The Peeping Tom is a character who gets his kicks from non-consensual voyeurism — spying on others in explicit situations without their permission or knowledge. Peeping Toms are often driven by a fetishistic urge, deriving pleasure not just from the act of spying itself, but from the thrill of the potential for getting caught. This is, unfortunately, a case of Truth in Television
, as acts of peeping are reported in all cultures around the world, their goal made easier each year as Technology Marches On
The methods of peeping can vary from work to work, from the classic depiction of a pervert peering through windows to watch people changing clothes, to Naughty Birdwatching
through the use of telescopes or binoculars, to the tech-savvy voyeur who sets up hidden cameras in bathroom stalls. While these characters are commonly male, a female Peeping Tom (or "Peeping Tammy", if you will) is plausible. Characters who focus their attention on only the subject of their unrequited affection may be both The Peeping Tom and a Stalker with a Crush
In more dramatic stories, it is rare for a Peeping Tom character to be shown in a sympathetic light. In works where this trope is played for laughs, however, a Chivalrous Pervert
may show some Peeping Tom tendencies.
A subtrope of Girl Watching
. Sometimes overlaps with Outdoor Bath Peeping
in cases where the spying is intentional. An innocent character who is wrongfully accused of being a Peeping Tom is instead an Accidental Pervert
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Anime & Manga
- The main character of Underdog sets up hidden cameras to spy on women around his college campus, so that he can later edit their pictures into pornographic images. Despite his status as a protagonist, this portrayal is anything but sympathetic.
- In Ranma ˝, Nodoka, Ranma's mother, has a definition of "manliness" that includes a man must be a peeping tom.
- Toad Sage Jiraiya in Naruto spied on girls in hot springs all the time. He called it "research." Somewhat justified in that he was a popular author of trashy romance novels (but most of the time it sounds like a lame excuse, and his "profession" more likely came from his "hobbies" than the other way round).
- In Love Hina, three of the girls spy on Keitaro trying to kiss a sleeping Naru during one of their study sessions. Naru apparently was awake the whole time, and gives Keitaro a nice punch, followed by poking her finger into the three holes used for said peeping.
- In Heaven's Lost Property, Tomoki takes it to the extreme by having Ikaros stop time while he gallivants around the city, stripping down high school girls all around. He actually shrinks himself and sticks himself in the cleavage of another girl.
- And those are arguably some of his tamer examples.
- In Green Green, the male supporting cast does get caught up on this in pretty much every episode.
- In the third season of Zero no Tsukaima, some of the male students have dug a tunnel so they can peep on the girls in the bath. They then try to cheer up Saito by inviting him along, but have to actually drag him there since he's reluctant to get into more trouble with Louise. Predictably they get caught and everyone ends up in trouble.
- Serial Experiments Lain: Lain is a peeping tom.
- In the first OVA of Tenchi Muyo!, Tenchi's dad, Noboyuki, is shown to be this, going so far as to video tape his own son when he has Ryoko in his room in the second episode. This is downplayed massively in later editions.
- This is a running gag on Chilean comic book Condorito, as he tends to spy on young women as they are bathing, undressing or skinny dipping. Sometimes he gets to go away with it, other times he gets beaten into a pulp.
- Mark Hamill's The Black Pearl is an unusual quasi-heroic example.
- Greedy Smurf plays this role in The Smurfs comic book story "You Don't Smurf Progress" when Smurfette takes a shower out in the forest and Greedy tries to get a peek, but is stopped by one of the robot servants.
- A strange example appeared in The Dandy from it's beginning to the mid 1950's and then in another comic called Sparky for almost a decade before being revived in The Dandy a number of times. This example was a strip called Keyhole Kate about a girl who loved to look through keyholes. Because The Dandy was a children's comic the whole thing was seemingly innocent if a bit creepy and very much Played for Laughs. The new online incarnation of The Dandy reinvents Kate as an Intrepid Reporter.
- Orphanimo: In the first album, while on the beach, Vic, Sharp and Jay Jay try to spy on some women in the showers with a camera (the images of which are send to Sharp's laptop computer) connected to a remote controlled miniature zeppelin. Unfortunately for them, they accidently pick the men's shower instead and the beach volleyball players inside are not amused by the kids antics. They succeed later after having ditched the angry men by deploying the Crashing Through the Harem trope.
- In Back to the Future, the then-teenage George McFly spies on his future wife, Lorraine, from a tree next to her window. This becomes a crucial plot point as this is the point where Marty alters history. When George falls out of the tree, Marty pushes him out of the way of an oncoming car... accidentally preventing his parents' original meeting.
