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We Need a Distraction

"Excuse me, could I just distract you for a brief second?"
Kryten, Red Dwarf

The heroes need a distraction, often in order to infiltrate the enemies' lair, a secret organization, to enable an escape, etc. Pyrotechnics are not uncommon.

Specific variants include:

Often the job for the Hero Secret Service. An essential component of fighting dirty. Infraction Distraction sometimes falls under this but usually just dissuades the enemy from searching further.

See also Right Under Their Noses, Trojan Prisoner Ploy. Contrast Hidden in Plain Sight.

Compare The Bait. Contrast Deus Ex Scuse Me, where the plot gods distract the character.


Examples (that do not fit into the subtropes):

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the eighth episode of Ichigo Mashimaro, her Look Behind You failing, Miu tries this, and fails. Then she recruits Ana to try, and being cuter, Ana succeeds in distracting Nobue with her cuteness, upon which Miu strikes with a plastic sword. In a partial subversion, Nobue doesn't even notice, so distracted she is by Ana's cuteness that all she does is offer Ana suggestions on how to make her pose cuter.
  • Spoofed in One Piece, when Dr. Hiriluk and Chopper are running from a mob trying to arrest them, Hirluk screams "We need a distraction!" and promptly kicks Chopper into the crowd, telling him to fight for himself.
    • In Movie 9, Chopper does a similar thing to Sanji while they're fighting Wapol, Chess and Kuromarimio, even saying the same dialogue to trick him.
  • On Dragon Ball Z, as things look grim in the fight against Nappa, Piccolo devises a Combination Attack that involves Krillin charging at Nappa, creating a distraction so that Piccolo can grab his tail, and then Gohan attacking. Unfortunately, elite Saiyans train themselves so that their tails aren't such an easily exploited weak point, and the whole plan falls apart.
  • In Angel Beats!, one mission requires that certain members of the resistence create a distraction for an entire classroom full of students. After Look Behind You, taking off one's shirt, and a Love Confession fail, Yuri simply sends Hinata and Takamatsu flying into the ceiling using rockets on their seats.
    • Infact this happens so often in the episode that they get resigned to the fact that they WILL be shot into the ceiling, no matter what.
    • Let's not forget Girls Dead Monster, an entire band created for the purpose of distraction.
  • This is one of the subtler Running Gags in Pokémon, which always falls on Brock's shoulders. He would always perform Takeshi's Paradise to appease the audience, but they would eventually tire of it, causing Brock to shout, "It's the only song I know!"
    • In the third movie Spell of the Unown, Brock and Misty serve as distractions for Molly so Ash can reach his mom while they keep Molly occupied with battling them.
  • From Sailor Moon, the is the strategy the Senshi used to defeat Jadeite; Moon and Mercury run around in the open while Mars, concealed in the fog, slips a Paper Talisman on his back that screws up his telekinetic control of an airplane, causing it to almost run over him instead.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman Villain Prankster makes a business of this trope. For money he will distract police and Superman with his pranks so his clients can do their own crimes without any problems.
  • Occurs in Superman/Batman:
    Batman: We need a distraction.
    Power Girl: What's everyone looking at me for? How am I supposed to distract... Oh.
  • Notfunny Cartoons loves playing around with this one. The characters always end up picking Ernesto, despite his protest ("Why do I always have to be the distraction?!"). In all fairness, he's a gigantic octopus in a business suit. Yeah, it's a rather strange sort of comic.
  • In a Modesty Blaise story Modesty and Willy have the final fight on a chairlift in Italy. Modesty tosses the new character Marge a gun and asks her to distract the next guy coming up. She hides the gun behind her back and asks (in broken Italian) 'What is the way to Mandalay'. It works nicely.
  • From Suicide Squad:
    Flagg: Deadshot, distract the guards.
    Deadshot: Okay. (shoots the guards.)
  • In issue #4 of The Awesome Slapstick, a cup of coffee is used as this for the Neutron Bum (no, not a typo).
  • In the Sin City story "A Dame To Kill For", Dwight employs Marv specifically to distract the guards while he attacks a crime boss. A 7 foot tall, 300 lbs. grinning pyschopath running down the hall, beating people up certainly makes for a good distraction.
  • In issue 26 of Paperinik New Adventures,Paperinik,Lyla and the two villains of the week are stuck in preistoric times. The Evronians are also here and capture everybody except the hero,that needs a way to distract them to rescue the Others. So how does he distract them? By sending a group of ''Tyrannosaurus Rex'' against their base.

