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Invisibility
"I'm the invisible man
I'm the invisible man
Incredible how you can
See right through me"
Queen, "Invisible Man"

One of the more frequently reused science fiction ideas in TV, after putting people in spaceships, is turning people invisible. In addition to the frequent appearance of invisibility as a one-use trope in both serious and comedic programs (see Invisible Main Character), it has been the central premise for a number of programs.

Invisibility is often coupled with themes of isolation and alienation, as the invisible character's ability marks him an outcast. The original Invisible Man became a sociopath because of his condition. In many of these series, the character is permanently invisible, which strains normal personal ties.

Some coping mechanisms for permanent invisibility:

It is also interesting to note that the overwhelming majority of shows with invisibility use the same setup: The person is the product of a government experiment, usually military, and becomes an agent for a top secret government anti-crime task force. While this setup is not limited to this power, the fact that the two are so often coincident probably leads to a lot of Recycled Scripts. Expect newly invisible characters to make a point out of realizing that they can't see themselves.

Invisibility is such an old trope that there are multiple ways to be invisible. Many of them still require a Hand Wave.
  • Transparent organs. Non-organic matter cannot become transparent. Mind you, invisible eyeballs result in blindness.
  • Bending light around an object. This allows clothing and other material near the object to become unseen as well.
  • Not reflecting light visible to the human eye, or altering the reflected light into a non-visible wavelength. Ultraviolet and infrared are examples in Real Life. Some animals can see these wavelengths.
  • Removing the light source so that no light is available to bounce off the object. But see Hollywood Darkness. Or just hide in the shadows.
  • Absorbing any light that falls onto it. Rarely used because, while you can't see it, you will see the lack of light.
  • Perception Filter. A specific person or persons cannot see the object only because their perception has changed. Other people can see the object normally. The alteration can be a Jedi Mind Trick but can also be a mental block the person suffers. Maybe the object is Invisible to Normals.
  • Magic.

Implied nudity is another recurring element: Regardless of the invisible character's sex, clothing is seldom affected. Indeed, fans of this trope as a storyline have coined two different terms for invisible women: FFI (or "fading femmes invisible") for women whose clothes go invisible with them, and TFI (or "true femmes invisible") for women whose bodies vanish but whose clothes do not. A third term, CFI ("Clear Femmes Invisible"), for characters such as Oar from The League of Peoples Verse, who are visible but translucent, has also come into usage lately.

It may be interesting to note that whatever the parameters of the invisibility — permanent or non-permanent, affecting clothes or only the body, voluntary or involuntary, these will usually be taken as the "obvious" properties of invisibility, without any need to explain why they should work according to those rules instead of one of the other permutations. (Note for example the opening monologue to the Sci Fi Channel's The Invisible Man, which cites the H.G. Wells story, but implies that character's invisibility was non-permanent and voluntarily controlled.)

Permanent, involuntary invisibility is usually treated as either Cursed with Awesome or Blessed with Suck depending on the story.

Note that most of the works mentioned herein are more "cynical" shows; invisibility as the power of a Superhero, such as Space Ghost, is generally at will and free of angst. It may be a Personality Power, with the user shy and retiring, or sneaky and subversive.

Invisibility is also a recurring device in TV commercials, selling such diverse products as jeans, feminine deodorant and alcoholic beverages.

May or may not become an Invisible Jerkass. Often comes with drawbacks.

See Visible Invisibility to show way producers use to achieve this effects. For when the clothes/armor/equipment are the ones who provide invisibility, see Invisibility Cloak. When everything except the clothes/armor/equipment is invisible, see Invisible Streaker. Astral Projection frequently renders the projected invisible.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Teana of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has the ability to turn herself or one of her teammates invisible as an extension of her Illusion abilities. Garyuu and a type of Gadget Drone also have the ability to cloak themselves.
  • Tower of God - Black Fish, a special ability of Quant, which allows him to turn invisible by coating himself with Shinsoo. Invaluable for his position as a scout.
  • Deconstructed and played straight in Kazuhiro Okamoto's manga, Translucent. Shizuka is a typical 14-year-old girl; she just happens to have Translucent Syndrome, which makes her body turn translucent during a semi-regular cycle — although it is affected by her mood (and can become permanent if she spends too much time translucent). While she never goes outright invisible per se, there's little enough difference between 100% invisibility and being 99% translucent. Indeed, she uses her condition to sneak into a building later in the series by simply leaving her clothing with a friend.
  • The Laughing Man in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has no esoteric superpowers, but he can effortlessly hack the brain/eye cyborg implants of anyone who's watching him and remove his image from their field of view. This makes it impossible for anyone with implants to see him, and since basically everybody in the GITS universe is cyborged to some extent, this makes him invisible for all intents and purposes. He can also edit people's memories while they are watching him in case they don't have artificial eyes.
    • But they have to have an artificial brain for him to edit their memories, and if they have one of those it's unlikely that they don't have artificial eyes (e.g., the two hobos who see him whose memories he can't erase).
  • The titular Alabaster in Osamu Tezuka's Alabaster is partly invisible, as the raygun he used on himself to attempt to become invisible was unfinished and lethal. Disgustingly disfigured (the only thing invisible is his skin; his organs are fully visible), he is obsessed with defacing "beauty" with the gun — leaving partly invisible corpses in the wake of his murder sprees. Playing the trope more straight, Ami, Alabaster's hostage turned mistress turned partner-in-crime, was shot by the gun in the womb, and has been invisible her entire life.
  • In the Thriller Bark arc of One Piece, a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad, Absalom, possesses this power via the Suke-Suke Devil Fruit ("Suke" means to be see-through), enabling him to turn himself or anything he touchesnote  invisible. He's also perfectly well aware of and happily exploits his abilities' Power Perversion Potential. Needless to say, Sanji was not pleased...
  • Sarah Gallagher from Mai-Otome has this as her GEM's secondary power.
  • Momoko of Saki, who is described as having zero presence. When she doesn't want to be found, she will disappear from your sight even though she's sitting right beside you or had just been chatting with you a moment ago. Her anti-presence extends to her voice and even to her discard pile, so other players won't notice if she had called Riichi or had thrown the Mahjong tile they needed to win. However, if her opponent completely ignores everyone's presence in the first place, this ability of hers won't work on them.
    • It's noted that this is only a mental invisibility. Characters using video cameras of the game to watch can see her and her discards just fine, and wonder why her opponents are playing into her moves that should be clearly apparent.
  • Genma Saotome of Ranma ½ created a technique that renders him invisible and Ranma later learned the style himself. While training to use the basics of the style, Ranma was able to steal the floorboards out from underneath the house. Said house was filled with various martial artists of various skill levels and none of them noticed anything until it had already happened.
  • Soga Keena from Ichiban Ushiro No Daimaou has the apparently innate ability to turn invisible (and fly), but the invisibility does not extend to her clothing. Luckily she lacks any sort of nudity taboo, so whenever she gets into trouble her first instinct is to shuck her clothes and fly away invisibly. Frequently the invisibility fails for one reason or another and she ends up flying around naked for everyone to see.
  • In an anime filler episode for Fairy Tail, Lucy is turned invisible by an expired magic potion she kept in her house after she put it in her bath. To be fair, the potion is seven years old. She hasn't touched it since because of Tenro Island.

