The Villain Knows Where You Live
, having made a threat against The Hero
and/or someone the Hero loves
, produces proof he can actually find the intended victim(s) and carry it out. Recent photographs of the target(s) at home or in other familiar settings are probably the most popular form of evidence; the recipient(s) will recognize background items, clothing, hairstyle and other details as familiar and recent, and the very existence of the photos implies someone got physically close enough to take them. On the other hand, The Villain may simply say or write the home address, phone number, school name, or other recent identifying information ("Lovely blue leotard your daughter wore to her dance class today. It matches her eyes."). He may even produce some recognizable item belonging to the target(s), thereby proving he's been there once already and can return.
Since executing this trope involves inspiring feelings of fear and intimidation, it is most often performed by The Villain or at his command. If a heroic character does this, chances are that Hero already operates outside ordinary rules (think superhero), or is angry or desperate enough to act without the aid of law enforcement. When invoked against someone with a secret identity, the trope I Know You Know I Know
will play a part in the threat. Implying or announcing that he knows such a secret is another means of making the threat hit close to home, and may even imply that the opponent has some way to deal with the target's special abilities (If he knows Clark Kent is really Superman, maybe he knows about that kryptonite problem too).
While this may be done in conjunction with an Implied Death Threat
, it usually appears with more direct threats (of the Shame If Something Happened
variety) or explicit threats, so as to underline both the intent and the ability to follow through. If it is not given in person or via telephone, such proof will likely accompany an anonymous threatening letter
. Trespassing to Talk
is an excellent way to demonstrate this.
There is often some overlap with Shame If Something Happened
, as this trope can serve to bolster the threat and encourage the target's cooperation. In those cases, there's usually something the target can do or some price that can be paid to buy off the threat, if only for a short time. If this trope is used alone, often there is no price that can be paid; the threat is coming and the purpose is more to terrify beforehand rather than trying to get the target to do (or stop doing) something.
Compare and contrast The Call Knows Where You Live
. Where this trope is about demonstrating the ability to strike (i.e. the baddies have done their homework and show their work to prove it), The Call Knows Where You Live
is about going ahead and actually doing it (possibly without any warning). Either way, the situation demands some kind of response. It's also possible to do this trope first, then go ahead and pull the other one (by carrying out a threat). If the villain just wants to get the drop on the hero, he'll just act (TCKWYL); if the villain wants to play with the hero's head first, he'll do this first (or something like it).
Anime and Manga
- In The Mystery of Mamo, Mameaux skips the threats and simply has Frenchy hit the gang's hideout with napalm to show them that he really means business when he sends hitmen after them for giving him a phony Philosopher's Stone.
- Sin City: The district attorney finally gets Marv to confess to the murders actually committed by Kevin and Cardinal Roark (and their murders, which he was guilty of) by turning off the recorder and showing him a picture of his mother in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle. Marv breaks his arm in three places, but signs.
- In the film Ice Cream Man about a Humanitarian evil ice cream man, the eponymous man uses the exact line: "You little turds are gonna have to realize you can't run from the ice cream man! I know where you live! If you tell anyone, I'll get your mom and dad!"
- In Grosse Pointe Blank, the assassin protagonist tries to convince his psychiatrist to continue seeing him (the psychiatrist freaked out when his patient revealed his profession). The protagonist mentions doctor-patient confidentiality as a reason why their continued visits wouldn't be a problem and then adds, "And besides, I know where you live". Given the protagonist's admitted profession and the fact that he would know the psychiatrist by name, that's not so hard to believe.
- Subtly done in Layer Cake. The protagonist is going to meet his girlfriend at a hotel rendezvous when he gets abducted by a Diabolical Mastermind gangster, and at the end of their "interview", he's casually dropped off at his home, which the other guy wouldn't know unless he'd been keeping close tabs on him.
- In One Hour Photo, after Robin Williams' character gets fired from his job at the One Hour Photo, he shows up one more time to get a roll of film developed. The pictures are all photos of the manager's daughter, in her front yard. Upon seeing these, the manager immediately calls the police.
- Patriot Games: Miller calls Jack Ryan at his home to taunt him over the severe injuries Jack's daughter suffered after Miller's failed attempt to kill Jack's family.
- Fatal Attraction: Alex follows Dan home and clearly continues stalking the family unseen, as proven by her breaking into the house to kill his daughter's pet rabbit, kidnapping said daughter from her school, and breaking into the house again to try and kill his wife.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Alfrid gives the old "we know where you live" threat to Bard, who calmly responds that it's a small town, so everyone knows where each other lives.
- Early in Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea, Bill shows Lori a printout of a threatening email he received earlier that morning, the latest in a series. The note came with recent photos of the cottage, Lori, their nanny Annelise and the twins on their ponies. The text reads:
- Villains in Discworld tend to try this on Sam Vimes. Always a terrible idea, since he's a Papa Wolf and that acts as a Berserk Button for him.
- In Night Watch Carcer tells Vimes: "I can see your house from here."
- Happens several times in Thud!:
- The dwarves send a suicide squad to assassinate his family... causing him to pursue their sorry asses all the way into Koom Valley, and filling him with so much primal vengeful rage, he almost murders them.
- Two troll enforcers for The Breccia attempt to intimidate Vimes by saying this... right in the middle of the Watch house while surrounded by officers.
- The Low King of the Dwarves almost pulls this on Vimes in a moment of anger before catching himself and mentioning diplomatically how nice it would be to meet his family. Vimes isn't fooled, but lets it slide.
