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Ambushing Enemy

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"M. Bush. This bizarre creature is only found in the jungles of Lavalava Island. It pretends to be a bush, but it's actually a hunter waiting to surprise prey. I don't wanna be prey. Do you?"
Goombario, Paper Mario 64

Ambushing Enemies are creatures that hide in the environment and never fully appear until you walk close to them, at which point they suddenly lunge out and attack you. Most usually hide within walls, floors or ceilings, sometimes in holes and sometimes just melding in and out of solid matter; other examples may instead hide in shrubbery, turn invisible, phase in and out of reality, or anything else that allows them to pass unnoticed until you're right on top of them.

These enemies can be extremely difficult to deal with, as you can't target them until you're within their attacking range. This is especially true when they guard narrow ledges or passageways, further restricting the space you have.

Subtrope of Stealthy Mook. For enemies that hide by disguising themselves as something benign that lures you into investigating it, see Chest Monster. In cases where Ambushing Enemies hid underground, they will often overlap with Mole Monster. Compare Living Structure Monster; there, the structure itself is the monster while in this trope, the monster hides inside the wall. Also see Empty Room Until the Trap and Whack-a-Monster.


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  • ANNO: Mutationem: The Trans Grub at Freeway 42 hides itself underneath the ground until it senses something on top and then quickly emerges to swallow the target whole.
  • Castlevania:
    • In the first game, the Fish Man pops out of the water in sewer-based levels the moment you get too close to the edge of an overhang.
    • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: The Kyoma Demon monster hides in a few of the many mirrors in the Inner Quarters area and mimics your movements in the background when you pass by it; stand in front of the mirror it's hiding in for too long, and it pops out to swipe at you with his sword.
    • Haunted Castle has enemies that sprouted from trees, who were almost impossible to see, in the first level.
  • Cave Story: Sandcrocs hide in the sand and attack if you walk over them. You can't shoot them until they pop out, and they don't do that until you're standing in their bite range, so killing them isn't really an option either.
  • Grabbed by the Ghoulies: There are haunted doors, paintings and chairs that look like ordinary furniture until you approach them and they attack.
  • The Legend of Spyro: Bulb spiders have bodies spotted like the mushrooms of the swamp area where they're found, and legs that resemble leaves. They usually hide head-first into the group to mimic regular fungi, but when Spyro enters the room where they're found they pop out and attack.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Deku Scrubs and Mad Scrubs are recurring enemies that hide underneath bushes until approached.
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link:
      • In Saria and Darunia Towns, some of the townspeople turn into Aches after you talk to them. These are fairly easy to avoid, though — just... don't talk to the random townspeople. They very rarely have anything interesting to say anyway.
      • Deelers remain hidden in the canopy of forest stages until Link comes close, and then quickly rappel down to attack.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Torch slugs often hang on the ceilings of the Goron Mines, dropping down on Link's head when he passes underneath.
    • Starting in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, octoroks remain hidden underground and use an object on their head, usually a bush or a rock, to blend in with the environment, revealing themselves only when they emerge to take a shot at Link.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
      • Chuchus often hide underground or in trees with nothing to mark their presence, and pop out onto the surface or drop down to the ground when Link passes close.
      • Lizalfos can change their coloring like chameleons, and often use this ability to blend with their surroundings while lying down. Lizalfos can often be found lying in ambush in this manner, using their cryptic coloring to try to avoid notice. Notably, unlike other enemies, these hiding lizalfos will not instantly charge forward when they see Link; instead, they remain still and hold off attacking until Link is right on top of them, with the only sign that they're aware of his presence being a brief tilt of their heads. They can be fairly easy to see when in the open, as their mimicry only allows them to take on a more-or-less solid coloring, but can be very difficult to spot when hiding in tall grass or in bushes or when clinging to rocky outcrops.
      • Some Bokoblins stay crouched down in areas of tall grass, usually on the side of roads, staying still and hidden until they can spring out and ambush passing travelers such as Link.
      • Several areas in the game are littered with the wrecks of ruined, corroded Guardians. These are mostly just scenery, but a few remain functional enough to shoot lasers even though they cannot move. These decayed Guardians typically remain inactive and indistinguishable from the inert husks around them until Link comes close to them, at which point they power up and start firing. A few Guardian graveyards also hide some fully intact and mobile Guardian Stalkers; while most Stalkers roam about openly and attack Link as soon as they see him, these ones play dead and pretend to be broken down until Link either approaches or hits them with a ranged attack, which will prompt them to drop the ruse and attack.
      • Some Stal- enemies, skeletal versions of regular foes, pretend to be inert piles of bones in order to ambush Link, and will only spring up to attack when he's right on top of them.
      • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom adds Evermeans, treelike enemies that spend most of their time still and rooted in the dirt, looking precisely the same as regular flora up until the moment when Link wanders close enough that they uproot themselves and attack.
    • In some games, Wallmasters — giant disembodied hands that carry you back to the beginning of the level if they grab you — hide on ceilings, visible only by their shadow, and snatch you if you pass beneath them. A similar enemy, Floormasters, sometimes hide within floors (as in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker) or become invisible (a few do this in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) to ambush Link. However, in other Zelda games, both enemies are often merely Mook Bouncers that move around normally and quite visibly.
  • Mega Man Legends 2 has Shoebafun, Reaverbots that hide in the floor and don't come out until you're on top of them, at which point they pop out of the floor and clamp shut on your legs. The only way to avoid them is to either jump exactly when you see one coming up or button mash like hell once they've got you.

