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Can't Move While Being Watched

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"Don't blink. Don't even blink. Blink and you're dead. They're fast. Faster than you could believe. Don't turn your back, don't look away, and don't blink. Good luck."
The Tenth Doctor on the Weeping Angels, Doctor Who, "Blink"

A stock enemy that freezes and/or stops attacking when looked at, but will attack when line of sight is broken. It is fairly common in the Horror Genre, as it is a good source for Paranoia Fuel, especially when said mook tries to blend into the scenery. Also very common in Video Games, though it's much less likely to be played for horror if the thing moves whenever the player character looks away, even if the player can still see them from beyond the fourth wall.

Can overlap with Murderous Mannequin or a Living Statue. See Also: Offscreen Reality Warp, Creepy Changing Painting, Don't Look At Me. But whatever you do, DON'T. BLINK.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Flying Witch, an elder witch tasks Makoto with catching a teddy-bear that teleports away whenever it isn't being looked at as a test.

    Fan Works 
  • Your Alicorn Is in Another Castle: From "Inevitability Frames", after Bowser calls for some of his troops to be spawned, and has an audience:
    "Look away," he told her. "They don't spawn when someone's looking at them. Just glance to the side."

    Films — Animation 
  • In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Tiger passes by a buffalo skeleton that rises up to pounce on him, only for Tiger to turn around and prompt it to revert to its prone form. It attempts again, but Tiger again turns around. He then repeatedly looks away until he catches it moving, at which point it performs a dance and then collapses. Only after Tiger turns away thinking it was a mirage does it finish the pounce and trap him. Turns out the skeleton was being was being controlled by a tribe of Native American mice.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, the short story "Bones" features attacking skeletons that only move when they're not being looked at.
  • Inverted with the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; the creature is so mind-bogglingly stupid that if you block your line of sight by wrapping a towel around your head, you are safe because the beast thinks that since you can't see it, it can't see you either.
  • The Laundry Files. The Sleeper in the Pyramid on the Dead Plateau is an unspecified Eldritch Abomination that's being held inside a pyramid on a distant planet by observer effect magic. The structure is surrounded by a Wall Of Pain of impaled victims that are just barely alive enough to constantly observe it and collapse its wave function into a "captive in the pyramid and dormant" state. The RAF has a special Concorde that flies through a wormhole to do a flyby over the Plateau every once in a while, just in case.
  • The Shining: The topiary animals outside the hotel, which are brought to life by the hotels' power, act like this. When Jack notices how they are stalking him when his back is turned, he even compares their behavior to "red light", a game he played in his youth. Also they are spread out in such a way that you cannot watch all of them at once, meaning at least one can always advance on you.
  • The living shadows that come for Edwin in Seven Stars advance towards the house whenever Catriona looks away from them. At one point, a shadow slips partway under the stair carpet, and Richard hastens to take up the carpeting while Catriona's gaze keeps it pinned; otherwise, the flat invader would be "free" to move all over the carpet-covered upper floor without being seen.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: The Weeping Angels have Super-Speed, but turn into stone when looked at because they are "quantum-locked". Pointing a camera at them doesn't work either as "anything that holds the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel", meaning the picture on the screen will come to life and kill you. However, they're not immune to each other's gazes, or even their own, and thus can be defeated by tricking them into looking at either one another or their own reflections while their eyes are exposed.
    The Doctor: In the sight of any living thing they literally turn to stone. And you can't kill a stone. 'Course, a stone can't kill you either, but then you turn your head away. Then you blink, and oh, yes it can!
  • Squid Game: The very first Deadly Game the contestants play is Red Light Green Light. There's a giant statue of a doll on the other side of the course who turns its head around after singing a short tune. The doll has motion detectors in its eyes that are rigged to shoot anyone who moves when it is facing them.

