[[quoteright:180:[[VideoGame/TonicTrouble http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/AgentXYZ_2580.gif]]]]
[[caption-width-right:180:[[SarcasmMode Very inconspicuous.]]]]

Alice enters the crowded cafe, looking all about her to make sure that she's not being tailed by Bob. Good... seems like she's finally safe. The only people on the premises are an elderly woman, a bunch of businessmen she doesn't recognize, and some fellow whose face she can't see because it's hidden behind the newspaper he's reading. Thank God she's safe.

Alice sits down, assured of her safety. The man lowers his newspaper -- {{gasp}}! It was Bob all along, cleverly using the newspaper to hide his face!

This is a trope for when someone attempts to hide by covering their face with a newspaper, magazine, book or other printed work. Often combined with a musical sting when the paper is lowered to let the audience know that this man is a villain. This has a surprisingly high rate of success. This is mostly a DeadHorseTrope and, as such, is very often parodied. Two of the most common types of parody are having the character's face on the cover or front page of whatever he's reading, or else having eye holes cut out of the paper.

Compare HighlyVisibleNinja, HighlyConspicuousUniform and, [[{{Snowclones}} of course]], PaperThinDisguise.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Ryo of ''Manga/CityHunter'' uses this from time to time to check out potential clients. And any hot babes walking past, though there is considerable overlap between the categories.
* In ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic'', Sousuke has a habit of watching out for Kaname behind an old newspaper with a hole cut out; like a lot of things he does, it really makes Sousuke look like a pervert. Eventually Kaname gets so annoyed she walks up and rips the newspaper from his hands, pointing out that it's several years out of date.
* ''Manga/{{Hanayamata}}'': Included in the montage of Naru's distressed father endeavors is him peeking through a hole in a newspaper at Naru fiddling with her cellphone in the living room. He is normally a background character and gets to start episode 6 of anime with narration of his puzzled worries over inexplicable recent change in behavior he sees (his schoolgirl heroine daughter is in the process of "graduating" from ShrinkingViolet actually).
%% Commented out as ZeroContextExample * ''ProjectAKo'' spoofed this in one of the films.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Happens twice in the opening sequence of ''Disney/{{Bolt}}'', first with Penny, then with Bolt himself. Bolt is a dog. Then again, it happened in the ShowWithinAShow.
* The buffoonish burglars in Disney's animated ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'' do this.
* Happens with restaurant menus between Yzma and Kuzco in ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove''. Though to be fair, Kuzco (as a llama) was [[DragQueen in drag]] at the time. ItMakesSenseInContext...
* Used for a VisualGag in ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfTintin''. Early in the movie, the Thom(p)sons are peering out of holes they cut into a newspaper during a stakeout in the marketplace. Each one has cut his holes in an ad on the paper that feature an item that not only lines up with where their mustaches would be, but matches the shape of said individual mustache (a broom for Thompson and a toilet plunger for Thomson).