    Comicbooks 
  • "The Bod", a four-part story in Image Comics' Double Image, follows Kelly Gordon, a sexy blue-eyed blonde who enters show business and becomes invisible due to spilling hydrated resin on herself. Her newfound fame takes her from The Tonight Show to Jerry Springer to Judge Judy. (Warning: The story contains swearing and sexual content.)
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes has Invisible Kids I & II. Various parts of this trope have come into play, with their backstories, mostly with the original I-Kid. In almost all of the various incarnations of the Legion, I-Kid invents the invisibility serum basically out of boredom. It's only in the Post-Zero Hour reboot that I-Kid was working for Black Hole, an Earth government spy agency, when he invented it. In the threeboot, he found out that his father had been having him make it to give to the Science Police; it's here that the rest of the trope is introduced as he's alienated from the rest of the Legion, except for a few others.
  • And then, of course, there's Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman from Fantastic Four. She bypasses the blindness problem by being able to detect cosmic radiation outside the white light spectrum.
  • in the 70's When Phantom Lady joined the Freedom Force, she gained this power. Shealso took on a roll very similar to Susan Richard in the four
  • Kim Suskind from Planetary, one of the Four (who are a takeoff of the Fantastic Four). She can turn invisible, but to be able to see while invisible she has to wear special goggles. It's unclear why the goggles work either, but at least they made some effort.
  • One of the many powers of the Martian Manhunter.
  • Empowered has this as one of her minor, useless powers: Her suit can turn invisible. Her body can't, just her suit. It's largely just another example of her near-constant Clothing Damage. That said, it did play a role in her Moment Of Awesome at the end of the fourth volume.
  • Mary Zero, from Deadpool spinoff Agent X had the mutant power of psychically blanking out her presence for almost anyone, and anyone who did manage to register her soon forgot she existed. The fact that the titular Agent X, due to an advanced healing factor, could both see and remember her, Mary fell madly in love with him. Hilarity ensued.
  • The Military Medic from Sturmtruppen at one point becomes obsessed with the invisibility elixir. When he believe to have drunk one, he starts to run around naked, believing that no one could see him.
  • Disappearing Trix, a character in British children's comics of the 1980s, is a cute blond schoolgirl who becomes invisible by blinking.
  • Speedsters such as The Flash in the DC Universe are able to vibrate their bodies so fast that they can't be seen. This solves the clothes problem because their costumes vibrate too. Of course, they can run beyond/near the speed of light, so they can just be invisible by running.
  • Empty Vee in The Intimates has invisibility as her natural state; it takes intense concentration for her to turn visible, and she's always at least partially transparent even then. Thankfully, her invisibility extends to her clothes.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Barricade can "cloak," or make himself invisible in Transformers Meta.
  • In Aeon Natum Engel, the use of cloaking devices (normally limited to Mechas and Mages, and thus is revolutionary for being compact sized and not magic dependent) by the Replica Assassins is one of the reasons for the fall of Iceland.
  • Paul in With Strings Attached can boost his minor cosmetic illusion into full-blown invisibility. He cannot use this on anything except his own body. He can turn it on or off at will. And he's an Invisible Streaker.
  • In an omake for Make a Wish, Harry's mad scientist friend's henchgirl gave Harry a potion that was supposed to make him turn invisible, but didn't work on his skeleton. When he asked what he was supposed to do until it wore off, she suggested pointing at people while staring at his watch.
  • This is the shtick with the Inviso Bombman, from Calvin and Hobbes III: Double Trouble.
  • In the Naruto AU Invisible Fox, a pre-Academy Naruto gets hit by a lightning bolt while trying to perform an invisibility technique. Said bolt overcharges the technique to the point that it's permanent, causing him quite a few problems including sleeping as his eyelids don't block the light.
    • The author has provided explanations for how Naruto can see as well as taking many of the problems into account.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Incredibles, Violet (who, as one of several homages to the Fantastic Four, is also a Barrier Warrior) can turn invisible at will except for her clothes. However, when Edna Mode makes costumes for the family, she makes one for Violet that turns invisible with her.
  • In Igor, you have Carl Cristall, the invisible TV show host who wears all other clothes except pants of any sort, since he realized there was no reason for an invisible man to wear such.
  • One of the funniest gags in Monsters vs. Aliens is the fate of the invisible man in the monster prison. "He had a heart attack... in that chair. He's still there." He does make an appearance (as much as someone who's invisible can be said to appear) in the DVD short "B.O.B's Big Break".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Invisible Woman, a 1940 Universal movie starring John Barrymore and Virginia Bruce.
  • As a response to that film, Warner Bros. released The Body Disappears, with Jeffrey Lynn as the invisible man and Jane Wyman as the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter, who also becomes invisible.
  • Two Walt Disney comedies from the 1960s/1970s, Mr. Superinvisible and Now You See Him, Now You Don't.
  • The Invisible Kid, a teen comedy with Jay Underwood and Chynna Phillips.
  • The 1992 Chevy Chase vehicle, Memoirs of an Invisible Man: Chase is visibly disgusted because he can see the food he ate in his stomach after eating it and he had trouble sleeping because he could see through his eyelids.
  • Two direct-to-video Invisible Mom movies starring Dee Wallace Stone.
  • The 2000 horror movie Hollow Man.
  • Parodied in the Mystery Men movie, where the Invisible Boy can become invisible only when no one is looking at him. Including himself. It was proved, however, that if those conditions were met, he could actually become invisible (allowing him to elude purely mechanical surveillance).
  • The Invisible Man, a 1933 film based on H. G. Wells' novel, staring Claude Rains.
  • In The Amazing Transparent Man, a criminal gains the power of invisibility in a science experiment, which has several dangerous side effects. He also has little control over his new ability.
  • Also, the movie Invisible Agent, which has dialogue so bad it was parodied by Cheech and Chong.
  • Completely and humorously averted in Amazon Women on the Moon, where the mad scientist drinks his invisibility potion, removes his clothes, and starts going around pulling "invisible" stunts such as messing with the dartboard in a bar, and completely ignorant of the fact he is perfectly opaque.
  • Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man was different in that the invisible man was not a government agent, but a boxer wrongly accused. His girl was the daughter of a doctor experimenting with invisibility. He (the boxer) took the invisibility serum to give himself the chance to clear himself of the murder charge.
  • In Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of CONTROL, the film centers on the efforts of Bruce and Lloyd, two CONTROL scientists, to retrieve a stolen invisibility cloak prototype. The cloak can be defeated by ordinary polarized sunglasses.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Freddy turns himself invisible to beat Rick to death. When he fights back and causes Freddy to lose his glove, Freddy just levitates it and propels it at him, killing him anyway.
  • This is the entire premise of the 1972 Disney film Now You See Him Now You Dont.

