"Cellophane, Mister Cellophane,
Shoulda been my name, Mister Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me,
Walk right by me,
And never know I'm there!"
—"Mister Cellophane", Chicago
An invisibility cloak is a specific type of Applied Phlebotinum
. It is worn on the body, and renders the wearer invisible. It does not have to be an actual cloak, and can be anything from a body suit to a ring
. It can be magical, or it can be technological, where the latter goes from a rather mundane suit whose colors change according to the environment, to a high-tech diffractive field that bends light.
A problem only occasionally brought up with these is that if the wearer's eyes are invisible, his retinas are also, and he should therefore be rendered blind. If it is a magical cloak, though, it can be explained away as being some kind of enchantment that lets you see
When it is used in video games as active camouflage, you can sometimes see
people cloaking this way as the light refracting around the character or monster's general shape
Invisibility cloaks do exist, if only as radar and infrared stealth technology for planes. Experimental invisibility cloaks for humans
also exist, while bigger stuff is in the concept stage. Except those are cloaking devices for vehicles, not personal invisibility devices.
examples make this Older Than Feudalism
Having said that, the Invisibility Cloak
is a major tactical weapon in advanced societies that have abandoned radar-guided and heatseeking weaponry
, or at least when dealing with enemies who are using the Mark One Eyeball most of the time; for example, most soldiers only switch to thermal goggles in low-light conditions, making a device to turn invisible very useful for moving around unseen in the daytime.
, where this is an ability instead of an equipment. Watch out for Invisibility Flicker
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Anime and Manga
- Some of Doraemon's pocket gadgets are capable of invisibility. Fujiko F. Fujio was mindful of why true invisibility and vision didn't mix, and so the ones that can be applied to humans mostly work on perception filters.
- Full Metal Panic!, ECS mode for 3rd generation Arm Slaves. Tessa's M6A1 also had ECS despite being 2nd-gen. The Other Wiki states that ECS is based on an array of rapidly oscillating lasers. The first models only shielded against infrared but the newest stuff works against optics as well — with the trade-off of having a strong ozone smell, attracting birds and freaking out dogs.
- ECCS sensors can see through the camouflage and light rain makes it completely useless. It is implied that ECS draws lots of power since every time we see it in use, the Arm Slave in question is either sneaking or standing still (which is a bit strange, seeing that 3rd-gen AS units have cold fusion reactors with nearly three times higher wattage than their 2nd-gen cousins, yet both carry ECS).
- Mao was moving at a pretty good clip in the Behemoth story arc, trashing roadsigns and even "helping" Souske and Weber get their truck through a roadblock.
- In Gantz, the hunters get controllers with the ability to turn their user invisible by "changing their frequency". Those who are also invisible and thus on the same frequency can see each other.
- GaoGaiGar's Volfogg has his built-in Holographic Camouflage, which appears to render him visually invisible as he blankets the immediate area with other forms of sensor jamming (it's depicted as both bending light and projecting a false image). The only time it's 'broken' is when he either attacks something, or that one time the Zondar turned out to have the ability to dive between dimensions, as he's careful to account for environmental effects. There's an external box version of it, but it's still only Volfogg who ever uses it - and is presumably the only one who's designed to.
- Ghost in the Shell's Public Security Section 9 and a few baddies made frequent use of "thermoptic camouflage," which rendered the wearer more or less invisible in both visible-light and infrared. In the movie, Major Kusanagi wears a skin-tight semi-transparent thermoptic suit; the various TV series had Section 9's combat uniforms thermoptic-equipped.
- The manga and the film show the characters wearing special devices to be able to see while being invisible. In series Stand Alone Complex, they are absent however.
- In the manga, the camo can be disrupted by dust and rain.
- The Rangers that were chasing S9 characters at the time) and Batou, an ex-Ranger, have eye implants designed specifically to work with thermoptic camo. Still doesn't explain how the others were able to see. Perhaps we are meant to assume that most of Section 9 have these implants.
