I Can See You

This is the creepy counterpart to Short-Distance Phone Call. It's when someone calls another person from a cell phone. At first the person being called believes the caller to be far away, but then the caller makes a comment like "nice outfit" or whatever, and the person being called realizes he or she is within line of sight of the caller.

Needless to say, it was even creepier before cell phones came around.

Also related to The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House. See also Harassing Phone Call. Not to be confused with You Can See Me?.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • It does happen in Full Metal Panic!.
  • In Valkyrie Drive Mermaid, Miyasato and Kouzuki ditch work and lounge at the beach. When their boss calls them, they lie about where they are, only for their boss to reveal she is near them.

    Comic Books 

  • Scream:
    • This is generally how the killer or, as we later learn, killers operates. It's first done during the opening sequence, with Casey getting calls from an ostensible "wrong number" who appears to be rather nice, but instantly turns menacing as hell with this exchange:
      Caller: You never told me your name.
      Casey: Why do you want to know my name?
      Caller: Because I want to know who I'm looking at.
    • Later, it gets even more menacing with this exchange after Casey finally gets fed up with the caller:
      Casey: Listen, asshole — !
      Caller: [aggressively] No, YOU listen, you little bitch! You hang up on me again, I'll gut you like a fish! Understand?! [starts chuckling creepily] Yeah...
      Casey: [scared] Is this some kind of joke?
      Caller: More of a game, really. Can you handle that...blondie?
    • The killer from Scream 2 openly taunts Dewey, Gale and Randy about being able to see them while they sit at a crowded campus in broad daylight. This prompts them to start searching for everyone with a cell phone to find the killer... after all, they assume he can't strike to kill under such circumstances. Turns out he can. The killer was hidden in a news van, pulls Randy inside, butchers him and gets away scot-free.
  • As a spoof of Scream, the killer in Scary Movie plays and subverts this. After making the threatening phone call, he claims that he can see the hot blonde he'd calling. He's actually reading a porn magazine. It gets worse when he issues the threat, "I want to see what your insides look like!". Her response? Telling him to turn to page 54 of the same magazine.
  • In Die Hard with a Vengeance, Simon makes a phone call to the FBI car after the Wall Street subway station bombing. Despite Cobb making a stern order to the others to not tell Simon where they are, when Simon talks and gives them his bomb threat, he asks them who is in the van with them, and comments about Andy Cross and Phil Jarvis, the two federal agents in the van, and Jarvis's habit of fidgeting with his glasses. Once we see the emergency vehicles move out, we see that Simon is standing on the rooftop right nearby, watching them.
    • Also when he demands to know why McClane didn't answer a certain payphone when he was supposed to. McClane tells him off, only to have Gruber say "All you had do was say that there was a fat woman on the phone and that you couldn't get her to hang up", thus revealing that he's watching them, as that is in fact exactly what had happened.
  • The Bourne Series: Jason Bourne does it to Pamela Landy, twice:
    • In The Bourne Supremacy Bourne called up Landy while he set up a sniper position on a nearby building. While they're talking (he's stalling for a good shot, while she's stalling for her men to trace the call), Bourne notices Nicky and changes his mind.
      Bourne: There was a woman. Working at Treadstone. Nicky Parsons. I'll meet with her, no one else.
      Landy: What if I can't find her?
      Bourne: Shouldn't be too hard. She's standing right next to you. [click]
    • In The Bourne Ultimatum (in the scene we relive from Supremacy)
      Bourne: Get some rest, Pam; you look tired.
    • The Bourne Ultimatum also inverts this.
      Bourne: Where are you now?
      Noah Vosen I'm sitting in my office.
      Bourne: I doubt that.
      Noah Vosen Why would you doubt that?
      Bourne: If you were in your office right now, we'd be having this conversation face-to-face. [click]
  • Speed has an interesting example, where The Hero realises that the Mad Bomber can see him and the driver because he calls her a "Wildcat" in relation to the shirt she is wearing.
  • The opening scene of Yes-Man involves Jim Carrey's character on the phone while in a video store. He tells the caller that he is in his apartment, but is caught in the lie when it is revealed that the called is standing right outside the window of said store.
