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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 T. 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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    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!".


  • Jurassic Park films:
  • Discussed in Ace Ventura. A thief is trashing Ace's car after Ace recovers a stolen puppy, prompting Ace to shout "Warning! Assholes are closer than they appear!" The thief, not happy about it, takes a baseball bat to Ace's rearview mirror.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • In the 2008 short film The German, a British fighter pilot in a dogfight glances in his fighter's rear-view mirror and spots a German fighter moments before the German fires his guns and blasts the mirror off with a near-miss. The mirror lacks the warning text, but having a machine gun bullet knock the mirror off is as about as close as one can get.

     Live Action TV  

  • 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.
  • 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."



  • 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.
  • Bobby Valentino - "Rear View Mirror": "I see your face and I miss you dear / Images in the mirror, closer than they appear"
  • 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."

     Newspaper Comics  

  • Seen in a The Far Side cartoon: The rear-view mirror shows the passenger's eye magnified hugely.

     Stand Up Comedy  

  • 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!"


     Western Animation  

  • "Objects may be less sexy than they appear" shows up on a high-tech clothes shop mirror in Futurama.
  • Parodied in Codename: Kids Next Door, where the mirror on a vehicle says "Missiles in mirror may be closer than they appear''.
    • Parodied in another episode wherein a mirror said "You don't wanna know how close this is".
  • 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.
  • 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!


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