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Failed a Spot Check

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Prometheus: You're in luck! The bridge ahead is still intact.
[an Invader throws a car off the bridge and heads for Michael]
Michael Ford: You neglected to mention the giant alien standing on the bridge.

When a character fails to notice something important or obvious, something they would want to know, even when looking. Differs from Weirdness Censor (where they don't see it because it's so bizarre), Selective Obliviousness (where they don't want to see it), and Bystander Syndrome (where they ignore it because they don't care). Also differs from Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!, as there usually isn't that excuse. Opposite of Hyper-Awareness. Can often result in Right Behind Me (although that might be closer to failing a Listen check) or I'm Standing Right Here.

The name comes from a typical mechanic from RPG games, dating back from the arch-RPG Dungeons & Dragons. A character's success on various tasks is determined by a die roll combined in some way with base statistics (such as strength or intelligence) and some skill. The skills in question include several that require substantial luck, like Appraise, Use Magic Device, Hide, or the various Perform skills, but also such mundane tasks as Listen and Spot. Indeed, the Spot skill, which determines whether someone notices events around them in time to react, is often very dependent on luck, even if it's something any idiot should be able to see.

Because things like searching for hidden objects/doors/clues, "noticing what's going on out of the ordinary" or good old ambushes are all very common events in most RPG games, Spot Checks tend to be among, if not THE most common die rolls being done. A single failed Spot Check can put the whole party at a disadvantage, and if you're not lucky you can miss something vital, even while looking for it. Considering the number of Spot Checks a typical game involves, there always are instances of missing out on something because of One Bad Roll, which naturally frustrated people about Spot Checks for literally decades.

Referenced in a running gag in The Order of the Stick, which is wholly dedicated to common "back" sides of playing RPGs. Ironically, both in D&D games and in The Order of the Stick, the players will know that they failed a spot check (though D&D GMs are encouraged to roll spot checks secretly when necessary), thus they are aware of not being aware of something, only not knowing what that something is. In the D&D case, the player is aware of the character not knowing something. In The Order of the Stick case, the lack of distinction between player and character reaches the level of Medium Awareness, and is Played for Laughs.

This doesn't necessarily imply that the character is stupid; they just aren't noticing an important "something". One of the oldest jokes in Dungeon Master's arsenal used to be for players who fail their spot checks badly enough to find themselves "discovering" something both incredibly large and plainly obvious such as an island or a mountain, instead of the one unobtrusive detail that they were trying to find.

May relate to Genre Blindness and Forgot About His Powers. May be a sign of a character carrying the Idiot Ball or being an Unwitting Pawn. When the character's creator explicitly decides what he can and cannot notice, it may lead to Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills. In cases of characters consistently failing spot checks to penetrate a Paper-Thin Disguise, we have Clark Kenting. Someone who does this too often may be Too Dumb to Live, or it may be a case of Obfuscating Stupidity, especially if the spot check failures suddenly stop at a crucial point. Can result in the characters realizing that Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore. Also, this is Truth in Television, as anyone who lost his keys in the open middle of his desk can say. Behind the Black or No Peripheral Vision is when the character should be able to see it from his vantage point, but doesn't because the audience can't from their angle. The Chaste Hero is a character (usually male) who consistently rolls "1"s where romance is concerned. If the thing they're failing to notice is a breaking news story, that's Ignored Vital News Reports. If everyone fails to notice a creature that's big and dumb enough that its presence ought to be obvious, it's Suspiciously Stealthy Predator. If one person is looking for another person but constantly fails Spot Checks when they are close to the person they're searching for, it's Missed Him by That Much. This is usually the reason why Jump Scares happen. Banana peels, however, thrive on this trope.

The scientific term is for this phenomenon is Inattentional Blindness, so as incredible (and possibly depressing) as it sounds, it is known to happen to some degree in real life as well.

Strangely, more likely to happen to a Meganekko than someone with an Eyepatch of Power.

Contrast with Awesome by Analysis.

