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Being Watched
Well, someone flunked out of "Hidden Ceiling Cling 101" in Ninja School.

"It feels like someone... WANTS TO SELL ME SOMETHING!!!"

This seat taken?

*tilts head*:We're being watched. Guy behind us.

It was too sunny to bring the umbrella today, so I left it at the office. You can pick it up there.

I hear this place has a back door, why don't you check for me? While you do that I have an undercooked hamburger to complain about.

How do I know he's there? I'm a Badass swordsman who knows Gun Kata, the camera went Eyedscreen, and my Spider-Sense is tingling. Telepathy. Is that what you want to hear? Now get moving before They realize we're onto them.

*Slides note across table*: Sometimes a reaction to Breaking the Fourth Wall.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • GEICO had a campaign with several ads that involved a wrapped stack of bills with big old bulging eyes. Its Leitmotif? A remix of "Somebody's Watching Me."

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Monster, Johann Liebert himself is very good at knowing when he's being watched. Case in point is when he made it clear to Tenma that he knew he was sniping him by making eye contact — from hundreds of yards away, mind you — and giving one of his trademark panic-inducing smiles.
  • A vengeful doll spirit Showing Off the New Body in Ranma ½ picks up a stick to bash Ranma with. He grabs the stick, but not because he's on to her intentions: he thinks she's giving him a stick to hit his dad who's hiding in the bushes watching.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, the first warning that you're about to fall victim to the Curse of Oyashiro-sama is the sensation of being watched.
    Rena: Someone is quietly spying on you from afar. Someone is constantly shadowing you. Someone is always right behind you, looking at you. Eventually the footsteps will be a little offbeat from yours, and you'll hear one extra. And then, when you turn off the light and climb into your futon, it will stare down at you from the base of your pillow. Silently, patiently, waiting until you've accepted your sins.
  • In the OVA of A Certain Scientific Railgun, Mikoto experiences the phenomenon known as "Someone's watching." At random points throughout the episode she gets the feeling that someone is indeed watching her and this understandably leads to paranoia.
  • Pretty much the main plot point of Chaos;Head. Almost every time something weird happens, someone or something will say or read "Sono me dare no me?", which roughly translates to "Whose eyes are those eyes?"
  • It's revealed in Full Metal Panic! TSR that this was actually a reason for a good number of Sōsuke's more paranoid moments while undercover at school. Apparently his "backup" from the Intelligence Division would aim at him with a sniper rifle's laser pointer for kicks, setting off his battlefield-honed instincts.
  • In the director's cut of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Misato is spying on Kaworu from several miles away with binoculars... then Kaworu turns and looks her directly in the eye. Cue Misato going You Can See Me?
  • Conan always knows when Kaitou KID is watching him. Always. Haibara always knows when she is being watched by a member of the Black Organization.
  • This is Pride's specialty in Fullmetal Alchemist, being an omnipresent Eldritch Abomination with the body of an inconspicuous little child, and all.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - Takane feels the presence of the Paparazzi following her.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, during one of the Allies' meetings, six of the seven members of the group get the unnerving sense that an unseen presence is watching them. Theories as to what it is ranges from it being the ghosts of one of Russia's czars to a video tape that has a lot of static. It's actually the seventh member, Canada, who of course they failed to notice entirely.