- The Umibozu commandos in the first season of SAC also had thermoptic camo as well when they were ordered to hunt down the S9 operators.
- The camo also seems to work better in the anime, even keeping the characters invisible in the snow in one episode (without leaving footprints or getting visible snow to settle on them.
- Having said that, the PS2 game establishes that thermoptic camo doesn't work in areas with high humidity, and attempting to use it will cause the user to appear like a multihued silhouette.
- Gundam SEED, Mirage Colloid for Gundams, ships, and mini-Death Stars.
- Gundam AGE has a near-perfect stealth system used by Vagan for their warships and space stations, though apparently the power requirements are such that Mobile Suits cannot mount it. They also appear to be unable to attack when it's active. The Bisidian pirates managed to steal one for their own ship. SID, guardian of the EXA-DB, has a more advanced version that can be mounted on a smaller frame.
- During the Hunter exams of Hunter × Hunter a minor character (a ninja) captures a giant pig by putting a rock under a camouflage cloak to get it to run into.
- Otto's Stealth Jacket in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which works more like Real Life stealth technology, rendering the user invisible to regular search magic and technology. However, as Shamal demonstrated with Klarwind's more advanced sensors, it's far from infallible.
- Kaede from Mahou Sensei Negima! gets one of these as her magical artifact. Its different from most of the other examples on the page in that rather than making the person merely invisible, it consumes them and then turns invisible. Inside is an entire house. Also Natsumi's artifact makes her and anyone holding her hand completely unnoticeable.
- Robotech, Shadow Alpha/Beta fighters
- Vision of Escaflowne, Zaibach Guymelefs had stealth cloaks.
- Helcats in the Zoids anime with their optical camouflage, though later on this is applied to just about anything... including factories.
- Subverted in Last Fantasy, where the invisible armor is invisible, and not the one wearing it. Needless to say, the armor is lost very quickly.
- Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet.
- Buzz Allen, from Superworld Comics, had a belt that turned him invisible.
- Detective Jim Brant, from Popular Comics, had an invisibility suit that allowed him to fight crime.
- Mysta of the Moon, who was featured in Planet Comics, had an invisibility cloak.
- Echo, from Yankee Comics, had an invisibility belt.
- Solar, who was featured in Captain Aero Comics, had a "Cape of Mystery" that rendered him invisible.
- The Scarlet Phantom, who was featured in an issue of All-New Comics, had a "phantom cloak" that turned him invisible.
- Full-body "lightbender" suits are used fairly often in Matt Fraction's Casanova.
- Minor hero the Invisible Hood (a.k.a. Hooded Justice a.k.a. Invisible Justice) in The DCU (and originally from Quality Comics) wore a chemically treated hood and robe that allowed him to turn invisible.
- Marvel's current incarnation of Loki owns a magical cloak of invisibility. He also borrows (steals) an invisibility pendant (magical) from Lorelei, and an invisibility belt (technological) from Sigurd. All these together are enough invisibility to hide him even from Mephisto.
- The Tarnhelm is parodied in the 1989 film Erik the Viking, where the protagonist uses Aud's invisibility cloak, which only works on King Arnulf. Unaware of that Erik pulls off a hilarious "now you see me, now you you don't see me" scene on the villain's ship.
- The priest cannot see it, the same way that he cannot see the Dragon of the North Sea or the gates of Asgard.
- Predator - This is a Predator's main defense against the prey that it is hunting.
- G.I. Joe - There is a camouflage suit used by Scarlett.
- In the 1959 movie Santa Claus, Merlin gives Santa a flower that can turn him invisible.
- In the film serial The Phantom Creeps, Dr. Zorka has several futuristic devices, including an invisibility belt.
- One of the spy gadgets Dr. Honeydew and Beaker develop in Muppets from Space is invisibility spray. Unfortunately, it comes off when Fozzie washes his hands.
- In The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul's ship has a cloaking device.
- The Smurf Village in The Smurfs has a magic field that renders the village invisible to anyone outside the field...most likely to those who aren't Smurfs.
