[[quoteright:350:[[Webcomic/BrawlInTheFamily http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/toothpick_small_2363.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[-So simple, even a ''[[VideoGame/SuperMarioBros princess]]'' can do it.-] ]]

->''"The first rule of patrol duty is vigilance, even when people are talking to you. Furthermore, if you hear any suspicious sounds, investigate them at once. Only once you can do these things on instinct will you be a true watchman!"''
-->--'''Anonymous guard''', ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks''

You're in the middle of a StealthBasedMission. Your path is blocked by an inconveniently placed patrolling guard; he turns around too quickly for you to sneak past him while his back is turned, and if you knock him out his body will raise suspicion. What do you do?

Easy: you pick up a rock and toss it past him. When it lands, the noise will catch his attention, and he'll go to investigate, giving you ample time to slip past. This trick is what we call Throwing The Distraction. Alternatively if you're making an action movie, you can pass on the low budget rock and use a grandiose explosion instead. It's less likely to be dismissed and looks cooler.

Subtrope of TheGuardsMustBeCrazy. Closely related to SoMuchForStealth, where this is done by accident and alerts every guard to your presence. Both tropes depend on guards being incredibly sensitive to noise, even though ItsProbablyNothing. See also GoFetch when this is done with an AngryGuardDog or any other sort of animal. Not to be confused with CatScare.

{{Ninja}}s call this "throwing the toothpick".
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: FanWorks]]
* Naruto arranges a very elaborate one in FanFic/AGrowingAffection, tying his jacket to a kunai and throwing it through tall grass, so the person in question will not only hear the sound, but will see a flash of orange, too.
[[/folder]]