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The 2009 ''Film/SherlockHolmes'' film pulls this with [[spoiler:Moriarty]] in an ''otherwise empty train car,'' though in this case it was more a matter of atmosphere and keeping his face hidden from ''the audience'' more than any of the characters.
* ''Film/PlanesTrainsAndAutomobiles'' has a character briefly hide his face behind a smut novel.
* ''Franchise/IndianaJones''
** ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk'': When Indiana Jones is on a seaplane about to leave for Asia, a man lowers the ''Life'' magazine he's reading and reveals his face, with ominous music to let the audience know he's a {{Villain}}. He later turns out to be a Nazi agent.
** In ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheLastCrusade'', a subversion is pulled on the audience, however; in the aerodrome we see someone facing the camera directly with his newspaper ostentatiously held up to cover his entire face. Ah-ha, the audience thinks, this is one of the Jones boys! Then, Indiana appears in the background and begins chatting with someone slumped casually against a pillar behind Mr. Newspaper, who turns out to be Henry Jones Sr,; Mr. Newspaper isn't involved at all.
*** Five minutes later Henry does try to use it on the zeppelin. [[TheDragon Colonel Vogel]] isn't fooled for a second. Perhaps it would have worked better if he held it right side up.
*** Also used successfully by Sallah, to disguise his fist.
* ''Film/AustinPowersInternationalManOfMystery'': During the opening credits when everyone is chasing Austin, he hides out by concealing his face behind a copy of Fab! magazine with a distorted view of his face on it. This itself is a parodying of the opening scene in ''Film/AHardDaysNight'' when Music/PaulMcCartney (also wearing a fake beard) was hiding from their fans.
%% commented out ZeroContextExample(s) * Used by Sikes and/or Nancy in various adaptations of ''Film/OliverTwist''.
* Creator/SteveMartin's version of Clousseau tries this along with his partner in ''Film/ThePinkPanther2006'' -- while tailing a suspect. It works the first couple of times, but the next time they try it, Clousseau trips down the stairs to the subway station.
* A plainclothes secret policeman (presumably) in ''Film/{{Brazil}}'' does this.
* Two thugs in ''Film/TheManWhoKnewTooLittle'' used a variation. While shooting at Wallace, they used a newspaper to conceal their gun, and to make it look like they were just standing around and reading the paper. Then their paper got torn to shreds as they kept missing.
* ''Film/FatalInstinct''. Max Shady (the escaped ex-con stalking Ned Ravine) does this several times. At least once his picture was on the front of the newspaper.
* Parodied in ''Film/TheBigLebowski'' with the detective [=DaFino=]. As The Dude discovers his Volkswagen parked outside his house he walks angry towards it and we can see [=DaFino=] reaching for a newspaper and very badly pretend to read it.
* ''Film/TheMasterOfDisguise'' has one such example; Pistachio (as a "cow pie" man) somehow hides from Bowman's henchmen in this manner.
* In the Creator/StanleyKubrick adaptation of ''Film/{{Lolita}}'', Claire Quilty and his wife do this while spying on Humbert in a hotel lobby. Unlike the usual version of this trope, the camera is behind the newspaper and the man holding it, looking over Quilty's shoulder at Humbert, showing how he's unaware that he's being watched.
* In ''Film/TheThieves'', Andrew sits at a cafe table holding a newspaper in front of his face while keeping watch on the hotel.
* ''Film/TheGreatEscape''.
** Creator/JamesCoburn is shown doing this in a French cafe. Unfortunately the producers have him reading ''Liberation'', an [[VoiceOfTheResistance underground newspaper]] that would be the last thing an escaped POW trying to avoid attention would read.
** Richard Attenborough's character grabs a newspaper for cover after a [[HopeSpot harrowing escape from pursuing Germans]], only to be [[OhCrap greeted by name]] by an SS officer who's recognised the notorious British escapee.

* A gorilla is walking through the jungle when he spots a lion taking a drink from the spring. The lion is bent over and oblivious to anything but getting a drink, so the gorilla thinks he'll play a joke on the lion. The gorilla sneaks up on the lion and pushes him in the water and laughs. Well, the lion doesn't like this at all and starts chasing the gorilla. The gorilla runs and looks for some place to hide. Eventually, he comes upon an abandoned safari camp. The gorilla quickly puts on some clothes and a pith helmet he finds, sits in a deck chair and hides his face behind a newspaper. Soon, the lion pounces in on the scene and growls "Grr...did you see a gorilla go through here?" Without lowering the paper, the gorilla says "You mean the one who tossed the lion in the spring?" Then the lion says "You mean it's in the papers already?"