If the author does this, you may end up spotting Rouge Angles of Satin.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • During the Soul Society arc, Kenpachi takes Yachiru, Ikkaku, Yumichika, Aramaki and Orihime and breaks Chad, Uryuu and Ganju out of the Fourth Division prison and go in search of Ichigo. While travelling through the labyrinthine streets, the group ends up arguing about the amount of times they run into dead-ends and get lost. The only person who realises they're being followed by two captains and two vice-captains who are hiding their reiatsu is Yumichika. When Yumichika warns Kenpachi, Kenpachi acknowledges that he can sense them too. Everyone else in the group, however, is completely oblivious until the four reveal themselves.
    • During the Bount Arc, Vice-captains Hisagi, Kira, Rangiku and Fifth-Seat Yumichika are sent after the Bount. Outside the hide-away caves, the vice-captains catch Yumichika admiring himself in his mirror and chastise him for dropping his guard. However, the anime shows the audience that Yumichika had both noticed the vice-captains approaching him via his mirror and that he's the only one who realised the Bount had already detected the group's arrival. Once inside the caves, the group examine many strangely designed pillars but Yumichika keeps looking off in a completely different direction to the others. When they're suddenly attacked from behind, Yumichika saves them all by blocking the strike. He then chastises them for having been so unobservant they'd never noticed the danger he'd been aware of all along.
    • In the manga, when Hitsugaya's Advance Guard split up to find different locations to sleep in, the only one who notices the unusual hollow reiatsu that heralds the arrival of Grimmjow's group is Yumichika. He tries to warn Ikkaku who tells him to ignore it, but he still thinks the situation is far too strange. When Grimmjow's assault begins, a panel is shown of all the shinigami reactions, and the only one not surprised is Yumichika.
  • In episode 2 of Blend-S, Maika somehow fails to realize that she's sitting on top of Dino while practicing her character in the break room.
  • Yukito in Cardcaptor Sakura during the sword episode manage to Roll a 20 and a 1 at the same time missing the unconscious girl, Sakura's staff, Li's sword and clothes but spot the tiny bite mark on Li's finger.
  • Code Geass has this done by a Knight of the Round, Luciano Bradley. As he has Lelouch tied up and is about to kill him, Kallen (in the new suped-up Guren SEITEN Eight Elements) wipes out his command and starts to fight him. Luciano laughs cockily throughout, not noticing that Kallen is smashing his weapons one by one. It's only after Kallen grabs his Knightmare by the head and turns on the radiant wave surger that he finally realizes how screwed he is, and by then it's too late. Arguably, however, Luciano knew full well his weapons were getting trashed; his strategy seemed to hinge on getting close enough to use his spiked Slash Harken at a range she couldn't dodge... except she blocked it.
  • Most cases of Detective Conan have Conan knock out Kogoro and use a voice-modifier bowtie to solve the case as Kogoro. After a while the show gets immensely lazy when it comes to Conan hiding this, and at least one episode has him standing directly between Kogoro and another person, turning around, then talking without anyone noticing.
  • Digimon Adventure: After falling into Devimon's trap (a big mansion with lots of hospitality, and only Sora thought there's something fishy about that), the Chosen Children still fall the same trick twice later on:
    • The Chosen Children are treated with hospitality by a village full of Pagumon, despite the fact that the group were informed that the village is supposed to be a Koromon Village and that Tentomon having heard that Pagumon are usually bad Digimon, the children don't realize that they are tricked until they find a Botamon at the village, the pre-evolved of Koromon and it would not be able to survive in a Pagumon Village. Only Sora and Agumon (who smelled the scent of Koromon) felt that things weren't right from the start.
    • When the Chosen Children rearrive at the beach of File Island, they find a beach house that wasn't originally there (which isn't that weird considering that the Digital World was reconstructed into the Spiral Mountain and many places aren't the same as before, and it's been about 11 years in the Digital World since the children left it). All of them run into it without thinking, but rather than being treated with food, they get showered by sand instead. Thanks to Jou accidently stepping on Mimi's shoe, the two of them and their partners don't make it to the beach house at time and they are spared from the trap, allowing them to save their friends from being burned to death. And this time, nobody was suspicious about the beach house at all.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: The Australian civilians don't notice a Dark Tower standing at the beach of Sydney, nor do they care how it came out of nowhere. And they don't notice the Digimon at the beach either.
  • Digimon Tamers:
    • The Tamers and their friends don't really mind the creepy boy who sometimes appears out of nowhere and watches the Tamers fighting the Devas. They just accept him as an odd kid. That is until he goes full creepy, makes some cryptic speech about the deity of the Digital World or spins his head. The obvious spy is the monkey Deva Makuramon.