    Video Games 
  • The Aladdin video game adaptation has enemies hidden in baskets, who will creep up on Aladdin while he's turned away and try to punch him when they get up close.
  • In All Is Dust (2015), the creatures stalking you behave in this manner. Creepily, their heads will continue to track your movement even while the rest of them is frozen in place.
  • Commander Keen: "Secrets of the Oracle" contains a creature called the Mimrock. It looks just like regular rocks found throughout the game, and as long as Keen is looking in its direction, it remains motionless, but when Keen is looking away it can sneak up and pounce on him. And to make things more difficult, Keen's neural stunner only works on them while they're moving.
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins has many creepy mannequins that stalk the player off-screen.
  • Control features a very SCP Foundation-style take on this with an "altered" item known as the Arctic Queen, an innocuous-looking refrigerator that will "deviate" and kill people if it isn't being watched at all times. When Jesse comes across its containment cell, a hysterical Red Shirt has been stuck staring at it for over a day since his replacement never showed up. If you offer to help him, he turns away for a split second, to which point the fridge erupts the poor bastard into a bloodstain on the floor and thus puts supervision duties on Jesse, causing her to rapidly take damage if isn't in full view of the camera.
  • In DON'T LOOK AWAY, the main conceit of the game is that the Entity cannot move while the survivors are directly looking at a mannequin it is possessing. However, each of the mannequins has a "frustration meter" that fills up while they're frozen. Once filled, the mannequin can activate a rage state that lets them move freely for a short time.
  • In Don't Starve Together, there exists a type of non-hostile mob known as the Stagehand: an entity that is attracted to light. In broad daylight or by firelight, it appears to be a normal but quite out-of-place end table in the middle of the forest. However, in complete darkness, it reveals a set of insect-like legs that it uses to scurry about in pursuit of a light source, playing an ominous music box tune the whole time. Unwary players may be alarmed when traveling by torchlight, as a nearby Stagehand may pursue them throughout the night only to appear as a misplaced set-piece to those unwary of its true nature. To make things even more unsettling, in spite of the fact that it cannot harm the player, the Stagehand itself is nigh-indestructible. It cannot be attacked or broken, and is completely immune to fire.
  • Drawn to Life:
    • One enemy in the snow world attacks by throwing snowballs. When the player is facing them, they hide in a snow mound, only to attack again when you're not facing them.
    • The snow world also contains a snowman monster that spawns mini snowmen to attack the player, but only when the player isn't facing them.
    • Watersong in the second game features a level that has living statue enemies, which rush toward the player once the player passes them.
  • In Eldritch (2013), the Strange Statues in the second world behave this way.
  • For most of the part, the animatronics at Five Nights at Freddy's freeze when monitored and will only move onscreen when twitching or directly attacking the player. Staring at them won't completely stop them, however, as there are random intervals where the camera will glitch out and they will move.
    • Foxy the pirate in the first game is an interesting case. While he is gradually emerging from his curtains he behaves like the other animatronics, however, once he has fully emerged, he will spontaneously charge at the player.
    • In Five Nights at Freddy's 2 the animatronics behave the same way, however, Toy Bonnie can be seen sliding away when he gets uncomfortably close.
    • In Five Nights at Freddy's 3 Springtrap moves in the same way as the previous animatronics for the most part, but is a lot more active and the camera frizzes out whenever he moves from room to room. Whenever Springtrap is seen moving onscreen, he moves much more fluently and less robotic than the previous animatronics.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach: The Endo-bots in the basement only move when Gregory isn't looking at them. Unfortunately, they're very fast when unobserved and can converge in groups.
  • Kirby:
    • Mumbies are bandage-covered enemies that stop when looked at.
    • While most Scarfies only enter attack mode when Kirby tries to inhale them, some turn aggressive whenever Kirby's back is turned, reverting to their peaceful forms when looked at.
  • Lobotomy Corporation: When an employee works on The Burrowing Heaven, the player must observe it on the camera to keep it from breaking out.
  • Sotiris, the third boss in Lost in Vivo, does this. Unlike most examples of the trope, he doesn't move normally when you're not looking at him, but rather teleports around randomly in a radius around you that gets closer and closer the longer he's not in your line of sight. This allows him to do things such as suddenly appear in front of you even though you left him behind in the previous room.
  • In some Mega Man games, Mettaurs behave this way.
  • Outer Wilds: At the museum at the start of the game you encounter your first "quantum rock", which is on one of three tree stumps and randomly moves between them when you look away. There are a few quantum objects throughout the game, and learning some tricks you can do with them is, while technically optional, required for the Golden Ending.
  • SCP – Containment Breach, which is based on the SCP Foundation, has SCP-173, who tries to break the player's neck when they look away or blink. The game has a "blink" mechanic, where you can only force your eyes to stay open for so long. That moment when you finally have to blink and the meter recharges may be your last.
  • Asymmetric Multiplayer spinoff SCP: Secret Laboratory, much like Containment Breach, doesn't allow SCP-173 to move freely whilst being observed by human players (its fellow SCPs can view it just fine). Instead of a blink meter, 173 instead has the "Blink" ability, letting it teleport short distances (snapping the neck of the closest unlucky soul in range in the process).
  • Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin: This Sherlock Holmes game forgoes the walk animations and pathfinding routines for your NPC companion, Dr. John Watson. The results are rather unnerving.
  • Countless objects and props in the Silent Hill series. Most of them are physically harmless but are played for psychological horror.
  • In Slender, the Slender Man will stalk the player off-screen and freeze when looked at. However, looking at him too much kills the player so it is best to keep your back turned.
  • This is the main premise of the indie horror game Statues, as you proceed through various levels with enemies who behave in this manner (anatomy mannequins in the hospital, clothing mannequins in the mall, statues in the park, etc).
  • The indie horror game Stay Close has two enemy types; one that turns hostile and attacks you if you look at it, and one that's permanently hostile but freezes when you look at it. Gameplay involves juggling the two types, which is quite tricky especially when they start appearing in mixed groups.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Boos turn invisible and/or hide their faces when looked at, stopping dead in their tracks. Some can even turn into solid blocks, opening a new way for Mario if baited into appropriate location. The Mad Boos in Super Princess Peach have the opposite behavior, attacking Princess Peach when looked at and doing nothing when she turns her back to them.
  • In Zork II, there is a garden of living topiary. They move very slowly at first, and freeze whenever you come into the room. Unfortunately, they get over their fear and attack openly if you wander into the room one time too many.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has a few SCP objects that will move when not looked at:
    • SCP-173 ("The Sculpture") tries to brutally kill anything not looking at it, and cannot move while observed even through cameras. While it has a hard time breaking out of simple enclosures, it's very good at breaking necks, and it will go straight for it in the literal blink of an eye.
    • SCP-650 ("Startling Statue") can use Offscreen Teleportation when not being observed by a human. However, unlike SCP-173, it's only interested in scaring people, and is otherwise completely harmless.
    • SCP-689 ("Haunter In the Dark") is by far the deadliest of them. It's a green soapstone statue of a skeletal figure that, if not looked at, will kill and teleport on top of a person who has previously viewed it before, and it prefers to choose a victim that is currently within a large group of people to cause a chain reaction of disaster.
    • SCP-050 is a sillier example similar to SCP-650. A monkey statue that tidies offices and leaves traps when not observed. These traps generally aren't dangerous unless the person has tried to damage SCP-050.
  • Night from Worm is a normal human when watched, but heals instantly and turns into a super-strong monster when unseen. And she has lots of tricks for breaking line of sight, like gas bombs, throwing cloaks and the presence of her husband, Fog.

