- Parodied frequently on Mystery Science Theater 3000 — their version usually boils down to, "Hey, look, a big distracting thing!"
- Would you believe that Maxwell Smart used this ploy in most episodes of Get Smart?
- On Gilligan's Island during Gilligan's dream where he's a secret agent, Mr. Howell (who plays the Big Bad in the dream) pulls this on him. Gilligan falls for it and they struggle over Gilligan's gun as the dream ends.
- The first episode of Season Three of House featured Cameron following House down a corridor, pestering him about something he didn't want to discuss. House tells her she's forgetting: he can do something now he couldn't do before... and then trails off, looking over her shoulder with a puzzled expression. As soon as she turns to check, he runs away.
- Wilson does this to House in "Frozen", when House keeps pestering him about who he's dating: "Okay, but you swear not to tell anyone? It's— (dodges around House and runs)."
- Reese from Malcolm in the Middle
Hey look, I'm over there.
- In another episode, Malcolm and Reese are playing the Circle Game (if you see someone's thumb and index finger in a circle below their waist, they get to punch you). Then Stevie joins in, and it turns out he's very easily distracted, as Reese manages to get him with "Hey, look, a snake!" while indoors.
- Larry of Perfect Strangers distracts Balki by saying something like "Hey, isn't that Wayne Newton?" This upsets Balki, as Larry "took the name of Wayne in vain."
- Space Cases, when Thelma is cornered by the cast of Evil Twins:
Thelma: Look over there.
: You don't get it. We're evil
. We don't do what we're told.
Thelma: Don't look over there.
(everyone looks, and Thelma bolts)
- One sketch in the improv-comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? has Ryan Stiles playing a ruthless "killer" taking out the other cast-members. When he finally corners lone "survivor" Colin Mochrie, Colin pulls this trick. Ryan dopily turns and stares, and Colin, showing impressive speed, sprints off the stage to safety.
- Red Dwarf... "excuse me, could I just distract you for a brief second?" The villain's response is to grunt "huh?" and turn around!
- Used in The Sarah Jane Adventures, where Maria says, "Look! UNIT!" to a Sontaran. However, the Sontaran claims he looked deliberately as he knew where Maria and the others would escape to, and it would save him having to chase them.
- In The IT Crowd, when Moss needs to distract a roomful of women so Roy can escape from under a desk, he looks out of a window and starts describing a builder on the scaffolding outside, "taking his shirt off, just like in ads!" Subverted as there is a shirtless builder out there, but he's not exactly sexy.
- This was actually Jen's successful tactic. Moss' attempt involved literally saying something unbelievable was happening that couldn't be described, in an unconvincing tone. It fails miserably.
- In Kenan & Kel, the two are about to be beaten up by a bar gang, when Kenan says, "Look, the Great Wall of China!" The entire gang, plus Kel, not only looks, but stares silently awe-struck at this nonexistent wonder.
- An extended version of the cup-switching trick is carried out in Haggard wherein two characters repeatedly get one another to look behind them in order to switch who has the drugged cup. Both are well aware of what the other is doing.
- Pee-wee Herman would often do this. The talking doll even says, "What's that? Made you look!" However, it was subverted in the Christmas Special: inside the Magic Screen, Magic Johnson says, "Pee-wee! Look! A polar bear!" Pee-wee responds, "Oldest trick in the book!" but looks behind anyway. Sure enough, a big, mean-looking polar bear is behind them.
- In an episode of Stella, a novelist with writers block escapes with the three main characters' manuscript by shouting "Oh my gosh! a baby deer!" (when they weren't even outside):
David: Hey, you guys? She's gone!
Michael: There was no baby deer!
Michael: Do you mean the entire time she was talking about the baby deer, she was lying?
Michael: Yes. I'm afraid so...
David: She's brilliant...
Michael: I'm gonna look one more time for that baby deer...
- Subverted in Jack-of-All-Trades: during a poker game with Napoleon with the Louisiana Purchase as the stakes, Nap tells Jack, "What on Earth is that?!" and when Jack makes a great show of looking intently and trying to see what it is that Napoleon saw, Napoleon slips a fourth queen into his hand. What he doesn't realize, but Jack does, is that when Jack's back was turned to Napoleon, his front was obscured from Napoleon, and Jack took the opportunity to slip a fifth jack into his own hand (he had a joker).
