open/close all folders
- One beer commercial had guys sneaking out of their chores to go to the bar by leaving a stuffed pair of pants and shoes sticking out from under some large object that might need repair, along with a tape recorder playing the sounds of mechanical tinkering to make it look like they're busy repairing something. The first guy used his car. The second used his refrigerator. The third used his lawnmower, prompting one of the others to say "You idiot! You're going to get us all caught!"
Anime and Manga
- Hanaukyō Maid Tai La Verite episode 9. Taro does this to trick his personal care maids into thinking he's still in his bed.
- Happens in Baccano! when Szilard starts eating other alchemists onboard of Advena Avis. He leaves a sleeping dummy on his bed to cover up his doings. It is found when Maiza attempts eat him himself.
- As shown in a flashback in the 95th episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Rishid makes one of Marik out of a pillow while he and Ishizu spend an hour outside, which they were not allowed to do since they belong to a family of tombkeepers. Marik and Ishizu's father wasn't fooled and beats Rishid within an inch of his life, until Marik's imaginary friend/dark side intervenes.
- Episode 2 of Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! begins with Miyako sneaking into Yamato's futon in the middle of the night hoping to have her way with him, but instead she finds this, much to her chargin.
- Irresponsible Captain Tylor. While supposedly a prisoner on the Soyokaze, Empress Azalyn leaves a stuffed kid's toy in her bunk so she can sneak off to Captain Tylor's room.
Yuriko: The Empress turned into a...tanuki?
- In A Certain Scientific Railgun, Kuroko makes dummies for herself and Mikoto at one point so they can sneak out of their dorm past curfew. To Mikoto's annoyance, Kuroko puts the dummies in the same bed, making it look like they were sleeping together.
- In Lupin III: Dead or Alive, Fujiko sets up a dummy of Emerah, along with a voice recorder, to fool General Headhunter and allow Emerah to escape.
- In the anime of Golgo 13, Duke Togo does this in bedroom which is under video surveillance at the time, pulling the pillows under the sheet with him, then slipping off the bed on the opposite side from the CCTV camera.
- In A Bride's Story, the twins Laila and Leili are bored to death sitting under a cloth at their wedding, unable to eat or dance or talk to the guests. Eventually, they place pillows under the cloth and sneak out to play with the grooms. Their mother is naturally very angry when she discovers the subterfuge.
- A convoluted version in an episode of Detective Conan - the employees at a restaurant are searching for the owner. He usually naps on the couch in the back room, but they look, and see that he's not there. Later, they go back and see him sleeping there, but of course, it's not him, it's this - he's the Body of the Week, and this was used to confuse the time of the murder. The twist is how the cushion got there - the murderer put some puffy jackets in a vacuum bag, vacuumed it flat, then, when they all went to check the first time, poked a hole in the bag through the blanket with a corkscrew, which wouldn't be odd for a restaurant employee to carry. The bag inflated and became this.
- In Cigars of the Pharaoh Tintin helps the Maharaja of Gaipajama put a dummy in his bed to take a poisoned dart for him.
- The Invisible Man does this in volume two of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in order to covertly meet with Martian invaders and betray humanity.
- Surprisingly, played utterly straight in the ultra-gritty Batman story "Troika: Dark Rider": Two Ukrainian gangsters open fire on what they believe to be the body of the Dark Rider (who has defected from his underworld allies to become a Dirty Commie). They instead discover that they have just machine-gunned a stack of pillows covered by a bedspread, and are still standing in shock when the real Dark Rider appears from around a corner and shoots them both in the head.
- This is a favourite tactic of Jonah Hex, and has saved his life on countless occasions.
- In Runaways, when Alex's parents discover the Sleeping Dummy he set up, his mom's first response is to ask, "What is our son doing with a male mannequin head in his room?" In retrospect, this may have been a hint he'd been planning this for a lot longer than the others...