- The Thief Of Bagdad 1924 features one of these, which is a literal cloak.
- Die Another Day somewhat infamously had a car that used miniature cameras on one end wired to transmission screens on the other, much like existing technology. "Aston Martin call it the Vanquish, we call it... the Vanish."
- The SHIELD Helicarrier in The Avengers, much like Bond's car, had panels on the underbelly that displayed the sky above the ship, rendering it invisible to ground observation.
- The Trope Maker, is The Tarnkappe (aptly translatable as "camouflage cape") which Siegfried takes from the dwarf Alberich and uses to defeat Brunhild in the Nibelungenlied.
- In Astrid Lindgren's Mio, My Mio Mio gets his cape mended by the seamstress. She mends it with fabric that turns Mio invisible when he wears the cape inside-out.
- L.E. Modesitt's Saga of Recluce books have invisibility that does render the wearer blind.
- Well, sort of. To use the ability you have to first develop a supernatural sensitivity to either patterns (order) or energy (chaos), either of which means you can see more "blind" than ordinary people can see with light anyhow.
- Also the ability is only schematically shaped like a cloak, it's not really an item so much as a spell that the caster has to fuel.
- In The Hobbit, Bilbo acquires a magic ring from Gollum. This ring grants invisibility to its wearer.
- The sequel, The Lord of the Rings, identifies it as the One Ring, a major Artifact of Doom. The invisibility is a side-effect on mortal wearers who cannot simultaneously exist in the Visible and Invisible worlds. In fact, the ring actually makes its wearer more visible to those who are in the Invisible world, such as the Nazgûl. Spiritual beings, such as Sauron, are not rendered invisible.
- The elven cloaks given to the Fellowship at Lórien give a certain amount of invisibility, causing their wearers to fade into the background so long as they are among nature. This allows Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to stay unseen by an entire cohort of Rohirrim riding right past them, and has a lot to do with Frodo and Sam's successful incursion of Mordor. This is well represented in the film adaptation of The Two Towers when, as an orc-company approaches, Frodo throws his cloak over him and Sam, and they immediately take on the perfect likeness of a boulder.
- In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Harry inherits a cloak from his father that makes everything beneath it invisible. Recreated beautifully on film too. This cloak is the Trope Namer.
- And as it turns out, the cloak is one of the three Deathly Hallows. This is why the cloak has lasted so long without decaying, and can conceal more than one person.
- The magic ring in Orlando Furioso, which Angela uses to get away from Ruggiero in what might be the epic's most crucial scene. It reappears at various points and may have inspired the One Ring.
- Perry Rhodan has the 'deflector field' (not to be confused with Deflector Shields) as a relatively commonplace technology. It works by bending light around the cloaked object or person and, while useful under the right conditions, isn't too hard to foil since it only affects a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum (an early issue had an invisible intruder detected by 1970s Earth radar) and the field itself can be easily spotted by advanced sensors.
- In the Starfist series by David Sherman and Dan Cragg, Confederation Marine combat uniforms are called "chameleons" - they incorporate an otherwise undescribed technology that approximates the color of objects in the uniform's near vicinity. Chameleons only work in visible spectrum, a weakness that is ruthlessly exploited by the series' recurring Aliens and Monsters.
Later on, when the Marines are fighting against human rebels, they advance across an open field of chest-high grass. Apparently, no one realized just how brilliant this plan was until they got ambushed by the rebels who could easily spot them.
- In the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, Warders' cloaks blended with the scenery, making their heads and legs appear disembodied when the cloaks were worn.
- William Gibson's Neuromancer has Molly donning a "mimetic polycarbon" body suit, which changes pattern to match the surroundings, in order to infiltrate the Sense/Net headquarters.
- In Stuart Little the car Stuart drives has an invisibility button.
- In Tribesmen of Gor we learn that the Kurii have developed a ring which makes the bearer invisible, by refracting light around the user.
- In Explorers of Gor, the plot is driven by attempts to recover the ring and plant a booby-trapped fake on the other side.
