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Cacophony Cover-Up

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"Loud noises... Sometimes you make being a ninja so easy."

You've got to do something stealthily. The problem is, the thing you want to do is going to make a lot of noise, and you cannot silence it in any way.

What to do? Drown it out with a bigger noise. You can create it yourself, or just wait until something loud happens nearby and make your move then.

This follows the same logic as Needle in a Stack of Needles, Lost in a Crowd, and I Am Spartacus, except those are covering up objects and people, not actions.

By definition, this also involves Starts Stealthily, Ends Loudly. Compare Covering for the Noise. If one makes a lot of noise doing something that should be stealthy, it's With Catlike Tread.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka begins the second chapter, "Leafhopper," by having the anarchist assassin Heihachi Arikawa convince Kametaro Aokusa to join him for a drink to learn some things about the latter's scoop, Toshiko Tomura. Arikawa notes that the dingy bar he brings Aokusa to is nearly empty because the noise from a nearby industrial pile driver drives people away. Aokusa has slowly realized what Arikawa plans to do, but by then it's too late to escape, and Arikawa shoots Aokusa right as the pile driver hits the ground. For added measure, Arikawa then disposes of the body by putting it under the pile driver's piston.
  • Subverted in one Case Closed case. The murder happens at a Disneyland-esque theme park where a fireworks display happens after sundown. Nearby eyewitnesses (or earwitnesses, rather) report hearing a whistling noise and then a bang right before the body was discovered with gun wounds. However, it turns out that the killer had whistled through the hole of a yen coin and then shot the victim before the fireworks started in order make it seem like an attempt to mask the gunshot with fireworks; it was an elaborate ruse to confuse people as to when exactly the murder happened.
  • GITS: 2nd Gig. In a flashback showing how Saito met the Major, the Cold Sniper times his shot to coincide with the clock chime of a bell tower. In that case the idea is to confuse where the shot came from, rather than the fact that it was fired.
  • In the anime of Golgo 13, a Mafia boss sends an army of mooks up to the roof when he sees the roof guards missing on the security camera. Meanwhile Duke is Fast-Roping down the side of the building; as the mooks empty their guns into the air conditioning room (the only cover on the roof) Duke is using the gunfire to cover his own shots as he guns down the Mafia boss.
  • A fake construction crew is used in the first episode of Gunslinger Girl to cover an assault on a terrorist safehouse.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, the Yamainu use the cover of festival fireworks to conceal the noise of exploding their way into the Sonozaki bunker.
  • Lupin III used a fake construction crew to cover the sound of his other goons breaking into a vault.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: In "The Malay Penguin", the Penguin rents the theatre next to a museum and hires a lot of tap dancers to stage a rehearsal so the sound and vibration will constantly trip the alarms in the museum.
  • Looney's betrayal of Michael O'Sullivan in Road to Perdition is preceded by a big band starting up a rousing rendition of "The Saints Go Marching In."
  • Tintin and The Picaros. Tintin turns up at Captain Haddock's hotel room and switches on the radio to high volume. It's playing one of Bianca Castafiore's operettas and as a Running Gag in the series is how much they both loathe her music, Haddock immediately asks Tintin if he's gone mad. Tintin then proceeds to point out the various hidden microphones in the room.

    Comic Strips 
  • Madam & Eve: In this comic, Gwen and Abigail keep using loud noises to prevent Eve from hearing about the government's recommended minimum wage rates for domestic workers.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • In Coco, Miguel waits for a firework to go off before breaking a window to get into De La Cruz's mausoleum.

    Film — Live Action 
  • All the President's Men. Woodward comes to Bernstein's apartment, insists on turning on some loud classical music, and communicates with Bernstein by typing notes on his typewriter after being warned that their apartments are bugged. The piece we hear is Vivaldi's Concerto in C for Two Trumpets.
  • The protagonist of The American is secretly building a custom-made rifle in a small Italian town. At one stage he has to hit a metal disc with a ball hammer, so waits till the church bells start ringing.
  • The Art of War (2000). A triad gangster turns up the stereo before torturing a female agent for information.
  • In Bad Times at the El Royale, Darlene uses her singing and clapping to cover up the sound of her partner prising up the floorboards in her room.
  • In Bank Shot, El prevents the guards from noticing the sound of the approaching truck by revving a very noisy motorbike outside the bank.
  • Big Driver: Just before she kills Ramona, Tess turns up the volume on Ramona's stereo to mask the sound of the gunshots.
  • The Bourne Identity. When Bourne is being tracked through tall grass by Clive Owen's Cold Sniper, Bourne lets off a shotgun, disturbing some very noisy birds, and runs for cover while the ensuing cacophony covers his footsteps.