[[folder: Film -- Animated]]
* In ''Disney/{{Bolt}}'', Penny (the character on the show) likes to roll an actual penny into the field of vision of whomever she's trying to sidestep. Eventually, Bolt (in reality) would try the same trick - yes, it really does work.
* In ''TheIncredibles'', Mr. Incredible beans a guard in the head with a rock--all the other guards nearby leave their post to look at the unconscious guard.
* In ''TheIronGiant'', Hogarth throws a penny into the kitchen to divert his mom's attention away while he sneaks out one of the Giant's hands, which has detached and is wandering around the house. The penny knocks over the spice rack by accident.
* ''WesternAnimation/MonstersUniversity'': When Sullivan's reckless attempt to retrieve flag in library attracts [[ScaryLibrarian the Librarian's]] [[AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever attention]], Mike and the Oozma Kappa create a series of noisy activities in various parts of the library to distract her from Sullivan and the flag.
* ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory2'': Very early on, Al does this with a skateboard. Justified in that it does create an audible crash, and the person he's distracting (Andy's mother) isn't a highly trained guard.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film -- Live Action]]
* Subverted in ''Film/ThreeAmigos''. One of the amigos throws a rock to distract a guard they're trying to sneak past, but accidentally hits the guard's head and knocks him out.
* ''StarWars'': ObiWan uses the force to pop a gasket to distract two guards, allowing him to sneak away from the tractor beam controls.
* Specifically mentioned in-universe in ''Film/BatmanBegins'' as a "cheap parlor trick" to distract and confuse one's enemies.
* In TheMovie of ''Film/HarryPotterAndTheChamberOfSecrets'', Harry does this to distract a blinded basilisk.
* ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone''. Andrea and Mallory have reached the top of the cliff, but there's a German sentry guarding it. Mallory tosses a piton to distract the guard. A variant because they end up killing the guard. Watch it [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Vo_B8RYSj4 here, starting at 2:10]].
* ''Film/TheDecalogue'': Majka, while hiding behind a wall, throws a small wooden ball down the stairs, thus distracting an old woman watching over the entrance to the back of the stage.
* ''Film/DungeonsAndDragons'' has the heroes distract a patrolling Beholder -- a creature covered in eyes -- with a thrown rock. Note, this might actually be plausable since the majority of beholders are insane.
* This is one of the uses of the Bat-Shuriken in ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga''. *thwing* "Huh, what was that? Oh, it's a little metal ba-" [{{Vertical Kidnap|ping}}]
* Something similar happens in the comedy ''Film/{{Water 1985}}''. MichaelCaine's character sees a mercenary attaching limpet mines to the oil well, so he throws a bolt, then sneaks up behind the mercenary while he's pointing a gun in that direction and hooks a crane hook into his belt, lifting him into the air.
* Johnny of ''Film/JohnnyMnemonic'' throws a small rock, which sends Baldy looking for him in the wrong direction.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Interactive Fiction ]]
* In ''SpiderAndWeb'', the protagonist throws a lockpick into a dead end to distract some guards. [[spoiler:Except that actually, it didn't happen quite like that.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* {{Subverted}} in ''Vagabonds of Literature/{{Gor}}'': Tarl throws a stone and the guy he's trying to draw away from his position turns towards him - he's GenreSavvy too.
* In the book and film of ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'', Harry distracts some Ministry workers with a rambunctious Weasley toy in order to sneak into Umbridge's office.
** Justified, both because that's what the toy was built for and because, apparently, the Ministry sees that sort of thing fairly often.
* In the first ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' book, Jake uses this to escape from some aliens in a dark construction site. As he's doing it, he thinks to himself [[LampshadeHanging what a cliche it is]] and hopes the aliens have never watched any TV or else they'd probably recognize the trick.
* In ''Literature/RoseMadder'' Rosie distracts Erinyes the blind bull from killing her by throwing a blood-soaked rock and running in the opposite direction.[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'' Series 4, the Doctor distracts a guard with a wind-up mouse. [[SubvertedTrope Almost as soon as he picks it up, he is knocked unconscious by]] [[OppositeSexClone the Doctor's cloned daughter]] Jenny. The Doctor is quick to call her out on what she's done.
* ''MissionImpossible'': Used in "The Council, part 1", to draw someone away from a buried man that the team needed access to.
* Subverted in an episode of DarkAngel, Max throws a stone to distract the guard, who goes to investigate where the stone came from.
* An episode of ''KungFu: The Legend Continues'' does this -- earlier, Kwai Chang is showing Peter how to blow a candle out using the gust of air from a palm strike. Later, when facing sentries in the woods, Peter sarcastically asks, "what are we going to, throw a rock and divert their attention?" as Kwai Chang performs a palm strike and rustles a bush instead to distract the guards.
* Lampshaded on ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' when Apollo throws a grenade into a passageway, yelling for everyone to clear out (they do). It turns out he didn't pull the pin, and tells Starbuck that she would have thought it was a brilliant idea if she'd come up with it.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* During a StealthBasedMission in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks'', Link must invoke this trope to distract one guard who doesn't turn around when spoken to. What the guard says when spoken to is immortalized above as the page quote.
* In the first mission of ''[[VideoGame/{{Hitman}} Hitman: Blood Money]]'', you're encouraged to toss a coin to distract some guards.
** 47 seems to have a Mint in his back pocket - a coin is always available in the inventory, no matter how many you've already thrown. You can even carry them through metal detectors s without setting them off.
* All ''Franchise/MetalGear'' games have some sort of variant. Can even be done with grenades, but enemies will freeze in terror or take cover, depending on the soldier. In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'' and later, you can throw empty ammo magazines to distract guards. The only way to get one is to fire all the bullets in a full mag, which isn't very useful in a stealth game.
* The ''VideoGame/FarCry'' series has throwable stones.
* ''WorldOfWarcraft'': The "Distract" skill Rogues have. It doesn't cause a monster or guard to walk toward the noise, but it ''does'' turn them around, leaving you free to [[{{Backstab}} stab them in the back]].