    Fan Fic 
  • In 3 Slytherin Marauders Draco throws a tantrum and Lucius demands the Ministry workers stop whatever they're doing and assist him so that Arthur Weasley can sneak in to find evidence that Rufus Scrimgeour and Dolores Umbridge are plotting to steal Harry away from his family.
  • Examples from the Calvinverse:
    • In Retro Chill, Calvin gets Bob to wave his arms around so he can escape his cell again.
    • In order to get some tuna to put in his famous tiger trap in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, Calvin bribes a kid with two bucks to call his mother to distract her from the kitchen.
  • In Point Of Succession Light engineers a Bavarian Fire Drill in order to steal evidence for L's investigation in which he pretended to be from the Japanese embassy and instigated a loud, self-righteous shouting match with the police over burial rights while his accomplice broke in.
  • In Seigikan when L wants to search Light's room he has Mogi call the Yagami house pretending to be a telemarketer. Light finds this blatantly obvious scheme to be an insult to his intelligence.
  • In Sophistication And Betrayal, the protagonist and Rarity discuss ways to distract Slate so they can break into his house and look for evidence of his stalking activities. After much debate, they eventually agree to use Rarity herself as a lure.
  • In Tales Of Flame, Blacky is sent to distract Scarlet as Fervo and Squirt get to matchmaking. When Scarlet questions Blacky's intentions, Blacky eagerly replies with, "I'm being a distraction!" Squirt's reaction is completely understandable, considering Scarlet's personality.
  • In Those Who Stand For Nothing Fall For Anything L and Light get into a quarrel over how Light wants his steak cooked so that they can storm out of L's dinner party together and get away from their "friends".
  • A villainous example in Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race. The plot of Episode 13 is Splash Woman causing havoc in Hawaii so Wily can pull off a bank robbery in Hollywood.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Land Before Time: "And now we need some bait..."
  • Well done in Disney's The Lion King.
    Timon: So what's the plan for getting past the hyenas?
    Simba: Live bait.
    Timon: Good idea... (Beat) Hey!
    Simba: C'mon, Timon, you guys have to create a diversion!"
    Timon: What do you want me to do, dress in drag and do the hula?
    (Gilligan Cut to Timon doing exactly that)
  • The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie: SpongeBob and Patrick have to go into the Bad-Guy Bar to get the key to the Patty Wagon. At first the plan is for SpongeBob to do the distraction while Patrick gets the key, but Patrick wants to do the distraction. So while SpongeBob tries to get the key, Patrick stands in the middle of the bar, and... announces that he has to use the restroom.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Voyage of the Unicorn, after the main characters reach the camp of the trolls who have captured a powerful artifact that they need, Alan, the father of the two kid heroes, says "we need a distraction." Without saying a word, Cassie, the younger of the two daughters, rushes off, runs right in front of a troll, and removes her disguise. "Hi guys!" What follows next is her being chased and ultimately captured and tied up. Probably not her intent, but it did help the rest of her family retrieve the artifact while the trolls were distracted - while trying to rescue her, that is.
  • Animal House:
    Otter: Look at my thumb, Greg. (he does; Otter knocks him out) Gee, you're dumb.
  • A Running Gag in the Bob Hope / Bing Crosby Road to ... pictures of the 1940s was the "patty-cake" routine: When faced with a foe, Bob and Bing start playing patty-cake, and while the bad guy watches in bemusement, they each punch him out simultaneously. Occasionally, the villain is onto them and hits them first, causing Hope to point out that "he must have seen the picture."
  • A deleted scene in the third Austin Powers movie involves Mini Me killing an uncooperative prisoner. When the guards come for an inspection, Dr. Evil and Mini Me proceed to quickly cover it up while a fellow prisoner does an impromptu dance to distract the guards.
  • Tremors. The Graboid monsters live underground but can sense vibrations and use them to hunt humans. Several times characters try to distract the Graboids away from their prey by stamping on the ground.
    • "Hey, Melvin! Wanna make a buck?"
  • Dog Soldiers: "We need a diversion...something fast and loud." Cue them looking at Spoon, who is both, plus a heavy dose of crazy.
  • In the Olsen Twins' vehicle "Switching Goals", where they are both in co-ed youth soccer teams, the sister who is no good at soccer uses other tactics to help her team - she simply starts chatting up one of the boys on the opposing team to stop him from noticing a goal being scored by her teammates just metres away.
  • In Ladron que Roba a Ladron, while the team is preparing for a heist, one of the head con guys tells the tomboy mechanic that they'll need a distraction, and looks pointedly at her. "How am I the distraction?" she asks. In response, he unzips the top of her jumpsuit, revealing impressive cleavage.
    Later...
    Rafaela: Why should I have to wear a dress?
    Alejandro: Because none of us would fit in it.
  • Telefon (1977). Charles Bronson plays a KGB agent sent to kill a Renegade Russian, whom he finally corners in a Texan bar. Because there are witnesses (including two police officers) Bronson can't just shoot him, so the woman he's working with knocks over a glass container holding a pet rattlesnake. While everyone is screaming and the police are blasting away at the snake, Bronson bursts into the phone booth the renegade is using and throttles him to death.
  • Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981). The hero tells the Damsel Scrappy to shoot a captured AR-10 rifle in the air while he sneaks in and rescues her father. The rifle's recoil (it's a 7.62mm version of the M16) unbalances her and she ends up machine-gunning the villain's encampment.
  • White Sands (1992). Lane Bodine (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) offers herself to (married) protagonist Sheriff Ray Dolezal (William Dafoe) while he's in the shower. The next scene has an FBI agent listening with amusement to the sounds of passionate sex over his hidden microphones... until Dolezal kicks down his door, whereupon we see Bodine sitting in the shower faking the whole thing.
  • In Star Trek V, Uhura does an impromptu fan dance to distract the locals.
  • When the KGB is assaulting Carlos the Jackal's lair in the climax of The Assignment (1997), a KGB agent distracts the gatehouse guard simply by turning up as if for a routine visit and showing his credentials. While the guard leans in to inspect them, an Alpha team operative slips in behind him with a silenced gun and blows his head off. The KGB man pockets his ID and enters the building without even breaking stride.
  • Alien: Resurrection. Although it's a mystery just how smart the aliens are, they appear to wait until security on the ship is occupied with the mercenaries and communications are cut off before implementing their escape.
  • Escape to Athena (1979) has any number of examples being used when the Greek Resistance seize the POW camp, ranging from the 'pull-up-at-the-gate-with-an-accident-victim' trick, to laxatives in the guards' food, to a full-on strip-tease by a female internee.
  • The Grand Illusion: Boeldieu's Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
  • Blazing Saddles: "Hold it! Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!"
  • A favorite strategy of The Three Stooges. Curly would taunt some bad guys who would chase him, either to give Moe and Larry enough time to foil the bad guys plans or lead the bad guys to Moe and Larry, who are waiting to knock them out.
  • This is the entire premise of Bodyguards and Assassins; Sun Yat-sen, in Hong Kong to discuss revolution against the Qing Dynasty, is targeted by imperial assassins and the heroes have to run a decoy in order to draw the foe away from the real Sun while he discusses his plans.
  • In Neighbors, to get Teddy downstairs and away from the door, Jimmy jumps from the balcony and breaks his leg.
  • Mission: Impossible. In Ghost Protocol after his car is ambushed and crashes into the river, Ethan attaches a flare to a body and floats it downriver to distract the mooks shooting at them. The success of this tactic makes no sense at all, as is lampshaded later, but the mooks were too fired up to stop and think about why someone would be swimming downriver under fire with a light source attached to them.
  • During the climax of Guardians of the Galaxy, Starlord starts dancing to his mix tape to buy them some time so Rocket can fix his BFG. Ronan is so (understandably) confused by this that it actually works.