- One recurring segment on The Colbert Report is called "Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A." and the opening graphics depict Stephen playing chess against The Grim Reaper. He points, yells "Look!", and moves some of the pieces around while Death isn't looking.
- In Scrubs Season 2's finale (if I remember right), when Dr Cox finds out that Jordan has just had his baby (that he previously thought was someone else's), he (rightfully) tells her outright that, because she lied to him, he's not sure if they will be able to continue in a relationship. She refuses to accept this and won't stop pestering him until he takes back what he said. He manages to buy a few moments of sweet relief by starting a sentence normally, then trailing off and stating loudly "and oh my God, is that guy on fire?", then making a break for it when Jordan isn't looking.
- Arthur pulls this on Merlin in one episode of Merlin so he can mix the liquids and drink the poison rather than letting Merlin do it This turned out to be how he passed the test, and saved Camelot.
- In the Doctor Who serial The Time Monster:
Benton: You didn't really think you could fool me with a fake telephone call, did you? It's the oldest trick in the book.
The Master: I underestimated you, Sergeant. ... [glancing behind Benton] Why, Doctor! What a very timely—
[Benton turns around; the Master hits him, and he goes down cold.]
, Sergeant Benton! That
is the oldest trick in the book!
- Used in the "Bicycle Repair Man" sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus.
- Another Python sketch has a well-to-do household gathered in a drawing room after a murder has been committed. A Scotland Yard inspector strides in, introducing himself as Inspector Tiger. They echo his name in puzzlement and he spins around shouting "Where, where??" Later, Inspector Lookout enters, the same thing happens. Later still, Inspector There's-a-man-behind-you enters, they echo his name, and he chuckles "Oh no, I'm not falling for that one!"
- Subverted in an episode of Primeval where Danny is fighting a knight and successfully gets him to look up. His subsequent Groin Attack however fails due to the knight's armour.
- In one episode of The Golden Girls, Sophia yelled, "Look! Saint Francis of Assisi!" in order to distract a priest so she could slap Stan.
- Used - and lampshaded - by Drew Carey on The Drew Carey Show: "Look, it's the oldest trick in the book!"
- Used by Daiki Kaitou/Diend in the Den-O Trilogy: Episode Yellow, trying to escape Time Police Reiji Kurosaki by pointing out the DenLiner crew trying to reclaim the time train. Kurosaki doesn't buy it at first, so of course this is one of the few times Kaitou is being 100% truthful.
- In The Cosby Show, Cliff does this to Rudy during a checker game. It doesn't work. Rudy then tries it on Cliff. It works.
- Saturday Night Live did a sketch that purported to show the historical origin of this trick (although, judging by the way the characters were dressed, the sketch had to be taking place in the 1920s at the very earliest). A teacher at a high-school spelling bee (Will Ferrell) loses his cards and is reduced to making up words for the contestants to spell. When they start to catch on to his deception, he points and shouts: "Hey! Look over there!" - before humorously creeping off the stage with his hands held in front of him like a praying mantis. Cue a Freeze Frame and a Lemony Narrator announcing: "That was the first time that 'Hey! Look over there!' was used to escape an embarrassing situation. And how do I know this? Well....Uh....'Hey! Look over there!' "
- Used in a Mad TV sketch in which the Terminator travels back to Biblical times, shows up at the Last Supper, and shouts: "Look! Pontius Pilate at six o'clock!" so that he can shoot Judas Iscariot.
- Double Subversion in Sister, Sister. Tia got Tamera a date with what was initially believed to be a college kid (although it was later revealed that he was actually an elementary/middle school person, and the confusion stemmed from the fact that the school was referred to as an "academy."). Tamera then approaches Tia when telling some jokers about her having a date, then asks Tia where her date is. Tia then tells her that he's right behind her. She turns and then asks where. Tia then specifies that she has to look down when turning, to show a kid right behind her.
Tamera: Tia, where's my date? (oblivious to the child behind her)
Tia: (irritated) Right behind you. (pointing behind her)
(Tamera turns quickly and back)
Tia: (sighs heavily) Look 'down'.
(Tamera's face grows nervous at the implication, turns cautiously while looking down, then jumps away in shock)
Kid: Well, whaddya know?! T-wins! Looks like I've hit the jackpot! (mimicking a slot machine payout) Ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-CHING!!