    • Nobody does notice Juri suddenly having pale skin, Dull Eyes of Unhappiness and her borderline Slasher Smile. Which is even more egregious when Juri's shows up like that for the first time: she's very depressed about the death of her partner Digimon, but then she disappears for a moment and shows up again like descripted above. Nobody seems to mind the sudden shift of her behaviour, going from depressed to slightly happy. When people do notice how creepily and abnormal she acts, they simply shrug it off as if it's nothing. And when Takato finally realizes that's not the Juri he knows, but a copy of her, it's way too late.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Freeza somehow missed Goku's Genkidama — a giant, glowing sphere of energy roughly the size of a blimp — for quite a while. The given justification is that he couldn't sense energy, but it's... huge. And glowing. And RIGHT THERE. The only plausible explanation is that he mistook it for one of Namek's several suns.
    Freeza: " Oh, somehow I completely forgot about that."
    • In the dub, he explicitly says "What? That's not the sun!" when finally noticing it, suggesting that he did mistake it for one of Namek's suns at first.
    • The same mistake happens to Boo, but unlike Freeza, Boo was busy fighting other fighters and enjoying toying with them. However, Boo was capable of sensing energy. The series justifies this as his pure form seemed to have an Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!.
    • In the Dead Zone movie, Goku and Piccolo are fighting each other after they apparently defeated Garlic Jr. and they don't notice the debris around starting to fly up to the sky and their surroundings are cracking. And they still haven't picked up that Garlic Jr. is immortal.
  • In Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, until they are informed of Kuro's existence, Illya's friends and Shirou prove utterly incapable of telling Illya and Kuro apart. Though they have the same face, Kuro has darker skin, paler hair, wears different clothes, and doesn't even try to copy Illya's mannerisms. Even after learning about her, Shirou still occasionally mistakes Kuro for Illya.
  • In an episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Sagara defuses a Hostage Situation by taking the hostage-taker's little brother hostage and somehow tying him up in the rafters of the warehouse without anyone noticing. The kid was also in on the plot, however, which makes it slightly more plausible.
  • In Flunk Punk Rumble (aka Yankee-kun To Megane-chan), Daichi Shinagawa is totally and hopelessly unable to recognize Hana Adachi as the girl he fell in love with at the entry exam for Monshiro High and the one who gave him his scar, despite interacting with her on a daily basis given they're in the same class and good friends. Adachi is the same. He discovers the truth quite long before the story's end, though.
  • No-one in Hell Girl ever seems to notice Ren's giant, disembodied eye watching them in several episodes of the show.
  • Is the Order a Rabbit?:
    • Twice with Chino and Cocoa regarding "Rose", or Rize with her hair down wearing normal girl's clothing. Once in episode 6 while the latter was simply walking down the street, and later in Chiya's tea shop in episode 9. Both times the girls fail to realize it's Rize, and she never bothers to correct them either.
    • Played for Laughs in episode 10, when Megu claims she can't tell who the real "Rize" is, when Chino and Maya both put on twintails and stand next to Rize. The latter points out that she doesn't have to play dumb.
  • Yamamoto from Katekyō Hitman Reborn! lives this trope. Despite fighting in numerous life-or-death battles, seeing himself and his friends be horribly injured, going through extreme training just to ensure his own survival, traveling through time, and finding out that in the future his dad is murdered by his enemies he STILL thinks all his numerous adventures are just part of an elaborate LARP. This isn't due to lack of intelligence (he's actually one of the smarter guys in the family) but seems to be either a defense mechanism which allows him to maintain his sunny disposition no matter what, or just his way of downplaying the seriousness of the situations at hand. One thing's for sure; he is damn committed to this "mafia role-playing game". Well, in the manga he reveals that he's known all along that it was real, and that it was all an act.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
    • You have to feel a little bad for Chisame as the only student in a class of 31 girls to really notice and find unusual the fact that one of her classmates is a robot with mechanical joints and antennae for ears. Or that Kaede and Mana look way too old to be middleschoolers and the twins look like kindergarteners. Asuna and Negi don't actually notice Chachamaru until she starts flying using her jetboots. Lampshaded, of course.
    • The presence of the huge occidental dragon in the underground of Mahora gets missed twice — until it literally drools on someone's head.
    • Natsumi later gets an artifact that, as long as she wears it, causes this. She can walk right past the Big Bad and, as long as she wears it and doesn't touch him, he fails the spot check.
  • During the Chunin Exam Finals arc of the Naruto anime, an ANBU Black Op patrolling the forest around the stadium senses a presence and halts, only to brush it off as probably nothing. While no enemy ninja were technically visible in that shot, the following shot displayed an entire squadron of ninja standing next to trees and various shrubbery. Not behind the trees and shrubbery, but next to them.