- In Artemis Fowl, Foaly creates an invention called Cam Foil to make the wearer of it invisible. It's more technological than Harry Potter cloaks, which serves some problems, such as it shorts out in rain and is not invisible to a camera. Also, the circuitry can be easily crushed and the wearer appears as a slight haze, so is still noticeable.
- In the Uglies series, the Specials have sneaksuits —- suits which can blend in with the surroundings and cannot be seen through normal sight or infrared. The suits can be damaged and one particular character can sense their location since he is very perceptive (although the character in question is seriously underestimated).
- In John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos series, the characters get the Ring of Gyges (from Greek mythology, see above) from the horse-shaped tomb of Gyges. It can hide the wearer from normal and paranormal sense impressions selectively. Colin Mac FirBolg does his best sniveling Gollum impersonation before donning it.
Amelia warns him that what it really creates is a moral compulsion to not notice the bearer, which means it may not work on the innocent, such as children.
- A demon summoner makes Marik of Gundar such a cloak in Song In The Silence. It also keeps any sound he makes from escaping, even twigs breaking underfoot, and masks his smell. Additionally it makes it much harder to see most things, but any source of light is painfully bright.
- Jack McDevitt's Priscilla Hutchins novels have "lightbenders"; basically high-tech invisibility suits. Access for the general public is highly restricted, but the Academy is allowed to use them for exploring new alien worlds. Their use requires care, though, since they don't hide the eyes.
- In Michael Flynn's Spiral Arm novel In The Lion's Mouth, Ravn recounts the use of these in the fight. After, Bridget's first guess is an Air-Vent Passageway escape before she deduces that in fact Ravn hid cloaks in the ventilation system, and then escaped, invisible, with her companion as soon as the door opened.
- One of the early plots of The Thrawn Trilogy is Grand Admiral Thrawn's search for Palpatine's hidden cloaking technology, suddenly made practicalnote in a breakthrough shortly before the disastrous battle at Endor. But like a true total cloaking device, it's double blind—enemies can't see the cloaked ships, but the cloaked ships can't see outside their own field. Thrawn, being the Magnificent Bastard that he is, still finds some uses: like cloaked asteroids in low orbit used as siege weapons.
- In the Dune prequels, a Richese scientist invents the first no-field generator. He sells the technology to the Harkonnens, with the Baron having him build a no-chamber for secret meetings and a small no-ship for hidden strikes, before Rabban kills the scientist. However, unlike the future no-ships, this no-field is a typical cloaking device but doesn't shield against prescience, as evidenced when Rabban tries to use it to attack Wallach IX only for the Bene Gesserit to detect him with their powers and cause the ship to crash. They study the craft and then destroy it to prevent the technology from falling in the wrong hands. It's not clear if the re-discovery of the no-field is independent or a result of the Sisterhood using this knowledge.
- Annabeth Chase's Yankees baseball cap in Percy Jackson and the Olympians allows her, or anyone else who wears it, to become invisible.
- In Murderess, Lu and Hallwad use an invisibility potion to look for Aucasis in the Dark Ones’ tunnels without being detected.
Live Action TV
- In the Sci-Fi Channel series The Invisible Man, Darien Fawkes was implanted with a gland that secreted a liquid that coated him and his clothing, causing light to bend around him perfectly. Active camouflage meets Psycho Serum.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jem'Hadar soldiers go invisible when on the attack.
- Cloaking Devices have been a mainstay of the series since "Balance of Terror" in Star Trek: The Original Series. Employed mainly by the Romulans, Klingons, Suliban, and the U.S.S. Defiant.
- The Romulans once tried to take this Up to Eleven with a "phase cloak" that would make starships not only invisible, but able to pass through normal matter. Unbeknownst to them, a Starfleet Insane Admiral illegally beat them to it.
- There was an episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman featuring a man who had invented an invisibility outfit.
- Parodied in an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place when Max buys an invisibility poncho. When worn, only the poncho turned invisible, Max didn't.
