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Curtain Camouflage

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Preach it, Supergirl!

"I hide behind curtains 'cause I have a fear of getting stabbed."
Polonius (Chief Wiggum), The Simpsons on Hamlet

There are only so many places a person can hide, but one that's available in most indoor locations is the common curtain. When someone's coming and you've got to get out of sight quick, just duck behind one of these and you're golden. Oh, drapery — where would Exact Eavesdropping and Wacky Hijinx be without you?

Bonus points if you see the shoes peeking out under the bottom. Triple bonus if the shoes were specifically put there to throw the searcher off the scent.

Close cousin to the Closet Shuffle. May lead to a Dramatic Curtain Toss. Not related to The Man Behind the Curtain, although one of those may use this.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • When Madlax comes to visit her target the night before the assassination on the account that it was himself who ordered his own death, she initially conceals herself behind a curtain from neck down. This was to hide the fact that she was wearing a cocktail dress and has actually come to comfort the man before he goes. She is funny like that.
  • Pani Poni Dash!: Whenever Rei freaks Rebecca out by showing she has an eye in her palm, Rebecca usually responds with this.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Jessica in Banquet, to hide from EVA-Beatrice while she's busy playing with Nanjo's corpse.
  • One Yotsuba&! chapter sees Yotsuba playing hide-and-seek with her dad. She decides to hide behind a curtain — but she also twists the curtain up in a way that leaves her legs clearly visible to her dad.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman #400, the Scarecrow ambushes Julia by hiding behind the shower curtain in her bathroom.

    Fan Works 
  • The Victors Project: In The Bonds of Blood, the Careers find Jay hiding behind a curtain the day after the bloodbath.


    Film—Live Action 
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. Sigerson and Sergeant Sacker hide behind curtains after breaking into Gambetti's home. Since Gambetti is a blackmailer, this is probably a Shout-Out to the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton".
  • In American Dreamer, "Rebecca" (actually a housewife with Easy Amnesia, who believes she's the private detective in her favorite stories) sees shoes under a curtain and thinks someone is hiding like this. But it turns out a guy just placed his shoes under the curtain.
  • The Spielberg film *batteries not included introduces one of its characters this way— the big, burly former boxer is hiding from thugs, who easily find him.
  • Cat's Eye: In "Quitters,Inc.", Dick sees a pair of boots behind a row of coats in his closet. He delivers an impassioned plea about how he wasn't smoking. The next morning, the boots are gone and there are muddy footprints leading away from the closet.
  • Cleopatra: Pothinos hides behind a curtain in order to kill Cleopatra, or maybe Caesar. Cleopatra sees his shoes, however, and plunges a javelin into his stomach.
  • Clue (movie adaptation) - the curtain is used to hide the fact that the pair of arms being used for a Fake-Out Make-Out don't belong to a dead body.
  • In Deep in the Valley, Lester and Carl hide from Rod behind the curtains in Daphne's room. The curtains are lace and don't conceal them at all, but due to the Trapped in TV Land reality they are trapped in, Rod doesn't notice.
  • In Dial M for Murder, the killer hides behind curtains.
  • In Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, Gruesome gets the drop on Pat by hiding behind a hanging tiger skin the taxidermist's shop.
  • In Hangmen Also Die!, a critically wounded Dedic hides behind the curtain in Dr. Svoboda's apartment when Inspector Gruber comes by.
  • The Horror Show: When Donna is searching the basement for the cat, Jenke's legs and shoes are seen hiding behind the rack of clothes.
  • Subverted in Hunted (1952). When Robbie sneaks into Chris' apartment, his first choice of hiding is behind the living room curtains but then he notices his uncovered legs and goes to hide under the table instead.
