"Rule #31: Always check the back seat."A character walks to their car. She may be aware that something is dangerous out there, or we may get a creepy vibe. But eventually she gets into the car, unharmed and prepares to drive off. She adjusts the rear-view mirror and- OH GOD TEETH IN THE FACE! Perhaps it's because there's some idea of a car as a safe place, but attackers in TV regularly hide in your backseat, waiting to attack when you enter the car. Whether it's psychos with knives, flesh eating monsters or mysterious spies with secret information, the intrusion of personal space is creepy if not outright terrifying. It's nearly never noticed before the victim is in their car, and no reference is made to how they got in without breaking the windows. Occasionally a stealthy or mysterious Anti-Hero protagonist can pull this off to intimidate someone, but it's not a very heroic thing to do — it's rude! See also Offscreen Teleportation, Stealth Hi/Bye. Compare Not My Driver, Closer Than They Appear.
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Anime and Manga
- In a variant that overlaps somewhat with Closer Than They Appear, an episode of Paranoia Agent has a television producer being stalked by Lil Slugger. He's on his way to work and looks in the rearview mirror. Nothing. He's in the clear. He looks again. Lil Slugger is roller blading behind him. On the highway. And it's catching up.
- Justified in Ghost in the Shell: Arise where Motoko uses therm-optic camouflage to hide in the front seat.
- Subverted in an issue of Mister Miracle. When his wife Big Barda gets into her car, she finds a mob thug hiding in her back seat: "Oh, please don't hurt me, I'll do anything you say," she mewls. (Anyone who is familiar with Big Barda's abilities and personality knows why this is funny.) Cut to later as she tells her husband about the incident: "Oh my god! Is he okay?!"
- For the Anti-Hero variant, Batman has made something of a habit of this. But then, sneaking up and scaring people is part of his MO.
- In 52, The Question sort of... magics his way into the back of Renee's car between panels in Week 4.
- In Welcome To The Jungle, Harry Dresden and the zookeeper he's protecting encounter a hellhound in the back seat of the Blue Beetle.
Films — Animated
- In the Heavy Metal, story, "Harry Canyon," the title character is a taxi driver ready for this stunt with a disintegrater ray installed in the back of his seat to kill anyone trying it.
Films — Live-Action
- Played with in The Amazing Spider-Man. A car thief uses a high-tech device to break into a car, gets into the driver's seat, and starts trying to hotwire it. Spidey's sitting in the backseat the whole time, and actually has to clear his throat before the car thief notices him.
- The Godfather. "Hello, Carlo". Explainable, as it wasn't Carlo's car.
- A good many horror villains do this.
- A glaring example is Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses where it gets done in a convertible.
- Conspiracy Theory has the Hero pull this off a few times.
- In Hot Fuzz the last villain gets this surprise from a swan attack in the back seat.
- The first victim to die in Urban Legend was killed this way. As mentioned further below, it references a well-known urban legend, as do many of the important killings in the movie.
- Eric Draven does this to T-Bird, one of the five targets of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, in The Crow.
- Jimmy Angelo pulls this in Practical Magic when his abused girlfriend, about to be rescued from their motel room by her more sensible sister, insists that she can't leave without the lucky necklace she left hanging on her rearview mirror...
- At the end of Lucky Number Slevin, the detective who has always been one step behind the protagonist falls victim to this while having an expository conversation with his colleague over the radio in his car. The protagonist is polite enough to wait until the exposition is finished, but strikes before the detective hangs up, making sure the colleague knows something is up.
- The dilophosaur that kills Nedry from Jurassic Park attacks him in his jeep.
- A flashback in Series 7: The Contenders shows Action Mom Dawn garroting a victim from a past series this way.
- In the movie Firewall the hero is kidnapped by two thugs waiting for him inside his car.
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning does this with the rebooted version of Leatherface, when he kills a fleeing woman by hiding in her car and surprising her. Which is actually rather incongruous, given that Leatherface is approximately 12 feet tall and built like a linebacker.