  • An unusual example in The Breakfast Club, but this is a case of covering something up with a cacophony. Bender crashes through the ceiling; Vernon of course hears and comes into the library to investigate. Bender hides under Claire's place at the the table, but hits his head and lets out a cry of pain. Andrew rapidly taps loudly on the table as a distraction. Then Bender tries to stick his face between Claire's knees. Claire reacts as would be expected, and all four teens begin coughing to drown out Bender's further cries as she kicks at him.
  • Brute Force (1947): The cons in the machine start pounding on metal to cover up the sound of The Stool Pigeon Wilson getting attacked by Joe's men.
  • Colombiana. A SWAT team is raiding Cataleya's apartment and makes an explosive entry. At the same time Cataleya uses an explosive charge to blow a hole through a wall to make her escape into the lift shaft.
  • In The Criminal, the prisons in Wing B create a deafening racket to cover up the sound of Clobber's assault of Kelly.
  • A variation in Daredevil (2003). The title character has to sleep in a sensory deprivation tank due to his Super-Hearing. On waking up, he then has to turn on his stereo so he can focus on his Morning Routine without distraction.
  • In The Departed, one gangster is shown out in the street, tossing cherry-bombs, apparently for fun. We realize in the next scene that he was covering for the sounds of gunfire.
  • Enemy at the Gates. Vasily Zaytzev's Establishing Character Moment where he dispatches five Germans with five shots, purposefully timed to coincide with artillery explosions.
  • Entrapment. A clock's chimes are used to mask the sounds of a break-in.
  • Final Exam: The Gammas fake a mass shooting so that some of them can cheat on a test.
  • The Godfather:
    • In the first movie when Michael goes to shoot Sollozzo and McCluskey in the restaurant, he waits for a stopping subway to be at its loudest before he shoots.
    • The Godfather Part II - young Vito waits for Don Fanucci in his apartment hallway and shoots him as fireworks go off in the festival outside.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • Three men are sneaking up to Blondie's room as a Confederate army column marches by. Unfortunately the column comes to an abrupt halt just as a spur jingles, alerting Blondie.
    • In the prisoner of war camp run by Angel Eyes, he has a band of captured Confederate soldiers play music to cover the sound of his men torturing Tuco. All the prisoners know what's happening and cry as a result.
  • In Grand Slam, Gregg uses the sound of the fireworks going off for Carnival to cover the noise of him using nitroglycerine to blow the door on the safe.
  • The Gray Man (2022)
    • At the start of the movie, it's arranged for Sierra Six to shoot his target during a fireworks display in Bangkok, though the protagonist elects not to fire and instead takes out his target and bodyguards hand-to-hand, concluding with a visually spectacular fight on a fireworks barge.
    • Sierra Six is assigned to guard the young niece of his handler. Someone breaks in and tries to assassinate her while she's playing Silver Bird on her record player, though she still hears the ruckus of Sierra Six fighting him. At the end of the movie she's being held prisoner, but finds a note from Sierra Six tucked into her Silver Bird record, telling her to play it loud. She does so as he runs about shooting all her guards.
  • In The Great Escape, they do this at least twice. Once, with singing "Twelve Days Of Christmas". When starting the tunnel and needing to break a thick piece of slate, some of the prisoners pound some stakes into the ground with mallets (for their vegetable gardens that are part of the distraction as well).
  • The Temple of Doom Wu Han tries to assist Indiana during a standoff, but one of Lao Che's goons shoots him when champagne bottles are being popped open.
  • Inglorious Basterds: as the besieged sniper scene of "Stoltz der Nation" (Pride of a Nation) begins, Zoller, a Nazi war hero and the subject/star of the propaganda film, goes to the projection booth to flirt with Shoshana (a Jewish woman posing as a gentile theater owner), she rudely tells him to go away. He angrily storms in and tells he's had enough of her rejections. She tells him they can sit and talk, but he has to lock the door behind him, and as he turns around, she pulls out a pistol and shoots him, with Hitler's entourage and the other Nazi guests being none the wiser due to the film's massive gunfight scene. When she ducks down to check on him, he pulls out his side arm and shoots her back, his shots also drowned out by the film's sound effects.
  • Used for an Overt Rendezvous in The Ipcress File. Harry Palmer and Colonel Dalby meet with shady agents at a bandstand in a park to seal a deal regarding the proto-proton scattering device. The loud marching music played by the band indeed drowns out their talk.
  • The Jackal. As federal agents search the house he's hiding in, the Jackal sets the timer on a stereo to play loud music, which covers his shooting them with a silenced submachine gun as they rush to investigate the noise.
