Created By: ParadiscaCorbasi on October 15, 2011 Last Edited By: ParadiscaCorbasi on March 14, 2012

In The Flesh Illusion

Logic dictates there's no way this person can be here, but you believe they are anyway.

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Do We Have This One??

This trope is a variation on Idiot Ball.

Alice and Bob are on an adventure, doing what adventurers do. They're far from home. Too far to communicate by any mundane means without technicalogical assistance. Or they're right here on earth, but their Cell Phone is suddenly not getting any bars.

They have left family behind, or are still grieving a Dead Little Sister who died during some previous or earlier part of the adventure.

Then they enter a spooky environment and the family member from home shows up, or the dead little sister appears to be standing right there in the flesh. Breathing. Speaking. Possibly bleeding. All indications that they are there, and real.

That the loved one currently standing here in the adventure zone cannot possibly be the dead or missing or left behind family member never seems to occur to the adventurer. Their joy/shock/amazement at seeing the person they miss completely overrides anything resembling common sense, and they rush eagerly toward the person only to have the cruel truth reveal itself -- they were never there at all...or were they?

Sometimes this illusion --and it's very nearly always some manner of illusion -- is just to mess with the characters' minds. Sometimes it's the Big Bad luring our heroes into a trap.

Whatever the situation, the person affected will disregard any onlooker sensibly reminding them that their loved one can't be present.

Sister Trope to Your Heart's Desire, in which the illusion is something the character desperately wants.

Rolling Updates:

T-Minus One Week to LAUNCH.


  • Event Horizon: one of the crew members sees her small son who she knows good and well she left on Earth, several million miles away.
  • Contact: A subversion. The Aliens show up as Ellie Arroway's father, who died when she was a little girl. In this case, it's not a trap, though; they are trying to put her at ease and give her a comforting image to talk to.
  • The Woman in Black: Sam sees his dead son Nicholas, who would be, had he lived the same age as Arthur Kipp.


Live-Action TV
  • An episode of the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker, "Horror in the Heights" had the rakshasa from India that could take on the facade of people loved or trusted by its potential victims (some of whom were already dead). Karl only realized it was the monster at the very last moment.
  • Attemped on the 2nd Doctor in "The Five Doctors" but he sees through the illusion.

Video Games
  • In Dead Space, the Marker manipulates people by speaking to them through illusions of their dead loved ones.
  • A frequently-mocked aspect of Silent Hill 2; whether it's accurate is debatable, given the revelations that ensue.

Western Animation
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Season 2 episode "The Swamp" has:
    • Katara sees her mother, who has been dead since Katara was a small child. Nonetheless, Katara rushes forward, babbling about how happy she is to see her.
    • Sokka seeing Yue, who actually died in his arms (who is capable of making the phantasm appearances because she Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, but only at night as she's the spirit of the moon, and this happened during the day).
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