"These statues were singularly inanimate. I knew better than to assume that they would remain as such."Obviously, guarding the Macguffin is a hard job, especially if you are a 4000 year old civilization. Booby traps can be dodged, guards require resources, and curses can be awesome. So why not just use the obligatory scary statues as guards? This trope refers to times when an important room has statues around it which seem like normal statues, if perhaps heavily armed. However, upon something important happening, the statues will come to life and start attacking. If the work in question is a video game, the statues will most likely respond to an attack. One way to gain these for your room is to take people for granite. See also Rock Monster, Taken for Granite, Golem, Our Gargoyles Rock, Nobody Here but Us Statues, and MacGuffin Guardian.
— Kain, Legacy of Kain
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Anime and Manga
- Inuyasha: A pair of such statues guard the doorway to the underworld. When approached they proclaim that no one living can pass, and then ask if the intruder wishes to pass. If you do, obviously they have to kill you. The one person allowed to pass without a fight is Sesshoumaru, because he wields Tenseiga.
- Miracleman: The doors to the room housing the kingqueen of the Qys is guarded by two guards whom Miracleman/Marvelman mistakes for statues, due to their immobility and size.
- Night at the Museum has the giant statues of Anubis that guard the pharaoh.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie have the statues that guard the Great Power.
- In one Super Sentai movie, we see a giant statue when the heroes and villains are taken to the movie villain's pretty sweet-looking compound. In the end it turns into the bad guy's Humongous Mecha, surprising absolutely none of the viewing audience.
- Alice in Wonderland has Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum sing a song about Alice treating them like inanimate statues, "We're Not Waxworks", and scold her for not speaking with them like a civilized person.
- All of the Harry Potter films have the same examples as the literature entry below, but Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part Two reveals that the statues seen throughout the entire series in the entrance to Hogwarts could be bewitched to defend Hogwarts in time of need - and they do, coming to life to guard the main bridge into Hogwarts.
- In Conan the Buccaneer the shrine of Tsathoggua the Toad God contains a stone statue of the god, watching over the treasure. If someone step around the temple, the statue comes back to life (still remaining stone) and chase them.
- On a similar note we have the Bloody God (which in this case is a living statue made of gold and rubies).
- Subverted in Shadowkeep: at one point the heroes walks in a corridor full of mean-looking, demonic statues. This being Shadowkeep, Sranul thinks that the statues will come to life and attack them, but they're eventually revealed to be just harmless statues. Played straight in the finale with the Demon King Dal'Brad.
- The D'denir statues in Warbreaker, which are really the Lifeless ultra-warriors known as Kalad's Phantoms.
- The Neverending Story has a pair of sphinx statues -actually real sphinxes, huge and powerful beings that almost never move- that will fire upon you if you get too close to them. Maybe. Or maybe not. It's completely random, which is part of what makes them terrifying. And what their eye beams actually do is bombard your mind with all the riddles in the world, paralysing you until you answer them all, which you'll never do before you crumble to dust.
- Harry Potter: There is a guardian statue at the entrance to Dumbledore's study. Most of the time though, it only comes alive to ask for a password.
- Hogwarts itself has hundreds of decorative statues and suits of armor which a spell may bring to life in the event of dire danger.
- In the Simon Canderous books, the doorway to the arcology is guarded by a pair of living stone statues. But you can be given clearance so they let you pass.
Live Action Television
- The Weeping Angels from Doctor Who are "statues" that come to life when no one is looking. So whatever you do, don't blink.
- A pretty stock scenario in Dungeons & Dragons (the iconic dungeon environments no doubt have something to do with it). The actual statues can range from "mere" fairly regular ones temporarily animated by a spell over "proper" golems to more exotic cases like clockwork automata or one-of-a-kind constructs dreamt up by a particular scenario designer; at least one edition of the game (the "basic" one later compiled into the Rules Cyclopedia) even featured several types of literal "living statue" monsters as essentially lower-powered golem expies to throw at less experienced groups of player characters.
- Blood has gargoyle statues that sometimes turn into live gargoyles. Much Paranoia Fuel ensues.
- Subverted in the expansion of the second game where every level and cutscene has at least one gargoyle statue hidden somewhere, but they're obvious props with low poly-count. It doesn't stop them from looking intimidating though, especially because most of the time they appear in places where they absolutely don't belong.
- Gargoyles in TES 5: Dawnguard behave more or less the same as ones from Blood.
- Dragon Age: Origins: Whenever you see a deactivated but otherwise intact golem, rest assured that it will start attacking as soon as you do something important.
- In addition, the Sentinels in the Mage starting quest could qualify as this.
- Final Fantasy V has stone gargoyles guarding the four tablets.
- Legacy of Kain series: Lampshaded at one point by Kain, who notes, "These statues were singularly inanimate. I knew better than to assume that they would remain as such."
- Once the player reaches the castle portion of Resident Evil 4, they should be on the lookout for seemingly inanimate suits of armor.
- The Legend of Zelda: Throughout the series, we have Armos and Iron Knuckles.
- Thief: The villain of the third game starts animating stone statues in the late levels.
- Warcraft III: At one point in the third game there's a hallway with statues of armored men on either side. Further down the hallway are robotic golems which activate when you reach them (complete with "The statues are coming to life!" in case you missed the point). Not a very well-done one though, as the golems and the statues look nothing like each other.
- Starcraft II: One of the early Terran missions has you grab a Protoss-defended artifact before the Zerg can. The artifact is surrounded by doodad statues, who then activate when you grab it.
- The second Guardian (boss) and the Spriggan statue in La-Mulana. Also, wall reliefs will start shooting at you if you stand next to them for too long or strike them.
- The room of the Hero Core boss 'Guardian' contains some statues of standard enemy machines you fought many times. Appearing to be decoration, they actually are idle machines and aid the boss once he loses a certain amount of Hit Points.
- The first Chozo Statue in Super Metroid seems inanimate until you take the powerup it holds and try to leave, at which point the exit seals and it attacks you. Also happens with another Chozo Statue in Lower Norfair. In the Metroid Prime sub-series, it is recommended to never assume that Chozo Statues are merely decorative: they may be helpful or harmful, but rarely do they do nothing.
- Dungeon Crawl has one possible configuration of the Lair of Beasts that features a Hell temple with dire elephant statues standing around outside it. Said statues come to life after you enter the temple.
- In Zork III, the player must find a way past the Guardians of Zork, which are symmetrical statues lined up on either side of a long corridor that will attack and destroy anything that passes between them. Getting past is one of the most complicated puzzles in the game, involving mastery of a room-sized moving box with mirrors on the outside, taking advantage of the fact that the Guardians are completely symmetrical and cannot tell the difference between the Guardian opposite them and their own reflection. Or you can just drink the invisibility potion and walk past them.
- In Path of Exile the third act is set in the city of Sarn, capital of an empire that was destroyed at least in part through unwise use of magic. Naturally a number of enemies and a few bosses are decorative statues that hop off their plinths when you walk by and try to kill you.
- There is a particularly interesting example in Dragon Quest VIII, where in the castle of the Big Bad, there are statues of your party. As you're escaping, they attack you using skills relevant to their real life duplicate. Oddly enough, the statues never actually move, instead just hopping around.
- Bayonetta has statues of the angel enemies scattered around some levels, which come to life and attack you. Some are part of the natural progression of the level, coming to life when you walk past them; others are optional battles and only come to life when the statue is attacked.
- Dave the Barbarian. The particular model shown doesn't activate unless you touch it.