  • Saki:
    • While Momo is invisible to most people, and isn't noticed unless she goes out of her way to make herself heard, this goes further than usual with her teammate Kaori, who is surprised to hear that Momo has been in the mahjong club longer than she has. Kaori only officially meets Momo just before the start of the tournament, despite both of them being in the Tsuruga club room at the same time, and her hearing Momo's voice while they were in Satomi's van on a trip to the beach.
    • In the Hot Springs Episode near the end of the first anime series, Nodoka and Saki walk into an outdoor bath together, and it takes them about a minute, after hearing a splash, to notice that Yumi is also there (as well as the aforementioned and invisible Momo).
  • Sgt. Frog:
    • Dororo often winds up on the other end of this, as his friends tend to not notice his presence or forget about him. In the anime, this often sets off his Trauma Switch. The only exception to this is Koyuki; the only time she failed to notice his presence was when she was temporarily Brought Down to Normal at one point.
    • His Unknown Rival Zoruru takes this Up to Eleven. Everyone fails their spot checks when it comes to the half-metal cyborg assassin with red and black eyes, for some reason. One chapter ramped this up by having the readers potentially fail their spot check: after Dororo leaves for a bit of waterfall training with Koyuki, we're shown a typical Keroro Platoon meeting... with Zoruru sitting in Dororo's usual seat.
  • Sunday Without God has a fairly humorous example. After setting out on their journey, Ai and Julie fix up an abandoned van and drive off in it, but fail to notice a person sleeping in the backseat until Scar mentions him well into the drive. Cue brakes and interrogating their sudden new companion.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • During his duel with Dinosaur Ryuzaki, Jounouchi has forgotten that he has set his Time Magiciannote  (Time Wizard) since the first turn, a card that could easily turn the table to his favor at several points throughout the duel. But he doesn't notice his card until Ryuzaki points out that Jounouchi has a card on the field that can be wagered.
    • When Kaiba and Mokuba are setting up to blow up Duel Tower/Alcatraz, with 25 minutes to go, Mokuba comments that he hopes "the rest of the gang" (his friends, their employees, and everyone else) already left. A video screen right in front of him shows the blimp they came on, and at the time, "the rest of the gang"'s only means of transportation, has not moved from its spot.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • When Judai is trying to return to Duel Academy, he somehow fails to notice a sign pointing the way, and the fact the buildings are visible.
    • In another episode, Misawa is pondering his self-worth on a hill overlooking the oceam, when his idol, Dr. Albert Zweinstein, appears and starts to give him advice. Misawa pauses for a minute to take this in, and when he looks back, Zweinstein seems to be gone. Believing it was a divine vision, he runs off. In reality, Zweinstein had tumbled off the edge of the hill. (The exact same thing happens at the end of the episode.)
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, nobody seems to notice Bruno having permanent Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, which is the one unusual part of his appearance. Obviously, it's a hint that he's the Mysterious D-Wheeler who dueled Yusei just recently since that man also had such eyes (although, that can be excused, since nobody can apparently see through his Opaque Glasses), but it's also more or less that he's an android; although other androids like Paradox, Aporia and his three components had normal eyes.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: The first time Yuma confronts Cathy, she confides in him that she had a crush on a boy who never notices her; Yuma thinks he understands, and tells her she has to come out and tell him. Of course, its obvious to everyone but Yuma that he is the crush, but even as she tries to take this advice to heart, he never realizes it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V:
    • At the end of Yugo's duel with Duel Chaser 227, the latter has completely forgotten about Yugo's face-down card since the first turn. Roget picks up on that and orders DC227 to stop the attack, but he officer doesn't notice that either and he loses the duel and his career on top of that.
    • During their second duel, Crow doesn't notice Yuya screaming in pain and his sudden shift in behaviour and he believes that the latter tricked him. After a while, he does wonder what is going on with Yuya, but he doesn't realize that it is indeed the truth until Sora points it out and when Crow sees Yuya's terrifying Death Glare. The dark and sinister Battle Aura surrounding Yuya and his D-Wheel might be excused, since nobody seems to be able to see that, apparently.
  • Subverted in Zatch Bell!. Zofis shoots an explosive spell at Sherry and, believing her killed, departs the area. Obscured by the smoke from the spell, Sherry had actually survived when Brago arrived and Took The Bullet for her. When they next met, Brago points out that with Zofis's Supernatural Sensitivity the idea that he could miss another demon standing right in front of him is absurd. Which Brago takes to mean Zofis knew full well he was there and ran rather than face him.