* ''VideoGame/SplinterCell'' has this in spades, allowing you to pick up items for no other purpose than to throw them and distract the enemies. However, the AI is smart enough to register not only the point of impact, but also the trajectory they have seen, therefore, doing the same thing as on the image above would actually make any guard run towards you. Even if they ''don't'' find you, they'll be more vigilant.
** Of course, if you nail them in the head with the object, they simply get knocked out.
** In ''Conviction'', where there aren't any throwable objects, a silenced pistol can serve the same purpose, as pistols get unlimited reloads only in that game. Fire a shot and nearby guards will investigate the point of impact.
* ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'' likewise has throwable objects. It also has noisemaker arrows, which do just that: cause a lot of noise upon impact.
** Even normal arrows can work as distractions. However, trying this trick isn't always a good idea; while it may draw the guard's attention elsewhere, it ''will'' make them alert for intruders, which mitigates the advantage to some degree.
* ''VideoGame/DeusEx'': Can be done, as pointed out in the training mission by Anna Navarre.
* You can do this in ''VideoGame/BeyondGoodAndEvil'' with the disk-launcher, but the [[TheGuardsMustBeCrazy guards are so stupid]] it's usually easier to just walk slowly around them.
* ''DeathToSpies'': This stealth game allows you to do this with cutlery and dishes. The mini-map even shows you how far the sound travels.
* ''VideoGame/{{Augustus}}'': You can toss coins in this stealth game, thought more often that not it would result in the guards running towards your hiding spot instead.
* ''VideoGame/NoOneLivesForever'': One of the gadgets Cate can equip for any mission is a few coins. That's all, just coins. Plain, ordinary currency. Not even enhanced in the usual ridiculous manner other common items are made into spy gadgets in this game. At first, it seems absurd that carrying a few coins in your pocket takes up an equipment slot that could be held by, say, lipstick grenades, until you see just how stupid the guards can be when a coin is chucked across the room...
* ''VideoGame/Sly2BandOfThieves'' has the alarm clock gadget as Sly, trigger bombs as Bentley, and other guards as Murray.
* ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed''
** In any game, kill a guard and other guards will come by to investigate so you can sneak around them or use the hidden blade on them.
** In the [[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII second game]], throwing money will distract the guards just as well as a body.
** ''Assassin's Creed: Revelations'' ups the ante considerably by including a dozen different possible types of harmless distraction bombs. There's a weak smoke bomb designed to look like a smoldering fire that will only attract guards facing that direction but make no noise, a cherry bomb that just makes a loud bang that draws guards, and even a coin bomb that attracts a crowd to a spot by exploding money there.
* In ''[[CallOfDuty Call of Duty Black Ops]]'', there is a tactical grenade that is called a decoy that can be used to simulate gunfire and shows up on the enemy's radar, making it seem as if there is someone firing in that location.
* ''VideoGame/{{Commandos}}'' allows you to throw rocks to distract the guards. You can also throw them ''on'' the guards if feeling suicidal.
* ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' and ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2'' gives you grenades in the forms of pipe bombs and Boomer Bile. The Infected are distracted by the Loud beeping and/or scent and will chase after them, even if they were just clawing you apart a second ago.
* In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' you can fire an arrow into a room and any enemies present will visible on your compass while rushing to investigate it.
* ''VideoGame/TheLastOfUs'' has bricks, bottles, etc that can be thrown to distract/attract enemies or [[ImprovisedWeapon simply smack them in the head.]]
* ''VideoGame/EscapeFromStMarys'': A thrown bottle of tang does the trick.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' - One of Hawke's options during the stealth section of the ''Mark of the Assassin'' DLC.
--> '''Tallis:''' We'll have to try our best to stay out of sight - or we could try to create distractions. Provided you're good at throwing stones.
--> '''Guard:''' What was that scrabbling noise?
* ''VideoGame/{{Sniper Elite V2}}'' allows you to throw rocks to distract enemies. Like the ''Hitman'' example, you're encouraged to do so in the tutorial stage and have an infinite number of them in your inventory. ''Un''like most examples, this will only get the guards out of your hair for a second or two before they start searching the area just to be sure -- you have a pretty small window if you want to actually get past anyone that way.
* Early in ''SpiderAndWeb'', you throw [[spoiler:your electronic lockpick]] to sneak past a guard. [[spoiler:Subverted as part of the UnreliableNarrator theme of the game. You actually left the pick in a lock when the guard came along and you were forced to hide.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Princess Peach demonstrates the technique perfectly in [[http://www.brawlinthefamily.com/?p=1454 this]] ''Webcomic/BrawlInTheFamily'' strip.
* [[DoubleSubversion Triply subverted]] humorously in ''{{Goblins}}:'' the GAP [[http://www.goblinscomic.com/11262006/ try to distract the Brassmoon City gate guards]] [[http://www.goblinscomic.com/11272006/ by throwing a rock]], but instead of going to investigate the noise, one of them shouts "Someone's throwing rocks at us from the woods!" However, the guards still go to investigate the place whence the rock was thrown, and [[IdiotBall start arguing]] there. Being distracted, they let a couple goblins enter the city (a double subversion). But then, the distraction doesn't last long enough, and the last two members for the GAP are spotted while trying to get in (a triple subversion !).
* A recurring gag in ''DragonTails:'' involves Lemuel throwing rocks in the bushes to distract enemies. The targets found the sound to be distracting but never investigated the noise beyond standing and thinking about how annoying it is, opening a window of opportunity for the other dragons.
* ''{{Stardroids}}'': Roll does this. What makes it unique, however, is that she does it in plain sight of the foes. Oh, and did we mention -- she's using a pair of her own panties. Slingshot-style.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'': This is the subject of one of "Tarquin's Tips", a [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy handy guide distributed to all his guard patrols]]. "'''Sound in the Bushes:''' Someone is throwing a rock to distract you. Try looking in the opposite direction."
* Done in ''{{Girly}}'' to [[http://girlyyy.com/go/440 sneak into a women's dorm]], with some heavy [[LampshadeHanging lampshading]]:
-->'''Lisa:''' I dunno, Beth. The last eight times that happened, it resulted in men sneaking...
-->'''Beth:''' Lisa, that was a ''rock''! A ''rock'', for God's sake! Are you suggesting we let it ''be''!?