    Literature 
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings:
    • When Pippin starts getting too chatty and comes close to revealing Frodo's real name at the "Prancing Pony", Frodo diverts everyone's attention the first way he thinks of: jumping up onto a table, making a rambling and nonsensical speech to the room, and singing a nonsensical song (which naturally makes everyone think he's drunk and highly entertaining about it). And then he does way more damage than Pippin ever could have when he falls and the Ring jumps onto his finger.
    • Aragorn's actions through the end of The Two Towers and the beginning of The Return of the King are an extended version of this, played deadly serious. (Which is to say... "A diversion!")
  • In Fool Moon, the second of The Dresden Files, Tera volunteers to distract a group of police officers so Harry can get his magical equipment. She does this by dancing naked, in the rain. Harry himself almost got too distracted to get away.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First and Only, while on a Navy ship, Gaunt needs some security codes. His Ghosts had just been attacked by Jantine Patricians, other soldiers on board the ship. In a Xanatos Speed Chess level distraction, he punches an ally so he can complain to the (psychic) captain, and joins him, blaming the blow on the raid, which he had blamed on his ally but now realizes was the Patricians' fault; he sends off Ghosts to raid the Patricians, killing them in retribution and to ensure it just looks like a feud; he sends other Ghosts off to get medical supplies for a man wounded in the raid and to get the codes. When they are caught in the last, they bring down the Navy man who found them, and announce that the Patricians had raided again and take down the man. They get their codes.
    • Used much more in the later novel Traitor General, where Gaunt says this so much (except calling them "diversions") that, on meeting the resistance leader in Leafring, Cirk comments that "he'll probably ask you for a diversion, too. He's quite fond of them."
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel, Pasanius manages to free himself because the Chaos torturers cut off his arm. Vaanes, realizing this, argues with, questions, shouts at the torturers to keep them from noticing.
  • In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolf's Honour, Ragnar is stunned when Bulveye says he must be the distraction and so Ragnar and the other younger Space Wolves will have the honor of facing down Madox and retrieving the Spear of Russ; he had assumed that the older Space Wolves would claim the privilege.
  • In Ben Counter's novel Chapter War, the Howling Griffons send the 901st Regiment onto the Brokenback first, as the distraction.
  • In Chris Roberson's Imperial Fists novel Sons of Dorn, Captain Taelos suspects something when they arrive to find the Chaos forces gone and an attack being launched on a neighboring planet.
  • In John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos, any problem that can't be stunned by the girls' showing some leg is inevitably Colin's part. His most successful performance? Having a "conversion experience" during a crowded Christmas service.
  • The Silver Horde in Interesting Times They twice encounter warriors who demonstrate their prowess by breaking wood with their hands and cutting falling silk with their swords. Each time, a Horde member prepares to do the same, and then attacks the distracted opponent.
    Caleb: You watching this hand? You watching this hand?
    Ninja: (trying not to laugh) I am watching.
    Caleb: Good. (Groin Attack) Cause you should have been watchin' this foot.
    • Then he breaks the block of wood over the ninja's head, so technically he did break it himself...
    • In The Truth, William De Worde wants to get past a few Watchmen, and has his photographer/vampire provide the distraction by taking a picture. As a vampire, the flash is enough to send him into excruciating pain, and William notes that a vampire writhing and screaming on the ground is always the center of attention.
    • The second book in the series, The Light Fantastic, has Cohen, an eighty three-year old barbarian hero, tell an enemy that they're holding their sword wrong. He then proceeds to demonstrate that your supposed to use distractions to put a sword in your enemy's leg.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Red Dwarf, "Inquisitor":
    Kryten: Excuse me, could I just distract you for a brief second?
  • Subverted in Firefly, when the crew, planning an escape attempt that would work "if we only had a distraction", is just as stunned and distracted as the bad guys by River's impromptu performance. So much so that they completely fail to enact the escape during the window of opportunity.