- Superman does this in the Silver Age comic "Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent's Pal" to keep Jimmy Olsen, who is temporarily rooming with his alter ego, from discovering his Secret Identity. He took it a step further by using super-ventriloquism to make it talk.
- In The Wicked + The Divine, Minerva uses her robot owl to project a hologram image of her sleeping in bed, to fool her parents.
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is possibly the Trope Codifier. After Joan's abduction, Francis searches the box Cesare sleeps in. He finds a dummy that looks vaguely like Cesare.
- Escape from Alcatraz is both a major film example and Truth in Television. The Guards Must Be Crazy! Also subverted in the same film, when a guard reaches through the bars to rouse the figure in the bed and it turns out to be the real prisoner, not his plaster dummy-head.
- In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, this is elaborate to the point of being kinda silly; it includes a soundtrack of him snoring and a pulley system to make the dummy appear to react when the bedroom door is opened.
- Hogarth, in The Iron Giant, escapes an amoral government agent by doing this.
- James Bond:
- In the movie version of Dr. No, Bond uses this to trick an assassin into emptying his gun into the bed, leaving him defenseless.
- Discussed in The Man with the Golden Gun. When Mary Goodnight is hiding under the covers, James Bond tells Andrea Anders that he was using the Sleeping Dummy trick.
- The Living Daylights uses a standing dummy—Bond Girl Kara enters a phone booth, a streetcar passes by, and as it pulls away, so does a car. Only when the KGB operative following notices that she's been in the booth an awfully long time and gets confused and suspicious do we see what happened—Kara and Bond used the few seconds that the streetcar was blocking the booth from his view to drape her coat and a wig around her cello case and for her to quickly get into his car and duck down, thus allowing her to defect.
- Truman Burbank improbably pulls this off in The Truman Show, even though he doesn't know exactly where the hidden camera is which he's trying to fool.
- In Chocolat, Luc pads his bed (with crumpled drawing paper) so he can sneak out to his grandmother's birthday party.
- Aragorn helps the Hobbits with this in Bree, which saves their lives when the Nazgul come calling.
- Airplane II: The Sequel. Ted Stryker leaves one behind when he escapes from the insane asylum.
- Used for comedy in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, where the dummies of Rocko and Slasher are so obviously fake that only a bunch of idiots would fall for the trick (which, of course, they do).
- To be more precise, they aren't sleeping dummies. They're dressed and posed like department store mannequins.
- In Superman II Lex Luthor goes one better and creates holograms of himself and his henchman to fool the guard.
- In Raw Deal, the hero does the 'fake snoring' version while Monique is talking to Max Keller on the phone about the (fake) ID she's found in his wallet.
- In Law Abiding Citizen, the protagonist uses a simple pillows under the sheet trick to hide the fact that he's not in his cell. Justified as the cell is dark and in solitary, so no-one goes in to check.
- Used by the hero in Steamboat Bill, Jr. to escape from his father and meet his girlfriend.
- Used in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982) in one of the Pimpernel's aristocrat rescues to delay discovery of the escape.
- Timothy Cavendish in Cloud Atlas prepares one to trap the warden in his room and enable him to escape from the retirement home.
- In silent film Sky High (1922), this is how Tom Mix sneaks out of the bad guy camp he's infiltrated, so he can alert the authorities.
- In Mustang, Lale and Nur make one.
- Brainy, Hefty, and Clumsy use these to trick Papa Smurf in Smurfs: The Lost Village, with Clumsy's dummy being three apples, with the top one only consisting of the core.
Papa Smurf: Oh, that's not even convincing!
- Albert R.N. (1953). The eponymous Albert is a dummy built by British prisoners of war to fool the head count done by their German guards, based on the Real Life case mentioned below.
- The Famous Five.
- The Bible: 1 Samuel 19:11-16, making this Older Than Feudalism.
- Used in Lord of the Rings by the Hobbits. In The Fellowship of the Ring, while the hobbits are staying in The Prancing Pony inn the servant Nob puts a bolster in each of the hobbits' beds so it looks like someone is sleeping in them. During the night some operatives of the Enemy break into the room and slash the bolsters.