    Comics 

    Fan Fic 

    Films — Live Action 
  • Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
    Luke: I feel like... I don't know...
    Yoda: Feel like what?
    Luke: (whirls around and whips out his blaster) Like we're being watched!
    • Somewhat justified in that the Force does grant a bit of extra awareness.
  • Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie
    Bill: You ever get that feeling when you know you're being watched?
  • Jurassic Park
    Ellie: There's the shed. We can make it if we run.
    Muldoon: Well, we can't.
    Ellie: Why not?
    Muldoon: We're being hunted. A velociraptor, in the bushes straight ahead.
    • Unfortunately for Muldoon, he fails to spot the other velciraptor (until it's too late).
      Muldoon: Clever girl....
  • The Bourne Ultimatum: Impressive for making an entire sequence based around this, with Jason Bourne able to see the line of sight for at least a dozen cameras and avoid them all himself while instructing a journalist on how to avoid them.
  • An inversion of sorts takes place in The Warriors when Mercy tells the gang that she's noticed they're being watched. She's then informed that the gang knew all along and, thanks to her, their enemies now know they've been spotted.
  • The Conspiracy: Characters are shadowed by a man on a bike and a blacked-out truck at various points after they catch onto things they shouldn't.

    Films — Animated 
  • Horton Hears a Who!
    Mayor of Who-Ville: Hey, hon, did you ever get the feeling that you were being watched, and that maybe that thing watching you is... ehhh, a giant elephant?

    Literature 
  • The Dark Tower
    • Roland does this when he's in Eddie's head in The Drawing of the Three, pointing out all the airport feds who are watching the suspected drug mule while Eddie's out shopping.
    • In the forth novel, Wizard and Glass, Roland's love Susan can sense when the witch Rhea is watching them through the eponymous glass.
  • In the YA novel The Dancing Meteorite, misfit Kira tries to tell her less-experienced fellow students that someone is watching them... and they think she's crazy and ignore her. Needless to say, it turns out they should have listened.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts novel Sabbat Martyr, Baen says this to Varl. He's right, because Pater Sin and his psyker-Creepy Children are walking between them while psyk-cloaked. In Traitor General, the scouts on Gereon know they're being tracked just before the Nihtgane show themselves. In The Armour of Contempt Mkoll and Eszrah recognise that there's someone out there watching them who the latter gets to see and is strongly implied to be MkVenner, while Vadim and Caffran have a similar sentiment at their part of Gereon.
  • In one of the Warhammer 40,000 Eisenhorn short stories by Dan Abnett, a veteran soldier twice has this feeling, which is good enough to make Eisenhorn ready weapons and get into cover. Good job really, as they get fired on almost immediately.
  • In The Wheel of Time, characters in the World of Dreams have a constant feeling of being watched. Often, possibly always, they're right.
  • In John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos, this is a magic ability. Unless magically blocked, absolutely reliable, and capable of detecting even magical viewing, from a distance, and often capable of figuring out the intent of those watching.
    • This ability can also detect electronic surveillance devices, but only if there is someone monitoring them and consciously watching/listening. If no one on the other end is paying attention to the data being transmitted, then this ability will not pick up on the devices.
  • In the Discworld book Monstrous Regiment, it is mentioned that vampires have a highly developed sense of this. As The Igor says, "In timeth of thtrethth a vampireth perthonal thpace can extend theveral mileth". "Threth-th?"
  • The Lord of the Rings