- Tommy Boy with the deer (which Chris Farley and David Spade thought was dead).
- Grace Jones as "May Day" murdered two guys this way (separate attacks) in A View to a Kill, resulting in James Bond not getting the support/reinforcements he expected.
- The short film Suspicious has this happening to Janane Garofalo's character, in an enactment of an urban legend.
- Dog Soldiers has this happen when a werewolf hides in the back of a jeep. Joe, who is inside the jeep at the time, realizes this before the wolf attacks, however, and decides to leap into the back of the jeep to take on the creature himself. The results aren't pretty.
- There's a variation on this in Aliens where the pilot of the dropship is attacked by an alien that has snuck on board.
- Night of the Demons 2 has Angela popping out of the trunk to interrupt two horny Catholic school students.
- The Human Alien kids in Escape to Witch Mountain do this early in the movie. Unusually for this trope, we see how they do it.
- Technically, Indiana Jones finding a snake in the compartment of his friend's plane in Raiders of the Lost Ark is a variant of this, albeit subverted as the snake is harmless. Not that he cares.
- Subverted in James Rolfe's short movie The Deader The Better. The film is about two men whose job it is to patrol a cemetery where zombies emerge every night. Despite being standard Romero zombies who only need one good hit to the head, one of the men delights in creatively dismembering them, which he's reprimanded for by his partner. Sure enough, when he drives home that morning, there's a zombie in his backseat. Karmic Death, right? No, he savagely beats it up and throws it out the window.
- Played painfully straight in The Strangers. The male lead makes a dash for the car to see if it's still working. He sees that all the windows of the car have been smashed in. Now, any person with half a brain would either give up on checking the car, or at least look in the backseat. What does this guy do? Gets into the car without even taking a quick glance to the seats behind him! Guess what happens? he doesn't get killed (there), but there WAS someone in the backseat.
- In A Few Good Men, Lt. Kaffee is on the receiving end when Lt. Col. Markinson is waiting in his car. Markinson points out that he left the back door unlocked. Possibly a subverted trope (on account of the fact that there was actually no danger)?
- The Hangover has it with a sedated tiger. Hilarity (and car damage) Ensues.
- One of the rules that the Genre Savvy Columbus adheres by in Zombieland is to make sure to always check the backseat for any zombies. Unfortunately Tallahassee doesn't listen to this and an entirely human Little Rock gets the drop on him. Also comes in handy earlier when the two find an H2 Hummer with weapons in the backseat.
Tallahassee: Thank god for rednecks!
- In the original Halloween film, Annie plans to drive over to her boyfriend's house after leaving her babysitting charges with Laurie. Finding her car locked, she goes into the house to fetch the keys, comes back to the car, opens the door without having to unlock it...and just has time to notice steam on the windshield when Michael Myers (whose breath caused said steam) springs from the back seat and throttles her.
- This also happens in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers where Michael clings to the bottom of a moving pickup truck, before climbing up the side and killing the three men in the back of the truck.
- And in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, where Michael lurks in the back of Barry's van.
- Screamers ends with a shot of a doll in the back of the one-man spacecraft used by the protagonist to escape the planet. The doll is the type previously seen carried by the Creepy Child Killer Robot. Just before the movie ends we see the doll start to move of its own accord.
- Wolf Creek. The main character, believing she's gotten away from Mick Taylor, gets into a car, then hears his distinctive chuckle in the seat behind her, right before he stabs her in the back.
- The Yellow Bastard did this in Sin City. This was sort of implausible, since 1) it was snowing, 2) he was bleeding pretty badly, and 3) it was mentioned several times how much he stank, so you'd think there'd be some sort of a sign or trail that would've tipped them off. Hartigan does mention smelling him the whole time, but attributes it to a lingering stench from checking out his car.
