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[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/AliBabaBunny http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bugswormsign_5650.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[NoSenseOfDirection "Well, here we are! Pismo Beach and all the clams we can eat!" he said as he emerged in the middle of a cave]].]]

->''"Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has never seen!"''
-->-- '''Stilgar''', ''Film/{{Dune}}''

The Monster is coming for you, but you can't see it. What you do see is the floorboards splitting as it pushes through the ground underneath them towards the camera, or just dust being kicked up if it's outside. It's not always played for scares though; sometimes it's just a convenient visual shorthand for indicating where something moving underground happens to be. It can be used as a legitimate tension-building device to hint a monster the audience hasn't seen yet (or hasn't seen much of) or as a way for lower-budget films to get the monster in without actually spending money on the generally more expensive effects shot.

See also SandWorm, NothingIsScarier, TravelingPipeBulge. Compare BadVibrations. TheCrocIsTicking is the audible equivalent.

Nothing whatsoever to do with [[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 Movie Sign]] (although that is named after ''Dune'''s worm sign), [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Wormtongue]] or [[Literature/HarryPotter Wormtail]].




[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In the fourth episode of the original ''Anime/BubblegumCrisis'' OVA, Sylia and Linna travel through subway tunnels at high speed and the road above them splits as they pass.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** Occurs when Miss Merry Christmas travels underground.
** When Captain Kuro moves faster than the eye can see, scratch marks appear on the walls where he's running.
* ''Manga/SazanEyes'' features at one point an invisible creature with three clawed legs; when it attacks, all you could see is three rows of claw-marks being rapidly carved to the floor.
* In the 23rd episode of ''Anime/PetitePrincessYucie'', Diabolos' evil roots attack in this manner.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Batman}} villain the Mole would leave a trail of bulging ground behind him as he tunneled; it is strong enough to crack pavement.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* At the end of ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'', a giant wormsign appears in the parking lot right before the Underminer's giant DrillTank pops up and he starts ranting.
* The moles in ''Disney/{{Bambi}}'' do this.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheCurseOfTheWereRabbit''
* Done briefly in ''WesternAnimation/{{Madagascar}}'', when Alex digs through the sand to get himself out from under Melman's crate on the beach.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The ''Film/{{Dune}}'' film. (The TropeNamer being the book on which it is based.) A SandWorm makes the pretty distinct wormsign shape underground. For an added effect, we also see lightning-like effects. Presumably, the motion of the giant creature (and more importantly tons of sand) ionizes the air.
* Towards the end of Creator/JohnCarpenter's ''Film/TheThing1982'', the thing races underground towards [=McReady=], splitting floorboards as it goes.
* The Graboids in ''Film/{{Tremors}}'' give these as they tunnel.
** When Valentine and Earl are fleeing a graboid in the desert, a line of posts fall down as the graboid passes under them.
** As the protagonists are fleeing inside the store, a line of planks start flying into the air as a graboid goes beneath them.
* Western horror film ''Film/TheBurrowers''. The titular creatures attack from under the earth, and then drag their prey down into it. [[spoiler: They do this because, like vampires, they are vulnerable to the sun.]]
* Subverted in ''Film/{{Aliens}}''. You don't see the floorboards move till it's too late, you just hear the beeping of the motion detectors.
* ''Film/{{Godzilla 1998}}'' does this when Franchise/{{Godzilla}} arrives from the ocean. The pier splits most satisfyingly.
* ''Film/{{Godzilla 2014}}'':
** Godzilla creates a massive swell in the water as he swims, with his dorsal spines protruding from the top. Taken UpToEleven when the act of landfall is preceded by a tsunami.
** The [=MUTO=]s make their presence know with an [=EMP=] field they emit, causing all electronic devices to fail within their radius.
* In ''Film/TheFrighteners'' the BigBad evil ghost does this to various surfaces (wallpapers, rugs) in a haunted house.
* Scorponok in ''Film/{{Transformers}}''.
* The Driller in ''Film/TransformersDarkOfTheMoon''. ''Big'' wormsign.
* He Who Walks Behind the Rows in ''Film/ChildrenOfTheCorn1984''. He doesn't walk, and He's between the rows, not behind them.
* Freddy's worm-form pulls this off in ''Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet3DreamWarriors''
* In the Walter Koenig/Bruce Campbell vehicle ''Film/{{Moontrap}}'', wormsign ''on the moon'' marks the approach of the Kelium, ancient, burrowing robots with [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything probing tentacles]] intent on [[BodyHorror cutting humans to pieces and using them for spare parts]].
* The emergence of the first tripod in the 2005 ''Film/TheWarOfTheWorlds'' is preceded by splitting roads, collapsing buildings and bursting water pipes.
* ''Film/{{Screamers}}'', are a type of subterranean killing machines.
* The gopher from ''Film/{{Caddyshack}}'' left ridges of disturbed earth all over the golf course.
* Floor flies away as the monsters hunt the protagonists in ''Film/DeepRising''.
* Worm Signs are made by COBRA in ''Film/GIJoeTheRiseofCobra''.

* ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' is the TropeNamer. The sandworms leave massive trails as they dig, able to be seen from miles away.
* In Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/{{IT}}'', [[MonsterClown Pennywise]] once approaches one of its victims in this way.
* In ''[[Literature/TheAdversaryCycle Nightworld]]'' some friends of Literature/RepairmanJack have evacuated to a nuclear bunker out in the boondocks to escape the {{Eldritch Abomination}}s erupting out of a portal in New York's Central Park. Then another portal opens nearby, but everyone thinks they'll still be safe in the bunker...until they see what appear to be giant mole tracks running out from the portal, then curving around to make a beeline for their bunker. Sure enough they end up having to defend against worm-like creatures who start gnawing away at the bunker from all sides until they break through.
* Literature/TheMysteriesOfHarrisBurdick includes a picture of a terrified man cornered in a room, rearing a wooden chair up to strike an unseen thing moving toward him beneath the carpet. The title and caption read [[http://www.onebee.com/photos/461/ "Under The Rug - Two weeks passed, and it happened again."]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* A good ''Series/{{Buffy|the Vampire Slayer}}'' example may be the giant worm which leaves tunnel patterns in "Beneath You".
* The ''Series/StargateSG1'' episode "The Scourge" has the flesh-eating insect plague do this.
* The Silurian scorpions in ''Series/{{Primeval}}''.
** In 4.4, Becker tracks a creature in a cafeteria by how it knocks over chairs.
* One episode of ''Series/{{Sliders}}'' had them sliding to a universe inhabited with a beast that did this.
* The ''Series/{{Dune}}'' miniseries.
* Happens in the ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' episode "Night of Desirable Objects".
* The Mongolian death worms in ''Series/LostTapes''.
* The Dramole monster in the first season of ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers''.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Rattlers from ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}'' are named so because when they make wormsign, people's teeth rattle from vibration.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''. Sometimes when the bulette is burrowing just below the surface its crest will be raised and be visible to anyone nearby, thus giving it the nickname "landshark".

