Created By: Imoo57 on January 20, 2013 Last Edited By: Imoo57 on September 23, 2016

Stealth Situation

When brute force just won't cut it.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A character decides that the best alternative to charging at an obstacle head on like a bull in a china shop is to put on some dark colored clothes or not change their appearance at all and sneak their way around it instead.

This is strictly a situational trope and mostly applies to characters who aren't normally stealthy.

For the video game equivalent see Stealth-Based Mission.

Compare Blatant Burglar, Classy Cat-Burglar, Ninja, Spy Catsuit, Stealth-Based Game, Stealth Clothes. Contrast: With Catlike Tread, More Dakka


Examples

Anime & Manga

Comic Books
  • Hack/Slash. Cassie dons a ski mask to eavesdrop on two police officers in "The Revenge of Evil Ernie", She does so again with Vlad (Vlad is dressed normally) to inspect a morgue in "Tub Club".
  • X-Men. Storm used to engage in these and Wolverine as well at times. You'll rarely see either do so since Storm grew up and Wolverine typically prefers his usual approach.

Film Live Action
  • Thor: The Dark World. Thor's usual method is of solving problems is usually yelling or hitting stuff. But when he realises he needs to get both Jane and the Aether out of Asgard he decides that that won't work and therefore to sneak out instead. Loki even comments on it:
    Loki: This is so unlike you, brother! Very clandestine... Are you sure you wouldn't rather punch your way out?
    Thor: If you keep talking I just might.

Literature
  • Ciaphas Cain series. Inquisitor Amberley Veil holds this view, using disguise and subterfuge at every opportunity, since she finds this preferable to "letting the Emperor's enemies know they're coming by charging around like a grox in a porcelain shop". That she has a tendency to go as aristocratic parasites or a Glamorous Wartime Singer may have something to do with it.
  • Animorphs. One book has Rachel get split into a whiny coward and a sociopathic berserker. When the two find themselves trapped, the crazy one finally admits she can't force her way out, and listens to the whiny one's plan.

Live-Action TV
  • Dexter. Dexter does this whenever he searches his would-be victim's house for evidence of their crimes and that they really are the "monsters" he thought them to be.
  • Kenan & Kel. Played for Laughs in "Diamonds Are For Roger". Kenan asks Kel to get gear for a jewelery store break-in. Kel then brings back scuba suits much to Kenan's chargrin but they end up using them anyway.
  • True Detective. In "After You've Gone" Rust is seen in a flashback sequence breaking into Billy Lee Tuttle's mansion dressed in black and a ski mask.

