XFllo
    Film:

    • Beetlejuice:
      • Lydia realizes that main characters are ghosts when she takes a picture of them, but they have no legs in that photo.
      • At the final scene, Lydia is lifted up as a reward so that she could enjoy herself. Because partying while levitating with a band of dead football players is just that cool.

    edit:
  • February 21, 2013
    Generality
    ^ The first isn't an example of hovering (the ghosts legs are invisible to the camera), and the second isn't creepy.

    • In Diablo III, the witch Maghda hovers with her limbs moving in a manner suggestive of someone treading water.
    • In Chrono Trigger, Magus, decoy Big Bad, floats continuously including when he's in the party.
  • February 21, 2013
    LokIago
    ^Both of those examples are Power Floats. ^^The first example is off because only the photo belies it. The second, however, is fine, just Played For Laughs. ^^^I'll go through and pick out the appropriate examples from X Files.

    And if I'm the only one who likes the name, I can either change it to Ho-Very Creepy, or I can field other suggestions. But I've alreadly launched two tropes where I got committeed into bland as hell names (Hair Trigger Sound Effect and Strangely Arousing), so if someone wants to do better, at least make it clever.
  • February 21, 2013
    XFllo
    It's been a long time since I saw Beetlejuice, so I guess I remember it slightly twisted. I really thought some floating was involved in the photo taking scene.

    The pun kind of grew on me. Only I'd explain it in the description, even though you Dont Explain The Joke. Urine Trouble does it, and it works. ;-)
  • February 21, 2013
    LokIago
    Actually, I'm starting to think general floating/levitation is a trope unto itself. When I first pitched this YKTTW, I was specifically aiming at moments of eerie gliding without the appearance of walking. The Floating Possessed may deserve its own YKTTW.
  • February 21, 2013
    DRCEQ
    I don't like the name at all.

    I'd like to suggest Creepy Levitation as a less... prostitute-themed name.
  • February 21, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    Yes. Or even just Creepy Hovering.
  • February 23, 2013
    XFllo
    Reading once again the description and the sponsor's comments, considering that Creepy Levitation might be another separate trope, I think probably only one of The X Files examples I suggested counts: the one from episode "Bad Blood" which had the vampire's mighty jump. Vampires' rising is specifically mentioned in the description. However, it's also played for laughs more than anything.

    The description should be more precise as far as the definition is concerned. It somehow feels a bit vague. It probably has much to do with a difference of being possessed by evil spirits versus being a ghost/ vampire /what have you yourself. Hope that makes sense.

    Also, some of the examples have Zero Context which should be provided to follow the wiki guidelines.
  • February 23, 2013
    Specialist290
    Title suggestion: Hovering Creep. The rhyme isn't essential to this, and it isn't an intuitive way to parse the phrase.
  • February 27, 2013
    LokIago
    OK,officially removing all levitation examples. Also changing name to "Gliding Stride" for now. Again, if we're discussing new names, I'm looking for something with SOME amount of clever to it, not just a boring, utilitarian name. PLEASE keep that in mind before further suggestions.
  • March 1, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    Freaky Floating?

    Just to make sure, this trope is about when characters float to show creepiness, right? The Laconic isn't very clear.

    • The Undead Banshees in Warcraft III is floating since they don't have any legs. They're not actually flying units, though.
  • March 1, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    ^^ "If it's crazy but it works, it isn't crazy. If it's clever but it doesn't work, it isn't clever." :P

    The current name is much better, but it does kind of suggest, you know, movement of the legs propelling the subject across the floor.
  • March 2, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    A non-horror example (so not sure it fits, although I suspect it was done for effect):

    Live-Action TV

    In Babylon 5, Kosh (and other Vorlons in contact with younger races) wore an "encounter suit" to conceal his true form, and moved in a silent, gliding motion. He could have moved pretty much any way he wanted to in his true form (even through bulkheads), but chose to present himself in this way. He could seem to suddenly appear to a character due to this silent movement--not necessarily to scare but to make a dramatic impression.
  • March 4, 2013
    XFllo
    Agree with the comment that Laconic is very vague and non-descriptive.
  • March 5, 2013
    hevendor717
    Not sure if this counts, but in Super Smash Brothers Melee and Brawl, Peach can do her horizontal float directly off the ground with the proper button presses. It looks pretty unusual.
  • March 19, 2013
    dalek955
    • Quentas the psion from Anti Heroes uses telekinesis to float everywhere, never deigning to use his actual legs.
      Kaal: I dunno [who it is]...but he's floating.
      Aldran: He's floa--Oh crap! Run!
      Kaal: Why are we running from one guy?
      Aldran: No, this isn't just one guy...it's Quentas!
  • March 19, 2013
    LokIago
    ^ Power Floats territory.
  • March 19, 2013
    JonnyB
    There's probably going to be some crossover with Power Floats.

    In Big Trouble In Little China, Lo Pan floats like this when he's in his ghost form (i.e. not his "frail old man" form).
  • March 22, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
  • March 22, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Dustin Rhoades floated to the ring via invisible wires in his one and only appearance as "Seven" in WCW, after which he cut a Worked Shoot promo berating the gimmick.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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