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Anime and Manga
- Ryo of City Hunter uses this from time to time to check out potential clients. And any hot babes walking past, though there is considerable overlap between the categories.
- In Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke has a habit of watching out for Kaname behind an old newspaper with a hole cut out; like a lot of things he does, it really makes Sousuke look like a pervert. Eventually Kaname gets so annoyed she walks up and rips the newspaper from his hands, pointing out that it's several years out of date.
- Hanayamata: Included in the montage of Naru's distressed father endeavors is him peeking through a hole in a newspaper at Naru fiddling with her cellphone in the living room. He is normally a background character and gets to start episode 6 of anime with narration of his puzzled worries over inexplicable recent change in behavior he sees (his schoolgirl heroine daughter is in the process of "graduating" from Shrinking Violet actually).
Films — Animated
- Happens twice in the opening sequence of Bolt, first with Penny, then with Bolt himself. Bolt is a dog. Then again, it happened in the Show Within a Show.
- The buffoonish burglars in Disney's animated 101 Dalmatians do this.
- Happens with restaurant menus between Yzma and Kuzco in The Emperor's New Groove. Though to be fair, Kuzco (as a llama) was in drag at the time. It Makes Sense in Context...
- Used for a Visual Gag in The Adventures of Tintin. Early in the movie, the Thom(p)sons are peering out of holes they cut into a newspaper during a stakeout in the marketplace. Each one has cut his holes in an ad on the paper that feature an item that not only lines up with where their mustaches would be, but matches the shape of said individual mustache (a broom for Thompson and a toilet plunger for Thomson).
Films — Live-Action
- The 2009 Sherlock Holmes film pulls this with Moriarty in an otherwise empty train car, though in this case it was more a matter of atmosphere and keeping his face hidden from the audience more than any of the characters.
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles has a character briefly hide his face behind a smut novel.
- Indiana Jones
- Raiders of the Lost Ark: When Indiana Jones is on a seaplane about to leave for Asia, a man lowers the Life magazine he's reading and reveals his face, with ominous music to let the audience know he's a Villain. He later turns out to be a Nazi agent.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a subversion is pulled on the audience, however; in the aerodrome we see someone facing the camera directly with his newspaper ostentatiously held up to cover his entire face. Ah-ha, the audience thinks, this is one of the Jones boys! Then, Indiana appears in the background and begins chatting with someone slumped casually against a pillar behind Mr. Newspaper, who turns out to be Henry Jones Sr,; Mr. Newspaper isn't involved at all.
- Five minutes later Henry does try to use it on the zeppelin. Colonel Vogel isn't fooled for a second. Perhaps it would have worked better if he held it right side up.
- Also used successfully by Sallah, to disguise his fist.
- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: During the opening credits when everyone is chasing Austin, he hides out by concealing his face behind a copy of Fab! magazine with a distorted view of his face on it. This itself is a parodying of the opening scene in A Hard Day's Night when Paul McCartney (also wearing a fake beard) was hiding from their fans.
- Steve Martin's version of Clousseau tries this along with his partner in The Pink Panther (2006) — while tailing a suspect. It works the first couple of times, but the next time they try it, Clousseau trips down the stairs to the subway station.
- A plainclothes secret policeman (presumably) in Brazil does this.
- Two thugs in The Man Who Knew Too Little used a variation. While shooting at Wallace, they used a newspaper to conceal their gun, and to make it look like they were just standing around and reading the paper. Then their paper got torn to shreds as they kept missing.
- Fatal Instinct. Max Shady (the escaped ex-con stalking Ned Ravine) does this several times. At least once his picture was on the front of the newspaper.
- Parodied in The Big Lebowski with the detective DaFino. As The Dude discovers his Volkswagen parked outside his house he walks angry towards it and we can see DaFino reaching for a newspaper and very badly pretend to read it.
- The Master of Disguise has one such example; Pistachio (as a "cow pie" man) somehow hides from Bowman's henchmen in this manner.
- In the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Lolita, Claire Quilty and his wife do this while spying on Humbert in a hotel lobby. Unlike the usual version of this trope, the camera is behind the newspaper and the man holding it, looking over Quilty's shoulder at Humbert, showing how he's unaware that he's being watched.
- In The Thieves, Andrew sits at a cafe table holding a newspaper in front of his face while keeping watch on the hotel.
- The Great Escape.
- James Coburn is shown doing this in a French cafe. Unfortunately the producers have him reading Liberation, an underground newspaper that would be the last thing an escaped POW trying to avoid attention would read.
- Richard Attenborough's character grabs a newspaper for cover after a harrowing escape from pursuing Germans, only to be greeted by name by an SS officer who's recognised the notorious British escapee.