- Done many, many times by the Animorphs. It helps that (with the exception of Tobias and Ax) their parents actually trusted them.
- In A. A. Milne's The Red House Mystery, Anthony and Bill do this before going off to tail a suspect at night, so that the suspect (who is staying in the same house as they are) won't realize they're onto him. Bill is pretty proud of his sleeping dummy, but Anthony's is so convincing that it even fools Bill.
- In one of Mercedes Lackey's Doubled Edge novels, Rhoslyn needs to go Underhill while seeming to stay in the mortal world. She arranges a couple pillows under her blanket ... and then casts an illusion of her sleeping mortal disguise on the pillows.
- In Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, Tally puts a portable heater under her covers to convince the heat-sensitive room that she's still in bed.
- Late in Aunt Dimity: Snowbound: Having convinced the caretaker that she and Wendy are ill in bed, Lori arranges one of these with pillows so she can slip out and help the other hikers search the house. Wendy compliments her on the ruse, and Lori is pleased to have out-thought the rocket scientist for once.
- Cloud Atlas. Cavendish uses this trick during the escape from the nursing home, in order to lure the fearsome Nurse Noakes into his room so he can lock the door behind her.
- In the original book version of The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond does this to fool the mob hitmen hired to burn the motel down.
- In Old Tin Sorrows, Garrett leaves a blanket-covered suit of armor in his bed while he sneaks around the Stantnor mansion at night. When he returns, there's an ax buried in its chest.
- According to Orkneyinga Saga, Magnus Erlendsson, later better known as St. Magnus of Orkney, employed this trick to escape from being a hostage of King Magnus of Norway. When the king's ship lies off Scotland, Magnus "prepared his bunk so that it looked as if someone were sleeping in it, then slipped overboard and swam ashore." By the time the Norwegians realize Magnus is not actually in his bunk, he has already a good head start.
- In The Discreet Princess, Finette makes one after marrying Bel-à-Voir, guessing he might have some problems with her after his Evil Prince brother died because of her. Turns out the brother made him swear an oath to kill her as soon as possible.
- In Requiem for an Assassin by Barry Eisler, the Big Bad actually murders an innocent bystander for this trick. Knowing that John Rain is stalking him through a park at night, he kills someone and leaves their body in a position where he's apparently waiting in ambush. As Rain sneaks up on the corpse, he gets captured.
- Implied in The A-Team episode "The White Ballot." The sheriff's deputy goes into "Joe Morgan's" room and shoots him as he lies in bed; however, all that is really shown is a bunch of rumpled covers and Face is seen shortly thereafter in an entirely different area.
- In the Heroes episode "Company Man", Claire uses this to escape from Ted.
- Malcolm in the Middle.
- Lampshaded in Charmed (The One with... the attempt to frame Prue at the auction house).
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Parodied when Philip's elderly mother and Will were sneaking out. Philip's mother suggested stuffing the bed, but Will explained that these days we do things electronically, and played a recording of snoring.
- Played straight, since Will does use sneakers, pillows and a bust of King Tut to stuff his bed. The snoring tape was just the icing on the cake.
- Dexter. In this case, it was used to lure the Ice Truck Killer into Dexter's clutches, when said ITK came after Deb.
- Subverted in a prime time spy show that aired on FOX around ten years ago. (name, anyone?) The spy and his girl-of-the-week were in a hotel room that the bad guys were closing in on. The baddies break in, and see two big lumps on the bed. The leader scoffs at the use of such an old ploy, and shoots up the closet. The baddies leave...and the protagonists throw off the blankets and get up from the bed. They were counting on the enemy to assume they were just pillows.
- Mr. Bean did this once so he was at the front of the line for the big New Year's sale. It consisted of a sleeping bag filled with balloons (which he pops in front of the stunned queue upon revealing his deception) and a head of lettuce (which he throws in a nearby rubbish bin).