- The Judge Reinhold film Baby On Board subverted this when the lead character, a cabbie, returns to his taxi after getting some coffee only to have a man with a gun pop up from the backseat. The thug demands money, and the cabbie asks to put his coffee down first. As he does, he presses the button that deploys pepper spray from the roof of his car. Cue the thug staggering out of the car while the cabbie calmly hands him eye drops and tell him it'll wear off in a few minutes.
- Strangely averted in Independence Day. Will Smith drives across the desert with an unconscious alien in the back of his truck. He brings it to the secret lab without incident. Very unexpected.
- By far the best addition to Let Me In was a 10 minute sequence where we follow the killer in the back seat from the time he gets in to the time he makes the kill. It's also one of the most intense sequences in the movie.
- Played with in Scream 4, where characters scared of Ghostface are constantly checking the back seat when getting into a car. It doesn't help.
- The Dark Knight has Harvey Dent/Two Face pulling a slightly modified version of this on Salvatore Maroni- Maroni gets into the back seat and then notices Dent sitting next to him. A Freeze-Frame Bonus reveals the mook who intended to get into that seat gets dragged off-screen by Dent moments before Maroni climbed into the car; Dent evidently got in at the same time.
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby features a particularly vicious cougar in the back seat of the car that Ricky Bobby learns to drive again.
- In The Matrix Reloaded during the highway chase scene, one of the Twins chasing Morpheus, Trinity and the Keymaster (the latter the target everyone's after) ghosts his way into the trio's car and rematerializes in the back seat leading to an in-car fight to keep him from taking the Keymaster while trying to keep the car steady.
- In the remake of Assault on Precinct 13 (2005), two of the protagonists try to make for a car past the attack squad to get help. They seemingly manage to get to the car and start celebrating then one of said squad pops up from behind the seat, murders one of them and captures the other.
- A variation occurs in The Elusive Avengers: the Crown of the Russian Empire. Here, Monsieur Duc's agents board the back seat in mid-trip during a short stop (the driver is also of the "not my" variety) while Colonel Kudasov is still unsuspecting, then try to assassinate him.
- A Deleted Scene in Looper has a police officer (tired after being up all night searching for the protagonists) getting into his squad car after fetching coffee and not noticing that Kid Blue is crouched in the seat next to him until he speaks up (the cop is so startled he crashes the car into a parked vehicle).
- Colombiana. The Big Bad flees the protagonist's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in a van only to find she's left two attack dogs in the back.
- Last scare in Children of the Corn (1984) involves one of the children attacking Burt from the backseat of his car. He punches her out and the cast start walking to the neigboring town.
- Drummer does this during a meeting with Barney in The Expendables 3. The vehicle in question? A truck with FORD written on the front in bold capital letters.
- Parts II and III in the Slumber Party Massacre trilogy both feature a scene where a person sitting behind the wheel of car gets struck with a drill that goes through the seat.
- Happens in the horror anthology Nightmares, in the "Terror in Topanga" segment, and is based on the same Urban Legend (e.g., "The Killer in the Backseat") as the introductory scene in Urban Legend.
- In The Howling, just as Karen and Chris are driving away from The Colony, Werewolf!Bill pops up from the backseat and attacks.
- The Incredible Melting Man: The melting man kills an elderly couple when he creeps into the back of their car before they come back.
Live Action TV
- Angel pulls this on Wolfram & Hart employees when he wants to intimidate them. It's not even as though they can see him in the rear-view mirror.
- Happens to Alex Drake near the start of Ashes to Ashes
- In Breaking Bad, this is how Tuco kidnaps Jesse and Walt at the beginning of season two
- Happens to Veronica Mars at the end of the first season with Aaron Echolls.
- Dexter pulled this off at least once.
- Shawn Spencer pulled this off in hilarious fashion on two cops.
- Another episode inverted it. Abagail is in the back of Buzz's cop car when suddenly he's knocked out and the episode's villain gets in the front seat.
- The classic The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Hitchhiker."
- In Carnivāle, Justin Crowe uses astral projection to hijack the car Henry Scudder is using to escape, killing him with a sickle.
