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Curtain Camouflage
Preach it, Supergirl!

"I hide behind curtains 'cause I have a fear of getting stabbed."
Polonius, The Simpsons on Hamlet

There are only so many places a person can hide, but one that's available in most indoor locations is the common curtain. When someone's coming and you've got to get out of sight quick, just duck behind ones of these and you're golden. Oh, drapery— where would Exact Eavesdropping and Wacky Hijinx be without you?

Bonus points if you see the shoes peeking out under the bottom. Triple bonus if the shoes were specifically put there to throw the searcher off the scent.

Close cousin to the Closet Shuffle. May lead to a Dramatic Curtain Toss. Not related to The Man Behind the Curtain, although one of those may use this.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Jessica in Banquet, to hide from EVA-Beatrice while she's busy playing with Nanjo's corpse.
  • Pani Poni Dash!: Whenever Rei freaks Rebecca out by showing she has an eye in her palm, Rebecca usually responds with this.
  • When Madlax comes to visit her target the night before the assassination on the account that it was himself who ordered his own death, she initially conceals herself behind a curtain from neck down. This was to hide the fact that she was wearing an cocktail dress and has actually come to comfort the man before he goes. She is funny like that.

Comics
  • The page image comes from the Superdictionary— appropriately, for the word "curtain."

Film—Animation
  • Disney's Hercules has Herc do this. Meg spots him easily— the twitchy feet kinda give it away.
  • Beauty and the Beast - Lumiere is caught doing inappropriate things to a feather duster behind some curtains.
  • Subverted in the VeggieTales movie The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. The villains have captured the prince and are now looking for his little sister, and one of them flings a curtain aside when he thinks she's hiding behind it. She's not. He gives up in frustration, unaware that she's actually hiding under the floorboards.

Film—Live Action
  • "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" The movie version of The Wizard of Oz, an example so famous it named a trope.
  • Undercover Brother. The title character comes home and thinks there's someone hiding behind a curtain because he sees their shoes under it. He pulls the curtain aside to expose them but finds the shoes are empty. Then Sistah Girl shows up from offscreen and puts a gun to his head (she used her shoes as bait to distract him).
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. Sigerson and Sergeant Sacker hide behind curtains after breaking into Gambetti's home. Since Gambetti is a blackmailer, this is probably a Shout-Out to the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton".
  • Clue (movie adaptation) - the curtain is used to hide the fact that the pair of arms being used for a Fake-Out Make-Out don't belong to a dead body.
  • At some point in the beginning of the first Scary Movie, the killer hides behind a curtain. Or he would, if not for his hook poking out.
  • The killer in Pieces hides behind the curtain when the cops arrive at his place.
  • The Spielberg film *batteries not included introduces one of its characters this way— the big, burly former boxer is hiding from thugs, who easily find him.
  • A cliffhanger ending of one of the episodes of the serial film Zorro's Black Whip shows the boots of the Black Whip behind a curtain, upon which the bad guys empty their pistols into it. Subverted as only the boots were behind the curtain, leaving the Black Whip free to deal with the bad guys (who now have unloaded pistols) at the start of the next episode.
  • In the 1981 film Looker, the serial killer with the L.O.O.K.E.R. gun hides behind translucent curtains while stalking his prey, who cannot see him because the gun has rendered him invisible to her, and eventually wraps her up inside a curtain before she falls to her death.
  • In American Dreamer, "Rebecca" (actually a housewife with amnesia) thinks someone is hiding like this, but it's just shoes placed under the curtain.
  • In Dial M for Murder, the killer hides behind curtains.
  • In The Palm Beach Story, Gerry hides from an intruder behind the shower curtain of her apartment.

Literature
  • The Radix: Erich Metzger does this when he comes to kill general Rojas, and it works. Apparently, Santiago Rojas's bodyguard has Failed a Spot Check.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "Charles Augustus Milverton," Holmes and Watson break into a blackmailer's house; when they hear noises coming toward the office, they quickly duck behind a curtain in time for some Exact Eavesdropping and a little murder.
    • In The Valley of Fear, the assassin hides behind the curtain to catch the victim off guard. Properly Paranoid victim spots the shoe behind the curtain and attacks the murderer, who ends up being accidentally and rather gruesomely killed in the ensuing Gun Struggle.
    • In The Mazarin Stone Holmes hides behind one to spy on two men to learn where they hid the eponymous diamond. It works because they think the shape they see is actually a wax bust of Holmes that he made a point of showing them earlier that evening.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom", Kull does not notice the spy, but at the end of the first scene, a tapestry moves.
  • In Mairelon the Magician, Kim hides behind a curtain when she wants to hide the fact she's been snooping around in the carriage.
  • On Barsoom curtains are deliberately hung to create a narrow gallery between them and the wall where guards, assassins, eavesdroppers or whatever may lurk. It's not paranoia when people are really out to get you - as everybody and everything is on Mars.
  • In The Ruby Red Trilogy, Gwen has to hide behind a curtain from her future self. Future!Gwen spots her anyway, but at least distracts Gideon.

