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Wallpaper Camouflage

This is when a character is decked out in an outfit that blends in seamlessly with the wallpaper or furniture upholstery, to the point they're either invisible or seem like a (not giant holographic) floating head and hands. Why are they wearing such a bizarre get up? They may have gotten the shirt/dress as a horribly tacky gift, worn a normal article of clothing and through sheer random chance end up in a place that they blend in to. Or they may be Crazy-Prepared and created the outfit/camo paint combo from scratch precisely to blend in to the background. Hollywood Chameleons can do this naturally.

Related to Stand-In Portrait, if they are impersonating a figure in a mural it is that trope not this one. See also Nobody Here but Us Statues.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • There's an American ad for an antidepressant that utilizes this.
  • This Opel Mokka advert has the car drive around town standing out against the background while all the people seamlessly blend into the background due to their bland clothes.
  • In some Drunk Driving ads, they have police officers blending into the background this way while a plastered group of friends stumble passed them, only to be hit with a security check on the road.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Onizuka pulls such a camouflage off in Great Teacher Onizuka during a paintball battle on school grounds.
  • In Bleach, resident Mad Scientist Mayuri Kurotsuchi pulls this off a couple of times.

    Film 
  • In Addams Family Values, Wednesday does this, face paint included, to spy on the babysitter/black widow.
  • In Garden State, this is a gift to Andrew from his aunt, who proudly says she had sewn it herself from leftover wallpaper.
  • The stoned girl in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, whose outfit blends perfectly into the couch upon which she passed out.
  • In the movie Toys, a few of Patrick's outfits are used to help him achieve this.
  • On The Muppet Movie, the psychedelic paint job the Electric Mayhem gives Fozzie's Studebaker serendipitously matches a billboard for soda, enabling Kermit and Fozzie to elude Doc Hopper.
  • Done by the killer in the remake of When a Stranger Calls.
  • Done by Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. And once again at the end.
  • Done by Inspector Clouseau in Steve Martin's The Pink Panther as he and his sidekick, played by Jean Reno, try to infiltrate a party where the villain will be present. (They are then discovered, but pass their strange skin-tight outfits off as being part of a dance troupe.)
  • François Toulour (AKA the Night Fox) does this in Oceans Thirteen to get the drop on Linus and his dad. However, he reveals himself almost immediately, so the goal appears to have been to avoid alarming them as soon as they walked onto the roof.
  • Peeta learns to do this in The Hunger Games thanks to his experience as a baker. He is later able to paint his face and hands to match the pattern on a log.

    Literature 
  • Played for horror in The Yellow Wallpaper, at the end of which the narrator tries to disguise herself by rubbing up against the wallpaper, trying to incorporate herself in its pattern. Earlier, she thought she saw other women hiding in the paper.

    Live Action TV 
  • Played for laughs in a French and Saunders sketch parodying some current Costume Drama. Part of a pair of curtains turn out to be our heroines' voluminous dresses.
  • Once on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Iolaus hid from some Mooks by covering himself in mud and lying down, blending in with the mud patch which the mooks ran through while looking for him.
  • Inverted in one episode of Home Improvement, when Tim pranks Al on Tool Time by wheeling out a portable wall decorated to resemble Al's plaid shirt, work pants, and tool belt, and then pretends he can't see Al when he walks in front of it.
  • Recurring trope in Arrested Development. Tobias, as an understudy for the Blue Man Group, is constantly camouflaged against blue backgrounds. A notable incident is when Zuckerkorn hits Tobias with his car because he cannot see him against the blue sky. Tobias is also seen painting himself in his wife's 'diamond encrusted lotion' to camouflage himself against a glitter background.
  • Titus: In one of the flashbacks of Titus's childhood, Titus hides his brother Dave from his dad by painting him to match the wall. When Titus's dad comes looking for Dave, Titus tells him that Dave joined the circus. Dave blows his cover by coming out of the wall and asking, "Can I be the fat lady?"
  • Mrs. Goadion from This Is Jinsy wears a dress that blends into the background of her hut, leaving her looking much like a floating head.

    Music Videos 
  • One version of the music video for OK Go's "Do What You Want" takes this to extremes, with the entire band in such a get-up.
  • Gradually happens to Gotye in the video for "Somebody That I Used To Know". Gradually un-happens to Kimbra in the same video.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A Far Side comic has a woman wearing a flowered dress in a room full of a flower motif, and she's spared when a monster comes in an eats her husband, who stands out in his striped shirt, while she's practically invisible, thanks to her "camouflage".
  • Similar to some of the Western Animation examples, one Krazy Kat strip featured a lecturer demonstrating Krazy's natural camouflage by having him/her stand against a black background. (Ignatz gives Krazy a bottle of milk to ruin the lecture; the lecturer retaliates by giving Krazy a bottle of ink to drink.)

    Video Games 
  • In a rare serious example, the entire point of the OctoCamo in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is to do this. Whenever you flatten yourself against the wall or a floor, Snake's suit changes color to match, just like an octopus. Halfway through the second act, he gets a mask with the same technology that allows him to hide his head, too.

    Western Animation 
  • On Futurama, Leela criticizes bureaucrats as pencil pushers who just blend into the walls. Camera turns to Hermes, who happens to be wearing a shirt the exact same color as the wall behind it.
  • In one Screwy Squirrel cartoon, Screwy paints a barn wall white, then paints himself white as well to appear invisible and hit the dog chasing him with a bat.
  • In his first cartoon, "The Pink Phink," (which also won an Academy Award) The Pink Panther hides by standing against a wall painted pink.
  • Caesar's spy in the animated Astérix and Cleopatra. Didn't use such camouflage in the book.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Tiger Trouble", the tiger's natural camouflage is parodied by making it invisible in front of a thicket of bamboo.
  • In a Looney Tunes documentary-style short which features animals, a chameleon blends with many colors, but breaks down when asked to demonstrate on a plaid background. "I can't do it! I can't do it!"

    Real Life 
  • Chinese artist Liu Bolin.
    • He's also done cars for an advertisement for the Ford Bends; painting the cars so they appear almost transparent against the Ford.
  • The US Army ACU Uniform.
  • Invoked by Banksy at his 2006 "Barely Legal" exhibit in Los Angeles.
  • Bence Bakonyi finds colourful places and then gets models to dress up in matching clothing, it's surprisingly effective.
  • Some haunted houses set up during the Halloween season do this. Especially effective if 3D glasses are handed out in conjunction with paint that makes it appear as if the walls are much closer than they are, allowing a guy to put on a scary mask and pretend to be a painting or something before scaring the customers.

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