    • In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf calls Sam out for eavesdropping on him when he is explaining the properties of the One Ring to Frodo.
      Sam: "There aren't any eaves at Bag End and that's a fact."
    • The Two Towers. Sam has the feeling of being watched, and it turns out to be Gollum following him.
    Once, looking suddenly back, as if some prickle of the skin told him that he was watched from behind, he thought he caught a brief glimpse of a small dark shape slipping behind a tree-trunk.
  • In Warbreaker, Breath gives you this ability, called "lifesense". With only one Breath (which everyone is born with), it manifests as this trope.
  • In Shibumi, the protagonist Nikolai Hel is capable of sensing when someone is watching him. It is not really telepathy and he isn't wholly sure how he gained that ability but he speculates it is a result of his senses being sharpened to cope with the lack of external stimulus after spending several years in solitary confinement. Considering he has several other Charles Atlas Superpowers, it's probably not as strange for him.
  • Herald Mage Vanyel Ashkevron convinced a type of elusive and generally harmless minor spirit to watch any non-Herald that used "true" magic in Valdemar until he or another Herald Mage told them to stop. Given that Ashkevron was the Last Herald Mage for several centuries and the spirits were nearly impossible to ignore, block out, drive off, or even properly locate... most mages either fled or cracked within a week or two of crossing the border.
  • Tash Arranda in Galaxy of Fear, being an untrained Force-Sensitive, can tell this, even when the 'watcher' is a technically blind living planet or a ghost. At the start of the series she's not comfortable enough in her powers and her companions keep telling her It's Probably Nothing, but as the books go on she and they start trusting this sense more.
  • Lolita. Humbert during his last road trip with Dolores is convinced a private detective is following him. Becomes a sign of his Villainous Breakdown as he lapses into increasing paranoia, but his fears are not entirely unfounded as it's actually Quilty, another pedophile who plans on stealing Dolores away from him.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Rockford Files
    Karen Hall: That's why I had that horrible feeling I was being watched.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena always knows when a god is watching her. Usually Ares.
  • In the Highlander series, Immortals always know when another Immortal is nearby. They can sense each other's Quickening.
  • Ziva David of NCIS can always tell when someone is watching her. Tony lampshades this in most instances, calling her on her "spidey-sense".
  • In Babylon 5, Lyta Alexander can tell if someone is watching her through a security camera after her psychic upgrade.
    Dr. Trent: She knows she's being watched.
    Sheridan: The security cameras are carefully hidden.
    Dr. Trent: Yes, but she knows where the camera is, and she knows we're watching her. Just look at her. Is there another camera in there?
    Sheridan: Yes, but...
    Dr. Trent: Humor me.
    Sheridan: ...Switch to the alternate view.
    Lyta's head snaps around to look at the viewer
    Ivanova: Well, that's a neat trick.
  • Rule number one of The X-Files: Someone is always watching.
  • At one point in the original-series Star Trek episode "Devil In The Dark", Spock is able to tell when the Horta is watching him and Kirk.
  • JAG: In “Skeleton Crew”, Commander Alison Krennick, while investigating the murder of a female officer, is lost in the corridors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Seahawk. She suddenly feels that she’s being watched, the lights go out and when she desperately reaches for the hatch to an upper level it’s stuck. Then it suddenly opens and a Marine guard is on the other side and he goes down to see if there is anyone there, but he finds nothing. It is implied by the camera angles that someone actually was following her, but we never get to see who it was.