  • James Bond:
    • Quantum of Solace: After chasing the MI6 mole who freed Mr. White and shot at M into a belltower, Bond yanks on the bell rope so the noise of the church bell will cover him running up the stairs, preventing the man from plotting his exact position.
    • No Time to Die: In Jamaica, Felix Leiter asks James Bond if they can go somewhere quiet to talk. Gilligan Cut to them in a nightclub, where the noise would make it harder to be overheard.
  • Law Abiding Citizen. Clyde shows his cellmate how to use the remote to turn up the volume on the stereo he's been given, then bloodily stabs him to death with a steak bone under cover of loud rock music and the other prisoners shouting in outrage.
  • In The Man Who Knew Too Much there is an attempted assassination during a concert, using a cymbal crash to cover the sound of the gunshot.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series
    • Referenced in Mission: Impossible II: "The generators will cover the sound of Hunt's break in."
      • Nyah's theft of the necklace early in the movie involves a similar trick. To cover the sound of her high heels as she runs to the room where the necklace is kept, she only runs while dancers downstairs are dancing, making their own heels-on-floor noise.
    • In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, assassins preparing to shoot the Austrian chancellor during a performance of Turandot time their shots for the climax of the aria "Nessun Dorma", at a point when the audience would erupt in applause and drown out any bullets.
  • In one of the most famous heists of the Olsen-banden (Olsen's Gang) film series, Olsen and his gang performs a daring break-in of the Royal Opera during a performance of the danish classic, Elverhøj. They have to break through several sealed doors to get where they're going, and carefully time every action to coincide with appropriate musical cover. (Setting off dynamite charges during cymbal clashes, running concrete-drills during woodwind sections, etc.)
  • In One Foot in Hell, Ivers and Stu use the noise of the cattle herd being driven through town to cover the sounds of their shots when they murder the storekeeper and the hotel clerk.
  • In P2, when the police arrive to check out a 911 call at the eponymous parking garage, the kidnapper blasts Christmas music over the speakers to drown out the heroine's screams for help from the locked trunk of a car.
  • The Public Enemy (1931): When Tom, Matt, and the others are hiding in a safe house, they briefly get tense when they hear a rat-a-tat-tat sound outside the window — only to see that there's a coal truck emptying coal in the street. But it turns out a rival gang has set up both the coal truck and several machine gun turrets in a nearby building. They actually wait until the next day when Tom and Matt leave the building and have the coal truck dump more coal, which puts the two off guard when the guns fire at them for real.
  • Road to Perdition. Michael Sullivan enters a hotel to confront a mob accountant, leaving his son in the car as a lookout. His son then sees Professional Killer Harlen Maguire crossing the road, and honks the car horn in warning. Sullivan doesn't hear it as the accountant's teletype machine is chattering — it's not clear if this is deliberate, though everything else the accountant does is clearly meant to delay Sullivan until Maguire arrives.
  • The aliens in A Quiet Place attack any unnatural sound, so to talk verbally Lee takes Marcus to the waterfall where the falling and crashing water drowns out their voices. It serves as a Chekhov's Gun for when Evelyn, holding a crying baby, hides behind an overflow of water gushing down from the floor above.
  • Averted in The Russia House. Sean Connery's character is given some basic spycraft instruction, and is told that running showers or playing music loudly won't work against modern listening devices.
  • In Scarface (1983), the infamous chainsaw scene is preceded by the Toad's female associate turning up the volume on the hotel room's TV.
  • Shanghai Grand: The assassination of Ding-Lik, the film's deuteragonist, took place precisely at the stroke of midnight during New Year's Eve 1934, where Lik and his entourage gets wiped out in a Gangland Drive-By via machine-guns, which is perfectly masked by the fireworks going off and the cheering crowd outside.
  • The Shawshank Redemption: Andy Dufresne uses thunder to drown out his banging on the pipes with a rock, to break through them in order to escape.
  • Shoot 'Em Up. A Baby Factory is located on top of a heavy metal rock club, to cover the babies crying. The protagonists discover the location of the nursery after noticing that the baby who's the Living MacGuffin of the movie stops crying whenever rock music is played, because it's familiar.
  • In the movie A Shot in the Dark, an attempt at murder is made at a nightclub during a flamenco dance, with the gunshot being timed to coincide with the dancer's boot tap.
  • The Silence (2019). While trapped in the pharmacy with the vesps who swarm and attack anything that makes noise, Hugh and his daughter set off the fire sprinkler system and flee as the vesps flap about screeching. This serves as a Chekhov's Gun for the Battle in the Rain when the cultists kidnap his daughter; Hugh and the others are able to chase after them and get her back because the thunder and rain only confuse the vesps.
  • In Sinners and Saints (2010) the villains are playing a record loudly to cover up their torture session. However this also means they don't hear two detectives entering the house until they interrupt events.