    Literature 
  • Older Than Feudalism: One very early example is the Ring of Gyges in Plato's The Republic.
  • The trope in its current form began with H. G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man. The titular man is the scientist Griffin, who manages to invent a way to make himself invisible. It involves him being an albino and bleaching his blood (no pigment or colour to reflect light), and using some machine that reduces the refraction of light as it passes through his tissues. Wells himself admitted that this method would prevent light from being absorbed by the retinas and therefore the invisible man would have been blind.
    • Griffin also creates an invisible cat, in which the reflective tapetum of the eyes (the layer that make them seem to "glow" in the dark) remain visible.
  • One story in Tove Jansson's Tales from the Moomin Valley, "The Invisible Child", features Ninni, a girl who "was frightened in the wrong way" by the woman who took care of her, causing her to turn invisible. As she stays with the Moomins and regains her self-esteem, she gradually becomes visible again.
  • In one The Dresden Files book, while on one case, Harry makes a potion that makes him unnoticeable. This turns out to have interesting benefits making it better than classic "invisibility".
  • Donna MacMeans' 2008 novel The Trouble with Moonlight, set in Victorian London, features Lusinda Havershaw, a gentlewoman thief who becomes invisible during a full moon. Naturally, it doesn't affect Lusinda's clothing or anything on her person.
  • In the Invisible Inc. series of children's books, the main character Chip turns permanently invisible after falling into a mysterious lake while exploring a cave. As a result, the clothing he was wearing when he fell in the lake is invisible as well, but any other outfits he wears are visible. This allows him to sneak around as a Kid Detective without implied nudity. Unlike most examples, after the first book Chip makes no attempt to conceal his condition, and his classmates accept it as no stranger than his best friend's hearing impairment. (Aesops about accepting diversity and finding unique advantages in a disability are had by all).
    • Notable for clever, non-angsty speculation about the challenges of living a normal life while invisible (lack of facial expressions, Chip's frustration when his friend can't tell that he's sticking his tongue out he resorts to using emoticons to express his feelings)...
    • and for creating fairly detailed and consistent properties for Chip's invisibility without getting bogged down attempting an explanation (anything that got wet in the lake is permanently invisible, nothing becomes invisible on contact with Chip, food is visible going down Chip's throat but disappears when it reaches his stomach, Chip's dog is invisible except for his tail because he followed Chip into the lake but his tail stayed dry, no one ever visits the mysterious lake again).
  • The young adult novel Things Not Seen.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, extraordinarily real characters such as Death have a sort of invisibility: They're just so visible that people's minds can't take it and end up not recognizing they're even there.
    • There's also Mr. Shine in Thud!, a troll made of diamond who can regulate the reflectivity of his body, making himself quite hard to see.
    • Granny Weatherwax has the ability to become invisible by simply making people not notice she's there. Trainee witch Tiffany Aching manages to pick up on this trick, to the envy of her peers.
  • Harry Potter has an Invisibility Cloak that he inherits from his father. The fifth book has Moody performing a Disillusionment Charm on Harry, a camouflage spell that makes him perfectly mimic his surroundings. And in the first book, Dumbledore mentions that there are different ways to become invisible (to imply that he was spying on Harry.)
    • In Deathly Hallows, the methods for invisibility are listed (mental aversion, perfect camouflage, and a special cloth that quickly loses its potency.) This is important because Harry's cloak uses none of these methods. The cloak is one of the Deathly Hallows, either made by Death himself or by a legendary wizard. Nobody noticed it until the seventh book, probably mistaking it for one of the everyday kind that wears out quickly.
    • Multiple methods of achieving invisibility were first alluded to in Prisoner of Azkaban, which mentions The Invisible Book of Invisibility — the bookstore owner is not a fan ("Cost a fortune, and we never found 'em!").
    • The Weasley family car also has an "Invisibility Booster" to keep Muggles from noticing it flying. We have yet to get an explanation as to where it came from.
  • In The Lord of the Rings the One Ring turns whoever wears it invisible. Prelude book The Hobbit introduces the Ring as nothing more than a ring of invisibility, and an imperfect one at that — shadows are barely visible in strong sunlight. Its full history was invented for the sequel.
    • The One Ring makes its wearer invisible by partly shifting him into the wraith world - the Nine have the same effect on their wearers, and when, say, the Witch-King has his final confrontation he is seen to wear a crown but "on no head visible was it set", but Frodo and the Nazgûl could see each other very well on Weathertop. Tom Bombadil could not be affected in that way, but Isildur, a Man of Númenórean descent, could be; it just didn't prevent orcs from tracking him by scent and the trail he left through grass, and it slipped from his finger as he swam across the River, leaving him visible to be slain by archers.
  • Robert Cormier plays this for as much horror as possible in Fade.
  • Pumuckl, the kobold protagonist of a German children's series, is invisible, unless he gets caught by a human (which includes him getting stuck to a glue pot). The kobold laws state that Pumuckl has to stay with said human if this happens, which is how the series starts. Many stories are about Pumuckl being in danger of being seen by someone else but Eder, which would mean that he had to leave Eder.
  • The psychic power known as "plateau eyes" in Larry Niven's Known Space series makes people effectively invisible by forcing other people to ignore them.
  • The 2012 novel Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray involves a woman named Clover who has become invisible, both literally and metaphorically. Her clothing is still visible, but her husband and children consider it an Unusually Uninteresting Sight.
  • Perry Rhodan introduces its light-warping "deflector fields" (not to be confused with Deflector Shields) early on as a feature routinely included in Arkonid space suits. They only affect the generally visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum — one protagonist is spotted early on by simple 70s radar where he didn't expect it — and their emissions can themselves be detected by suitable sensors, so they're good primarily against cameras and the standard Mk I eyeball. (Still good enough that when hostile aliens who generate these fields naturally show up later in the series they cause a lot of trouble until suitable countermeasures can be put into mass production.) The use of mind control powers to get others to ignore the user and possibly his or her friends is also featured, but less frequently since those powers are rather less common in the first place.
  • David Eddings' The Elenium/The Tamuli novels features three shown types of invisibility: Perception Filter, bending light and time-trickery that works because the responsible god doesn't realize that it shouldn't work.
  • L.E. Modestitt's Saga of Recluce books feature two variants: Order magicians can create a pattern of energy that passes the light through them, making them literally invisible. Chaos mages destroy the mental connection between seeing them and actually noticing they're there.
    • Sort of backfires in that either spell lights you up like a beacon to casters of the opposed alignment, concentrating enough of the opposing power in one place that if they weren't your enemy before, they probably want to have a stern talk with you now.