- Similar to the Muppet Labs spray above, one episode of Sesame Street featured the spray-on invisibility cloak "Disappear-O."
- Doctor Who:
- In the two-parter "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", Captain Jack's spaceship has an invisibility cloak, allowing him to park it next to Big Ben.
- The Doctor can make the TARDIS invisible too, if he needs to keep a low profile. Leading to the 11th Doctor slamming face-first into it in "The Impossible Astronaut".
- In season 9 of Stargate SG-1, the team discovers Arthur's Mantle, which is basically a computer that takes the user out of phase, making them invisible. Daniel guesses that a medieval storyteller who didn't understand the mechanics of the machine attributed its properties to an actual cloak.
- In one episode of Pixelface, the QM invented a hat that rendered the wearer invisible. Unfortunately, the hat itself remained visible.
- In what may very well be the earliest example of this on television, the "Manhunt in Space" serial of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger introduces the "Cold Light" device. The device works on an inverse of the heat mirage, where sufficiently cold light beams could render an object invisible. Remember, this was written in the 50's.
- Hades had a cap that made its wearer invisible.
- Russian folklore has an invisibility hat, which also blinds the wearer.
- The Ring of Gyges from Plato's The Republic.
- The Tarnhelm in Norse Mythology.
- The Tarnkappe from German heroic legend, such as the one Siegfried took from the dwarf Alberich in the Nibelungenlied (and Siegfried didn't limit himself to non perv uses). King Laurin, another dwarf king from a different legend, also had one of these.
- BattleTech takes the chameleon approach with mimetic armor coatings for some types of power armor. The "Chameleon Light Polarization Shield", invisibility on a Mech scale, has never been truly explained, but is implied to somehow render a Mech invisible only in the visible light spectrum, allowing it to still hunt in its magnetic resonance and infrared sensor modes. Those Mechs that mount it have to find their own ways around not showing up to those, frequently resorting to advanced composites for construction and various gimmicks to reduce heat signature.
The Word of Blake's new Void-Signature System combines the theory of the Chameleon Light Polarization System as well the Null Signature System with Battlesuit Scale mimetic armour to create a system which blocks you from Mag Scan, IR, Radar sensors as well as any visual system by making your 'Mech change colours as to appear the same as their background... thus simply being a blur.
- Rings, cloaks and other Items of Invisibility from Dungeons & Dragons. Though by the time you can afford one, a lot of the enemies you'll be fighting will have ways around it. (The See Invisibility spell, Tremorsense, Scent...)
- Rifts shows a surprising dosage of reality in averting the traditional sci-fi cloaking fields. The usual invisibility magic still works, but technological efforts at an Invisibility Cloak take the form of highly advanced "chameleon" fields or coatings which mimic the surroundings rather than bending light around them and making the user blind too.
- Various versions exist in GURPS: Ultra-Tech. By TL12 the Invisibility Surface works not only in the visual spectrum but well beyond it.
- The villain Ambuscade from Sentinels Of The Multiverse has a Personal Cloaking Device. When it enters play, Ambuscade flips from his Superhuman Hunter side to his Invisible Stalker side. As the Invisible Stalker Ambuscade is immune to damage, so the heroes must destroy the Personal Cloaking Device first to get him to turn visible again.
- Prospero's use of an Invisibility Cloak in The Tempest is a major plot point.
- BIONICLE: the Mask of Concealment and Mask of Stealth.
- Zoids has Helcat, Liger Zero X, and Diablo Tiger.
- In Elf Blood, the punk Scout uses one to escape from the Renegades after he tosses a grenade at them.
- In Far from Home, the pirates have a device that makes them only appear on the scanner.
- In The End, the alien spaceship piloted by the protagonists is supposed to be using one of these when it lands on Earth. The fact that it turns out not to be working properly is one of the factors that kicks off the plot.