- A gorilla is walking through the jungle when he spots a lion taking a drink from the spring. The lion is bent over and oblivious to anything but getting a drink, so the gorilla thinks he'll play a joke on the lion. The gorilla sneaks up on the lion and pushes him in the water and laughs. Well, the lion doesn't like this at all and starts chasing the gorilla. The gorilla runs and looks for some place to hide. Eventually, he comes upon an abandoned safari camp. The gorilla quickly puts on some clothes and a pith helmet he finds, sits in a deck chair and hides his face behind a newspaper. Soon, the lion pounces in on the scene and growls "Grr...did you see a gorilla go through here?" Without lowering the paper, the gorilla says "You mean the one who tossed the lion in the spring?" Then the lion says "You mean it's in the papers already?"
- Done in the mystery novel The Secret of the Monster Book, by a bad guy the good guys know is following them. One character lampshades it by saying, "There should be a law against bad people buying newspapers."
- Played with twice in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Unnatural History. In the first instance, Fitz doesn't seem to be attempting to hide, but came across as shady nonetheless:
The guy on the sofa was watching them, she suddenly realised. Just wide grey eyes, appearing in the slit between the San Francisco Chronicle and the black [fedora].
- The second time he does it, this time actually trying to camouflage himself, he realizes that the newspaper is in Chinese, and, unluckily for him, while he does speak Chinese, he can't read it.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione does this with a book (which is upside down) when Professor McGonagall comes in and takes Harry's Firebolt (Hermione having told McGonagall that Harry received it with no card and suspecting it to be from Sirius Black, an assumption that turns out to be accurate, except he hadn't harmed it), to hide her face from Ron and Harry, who round on her as soon as McGonagall is gone and start getting after her for tattling.
- Ed Foley used this to keep one of his agents from seeing his face during handoffs in the Tom Clancy novel The Cardinal of the Kremlin.
- Played straight in The Historian. The main character wakes up on a train, and someone is in the room with her (who hadn't been there before she went to sleep). He's hidden behind a newspaper, which she finds creepy and it eventually strikes her that after about five minutes, he hasn't bothered to turn the page.
- John Rain doesn't think this is good tradecraft because not having a newspaper gives you an excuse to scan the crowd under the guise of idle people-watching, whereas someone with a newspaper would be expected to look at it instead of their surroundings.
Live Action TV
- In Pushing Daisies, Chuck's recently resurrected father isn't supposed to leave Ned's apartment, but does so anyway. He hides in plain sight in Ned's restaurant behind a newspaper, only revealing himself to Ned after Chuck had left.
- In Heroes, Sylar does this during the first season while Hiro and his friends are in the diner.
- Parodied in the "Monkey-ed Movies" James Bond spoof on TBS' Dinner And A Movie, when Q shows 009 a newspaper. This prompts 009 say "It's just an ordinary tabloid!". But when Q holds it over himself, 009 immediately asks "Where did you go?", and Q puts the newspaper aside and says "Peekaboo, 009!".
- A lot of modern police shows employ this for one or two officers when they have a large amount of officers staking out a single target. They can play it straight without accidentally invoking parody if those hiding are extras and the camera doesn't single them out for long.
- In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney spent an entire day spying through one of these in a French restaurant. Subverted in that the woman Robin told him was there wasn't going there; she was just trying to make a point.
- MacGyver, "Thief of Budapest" has a scene in which McGyver hacks a stoplight control box standing in the middle of main street. His cover? People on both sides with newspapers spread out wide.
- In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Zack and Cody pull newpapers to disguise themselves. However, Zack adds a mouth-hole in his newspaper to eat french fries resulting in the two of them being caught by Maddie.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Hush" Willow hides behind an open writing pad to spy on Buffy flirting with Riley.
- An episode of Horrible Histories had Harriet Tubman use a newspaper as a disguise. The man looking for escaped slaves assumed that a woman who knew how to read couldn't possibly be an escaped slave and left her alone. The Talking Rat didn't deny it, so it was maybe Truth in Television.
- This really happened, though it was not so much hiding behind a newspaper but pretending to be someone else by means of a newspaper. The man sitting in the same train compartment was a former master of her, who knew she couldn't read (as it was forbidden to teach slaves to read and to write). She pretended to read the newspaper, hoping that this was enough to throw him off and make him think that she must be someone else.
- In Still Open All Hours, Granville tasks Leroy with tailing a local to find out where he is doing his shopping. Leroy does so clutching a magazine in front of his face as cover.
- Wizards of Waverly Place: Alex insists that she and Mason do this at Zeke's party since she is embarrassed of Mason's werewolf form.
- The Doctor and Jamie do this in Episode 2 of the Doctor Who serial "The Faceless Ones".
- It's especially egregious in Jamie's case, since the newspaper does nothing to hide his lower half, and the authorities are specifically looking for a young man in a kilt.