    Board Games 
  • Risk: If you pay too much attention to one threat — say, the most immediate one, such as the continent-breaking attack the South American player has launched at the southern North American border — you'll miss another player quietly adding troops in an undefended area, making the turn in which someone takes Alaska and holds it with 12 troops a bit of a surprise. It would also behoove you to pay attention to how many cards your enemies have, but this is war, damnit! Electronic Arts seems to have programmed their computer players to routinely fail to monitor the whole board, possibly in a combination of Truth in Television and Artificial Stupidity.
  • Scrabble. Seriously, how many times did you have the letters to make a high-scoring word but didn't notice it. (Homer had this problem in The Simpsons episode "Bart the Genius", where he didn't realize he could have spelled "oxidize".)
  • In Zombie Plague, players may search any spot they haven't searched, even if others have searched it, and what one player finds is completely independent of what another might find. It's entirely possible for one player to search a locker and find nothing but car keys, then have the next player search the same locker and find a chainsaw.

    The expansion turns the whole game Up to Eleven, making the possibilities even wilder. Hypothetically, the first three searchers might find nothing but car keys, a single bullet, and a screwdriver, followed by other players finding (one at a time) a flamethrower, live beagle, double-barreled shotgun, suit of chainmail, safe, and cellar door in the same spot.

    Comic Books 
  • In Death of the Family, Catwoman finds herself trying to move giant chess pieces containing people around. She fails to notice a person's head sticking out of a pawn.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batwoman and Harley Quinn leave a gathering of a resistance group seconds before Superman arrives, busting through a glass ceiling and laying waste to the building. Neither woman notices this until they've made it halfway down the block on Batwoman's motorcycle and she spots flames in her rearview mirror.


  • The Fantastic Four once managed to miss that Dr. Doom and Franklin Richards had switched bodies despite Doom not remotely bothering to stay in character. They ended up Brainwashed and Crazy and needing to be rescued by the Power Pack.
  • The second House of M mini-series features a fight between Hawkeye, Misty Knight, Black Cat, and Magneto. It's only after Magneto is incapacitated that the rest notice Fin Fang Foom, a gigantic Chinese dragon, who had been lurking just off-screen. Promptly lampshaded by Misty:
    "How are we just now seeing the dragon?! It's not even that big of a room!"


  • Transformers contains an epic example. Unicron, a planet-sized devourer of worlds is able to sneak up on the planet of Cybertron with no-one noticing him until he's close enough to take up the entire sky, because they're all busy fighting over whether or not they need to team up to take him on (that's right, they know he's coming and still don't have so much as a lookout to provide an early warning signal).

    This very moment was lampshaded by Kup at the end of American #74. Kup asks Primus "You can sense Unicron, correct?" When given the answer of "yes, through our bond" Kup points to the sky behind Primus (and it may be noted, that the group Kup just walked away from to ask this question, has already been seen to be huddling together out of apprehension) and asks "Then how in the name of creation did you miss THAT?" Revealed in the next issue by Primus himself: Unicron snuck up on the planet in a shut-down state. He drifted up on them, and it's quite likely that the rather small army (this was before Grimlock's contingent of reactivated 'bots came back in the Ark) was still working out unit assignments and the like, going by the state of "the army" in the very next issue. That being, highly unprepared and it's no small wonder so many got deactivated...

    Comic Strips 
  • Bloom County:
    • Taken Up to Eleven by Steve Dallas' mother, who thought Steve's father (her first husband) had been dead for twenty years, and married and divorced six other men during that time. After aliens made Steve a kind, sensitive person using the "Gephardtization" process, he told her that not only was his father alive, he was where he had always been, reading the sports section of the paper in the den at their house (next to the ceramic poinsettias). His mom said she had honestly just never noticed him there.
    • That wasn't the first time she had missed something that was obvious. She never realized the true reason Liberace never married (it was hardly a secret to most fans that he was gay) and used him as an example in at least two strips while trying to convince Steve not to remain single. It came as quite a shock to her when Steve let it slip in the middle of one such argument.
  • In one series of The Boondocks strips, Granddad wanted to see a movie that was, in his words, "manly", so he and Tom went to see Brokeback Mountain, thinking that it would fit the bill simply because the newspaper said it was "about cowboys". (Both Riley and Huey knew more about the plot than that, and Granddad had no idea why the two were laughing at him.) In fact, despite the fact that there were several gay couples at the movie, Granddad didn't get the point until he was about halfway through seeing it. (And even then, Tom had to explain it to him; Granddad often had a hard time grasping concepts in modern media.)
  • In one Sunday Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown and Lucy are talking about a museum exhibit she went to while drinking lemonade, when Snoopy comes up behind and takes a sip of hers. She doesn't notice, even as she resumes sipping it, but Charlie Brown sure does, and is noticeably squicked. Eventually, Lucy tells him, "You know, it's hard to talk while you keep making those weird faces!"