    • The order version also passes non-visual-spectrum light, handy when your primary enemies have an established love of the fireball spell.
  • Kroniki Drugiego Kręgu has a mage caste called Illusion Wavers, who can use their powers to become invisible. This apparently doesn’t work on dragons, which see people currently under the spell as holes in the landscape.
  • Fritz Leiber's story "Stardock" from the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series features invisible, but otherwise human-shaped, girls who ride invisible rays (as in fish) which swim through the air. They apply full-body make-up to render themselves visible to the heroes, which proves quite a treat for them (and it won't be the last treat they get from those two mountain-princesses).
  • Shadewalking in Shadow Grail uses the perception filter version of this. This allows students to sneak around, as long as none of the teachers with that gift are near by.
  • Ostraya, the Princess of the Country of Glass, is afflicted with this condition in The Orphan's Tales. There is a huge bit of Fridge Logic implicit — she acquired her invisibility by being caught outside during a rain of glass shards, and she says that as a result, her body is made of glass. But the narrative treats her as if she is perfectly invisible, when simple common sense deduces that glass in the shape of a young woman would still be quite visible, by reflecting light and distorting the images of what's behind her.
  • A hobgoblin in A Fantasy Attraction has the ability to go invisible. Another character, who can apparently still see him, complains it gives him an eyeache.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A 1958 ITV series in the United Kingdom.
  • A 1975 David McCallum vehicle.
  • 1976's Gemini Man.
  • 1983's Invisible Woman pilot film starring Bob Denver and Alexa Hamilton, unrelated to the older film.
  • A 1984 Mini Series.
  • A 1998 series starring Kyle MacLachlan.
  • Vanishing Man, a more recent ITV series.
  • The Invisible Man, a Sci-Fi Channel series running from 2000 to 2002.
    • Note that this is one of the few shows that Hand Wave away the fact that invisibility causes blindness: It's said that though the "quicksilver" that makes Darien invisible bends all visible light around him, it lets in (and frequency-shifts) ultraviolet light which allows him to see.
  • One episode of The X-Files featured a character who could cause those nearby to develop a wandering blind spot between himself and the viewer's retina.
    • Another episode had a character making a wish (to a Genie) to be able to turn invisible, by will. He forgets to ask that his clothes turn invisible as well, and then gets killed moments later while crossing the road.
  • Claude on Heroes has this as his superpower. While the condition is not permanent, he appears to have chosen to remain continuously invisible for years, in order to hide from his former employers. Peter Petrelli picks up the power from him, and it seems to be one of Peter's favorites once he gains some degree of control over his abilities. His name is an obvious reference to Claude Rains, the first actor to play the Invisible Man.
    • Claude is also quite the Ensemble Dark Horse. To the point that fans will always ask the creators when Claude will be brought back. The answer is invariably, "We did bring him back! Didn't you see him?"
    • The show also introduced a minor character named Becky who also has the ability. She uses it to torment Claire as part of a revenge plan against Noah Bennet for killing her father when she was a child.
  • Ea on Invisible Girl Ea is made more or less permanently invisible against her will by the villains of the series, although it's not perfect several things will cause her to become semi-visible against her will, including bright light (like the sun getting reflected off a mirror), electricity (like a stun gun) and physical contact these do not make her outright visible, but instead cause her modified skin to do a "predator-style" CGI thing (making her look like she's made of blue or red glass).
  • Imhotep in Look Around You.
  • In the original Doctor Who episode, "Face of Evil", the normal trope of invisible eyes still somehow being able to see is averted. The invisible monsters are blind.
  • An early episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer involved a girl who was ignored so often she started turning invisible. It later turns out this is a common malaise, and government agents have started a special school for these students to use them as invisible assassins. Joss Whedon has said (on "The Chosen" special collection extras DVD) that this was his first "experience" with Buffy; it was the first idea he ever had that made it into the show.
    • Buffy also briefly becomes invisible in the Season 6 episode "Gone", when the Nerd Trio accidentally zap her with their invisibility gun.
  • Jacob on LOST. Ben brings Locke to Jacob's cabin and begins having a violent, one-sided argument with an empty rocking chair that Jacob is allegedly sitting in; his voice even cuts off several times as if Jacob is interrupting him. This is all very amusing to Locke, who deems Ben insane and proceeds to start leaving...until someone who isn't Ben says "help me" and all hell breaks loose. During the ensuing temper tantrum (during which the chair's invisible occupant throws Ben against the wall), a shadowy, ragged, long haired figure can be seen sitting in the chair for a split second, after which Locke bolts out the door.
    • This being Lost, though, nothing is that simple. Ben later confesses that he really was just talking to an empty chair. Even Ben had no idea what was going on when objects started flying and getting thrown around.
  • In E4's 2009 series Misfits, socially inept young offender Simon, who has been alienated and marginalised since his childhood, develops the "power" to turn invisible whenever he feels particularly ignored and rejected
    • However when his power get reversed by a drug, he ends up becoming the centre of attention, implying that his power might not actually be invisibility, but simply a Perception Filter that causes everyone to ignore him.
  • The Supernatural episode "Wishful Thinking" had an invisible kid (among a few other things) due to a real (evil) wishing well. The kid wished for it purely so he could peep in the ladies' locker room. Late in the episode, he gets hit by a car (he lives), but it's unclear whether this is due to the kid's bad luck or the well causing the bad luck to happen.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode 200, the team reveals that at some point Jack O'Neill was turned invisible. He used it to, among other things, spy on Carter in the shower. Apparently he didn't want to give it up.
  • Near the end of the first season of Sanctuary the team has to locate an invisible girl to find the MacGuffin to defeat the bad guys. The fact that she has to be naked to do so is frequently commented on and joked about. This gives the show a chance to Fanservice it up since the other female characters, while being very attractive, are always quite well covered up.
  • Tommy and Trent both had this as their Dino-Gem induced ability in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. Neither of them used it a whole lot, but it came in handy when the former's actor was unavailable for a few episodes - they just rendered him unable to become visible again (after he escaped from being stuck in his costume).
  • The ability of Night Man's cape as long as it is properly charged.
  • In one episode of The Bugaloos, The Bugaloos turn themselves invisible through the use of a magic wand.
  • In a episode of Dr.Shrinker, B.J and Gordie turn themselves invisible by eating a strange fruit and they become visible again if they hold their breath.
  • When Alphas delved into the idea of invisibility they focused on the notion of "blind spots". Their invisible girl can trick the eyes into thinking there's no one there. One of the side effects is that when she's caught and can't move, she remains perfectly visible.