Western Animation
  • All Grown Up!
    • In "The Finster Who Stole Christmas", Tommy, Chucky, Dil, Phil and Lil dress in Blatant Burglar outfits with ski masks to steal the tree that Chucky accidentally stole from Chucky's own house without alerting his father to return it.
    • Angelica and Chucky dress in dark garb covering all but their faces when they break into Tommy's house to steal embarrassing photos of Kimi in "Petition This!".
  • As Told by Ginger In the first episode Ginger, Dodie, Macie and Darren dress in Blatant Burglar outfits to steal the "ENTER" sign from the bank after Ginger is told by Miranda that it would be the perfect gift for Courtney's birthday.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender. Zuko whenever he's in his Blue Spirit alter ego. Katara and Zuko in "The Southern Raiders". Katara and Aang in "The Painted Lady". - ZCE
  • The Batman. Barbara Gordon and Pamela Isley do this at a plant testing facility in "Batgirl Begins Part 1".
  • Ben 10. Gwen sneaks into Hex's house to steal a spellbook twice in her Lucky Girl costume. Once in the Alien Force episode "Time Heals" and again in the Ultimate Alien episode "Enemy of My Frenemy."
  • Futurama episode "A Head In The Polls". In a Shout-Out to the Watergate scandal, Leela and Fry dress in Blatant Burglar outfits to steal back Bender's body from President Nixon. They bring Bender's head with them but for obvious reasons he doesn't dress like them barring a cap.
  • Hey Arnold! In the episode "Field Trip" Arnold and his Grandmother dress in Blatant Burglar clothes to kidnap/rescue a turtle from a zoo.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures
    • In "Enter The Viper" Jackie, Viper and Jade break into a museum, though Viper does it to steal the Pink Puma diamond, Jackie does it to steal the Snake Talisman and Jade does it just to tag along with Jackie. Curiously, Jackie doesn't bother to cover his face and Jade doesn't even bother to change clothes while Viper does. Amusingly Finn, Ratso and Chow show up later after Jackie's arrest to steal the Snake Talisman only to find the museum was already broken into.
    • In "The Rock" Jade sneaks into the Section 13 vault to steal the talismans intending to trade them to The Enforcers for the antidote to Jackie's stone transformation.
    • Jade again in "Animal Crackers" when she sneaks the Talisman Animals out of Sector 13 to prove to her classmates her adventures with Jackie really occurred at a school fair.
  • Jacob Two-Two. This happens a lot in this show.
    • Jacob, Buford and Renée in "The Staffroom of Doom" All three sneak into the staffroom to steal back confiscated items (Jacob's older brother's T-Shirt and Renae's skateboard. Buford tags along with Jacob and Renae gets there first.) Renae is the only one who wears a ski mask which Jacob removes when he finds her.
    • Jacob, Buford, Noah and Emma in "The Daily Crown" They break into the local newspaper printing factory to find out why the whole town was captivated by the paper. Hypnotic ink was involved.
    • The Library Ninjas in "The Mystery Of Malty Macguffin" The two school Librarians (Who also happen to be ninjas) sneak into Jacob's room to steal an overdue book.
    • Noah and Emma in "The Doubtful Double Agent"
    • The Library Ninjas and Jacob himself in "The Bookworm Brouhaha"
    • Jacob, Buford and Renée in "The Puzzling Portable" - ZCE
  • Samurai Jack
    • In an episode where Jack and the Scotsman were on a mission to rescue the latter's wife, Jack determined that they wouldn't be able to fight their way through the enemy's defenses and thus had to sneak in undetected to get a chance to free the Scotsman's wife. They do manage to get inside the enemy fortress, but things then go awry once they free the Scotsman's furious wife, but even then the three of them manage to destroy all of the robotic guards.
    • Another example in "Jack and the Labyrinth". In fact the first half of the whole episode. Jack is dressed in full Ninja garb and another character simply known as "The Thief" in contrast is a Highly Visible Ninja with spy gadgets in contrast to Jack's sword, bow and arrow and infiltration stealth. The Thief mocks Jack for this.
  • The Simpsons
    • Bart wears a ninja outfit to sneak out of his house and saw off the head of the Jebbediah statue. Bart and Lisa in "Apocalypse Cow" try to steal back Bart's marriage proposal cow for Cletus.
    • Marge Simpson and her new friends dress in Blatant Burglar outfits in "Last of the Red Hat Mamas." As they break into Burns's mansion to steal one million dollars after he renges on his promise to donate to a children's hospital.
    • Lisa tails Milhouse and one of his one off love interests Taffy wearing camouflage in "Homer Scissorhands". Despite wearing noticeable pink boots.
    • An opening spoof featured the family breaking into a museum in Blatant Burglar outfits. They then disguise themselves as janitors, mummies, camouflage themselves on a painting and then switch back to their normal outfits. To sit on their couch after fitting through lasers.
    • In "Bart of Darkness" Bart enlists Lisa to sneak into Flanders's house after he thinks he murdered Maude.
    • In "Peeping Mom". Bart dresses in his usual ninja outfit to sneak out of the house, followed by Marge tailing him dressed in a black hoodie, dark grey pants and black shoes. Finally Maggie shows up with a dark grey hooded coat with a black ski hat. Played for Laughs when a pink apron falls out from underneath Marge's hoodie which she throws away and Maggie equips her pacifier with a silencer.
  • X-Men: Evolution. Wolverine sneaks into the institute in a ninja outfit to test the security system.
  • What's New, Scooby-Doo?. The two corporate spies and Trudy Lowe in "Recipe For Disaster". - ZCE
  • Young Justice Inverted. Officially the purpose of the Team is to serve as a covert ops group, for when adult members of the Justice League would bring too much attention to the scene. While many of their missions start off as stealth, sooner or later, things start exploding.

Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • January 21, 2013
    Arivne
    With all of those tropes, this might work better as an index.
  • January 21, 2013
    Imoo57
    True.
  • January 21, 2013
    lexicon
    There is The Sneaky Guy, Sneaky Departure, Stealth Hi Bye, and Technicolor Ninjas, but currently no sneaky or stealth index.

  • January 22, 2013
    randomsurfer
    ^There probably is, it's just too sneaky to be found.
  • January 22, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ You, sir, deserve a MOW.

    Back on topic: There is another YKTTW called Optional Stealth for the video game-specific equivalent to this.
  • January 22, 2013
    lexicon
    Is this going to be changed into an index or should I start one myself? (By the way, what does MOW mean?)
  • January 22, 2013
    Koveras
  • July 19, 2014
    KTera
    ...*slow clap*

    But seriously, we already have Stealth Tropes.
  • July 19, 2014
    Imoo57
    ^ Yeah, just thought this was in a more situational sense.
  • July 19, 2014
    DAN004
    Maybe this can be called Stealth Situation, as in the examples, the characters aren't normally known for being stealthy.
  • July 19, 2014
    Imoo57
    " Good idea.
  • July 21, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Examples section formatting
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Blue Linked media section title(s).
      • Deleted unnecessary blank line(s).
    • Corrected improper Example Indentation in the All Grown Up example.
    • Corrected spelling (espescially, accidentaly, embarrasing, scanda, Kattara).
    • Capitalized (water gate).
    • Punctuation: added spaces after commas.
  • September 1, 2014
    Koveras
    • A rather jarring example happens in Jedi Knight II Jedi Outcast: When Kyle finds himself stranded inside an Imperial base, he decides that it's time for stealth, and the mission objectives demand that you make your way through the level without being spotted (otherwise you get a Game Over). That Kyle is, at that point, a badass Jedi with a lightsaber and enough Force powers to kill the entire garrison before they can sound the alarms is never brought up.
  • September 1, 2014
    DAN004
  • September 17, 2014
    JesseMB27
    Western Animation
    • Samurai Jack: In an episode where Jack and the Scotsman were on a mission to rescue the latter's wife, Jack determined that they wouldn't be able to fight their way through the enemy's defenses and thus had to sneak in undetected to get a chance to free the Scotsman's wife. They do manage to get inside the enemy fortress, but things then go awry once they free the Scotsman's furious wife, but even then the three of them manage to destroy all of the robotic guards.
  • September 18, 2014
    Chernoskill
    Videogames

    • In Aliens Colonial Marines, at one point the otherwise action-oriented gameplay changes when the playe rcharacter encounters a new type of alien that explodes on contact but is blind and only reacts to fast movements. The only way to survive is to slowly sneak between the hibernating aliens.
  • September 18, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Are you sure it's not Stealth Based Mission?
  • September 18, 2014
    Chernoskill
    Stealth Mission, Stealth Situation... Hard to differentiate.
  • September 18, 2014
    desdendelle
    Stealth Based Mission seems like The Same But More Specific to this to me. That said, most of the examples up there in the draft are either Zero Context or general, both of which are bad.
  • September 18, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ in fact, video game examples of this trope shall fall into Stealth Based Mission instead.
  • September 22, 2014
    Imoo57
    ^ On it.
  • October 3, 2014
    Sahira
    • Thor The Dark World. Thor's usual method is of solving problems is usually yelling or hitting stuff. But when he realises he needs to get both Jane and the Aether out of Asgard he decides that that won't work and therefore to sneak out instead. Loki even comments on it:
      Loki: This is so unlike you, brother! Very clandestine... Are you sure you wouldn't rather punch your way out?
      Thor: If you keep talking I just might.
  • October 18, 2014
    imadoggirl
    If the new definition for this trope is that it only applies to characters who aren't normally stealthy, then you need to go through the examples and weed out the ones that no longer fit. Rouge from Sonic X, and Batman are two that jumped out at me as not fitting the trope. Since those are both characters that are all about being sneaky.
  • October 18, 2014
    Imoo57
    ^ Not definete yet but on it. That Stealth Expert trope needs fleshing out.
  • October 28, 2014
    Arivne
  • November 2, 2014
    Chabal2
    • Ciaphas Cain: Inquisitor Amberley Veil holds this view, using disguise and subterfuge at every opportunity, since she finds this preferable to "letting the Emperor's enemies know they're coming by charging around like a grox in a porcelain shop". That she has a tendency to go as aristocratic parasites or a Glamorous Wartime Singer may have something to do with it.
    • The New Folsom Blues level of Starcraft II is made to be beaten with stealth tactics, though it's possible (and ineffective) to just follow the allied army and try to use brute force to win.
    • Animorphs: One book has Rachel get split into a whiny coward and a sociopathic berserker. When the two find themselves trapped, the crazy one finally admits she can't force her way out, and listens to the whiny one's plan.
  • November 21, 2014
    bulmabriefs144
    You had a stray period so I removed it.