    Action Games 
  • Drol: Try to descend through some of the hatches the third mission and a serpent will rise straight up from the floor underneath.
  • Haunting Starring Polterguy: The arms in the underworld only come out when Polterguy passes by them.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Splatterhouse: In the original game, certain mirrors are possessed. When you pass them, Rick's reflection suddenly turns and jumps out, attacking you.

    Fighting Games 
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: The Bucculus enemies in the Subspace Emissary mode hide within the ground, with only their lips visible, and latch themselves onto players who pass above them and begin draining their health.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Alien vs. Predator: The Xenomorphs are very good at hiding in walls, ceilings and corners, especially in their own hives, where they will hide in plain sight until the walls and ceilings start to move.
  • Dark Forces Saga: One a level requires you to go through a sewer infested with the tentacle monsters from A New Hope, which just jump out of the muddy water and attack you.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The Cave Leech is alien ambush predator that embeds its flesh sack of a body in the ceilings of caverns, waits in the darkness for prey to wander by and reaches out with a grasping tentacle equipped with a three-pronged claw to grab and drag them to the ceiling where they will be devoured by its multiple smaller mouth tentacles. The only warning of its presence in a cave that is not properly illuminated is seeing the tentacle come down before it grabs you (if you're lucky) and a soft, creepy hissing noise (though often, by the time you hear the hissing, it's too late). There is even a difficulty modifier in some missions, the Cave Leech Cluster, that causes them to appear much more often.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon: The second expansion adds "Scarecrows", enemies which hide in puddles of darkness on the ground, only visible by way of very slight distortion in the air above them and the fact that the "puddle" grows slightly when you get close. If you step or even jump over it, they drag you in to start clawing at you.
  • Half-Life 2: In Ravenholm, some zombies disguise themselves as normal corpses among the piles lying around everywhere, only getting up after you're right next to them.
  • Marathon: In the mod Gemini Station, one of the Pfhor ship levels has flying saucer-shaped Attack Drones disguised as ceiling light fixtures.
  • Nitemare 3D had two types of statues that came to life when you got close enough, one for the stone-walled areas and one for the hedge mazes.

  • Hollow Knight has the Fool Eaters, Man-Eating Plant things that hide in not just floors but walls and ceilings. They only emerge briefly when you enter their attack range, which makes it slightly tricky to grind them to refill your Soul meter.
  • Metroid
    • Super Metroid: Alcoons hide underground and spring up in front of Samus to impede her progress.
    • Metroid: Other M has the Grippers, which pretend to be random flowers growing in the background before jumping out and attacking when you walk past.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: Water dragons hide within waterfalls, emerging only when lunging out to ambush Shantae when she passes in front of them.