     Mythology and Folklore 
  • Ghosts, at least at times.
    • Poltergeists especially tend to remain invisible at all times.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, a strip created by Russell Stamm and published from 1940 to 1956, was one of the earliest superheroines in comics, predating Wonder Woman by two years. Scarlet was accidentally hit by an ray her father had invented, which turned her invisible. She later discovered that by pressing a sensitive nerve on her left wrist she could turn visible and invisible at will.

    Other Sites 

    Radio 
  • In the reverse, the primary power of The Shadow is his ability to "cloud the minds of men" — he cannot become invisible, but can cause anyone nearby to fail to see him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has more than one invisibility spell, and yes, invisibility is awesome. The previous edition Invisibility spell allows invisibility until the invisible person attacks — presumably only for game balance, as most invisible persons outside of D&D can attack and stay invisible. Of course, now, not only is the former second level AD&D spell a 16th level spell in D&D 4e, it's been suitably nerfed.
  • Shadowrun contains both the psychic mind-affecting and the light bending versions - a must for most mages in a game thats all about pulling heists.
  • Both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem feature the Obfuscate Discipline, which is a form of mental invisibility or camouflage — it causes others to ignore your presence, or think that you're somebody else. Needless to say, it's a common feature of the Nosferatu.
    • Mage: The Ascension had its own version of this with the Occult merit. At one dot, people tended to lose track of you if you weren't in the room. At three dots, you were essentially immune to documentation and paperwork, as anything describing you became "lost" or "misfiled" pretty fast. At five dots, regular humans and most non-mage supernatural creatures lacked basic object permanence regarding you, forgetting you existed the moment their eyes left you.
      • As with many things Mage, this had a frequently hilarious downside: unlike disciplines, merits can't be turned off. The first time players with high ranks in this merit needed to question a mortal about something, or rent a car or hotel room, they learned to regret it.
    • Mage: The Awakening has a few ways to become invisible: a Perception Filter with the Mind arcanum, true invisibility with Forces (which has the advantage of being able to block other forms of radiation as well), and natural camouflage with Life.
      • Since this is the World of Darkness, some people in the Legion legacynote  gain natural concealment by summoning an Abyssal entity to consume and replace their skin.