- Arrested Development. Buster, not wanting to disturb his mother with his snoring, puts a bunch of pillows in his bed and covers them with his sheets. He also puts a very loud recording of his snoring in with them. His mother, agitated with the loud snoring, starts beating the fake-Buster with a broomstick, eventually realizing that it's a fake. Riding on her luckiness, she decides to go out to try to find any family member in the car. Halfway to her destination, Buster starts snoring from the back seat.
- George Sr. claims that making papier mache copies of his own head is just a hobby to avoid boredom during house arrest. Nobody falls for it.
- Mary Ann from The Babysitters Club tries this at camp, using a cantaloupe as the head. It doesn't fool the counselors whatsoever, though she does impress the other counselors-in-training, which was was what she was trying to do in the first place.
- Used in Supernatural by Sam and Dean. With blow up dolls.
- Played straight in "Swap Meat". Dean thinks Sam is Not Himself. Sure enough 'Sam' sneaks into his room at night and tries to shoot the sheet-covered figure on the bed. Dean then appears out of the darkness and punches him.
- In The Rockford Files, Jim Rockford used a variation of this to escape from jail. First he repeatedly told the officer guarding the jail that he would escape and do it easily. Next he invoked this trope. After the officer realized that it was only a dummy in the bed, he ran off to look for Jim. At that point, Jim got out from under the bed and walked away.
- Hannibal did the same thing on The A-Team in the episode where BA got shot.
- Used in one of the prime-time soaps (Falconcrest?) a decade or two ago. A man tried to murder his boss, firing several shots into the lump on the bed. Then the "victim" walked into the room, accompanied by guards, and before the guards dragged the would-be killer away, the boss mocked him by "praising" his shooting: "That cushion's a goner."
- Done in the second season premiere of Covert Affairs when Ben and Annie narrowly escape some assassins in a hospital.
- Doctor Who:
- When the Doctor finds a way out of the room the Monk has imprisoned him in in "The Time Meddler", he makes one of these to delay the Monk noticing he's gone.
- In "The Ark", Venussa and Dassuk pull this trick to allow Dassuk to escape from the Security Kitchen and free the slaves.
- The Doctor and Jo pull this off to help them escape from imprisonment by The Master in Frontier in Space. The Master is only fooled for a little while, but long enough for The Doctor to royally muck up his plot.
- Rex does this to convince the others his mother is in the console in the Pixelface episode "Mrs Dynamo's Son".
- Becky does this to sneak out of the house when she is supposed to be down with the flu the Sick Episode of ROY.
- On Hogan's Heroes, Newkirk was captured during a mission. To keep the prisoner count the same, they put a dummy wearing his hat in Col. Hogan's bed, claiming he's sick and is in Hogan's bedroom because it's warmer in there.
- Done by Mozzie in White Collar so that he could sneak out of the safe house to great success.
- Murdoch Mysteries:
- Murdoch does this to fool a killer after he realises his substitute landlady is trying to kill him in "Convalescence".
- In "Buffalo Shuffle", Murdoch and Julia trick the murderer into attacking a stack of pillows under a sheet instead of the intended victim.
- In the pilot of American Gothic (1995), Caleb builds one at the hospital to fool the Sheriff.
- Leverage: In "The Order 23 Job", the crew use a dummy in an MRI machine to stall a pair of US Marshals. However, the ruse is busted when an emergency case comes in and the hospital needs the MRI machine.
- On My Name Is Earl, Ralph uses one of these to break out of prison. He would have made one for Earl, but ended up eating the watermelon that would have comprised the Earl-dummy's head.
- In The Goodies Graeme uses one so Tim and Bill won't realise he's made off with their cream mine claim until it's too late.
- Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes does this, with a broom to mimic Calvin's hair.
- Appears in The Far Side, where gecko assassins trying to kill another gecko in his sleep, only to find that it was just his tail in the bed. "Idiots! You fell for the oldest trick in the book!"