  • In Lady on a Train, Danny sneaks into Nikki's apartment to retrieve the slippers and hides behind the curtain. Haskell, who is leaving, sees his shoes sticking out from under the curtain. When he bends over to examine them, Danny knocks him out with a Tap on the Head.
  • In the 1981 film Looker, the serial killer with the L.O.O.K.E.R. gun hides behind translucent curtains while stalking his prey, who cannot see him because the gun has rendered him invisible to her, and eventually wraps her up inside a curtain before she falls to her death.
  • In Madhouse (1974), the killer lurks behind the curtains in Ellen's bedroom, before lunging out to kill her.
  • In Murder, She Said, Miss Marple first encounters Alexander when he is hiding behind the curtain that separates her room and the lumber room, and she throws a vase at him.
  • The Name of the Rose: The herbalist discovers the book that's the motive for the various murders in a medieval monastery. He goes to tell William of Baskerville, who tells him to lock himself in his room and let no-one in until he arrives (Baskerville is held up in a theological conference). On returning to his apothecary, he shocked to find the place ransacked. He bolts the door and quickly goes to check the book is still there. It is lying on the floor under a table. The herbalist is relieved, until he sees a hooded figure step out from behind a curtain and walk toward him...
  • In The Palm Beach Story, Gerry hides from an intruder behind the shower curtain of her apartment.
  • The killer in Pieces hides behind the curtain when the cops arrive at his place.
  • Pulgasari: When the king is cornered by Pulgasari, he makes a last-ditch attempt to survive by curling himself up in a curtain to hide. Given Pulgasari is a Kaiju who had decided to completely demolish the king's palace, it's unlikely the king's plan would have worked even if Pulgasari somehow didn't know where he was.
  • The 1922 version of Robin Hood scores triple points. Mooks in the castle see Robin's shoes beneath the curtain, but Robin put them there as a distraction while he went elsewhere.
  • At some point in the beginning of the first Scary Movie, the killer hides behind a curtain. Or he would, if not for his hook poking out.
  • In Return to Oz, Dorothy and Ozma hide behind curtains in the clinic.
  • In Seven Murders for Scotland Yard, Winston hides behind the curtain in Lulu's flat when Barbara comes in to get some milk for her cat. However, Barbara sees his shoes peeking out under the curtains and recognizes them as the same ones she saw the night of the first murder.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, Holmes hides behind a curtain when he is searching Moriarty's house and Moriarty returns home.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear, Watson hears a noise and starts searching the lounge in the castle, but completely fails to notice a pair of shoes sticking out from the bottom of the curtains.
  • Undercover Brother. The title character comes home and thinks there's someone hiding behind a curtain because he sees their shoes under it. He pulls the curtain aside to expose them but finds the shoes are empty. Then Sistah Girl shows up from offscreen and puts a gun to his head (she used her shoes as bait to distract him).
  • "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" The movie version of The Wizard of Oz, an example so famous it named a trope.
  • A variation in The Wolfman (2010) when Inspector Aberline sees a standing mirror with a couple of boots behind it. Thinking Lawrence is behind the mirror he fires, only to find when the mirror shatters that it's only a statue. One of the other policemen quips, "Now there's some bad luck for ya!" regarding the broken mirror. Given that Aberline is later bitten by Lawrence, and thus doomed to become a werewolf himself, he's not wrong.
  • A cliffhanger ending of one of the episodes of the serial film Zorro's Black Whip shows the boots of the Black Whip behind a curtain, upon which the bad guys empty their pistols into it. Subverted as only the boots were behind the curtain, leaving the Black Whip free to deal with the bad guys (who now have unloaded pistols) at the start of the next episode.