    Jayne: That there? Exactly the kind of diversion we coulda used...
    • And subverted again earlier, when Jayne suggests showing some leg -- or more:
      Jayne: What we need's a diversion... I say Zoe gets naked.
      Wash: Nope.
      Jayne: I could get naked.
      Everyone: No!
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds Pt. 2", the Enterprise puts on a distracting light show for the Borg while Data and Worf sneak in with a shuttle and rescue Picard. And it was epic.
  • In Seinfeld, Elaine distracts George's boss so that George can drug him by using the line "So I was thinking about going to this nudist colony..."
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark??: The girl in the often co-ed heroic duo of the story would usually be the distraction, with the implication this was the far more dangerous job.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Subverted in the episode "When She Was Bad":
    Angel: We need you to distract the vampires.
    Buffy: Right.
    Xander: What are you going to do?
    Buffy: I'm going to kill them all. That oughta distract them.
    • Played straight in "Who Are You?". There is a police cordon around a church being occupied by vampires. Giles pretends to be a distraught family member long enough for Buffy to get inside.
    • In "Halloween", Buffy strikes up a conversation with Giles to distract him while Willow sneaks into his office and steals his Watcher diaries.
    • In Season 9, one of Faith's Slayers picks a fight with a soccer team. Faith looks like she is going to flash them, only to draw attention to the drinks she bought so they'd lay off.
  • Doctor Who
    • The classic "Hello, I'm the Doctor, I believe you want to kill me." (From "Silver Nemesis")
    • From "Genesis of the Daleks": "Hello, could you help me? I'm a spy."
    • "The Pandorica Opens": "LOOK AT ME I'M A TARGET!"
      • One or Two does almost the exact same thing, with different words, at one point or another.
  • And, from Blake's 7:
    Vila (to some guards): "Hello there. How are you? Excuse me wandering about your premises but I wonder if you can help me. I'm an escaped prisoner. I was a thief but recently I've become interested in sabotage, in a small way you understand, nothing too ambitious, I hate vulgarity, don't you? Anyway, I've come to blow something up. What do you think will be most suitable?" They actually bend down to look at his map and discuss options.
  • Used Once an Episode in Hogan's Heroes.
  • Pulled by Satyarani in one of the Raven: The Secret Temple "cut scenes" - Satyarani conjured a bunch of birds to distract Nevar while Raven sneaked up from behind to smash the spyglass Nevar had been using to spy on the contestants.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager's season 4 episode "Waking Moments" Seven and Harry engage in a fistfight to distract the aliens.
  • Battlestar Galactica. Baltar uses the And Another Thing... gambit to make the marine guard turn his head away from the cell for a moment so Cylon prisoner Gina can Neck Snap him.
  • In Superhero drama Misfits, Nathan's ludicrous (but successful) attempt to prevent his probation worker Sally from finding the corpses in her car-boot consists of hurling a brick at her windscreen and screaming desperately: "It's just pure, mindless vandalism!"
  • Michael Westen from Burn Notice states that the best distractions make people more curious then worried, such as a truck that slowly rolls forward (with a bomb in the bed).
  • In the first episode of Leverage, the mark shows up a few minutes before he's supposed to. Clearly a fan of Weston's teaching, Nathan starts smashing car windows outside the building, intentionally drawing the attention of all the security guards, who go running out the door. Everybody in the lobby, including the mark, becomes curious what's going on and stops what they were doing to look out the window.
  • JAG: In "War Cries", the Shining Path operatives have a pair of pretty girls wave at the Peruvian soldiers standing guard outside the U.S. Embassy so an old lady can walk past them and leave a bomb.
  • Deconstructed during the mid-season finale of Stargate Atlantis final season. McKay and Jackson have been captured by a group of rogue Asgard who missed the extinction of the main species by hiding in the Pegasus Galaxy. After escaping, McKay suggests they blow up something on the far side of the base from the device they were trying to shut down to draw the guards away. Jackson replies that he never understood how that was a good distraction. His first instinct would be to send more guards to the thing worth protecting.