    Fan Works 
  • During Marisa's battle against Cirno in the Touhou fanfic Average Joe In Bullet Hell, she begins shooting off repeated Master Sparks. She stops firing after a while to take a breather, but finds out that the one tree that wasn't blown up was where Cirno was hiding.
  • Averted in the The Walking Dead fanfic Better Angels when Shane immediately spots the herd of Walkers bearing down on Hershel's farm, whereas Rick didn't notice them in canon. This alludes to Shane's survival instincts being much stronger than Rick's.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic The Boy Who Died A Lot, Madam Hooch refuses to entertain the notion that the bludgers have been sabotaged, insisting that nothing can get past her wands.
  • On two occasions in Metal Gear Solid: Fight of Metal Gears, Jake Snake fails to notice enemies until Otacon calls him and tells him that they're behind him.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan works:
    • Ultra Fast Pony. Fluttershy is supposed to wait for the snow to be cleared away before she wakes up the animals. She fails to notice that the ground is still covered in snow, even when she's standing in it.
      Fluttershy: I thought it was dandruff!
    • In Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure, Twilight doesn't notice that Celestia is evil until it is pointed out to her, despite its extreme obviousness based on the description immediately following said pointing-out.
    • Dash's New Mom: Twilight Sparkle fails to realize that the stallion she's dating, Blue Streak, is Rainbow Dash's daddy. Since the daughter is almost a dead ringer for her father, Twilight is very sheepish when Rainbow points out how obvious at least some relation would be.
    • There was a brief period where Bonbon of the Reading Rainbowverse was actually in a tumblr dashboard. Both Lyra and Fluttershy tried to get her attention... but the relevant posts always moved out of view right before she turned to look.
    • In Diaries of a Madman, Rainbow Dash and Navarone are completely oblivious to the fact that they've entered a restaurant for couples until they get inside and bump into Rarity, somehow failing to be tipped off by the name of The Loveboat.
    • After consummating his relationship with Celestia in TD the Alicorn Princess, TD somehow fails to notice her lying in his bed when waking up the morning after. After eventually noticing, he ends up wondering what she's doing there, before the memories come back.
    • In About Last Night..., Pinkie Pie, who knows all details about all her friends, doesn't recognize Rarity's double is not her.
      Pinkie: Ooh! A wall!
    • Much like in "Fall Weather Friends", Twilight fails to notice the large crowd of spectators in A Pony Out of Place until Pinkie points them out to her.
      Pinkie: All right everypony! Let's all give a hoof to our two competitors!
      Twilight: Pinkie? Who the hay are you talking to?
      Pinkie: (pointing) Them.
      Twilight: One of these days... I'm going to learn not to ask.
    • This happens to Limestone in the Harmony's Warriors side-story "Trottingham Pink", when she doesn't realize the pink mare she was facing was her sister.
    • Spike in Past Sins MST, who somehow didn't see Twilight carrying Nyx when she returned from the Everfree Forest.
    • In The Great Slave King, Captain Sing Sing orders his guards to escort prisoners who had escaped in a jailbreak back to the cells before the princesses find out, only to find a bemused Celestia looking straight down at him.
    • In Chapter 2 of The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments, Applejack misses all of the apple-related food at the meal during her initial look at the table.
    • In the World of Warcraft/My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic crossover World of Ponycraft, the guards' perception range follows the aggro rules, allowing the group to pick them off in small groups.
    • In Stroll, the bandits who originally kidnapped Octavia don't seem to notice when the cargo they stole - and the pony who came with it - have fallen out of the back of their wagon.
    • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: While exploring the Questioning Order’s vault, Rex finds the Crystal Heart hidden in a small hidden area of the wall. Thinking it’s only a replica, he puts it back, unaware it was the real thing, or that (per Word Of God) Sombra was the one who hid it there, with the Questioning Order having never found it.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim does this a few times:
    • Dib does this twice in the first chapter — first, when he overlooks the Big Red Button on the Spittle Runner's console, and later when he's trying to escape Norlock's castle and doesn't see a nearby window right away.
    • In Episode 2, Dib is keeping an eye out for Zim at the Parent Teacher conference, and yet Zim's whole group sneaks up behind him.