- One British crime drama (I think it was Inspector Morse) had an interesting variation. A female office worker is being hassled by a creepy co-worker. When she leaves he starts chasing her in his own car, and by the time he gets her to stop she's quite hysterical — it turns out he's trying to warn her about the man he saw jumping into the back of her van.
- An episode of Millennium has a service station owner calling a woman into his office because her credit card was invalid — it turns out he'd actually seen a man hiding in her back seat. That killer was also striking in the manner of Urban Legends.
- In the Doctor Who telemovie, the Doctor did this to Grace. Well, she knew he was around, as he'd followed her to her car, but he sort of vanished and got in the back of the van without her noticing. He's not exactly an Antihero, but due to Trauma-Induced Amnesia, he has No Social Skills — even more than usual.
- Heroes: Danko is relaxing in his car fiddling with the radio only to be interrupted by Sylar: "I love this song."
- In Vengeance Unlimited, Mr. Chapel waits in the backseat of one of his marks' accomplice's car, then chloroforms them.
- In one Mr. Bean episode, a Doberman sneaks into Mr Bean's car.
- Lampshaded in the fourth episode of the second season of Lie to Me in that the victim, Torres, is later seen to berate herself for not locking the car door. It was broad daylight...
- In The X-Files episode "Alpha". the killer is a dog who shapeshifts between a human and canine form, meaning he/it can be small enough to hide in the back, yet is also able to open the car door.
- In the Smallville episode "Pariah", the killer has the ability to turn into sand and can get to backseat easily.
- In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a poor secretary discovers a Terminator waiting in the back seat of her car. She promises not to scream. Don't make promises you can't keep...
- Used in One Life to Live". Todd Manning has been stalking his victim Marty Saybrooke for several days, intending to persuade her into not testifying against him—he's planning to rape her again and possibly kill her. He lurks in the backseat of her car, but his attack his foiled when her friend shows up and unwittingly saves the day, with neither of them having ever been aware of his presence.
- In the final battle of the KGB vs. CIA episode of Deadliest Warrior, the last KGB agent is killed via a CIA agent hiding in the back of his car and garrotting him.
- Played with in the Power Rangers S.P.D. episode "Reflection". While hunting for the escaped criminal, Mirloc, Bridge and Z spot him in the rear view mirror of their jeep and turn around to face him in the back seat, expect hes not there. Mirloc reminds them that his the power is to travel through reflective surfaces so hes only appearing to them through the mirror.
Misha Collins: (Typing into his phone) Ever. Get. The. Feeling. That. There's. Someone. In. The. Back. Seat? Frowny-face.
- Happens in the episode "The French Mistake", where a depowered angel hides in the backseat of Misha Collins' car. He himself lampshades it.
- It occurs in the series pilot as well; one of the victims of the Monster of the Week agrees to take her home, but when he reaches the house she vanishes. As he's driving away he checks the rear-view mirror and sees her sitting in the back seat. Cue Gory Discretion Shot.
- The good guys that can teleport tend to do this too. Only with less gore and more friendly scare.
- In the CSI: Miami episode "Special Delivery", the Victim of the Week - a delivery driver - is garrotted from the back of his van as he gets back into the driver's seat.
- In the New Tricks episode "Only The Brave" a gang member tries this on Sandra, threatening her with a gun. This is a mistake as Sandra breaks his nose and knocks him out.
- On Walker, Texas Ranger, Alex (of course) is kidnapped by one of the Villain of Week's henchmen, who has been lurking in the backseat of her SUV. One would think that as an ADA, the girlfriend of a cop, and someone who's been kidnapped or assaulted numerous times, she'd be more vigilante about her personal safety.
- Midsomer Murders: The first two victims in "The House in the Woods" are garrotted by a killer hiding in the backseat of their car.
- Used in The City Hunter, with Yun Sung doing this to Kim Jong-Shik; and later when The Dragon is arranging Young Ju's "suicide," beginning by drugging him unconscious from the back seat and locking him in the car.