    New Media 
  • In the lonelygirl15 video "Mission Possible", Sarah is sent to distract a security guard, an operation which Spencer titles "The Siren Call © Spencer Gilman". The guard bursts into tears - apparently, his partner just left him and took everything. Although it didn't go as planned, the distraction is still a success since the guard is now "emotionally compromised".
  • In the KateModern video "Charlie's party", Gavin dances the "funky chicken" to distract Kate and Steve while Tariq searches Steve's bag.
  • "I'm distracting you so she can stab you."

    Video Games 
  • In RuneScape the player says something along the lines of the page quote to a white knight so another player could steal a painting of him.
  • Parodied brilliantly in Sam and Max. Sam needs to break into Stinky's display case, so he asks Max to distract Stinky while he does so.
    Max: Oh my God! Stinky, look!
    Stinky: What?
    Max: Somebody's trying to break into your display case! (points at Sam)
    • Another instance has the two trying to distract Hugh Bliss.
    Sam: Distract Hugh Bliss for me!
    Max: Oh dear, I seem to be completely naked. I hope I don't have to bend over provocatively and-
    Sam: That's enough Max.
  • In SaGa Frontier, the shadow spell Hidebehind creates an illusion of the caster behind the enemy to provide the distraction.
  • Damian Wolfe in Mega Man Star Force 3 volunteers for this role without any outside input when Jack Corvus attacks Echo Ridge Elementary, even calling out to Geo and his band over the intercom to get their asses to the roof while he acts as a decoy. Pretty badass considering [A] he doesn't have too much combat experience, [B] he's the gardener and thus doesn't get into hot water that often, and [C] he's vulnerable to fire, which comprises much of Jack's arsenal.
  • One of the abilities you can pick up in Prototype directly invokes this: you can accuse someone else of being you in disguise, and then have the military open fire on them, all as a distraction.
  • Hitman makes use of this trope, especially in Blood Money, ranging from throwing coins near guards, to planting remote explosives and detonating them to slip past, it's a very useful game feature.
    • And as in all stealth games, the ever popular "Its a corpse. I'd better investigate"
  • In Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Kyle convinces Louis to invoke this trope.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, you can distract guards by using thieves or courtesans that you hire, throw money around them to gather civilians, or use a smoke bomb and assassinate them, all to get a chest or codex page. Who here keeps using the last one?
  • The Monkey Island series often used the "Look! A three-headed monkey!" line.
  • Can be utilised as a strategy in Team Fortress 2. For example, a common variation is to harass a target so that a Spy can get behind them to backstab them.
    • Spies and bonked Scouts can be very effective in distracting sentry fire (and their Engineers), so that other team-members can take them out.
    • The Spy's often-overlooked ability to disguise as a member of his own team can let him create a diversion for himself, disappearing behind a corner while disguised as a Medic or Sniper and waiting for the victim to give chase.
  • Before Scenario 29 of the Space Route in Shin Super Robot Wars, Londo Bell concocts a plan: create a diversion to let their forces sneak inside. The diversionary squad includes Ryusei, for whom making a big scene is a specialty.
  • In Warframe, this is the rationale for Survival missions - the player's cell has to distract the stage enemy while another group of Tenno, "Alpha Team", conducts a raid offscreen.
  • In Mass Effect 3's Citadel DLC, the team has to infiltrate a casino, and in order to disable some security devices, Shepard's teammate will distract guards to allow Shepard time to work. Distractions range from teammates turning up the cuteness, pretending to be drunk customers, recruiting the guards as possible Spectre candidates, standing in as food inspectors, berating the guards for being terrible at guarding, asking about a volus brothel upstairs, ranting about inhumane treatment of varren, pretending to cry, or in Javik's case, insulting their entire species, declaring that everyone in the building would be killed in his cycle because games of chance were illegal, or telling them that he is a Prothean, and demanding to know what they think of that.
  • Ace Attorney: In the final case of the second game, Maya is kidnapped by a hitman who demands Phoenix gives a non-guilty verdict to Matt Engarde. As a result, Phoenix and Edgeworth intentionally drag the trial out as long as they can, to find the truth and give the police enough time to try and locate Maya and her kidnapper.