* Done in the mystery novel ''The Secret of the Monster Book'', by a bad guy the good guys know is following them. One character lampshades it by saying, "There should be a law against bad people buying newspapers."
* Played with twice in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' Literature/EighthDoctorAdventures novel ''Unnatural History''. In the first instance, Fitz doesn't seem to be attempting to hide, but came across as shady nonetheless:
-->The guy on the sofa was watching them, she suddenly realised. Just wide grey eyes, appearing in the slit between the ''San Francisco Chronicle'' and the [[NiceHat black [fedora]]].
** The second time he does it, this time actually trying to camouflage himself, he realizes that the newspaper is in Chinese, and, unluckily for him, while he does speak Chinese, he can't read it.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban'', Hermione does this with a book (which is upside down) when Professor [=McGonagall=] comes in and takes Harry's Firebolt (Hermione having told [=McGonagall=] that Harry received it with no card and suspecting it to be from Sirius Black[[spoiler:, an assumption that turns out to be accurate, except he hadn't harmed it]]), to hide her face from Ron and Harry, who round on her as soon as [=McGonagall=] is gone and start getting after her for tattling.
* Ed Foley used this to keep one of his agents from seeing his face during handoffs in the Creator/TomClancy novel ''[[Literature/JackRyan The Cardinal of the Kremlin]]''.
* Played straight in ''Literature/TheHistorian''. The main character wakes up on a train, and someone is in the room with her (who hadn't been there before she went to sleep). He's hidden behind a newspaper, which she finds creepy and it eventually strikes her that after about five minutes, he hasn't bothered to turn the page.
* Literature/JohnRain doesn't think this is good tradecraft because not having a newspaper gives you an excuse to scan the crowd under the guise of idle people-watching, whereas someone with a newspaper would be expected to look at it instead of their surroundings.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/PushingDaisies'', [[spoiler:Chuck's recently resurrected father]] isn't supposed to leave Ned's apartment, but does so anyway. He hides in plain sight in Ned's restaurant behind a newspaper, only revealing himself to Ned after Chuck had left.
* In ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', Sylar does this during the first season while Hiro and his friends are in the diner.
* Parodied in the "Monkey-ed Movies" Film/JamesBond spoof on TBS' ''Series/{{Dinner And A Movie}}'', when Q shows 009 a newspaper. This prompts 009 say "It's just an ordinary tabloid!". But when Q holds it over himself, 009 immediately asks "Where did you go?", and Q puts the newspaper aside and says "Peekaboo, 009!".
* A lot of modern police shows employ this for one or two officers when they have a large amount of officers staking out a single target. They can play it straight without accidentally invoking parody if those hiding are [[ExtraExtraReadAllAboutIt extras]] [[IncrediblyLamePun and]] the camera doesn't single them out for long.
* In an episode of ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'', Barney spent an entire day spying through one of these in a French restaurant. Subverted in that the woman Robin told him was there wasn't going there; she was just trying to make a point.
* ''Series/MacGyver'', "Thief of Budapest" has a scene in which [=McGyver=] hacks a stoplight control box standing in the middle of main street. His cover? People on both sides with newspapers spread out wide.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. In "Hush" [[CovertPervert Willow]] hides behind an open writing pad to spy on Buffy flirting with Riley.
* An episode of ''Series/HorribleHistories'' had Harriet Tubman use a newspaper as a disguise. The man looking for escaped slaves assumed that a woman who knew how to read couldn't possibly be an escaped slave and left her alone. The Talking Rat didn't deny it, so it was maybe TruthInTelevision.
** This really happened, though it was not so much hiding behind a newspaper but pretending to be someone else by means of a newspaper. The man sitting in the same train compartment was a former master of her, who knew she couldn't read (as it was forbidden to teach slaves to read and to write). She pretended to read the newspaper, hoping that this was enough to throw him off and make him think that she must be someone else.
* In ''[[Series/OpenAllHours Still Open All Hours]]'', Granville tasks Leroy with tailing a local to find out where he is doing his shopping. Leroy does so clutching a magazine in front of his face as cover.
* The Doctor and Jamie do this in Episode 2 of the ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial "The Faceless Ones".
** It's especially egregious in Jamie's case, since the newspaper does nothing to hide his lower half, and the authorities are ''specifically looking for a young man in a kilt.''
* ''Series/MurdochMysteries'':
** Murdoch employs a newspaper in this fashion while staking out the intersection of Carlton and Parliament in "Murdoch on the Corner". Constable Crabtree has been flamboyantly spending new-found money per Murdoch's instructions, and Murdoch drops his paper to urge Crabtree to go home so they can wait for the killer to follow him there.
** Brackenreid hastily grabs a newspaper from the station's front desk in one of his efforts to hide from temperance crusader Miss Hamilton in "Murdoch Au Naturel".
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest''. The episode "/" starts with ADayInTheLife of Root instead of our main protagonists Harold Finch and John Reese. While she's walking through the park with this week's [[VictimOfTheWeek Number]], Root suddenly walks over to a man reading a newspaper and pulls it down, revealing Harold Finch.
* ''Series/AgentCarter''. Jarvis sits down next to two men reading newspapers at a shoeshine stand. One turns out to be Howard Stark, the other is Creator/StanLee doing his requisite CreatorCameo.
* ''Series/MurderSheWrote'': In "Incident in Lot 7", a suspect eavesdropping on Jessica's conversation in the studio canteen hides behind a menu.