  • Sleepers (1996). Gangbangers execute a man on the approach area of an airport, waiting till an airliner comes in to land before opening fire.
  • In one scene in Snatched (2017), Emily needs to smash a lock with a hammer. Some men in the other room are watching Association Football; she waits until they're all cheering to smash the lock.
  • In Sorry, Wrong Number, George is told to commit the murder as the train is going by the apartment, so that if the victim screams, she won't be heard through the open window.
  • Three Days of the Condor. The chattering of 1970's era teletypes and printers cover the sound of the hit squad with their silenced submachine guns attacking a CIA research station.
  • In The Trip Across Paris, which is set in World War II during the Occupation of Paris, main protagonist Marcel (Bourvil) has to play accordion to cover the screams of a pig being slaughtered by Jambier (Louis de Funès), since Jambier is a Black Market butcher and grocer who wants to avoid attracting attention either from patrolling German soldiers or Les Collaborateurs.
  • In We Too Together, a child psychologist has Rob wear headphones playing music so she can discuss his autism diagnosis with his father.
  • In a Dutch movie a member of La Résistance disassembles his bunk and uses the parts as improvised tools to break out of a Nazi cell block. Unfortunately the prisoner in the neigbouring cell starts asking about the noise he's making. So the resistance guy calls for a biblical quotation from a deeply religious prisoner, knowing the other prisoners will start shouting at him to shut up and he can proceed under cover of their argument.

  • In They Came To Kill, Able Team capture a KGB spymaster and have him Bound and Gagged with earphones on to prevent him overhearing their conversation.
    "And don't worry about Illovich hearing you all. The Wizard's got head-phones on Illovich, blasting him with Mexican radio. Old man's rocking 'n' rolling, shaking his bones."
  • Alex Rider: In Snakehead, Alex uses a peal of thunder to cover up the explosion he uses to blow a float off a seaplane. Later, he uses another peal of thunder to mask the sound of him smashing the plane's window.
  • A variation occurs in The Belgariad when Belgarion has to scare off a demon with the Orb of Aldur. To stop enemies homing in the "sound" that it makes, the effect covers the entire sky above the mountain range the good guys are in making it impossible to zero in on.
  • Boot Camp: In the cafeteria at Lake Harmony, loudspeakers play taped lectures at ear-aching volumes. The intention is to make it hard for residents to communicate, but it also means that if kids are careful, they can whisper to each other without being overheard.
  • The Boy Who Drew Monsters: When Miss Tiramaku goes to talk to Jack Peter, Tim, who disapproves of her, puts on a Frank Sinatra record so he and Holly can have a private conversation about her.
  • In By Royal Command, Bond shoots the lock to his cell, timing the shot with the hourly blast from a cannon outside.
  • In Call Me Sunflower, Sunny sneaks out of the house at night to pick roses from her mother's "secret admirer." She waits for the clock to bong to cover up the squeak of the backdoor.
  • Overlaps with We Need a Distraction in Ciaphas Cain: Death or Glory. To cover up the sound of most of their team cutting into an ork encampment with a laser torch, they make a huge ruckus at the main gate — with a rocket launcher.
  • The Dark Hours: In inner-city Los Angeles, it's a New Year's Eve tradition for some to fire all their guns in the air as the clock strikes midnight on the new year. The noise of this celebration, and specifically the moment where everybody's shooting guns in the air, is the moment where the killer shoots Javier Raffa in the head, in the middle of an outdoor party.
  • Marie Brennan's Doppelgänger duology has Mirei, newly restored to her original body by the Fusion Dance of Miryo and Mirage, using the cover of applause to knock out a pair of guards and confront the Primes.
  • The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth. A safecracker breaks into an apartment while the owner is away in the country for New Year's Day, and waits till the stroke of midnight before setting off the charge that blows open his safe, covered by the fireworks and general outburst of revelry.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Ron and Harry sneak out of the castle to visit Hagrid under Harry's invisibility cloak, but the teachers are patrolling the castle because of the attacks on students and the cloak doesn't muffle sound. They have a hair-raising moment when Ron stubs his toe nearby Professor Snape, but fortunately Snape sneezes at that exact moment and doesn't hear Ron swearing.
  • In one of the Sven Hassel novels, a senior SA officer has been arrested in the Night of the Long Knives purge. As he waits in his cell, he isn't alarmed because he thinks he's too important to harm — until he realises that the sound of a revving lorry and motorcycle are masking regular bursts of gunfire, like you'd hear from a firing squad.
  • In Marathon Man, Babe is taking a bath in his apartment when the bad guys break in. He's listening anxiously as they quietly walk around, then gets really scared when they turn the radio on, loud, to cover up his screams for help.