    Web Comics 
  • Excellent example from Bob and George, during a fight with the titular Bob:
    Bob: Who are you?
    Mega Man: I'm a distraction!
    • And getting George into the time suit.
    • And while saving alternate Mike from the non-alternate Mynd, George explains to Mynd that he has to keep stalling him to let Protoman do his thing.
  • Another great example appears in this Ozy and Millie strip.
  • Yet another example of the same ilk, from Cheshire Crossing.
  • Looking for Group: In this strip, the (undead sociopath) Warlock Richard falls out of the sky (after being thrown by a minotaur) and lands face-first in the middle of a castle courtyard full of enemy soldiers. He stands up, dusts himself off, says "Excuse me, this is a diversion", and then proceeds to kill everyone within reach. While holding a bunny. What a jerk.Magnificent.
    Richard: Good evening. This is a diversion. (snaps his fingers and kills three soldiers by setting their heads on fire.) Say hello to my little friend. (holds up small innocent looking rabbit.) Now say hello to his larger, angrier friend. (points at huge Expy of a Tauren clobbering soldiers with a hammer bigger than they are.)
    Benn'joon: Very subtle. I wonder if they'll be able to figure out what our plan of attack is.
  • In Narbonic, Dave, Artie and Caliban are being chased by demons when Dave remarks, "We need a distraction!" Just then, the phone rings:
    Helen: Dave! Found you! How's things?
    Dave: I meant a distraction for the demons!
  • From Flintlockes Guide To Azeroth
    Flintlocke: What am I s'posed ta do?
    Bloodrose: Honestly, Flintlocke, you're a warrior spec'd for PVE. At best you're a distraction.
    Undressed Flintlocke, two minutes later: LOOKAT ME YEH SONSABITCHERS!!
  • In Norm Scott's Violence Man, the titular Violence Man is leading a group of thugs at gunpoint away from a restaurant they were trashing previously.
    Thug Leader: Psst! Ronald! We need a diversion!
    Ronald (another thug): We have "Scrabble" in the car.
    Thug Leader: Not for us, Ronald! For Violence Man! Distract him!
    Ronald: Got it. (deep breath) WE HAVE SCRABBLE IN THE CAR!!
    Violence Man: What? Where??
    Thug Leader: Close enough! Cheese it!
  • Seen in The Heroes of Middlecenter, as the quotes page shows.
  • In El Goonish Shive, there are multiple times where a character in need of a distraction will point offscreen and say "Hey, is that a demonic duck of some sort?", and shortly afterwards we see the demonic duck (although, as was explained later in the comic, he is not actually demonic).
    • Later on the duck actually gets some Character Development and has some impact on the plot. He's still a (unionized!) professional distraction, but sometimes they're useful.
      • On two occasions Sarah summons him but fails to use him — the first time she's as distracted by him as everyone else, the second time she's in a moving car. The duck is getting pretty pissed off at her by now.
  • Largo of Megatokyo provides the most epic distraction here and here. Yes it was intentional.
  • Sequential Art: "We'd need something to distract those shadow-things".
    • The squirrel girls pull a Paranoia Gambit in a game to keep Pip distracted and then disabled while their allies win the game.
  • In Anti-Heroes, Kaal attempts to provide a distraction so that Lana can get away from a vampire hunter. He does so by pointing in the same direction Lana is in and saying "Look over there!" Naturally, this is completely ineffective, but Kaal counts it as a success.
  • In a recent Girl Genius subplot, Gil and Tarvek distract Castle Heterodyne by pretending to fight one another for the hand of Agatha. Somewhat subverted in that for the last 26 pages they've done nothing but express interest in killing one another, and thus the pretend fight rapidly turns into an all-out brawl.
  • Florence in an early Freefall: "Helix Look! It's an obvious distraction!".
  • Roza: screams for help, and then climbs a tree while he's looking for the helper.
  • In Endstone, Herrik tells him not to look at the bottle.
  • In Minion Comics, Dingus uses a prostitute to distract guards while the base is on lock-down.
  • In 8-Bit Theater Red Mage casts EVERY KNOWN SPELL IN EXISTENCE to distract Sarda the sage long enough to give Black Mage time to cast Hadouken at him.
  • In Tales of the Questor, while the Junior Questors are madly fleeing the mad scientist, they stumble on his lab and the poor animals there. They regret that they can't free them, and think on how they need a distraction — and then realize that they can kill two birds with one stone.
  • Varden and Lei'ella do this in Inverloch when Acheron goes to talk to Aydensfell's Archmage and inadvertently takes they money they need to get rooms at an inn. Lei'ella reluctantly agrees to let Varden steal the fee and awkwardly tries flirting with the innkeep; Varden steps in pretending to be her exasperated husband.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-539, a small metallic disc which causes a distraction when thrown, with the distraction becoming more extreme the harder to distract the watchers are. The distraction can range from spontaneous Wardrobe Malfunctions to dangerous wild animals appearing from out of nowhere.
  • Neil does this in the episode "Gettin' High in Hyrule" by pointing and shouting "I'm distracting you!"
  • I'm distracting you so she can stab you!
  • Taken Up to Eleven by To Boldly Flee, in which Nostalgia Chick and Oancitizen put on a musical number with a song in which they declare themselves to be a distraction. And it was actually the villain who asked them to sing it (who even joins in!).
    • The best part was that the song's existence in-universe (and said villain's attachment to it) actually makes perfect sense. See While Rome Burns for details.
  • In Rainbow Dash Presents Captain Hook the Biker Gorilla the foals need a distraction that won't bring any attention to them. So Aurora starts a riot.
    " OH MY GAWD THEY'RE GOING TO GRIND US INTO RAINBOWS!" [Beat] "EVERYBODY PANIC!" [Foals start to panic]
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged Episode 2:
    'Piccolo: You'll need to distract him while I gather energy.
    Goku: Well, that's not so ba-...
    'Piccolo: [interrupting] For five Minutes.