    Videogames 
  • This is one of Sly Cooper's powers in some his games; the player can use it while standing still, but not while moving.
  • Microforum International's cell phone games include The Invisible Man, set in 1899 London, and The Invisible Lady, set in modern Los Angeles.
  • The Dark Templar of StarCraft severed their ties to their psionic brethren, as well as their ties to the visible world (the light-beniding version).
    • The Protoss Arbiter passively cloaks every unit around itself.
    • Terran Ghosts and Wraiths are able to cloak as long as they have enough energy. In the sequel, Banshees replace Wraiths, and all three's portraits show them donning a mask in order to see when cloaked.
  • Second Sight has multiple characters who use the mind-clouding variant, represented as transparency. Security cameras ignore it, and it can't be activated if someone's already looking at the user (unless that someone is you, anyways.) It also malfunctions if the user gets too close to someone else, and odd things can happen if someone sees footprints forming without anything visible to form them.
  • The ball can turn invisible in Backyard Baseball via a powerup.
  • City of Heroes has the power pool set "Invisibilty" which has Stealth, Invisibilty and Grant Invisibilty. The first slows you down and is only partial invisibility, and the second keeps you from attacking.
    • Superior Invisibiltity is power in the Illusion Control set. You go completely invisible, run full speed and can still attack.
  • Several Mortal Kombat characters, such as Reptile and Smoke, have the ability to turn invisible, although it usually wears off when they are hit.
  • One of the scarier creatures of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe has the power to turn everything - except its Glowing Eyes of Doom - invisible. Cue much spraying of its general direction with copious amounts of ammo.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines you can play as a Nosferatu. At first, you can only "cloak" standing still, but as you gain more levels in the discipline, you can start moving, running and finally attacking while invisible
  • Sunny Milk of the three mischievous fairies from the Touhou series has the ability to control the refraction of light. Common uses for this include rendering something invisible for the purpose of pranking, and making herself and her partners in crime invisible so they could flee when a prank goes wrong.
    • The series also has Koishi, who is implied to have a form of this as an extension to her powers to manipulate the subconscious. If she wishes, she could simply have others not notice her, allowing her to, for example, casually walk up a mountain heavily guarded by Tengu without being detected.
  • Halo features the clear/translucent variety by way of power-up for Spartans, and built-in for some Elites. In both cases, it is temporary (for the player character, at least.)
    • And Bungie's Marathon does something even cooler. The camouflage doesn't make the user appear as clear shimmers of light, but as a SHADOW! And if you get two camouflage powerups, you're incredibly hard to see with the naked eye.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has two flavors. The Invisibility spell effect makes the player invisible for a short period of time, and breaks as soon as the player performs an action other than moving. The Chameleon effect offers partial invisibility, making it harder for people to detect the character, and does not break on performing an action. Unlike the former it can be had as a permanent effect via enchantments, and getting permanent 100% Chameleon—which makes the player fully invisible—is considered a Game Breaker.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, one of the Agent of Nocturnal abilities granted to Nightingales, is the ability to turn completely invisible for two minutes every day.
    • A variation occurs when encountering Falmer. Because they are completely blind and rely on sound to hear, with the Muffle enchantment on your gear and the Muffle spell, it's possible to walk straight in front of them without being "seen" at all.
  • Joachim of Shadow Hearts Covenant goes through a handful of different forms, one of which is Invisible.
  • The Natural Camouflage tonic in BioShock allows you to remain invisible permanently, provided you don't try to walk or attack. Hacking is fine.
  • Female Night Elves in Warcraft III can Shadowmeld at night if they stand still. This ability was extended to males as well in World of Warcraft.
    • Elven Sorceresses can cast an invisibility spell on allied units (but not sappers), carried over from Warcraft II (where using it on a sapper killed it).
    • The Orc Blademaster can turn himself invisible to move faster and do extra damage on his next attack.
    • While no unit actually has it, there's an ability that allows a unit to attack without breaking invisibility.
