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Decoy Hiding Place

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Lisa: Bart, do you think it's safe?
Bart: I don't care. I can't breathe in here.

The Main Character is being pursued, and is now within a room and needs somewhere to hide. Perhaps they're a spy who's alerted a Conveniently Timed Guard, or a Serial Killer has stalked you in your own home. Either way, they need a hiding place, and luckily, somewhere catches their eye.

The pursuer enters the room, looks around, then notices the obvious place to hide or sign of activity. Perhaps some furniture is covered with a dust sheet, or there's a window that shouldn't be open. Perhaps the air vent cover has been mysteriously removed or at least ajar. Either way it's obvious where the character is. And so the pursuer pulls the sheet or looks outside, and finds... no sign of anything.

Meanwhile, the main character is hiding somewhere less obvious, possibly on the ceiling waiting for either a chance to attack, or for the guard to decide that It's Probably Nothing.

Usually, the audience won't see the switch, so will be expecting the main character to be found where the guard is looking.

Compare Fakeout Escape.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One episode of Detective School Q has a man breaking into Megu's home doing this. There's a twist - the decoy hiding place was revealed when Megu noticed that the plates in the china cabinet had been rearranged, something most people wouldn't notice within moments of entering their home, especially when they're worried about a break-in. The fact that the decoy hiding place would only be noticed by someone with a very good memory implied that the thief knew that one of the residents had a photographic memory, which a person robbing a random home wouldn't.
  • Chidori Kaname manages to best professional killer Yu Lan in Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid by hanging the robe she'd been wearing in a Decoy Hiding Place and then attacking with a stun-gun while Yu Lan was distracted.
    • Keiko Yukimura does something similar during the Maze Castle arc of YuYu Hakusho with a scarf.
  • During part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Polnareff is regressed to a child of less than five years and runs from his pursuer Alessy into a dead-end room. Once said pursuer breaks into the room, he assesses the possible hiding places — under a bucket, inside of a teddy bear, and inside of a clock — by smashing them with his ax. In fact, Polnareff took a mirror from its frame and hid behind it inside of a fish tank. He reveals himself once the enemy has already come close enough to be ambushed.
  • Nami does the 'conspicuously open vent' version in the One Piece filler arc G-8. Actually, she's not even hiding—she's pretending to be a nurse, claims the real pirates escaped through the vent, and urges the marines to give chase, all so she can grab Chopper (who is hiding, under the sheet on an occupied examination table), convince the doctor (who had fainted) to let them go, and escape while everyone was distracted.

    Comic Books 
  • In Knightsend, Catwoman finds herself cornered in an office with a bunch of goons on her tail. To throw them off, she hurls a chair through the window and hides under the desk, causing her pursuers to think she's escaped outside.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Toy Story, Sid looks around his room for Woody and sees an upside-down milk crate where Woody was hiding. He lifts up the crate, expecting to see Woody... but sees nothing, because Woody was Container Clinging onto the milk crate. In a deleted scene, Sid would have found Woody hiding under the milk crate at an earlier point in the movie, which is why it seemed like the obvious hiding spot when Sid was looking for Woody this time.
  • The VeggieTales movie The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything opens with the Big Bad taking over the ship the Prince and Princess are on. A Mook goes into the cabin to find the princess, sees a green cylinder that looks suspiciously like a leek's foot, draws the curtain away, and... it's a vase. He leaves, and the princess and her butler come out from the trapdoor.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the climax of Blue Velvet, Jeffrey remembers that Big Bad Frank has a police radio, so while using one he found to alert the actual police, he lies about where he's hiding. Frank falls for it, which gives Jeffrey time to grab a dead man's gun, which he uses when Frank uncovers his actual hiding place.
  • Fargo: When two criminals break into the Lundegaard house to kidnap Jean, she flees into the bathroom and locks the door. The kidnappers break the door and find a seemingly empty bathroom and an open window. Jean is actually hiding in the shower; she only gets caught because one of the kidnappers lingers in the bathroom to disinfect a cut on his hand.
  • When the Russian base is overrun in GoldenEye Natalya runs to the kitchen to hide, but leaves an air vent cover hanging open. The Dragon sees it and smugly shoots up the ducts before leaving. In reality Natalya was hiding in a cupboard.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy sets off a boat to float down the river. When the Nazis pile into a boat to pursue, he escapes on a motorcycle.
  • In Jurassic Park, Lex tricks a velociraptor into charging her reflection in a stainless-steel kitchen counter.
  • Masquerade (2021): The intruders check everywhere for Casey, but somehow never find her. In fairness, she does relocate, sometimes even using previously searched spots to throw the villains off.
  • In "Pimpernel" Smith (aka Mr. V), Leslie Howard is in a room with the woman he has come to rescue when the Gestapo starts up the stairs. He asks the woman about other exits and she indicates that there is a fire escape outside the window. When the Gestapo men arrive they see a table moved away from the window and a tipped over vase. Some go out the window to chase them down while the others go back down the stairs to cut them off. When they are gone, the camera slowly pans to a closet. The two poke their heads out and Howard said "I'm almost embarrassed to use that old trick. but it almost always works."
  • Marv's tale sequence in Sin City has him luring Kevin into the woods by hanging his coat on a tree in order to trick him into attacking it while he attacks with an ax from behind.
  • In The Sting, Johnny Hooker escapes from a hitman by having the diner waitress go into the bathroom and open the window. He has the hitman chase him into the bathroom and then hides in the bathroom stall with the waitress sitting on his lap (so the hitman can see her shoes under the door). It doesn't help him, because he runs out of the front door of the diner and in the same direction that the hitman had gone. He escapes because the waitress was another assassin and didn't want the hitman to take the target she was setting up. She shoots the hitman and lets Hooker escape, so she can set up a better opportunity to kill him.
  • Done in the The Remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). Leatherface thinks he has found the locker that Erin is hiding in and opens it, only to have her come out of the one behind him with a meat cleaver in hand.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 target Time Chasers had the main character and his girlfriend throw open a door in a hallway and then quickly scurry out of sight, tricking their (rather stupid) pursuers into running through the wrong hallway.
  • In the 2005 The War of the Worlds, the heroes are hiding from an alien probe. The probe sees the tip of Rachel's shoe sticking out from behind a mirror, and moves in for the kill... but the shoe is empty. The heroes have already moved to a new hiding place.