- Murdoch Mysteries:
- Murdoch employs a newspaper in this fashion while staking out the intersection of Carlton and Parliament in "Murdoch on the Corner". Constable Crabtree has been flamboyantly spending new-found money per Murdoch's instructions, and Murdoch drops his paper to urge Crabtree to go home so they can wait for the killer to follow him there.
- Brackenreid hastily grabs a newspaper from the station's front desk in one of his efforts to hide from temperance crusader Miss Hamilton in "Murdoch Au Naturel".
- Person of Interest. The episode "/" starts with A Day in the Life of Root instead of our main protagonists Harold Finch and John Reese. While she's walking through the park with this week's Number, Root suddenly walks over to a man reading a newspaper and pulls it down, revealing Harold Finch.
- Agent Carter. Jarvis sits down next to two men reading newspapers at a shoeshine stand. One turns out to be Howard Stark, the other is Stan Lee doing his requisite Creator Cameo.
- Murder, She Wrote: In "Incident in Lot 7", a suspect eavesdropping on Jessica's conversation in the studio canteen hides behind a menu.
- Agent XYZ uses the eyeholes-in-newspaper version in Tonic Trouble. In fact, only his hands and feet stick out behind the paper; we never get to see what he actually looks like.
- Parodied in Saints Row: The Third. While not a newspaper Johnny Gat hides his face under a mask of himself.
- Clank does this while trailing the Kingpin in Secret Agent Clank.
- Early in Persona 5, Makoto can be seen tailing the Player Character while keeping her nose buried in a huge manga magazine she clearly isn't reading. She'll also run to keep up with him while still buried in the mag, which looks as hilarious (and precarious) as it sounds.
- Subverted in an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy where the Eds are spying on the cul-da-sac kids. In one scene, Eddy is seen leaning against a street pole holding a newspaper over his face as some neighbor kids walk by. Once they pass, the "newspaper Eddy" turns out to be a cardboard cut-out that falls over as the real Eddy pops out from behind the street pole with a pair of binoculars.
- Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies:
- "Home Tweet Home": Sylvester spies on Tweety by sneaking around the park with newspaper in hand, moving from bench to bench and pretending to read the paper until he gets to his prize. The bird immediately realizes he's being stalked by his ever-present puddy pursuer and rushes to a young woman to protect him.
- On The Simpsons, Bart goes to a counsellor, where we find Principal Skinner in the waiting room. He doesn't want Bart to see him, so he hides behind a magazine — namely "Principal's World", with his headshot on the cover.
- In "Adventures in Baby-Getting", Bart does this when following Lisa. He sits on a bench reading a Playdude magazine, with the breasts of the woman on the cover cut out for his eyes.
- Subverted in an episode where Flexo (a robot who looks exactly like Bender save for a small metal goatee) disappears along with an expensive atom they were delivering. While looking for him, Leela and Fry find "Bender" first wearing a turtleneck sweater, then a scarf, then holding a newspaper to his face that he refuses to put down. They finally get him to put it down, revealing... that he really is Bender and Flexo left hours ago.
- Played straight in a later episode, in which Bender finds himself pursued by the New New York police (on whose radar he has fallen due to a previous crime), who attempt to cover their tracks by reading the "Non-Police News" before finally giving up the act and arresting Bender. He gets off clean, which was quite lucky for him—he was carrying data for the Robot Mafia and had just given it to another robot on the street to complete his delivery.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
- Done in the episode "A Bird in the Hoof" by Philomena the bird. Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy, who are chasing her around, actually do check behind the newspaper, but appear fooled by the fake mustache Philomena wears underneath.
- In the episode "Amending Fences", Twilight Sparkle and Minuette stalk Moondancer using this method. Later in the episode we can see Starlight Glimmer hiding behind a resteurant menu.
- One of Gromit's favourite tricks. On one occasion, the headline of the newspaper he's hiding behind is "Dog reads newspaper".
- The Popeye cartoon "Olive's Sweepstake Ticket": Popeye hides behind a newspaper as he walks, trying to pluck said ticket from a woman's backside.
- The Little Rascals short "The Case of the Puzzled Pals": Buckwheat, Darla, Porky and Pete hide behind newspapers as they watch Spanky at a store across the street. Porky is also wearing a false beard.
- As it happens, the Secret Police in many countries actually invert this: If you walk into a cafe and someone is very obviously reading a newspaper and peering over at you every now and then, it's probably because you're being watched, and the secret police want you to know it.
- Harriet Tubman used this as a disguise for herself and escaping slaves. Someone reading a newspaper was seen as educated and not a slave on the run.
- Undercover FBI agent Donnie Brasco would read newspapers so he could listen in on what his fellow Mafiosi were saying, without distracting himself with conversation.