* The cover of No Use for a Name's album ''Incognito'' (TheOneWith their version of "[[Music/ThePolice Truth Hits Everybody]]") is a newspaper sheet with a pair of eyes peeking through holes on it.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Agent XYZ uses the eyeholes-in-newspaper version in ''VideoGame/TonicTrouble''. In fact, only his hands and feet stick out behind the paper; [[TheFaceless we never get to see what he actually looks like]].
* Parodied in ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird''. While not a newspaper Johnny Gat hides his face under a mask of himself.
* [[Franchise/RatchetAndClank Clank]] does this while trailing the Kingpin in ''VideoGame/SecretAgentClank''.
* Early in ''VideoGame/Persona5'', [[StudentCouncilPresident Makoto]] can be seen tailing the PlayerCharacter while keeping her nose buried in a huge manga magazine she clearly isn't reading. She'll also run to keep up with him ''while still buried in the mag'', which looks as hilarious (and precarious) as it sounds.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Subverted in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'' where the Eds are spying on the cul-da-sac kids. In one scene, Eddy is seen leaning against a street pole holding a newspaper over his face as some neighbor kids walk by. Once they pass, the "newspaper Eddy" turns out to be a cardboard cut-out that falls over as the real Eddy [[BehindAStick pops out from behind the street pole with a pair of binoculars.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' and ''WesternAnimation/MerrieMelodies'':
** "Home Tweet Home": Sylvester spies on Tweety by sneaking around the park with newspaper in hand, moving from bench to bench and pretending to read the paper until he gets to his prize. The bird immediately realizes he's being stalked by his ever-present puddy pursuer and rushes to a young woman to protect him.
* On ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Bart goes to a counsellor, where we find Principal Skinner in the waiting room. He doesn't want Bart to see him, so he hides behind a magazine -- namely "Principal's World", with his headshot on the cover.
** In "Adventures in Baby-Getting", Bart does this when following Lisa. He sits on a bench reading a ''Playdude'' magazine, with the breasts of the woman on the cover cut out for his eyes.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'':
** Subverted in an episode where Flexo (a robot who looks exactly like Bender save for a small metal goatee) disappears along with an expensive atom they were delivering. While looking for him, Leela and Fry find "Bender" first wearing a turtleneck sweater, then a scarf, then holding a newspaper to his face that he refuses to put down. They finally get him to put it down, revealing... that he really ''is'' Bender and Flexo left hours ago.
** Played straight in a later episode, in which Bender finds himself pursued by the New New York police (on whose radar he has fallen due to a previous crime), who attempt to cover their tracks by reading [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial the "Non-Police News"]] before finally giving up the act and arresting Bender. [[spoiler:He gets off clean, which was quite lucky for him--he was carrying data for the Robot Mafia and had just given it to another robot on the street to complete his delivery.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** Done in the episode "A Bird in the Hoof" by Philomena the bird. Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy, who are chasing her around, actually do check behind the newspaper, but appear fooled by the [[PaperThinDisguise fake mustache]] Philomena wears underneath.
** In the episode "Amending Fences", Twilight Sparkle and Minuette stalk Moondancer using this method. Later in the episode we can see [[spoiler:[[ArcVillain Starlight Glimmer]]]] hiding behind a resteurant menu.
* One of [[Franchise/WallaceAndGromit Gromit's]] favourite tricks. On one occasion, the headline of the newspaper he's hiding behind is "[[ShapedLikeItself Dog reads newspaper]]".
* The ''ComicStrip/{{Popeye}}'' cartoon "Olive's Sweepstake Ticket": Popeye hides behind a newspaper as he walks, trying to pluck said ticket from a woman's backside.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLittleRascals'' short "The Case of the Puzzled Pals": Buckwheat, Darla, Porky and Pete hide behind newspapers as they watch Spanky at a store across the street. Porky is also wearing a false beard.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* As it happens, the SecretPolice in many countries actually ''invert'' this: If you walk into a cafe and someone is very obviously reading a newspaper and peering over at you every now and then, it's probably because you're being watched, and the secret police [[ParanoiaFuel want you to know it]].
* Harriet Tubman used this as a disguise for herself and escaping slaves. Someone reading a newspaper was seen as educated and not a slave on the run.
* Undercover FBI agent Film/DonnieBrasco would read newspapers so he could listen in on what his fellow Mafiosi were saying, without distracting himself with conversation.