Created By: ravenfaith on June 26, 2011

Ominous Footsteps

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Commonly used to make tense/ suspenseful situations more so, all that is needed is footsteps approaching in otherwise utter silence.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • June 26, 2011
    I think this is pretty much Bad Vibrations.
  • June 26, 2011
    I think this is different than Bad Vibrations.

    • Get Smart "Ship of Spies:" a KAOS spy is going to turn over some vital information to Max when he's killed. The only clue is a clip-clop sound the killer makes when he walks. It turns out that on the eyponymous ship, everyone makes a clip-clop noise. It was the captain, who has a peg leg.
  • June 26, 2011
    Ah, in that case-

    • In the 1954 film Gojira, Godzilla's footsteps sound like explosions. When he first appears, the first thing the characters hear are his footsteps.
  • June 27, 2011
    Bad Vibrations is when the approaching thing is so heavy that its footsteps shake the earth and cause things to visibly vibrate.

    This would be when you can only hear the footsteps approaching.
  • April 29, 2013
    This seems to be abandoned, which is a pity because I think it could use a little fixing up. In particular, I can see where it is a Sister Trope to Bad Vibrations. For example, in a horror setting where someone is in an ostensibly "abandoned" location, and hears footsteps somewhere nearby (coming from the ceiling above them is common.) I could in fact cite two examples exactly like that:

    • Marble Hornets: Entry #60 has Jay tensely crawling alone through a claustrophobic steam tunnel below the buildings of an Abandoned Hospital, when he hears an ominous footfalls directly above him.
    • Amnesia The Dark Descent: A common ambient element, reminding the player that they are not alone, and that bad things lurk in the dark of Castle Brenenburg. In the basement levels, these might even disturb the dust from the ceiling rafters, adding to the effect.
  • April 30, 2013
    • The Stainless Steel Rat. In the first book, Slippery Jim diGriz pulls off an armored car heist but the police are after him. He escapes into a building but hears the footsteps of soldiers behind him. He avoids them but then hears footsteps of more troops. Eventually he runs into a trap - one the footsteps were driving him toward.
  • April 30, 2013
    • In the climax of the first Paranormal Activity film, Micah runs downstairs after hearing Katie scream. After a moment of silence, we can hear someone coming up the stairs. It's Katie carrying her dead boyfriend.
  • April 30, 2013
    Definitely not Bad Vibrations, but I really feel like this must be covered by something. At the very least, it's a subtrope of Nothing Is Scarier.
  • June 5, 2013
    A heroic version in Robo Cop. Cyborg!Murphy's introduction is him doing this; the entire Detroit Police Department turns out to see him.
  • June 6, 2013
    Kind of an obscure example, but the 1993 Amiga Games Hired Guns has some levels where the ambient sound consists of what seems to be footsteps on marble floor.
  • June 6, 2013
  • June 6, 2013
    Seems more like a sub trope of Hell Is That Noise. Which is currently in fix it mode.
  • June 6, 2013
    Unknown Troper


    • Sleepy Hollow uses this twice.
      • The first occurs moments after The Headless Horseman has murdered the Killians, who'd hidden their son beneath the floorboards. Just as it appears that he's safe, the Horseman comes back for him.
      • Moments later, Brom Bones and Icabhod flee through the covered bridged, believing the Horseman couldn't pursue them over running water. They turn when they hear his footsteps following them, yet they see nothing. Then the Horseman drops behind them....

    You should index it under Horror Tropes (once you've launched this), as this is often used to create fear and tension, for both the victim and the audience.

    Also related to The Dreaded, and Nothing Is Scarier, if the character in question has a fearsome reputation. Which may lead the victim to decide it's Better To Die Than Be Killed.
  • June 6, 2013
    In Metroid Fusion, these are your first warning sign that SA-X is coming to you. In one of the game's most memorable suspenseful moments, you have to rush yourself to safety while all you hear is thud thud thud...
  • June 18, 2013
  • June 18, 2013
    Subverted tragically in Higurashi When They Cry. While the sound of footsteps is infact a warning of impending doom and something actually is following them, the warning is about their bout with the Hate Plague going to go critical. The thing that supposedly follows the character is not only completely harmless, but actually cares about the characters and is grieving over what's going to happen.
  • June 18, 2013
    • Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds has the ruthless SS Colonel Hans Landa tread the floorboards beneath which a family of French Jews hide in silent terror.
    • The Frankenstein-like steps of the psychotic robot Hector in Saturn 3 allow Alex and Adam to track its movements within the research station. They use this to make a break for Benson's shuttlecraft. Hector, however, has other ideas.