  • Discworld:
    • In the novel Lords and Ladies, Magrat gets the drop on an elf by tricking it into thinking she's hiding in the garderobe (for those not in the know, it's a sort of medieval lavatory) when she's really hiding under the bed. She kicks him down the garderobe while he's distracted. It's unknown whether this would be fatal to the elf, but you can certainly bet it wasn't pleasant.
    • A Double Subversion in Men at Arms: Vimes is hiding behind a wall, and holds his helmet out on a stick so the man with the Gonne will think he's leaning his head out. The man with the Gonne knows it's a trick and aims for Vimes, not knowing that Vimes got a longer stick in case the guy figured it out.
    • Used in Eric, when the Odysseus-inspired character of Lavaeolus uses the Tsortean Horse for this purpose. The Tsorteans take in the big wooden horse, see that it's full of air holes, and surround it with spearmen. Then Lavaeolus' small, elite squad sneak in through the secret entrance, which they know about because they got the janitor drunk.
    • Pyramids: Teppic hides Ptraci in a stone sarcophagus. When Dios leads the search for her (with such intensity Tepic is surprised he isn't leaving little trails of molten stone on the walls), before Teppic's had a chance to get her out, he sees the slightly ajar lid, immediately moves to it... and it's empty (turns out she'd gone to the bathroom).
  • In the novel Neuromancer, protagonist Case pulls one of these early on. Running to the end of a corridor while being pursued, he kicks one door open, leaving an attention-grabbing distraction. He then pops the latch of a side door as a less-obvious hiding place. He freaks out and gives himself away soon after.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The A-Team episode "The Battle of Bel Air", Col. Decker is chasing the A-Team into a sporting goods store and loses them. Decker then sees a mannequin completely covered with winter gear and, well aware of how Hannibal Smith is a Master of Disguise, suspiciously walks around it. Meanwhile, the camera keeps on the mannequin as if to suggest it is Hannibal hiding in plain sight. Suddenly, Decker tackles it, only to learn that it is only a mannequin and the A-Team was really hiding in a nearby tent.
  • Blake's 7. An accidental version in "Powerplay". A soldier notices the latches on the hatch to an inspection channel in the floor are raised instead of flush with the hatch. However that's because our heroes were leaving the channel, not entering it.
  • Dad's Army: In "The Lion has Phones", a montage shows the Home Guard platoon disguising themselves as haystacks, garbage cans, and gravestones for their camouflage training. Then we see a row of milk churns lined up like the platoon, who actually turn out to be hiding behind a fake wall attached to a nearby barn.
  • Col. John Shepherd uses this to great effect to take out various members of an army sneakily invading the base in Stargate Atlantis.

    Video Games 
  • In Déjà Vu (1985) II, you are at one point captured and stowed into a shack while the baddies leave to decide what to do with you. As soon as you're alone, you have to cut your ropes, open the door to the outside... then hide in a laundry hamper. When the baddies come back and see the open door, they assume you've fled into the desert and give chase, leaving you ample time to search their hideout for clues.
  • In a trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4, two GEKKO chase Snake onto a rooftop, where he finds his favorite stealth device: the Cardboard Box. We then see Robo Cam view as a GEKKO examines the box, then smashes it flat, crushing perfectly good watermelons. The GEKKO give up the search and leave, then a heap of rubble in the corner turns out to be Snake in his new stealth suit.

    Web Comics 
  • The main character of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja uses this on Dracula late in the "Punch Dracula" arc - he sets up a coat on a potted plant just outside the exit, causing the vampire to chase what appears to be the fleeing Doctor outside...allowing the actual doc to get the jump on him.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Blackwing the raven pulls this ploy on Qarr the imp, using a shed feather sticking out from behind a pillar. His success with the ploy is aided by the fact that Qarr is, as Blackwing notes, a moron.

    Western Animation 
  • Exaggerated in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, where Shaggy and Scooby hide in the museum's exhibit for the Worst Hiding Places in History. The monster busts several 'obvious' hiding spots that turn out to be part of the exhibit, including a curtain with feet sticking out and two hedges that happen to match their silhouettes.
  • Peter from Family Guy buys a hut and a New York newstand and sets them up in his bedroom just to use this trope. He was in fact hiding in the bathroom.
  • Eliza Maza pulls this off to take out one of Xanatos's special forces team in Gargoyles, using her jacket on a branch.
  • A Simpsons episode has Bart, Lisa and Maggie hiding from something in what appears to be three conveniently sized vases, only for them to tumble out of the adjacent closet.


Video Example(s):



When Fedora thinks he found teenage Indy hiding in a chest on the train only to find it empty and Indy already off the train.

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Main / DecoyHidingPlace

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