In fiction, if a character has to spy on another for any reason, the go-to hiding place is behind the nearest plant life. Despite all probability there will always be a sizable tree in a convenient location that the character can use at leisure to eavesdrop or gaze on the enfolding scene. The majority of the time the tree will do the trick and the spied-upon characters are none the wiser about the suspicious person periodically peeking their head around the nearest shrubbery, unless Rule of Funny
applies in the onlooker being caught. This trope is very prominent in cartoons, where characters often hide behind trees that are thinner than they are
Not so much Truth in Television
, given the many practical limitations.
For instances when the onlooker brings a fake tree as a screen with them, it's Mobile Shrubbery
. Differs from Behind the Black
in that the characters aren't invisible, just well hidden in an unlikely place. See also Behind a Stick
for comic variants.
Anime and Manga
- This trope crops up in the Aunt Dimity series from time to time. Sometimes it's used for comic effect, sometimes not,
- It is revealed late in Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea that Abaddon camps out in the cottage's hedgerow to directly spy on Bill's family. Lori and Bill discuss removing the hedges for safety's sake, but ultimately decide against it.
- In Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree, Raiiney Dawson hides in the bushes near Willis Sr.'s house during the housewarming party. When Lori goes outside for a breath of air, Rainey takes her by surprise. Rainey came there to secretly enlist her aid for her grandmother Sally Pyne, whose tall tales have caught up with her.
- In Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince, Lori and Bree Pym are leaving Tappan Hall after being told Lady Barbara is just back from hospital and too ill to receive visitors when Barb herself hisses at them from her hiding place in the bushes. She's violating doctor's orders by being out of her specially-fitted bedroom (no dusty books and no ashy fires), and she invites Lori and Bree into her book-filled study, leading the way with her oxygen tank in tow.
- Warrior Cats: In The Sun Trail, the first book of the Dawn of the Clans arc, Gray Wing finds a cat hiding in a clump of bracken he had just walked by. This is very embarrassing for him, as he had just been berating his nephew Jagged Peak for claiming they were being watched.
- One story arc on Peanuts has Charlie Brown hiding behind a tree in front of the home of the Little Red-Haired Girl, trying to muster up enough courage to knock on her door and talk to her.
- Calvin does this a lot, mostly to Suzie.
- Parodied in Beetle Bailey — Sarge is trying to watch Beetle from hiding, but the tree can't conceal his massive girth.
- In Animal Crossing City Folk, villagers will often do this during games of hide and seek.
- Link has to use these in Oracle of Seasons in order to sneak up to two Subrosians.
- Treant Protector in Dota 2 has the skill Nature's Guise, which turns Treant or his allies invisible when they're close by trees. In Treant's case, he can cast spells without breaking invisibility.
- Many Looney Tunes episodes
- In the Ben 10 episode "The Visitor", Ben eavesdrops on Max and Xylene by turning into his planty form Wildvine and merging with the tree.
- Sideshow Bob hides behind a potted palm, whose fronds perfectly conceal his distinctive hair.
- My Little Pony, "Fugitive Flowers": Masquerade camouflages herself and hides behind some bushes in Posey's garden to eavesdrop on the Flores, just in time for them to reveal their sinister true intentions of leaching all the life from Ponyland's soil.
- If you've ever played "Hide and Go Seek", "Comouflage" or any other game where you must quickly find a hiding spot in a forest, you'll find that this is never a bad decision. Unless, of course, you misjudge your own width relative to the tree in question.
- Japanese snipers in World War II used to use the tops of trees for concealment. While this had short-term advantages, it hurt chances for an escape, a risk that has been attributed to the eccentricities of the Japanese military system. That is all very well but snipers are often highly-trained assets making this rather an overextention of Honor Before Reason.