  • Frank Garcia's Marked Cards And Loaded Dice had a story attributed to John Philip Quinn, a 19th century crooked gambler. One day a man approached Quinn and asked to become a "bottom dealer" for him. As the man dealt out the cards Quinn listened for the distinctive sound of a poorly executed bottom deal. He then told the man that if he would give Quinn a signal when he was about to begin, Quinn would fire off a pistol and distract everyone else in the room from the horrible noise the man made.
  • The Monster Garden: While Alf is making a hutch for Monnie to live in, Frankie plays her radio loudly so her father won't hear the noise.
  • The Murderbot Diaries. Murderbot has to take out a couple of Corporate Samurai in the public atrium of a space station. There's a holographic display overhead of a storm on a gas giant, so he hacks the computer system and has it suddenly dropped down to ground level.
  • In Peril at End House, a person is shot to death during a fireworks display, and another is nearly hit by a bullet, the sound of which is believed to be covered up by a passing motorboat.
  • A gang of prisoners attempt to time their shooting and killing of Johnny Powers with the roar of a Concorde flying overhead in Public Enemy Number Two. They're only stopped with Nick Diamond's intervention.
  • The Shadow: In Gangdom's Doom, gangsters set up a fake riveting crew on a skyscraper under construction to cover up the sound of machine guns being fired at street level.
  • The Society of Sylphs: When Eddie sneaks out to watch the storm, Estelle is watching a dance competition on TV, with the volume turned up to deafening levels. He pauses on the threshold when the commercials start and she turns the volume down, and doesn't open the door until she turns the volume back up.
  • Donna Andrews uses this in Some Like it Hawk. The protagonists have scheduled a lot of very noisy events at the town festival so they can open a squeaky trapdoor without being noticed.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. Olenna Tyrell is trying to coax some treasonable details about King Joffrey from Sansa Stark. Given the ever-present threat of spies in the Decadent Court, she has Court Jester Butterbumps sing loudly to prevent anyone overhearing.
  • In A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born, the main character bases his plan for a concert hall burglary around the musical composition to be played, so that the noisiest parts of the job take place during the noisiest part of the concert.
  • In the Dr Watson At War series by Robert Ryan, a fake air raid is used to get everyone into the shelters so a robbery can occur. The criminals build an acoustic device to simulate the "Gotha hum" of the German bombers and set off explosive charges as fake bomb blasts—the latter destroy a truckload of soldiers rushing to stop them and cover for the sound of them blasting their way into the building.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A minor Running Gag in The A-Team is that whenever Face and Hannibal were captured, their friends would naturally come to rescue them. When they realized their teammates were close by, they would cover up their noises by singing "You Are My Sunshine."
  • In Better Call Saul, Gus Fring's henchman Tyrus drives a large truck over a metal plate in the street at the exact moment the workers building Gus' underground meth lab trigger an explosion.
  • In Black Sails, the pirates of the Walrus start hammering on the deck of a slave ship whose crew has barricaded themselves into a lower compartment. The slaver crew assumes that the pirates are futilely trying to burrow into the compartment, but in reality they're masking the sounds of the ship's slaves striking off their irons in preparation for a revolt.
  • Boardwalk Empire. Al Capone is trying to schmooze some important Hollywood guests, only to be called to a back room to deal with a case of embezzlement. He orders his henchman to turn up the music on the radio, so they won't hear a gunshot.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "The Initiative", vampire Spike attacks Willow in her dorm room, turning up her CD player so the students outside can't hear her screaming.
  • Played with in one episode of Columbo, where the murderer used a Rube Goldberg Device to create a loud bang - not to cover the sound of the fatal gunshot, but to make it sound like there were two gunshots instead of one. When Colombo demonstrates an incorrect replica of the Rube Goldberg device, the murderer corrects it at the last second, incriminating himself and leading to his arrest.
  • Death in Paradise: In "Melodies of Murder", the murderer takes advantage of their band mate's post-gig ritual of playing music really loudly to mask the sound of the fatal gunshot.
  • Doctor Who. In "Thin Ice", the Doctor and Bill are tied up next to a bomb in a fairground. However, despite Bill saying she'll scream her head off, the villains don't bother to gag her as no one hears her over the sounds of the fair.
  • Due South: In the episode "Mountie on the Bounty", Fraser and Ray are undercover aboard a freighter ship that has been dumping toxic waste in Lake Michigan. While Ray sneaks off to the hold to investigate, Fraser draws the attention of the ship's crew by singing "Barrett's Privateers". By the second chorus everyone else in joining in, making it easier for Ray to move around unencumbered.
  • This is used in Farscape when John is hiding in the walls from the bad guys who can hear his heartbeat and breathing. His shipmates start speaking loudly in various alien languages to give him time to escape.