    • At the start of Episode 4, Zim and Skoodge somehow fail to notice Phil in the same room as them, despite his size.
    • In Episode 7, when Dib and Steve are hiking through the woods to reach the unburied Meekrob ship, they completely miss a dirt road leading right there. Though Dib comments it wasn't on the map, so it's not entirely their fault.
    • Also in Episode 7, Zim fails to notice Dib and Steve's presence in the Children of the Bright and Shining Saucer camp, until they speak up.
    • In Episode 16, Team Save Earth fail to notice the monster army attacking the city until Mortos points it out to them.
  • PRIMARCHS lampshades this concept, in one of its many homages to Final Fantasy, when the Primarchs have a "random encounter" with some daemons on their way to meet Abbadon.
  • The reason why Azula was able to infiltrate the Earth King's palace in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Retroactive. Despite all the guards, they were unprepared for someone who had already infiltrated Ba Sing Se, observed the security routines, and loaded up on potential weapons for sale right there in the city. It's implied that this is a result of purging the Dai Li, who normally would have been spying on the populace and both detecting and diffusing those kinds of plots before they could even get to the palace. Of course, Long Feng especially would realize this, hence why he sends Azula to take advantage of that exact weakness.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • In Act II, after fighting off a vampire agent in Ashton City, Moka fails to realize several obvious things (the agent's fighting style, personal knowledge of Moka, and voice over the radio) that prove the agent's identity as her sister Akua, even dismissing the odd coincidence that Akua and Kahlua just happened to show up at Yokai Academy right after the gang returned there from Ashton City. It isn't until Act III chapter 42, where the group discovers from Hokuto that Akua and Kahlua lied and Fairy Tale is not only still active, but coming to Yokai Academy for a full-scale attack, that Moka puts it together; she promptly lampshades how blind she was to not have put it together beforehand.
    • In Act III chapter 46, when Kou returns to Yokai Academy and reveals to the headmaster that Fairy Tale stole the Chrono Displacement spell from Issa Shuzen's archives, he somehow doesn't take into account the fact that the archive in question was a family secret that only Issa and his daughters knew about, and thus the only way Fairy Tale could have known about the archive, let alone the spell, is if Akua and Kahlua had been in league with them, until he actually says it out loud.
    • In Act IV chapter 17, Falla mistakes a bottle of Yukari's love-struck potion for perfume, completely failing to notice the warning note Ruby left next to it.
    • Throughout Act IV, Tsukune and co. expect Hokuto to pull off a full-scale attack on Yokai Academy to capture Moka, as per what happened in an Alternate Timeline. However, they fail to consider the fact that Luna and Falla, two Time Masters, were not present in said Alternate Timeline, and are completely unprepared when Hokuto, who did take Luna and Falla's presence into account, goes with a Divide and Conquer tactic instead by having Jovian and Jacqueline hold Tsukune's mother and cousin hostage.
  • Until he runs right into him, Mike Evens is too deep in thought to notice the large and rather muscular henchman in his way as he leaves for home after stealing important documents from his boss in the Lilo & Stitch: The Series fanfic Aliens.
  • First in the second Chapter 14 of Supper Smash Bros: Mishonh From God with the entire British Military coming "outta nowere". Despite behaving like they did in in American Revolution with marching in straight rows and having drummer boys keeping them in rhythm. Later, in Chapter 16, Mao Zedong shows up riding FREAKIN GODZILLA despite Sara not seeing anything seconds earlier and being on "hi alurt".
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic Teaching Darkness, this happens to Iblis when the sun sets, giving Dark the advantage.
  • This Bites!:
    • During the Alubarna banquet in Chapter 22, Cross is so exuberant out of successfully tying Luffy's tongue around his own head that he neglects to check what he's eating: biscuits.
    • After Enel is defeated, Conis is so distraught over losing her island, her father, and contemplating her decision to join the Straw Hats, that she doesn't notice her father standing behind her comforting her.
  • Somewhat adverted in a fan film of Uncharted, while Nathan is being beaten while handcuffed to a chair one of the mooks watching notices that the compass they took from him is missing its southern hand. He brings it up but its to late. Nathan has already used it to get free off the handcuffs and starts a brawl with those in the room.