- In Animal House, Bluto Blutarsky uses a ladder to peer through the second-story window of a sorority house.
- The Lambdas in Revenge of the Nerds take this trope to an extreme by installing surveillance cameras in all the bedrooms and showers of the sorority house.
- The horror film Peeping Tom is about a serial killer who films himself killing girls with the use of a camera and a tripod with a hidden knife in it. It was directed by Michael Powell, a well-known English director of the 1940s and 1950s, and the subject matter was so controversial in its day that it more or less ended Powell's career in the United Kingdom.
- The famous shower room scene from Porky's shows the guys cutting a hole into the wall of the gym shower to spy on the girls, but get a surprise when Ms. Balbricker comes in.
- In Rear Window, the main character (Jimmy Stewart in the original) is a photographer who broke his leg (or is paralyzed from the neck down, in the remake with Christopher Reeve) and thus confined to his apartment. Feeling bored, he starts spying on his neighbors, and eventually becomes convinced that one of them killed his wife.
- The entire film Alone With Her is shown through the spy cameras the main character has hidden in his clothes and his love interest's home.
- Jon Lovitz plays one in the first scene of Little Nicky - when he gets knocked out of his tree, we follow him all the way down to Hell.
- William Baldwin plays one in Sliver. He videotapes all of his tenents.
- The Decalogue - VI by Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski.
- The heroes of Blue Thunder use a multi-million-dollar attack helicopter for this purpose (though there's some question about whether the woman is as oblivious as she seems).
- One of the characters in In the Heat of the Night has an alibi dependent on whether he's a Peeping Tom or not.
- Crazy Ralph in Friday the 13th Part 2.
- In The Seduction, stalker Dereck Sanford is also a peeping Tom.
- In 7th Heaven, Rat the sewer worker likes to look up the skirts of the girls that walk over the storm drain above his head.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Moaning Myrtle admits that she sometimes spies on prefects in the bath. It must suck being stuck with (ghostly?) teenage hormones for eternity while having no possible outlet what with being a ghost and all. Anyway, her voyeurism is the subject of the Wizard Rock song "Prefects are Hot" by the Moaning Myrtles.
- The title character in Robert F. Young's "Peeping Tommy" was a time-traveler who happened to be the Peeping Tom of the Lady Godiva legend. He was also a bit of a practical joker, and consequently was blinded not for sneaking a peek but for cutting off her hair.
- Lonely Island: Played for equal amounts of laughs and squick in "Do the Creep", which features Jorm, Akiva, and Andy sitting on a tree limb to peep through a window, and Nicki Minaj hiding in a locker to watch boys change after gym.
- Placebo have a song called 'Peeping Tom', which focuses on the psychology of the titular character, who has been "On my own for far too long".
- Evanescence's Snow White Queen hints that the subject of the song is being watched.
Undress in the dark and hide from you all of you
- 'Voyeur' by Blink182:
I wish she'd be more kind now / I'm out of luck 'cause the shades are pulled down / I've seen everything there is to be shown / I followed her all the way home.
- 'Sleepwalker' by The Kinks
Ev'rybody got secrets that they wanna hide./When midnight comes along, I take a look inside./Don't go talkin' in your sleep:/I might come in for a peep, Oh yeah.'
- "Persiana Americana" by Argentinian group Soda Stereo is about a peeping Tom who's watching his pretty neighbor through his window's blinds (known as "persiana americana" in Latin-America) and wonders if she's leading him on.
Mythology and Folklore
- Older Than Steam: The Trope Namer is a tailor named Tom from a 17th century version of the legend of Lady Godiva, who is the only person in town to go against the Lady's proclamation and spies on her nude horseback ride through town. According to the legend, Tom bored a hole through his window shutters in order to catch a glimpse of Godiva, and was struck blind for the trouble.
- In some versions, Tom forgets (or hasn't heard), and opens a shutter for light to work by.
- Older Than Print: The famous French mermaid, Melusine. She is found (with the appearance of an ordinary young maiden) bathing in a river by a human, and the two fall in Love at First Sight. She agrees to marry him, on the condition that he not peek at her while she bathes (or in some versions, on Saturdays). He agrees, and their Fourth Date Marriage goes off without a hitch; they raise several (either demonic or demigod, Depending on the Writer) children together, and Melusine builds her husband a beautiful chateau. One day, his curiosity and/or lust gets the better of him, and he peeks in on her bathtime. Melusine is *not* happy, to say the least. Moral of the story? Never make promises you won't be able to keep, especially to mermaids.