- In Leverage episode "The Rashomon Job," Eliot pulls this on an unsuspecting doctor to get into an art show.
Eliot: Don't talk. I know it's your first instinct to talk, but don't. Your best course of action is to nod.Doctor: Wh...Eliot: Nod. (Doctor nods) Good. I'm gonna need a couple things from you. I need your clothes, and I need your little invite to this party. Now this can go two ways; you can give them to me, and I can stuff you in the trunk of this car, which, by the way, looks pretty comfortable. Not a bad night. Or you can not give them to me... (Eliots face hardens) and I can do exactly what you'd expect a crazy guy in your back seat to do to you.
- Castle: In "Significant Others", the Victim of the Week is stabbed to death with an icepick by a killer hiding in the back of her car.
- In Orphan Black, Katya contacts Sarah Manning this way. Katya at first thinks that Sarah is Beth.
- Rizzoli & Isles: The Victim of the Week in "Over/Under" is stabbed to death by the killer who slips into the backseat of his van as it is going through a carwash.
- Drop the Dead Donkey. Played for Laughs when Globelink News decide to make a crimewatch program. Gus Hedges assures the police liaison officer that it's not going to increase the public's fear of crime for cheap ratings. Cue the title sequence showing a couple moving fearfully through a darkened street, while an ominous voiceover accompanied by creepy music tells how crime is lurking everywhere, waiting to strike... The music stops as the couple make it to their car, lock the doors and sigh with relief, only for a blood-stained man wielding a huge knife to rise up from the backseat.
- The Victim of the Week in episode 1x02 of By Any Means is chloroformed by an attacker hiding in the back of her car.
- Major Crimes: In "Year-End Blowout", Sykes is preparing Rusty for his decoy mission and tries to drive home to him the importance of always checking the back seat of his car before getting in. One his first day, he fails to do this and Sykes rises up from the back seat and puts a gun to his head.
- NCIS: In "Crescent City" (the Back Door Pilot for NCIS: New Orleans), FBI Agent Doyle is killed by a murderer hiding in the back seat of the car.
- Person of Interest. Combined with Dying Moment of Awesome in "Dead Reckoning". Rogue Agent Kate Stanton has forced Mark Snow to wear an Explosive Leash and carry out her orders for months. Finally she sets the timer to blow him up, only to find him sitting in the back seat of her car as the last few seconds count down.
- Scream Queens (2015): In "Pilot" one of the security guards is stabbed to death by the killer hiding in the back of her patrol car.
- Scott & Bailey: In S03 E08, DCI Gill Murray is threatened by a woman who hid in the back of Gill's car. The rest of the episode shows Gill's team and other police officers trying to work out who the woman is, where she is forcing Gill to drive them, and how to safely rescue Gill, while Gill tries to convince her captor to let her go.
- The New Avengers: In "Cat Among the Pigeons" Steed is attacked by a falcon that has been planted in the back of his car.
- In The Stand miniseries, Campion sees (or believes he sees) Randall Flagg traveling with him and his family from Project Blue to Arnette in the backseat:
"There was a man with us some of the time; he was a dark man. I was looking through the rear-view mirror and I'd see him just sitting there, grinning at me. I thought I could outrun him...you can't outrun the dark man."
- LOOK BEHIND YOU!
- Death Troopers features quite an interesting one near the end of the book. Late in the novel, the "team" of survivors, Trig, Han, Chewie, and an unnamed Imperial soldier are flying back to civilization in a small Imperial ship. Trouble is, the forgot to make a headcount. A nearby space zombie leaps out from behind, takes a good chunk out of the nameless imperial man, only to be shot by Cody, who apparentely took a back-er seat than the zombie.
- The Surgeon. Dr. Catherine Cordell gets into her car, intending to return to the hospital to tend to a patient. But when she calls the hospital from her car phone to verify some information, she's told that a previous call originated from that very same phone. Her attacker lunges at her from the backseat...