  • Crystal Caves has a purple snake-dinosaur thing that's usually just a small purple bump in the wall, but if you get too close it emerges, snaps its jaws once and hides back.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns has an enemy appropriately named "Mimic" and looks like a plant bush. It only appears in the sunset levels and appears as part of the shadowy scenery until the Kongs approach it, at which point it springs to life and runs at them.
  • In Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, there's a plant-like monster that lurks within tunnels in the walls and will try to eat Klonoa if he gets too close. A Moo needs to be thrown in its way as bait in order to get past.
  • In Sly 2: Band of Thieves, at Canada, enemies will occasionally hide in the outhouses to immediately burst out once Sly and his teammates get close enough.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario World: Blarggs lurk in the lava pits Mario has to use skull rafts to ride over and periodically lunge out.
    • Yoshi's Story: Petal Guys are Shy Guys who wear flowers on their heads and hide in the ground. When doing so, only the flowers are visible and they're indistinguishable from regular flower patches, and only pop out to attack when Yoshi comes close.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Gomola Speed has Bamper, a long enemy that emerges from some of the wall tiles in Act 10 when Gorm approaches.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Iron Marines: Grimcrushers are Fell that disguise themselves as rocks at first glance, until the player either gets near or an Event Flag is triggered.
  • Pikmin:
    • Sheargrubs and Shearwigs hide underground when at rest until captains or Pikmin walk above them, at which point the whole swarm comes burrowing out of the soil to attack.
    • Skitterleaves and Desiccated Skitterleaves are insects who adapted to mimic leaves, much like real-life leaf insects. Their mimetism is excellent — when they're sitting still with their legs hidden, which is most of the time, they're almost completely impossible to tell apart from the regular leaves that lie around the game world as decor. This is less of a problem with the regular Skitterleaves — Cowardly Mooks who will book it the moment you or your Pikmin walk close to them — than with the Desiccated Skitterleaves — ambush predators that will devour any Pikmin who stumble by their hiding places.
    • Snagrets are burrowing snake-like animals that hide underground and emerge to attack. They stay beneath the surface by default, with nothing to mark their presence, until they're triggered into bursting into the open when Pikmin or captains walk past.
    • Pikmin 2:
      • The creeping chrysanthemum is a kind of voracious Man-Eating Plant that normally stays buried underground, leaving only its eyestalks, trunk and mouth above the surface. These look a lot like the chrysanthemum's harmless relatives, the margaret flowers it's often found amongst (the only differences are that chrysanthemum flowers lack leaves and the smaller two flowers have an eye each in their center), and as such it can be very difficult to realize one of these things is around until a seemingly harmless plant bursts out of the ground and starts gobbling up your Pikmin.
      • In caves, it's common for enemies to cling unseen to the ceiling and fall down when players or Pikmin pass beneath, something especially dangerous when the ambush is triggered by a line of unsupervised Pikmin carrying spoils back to the ship. Enemies encountered in this manner can range from harmless wogpoles to common nuisances such as dwarf bulborbs to potentially very dangerous foes such as wollywogs, armored cannon larvae, volatile dweevils or bulbears.
  • StarCraft:
    • Various guns, flamethrowers, and missile launchers appear out of the floor and walls during the indoor missions.
    • Most of the Zerg ground forces can bury themselves to prepare an ambush, and the Lurker can even attack from underground.
  • Total War: On the campaign map, armies standing close enough to or within a thickly forested area or in a specialized ambushing stance can turn themselves invisible to enemy armies, usually at the cost of becoming unable to move, and ambush any other army that comes their way.