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Mostly averted in ''VideoGame/JediKnightJediAcademy''; you barely see a puff of dust to denote the movement of the {{Sand Worm}}s. You ''can'' see exactly where they are with Force Sense, though, but you have to be close, because that power is at its lowest level that early in the game.
* The tunneling power in ''VideoGame/ChampionsOnline'' leaves a Bugs Bunny-esque burrow trail to show your position.
* The Thresher Maw in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' uses this to confuse you as to where it will pop up next.
** And the epic Thresher Maw in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' demonstrates this while chasing Wrex's convoy.
*** [[CoolVersusAwesome And against a freaking Reaper.]]
* The giant green wormoids from ''VideoGame/ZombiesAteMyNeighbors'' do this as an obvious tell for when they will attack, as a direct nod to ''Film/{{Tremors}}''.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' has tunneling worms who do precisely this. They're slightly more annoying than most enemies because while you can see them, you [[WallMaster can't damage them]] until they burst out of the ground.
* Various enemies in ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' series do this.
** Moldorms in ''Twilight Princess'' and ''The Wind Waker'' leave ridges of sand above where they burrow so you can hook[=/=]clawshot them.
** Leevers in ''Twilight Princess'', ''Ocarina of Time'', ''Majora's Mask'', and even both NES titles have a visible trail on the surface of the ground before springing up.
** Zaganaga in ''A Link Between Worlds'' creates a sand whirlpool before popping up.
** The Molduga mini bosses in ''Breath of the Wild'' have one to warn you of their location.
* In ''VideoGame/TheSuffering'', the embodiment of death by live burial does this when it chases after you. However, it leaves behind no permanent trail, and when it digs out of the ground to attack you the hole it creates will vanish.
** However, if you're quick, you can throw a bomb down the hole.
* In ''[[VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles Sonic and Knuckles]]'', Sandopolis Zone, there are disturbances on the surface of the quicksand, marking the location of the wormlike robots. The disturbances stop right before they leap out.
* ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Brawl'' does this with [[VideoGame/PokemonRubyAndSapphire Rayquaza]], the second boss of its Subspace Emissary mode. When Rayquaza uses Dig, the ground gets cracked and pushed upward to show where it will attack from.
* ''VideoGame/TimeSplittersFuturePerfect''; Tremors-like worms at the beginning of the BigBoosHaunt level.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLamentOfInnocence'' and ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaCurseOfDarkness'' has a class of undead that burrow in this manner before leaping out of the ground to strike at you.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Dune}}'' computer games, including ''VideoGame/DuneII''. The first Dune game ups the ante by including static discharge from the sand, meaning the worms are followed by ''bolts of lightning''.
** Actually true to the movie, and I believe the book. The explanation being that the worms build up large amounts of static electricity moving through the sand, and when they start to surface, the electricity discharges into the sky.
* The moles in UsefulNotes/GameAndWatch game ''Vermin''.
* ''You'' can do this in ''VideoGame/GoldenSun: The Lost Age'' with the Sand Psynergy, which turns you into a big pulsating mound of sand, free to move around, but incapable of attacking. Played straight with the Scorpion King boss, who [[SandIsWater swims around underground]] leaving a wake, and one Venus Djinni, who will seemingly teleport around while under the sand.
* ''Armageddon 2'', a map-pack for Skulltag, has this done by its twin bosses in the "Sand Worm Trench" level. They pop up occasionally from under the sand to breathe fire at you, and spend the rest of the time under the ground, raising one hell of a dust cloud.
* Among others, Blos-type monsters in ''VideoGame/MonsterHunter'' do this. Usually, by the time you see the dust clouds being kicked up, it's a bit too late to react - the real purpose of the dust clouds is to let you figure out exactly what the monster's attack pattern is, so you can avoid it from then on.
* In ''VideoGame/ShadowOfTheColossus'', Dirge, the "Sand tiger" has this when approaching the player character from a distance.
* The [[SandWorm Mechworm]] boss in ''VideoGame/HeavyWeapon''. If you see sand being thrown up under you, get out of the way or face a OneHitKill from its DigAttack.
* ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime2Echoes'' features this with the boss Amorbis.
* Both the Driller and Mole enemies from ''VideoGame/MiniRobotWars'' have this when under the ground.
* Giant worms and other burrowing enemies in ''VideoGame/{{Terraria}}'' leave a trail of little bits of dirt flying around as they're digging. They also have a very characteristic sound which can be somewhat unnerving if you can't easily defeat them yet. It does give a good indication of what side they'll be coming from next, though.
* Sand whales in ''VideoGame/SeriousSam 3: BFE'' kick up a ton of dust when chasing players that [[BorderPatrol attempt to leave the borders of the more open levels]].
* Burrowed Zerg units in ''VideoGame/StarcraftII'' can be spotted by a savvy player by spotting the "wormsign". In a more direct vein, a Nydus worm will produce wormsign in the area where it's about to pop out of the ground.
* Threshers in ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'' create these both when they move and, in the case of Feeler and Turf Threshers, they send their tentacles through the ground to attack.
* You can do this in ''VideoGame/CrashBandicoot2CortexStrikesBack'' in certain types of ground. This protects you from the bees that often swarm about said levels while you pick them off.
* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'' Batman is forced to walk along a floating wooden boardwalk in Killer Croc's lair while Croc moves around somewhere beneath the water. Occasionally some of the rafts that serve as the walkway will be kicked up or outright destroyed behind Batman, forcing the player to outrun Croc as he chases them down from beneath the surface.
* Hunters in ''VideoGame/DesertMoon'' will give off one when they're under the sand, invulnerable to attacks.
* In ''VideoGame/PokemonXAndY'', the wild Pokémon of the Lumiose Badlands give one of these to mark their location in lieu of RandomEncounters.
* ''Videogame/CivilizationBeyondEarth'': Siege Worms are big enough that, even without confronting them ([[BossInMooksClothing which is a terrible idea most of the time]]), they'll completely wreck any tile improvement with ''just'' their wormsign. A Siege Worm passing through your territory usually means a few turns of extensive repairs even if you leave it alone.
* Burrowed Chompers in ''Videogame/PlantsVsZombiesGardenWarfare'' leave a trail in the ground in this fashion if they move around.
* The Strykewyrms in ''VideoGame/RuneScape''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Wick}}'' features Caleb who digs after you. This shows up in his wake.
* Monty Moles leave these in their wake in ''VideoGame/MarioKart8''. They serve as jump ramps you can perform tricks off of.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Cataclysm}}: Dark Days Ahead'', seeing mounds of dirt can mean one of three things:
## You found a farm. Farm buildings should be nearby.
## You found a minefield. Warning signs should be nearby.
## A giant worm is nearby. Once you kill it, it splits into two weaker worms. Once you're done, you can use the wormsign to plant any seeds you may have.

