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Closer than They Appear

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Rear-view mirrors sometimes come with a warning: "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear."note  This is not reassuring to the character who looks into the rear-view mirror and sees a Tyrannosaurus rex running after his car. Especially if said T. rex appears to be disturbingly close as it is.

Truth in Television in some countries! Except for the T. rex part. For now...

Compare Danger Takes a Backseat. For a more metaphorical use of rear-view mirrors, see Past in the Rear-View Mirror.

An interesting note: some examples of this trope (including the Trope Codifier) show this message on the driver's side mirror. In Real Life, it only ever appears on the passenger side mirror. In the USA and Canada, the driver's side mirror is required to be flat, so putting the warning message there would be inappropriate. In Europe, the driver's side mirror may also be convex, but the warning is not required. See The Other Wiki for even more detail.


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  • Bill Kirchenbauer has a bit about this:
    "We've all seen that message, right? 'Objects in this mirror are a lot closer than they appear.' BUILD THE MIRROR SO THE THINGS LOOK LIKE WHERE THEY ARE!"

    Comic Strips 
  • Seen in a The Far Side cartoon: The rear-view mirror is entirely filled with an eyeball magnified hugely.

    Fan Works 
  • Super Mario Bros. Z: In the second episode of the reboot series, when Wario and Waluigi stole one of the Chaos Emeralds and are driving away on their car to sell it for profit, they notice Luigi and Yoshi chasing after them at full speed in the car mirror. The mirror states "OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE AFTER YOUR TREASURE!".

    Films — Animation 
  • The Spongebob Movie Sponge Out Of Water has Burger Beard seeing SpongeBob and the gang in his ship's rearview mirror while they pursue him through the streets.
  • Toy Story 2 parodies this, using the meek Rex's reflection in the mirror of a toy car. (It also puts it on the passenger side, correcting JP's error.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jurassic Park (1993), pictured above, is the Trope Codifier with the iconic shot of the T. rex pursuing the jeep. Rexy actually does briefly catch up to the jeep before running out of steam and falling behind.
    Malcolm: Think they'll have that on the tour?
  • The Terminator didn't have the inscription, but Sarah glances at her driver's side mirror just as the T-800 fires at her reflection, shattering it.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: In what may be a nod to the Jurassic Park scene, Decepticon 'Dreads' are viewed to be in hot pursuit in the (passenger!) side mirror of Autobot Dino (Mirage) (he's the red Ferrari).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Dawson's Creek episode "Sex, She Wrote" (s2ep11) has a closer-than-they-appear shot when Pacey and Andie kiss in her car after admitting their love for each other.
  • Drake & Josh has the two sitting in their teacher's car which is parked in the classroom. Drake then uses the rear view mirror to check out a girl behind them while saying, "Objects in mirror may be hotter than they appear."
  • The Eureka episode "One Giant Leap" has a brief closer-than-it-appears shot of a black hole in the mirror of Carter's jeep, right before it gets destroyed. Again.

  • Meat Loaf inverts the phrase as "Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are," describing old memories that are nonetheless very vivid. Despite Rule of Drama it still doesn't sit right.
  • They Might Be Giants: "She's Actual Size" averts this for the subject of the song: "Squares may look distant in a rear view mirror, but they're actual size, actual size to her."
  • Bobby Valentino - "Rear View Mirror": "I see your face and I miss you dear / Images in the mirror, closer than they appear"

  • Spoofed in Girl Genius with a rear-view mirror (on an airship) saying "Objects in mirror are more horrific than they appears" while reflecting a huge monster.
  • In one story arc of Sluggy Freelance, the cast goes on the run from Bun-Bun after Aylee accidentally erases his Baywatch tapes with her newfound EMP ability. As they're driving away, they see Bun-Bun approaching in the rear-view with "Objects in mirror are meaner than they appear."

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • In Angela Anaconda a character reads this off when their car is being chased by a rabid parent who wants to burn The Wonderful Wizard of Oz because it promotes witchcraft. After they realize what it means, they panic more.
  • In Carmen Sandiego, Chase Devineaux jokes about this trope to himself as he closely pursues Carmen's vehicle from behind.
    Devineaux: ACME agents in mirror are closer than they appear!
  • Parodied in The Codename: Kids Next Door episode Operation A.R.C.T.I.C., where the mirror on a vehicle says "Missiles in mirror may be closer than they appear".
    • Parodied in Operation S.I.X. where in a mirror said "Seriously, you don't wanna know how big this object really is!"
  • "Objects may be less sexy than they appear" shows up on a high-tech clothes shop mirror in Futurama.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series: In "Hercules and the Gorgon", his shield (mirrored so he can look at the petrifying beasts... including a Medusa who is actually a Cute Monster Girl who wants to date him) says "Objects are closer then they appear".
  • Used in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles with incoming plasma artillery in the reflection.
  • Spoofed in Uncle Grandpa, where the mirror says "Objects in mirror may be Uncle Grandpa" It Makes Sense in Context.