  • In Battlefield Heroes, Commando soldiers can use their stealth ability to become invisible from far away, making them able to sneak up on enemies with a knife, or snipe people from safe distances.
  • Mass Effect 2 introduces the Tactical Cloak for Infiltrators, also used by Kasumi, who has an attack based around it. It's very temporary and one particular enemy that doesn't rely on sight to get you can still... get you, but otherwise you can just run past your enemies. It seems to use a lot of energy as it can only be maintained at its longest for about 18 seconds.
  • The Spy from Team Fortress 2 has a wide variety of invisibility watches so he can get behind enemy lines. There's the default watch, where cloak drains when in use, but is regenerated when not-in-use or with resupplies. There's the Cloak And Dagger, which doesn't drain when you are standing still, meaning you could be perpetually invisible. Finally, there's the Dead Ringer which if activated when injured will turn you invisible, drop a fake corpse, give a fake death notifcation and reduce your damage taken by 90%.
    • Note the dangers, though; invisibility isn't instantaneous, and if you are hit, you'll briefly shimmer.
  • The Novistadors from Resident Evil 4 have Predator-style camouflage by way of color change. Their glowing eyes are still visible, though, and they can't use it and fly at the same time.
  • There are a few sources of invisibility in Dungeon Crawl. Being invisible can be pretty handy, since it makes you much stealthier and monsters have a hard time hitting you. Running into monsters that can turn or are just naturally invisible, however, is highly annoying at best and lethal at worst (though that's kinda par for the course for a Roguelike).
    • One particularly notorious player-killing monster, Sigmund, has the Invisibility spell, which contributes significantly to his notoriety. As if he wasn't deadly enough to low-level players with his scythe and confusion spell.
    • Being invisible also renders you immune to the Olgreb's Toxic Radiance spell, which shines a poisonous light on everything nearby.
  • Minecraft has invisibility potions that makes only your skin vanish and not your armor. Monsters can't see you, but if you wear armor, they will spot you. In multiplayer servers, your name tag vanishes when you turn invisible, making PvP more intense.
  • Dawn of War: In the first two games, invisibility was a toggled ability that only served to move units undetected, ending whenever the unit attacked or was told to capture a point. From Dark Crusade onwards, invisibility became permanent, but every faction has multiple detectors to cope with it.
  • In Paper Mario and its sequel, "Invisible" is a status effect that makes most attacks always miss the invisible one, and can also be bestowed in the field by Bow to avoid encounters (as well as pass through certain solid objects). Peach becomes invisible in the sequel, but her invisibility is granted by potion, and doesn't affect her clothes, so unlike Mario, she has to remove them in order to remain undetected.
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier introduces "adaptive camo" in the second mission as its main means of stealth. It only affects the user's clothes and equipment, however - exposed skin and the ironsights on their weapons are still visible (though the latter is more so you can actually use them rather than due to any limitations to the tech), as is the user's shadow. It automatically deactivates if the user moves faster than a crouched walk (or at all in multiplayer), or if they're shot at.
  • In Deus Ex thanks to bio-augmentations you can have two different kinds of cloaking, anti-device and anti-human. You were free to attack as much as you liked, but the duration of the cloak was very limited. There also are jackets granting invisibility of one kind or the other, which you can wear until they run out of batteries.
  • In the Hidden Object Game Mystery Trackers: Raincliff and its sequel, Raincliff's Phantoms, the detective protagonist discovers that the abandoned town of Raincliff was once home to a family with a genetic disposition to invisibility. The first game's plot centers on how the family is connected to the disappearance of four graduate students The game's sequel has the detective return to Raincliff to rescue a kidnapped reporter and discovering that the town has been converted into an invisible colony of escaped criminals.
  • Defense Of The Ancients features several heroes that has temporary invisibility mechanics. However, Riki the Stealth Assassin is capable of permanently going invisible with his aptly named Ultimate "Permanent Invisibility". While he does reveal himself moments after attacking, he can easily catch his opponents off guard unless they bring items to counter him, like wards or Gem of True Sight (which newbies rarely carry, but pro players will carry it with gusto, mostly rendering Riki and other invisible heroes very vulnerable)