* In ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}'', a network of cracks spreads across a wall towards an enemy who's attacking Dies Horribly. As the attacker pauses to notice this, two spiky, burrowing outgrowths from Dies' shape-changing arm burst out of the cracking wall and stab him.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* WesternAnimation/BugsBunny leaves trails as he digs; several episodes follow his trail for a bit before he emerges...often to realize that he should've taken that [[WrongTurnAtAlbuquerque left turn at Albecoikey]].
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'' takes this trope literally in the episode "Sandy, Spongebob, and the Worm"--Sandy is tracking a giant Alaskan Bull Worm and finds [[VisualPun a small wooden sign with "worm" written on it]].
* Gopher from ''Franchise/WinnieThePooh'' can often be seen doing this.
* The Whispering Death dragons from ''WesternAnimation/DragonsRidersOfBerk'' leave wormsigns when moving through the ground. Their presence is signified by hearing whispers, giving them their name.
* Godzilla, Jr. from ''WesternAnimation/GodzillaTheSeries'' creates several, much like his father.
* The Sandshark that attacks Korra, Asami, and their Earth Kingdom captors in ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' is first seen in a rolling dune of sand circling the wreckage of their airship. When it starts chasing them, its fins kick up quite a lot of sand.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Gophers sometimes make their tunnels quite near the surface, leaving a raised "ridge" of dirt that's been disturbed by their passage. They don't tunnel nearly as swiftly as they do in cartoons, but a gopher moving through a ''previously dug'' tunnel of this type can produce a "lump" along the ridge that moves at an appreciable rate of speed.
* Some insects, and other small critters like moles and sidewinders, can hold their breath and "swim" under the surface of soft sand for a short time.
* Small crocodiles and large snakes in muddy lakes.
* Any homeowner can tell you that moles really do leave trails like this on the surface over their burrows.
* In South America, if you see hundreds of insects and other small creatures come out of their hiding places in plain daylight, it means that army ants - or worse - driver ants are coming.
* Plant-parasitic insects leave trails similar to this in leaves or thin bark as they chew their way through the host-plant's tissues.