  • Variant in the movie Hannibal - Clarice is trying to track Hannibal Lecter while he taunts her over the phone, and gets close enough to him for him to mess with her hair when he rides by on the carousel.
  • The Caller in Phone Booth is pretty upfront about being able to see Stu, but Stu doesn't believe him at first. This goes up a notch in intensity when later the Caller asks Stu just what he thinks he's watching him with, and reveals that with the sound of a gun cocking.
    Stu: You can see me right now?
    The Caller: Uh-huh.
    Stu: What am I doing?
    [Stu scratches himself]
    The Caller: You're scratching your ear. Now you're brushing your hair back.
    [Stu gives the finger to the windows in the buildings around him]
    The Caller: That isn't very nice, Stu.
    Stu: Did you call me Stu? Who's Stu? I don't know any Stu.
    The Caller: Why, do you prefer Stuart?
  • Happens as part of a Scream spoof in The Angriest Video Store Clerk in the World. Somebody phones the video store and starts asking leading questions about "scary movies". The conversation goes downhill after the clerk says that his favourite horror movies are Nosferatu, Suspiria, and Bride of Frankenstein, and the caller has never heard of any of them:
    Clerk: You're damned lucky you're not in the store, buddy!
    Caller: But I am in the store! And I've got a reeaallly big knife. And I think that I might just kill you!!! BWAHAHAHA!!!!
    Clerk: You know, when you laugh that loud it becomes really obvious that you're hiding behind the animation section.
  • Played pretty straight in Fright Night (1985) "I know you're there, Charley. I can see you."
  • In 2008 movie Get Smart, Max has escaped the prison cell and needs to deliver important news to Chief and 99, who are in Los Angeles. She receives a call from him. Chief orders to trace this call. The call traces to the rooftop in Washington. When a police SWAT team enters that place, they find Bruce or Lloyd, while Max stands on the rooftop near 99 in Los Angeles, and reveals himself when he tells her to turn around. That's because of Max having done a call forwarding across the country and back.
  • Frequency has a scene where Frank thinks that this is happening when talking to a weird guy on a shortwave radio. He tells Frank that he knows that Frank just accidentally burned the table. Actually, the weird guy is Frank's son thirty years in the future and he knows about the accident because a 30 year old burn mark has just appeared on the table he is sitting at
  • "Why haven't you checked the children?"
  • In the sci-fi movie Runaway Gene Simmon's character does this twice to Tom Selleck, first by hacking into the security cameras inside the police station ("You're punching buttons on a computer trying to trace this call but you won't because I'm using a mobile phone, shithead!") until his partner puts her cap over the camera. He is not happy. Simmons calls again while Tom Selleck is at a restaurant, eventually revealing himself to be sitting next to his partner holding a pistol on her.
  • Weirdly inverted in Lost Highway, when Fred meets the Mysterious Man at a party, who insists he's at Fred's house. Fred calls his house, and the Mysterious Man's voice answers, even though the Man is standing right in front of him. It's a strange movie.
  • An Invoked Trope in The Peacemaker. The protagonists are watching a live satellite feed of a long line of trucks at the Iranian border, one of which contains Renegade Russian Kodorof with a stolen nuclear warhead. Lt. Colonel DeVoe rings up Kodorof's sat phone and gloats over how there's a smart bomb coming down on his head right now, causing Kodorof to pull his truck out of the line and give away his position.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Used verbatim by General Chang aboard his cloaked Bird-of-Prey.
    Chang: I can see you, Kirk... can you see me?
  • The Art of War (2000). Shaw rings up the Inspector Javert who's been chasing him, and says there's a rifle pointed at his rookie partner, who's standing next to him holding his umbrella. The cop quips, "I can live with that", but agrees to Come Alone to meet Shaw after a silenced shot cuts the umbrella shaft in two. There's also a silent version when the heroine is trying to sneak out of a building, but the hitman is in the security room watching her, and activates an escalator just as she's about to step on it.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sam calls Sitwell to his cell phone and tells him that he must follow him to a van a few blocks away. Sitwell at first doesn't take the threat seriously until he sees a sniper laser on his tie.