- In John Dies at the End, the protagonist is driving in the middle of the night with a lot on his mind, and experiences this trope. Fortunately, the guy in the backseat just wants to talk. Unfortunately, the guy brought along something to motivate the protagonist into speaking more freely, and it's thirsty for blood.
- In Stephen King's novel Gerald's Game, Jessie finally escapes the (almost) human version of Death and her Cuffed-to-the-bed predicament. She runs outside, jumps in her car, and gets a few miles down the road before tiredly glancing into her rearview mirror and gets an eyeful of the guy she just narrowly avoided. Whoops!
- Played with in Bad Monkeys. An attendant at a gas station is trying very hard to get Jane to leave her car and come into the gas station. She recognises the urban legend-type setup and says, "There's a guy with an ax hiding behind the driver's seat, isn't there. Don't worry, he's not going to hurt me."
- Discworld: In The Fifth Elephant, a very clever werewolf pulls off a low-tech variant, hiding under a tarp in a rowboat to ambush someone as they came aboard.
- Jack Fleming of The Vampire Files has resorted to a heroic version of this to take down gangsters. Justified by his being able to enter locked cars by vanishing, and not showing up in rear-view mirrors even if he goes solid.
- This is Dexter's M.O. in the books. Plus some fishing wire to the throat. Ouch...
- Another good guy version happens in the Burke novels. Burke removes the back seat of his Plymouth and puts in a pile of dirty blankets, saying he uses the back to carry stuff. Actually the Prof (who's very short) is hiding under the blankets. When the man in the passenger seat pulls a gun, he suddenly finds cold steel pressing against the back of his neck.
Prof: Your hole card is a low card, motherfucker. I see your pistol and raise you one double-barreled scattergun.
- In Pact, the protagonist Blake Thorburn, after having become a Mirror Monster, steps into the reflection of a rearview mirror of the back of a car being driven by a local wizard in order to have a chat. He's not actually sitting in the back seat, but in the reflection of the back seat.
- In The Fault in Our Stars, Peter Van Houten scares Hazel when he pops up in the back of her parents' van.
- The end of Ayumi Hamasaki's music video for the song "ourselves".
- In one Robotman and Monty strip, the protagonist is afraid to adjust the rear-view mirror of his car at night, citing the tendency of such an act to reveal a killer waiting in the back seat. But he does it anyway, and freaks out upon seeing the reader's eyes in the mirror.
- Dick Tracy: Selford Depool does this to kill the hostess who had discovered his secret (that he was an escapee from the state asylum) and was taking the evidence to the police.
- ...and the driver behind was only flashing his lights/crashing into the back of her car to try to warn the woman about THE KILLER IN HER BACKSEAT!
- Played straight in one ending of the Super Nintendo horror game Clock Tower. The protagonist flees the house of death in a stolen car, and just as she thinks she's gotten away from it and the scissors-wielding murderer... cue scissors rising up,◊ scream, and Fade to Black.
- In some of the various endings of Dead Rising the pilot who comes to pick you up at the end of the 72 hours is attacked by a zombie hiding in his helicopter.
- In Dead Space, at the end of the game, when Issac successfully scrambles to the shuttle after defeating the (surprisingly easy) Hive Mind and is seemingly safe, he is surprised by Nicole's Necromporphed corpse lunging at him from behind the cockpit as the screen cuts to black.
- Resident Evil 2 uses this in the introductory cutscene. Claire and Leon pile into an abandoned police cruiser and start driving for the station. A zombie eventually lunges out of the back after Claire finds a gun in the glove compartment. The three swerve into a wall, causing the unbuckled zombie to fly through the windshield (or rear window if you put in Leon's disk).
- In Army of Two: The 40th Day, one cutscene involves a man robbing a store, running to a car, and preparing to make his getaway...only to realize that there is a tiger in the back seat. It ends about as well for the robber as you would expect.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, T-Bone Mendez, who (correctly) suspects that CJ is a double agent, pulls one of these to try and get him to admit it. He hides in the back seat of the car, then gets CJ in a chokehold from behind and puts a gun at his temple. CJ doesn't spill the beans and after a bit Mendez is called off by Mike Toreno.