    Web Videos 
  • In the The Adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M. episode "Bitter Gnomes and Gardens", lethal garden gnomes begin to attack a pair of hapless gardeners. The gardeners realize that the gnomes don't move when being directly looked at.
    Coyote: All the others have been moving, but that one [pointing to a gnome Ellie is holding a mirrored tray to] hasn't. So what if... they can't move when they're being looked at?
    Ellie: Like that situation that Doctor guy told us about!
    Coyote: Who?

    Real Life 
  • Many ambush predators, such as cats and mantids, try to do this. Moving will give away their presence to the prey they're stalking and may send it running off before it can be pounced on. This is weaponized against tigers in rural Asian communities by wearing a mask on the back of the head: the tiger thinks it's being watched and won't risk stalking the person. It's also thought that animals that have eye patterns on, say, their wings, have developed them as a similar defense mechanism.
  • An often-cited explanation for the "deer in the headlights" phenomenon is an attempted invocation of this: a deer in the path of an oncoming car will see it as an approaching predator, and look at it to signal, "I can see you, stop wasting our time ambushing me when I can run away at any time". Unfortunately, the car is not the predator the deer thinks it is, and with how fast road-legal vehicles move, the deer gets run over before it can react to its ruse failing.
  • A common tactic in the military during sneak attacks or infiltration operations is to only move when a sentry is looking away, and to freeze when they start to look back. A still target, especially when properly camouflaged, is very hard to spot. One way around this is to have teams of sentries where everyone is looking in a different direction.
  • During the Korean War, when China was sending large units of soldiers into North Korea, they only moved at night in order to avoid detection by the Americans. When dawn approached, everyone dug in and stayed out of sight and motionless until nightfall. Anyone caught moving was immediately executed on the spot.
  • The classic children's game "Red Light, Green Light": someone stands far away, facing away from a line of people advancing on them. When the person turns around and shouts "red light" the line stop, and anyone that the single person sees moving are disqualified. Then the single person says "green light", turns around, and the line advances. The single person wins if they get everyone disqualified, and the line people try to win by touching the single person.


Video Example(s):


The Gloveys

In the Glove World Maze, the Left Glovey will appear at random to charge, while the Right Glovey will constantly follow Patrick. Both of them freeze up when looking directly at them, which is your only defence.

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