  • Secret Admireron Amazon's Kindle Network. It's been painting pictures of her.
  • In Harriet Spies Again, this is how Harriet's new friend proves she's an excellent spy in her own right. "I can see you. You're on the telephone. You've got the cord twisted around your wrist." "I'm watching your house with BINOCULARS and I can't see you!"
  • Played for Laughs in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Dirk manages to completely throw Richard off-guard by phoning him when - for what seem to be perfectly sensible reasons - he's broken into his girlfriend's flat and berating him for not having proper equipment, answering the phone, admitting his name and finally - after persuading him to look out the window - standing where he can be photographed.
  • A favourite Mind Screw tactic of Mack Bolan. The Mafia would hear Bolan was in town and start mobbing up to take him out, only for the boss or The Dragon to get a phone call from the man he was supposedly hunting. In the middle of the conversation Bolan would reveal he's actually watching them through the sights of a high-powered sniper rifle. Usually this conversation would be terminated by Bolan shooting the receiver out of his hand or some other display of marksmanship, rather than actually killing the man he was talking to, as he knew it would rattle the mafioso's mooks to show he was so confident he could kill their boss any time he wanted to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Psych, Detective Juliet O'Hara receives a call from Shawn Spencer. He makes a comment that tips her off to the fact that he can see her. Somewhat subverted. See You Can See Me??
  • In the Cold Case episode "John Henry", the Victim of the Week gets such a call.
    • In the episode "In The Woods", as Lily speaks to Serial Killer George Marks, he snarks about happy Jefferies seemed upon leaving a realtor's office (he had just discovered some very incriminating evidence), thus revealing that he's been observing the team's investigation.
  • Friends:
    • Monica and Chandler are at Ross' apartment across the street and can see the dog the rest of the gang is playing with. They call Phoebe.
      Phoebe: There's no dog here.
      Monica: Yes there is! He's black and white and shaggy and he's sitting next to Rachel and licking Rachel's hand.
      Phoebe: Oh my god! Where are you?
    • Another episode had Ross lying about taking care of Ben, setting up a dummy with a pumpkin head while he was in his apartment just across the street from Monica and Rachel's. The pumpkin fell off and he tried to play it off that "Ben" put his head in his shirt, but he was caught.
  • Happens in an episode of White Collar (1x05), during a hostage negotiation.
  • In an episode of NCIS, Abby's stalker calls her at the office. As she tries to trace the call, the stalker suggests she use a different tracing technique. It takes her a few seconds to realize that that means he's watching through the window.
  • Hawaii Five-0 (the remake): See at 1:20. "Should have taken the deal. By the way, that's a nasty cut on your eye."
  • The X-Files:
    • Amusing version. Scully's arrived at the address Mulder told her to visit, her phone rings, and it's Mulder complimenting her outfit. He's right behind her.
    • One episode has a criminal receiving such phone calls whenever he comes close to acting up again. Turns out the caller is blind and permanently seeing through his eyes, and as such does NOT want him imprisoned again.
  • Burn Notice, the episode "Dead to Rights".
  • Monk, where one case of this gets Played for Laughs. In the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert," Captain Stottlemeyer catches Randy in the act of Playing Sick to attend a big music festival. His response? Not to walk up to him and address him, but instead, call him on his cell phone from within earshot distance. Hilarity Ensues as Randy tries to pass off the very loud stage music as a broken stereo, while Stottlemeyer speaks in a tone that makes clear that he isn't convinced.
  • On All My Children, as Adam's stalker calls his wife Gloria, he tells her "I'm so close I could reach out and touch you". In a subversion, he isn't—Adam has set the whole thing up to test Gloria's fidelity and has told the man what to say to frighten her into thinking this is an example of this trope.
  • Patrick Jane plays this for laughs as one of his mind games in the fifth season episode "Cherry Picked" of The Mentalist. He and the CBI team are with a man who claimed he was sitting a house for two people who had been kidnapped, but something about his story wasn't adding up. The guy said that the kidnapper told him he would kill the hostages if he involved the police. So Jane uses his cell phone to make a call to the guy's phone, tells him to answer, and then pretends to be the kidnapper and asks him "Tell me... what are you wearing?" He then laughs and reveals that he's the one making the call.
  • In CSI: NY the criminal of the week does this when he sees Mac digging through his stash. Mac later returns the favor when the criminal is getting ready to board a train while standing on the same platform.

    Video Games 
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Snake runs into Meryl. His priority is getting her somewhere safe (because he feels he owes it to the Colonel, her uncle, who is in the whole mess because she was a "hostage"), but he really didn't count on her insisting on helping him out, or her being pretty badass herself, so she keeps a few steps ahead of him early in the game... and when he asks where she is (at a point where he still seems determined to get her out of trouble, by force if necessary), the answer is "where I can see ya".

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Kappa Mikey, there is an example of this in the episode Hog Day Afternoon.
  • Played for laughs in Home Movies where McGuirk calls Erik and tries to arrange a get-together with him and all their other friends. Erik, looking for an excuse to not go to said get together, lies and says he is looking at his schedule and can't find any free dates. McGuirk then reveals that he is looking in through Eric's window and doesn't see the schedule Erik is talking about.