    Webcomics 
  • Yahtzee's old surrealistic webcomic The Adventures Of Angular Mike has the the Invisible Hentai Girl character, who you can only tell is around whenever she wears her Sailor Fuku uniform, which she, given her name, rarely does for long periods of time. Yahtzee blatantly admits on the character description page that the main reason for her invisibility is his inability to draw animesque women, but he also makes note of the element of irony in giving the most oversexed he has ever done this trait.
  • In Bob and George, the yellow demon uses this on Megaman.
  • One of Nanashi's many powers in Earthsong.
  • Kali in Enjuhneer was created as a joke on the "invisible roommate," but has since been explained as having eaten radioactive toast. In addition to her own transparency, any clothing she wears gradually and permanently becomes invisible, as does any dye she puts in her hair. (A Santa hat and a pair of White Gloves are immune to this, for reasons that have so far only been vaguely implied.) The author has mined a lot of jokes out of the various rules and applications of this ability—for instance, Kali can hide items in an invisible messenger bag and pull them out as if from Hammerspace.
  • Geist of Heist fame has this as well as Intangibility. Makes him well-suited for his job.
  • Thomil of Juathuur can render himself invisible, but rarely does.
  • Karla, from M9 Girls! can turn invisible by becoming white light. Her clothes also turn invisible, which can be explained in-universe since Karla's elemental power allows her to control light.
  • In Sinfest, the Elephant in the Room feels like this.

    Web Originals 
  • Liches in Angel Of Death are capable of this once they devour a certain number of souls.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Fatale can turn invisible and teleport. Puck is a mystic martial artist who can vanish from sight (he still shows up in a person's peripheral vision, but vanishes when he's looked at directly). The Gentleman Ghost is permanently invisible, but dressed in an immaculate white tuxedo with tails and a top hat. Phantom Panther combines this with intangibility.
  • This is in the Whateley Universe. Nex is an assassin who has psychic invisibility to go with his ninja training. Wallflower, being an Expy of The Invisible Woman, can do the 'Invisible Girl' bit with an invisible forcefield bubble around her and anyone nearby. Minor character Glass can become see-through. Not invisible, just see-through.
    • Wallflower's force field uses the light-warping approach. She can still 'see' from inside the field (using a sensory power she wasn't even aware she had until it was pointed out to her), but others do find themselves in total darkness.
  • A dark power in Phaeton half the light gets trapped in the shroud the other half simply teleports through the shroud.

    Western Animation 
  • The Snake Talisman from Jackie Chan Adventures allows the user to become invisible.
  • Invisibility is one of Space Ghost's main powers.
  • In The Transformers, turning invisible was Mirage's special ability.
  • One of the features of Kim Possible's Battle Suit is that it makes her invisible. Wade also uses invisibility on his machines.
  • A one-shot villain in Batman: The Animated Series had developed a suit to turn invisible.
    • In Batman Beyond Batman is assumed to have adapted it, as the Beyond suit can turn invisible. In one episode, Terry makes a remark to himself about it's more dubious potential.
  • Inverted in The Venture Bros., as Sally Impossible, an Expy of Sue Storm, has to concentrate to keep her skin visible. Otherwise, the muscles under her skin become visible. As with almost everything in the series, it's played for laughs.
  • Hay Lin from W.I.T.C.H. gains invisibility early in season two, as part of her power upgrade
  • In episode 21 of the third season of Winx Club, Nabu claims that the reason he stowed away on the specialists ship was because he wanted to practice his invisibility spells against monsters living in the area the Winx were travelling to, but he couldn't find any other transport. And this is the only episode where we ever see him use this power...
  • Because he's a ghost, this is a basic power for Danny Phantom.
  • In one episode of Bratz, The bratz find and use invisibility spray.
  • Marceline from Adventure Time has this power for some reason.
  • In a few episodes of Tom and Jerry, Jerry found out he could make himself invisible with either invisible ink or vanishing cream.
  • Speaking of vanishing cream, SheZow can use one to turn invisible for a while.
  • In one episode of Rupert Bear, the fox twins Freddy and Ferdy find a magic bell that turns them invisible.
  • Sid the Invisible Kid is one of the monster children who attends Gravedale High. He's permanently invisible and hates being overlooked.
  • A episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates has Jake and his friends find a ring that turns things invisible.

    Other 
  • Order of Mata Nui member Jerbraz in BIONICLE became permanently invisible (along with his sword) after an experiment to gain extra powers went wrong. He seems to have adapted pretty well; he comments that while he was handsome and charming before he has to get by only on charm these days.
    • Av-Matoran can change the color of their armor by altering the way light reflects from it. It's mentioned that they sometimes use this ability for camouflage.

    Real Life 
  • The military, of course, is well-known for using the "bending light" method to make jets and ships invisible to radar, though not the naked eye.
  • In the near future, it will be possible to create a device that conceals you completely. Surprisingly, it would be quite similar to Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak.
    • To elaborate, this theory is relate to metamaterials that react to light in exotic ways. If the method could be perfected in the visible spectrum, it would result in an object that would remain invisible without any kind of power source or other technological aid.
  • Any transparent object with the same refractive index as the material in which its submerged is this. Some smartass scientists have developed polymers and glasses with a refractive index as close as possible to that of water or air to make things that are invisible. The objects in question, due to the limitations of the material, aren't usually very useful otherwise.


IntangibilityStock RPG SpellsSuper Empowering
I'm Standing Right HereInvisibility IndexInvisibility Cloak
Invisible JerkassOlder Than FeudalismInvisibility Cloak
IntangibilityMagic and PowersInvisible Means Undodgeable
IntangibilityStock SuperpowersJetpack
The League of Extraordinary GentlemenImageSource/Comic BooksLady of Adventure

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