  • Fawlty Towers: In "The Kipper and the Corpse", Miss Tibbs has been locked in a wardrobe, and starts moaning and screaming. Polly and Manuel groan and sing to hide the noise.
  • F/X: The Series has a sniper use fireworks to mask a shot, and a computer that isolates the gunshot sound from said fireworks.
  • When General Hospital's Karen began having strange flashbacks triggered by static on the radio and/or the sight of a window shade being pulled down and finally remembered being sexually abused by one of her mother's boyfriends, she realized that he would turn up the radio so that her mother wouldn't hear her crying.
  • Get Smart
    • Max is meeting his contact in a record store, so he plays a record up high in case they're being bugged. They end up shouting so loudly everyone in the store can hear what they're saying.
    • In the TV movie Get Smart, Again! the useless Cone of Silence has finally been ditched and replaced with Hover Cover, which involves standing on a rooftop between three hovering helicopters. Naturally this also proves more trouble than it's worth, as the participants get blown off their feet and still can't hear each other.
  • Iron Fist (2017). In the Season 2 premiere, Danny Rand is shown training to use his Iron Fist near a subway tunnel, waiting till a train goes past before throwing a punch.
  • In the pilot episode of Kojak, the police attempt to break in through the ceiling of a store where bank robbers have taken customers hostage. Kojak hopes driving around an armored car will cover the noise of the tools. It doesn't work.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: When Violet and Bruce are arguing loudly, Hyacinth holds up signs with song titles, encouraging everyone to sing to drown the noise.
  • Leverage:
    • In "The First David Job", Hardison covers up Parker lifting the statue from a vibration sensor by triggering every car alarm in the parking lot. The guards see the sensor has been triggered, but hearing every alarm in the parking lot go off, they assume that it was an earth tremor and reset the sensor.
    • In "The Scheherazade Job" they use the climax of the masterpiece "Scheherazade" to cover-up blowing up a hole in the ceiling of a vault and as an excuse to get the people to turn off the seismic sensors. Notably, they immediately wreck their own plan because they are too enraptured by the violin solo which follows to actually finish the heist (so the alarm ends up going off anyway).
  • Midsomer Murders:
    • In "Murder by Magic", the killer uses the sound of gunshot being used in a magic trick to mask the sound of the gunshot they used to kill one of their victims.
    • In "Blood on the Saddle", the killer uses the noise of a mock gunfight being conducted in the main arena to cover the rifle shot he uses to murder the first Victim of the Week.
  • The pilot episode of the Mission: Impossible TV series uses fireworks to cover the sounds of the team's escape.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "Murder: According to Maggie", the killer uses the gunshots on screen during the screening of TV show to drown out the sound of their actual gunshots.
  • One Life to Live. Marty Saybrooke's gang rape took place during a raucous frat house party, with no one able to hear her screams because of the loud music. When the chief assailant attacked her again, this time in the alley behind a local bar, he taunted her about the fact that just like the previous assault, no one would be able to hear her for the very same reason. Indeed, when a friend of hers showed up, despite them both screaming and pounding on the door, the bar patrons were completely oblivious to what was going on.
  • Person of Interest
    • An accidental version in "4C" when John Reese is fighting a hitman in the airplane cabin while the passengers are watching an action scene in North By Northwest. At one point a gunshot is fired at the exact same time it is in the movie.
    • Lampshaded in "A Perfect Union" when Reese spots some villains just after Harold Finch has to sing at a wedding. "Finch better sing louder, 'cause we've got some serious ass to kick."
  • Poirot:
    • In the episode "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim", Davenheim breaks open a safe by timing the blows of a hammer with the cannon shots in a record of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
    • The trope is also discussed and believed to be used in "Murder in the Mews", which opens on Guy Fawkes Day. Subverted in that it was a suicide made to look like murder.
  • Porridge: When Harry Grout is forced into organizing the digging of an escape tunnel for another prisoner, the noise of the tunneling is covered up by a choir singing Christmas carols.
  • Prison Break:
    • In "Cute Poison", Michael Scoffield finishes digging a hole behind his cell's toilet by kicking through the wall. His cellmate Fernando Sucre covers the noise by loudly singing "Eres Tu", aggravating the entire cellblock into making a ruckus.
    • In "Safe and Sound", Michael and his brother Lincoln Burrows must drill the wall of an empty office in order to gain access to one of the Scylla cards. Sucre and Brad Bellick cover the drilling noise by posing as janitors and using a loud vacuum cleaner to clean a stain on the carpet at the office door.