  • In A Brother's Price, Cullen hides behind a curtain in order to listen to what his sisters have to talk about with Eldest Whistler. He leaves his hiding place to hug and kiss Eldest Whistler when he hears that she plans to marry him.
  • The Day of the Jackal. When the Jackal arrives at the hotel where the OAS leadership is waiting to hire him, he sees the shoes of their bodyguard behind a curtain in the hotel corridor, returns to the front desk and uses the internal phone to place a call to their hotel room, informing them that if that man isn't out in the open by the time he gets up there, he's going to leave and not come back. This incident causes problems for the Jackal later—the bodyguard pegs him as a Professional Killer like himself, and is later kidnapped and tortured into giving up this information.
  • The Famous Five: This happens twice in Five Go To Smuggler's Top:
    • Dick and Julian hide behind curtains when they are trying to find out who is signalling from a tower.
    • Block hides behind a curtain when he is trying to catch Timmy in the house. However, his shoes give him away, and the children ambush him.
  • John Carter of Mars: On Barsoom, curtains are deliberately hung to create a narrow gallery between them and the wall where guards, assassins, eavesdroppers or whatever may lurk. It's not paranoia when people are really out to get you - as everybody and everything is on Mars.
  • In Mairelon the Magician, Kim hides behind a curtain when she wants to hide the fact she's been snooping around in the carriage.
  • Malory Towers: In the first book, Darrell sneaks about the school at night to find out what happened to a friend she believes she injured. She wraps herself up in curtains to hide, sheds tears over them, and even falls asleep in them.
  • In Night Watch, Vetinari steps out from behind a curtain in his aunt's house, where some conspirators are meeting.
  • The Radix: Erich Metzger does this when he comes to kill general Rojas, and it works. Apparently, Santiago Rojas's bodyguard has Failed a Spot Check.
  • In The Ruby Red Trilogy, Gwen has to hide behind a curtain from her future self. Future!Gwen spots her anyway, but at least distracts Gideon.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Shadow Kingdom, Kull does not notice the spy, but at the end of the first scene, a tapestry moves.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • In "Charles Augustus Milverton," Holmes and Watson break into a blackmailer's house; when they hear noises coming toward the office, they quickly duck behind a curtain in time for some Exact Eavesdropping and a little murder.
    • In "The Valley of Fear", the assassin hides behind the curtain to catch the victim off guard. The Properly Paranoid victim spots the shoe behind the curtain and attacks the murderer, who ends up being accidentally and rather gruesomely killed in the ensuing Gun Struggle.
    • In "The Mazarin Stone", Holmes hides behind one to spy on two men to learn where they hid the eponymous diamond. It works because they think the shape they see is actually a wax bust of Holmes that he made a point of showing them earlier that evening.
  • The Super Dictionary: An illustration for the word "curtain" shows someone trying to hide behind a curtain, their shoes peeking out from the bottom.
  • The Wrong Side of Goodbye: A potential victim notices the Screen Cutter (a serial rapist) hiding behind a curtain in her house, and hits him in the face with a broom.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Carnivàle: The former Creature of Light hides behind curtains to keep a sense of mystery about himself.
  • An episode of Charmed has the sisters being pursued by various B horror movie villains due to a spell gone wrong. One of them, being chased by an axe murderer, no less, hides in the shower.
    I'm being chased by an axe murderer, and I hide in the shower?
  • Happens in Chuck, when they're spying on a spy in a bedroom who is going undercover.
  • Cluedo: Mrs. White does this when she is eavesdropping.
    Mrs White: I secreted myself be'ind the curtains.
  • The Crown (2016). Group Captain Peter Townsend is having an illicit affair with Princess Margaret and tells her to hide behind the curtain on hearing Prince Philip approaching the room. Philip then proceeds to give Townsend a heart attack by pointing in the general direction of the curtains and saying he'd like to have a word about 'that'. Turns out he's pointing to the pictures of aircraft on the wall next to the curtain, because he'd like Townsend to give him flying lessons.
  • In Criminal Minds Hotch empties his clip into Foyet when he find him hiding behind the master bedroom's curtain in Hotch's old house. Unfortunately Foyet had anticipated this reaction, and was wearing a bulletproof vest.
  • Doctor Who: In "World Enough and Time", Bill attempts to hide behind a curtain in the hospital. Not very well, as the IV stand she is hooked up to is still outside the curtain.
  • Father Brown: In "The Man in the Shadows", Sid is forced to hide behind a curtain when he is snooping around outside the archive and the door opens unexpectedly.
  • Father Ted: Ted and Dougal are playing hide-and-seek, and Dougal stupidly "hides" by concealing just his face behind a curtain, leaving the rest of his body plainly visible. When it's Dougal's turn to be "On," Ted finally concedes the fact that there just aren't many good hiding places in a caravan and hides himself in the very same way!
  • Friends: In "The One with Unagi", Rachel and Phoebe sneak into Ross' apartment, hide behind his curtains and jump out yelling "DANGER!" to scare him as revenge for him pulling a similar Jump Scare on them.
  • Frontier Circus: In "The Smallest Target", Bobby hides behind a rack of hanging dresses in Bonnie's caravan.
  • Get Smart. Subverted and double-subverted in "Dear Diary": The first time Max notices a pair of feet under a curtain, he tackles it, but it turns out that it was just an empty pair of shoes and that someone is hiding behind the other curtain. Later, when 99 notices another pair of feet, Max tackles the other curtain, only to find there's nobody there and the shoes did in fact belong to someone hiding behind the first curtain.
  • In I, Claudius, Claudius ducks behind a curtain when the Praetorian Guard bursts into the palace after the murder of Caligula. They find him, and because they need an emperor to keep their jobs, they make him emperor.
  • Parker does this to hide from the Big Bad in the Leverage episode The Wedding Job.
  • In a vehicular variant, Klinger on M*A*S*H once hid a tank by draping an army tent over it, effectively surrounding it with curtains on all sides. However this doesn't work as the enemy (who are shelling the camp) didn't see or hear the tank drive out, so they know it's still there.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Madame Brooks DuBarry" Mr. Conklin and Harriet hide behind the curtains in Mrs. Davis' living room and spy on Miss Brooks.
  • The Professionals. In "Where The Jungle Ends", a mercenary is Trespassing to Talk to Britain's top organized crime boss. The boss is making an Implied Death Threat which the mercenary cuts short by rushing over to the curtain and knocking out the goon hiding behind it.
  • The Rise of Phoenixes: Zi Yan hides behind a curtain while Zhi Wei talks to Ning Yi.
  • Sister Boniface Mysteries: In "Scoop!", Ruth is snooping around the minister's study when the minister enters and she hurriedly conceals herself behind the curtains. Hidden here, she overhears a compromising argument between the minister and his wife.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): The thief in "A Bad Habit" hides behind a curtain in the abbey.