    Western Animation 
  • In the many iterations of Scooby-Doo, plots would often involve this trope, often invoked word for word by Fred.
  • The Tick, "The Tick Vs. Arthur's Bank Account": "My name is Arthur, and this is my diversion: 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider went up the waterspout'..."
  • Kim Possible: Sidekick Ron Stoppable is the perpetual distraction, in yet another of this show's subversion of gender roles in action series.
  • In Drawn Together, "Clara's Dirty Little Secret", Foxxy Love successfully distracts the other housemates from chasing Clara by putting on a neckbrace and holding up a pie while illuminating it with a flashlight. This eventually prompts the response: "Ohhh, it's the old neckbrace-well-lit-pie diversion!"
  • The Simpsons Movie does this - Cletus Spuckler, better known as "Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel", distracts the villain with a thumb trick while dozens use a rope to escape Springfield.
    • As another example, in "Lisa's Rival" Bart's diversion is jumping up and down shouting "Hey everyone look over here at me!" Response: "It's Bart!" "And he's doing stuff!" Skinner even went on to say "Bart! Stop creating a diversion and get out of here!"
    • The episode "Bart the Fink" also has one with Superintendant Chalmers and Agnes Skinner returning home, and see Principal Skinner answer the door. After noticing the two of them together:
    Skinner: What I wouldn't give for something to distract this awkard moment...
    (Krusty comes flying by in his plane, screaming. Agnes and Chalmers both turn to look)
    Skinner: That'll do nicely!
  • The Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Adventures in Squirrel-Sitting" had Chip and Dale doing this. In drag. Singing "The Fat Cat Stomp". So Gadget could sneak around.
  • Played with in the Batman Beyond episode "Where's Terry?". Bruce Wayne and Max Gibson trace a missing Terry McGinnis' whereabouts to an abandoned subway system and need to make their way down a particular tunnel that is being zoned off by a construction crew. Bruce tells Max he will be the distraction and give her a chance to sneak in. Max agrees and goes off. Bruce then walks up to the construction crew and momentarily gains their attention by playing the part of a senile citizen while Max stealthily sneaks her way down the other tunnel. Just as Max is almost out of sight, Bruce 'worriedly' points her out to the construction crew who all then chase after her while he casually strolls through the construction area to finish the rescue mission by himself.
  • Inverted in the Family Guy episode "Wasted Talent", Peter needs to be drunk to play piano and they ran out of beer, so he and Lois crash an underage drinking party. The cops show up and bust them in the back yard. Peter handles it by telling Lois "Look over there." She does. He then tells the cops "Run!". They do.
  • Danny Phantom in its first episode where Danny initiated a Food Fight as distraction in order for him and his friends to sneak out and stop a ghost.
  • Used on Darkwing Duck when Gosalyn needs to save her dad from being killed by a primitive tribe's champion (she forgot to clean the quicksand out of his gas gun):
    Gosalyn: We need a distraction.
    Honker: Don't look at me. (Gilligan Cut to him popping out of a bush with a flashlight) Look at me! Look at me!
  • Played with on Transformers Animated. Sentinel Prime tells Jetfire and Jetstorm that he needs a diversion to get past the villain's guards. The twins aren't very firm on the concept of "diversion" but seem to have the idea that it means for to be blowing something up, so they opt to blow up the guards they are supposed to be distracting (although in the end they settle for exhausting).
    Jetfire: Are they looking distracted enough to you, brother?
    Jetstorm: Big one... still wriggles a little.
  • In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, at one point the plan calls for April to get inside a building so she can access their security system. Since this means the guards have to not be paying attention, Casey is assigned the job of distraction, which he accomplishes by smashing up the lobby in his best crazed-loon persona.
  • In the Super Friends episode, "Rub Three Times For Disaster," the villain needs to recover a magic lamp which would make him invincible, but the Super Friends have in it their possession at that moment. That leads to the question, how do you draw the attention of such megapowerful Super Heroes away from their headquarters? By causing four nuclear missiles to launch and have them target scattered major cities around the world to force them to scurry all over to stop them, that's how!
  • In A Pinky and the Brain Christmas, the titular mice are at Santa's Workshop, as part of their scheme. They're found out by an elf. How does Pinky divert him? 'Look! A decoy!'
  • In The Problem Solverz episode "Magic Clock", the gang plans to distract Katrina Rad and destroy the magic clock by having Roba kiss her. Roba refuses to do this and instead performs a highly surreal rap number to get the job done.
  • American Dad!: Stan needs to access a computer to find Francine's birth parents, so he sets Roger on fire for a diversion.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy uses a phone app to distract the Schwatzentiger so the others can escape.
  • In Dan Vs., Chris had to make a diversion. This is what he came up with:
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King", the villain's "distractions" include tampering with the city traffic system and causing a subway crash, acts that could quite reasonably be considered a main plot in of themselves.