- On Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Renewal", a cop was able to make the robber look by shouting "Don't come in here!" while pointing at the door behind the criminal.
- While fighting with a sword-wielding intruder, Sherlock shouts, "Look!" then punches the man when he turns his head.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Subverted in an interesting way. At the start of Series 3 when the Federation and Dominion have forged a treaty together, the cast decides to sabotage the treaty and find an unexpected ally in Garak, the station's resident tailor. To break Sisko out of prison, Garak, Dax and Bashir confront Eddington who's taken over station security. Dax and Bashir's challenge of him is interrupted by Garak, who is standing on Eddington's right, spotting a loose thread on Eddington's left shoulder. As Eddington turns his head to look at what Garak's pointing at, it causes him to fully expose the right side of his neck to Garak who whips out a hypospray and sedates him. The subversion? It never happened. It was a simulation the command crew was unknowingly being forced to experience by their Dominion captors.
- Lampshaded in Dead Like Me when George is chasing an erstwhile thief.
"Look! A Pterodactyl!"
(George pauses to look; the thief bolts.)
George (voiceover): I can't believe I fell for that.
- Firefly Mal, Zoe, and Jayne are in a bar on I day. Mal pulls this in a fight, the guy refuses to fall for it. That is OK, Zoe cold cocks him from behind.
- Angel. Averted in "Epiphany" when the heroes realise this tactic won't work on a demon that literally has eyes in the back of its head.
- Community - in "Regional Holiday Music", Glee Club director Mister Rad, during an angry outburst, realizing he's basically admitted killing the last year's Glee Club on stage to a good sized audience, points and shouts "Hey! Kings of Leon!" and bolts.
- In "Comparative Religion", Troy and Pierce teach Jeff how to fight, Pierce teaching how to fight dirty.
Pierce: Britta, put your blouse back on. [Jeff spins around, Pierce kicks his shin]
Pierce: Boys, this is not a game, you've gotta be ready for anything!
Troy: Dude! That is not cool!
Pierce: Look, that foxy black girl thinks it is. [Troy spins around, Pierce kicks his shin]
Jeff: What are you doing?
Troy: Why's she have to be black?
- In Dark Angel, Max faces Alec in a cage match, and eventually goes, "Look, the ring girl took off her top!" Alec says he's not falling for it, but when Max insists, he gets a perverted look on his face and turns around. The ring girl is not topless and glares at him, then Max gives him a Groin Attack and defeats him.
- Used multiple times in At Last the 1948 Show.
- In the parody thriller "Mice Laugh Softly, Charlotte", the hero, Oddish, twice disarms villains by pointing at the ceiling and saying "Look out!", then kicking their guns out of their hands while they are distracted.
- The "Burglar Hides in the Library" sketch features a variation; because the burglar and the policemen pursuing him are shushed impatiently by the librarian and the other library patrons if they so much as whisper, the policemen disarm the burglar using a sign reading "Look out. There's someone behind you".
- In a Halloween special of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Salem tries pulling this on the viewer, warning them of an alleged escaped convict. Dramatic lightning, and then...
Salem: Made you look!
- In an episode of Married... with Children where the Bundys and D'arcys are camping out to dig for gold, Peg tells Al there's a tarantula on his arm. Al doesn't believe her, saying that the moment he turns his back she'll steal his gold, but it turns out there really is a tarantula crawling up his arm and the rest of the family still uses the distraction to go after his gold.
- Blake's 7
- In "Time Squad", Blake meets the telepath Cally, who's about to shoot him in the belief he's a spy. Blake pretends to glance behind her, then jumps Cally when she turns to look, saying it's a good thing she's not the kind of telepath who can read minds. Ironically it turns out there really is someone behind her — Avon had been keeping her covered with his gun the whole time.
- In "Countdown", the Villain of the Week fires up the rockets of a small spacecraft while ostensibly activating the door control, making his captor instinctively look towards the noise.
- In "Aftermath", Servalan steals Avon's teleport bracelet at gunpoint. Avon then claims it's damaged and won't work. "Look at the casing; it's cracked right across." Servalan doesn't fall for it, but fortunately someone else shoots at her, providing a genuine distraction.