  • Taylor Swift: In the title track of Speak Now, the narrator sneaks into her love interest's wedding to another woman and hides in the curtains as she knows she's not welcome there.
    And I am hiding in the curtains
    It seems that I was uninvited by your lovely bride-to-be

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "First Day", Walter Denton hides behind the curtain in Mrs. Davis' living room.

  • In the sci-fi parody by Steve Lovett, Babes In Outer Space, the astronauts do this to hide from evil Queen Rula. The Queen's scientist Natina turns on lights to reveal them, but pretends it’s a 'shadowscope' that can see everything the escaped astronauts are doing. Our heroes then proceed to pantomime everything the shadowscope 'sees'.
  • In Hamlet, the title character stabs someone he thinks is Claudius through the arras he's hiding behind. It turns out to be Polonius. Though technically an arras is a heavy tapestry, it's still this trope in essence, meaning...
  • The Lion in Winter has an example that takes this up to eleven: King Philip ends up with all of King Henry's sons hiding in various places around his room as each of them visits him in succession on the same night, remarking, "That's what tapestries are for."
  • In The Medium by Gian-Carlo Menotti, Toby is often found hiding behind the curtain of the puppet theater. This contributes to Baba's suspicions of him and, after her Sanity Slippage, her shooting him when he fails to answer her, with the curtain becoming a White Sheet of Death.
  • A different subversion than the shoes one occurs in the play The Murder Room: the protagonist hides behind the curtain of a window as his antagonist comes to the house - unfortunately for him, he didn't think that hiding behind the curtain means he's quite visible from the outside.

    Video Games 
  • In the second Laura Bow game, Laura can hide behind a tapestry in one area of the museum in order to eavesdrop on an important conversation.
  • A minigame in Super Mario RPG has Mario hiding behind a curtain while Booster's Snifits try to find a Mario doll (It Makes Sense in Context). Hilarity Ensues as Mario's feet are obviously visible, but one, then two, and then three Snifits all fail to notice him. Getting caught doesn't end the game, but it does trigger an Optional Boss fight with Booster.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In "Arthur Babysits", the Tibble twins were hiding behind the curtain during a game of Hide and Seek. Arthur made up a monster called "Swamp Thing" to scare the twins out.
  • The animated series of Police Academy had one episode where Capt. Harris and Lt. Proctor hid behind the curtains when a criminal showed up to rob the bank. They were just trying to prevent the criminal from seeing them but they accidentally fell on the criminal, capturing him by a stroke of luck. Harris quickly started hogging as much glory as he could.
  • The scene from Hamlet (above) was parodied on The Simpsons in "Tales From The Public Domain." Bart's Hamlet stabs Chief Wiggum's Polonius, who states that he was hiding behind a curtain for fear that he would be stabbed.
  • The Smurfs use a tapestry as cover while they follow Lady Jasmine to her quarters in Prince Theodore's castle so that he in frog form can get a kiss from her in The Smurfs (1981) episode "The Prince And The Hopper".
  • In the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Surprise", Zorak and Moltar frantically prepare a surprise birthday party for Space Ghost. Having invited all the guests (mostly the Council of Doom) and brought them into the studio while Space Ghost was distracted, the most logical hiding place was behind a set of drapes on the set. This backfired horribly, as the drapes were never there before (and they didn't match the desk), so SG decided to just blast them (the drapes, that is; he didn't seem particularly concerned that the Council of Doom was hiding behind them).

    Real Life 
  • How many of us tried this out in games of "Hide and Go Seek," only to find the results disastrous? It turns out curtains generally don't hide the bulky shape of a human as well as the movies would have us believe... and of course, feet really do poke out the bottom.
  • Not exactly a curtain, but many kids hide behind their mom's skirts when they are scared, serving the same purpose.
  • During World War II when Charles de Gaulle went to the White House to meet President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Secret Service became convinced that he'd try to assassinate the President and hid behind the curtains of the Oval Office. The sight of their shoes poking out from under the curtain did not facilitate post-war US-French relations.
  • King James I of England and VI of Scotland (one individual) managed to disprove a nurse's alleged use of this trope by ordering her to stand behind said curtain in front of an audience. It only came to her knees.
  • Supposedly, Claudius was found hiding behind a curtain after Caligula was killed. He was promptly declared the new emperor.
  • Russian tsar Paul I was allegedly hiding behind a curtain when assassins busted into his own castle. It didn't work.
  • In a documentary, this played a part in how one Holocaust survivor managed to evade the Gestapo in a ghetto. However, she didn't use a curtain, she used her mother's long coat. After hiding her brother in a suitcase, she'd get behind said coat and said it was an ideal hiding place because it hid her feet too.