I Can't Sense Their Presence

A Stock Phrase used by a Sensor Character. If used at the end of a fight, this is a convenient way of saying that someone is probably dead without any of the nasty gore. In other situations, it's an easy way to show that something is not quite right with a character; despite them being perfectly visible, they can't be detected by supernatural means. They might be Dead All Along, an Energy Being, or simply something other than human.

Related to Never Say "Die" and Disney Death. See also My Significance Sense Is Tingling. Compare Fainting Seer and Poke in the Third Eye.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used a lot in Dragon Ball Z, in part because of the fact that characters can hide their presence and in part because most characters have some form of sensing power.
    • Used for the most drama at the beginning of the Android Saga. The heroes arrive at the city where Future Trunks predicted the androids would begin their rampage, but can't sense anything unusual. Yajirobe arrives, drops off some senzu beans, leaves in his sky-car - and gets blasted out of the air by the villains, with the heroes unable to even tell where the shot came from. This is because Androids don't emit life energy.
    • During the Cell Saga, Goku comes up with the Full Powered Super Saiyan mode, where he and Gohan can remain in Super Saiyan mode without needlessly radiating energy.
    Vegeta: What's happened to them? They look like Super Saiyans, but I don't feel the energy...
    • During the Buu Saga, Gohan was knocked unconscious by Buu and later teleported to the Kai's realm. Since nobody could sense him anymore, they mistakenly believed Buu killed him.
    • In the Wrath of the Dragon movie, the heroes couldn't sense Hirudegarn.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, deities such as Beerus and anyone who reaches Super Saiyan God can no longer be detected this way.
  • In Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, when Tohma was taken over by his Black Knight form, Isis notes that she is no longer able to detect any magic from him nor read his thoughts; it was as though he was just a walking corpse.
  • In RG Veda, when no one can sense Ryu-ou's presence anymore.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! 4Kids dub, Yami says this after Pegasus's Shadow Game finishes Yugi. In the original Japanese version, there's no implication—it's straight out said that he's dead, even though he's not exactly so.
  • Whenever someone in Bleach gets really messed up, their friends become unable to sense their reiatsu. Though so far, this rarely means death. When a person's Reiatsu gets really powerful, they can only be sensed by beings of comparable power. This uses a metaphor that a two-dimensional being can't detect a three-dimensional one.
  • In InuYasha, Kanna has no scent and no aura. The only way to detect her is to see or hear her.

  • In most versions of Spider-Man, one of the things that makes Venom such a threat is that he doesn't trigger Peter's Spider-Sense. The Spot doesn't trigger the Spider Sense when he uses his Teleport Spam.

  • In Serenity, River has a Level 11 Freak Out because she can't sense the thoughts of any of the Miranda colonists. Because Miranda is a Ghost Planet.

  • In Dragon Bones, Ward can sense where people are. Close to the end of the novel, he tries to find his mother ... but can't, even though she is right there and he can see her. Her mind has left, her body lives on. Doesn't come as much of a surprise, as she has been abusing herbal drugs for the whole novel, and was never quite there, but having it confirmed in that way is still creepy.
  • The Obsidian Trilogy: After the final battle, Vestakia notes that she can't sense her father, the Demon Prince any more, showing that he is finally dead.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, Adie, who sees solely using magic, is alarmed to discover that she is unable to see Richard's half-sister Jennsen, because she is one of the "pristinely ungifted".
  • Alice from Twilight can only see the futures of humans (which she has been) or vampires (which she is). Anything else is a blind spot to her, including Jacob and his pack, and Nessie, Bella's Half-Human Hybrid daughter.
  • In The Wheel of Time Aes Sedai bond Warders as a means of protection. This bond forms an empathic link between the two allowing them to sense the direction and distance to each other, as well as emotional and physical state. If either member of the bond dies, the loss is very noticeable to the other. An Aes Sedai will experience serious depression from the death of a Warder. The Warder will usually either die of shock or fly into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Jedi in the Star Wars Expanded Universe have this happen to them quite often. Unusually, it's often taken not to mean death, because Jedi can feel the deaths of other Jedi particularly strongly. Someone ceasing to be detectable usually means something even more bizarre has happened. (Ysalamiri are a common culprit, along with any other way someone could conceivably be separated from the Force.)

     Video Games 

  • In Persona 3, Fuuka notes that she can't sense Chidori, or anyone near her, i.e. Takaya or Jin. Ikutsuki lampshades the strangeness of it.

    Live Action TV 
  • Leo from Charmed would often do this, especially when one of the sisters were missing.
  • On Star Trek: The Next Generation one Betazoid - who generally get their mind-reading powers at puberty but in his case they manifested when he was a baby, so he's been inundated with others' thoughts all his life & can't filter them out - is very pleasantly surprised when he can't hear Data's thoughts, since Data is an android.
  • Tracker has a version of this, but not because of death. Cole just had a harder time keying into his targets' life forces as they adapted more and more to Earth's environment.
  • Teyla of Stargate Atlantis can sense Wraith thanks to a Wraith performing DNA experiments on her ancestors. She later learns to use her ability to operate Wraith technology and control the minds/bodies of Wraith. Her ability isn't foolproof, though.
  • Similarly, Goa'uld, humans who have previously been host to a Goa'uld, and Jaffa can sense the presence of a symbiote. The effectiveness varies with the plot, though.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Justice League pilot, J'onn J'onzz claims that he can't (telepathically) sense the presence of Batman anymore when the latter is apparently shot to death. It's a lie, obviously.
  • In Wolverine and the X-Men, Emma Frost can't find Jean Grey via Cerebro, leading nearly everyone to assume that she's dead. Turns out she's actually in a coma.
  • In the two-part opener of the X-Men animated series, Morph's death is indicated by having Jean Grey and Professor X unable to detect his mind via Cerebro.