- Shadowscared, god of fear in The Gods Of Arr Kelaan has a cloak that makes him invisible to everything he fears (which is a lot). It was made by one of his followers who expected it to make him immortal, instead it just hid his ghost from Thannatria, Shadowscared could see him and he gladly gave it to him so he could pass on.
- Lady Spectra's hi-tech "refractor cape" in Lady Spectra And Sparky.
- In New York Magician, Michel's watch can generate "slips", which are basically this, barring magical people and beings who can see through them.
- In Orion's Arm this is done by using tiny lasers to project an image into the eyes of onlookers.
- In Red vs. Blue, the Active Camo from Halo is Tex's armor ability. The Meta briefly uses it as well after capturing Tex in season 6, and again in season 8, though not as well.
- In Tales From My D&D Campaign, the evil Kua-Toa have developed a way to cheaply mass-produce invisibility cloaks by fueling them with chemicals in their own skin secretions.
- You Have Become Your Avatar: King Kix gave the group cloaking devices in an attempt of infiltrating the SCP Foundation. Unfortunately, a SCP Foundation guard still managed to spot them.
- Sheila from the animated Dungeons & Dragons TV series was equipped with a literal Invisibility Cloak.
- Played with in one Invader Zim episode where Zim accidentally gets a Megadoomer assault robot that could turn completely invisible. Unfortunately, the pilot does not turn invisible, leaving Zim floating in midair as he stomps his way through the neighborhood.
- Parody in SpongeBob SquarePants: The "Boatsmobile" of retired superhero duo Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy is permanently invisible. So whenever they need it, they wander around the parking lot/secret cave garage like idiots until they find it. But it's not only annoying, it's outright useless, because driver and passengers are clearly visible.
- Invisibility is the Boatsmobile's default state; a malfunction causes a brief glimpse of a 1950s style sports car. Faaancy. The duo do carry around a car alarm on the keys, which renders it temporarily visible.
- The Shroud of Shadows from Xiaolin Showdown.
- The Renegades' Stealth Device from Challenge Of The Go Bots, said to be a holographic projector that worked across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
- One episode of Batman: The Animated Series featured a criminal who had stolen a supply of a plastic that could bend light around it, and had made for himself an invisibility suit (and similarly outfitted his car).
Batman might've also adapted a safer version of this (in the Batman The Animated Series episode, it's mentioned as being toxic to the user), as the suit in Batman Beyond, Terry's costume has a similar ability that he uses sometimes.
- The Saurians of The Mighty Ducks had extremely sophisticated cloaking devices that not only rendered them invisible to the naked eye, but to almost all forms of radar or locating devices. In fact, its power is why the Mask of Drake Du Caine is so important to Puckworld. It is the one and only thing that can see through their cloaks.
- The costume worn by Spider-Man throughout most of Spider-Man Unlimited can briefly turn him invisible.
- In one Transformers Generation 1 episode, Megatron invents and uses a Invisibility spray gun.
- In Astérix, a spy was sent to observe a palace construction in Egypt. He blended into the background terrain, and also took the form of building blocks to hide. Naturally, he was added to the construction.
- In Inspector Gadget: "A Clear Case", Dr. Claw invents an invisibility suit using diamonds to deflect light.
- The Big Knights featured hats of invisibility that rendered the wearer invisible but required the wearer to be naked apart from the hat.
- If you made a cloak out of a lot of tiny cameras and screens, it should be possible to get the invisibility effect while still being able to see the outside on a screen inside the cloak. It would be ridiculously fragile, though.
- BAE Systems is developing an adaptive infrared camouflage system that makes vehicles blend with the background IR of the environment, making them practically invisible when viewed with IR cameras.
- Real Life stealth systems have generally subverted this trope opting instead for practical invisibility. A stealth bomber is by no means invisible but it will be difficult to detect until it is too close for the enemy to react. The US military is working on an AR system for ground forces to enable them to see the enemy through walls (by feeding data from cameras set at alternate vantage points) thus allowing them to use cover more effectively.
- The aptly named Invisible Octopus has probably the closest thing to this that exists in the natural world see here at about 1:35.