    • When Don Self and Trishanne (special agent Miriam Holtz) are held captive by Feng Huan and his crooks in "Selfless", Trishanne yells at Self and accuses him of putting her in this mess. Self acts defensive while opening his handcuffs. The gangsters don't hear the cuffs' click over the yelling, and before they realize it, Self is free and killing them.
  • The Professionals. Before Doyle hauls a criminal into the storeroom of a pub for some Perp Sweating, he throws the manager a coin and tells him to play something loud on the jutebox. Subverted when the criminal turns out to be an undercover policeman, and the noise is actually meant to cover their friendly conversation (now and again they knock over a few cans to make it sound like Doyle is roughing him up).
  • Rubbery Figures (the Australian version of Spitting Image) had Ronald Reagan holding a press conference, and every time a journalist asked an awkward question a helicopter would fly over or a squad of marines would march past or a brass band would pay their trumpets loudly, drowning out his Non-Answer.
  • Sesame Street
    • In an old skit Bert & Ernie find themselves unable to get to sleep because of the sound of a dripping faucet. Ernie decides the best solution is just to drown out the sound by turning on the radio at full blast. When Bert complains that the radio is too loud, Ernie turns on the vacuum cleaner to drown that out. Bert is left to handle all of the sounds himself only to be kept awake by Ernie's snoring.
    • There is an even older sketch where Bert gets annoyed by the sound of Ernie's TV show, so he decides to drown it out with a record. When Ernie complains that the record is too loud, he drowns it out with the radio. Bert one-ups even that by turning on a blender to drown out the radio, promptly blowing a fuse.
  • Shadow and Bone. Inej and Jesper are stealing the plans for the Little Palace but end up locked inside the Kribirsk Archives, so Jesper proceeds to Shoot Out the Lock by waiting until the clock strikes on the hour.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): In "A Bad Habit", the thief uses a chisel to break the sacred sceptre free from its brackets on the wall; timing his blows to coincide with the striking of the abbey clock.
  • In the Made-for-TV Movie "Without Her Consent", a man rapes a woman who he invited to his house to look at some furniture he wants to sell. Her screams are unfortunately drowned out by the sound of his neighbor's lawnmower and it's implied that he specifically timed his attack to coincide with his neighbor's yardwork.

  • After Zeus was born and his father tricked into eating a rock thinking it was his son, the nymphs who raised him often made a racket to cover up Zeus's crying so his father wouldn't hear him and realize he was still alive.

    Video Games 
  • One of the main story assassinations in Assassin's Creed II could be accomplished using Ezio's pistol, if you timed your shot with the fireworks going off in the area.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Similar to the Assassin's Creed II example, a storyline mission sees you providing sniper fire support at night with a huge thunderstorm right overhead as the rest of your fireteam sneaks into an enemy camp. In order to avoid alerting the guards to your shots, you time them to coincide with the sounds of the storm.
  • Call of Duty:
    • At the beginning of the first Soviet level of Call of Duty: World at War, you have to snipe idle German soldiers as Luftwaffe flights pass overhead, in reference to Enemy at the Gates.
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 requires you to synch an explosion with background thunder. If you don't, you have to fight your way through the horde of enemies who then arrive.
  • In Desperados gunshots can be masked by other loud noises such as a nearby roaring waterfall or thunder.
  • You can use this to your advantage in Hitman. If someone's firing guns for another reason (like to celebrate a wedding), you can kill someone and use their gunfire to mask the sound of yours.
  • Metal Gear
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, unsilenced gunshot sounds won't travel very far in the Tanker chapter's engine room due to how loud the ship's engines are.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the Hind helicopter patrols the summit of the Krasnogorje mountain. Your footsteps and other audible noises become inaudible for a few seconds when the helicopter passes directly overhead, making it handy to rush enemy guards during that time.
  • PAYDAY 2: During the Alesso Heist, the crew covers up the sound of C4 going off by timing its detonation with the live concert's pyrotechnics going off.
  • In the Sniper Elite series, you're encouraged to make use of this to take out enemies without giving yourself away. Being that your missions mostly take place in active WW2 warzones, this means that in addition to using regular loud noises like thunder and planes flying overhead, you can fire while dropped bombs explode nearby or while flak erupts across the sky.
  • In the various Splinter Cell games you can get away with making noise if the ambient sounds of the environment are loud enough. Double Agent for the Nintendo Gamecube has a stage where, because of a civil war, intermittent shellings will temporarily knock out the power allowing you to loudly run to the next hiding place in the ensuing noise and darkness before the lights come back on.
  • One of the final puzzles in Still Life 2 requires you to turn on a large fan while you sneak up on the villain.
  • A Way Out has a sequence where Vincent and Leo need to get past a set of locked doors without a nearby group of prison guards noticing. To do this, they use the passing storm to their advantage and ram the doors in time with the thunder.