- This is how Michael and Franklin meet in Grand Theft Auto V. Franklin has been sent to repossess Michael's son's SUV and manages to get it out of the garage successfully. On the way back to the dealership, Michael jumps out of the back seat and takes charge of the situation. Players who are paying attention will notice a blanket covering the backseat.
- Rebuild shows this in one of the endings, when a zombie sneaks up on whoever is piloting the repaired helicopter... before getting its brains blown out by a fellow passenger.
- In one issue of Penny Arcade, Tycho goes to Game Stop to buy a copy of Street Fighter IV on its release date, only to find out that they only have one copy, a used one. Tycho immediately questions how this happened. The next two panels are from earlier in that day; Gabe picked up a copy, only to find the store manager, Frank, was in the back seat of his car, and...coerced Gabe into selling it back for store credit.
- While Mordecai Heller of Lackadaisy didn't mean Mitzi harm when he hid in her backseat to wait for her, you can bet he went about it that way because he was very used to meaning people harm.
Mordecai: I'd like a word with you...if you can refrain from assaulting me with bakelite for a moment.Mitzi: Is that all? Why do you always have to do things the creepy way?
- Done by the titular character of Schlock Mercenary. Except that, since he's a an amorphous blob who can change his shape at will, he doesn't need to lay in wait on the backseat.
- Subverted in Uncommon Animals when Terry checks her backseat, only to find it empty, before taking off.
- In the ninth episode of The Joker Blogs, Dr. Arkham gets into his car only to be greeted by the recently escaped Joker.
- In Everyman HYBRID (a subset of The Slender Man Mythos), there's a brief shot that shows the Slender Man himself in the back of someone's car. One of the team remarks on it, thinking it's the fake Slendy they'd been putting in as a prank, but when the car later pulls over, there's nobody in the back-seat.
- This short video.
- A variation occurs in the Alice Isn't Dead episode "Nothing to See," where the long haul trucker Narrator is troubled by persistent, loud banging in her trailer, only to check it twice, find nothing and still hear noises, until the third check, where her Humanoid Abomination stalker the Thistle Man reveals himself, then makes a point of attacking her in a Target parking lot to display how easy it is, and how no one will help. The police, as it turns out, are in his pocket.
- The Simpsons:
- A variation with Bart sprinting from his home to the school bus to escape a killer dog and convincing himself that he's safe when he gets to his seat, only to be chased right back out by the dog in the seat behind him.
- In another episode an escaped convict tries this on Marge, but waits on the backseat of the wrong car.
- Another episode invokes the above urban myth with Otto telling Lisa a story about a someone doing this. He ends up terrifying her into screaming at the top of her lungs when he tells her that he was the maniac.
- In yet another, some sleazy executives make a getaway from Homers' farm, where he grows addictive tomatoes laced with nicotine, in a helicopter, soon after the farm is devastated by crazed farm animals addicted to the product. One of these, a pig, is hiding in the back seat.
- Home Movies: In the season 1 finale, McGuirk uses this on a soccer dad as his Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Despite the probability of this actually happening even if you take reasonable precautions being somewhat lower than that of winning the lottery while being struck by lightning, Volvo has introduced a car with a heartbeat sensor that will let you know if a murderer is hiding in the backseat.
- This does happen in real life, although not as often as true crime shows make it appear.
- Being "taken for a ride" was a common method of execution by The Mafia. This entailed being driven to an out-of-the-way location and then killed by a hitman sitting in the seat behind the victim.
- Also a precaution included in every female defense guide ever. If you're walking to your car and it's dark, check the damn back seat first.
- One story in a kid's magazine was written by a girl who got in a car with her mother to head to school, only to have a cat jump out. They had left the window open, and newborn kittens were in the trunk.
- Inverted in at least one real-life case. In 2012 in Australia a thief stole a woman's car, only to find that her baby was still in the child seat in the back.