- In Guards! Guards! it's implied that Lord Vetinari got the Thieves' Guild leaders to agree to his plan to lower the crime rate by legitimizing them, by quietly suggesting that he knew where their loved ones lived.
- Late in Lynn Shepherd's 2012 novel The Solitary House, protagonist and investigator Charles Maddox finds his housemaid vomiting in the kitchen, and he learns from another servant that she had been accosted while buying provisions at the markets and a package was added to her basket. The package proves to contain the little finger from Charles' right hand, which had been forcibly amputated in an attack on him several days previously. Charles recognizes the contents ("A second, closer look eradicates all doubt."), and the threat:
The package left in Molly's basket carried more than one message, and the loudest and clearest of them all is that his unseen adversary is closing in. Closing in on Charles, and closing in, now, on all those around him. He could have killed Molly today, if he chose, just as he could have killed Charles on the City Road.
- The Dresden Files novella "The Warrior" features an antagonist who sends Harry photographs of the Carpenter family and their house: not so much "I know where you live" as "I know where your friends live". The characters discuss whether this means the Carpenters are really in danger, or whether they're being threatened to distract Harry from something else.
- In The Client, a young witness is cornered in a hospital elevator by a hit man. After warning him to keep his mouth shut about what he knows, the man drives his point home by showing the boy a family picture which he recognizes as the one his mother keeps on her nightstand.
- Similarly, in the novel Coma, after threatening Susan, the hit man drives home his point by showing her a picture of her little brother and warning her that if she doesn't back off, "I'll have to pay him a visit too."
- In Pact, Blake Thorburn pays a visit to the fiancee of police officer Duncan Behaim, helps her car out of a snowdrift, and gets invited in for food. Duncan immediately comes running, but cannot attack Blake because of Sacred Hospitality, as his wife had offered Blake shelter and food.
- A subtle one in the Remington Steele episode "Elegy in Steele": Major Descoine comes to the agency's office, promises Laura and Steele he'll kill them both by noon that day, and leads them on a chase around the city. One surreal stop is a richly-furnished Victorian-looking apartment in an otherwise abandoned building. On looking around, the detectives notice that the framed photographs scattered about the living room show them at work on recent cases (in clearly recognizable stills from previous episodes), and the penny drops:
Steele: He's been following us! The bloody bugger's been spying on us!
Laura: It gives me the creeps.
The Major: (Enters carrying a loaded tea tray) Oh, "cream," did you say? (Stops as Steele and Laura turn on her, Steel pointing his gun at her) It's right here on the tray.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- One of the first things Angel does when he turns evil is to go into Buffy's room while she's sleeping, draw a detailed picture of her, and leave it for her to find in the morning.
- And let's not forget Glory, who threatened to kill Buffy's loved ones and make her watch while confronting her in her own living room.
- On the Wolfram & Hart website, if you go to the page to fill out a job application, it simply reads "We know where to contact you. Expect a visit from our recruiters soon."
- Law & Order: UK: James Steele's nemesis practically recites the address of his son's home—"Bradley Street, Edinburgh" in order to intimidate him.
- All versions of Law & Order. A particularly repugnant SVU criminal very casually asks Stabler, "How are Kathy and the kids?" after spending weeks stalking Olivia, knowing not only where she lives, but where she shops/works out/does her laundry, etc. Meanwhile on the original program, a defendant admits to killing the victim after the man threatened his wife by greeting her as she returned home from running errands—"Tell him I was this close."
- On ER, Luka' s vengeful former patient (he was left permanently disabled due to an error Luka made, kicking off a chain of disastrous events—failed business, failed marriage, etc) encounters his wife in the park while she's playing with their son. He's not threatening at all, instead being very friendly and polite while never revealing who he is. But he does steal the kid's stuffed animal. When he returns it in a supposedly friendly gesture, Luka is frightened at the realization both of this trope and the fact that the man could have easily harmed his wife and son had he wanted to. It doesn't help that a few episodes later, as Luka looks out the window of his apartment, he sees the man standing across the street. And a few episodes after that, his wife returns home only to find the man sitting on the couch as comfortably as if he belongs there.
- On One Life to Live, after Max Holden runs afoul of a Loan Shark. As he scrambles to come up with the money to pay him back, the guy drops by his home for a "friendly" chat with the man's wife. Later, when she mentions, "a friend of yours stopped by", Max panics as he realizes that the man was not-so-subtly threatening to harm his family if he didn't reimburse him.
- Strong Medicine. Incensed when Dylan fails to save their leader, several gang members begin threatening him. He doesn't take it seriously—until a picture of his daughter wearing her hospital volunteer uniform is sent to him. To drive the point home, a bulls-eye is drawn across her head.
- In Dead Winter, after Monday's rebellion, the mob boss sends hitmen to his parents. His mother poisons them.
- In S.S.D.D "Chris Reed" calls up crime boss Mr. Sweetwater about a certain item his men stole then gives an address, his mother's. Then responds to attempted threats by telling "Sweetwater" he knows everything about him, including his real name.
- In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Meet The Beat-Alls," Mojo Jojo, Him, Princess Morbucks and Fuzzy Lumpkins all converge at the Powerpuffs' home and argue over who is going to destroy them.
- During her 1975 trial for attempting to kill US President Gerald Ford, Manson Family member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme threatened the judge, mentioning the piano in the front room of his house. As noted on the April, 25, 2014 edition of The Rachel Maddow Show, the judge's security detail was increased after that. The incident was also mentioned in a panel discussion among some of the trial's participants (at about the 50-minute mark).