- One Gahan Wilson cartoon has a prisoner in his bunk whispering to his cellmate "C'mon! Tell me when you guys are gonna make the break-out!".. and lying in the other bunk is a stuffed dummy.
- Sherlock Holmes uses this gimmick to sneak around the asylum in The Awakened, leaving his hat and coat, a rolled-up blanket, and a water jug arranged like a sleeping figure in his cell.
- Played with Assassin's Creed III by the bad guys. Connor is in a prison with Hickey, and plans to murder him in his cell. When he tries strangling, but it's neither Hickey nor a dummy, but the already-dead prison warden, and both Hickey and Charles are behind him, ready to pin the death on him, plus an assassination attempt against George Washington.
- Shay in Broken Age escapes the all-seeing eye of his overbearing digital mother by placing a blow-up doll of himself in his bed. He decides not to wonder why someone has a blow-up doll in his likeness (implicitly it was made by Merek to help him).
- Prisoners in Prison Architect use fake heads when they work on their escape tunnels.
- In A Tale of Two Kingdoms, Maeldun is locked in his guest room after being accused of murdering the King. In order to escape, he has to hide a pillow under his bedsheets, knock down a statue from a dresser to distract a guard, and hide behind the door so the guard doesn't see him.
- Bed dummies are made out of blankets and pillows in The Escapists. Vital for sneaking around at night when you're supposed to be in bed, as if the guards see that your bed is unoccupied, they call in a lockdown of the prison.
- The Bible Features an instance of this when David tries yet another time to escape a murder attempt at the hands of Saul.His wife Michal warns him about Saul's plan. After David escapes through the window, she takes the house idol and dresses it up in clothes. She covers its head with goat hair and lies it in the bed. When Saul's messengers come, she tells them that he is sick. This doesn't deter Saul. He asks the messengers to bring David to him bed and all so he can kill him in it at which point the ruse is discovered.
1 Samuel 19:11-1511 Then Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch for him, so that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled and escaped. 13 And Michal took the household idol and laid it on the bed, put a pillow of goats’ hair at its head, and covered it with clothes. 14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15 Then Saul sent the messengers [again] to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me on his bed [if necessary], so that I may kill him.” 16 When the messengers came in, there was the household idol on the bed with a quilt of goats’ hair at its head.
- Gian and the team do this in Lucky Dog 1 when they break out of prison as a precaution but it never comes into play.
- They do this all the time in A Modest Destiny, and it isn't even to stand in for sleeping people! 
- The cast of 8-Bit Theater does this to escape an assassination attempt... only instead of pillows they sneak over to a camping site, kill several campers and stick their corpses in the beds. On the other hand, pillows don't bleed when cut.
- To be fair, neither do corpses.
- Max of Paranatural uses one involving a football and his baseball cap.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara stuffs her sleeping bag with grass in order to sneak away from the group and engage in a little secret factory sabotage.
- In The Batman episode "Cash for Toys", Bruce does this to throw off the detective who's been assigned to protect him.
- The Simpsons: Lisa puts a miniature Statue of Liberty head in her bed to fool Marge.
- Homer has also done this on multiple occasions. In an odd form, he does this at work, but at the same time he's normally asleep at work anyway.
- Also, the dummies are normally blatantly obvious (A mop with a painted bucket with a recorded message), yet seem to actually work.
- This latter characteristic was subverted in an episode when we see a perfect duplicate of Bart sitting still reading in class despite also being talking to Lisa in the hallway. "It's a shop class project. It's made of latex"
- Played straight and subverted in a King of the Hill episode: Bobby sneaks out of the house, leaving behind a sleeping dummy that Hank finds. Hank runs into Luanne's room, assumes the lump in her bed to be another dummy, and pulls the covers back to reveal... Luanne and her boyfriend.
- Jimmy Neutron does it on occasion, but being a boy genius with seemingly unlimited resources, he has a full holographic representation of himself in bed. And it doesn't work.