Live-Action TV
  • In I, Claudius, Claudius ducks behind a curtain when the Praetorian Guard bursts into the palace after the murder of Caligula. They find him, and because they need an emperor to keep their jobs, they make him emperor.
  • Carnivāle: The former Creature of Light hides behind curtains to keep a sense of mystery about himself.
  • Father Ted: Ted and Dougal are playing hide-and-seek, and Dougal stupidly "hides" by concealing just his face behind a curtain, leaving the rest of his body plainly visible. When it's Dougal's turn to be "On," Ted finally concedes the fact that there just aren't many good hiding places in a caravan and hides himself in the very same way!
  • An episode of Charmed has the sisters being persued by various B horror movie villains due to a spell gone wrong. One of them, being chased by an axe murderer, no less, hides in the shower.
    I'm being chased by an axe murderer, and I hide in the shower?
  • Parker does this to hide from the Big Bad in the Leverage episode The Wedding Job.
  • Happens in Chuck, when they're spying on a spy in a bedroom who is going undercover.
  • In a vehicular variant, Klinger on M*A*S*H once hid a tank by draping an army tent over it, effectively surrounding it with curtains on all sides. However this doesn't work as the enemy (who are shelling the camp) didn't see or hear the tank drive out, so they know it's still there.

Theatre
  • In Hamlet, the title character stabs someone he thinks is Claudius through the arras he's hiding behind. It turns out to be Polonius. Though technically an arras is a heavy tapestry, it's still this trope in essence, meaning...
  • The Lion in Winter has an example that takes this up to eleven: King Philip ends up with all of King Henry's sons hiding in various places around his room as each of them visits him in succession on the same night, remarking, "That's what tapestries are for."
  • A different subversion than the shoes one occurs in the play The Murder Room: the protagonist hides behind the curtain of a window as his antagonist comes to the house - unfortunately for him, he didn't think that hiding behind the curtain means he's quite visible from the outside.

Video Games
  • In the second Laura Bow game, Laura can hide behind a tapestry in one area of the museum in order to eavesdrop on an important conversation.
  • A minigame in Super Mario RPG has Mario hiding behind a curtain while Booster's Snifits try to find a Mario doll (It Makes Sense in Context). Hilarity Ensues as Mario's feet are obviously visible, but one, then two, and then three Snifits all fail to notice him.

Western Animation
  • The scene from Hamlet (above) was parodied on The Simpsons in "Tales From The Public Domain." Bart's Hamlet stabs Chief Wiggum's Polonius, who states that he was hiding behind a curtain for fear that he would be stabbed.
  • The animated series of Police Academy had one episode where Capt. Harris and Lt. Proctor hid behind the curtains when a criminal showed up to rob the bank. They were just trying to prevent the criminal from seeing them but they accidentally fell on the criminal, capturing him by a stroke of luck. Harris quickly started hogging as much glory as he could.
  • In the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Surprise", Zorak and Moltar frantically prepare a surprise birthday party for Space Ghost. Having invited all the guests (mostly the Council of Doom) and brought them into the studio while Space Ghost was distracted, the most logical hiding place was behind a set of drapes on the set. This backfired horribly, as the drapes were never there before (and they didn't match the desk), so SG decided to just blast them (the drapes, that is; he didn't seem particularly concerned that the Council of Doom was hiding behind them).
  • The Smurfs use a tapestry as cover while they follow Lady Jasmine to her quarters in Prince Theodore's castle so that he in frog form can get a kiss from her in the episode "The Prince And The Hopper".

Real Life
  • How many of us tried this out in games of "Hide and Go Seek," only to find the results disastrous? It turns out curtains generally don't hide the bulky shape of a human as well as the movies would have us believe... and of course, feet really do poke out the bottom.
  • Not exactly a curtain, but many kids hide behind their mom's skirts when they are scared, serving the same purpose.
  • During WW2 when Charles de Gaulle went to the White House to meet President Roosevelt, the Secret Service became convinced that he'd try to assassinate the President and hid behind the curtains of the Oval Office. The sight of their shoes poking out from under the curtain did not facilitate post-war US-French relations.
  • King James I of England and VI of Scotland (one individual) managed to disprove a nurse's alleged use of this trope by ordering her to stand behind said curtain in front of an audience. It only came to her knees.
  • Supposedly, Claudius was found hiding behind a curtain after Emperor Caligula was killed.


Chameleon CamouflageInvisibility IndexDevil in Plain Sight
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