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]
* Item #160 on the EvilOverlordList says to make sure guards can tell when someone's doing this:
-->Before being accepted into my Legions of Terror, potential recruits will have to pass peripheral vision and hearing tests, and be able to recognize the sound of a pebble thrown to distract them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* ''Film/AceVentura'': Toyed with -- Ace Ventura tries this by throwing a rock to distract the Burly Guard. The Guard looks over at the sound, ''turns to where the rock came from'' and shouts "I know you're over there and I'm coming to get you!" OhCrap!
* ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest'' TOS episodes.
** "The Dreadful Doll". Hadji throws a rock to distract Korbay so Jonny can free Race Bannon.
** ''Terror Island". Race Bannon throws a coin to distract some guards.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'', "Imitation Krabs": to get Mr. Krabs out of the way, Plankton throws a penny, and the greedy Krabs follows it as it rolls out the front door. The penny eventually rolls back, leading Krabs to Plankton and his robotic Krabs imposter.
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerbTheMovieAcrossThe2ndDimension''. When Perry the platypus needs to slip away without his owners noticing him, he throws a rock, leading to this exchange:
--> '''Baljeet''': What was that small noise?
--> '''Phineas''': [[LampshadeHanging Let's all go walk over to it!]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* A common ploy for soldiers using the M1 Garand was to keep one of the empty en bloc clips on them at all times. Because of the Garand's self loading mechanism firing out the clip when the last round was used, the empty clip would make a very distinctive metallic pring! noise if it struck a hard surface. The trick came with having your rifle fully loaded and getting out the empty clip. You fire off a round and throw the clip away so it makes a nice rattle. Your opponent then sticks his head out from behind cover cause he assumes you're out. Dead wrong.
* This is [[GoFetch a good way to distract non-trained dogs]] if they aren't fully on attack mode. A solid object like a small stone will distract them for at least two seconds.
** Can be taken to almost parodying lengths with some dogs, with whom you don't even have to actually ''throw'' the object, and they'll still run off in the direction they thought they saw you throw it.
[[/folder]]
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