Common in horror, but also seen in other cases. A character has just had a bad experience, such as a Cat Scare
. After recovering, he moves away from the area, but continues facing back towards the previous location, rather than forward to where he is actually going. The longer he does this, the more likely it is that he will run right up against something nasty when he finally turns around.
Especially stupid when this is a soldier or a police officer, who seems to be doing the "walk quietly in the shadows looking every which way" maneuver, but instead of keeping their back to a wall
like they should, are instead turning their back to every opening and spinning around like a top in a predictable fashion.
Your eyes are on the front of your head for a reason
, people. On the other hand, if you suspect something might jump from a certain location, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on that location.
The most common way for this trope to be Played for Laughs
is to have two people both
doing this, and ending up colliding with each other; cue Reactive Continuous Scream
. You know, like Scooby and Shaggy
did at least Once an Episode
Related: Behind the Black
- In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, there's a bit where McCoy backs up into some dangly dead bodies.
- In the film Mimic, a redshirt finds a cache of giant mutant cockroach eggs under New York City. He's so horrified (I don't know why - he's an entomologist and these eggs were expected) that he backs away, right into a giant mutant cockroach.
- Played for laughs in Evolution. One character, after witnessing a Jump Scare from an alien that's somehow gotten into a water tank, reacts by slowly backing out of the room and closing the door, as if to say, "I was never here. This is somebody else's problem."
- Used in Blade: Trinity, though rather than because of a jump-scare, Hannibal King just defeated some Reaper-strain-looking vampire dogs and was backwards-walking while Flipping the Bird. Then fell through a broken skylight.
- The Coen Brothers' rom-com Intolerable Cruelty plays the Scooby-and-Shaggy version dead straight with two lawyers armed with pepper-spray stalking around a darkened house. The moment they enter the house you know what's going to happen...
- In Van Helsing, upon realising there's a werewolf in the large armoury with her, Anna does this in true "horror movie idiot" fashion by walking through the middle of the room (leaving herself open to attack from all sides) while brandishing a pistol (which, being a ranged weapon, gives an even more compelling reason to look ahead and try and spot the monster from as far away as possible). She also commits the other stereotypical horror movie mistake of not looking up, despite knowing that werewolves are capable of a Ceiling Cling.
Live Action TV
- Also parodied in one of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books:
Arthur backed down the passageway, feeling increasingly nervous. After a while, he realized that this was because, in every horror movie he'd ever seen, when the hero backs slowly down a passageway, he winds up backing into a monster.
At this point he spun round very suddenly, and saw nothing.
He started backing down the passageway in the other direction. After a few moments, he realized that he was now backing toward whatever he had been backing away from in the first place.
This, he could not help feeling, was a very foolish thing to do.
- Then he spins around again and winds up face-to-face with a monster.
- A not uncommon behavior of genre savvy players anticipating the reveal of a Monster Closet or Teleporting Keycard Squad "behind" them. A prime source of Paranoia Fuel when dealing with developers who know this and make sure to throw enemies at the player from fiendishly unpredictable directions.
- Most commonly seen in Doom and its mods and derivatives, where the above tropes are particularly common.
- In the various Batman: Arkham Asylum games mooks will often do this in stealth sections in an Oh Crap reaction when they realise you're about to treat them to a Mook Horror Show. However, they usually don't do it for very long, and will instead start moving erratically and changing from this trope to facing forwards at random intervals, which actually does make it harder to sneak up on them. Sometimes they will even move in pairs, with one looking forward and the other looking back, showing that even Batman mooks are smarter than the average horror movie victim.
- Parodied in The Simpsons where Homer sees Apu and "the Squishee girl" having sex in the stockroom of the Kwik-E-Mart. He walks backwards out of the stockroom, the store, all the way home, opens the front door backwards, up the stairs before finally getting into bed backwards. And then dreams the entire experience over again.
- And then again at the end of the episode. Except this time he's on a ladder, so he hops backwards on the thing.
- Lampshaded in the episode "The Lastest Gun In The West." Bart, running from a attacking pit bull, climbs over a fence and backs away from it; when a safe distance away, he relaxes, saying, "Ah, safe at last. Now, I'll just turn around, and confirm that safety," only to find a menagerie of menacing creatures ready to attack.
- In The Land Before Time, Ducky walks backward right into an angry Sharptooth.