    It needs a better name, to highlight that stealth is not their default.

    Unusual Stealth, perhaps?
  • November 21, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ what's wrong with Stealth Situation?
  • November 22, 2014
    Imoo57
    Stealth Situation kind of rolls off the toungue better.
  • December 2, 2014
    mr.whim
    Singular Stealth Situation?
  • December 2, 2014
    imoo57
    ^ Singular how?
  • December 2, 2014
    mr.whim
    Using the definition of singular as meaning "strange or eccentric in some respect."

    Perhaps "Singularly Stealthy" is more what I meant, but either way, that's probably bound to be misinterpreted
  • December 2, 2014
    imoo57
    ^ Oh. I'm not sure while this trope is played for strangeness at times some characters in these examples acted in a completely appropriate manner both narrative and characterization wise.
  • December 2, 2014
    mr.whim
    ^Case in point of why that title doesn't work- it's meant along the lines of a character agreeing to be stealthy, just this one time, since they usually wouldn't.
  • December 2, 2014
    DAN004
    Just Stealth Situation is fine, the "situation" makes it clear that it's a special occasion.
  • December 6, 2014
    CompletelyDifferent
    • Officially the purpose of the Team from Young Justice is to serve as a covert ops group, for when adult members of the Justice League would bring too much attention to the scene. While many of their missions start off as stealth, sooner or later, things start exploding.
  • January 27, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ That's an inversion, ain't it?
  • January 28, 2015
    Imoo57
    Migh as well add that detail.
  • March 27, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Corrected improper Example Indentation in the Sailor Moon examples.
      • Corrected spelling (asls, jewlery, breal on, fist -> first, charatcer, noticable).
  • May 1, 2015
    Unknown Troper
    Film
    • Played with by the Autobots in the first Transformers movie, as they need to contact the human Sam Witwicky about an important clue to the Mac Guffin. Desiring to avoid panicking the neighbors, the Autobots tiptoe up to Sam's house, as if eighty-foot robots can somehow be subtle. It's one for Chronicles of the Ages to see Optimus Prime tiptoe through the tulips in the Witwicky garden.
  • May 1, 2015
    LikeSnowyNights
    There really shouldn't be a period in front of "is" in the description.
  • June 15, 2015
    Lord-Jaric
    Video Games
    • The premise of the Metal Gear games is to be as stealthy and avoid killing as much as possible.
  • June 17, 2015
    Imoo57
    ^ That is for the already existing Stealth Based Mission. This is for all other media not Video Games.
  • June 18, 2015
    1gn1sW1ngs
    Monaco: What's Yours It's Mine This Trope contrasts with Optional Stealth, right?
  • June 18, 2015
    Imoo57
    Yes and Video Games are not included but all other mediums are. Video Game examples go under Optional Stealth or Stealth Based Mission.
  • December 19, 2015
    Imoo57
    Bump.
  • February 17, 2016
    Imoo57
    Bump
  • March 6, 2016
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Corrected spelling (sneak -> sneaking, musesum, adeventures, sneas, occured, Rennee, Labrynth, Scisscorhands).
      • Corrected illegal Example Indentation in the Yu Gi Oh GX and Jackie Chan Adventures examples.
      • Put work titles in italics instead of quotes as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
      • Changed unnecessary double curly braces to Camel Case.
      • Capitalized (pink puma diamond, snake talisman, ratso, jackie).
      • Deleted a word (trade them off to -> trade them to)
      • Changed a semicolon to a comma.

    Several examples are Zero Context Examples and have been marked as such (ZCE). Each one needs more specific information about how it fits the trope.
  • September 23, 2016
    DAN004
    Needs a bump
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=smarilkv155i74vxw16jfniu