  • One of the first puzzles in Zork: Grand Inquisitor requires you to turn up the volume of a propaganda-spewing speaker, so that you can steal something from a shop without the owner hearing the alarm bell.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the sound of some pyrotechnics and a gun going off are masked by the concert going on outside.
  • Reigning Passions: In Amara episode 10, the heroine needs to talk to Amara without risk of anyone eavesdropping, so she takes her to Hazel's shop and has Hazel make a lot of noise with her hammer while she talks to Amara.
  • In Chapter Five of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, everyone enters the warehouse to hear blaring loud, depressing hymn music before discovering Nagito's corpse. It turns out, Nagito lined up some Monokuma cutouts so when the other students opened the door, they would create a domino effect to knock over an oil lighter and cause a fire. The reason for the music was to cover up the noise of the cutouts falling.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "One Last Job", the Flying Lettuce Brothers imitate the Banana Guard Captain and order the Banana Guards to go out into the courtyard and practice their battle cries, which both distracts them from their posts and covers up the sound of the vault to the Baker's Shard being blown open.
  • Amphibia: In "The New Normal", Anne plays loud rock music over the speakers of the store to cover up any noise they make and to avoid drawing any attention while they fight the Cloak-Bot.
  • Batman Beyond: Defied in the episode "Shriek". Terry tries to sneak around Shriek by switching on the machinery in the factory they're fighting in. Shriek uses his acoustic suit to silence all the sounds except Terry's footsteps.
  • Big City Greens: Similar to the A Quiet Place example, in "Quiet Please", Bill turns on the water fountain to drown out his and Cricket's voices so they can talk without the Scary Librarian hearing them.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the final segment of "Three Kings", a parody of The Shawshank Redemption, Andy (Peter) is tries to bust open a sewer pipe with a rock to escape the prison, but he is within hearing range of Norton/Carter, who is watching an episode of Friends in his office.. To cover his noise, Andy times his banging of the rock to the clapping of the show's theme song.
    • Another episode had Peter timing his farts to thunderclaps.
  • In a King of the Hill episode, Strickland and the other local propane shops start an illegal price-fixing racket and Hank is forced by the Feds to wear a wire during one of their meetings so that the team assigned to catch them could get proof. So how does Hank keep from getting Strickland shut down? He gets the freaking Orange County Choppers to rev their engines outside the store in order to cover up his explanation of the situation to Buck.
  • Star Wars Rebels. In "Rebel Resolve", Chopper 'accidentally' overloads the internal comm on the Ghost. The noise and the fact that Hera is busy shouting at the droid distracts her from the flashing light and buzzer indicating that the others have stolen the Phantom for a rescue mission that Hera hasn't authorized.

    Real Life 
  • During World War One, the Imperial German Army deployed a gigantic artillery piece, the Paris Gun, which they used to send random shells landing all over Paris. To disguise the location of the gun from Allied listening posts, numerous other artillery pieces were fired off at the same time.
  • At the extermination camp of Auschwitz, the Nazis attempted to muffle the screams of the gas chambers' victims, using two motorcycle engines that were revved up to full throttle nearby. Despite this, the sounds of yelling could still be heard over the engines.
  • Car stereo thieves sometimes intentionally trigger a nearby car alarm to mask the sound of breaking glass.
  • There's an Urban Legend about a college campus that had a tradition of students screaming for a few minutes during finals week to let their stress out before they went back to studying, and a student having been murdered during the Scream one year because her screaming was masked by everyone else's. Even without encouraging students to scream at a specific time, some campuses could be noisy enough to drown out a cry for help. That said, it's still a legend.
  • It's said that as an actor, John Wilkes Booth was familiar with the play "Our American Cousin" enough that he timed his assassination of Abraham Lincoln with the point of the play the audience would be laughing the loudest.
  • US fitness center chain Planet Fitness censors out the sound of those who drop weights or grunt while lifting weights with a "lunk alarm", a rotating blue light with an air raid siren.
  • During the Tet Offensive the Vietcong used firecrackers to cover the sound of gunfire.
  • In autocratic countries like East Germany or the USSR, where constant surveillance was a way of life, it was common for citizens to play loud albums or use the vacuum cleaner to drown out whatever sensitive topic they might wish to discuss.
  • Cracked mentions this trope on an article about heists with movie plots, specifically burglars sawing through a bank roof during a fireworks display.
    You know that action movie cliché whereby an evil hitman will wait until the big parade gets loud or the symphony orchestra reaches a swell so they can fire a shot without being noticed?


Deadly Champagne

When Chen shoots Wu Han, he times the shot with a set of champagne bottles being uncorked.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CacophonyCoverUp

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