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons, surprisingly, omitted it... until Dark Sun sourcebook The Will and the Way introduced "Sensitivity to Observation" power.
    • Not entirely accurate: The rules for the Scrying spells allow the person being observed to notice the scrying sensor. This has been around ever since the Scrying spells existed.
  • Paranoia has security cameras (with integrated laser guns) all over the place. (Rumors of security camera malfunctions are treasonous. Report all rumors.) Oh, and spies planted by Internal Security, secret societies, other service groups jealously guarding their spheres of influence... you get the idea. The XP edition introduces a standard game mechanic for just how closely any given area is being monitored.
  • Aberrant includes the ability to detect this trope as a Mega-Perception enhancement named "That Creepy Feeling". Being extranormal, this sense can be fooled by the Quantum power "Blank" (which also negates such unnatural senses as ESP and telepathic scanning).

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, one of the standard voice files for the Dark Elves, if they nearly detected the player, was: "Someone's watching me. I can tell."
  • When you read people's minds in The World Ends with You, you might come across that one person who thinks,
    "Hey! You there! Peeping at my thoughts, huh? I know you are! Well, if you think you can mind-control me or something, you're sorely mistaken!"
  • Since you're being chased by ninja, everybody in Yo-Jin-Bo gets this feeling all the time. And if you spy on Muneshige and Mon-Mon in the hot spring, they'll say this about you.
  • GLaDOS's cameras are everywhere in Portal, and the walls in the some of the hidden rooms have crude drawings of said cameras with "SHE'S WATCHING YOU" scribbled on the wall.
  • The surveillance in Mirror's Edge is extensive, however, the protagonist specializes in escaping the authorities despite them knowing exactly where she is.
  • In web-game Dragonstone, the genre-savvy innkeeper uses this phrase to warn you about the upcoming new enemy type.
  • Ceiling Peon is watching you infiltrate.
  • Apparently, Gabe Newell is watching you!!
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3 you can tell if you are being watched. Also most games with a stealth system.
  • In RollerCoaster Tycoon (both 1 and 2), you can click on patrons, which brings up a window with a camera trained on them and tabs to see their likes, dislikes, thoughts, etc. If you keep that window open for about 10 minutes, one of the thoughts the patron starts to have is "I have a feeling someone is watching me...".
  • Happens in pretty much every game based on Slender. Even more so in Arrival, especially during the prologue, when Slender Man may be outside the house but doesn't come in. The fact that he's just lurking outside makes it even creepier.

    Visual Novels 
  • Subverted in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Characters who have come under "Oyashiro-sama's curse" tend to say that it's like a shadow constantly on their backs, like they're always being watched. Too bad it's just paranoia from brain dysfunction.
    • In a Double Subversion, it turns out that the footsteps they hear are in fact real. The problem is that they hear someone following them, but can't see them. The paranoia from the brain dysfunction (which was caused by parasites) that allows them to hear it is, in fact, caused by extreme stress. The "shadow" in question? Never intended any harm.
  • The group suspects they are being watched by "Zero" in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and thus decide to give themselves aliases, lest he/she find out and come after their families.. Zero is one of the group, and knows their names..

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Hair-Raising Hare
    Bugs Bunny: Listen, Dracula... Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? Like the eyes of strange things are upon you? Look, out there in the audience...
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants: Patchy the pirate and Polly the parrot are arguing about SpongeBob. Cut to SpongeBob in the Krusty Krab, saying, "I just have this strange feeling that a pirate and a parrot are arguing about me... and the parrot is winning!"
    • Also parodied and subverted with:
      SpongeBob: (while being followed) It feels like... someone... wants to sell me something!
      • He's right.
      • This gag was actually initiated by the blue jellyfish stalking him, but two door-to-door salesmen are seen hiding behind a rock after the line is said.
  • In The Penguins of Madagascar the entire episode "Tangled in the Web" is a "being watched" moment. (There are webcams everywhere.)
    • The same episode starts with a close up of Skipper saying something to the effect of "Ever get the feelings someone is watching your every move?" The camera zooms out to show the other three penguins standing very close to him in circle, all staring at him.
  • In The Simpsons episode "In Marge We Trust", Bart, having discovered a Japanese advertising mascot in Homer's likeness, suggests that the family is being spied on. Marge insists that "no one is watching us", and the family resume eating dinner, glancing around uneasily as they do.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Fraudulent Volcano". While taking Jonny and Hadji to rescue Dr. Quest and Race Bannon, the sergeant says that he has a feeling they're being watched.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy, episode "Fa, La, La, La, Ed":
    Edd: Ed, please! Someone may be watching...
  • The Venture Bros. pilot in the image above, played for laughs of course.

    Real Life 
  • The inexplicable sensation that someone is staring at you is a real phenomenon that people experience in everyday life. There are even scientific studies corroborating it. Evidence tends to support that the ability to sense directed attention from other people is a real sense and it's surpisingly accurate, being correct more often than not.
    • The Other Wiki has this article on the "psychic staring effect", which also talks about the various studies done on the subject, which conclude that the feeling is not actually as reliable as people might think.

Now, time to give them a good poke in the eye.
Battle StripHarbinger of AsskickingBeware the Nice Ones
We Only Have One ChanceStock PhrasesWe've Got Company
Area 51The Index Is Watching YouI Know You're Watching Me
The Venture Bros.ImageSource/Western AnimationCame Back Wrong

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