- It should be noted that Melusine's own (human) father broke a similar promise made to her mother Pressyne. Pressyne, however, was satisfied with a Toilet Seat Divorce.
- Older Than Feudalism: Never peep on an actual goddess, or you may pay with your life. According to one myth, this is what the hunter Actaeon did, coming across Artemis while bathing, and then watching. When the goddess discovered him, she was enraged, and turned him into a stag, then set his own hounds upon him, who tore him apart.
- Athena was more merciful to Tiresias, who did the same thing; she simply rendered him blind. (Some versions of the myth say she did it simply to ensure he would never again see what he wasn't meant to see.) The myth also says she gave him the gift of prophecy as consolation, seeing as it was an accident.
- In the "Secret Garden" cutscene in Devil Survivor 2 Daichi and Joe decide to spy on the female cast members' physical exam.The main character can join them too, leading to several minor What the Hell, Hero? moments later on.
- Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, FireRed, LeafGreen, Gold, Silver, Crystal, HeartGold and SoulSilver has an old man standing outside the Celadon Gym looking through the windows into it. He comments that "this Gym is great. It's full of women!"
- Both Lloyd and Emil end up as Accidental Perverts in the Tales of Symphonia games. They add "Peeping Tom" to your character's list of stat-boosting Titles.
- In the Tokimeki Memorial series, if you're a member of a club, you'll have an option to go peep at the bathrooms during the summer's training camp. You'll have to choose among three windows, which randomly grant you safe-for-work CGs of cute girls or ugly macho men bathing. Peeping has a hefty price though: All the girls you know will have a severe drop in affection towards you, particularly those in the same club as yours, if you peeped at girls; and if you watched at men, your Stress parameter sharply goes up.
- In Mitsumete Knight, if the Asian (the player avatar) works part-time as a beach lifeguard in summer, he randomly can get at peeping at girls he knows via a nautical telescope. Aside from getting a safe-for-work CG of the girl peeped at wearing a swimsuit, and a drop in affection from her, you get, like in the Tales of Symphonia example, the "Peeping Tom" (Nozokiya) Title for your List of Titles.
- In Dishonored, you can catch Piero peeking through the keyhole into a room where Callista is bathing. He'll get flustered and make excuses, before admitting to peeking and being "ungentlemanly".
- In True Love Junai Monogatari, the game pretty much starts with the Player Character and the Bromantic Foil trying to peep on the girls of the swimming team. The captain of the team and prospect Love Interest, Passionate Sports Girl Chiemi Fujimoto, will catch the PC, who's given the option of either telling her that he was cleaning up or flat-out admitting his peeping; in any way, she lets him go but warns him that she won't have mercy the next time.
- Karate Bears peep.
- In Homestuck, Caliborn apparently gains access to a terminal that allows him to view other characters anywhere, even in the shower. Jane is understandably creeped out when he gleefully informs her of this.
- In Misfile, Ash apparently had a fantasy about peeping into the girls' locker room. However, after a Gender Bender transformation, it loses its appeal and Ash is squicked out when she finds herself on the receiving end of it actually happening.
- One Nodwick story featured a Goddess of Peeping Toms, who ironically, was often the victim of them.
- The Simpsons: Groundskeeper Willy outs himself as one when he reveals he has a videotape proving that Homer didn't sexually harass a college girl.
Willy: "Homer! I love amateur video, and your show is the most amateur video I ever saw. My hobby is secretly videotaping couples in cars. I dinna come forward because in this country, it makes you look like a pervert — but every single Scottish person does it!"
- Also on The Simpsons: The ladies call Moe Szylak "Hey you from behind the bushes".
- On Family Guy, Chris gets in trouble for peeping in the girls' locker room at school.
- Lois also a drills a hole in Stewie's room so she can watch Tom Brady shower (then fights with Meg over who gets to look through it).
- An older Manatee Gag involved Peter getting caught peeping in the women's showers a la Porky's... only for the pan-out to reveal he was staring through a board with a hole bored through it while standing in full view of the women.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Favor", Everyman Charlie Collin is spied by the Joker for two years to ensure he will not break his Deal with the Joker.
- A Looney Tunes Sylvester/Tweety cartoon had Tweety exclaim, "I taught I taw a peeping tomcat!"
- Bob's Burgers - Tina shows new friend Tammy a peephole into the boys' locker room - down at floor level where all they can see are feet.