    Real Life 
  • In 1907, baseball player Germany Schaefer was part of an attempted double steal (with runners on first and third, the runner on first tries to steal second, hoping to draw a throw whereby the guy on third can steal home). The catcher didn't bite, so on the next pitch, Schaefer, now on second, turned around and stole first base, again hoping to distract the defense so the guy on third could score. As with the Firefly example above, it didn't work; the guy on third just stood there, as bewildered as everyone else. No problem; the pitch after that, Schaefer just turned around and stole second again. Supposedly, it finally worked on this attempt. (MLB rule 7.08(i) now disallows running the bases in reverse to confuse the opponent [or to make a mockery of the game]; if it were tried nowadays, the umpire would call "time" and declare the runner out.)
  • Yet another example: at the end of a college basketball game, with one team up by one and ten seconds left on the clock, one player dropped to all fours and started barking like a dog, distracting the other team's thrower enough to allow a teammate to intercept the pass and lay up the game-winner.
    • There was another version of this wherein one player began to perform a complex gymnastics routine at half court, while the rest of his team scored a goal behind the backs of their stunned (and distracted) opponents.
    • The Harlem Globetrotters occasionally used their routines for this purpose when they still played "straight" games (before they switched to only playing the Generals).
  • The Portias Spider hunts other spiders. One of its tactics is to grab an insect and throw it into another spider's web. While the other spider is busy biting and wrapping up the insect, Portias attacks it from behind. It will also attack two spiders in the middle of mating. Better yet, this is only one of many tactics the spider will use. It tailors its strategy to each individual victim, and they all fit under this trope.
  • As a snowboarding instructor, a favorite method of helping someone figure out their stance is the "which foot do you step forward with when pushed" method. Of course, the method has to be explained so the instructor doesn't come across as a Jerk Ass by randomly shoving a new snowboarder. Once they agree to being pushed over, it is explained that it won't work now that they know it's coming while another instructor sneaks up behind the new snowboarder and pushes him/her forward. It Only Works Once per lesson though.
  • Late in World War II, American and Filipino forces launched a raid at Cabanatuan to rescue 500 POWs being held by the Japanese. Part of their approach required them to cross a field that would leave them exposed, so a twin-engined USAAF P-61 Black Widow buzzed the camp to draw the guards' attention. The pilot first shut off and restarted one of his engines, causing it to backfire while he lost altitude, giving the impression that the guards were about to witness a plane crash. After repeating this a few times, he decided to just do some aerobatics over the camp, captivating the guards' attention until their still unnoticed attackers had gotten into position.
  • As shown in the documentary Full Color Football: In 1959, the National Football League was catching heat from Congress about why they were refusing to expand to new cities, with rumblings about anti-trust suits. Then-Commissioner Bert Bell used the announcement of the founding of the American Football League as a shield. ("See? We don't have to expand! There's eight new teams right there!"). They expanded to Minneapolis and Dallas the next year anyway, in an attempt to undermine the AFL.


Throwing The DistractionDistraction TropesWild Goose Chase
Unnecessary RoughnessTrying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty    
Weird CurrencyImageSource/PhotographyWhat a Piece of Junk
Well, This Is Not That TropeComedy TropesShow Some Leg

alternative title(s): We Need A Diversion
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