- An episode of Family Guy has Peter doing this to sneak out from under the nose of his wife, Lois. When she goes to check on him, the dummy speaks to her, courtesy of a tape recording Peter made of himself responding to the comments he predicts Lois will make. The ruse works surprisingly well at first, but after a few exchanges, his "answers" no longer sync up, prompting Lois to pull back the bedsheet and reveal the dummy. Of course, at that moment Peter's stupidity ruins the charade anyway: "Lois, if you still haven't discovered I'm gone, please flip the tape over to side B."
- In another episode, Lois pulls the sheet off the bed thinking that it's Peter and finds that it's a pile of skulls. Apparently, Peter always does it when he's depressed.
- In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, "Adventures in Squirrelsitting", Tammy stuffed her bed to forestall, if only for a few moments, Chip's discovery that she wasn't there, and had gone off to Fat Cat's Casino to retrieve the Maltese Mouse, figuring she could prove something if she did it herself.
- Jenny does this in an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot. And as a robot, naturally she stuffs the sheets with a toaster.
- In The Penguins of Madagascar short "Christmas Caper", Private uses a bowling pin as a dummy. When Skipper discovers it, he slaps and interrogates it.
- In the Donald Duck Wartime Cartoon "The Old Army Game", Donald and a few of his fellow soldiers use dummies to fool Sergeant Pete while they go AWOL.
Pete: Private Duck, you can't make a dummy out of me!
- In Detentionaire, Lee uses one in the episode “Friday Night Bites” so he can sneak out and go to a party to gather clues. Unfortunately, his mother hears about him attending anyway when the fact is broadcasted over the news.
- In Code Lyoko, Yumi tried this tactic by stuffing her stuffed Totoro toy in the sheets so she could help Aelita on Lyoko. It didn't work with her mom, however.
- Subverted in one episode of Camp Lazlo, when Raj gets two dummies to place in his and Lazlo's beds. He thus hires Chip and Skip to sleep in said beds.
- An episode of American Dad! had one of Roger's personas being released from prison so he escaped back into prison to take on the persona again. He had a dummy in his bed for six years.
- In the Static Shock episode "Static in Africa", Ananzi helps Virgil sneak out to fight crime by creating an illusion of Virgil sleeping in his bed.
- In The Smurfs episode "Squeaky", Smurfette does this with a bunch of pillows under the covers of her bed to disguise the fact that she has run away from the village.
- Miraculous Ladybug: Marinette constructs one so she can sneak out of the house to become Ladybug while grounded in "Simon Says".
- In The Fairly OddParents! episode "The Big Problem", Vicky constructs one of Timmy when she sees he's gone missing and she doesn't want his parents finding out or she'll be held accountable. Timmy's Dad buys it, even close-up where it's obvious that its head is a basketball wearing Timmy's hat.
- Fangbone!: Bill leaves one in his bed when he sneaks out of the house to collect his mother's presents in "The Present of Feathers".
- Prison escapees have been known to do this for a long time. The three convicts who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962 went whole hog and made the papier-mache head. Ted Bundy did this in his second escape, and it worked so well that the guards didn't check until noon, by which time he'd already made it to the Denver airport and flown to Chicago. This was also the tactic of the two escapees from Clinton Correctional Facility in Upstate New York in June 2015. Like the above examples, it gave them a considerable headstart, as their absence wasn't noticed until 530AM the next day.
- Suspected CIA agents in the Soviet Union would find themselves under intensive overt surveillance by the KGB. To enable an agent to slip away and empty a Dead Drop or meet an asset, two agents would be in a car and as it turned a corner, one agent would jump out and a dummy on a spring contraption would pop up in the car seat. The trick relied on split-second timing and a KGB follow team made complacent by months of following the agents who'd make a point of never doing anything to shake them. Ironically the same trick was later used by a CIA agent who defected to the Soviet Union; he improvised a rig involving a blow-up sex doll.
- During WW2 prisoners of war would be called on parade and counted by the guards every day, so in the Marlag-Milag prison camp several naval officers constructed a dummy they called Albert, R.N. that could be held in line to fool the guards.