  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Mom's Hands and Mom's Dead Hands hide on the ceiling until you pass beneath them, at which point they slam down on you, but Mom will let out a sadistic laugh when you enter a room with one to warn you.
    • Needles and Pasties are worm enemies that aren't visible until they jump out of the ground at you. They do leave a short Worm Sign just before they emerge, however.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Bug Fables: Some enemies pretend to be regular, inert objects until the party passes by them, at which point they drop their disguse and attack. Jellyshrooms and Bloatshrooms pretend to be mushrooms, Cactilings masquerade as cacti, Wardens take form of Roach statue heads, Leafbug Ninjas imitate grass sprouts, and Plumplings disguise as pumpkins.
  • Dark Souls: The Chameleon spell allows the player to turn into a mobile piece of scenery. Clever use of the spell will mean that enemy players will have a near-impossible time finding you... until you jump out of apparently nowhere for a surprise attack.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout: New Vegas: Spore carriers usually hide in thick vegetation, becoming undetectable by the compass or V.A.T.S. until engaged, and typically wait for players to literally stumble into them before attacking.
    • Fallout 4: In the Far Harbor DLC, hermit crabs hide inside wrecked trucks indistinguishable from regular scenery, until you get close and the crab pops out to attack. Similarly, anglers hide themselves within patches of aquatic plants, waiting to jump out and attack anyone passing close to their hiding spots.
    • Fallout 76: Floaters hide by burrowing beneath the ground and jump out to ambush prey passing above.
  • Final Fantasy XI: Chigoe bugs are almost impossible to visually distinguish from the dirt and grass underneath them, and unlike most monsters don't have their names appear above their heads until they're attacking you.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Shadows, the most common type of Heartless, and Neo-Shadows, their upgraded form, can become literal shadows on the floor, which makes them impossible to hit until they come out to attack. Same goes for Floods, their Unversed equivalent. In Kingdom Hearts III, you can use Water magic to force them out.
  • Mother 3: Pseudoors look just like normal doors but will attack you if you try to open them.
  • Paper Mario 64: M. Bushes are enemies that pretend to be regular shrubbery in the Jade Jungle, but will attack Mario when he inspects them. Their name is a pun on "bush" and "ambush".
  • Pokémon X and Y has Pokémon ambush you from above in caves, though if you're paying attention you can see their shadows in advance. (Some caves make this easier than others.) Victory Road also has flying Pokémon occasionally swoop in on you in certain outdoor areas, and this can include encounters with the pseudo-legendary Hydreigon.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: Some of the Temple Guardians in the Kuei-jin haven hide in wait behind the paper wall screens and attack when you walk past. The initial jump through the wall is scripted, leaving them standing around in confusion if you happen to be cloaked with Obfuscate at the time.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: A number of the Unique Monsters won't show themselves until you walk extremely close to where they're hiding, at which point they'll leap out of the water, drop from the ceiling or sky, or climb up the edge of a cliff.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • Axelay: Stage 4 has a few enemies hiding in pods, who spring out when you get too close.

    Survival Horror 
  • Golden Light:
    • Hangers will hang from the ceiling and attack you when you walk under them.
    • Dors disguise themselves as false doors and bite you when you walk past, inflicting bleeding.
  • Silent Hill 4: The Room: Wall Snatchers appear suddenly out of the walls when the protagonist gets close, doing a substantial amount of damage when they hit the player and knocking them back a fair distance. There are hundreds of them hiding in the walls of a very long, very narrow escalator.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Minecraft: Silverfish hide inside of stone blocks. They'll stay there indefinitely, unless you break the block. They'll also swarm out if a nearby Silverfish is attacked.

Non-Video Game Examples:

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • There are multiple kinds of enemies that pretend to be inanimate objects or part of the scenery, and attack when unsuspecting animals or adventurers enter striking range:
      • Mimics can flawlessly take the appearance of any inanimate object, waiting patiently until someone walks close by or tries to use them. Once that happens, the treasure chest, chair, or lump of rock suddenly sprouts fangs and tentacles and tries to eat you.
      • Lurkers above are manta ray-like creatures that flatten themselves against room or cavern ceilings, where they become essentially invisible unless someone happens to be paying extremely close attention to the roof. When prey passes below them, the lurker above descends upon it, smothers it and eats. Trappers work in much the same way, but pretend to be the floor instead.
      • Stunjelly is a transparent ooze that plasters itself on cave, tunnel and dungeon walls, and tries to engulf and digest anyone who leans against its home.
      • Piercers look like stalactites, and hunt by dropping onto people passing below in an attempt impale them. Ropers pretend to be stalagmites on the floor, and sprout tentacles and a mouth full of fangs when prey enters striking range. The roper largely replaced the piercer after it appeared, but the 5th Edition Monster Manual includes both and notes the piercer to be, in fact, the roper's larval form.
    • Incorporeal creatures can lurk inside objects and listen for enemies (such as the player characters) to approach. Some creatures, such as the spectral lurker, specialize in ambush hunting using precisely this technique.
  • Pathfinder: Grikkitogs — parasites from the Plane of Earth that infest and possess earth and stone — become indistinguishable from their host rock once implanted, but can manifest mouths from any stone surface in range. Imagine being a small animal seeking shelter in a crevice or a rock climber reaching for a grip, only for what seemed to be an ordinary outcropping of stone to sprout jagged teeth and take a bite from you. Now imagine being an adventurer trying to fight this thing, only for every floor, wall, and ceiling in sight to become a mass of jagged teeth.

Alternative Title(s): Ambush Enemy, Hiding Enemy, Ambushing Mook