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Can't Move While Being Watched

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I could have sworn that rock was farther away
"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"
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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 (as pictured above) the thing moves whenever the player character looks away, even if the player can still see them.

Can overlap with Murderous Mannequin or a Living Statue. See Also: Offscreen Reality Warp, Creepy Changing Painting, Don't Look at Me!.


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Examples:

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    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 dances and collapses. Only after Tiger gives up after the fact does it finish the pounce and trap him. Turns out there was a tribe of mice controlling the skeleton.

    Literature 
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    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.
    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!
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    Video Games 
  • Commander Keen: The page image comes from "Secrets of the Oracle", which 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 has many creepy mannequins that stalk the player off-screen.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby's Return to Dream Land has bandage-covered enemies that stop when looked at.
    • The Scarfy enemies is a cute little floating blob that means no harm... unless you turn your backs on them, in which case they turn into one-eyed large-jawed monstrosity that tries to fly straight at Kirby, only to turn back to their usual self if Kirby faces them again.
  • In some Mega Man games, Mettaurs behave this way.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Boos from the Super Mario Bros. series 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.
  • 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 
  • SCP Foundation: 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.

    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 predators that stalk their prey, such as cats, try to do this.
  • Animals that rely on camouflage, such as praying mantis, also do this.
  • This is probably why many insects feature some eye shaped patterns on their back or wings: to confuse predators who do this.
  • 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, in order to avoid detection by the Americans they only moved at night. 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 if the single person sees anyone move the moving people 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.


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