    Films — Animation 
  • Happens a lot in An American Tail, where Fievel and his family keep narrowly missing each other.
  • In the Canadian animated short film The Big Snit, the protagonist couple fail multiple spot checks regarding the nuclear war that has broken out while they were distracted by their own differences.
    • The husband is fast asleep when the nuclear war is announced on the television, and only wakes up when the family cat chews through the cord. He looks out of the window at the screaming masses in the streets, and... concludes that they must be there for some sort of parade. He gives the scene no further thought.
    • At the end of the short, the husband and wife somehow do not notice that they have been killed in a nuclear explosion and gone to heaven, in spite of the very otherworldly scene stretching before them. The husband simply remarks that on days like this, he doesn't feel like doing much of anything, and suggests that he and his wife finish their Scrabble game.
  • Coco: Mamá Imelda falls victim to this trope three times:note 
    • The first time is when Miguel claims that the guitar that cursed him belonged to his great-great-grandfather. She doesn't realize that he shouldn't know who her husband is, and even if he did, that he couldn't have found the guitar that belonged to him, given what she thinks she knows about him.
    • It's obvious when Miguel bails from his family that he's going to look for his great-great-grandfather. Imelda catches him minutes later leaving the station with Héctor. When Imelda finally catches up with Miguel, Héctor is no longer with him, a sign that Miguel has the wrong idea of who her husband is. This also seems to go right over her head.
    • The most glaring instance has to be when they search for Miguel at the music competition. None of the Riveras notice him on the stage with Héctor, who are singing a song that Héctor wrote for Imelda.
    • Then at the end, it turns out her banning music and trying to forget her husband forgotten made it so neither she nor their daughter would recognize his guitar and songs were used by Ernesto De La Cruz, his partner and supposed best friend. She has unintentionally allowed his murderer to remain unpunished for almost a century.
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, the protagonists disguise themselves as Gallaxhar-clones merely by donning their uniform. The other clones fail to notice that they look nothing like Gallaxhar.
  • Something very similar happens in Shrek 2. Shrek sneaks into the factory of the Fairy Godmother, by disguising himself in one of the workers' uniforms. Fine, except the workers are gnomes, he's an ogre, and the entire uniform only covers his head.
  • In The Transformers: The Movie, Jazz is stationed on Moonbase One and yells out "Where that come from?!" when Unicron attacks. Unicron is the size of a huge freaking planet. How could Jazz have missed that even if he wasn't monitoring the sensors? This is apparently a specialty of Unicron's, since he pulled it at the beginning of the movie- he wasn't noticed by the first planet he attacked until he was practically within chomping distance, and he also pulled it off in the Marvel Transformers comic run (see above).
  • In Wreck-It Ralph Calhoun's backstory is so tragic because she forgot to do a perimeter check on her wedding day, allowing a Cy-Bug to get in and eat her fiancé.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 2 Fast 2 Furious, Agent Dunn performs a rather egregious example while drinking from a soda cup from Gallo's Pizza.
    Brian: So, Agent Dunn. Looks like we're gonna be partners. Just tell me one thing right quick. What would be a better motor for my Skyline? A Gallo Twelve or a Gallo Twenty-four?
    Dunn: Uh, Twenty-four?
    Brian: I didn't know pizza places made motors.
  • In Alaska a search and rescue plane goes right past the bright yellow crashed plane they are specifically looking for. While the pilot is launching flares specifically to get their attention. While there's no excuse for the first detail, the pilots at least have an excuse for missing the flare, as their search and rescue chopper turned away just seconds before the crashed pilot can fire his flare.
  • Batman: The Movie: The United World Council takes the cake, unable to notice the criminals' entrance or the fact each member is disappearing one by one. Note how well this works as a political commentary.
  • In Battlefield Earth, the Psychlos love gold, which is evidently the rarest mineral in the universe. They came to Earth to get it, and have spent 1,000 years strip-mining the planet to get it all. Yet, somehow, they completely missed Fort Knox, which has a good 3% of the all the gold ever mined by humans in one place.
  • The French comedy La Chèvre and its American remake (Pure Luck) have the accident-prone protagonist get robbed by a local criminal. To help him, the detective working with him takes a break from tracking down a man who the missing heiress was last seen with. He eventually tracks down the criminal at a poker game and forces him to repay the klutz. After they leave the game, they decide to get back to tracking down the supposed kidnapper. The detective takes out the man's picture and realizes he was at the poker game.
  • In Danny the Dog, while grocery shopping, Sam teaches Danny how to tell if a melon is ripe by tapping on it. A huge fight occurs in the store and everyone is scared except Danny, who is too busy checking the melons to notice.
    • Averted after the fact when Sam asks why Danny did not react to the fight that broke out in front of him. Danny calmly replies that the fight did not involve him and thus was not worth reacting to.
  • Zakk from Deathgasm somehow manages to walk into a living room and drink a beer without noticing his friend Brodie is being attacked by a demon until the demon starts screaming.
  • One of the Big Bads gets killed in Dumb and Dumber To because he didn't notice the car had parked on train tracks.
  • In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, there's one scene where E.T. walks through the kitchen when Eliot's mom is cooking, and she would have seen him if she simply turned around a second earlier than she did — twice.
  • A number of deaths in the Final Destination series are caused by things you would think the person would notice, i.e. the bathroom practically flooding with blue water, a cracked mug practically gushing vodka....
  • Thomas Jefferson Geronimo III, the protagonist of Final Justice, apparently has no awareness of his surroundings, which results in his losing the suspect in his custody, being captured and nearly tortured himself, and the deaths of two innocent people.
  • Godzilla (2014):
    • Twice, when the infantry teams are searching for the MUTOs, their air support hovering directly overhead completely fails to spot the enormous kaiju munching on a Russian sub standing up in the jungle or the gigantic chunk of mountain ripped open until the people on the ground stumble within a few feet of them. They also fail to notice the massive hole and trail of destruction that comes out of the Yucca Mountain until one of the soldiers finds the monster's containment cell from the inside.
    • The casinogoers in Las Vegas fail to see the news broadcast showing a monster going through the city. The ceiling is taken out for them to realize it.
  • As an artistic choice, this happens so much in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly that characters can hardly be said to even exist if they are not on screen. This is actually the film maker's idea. Characters' fields of view is the same as the audience/camera's. This explains how the villain manages to sneak up on the hero in the middle of a mostly flat area for the film's final confrontation. While off screen, the hero and the audience cannot see them.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel: Gustave and Zero steal Boy with Apple, and haphazardly conceal the fact by replacing it with a completely different painting called Two Lesbians Masturbating, which isn't even the same shape and leaves part of the first painting's dust pattern visible. And it takes Dmitri weeks to notice this, which is odd given how much he selfishly covets the painting. Lampshaded by his sisters, who point out that they noticed, assumed he had moved it, and ask why it's taken him this long to realize it.
  • In Gravity, while drifting within the International Space Station, Stone pushes away a small latch that's in her way, thus completely missing the small fire that was building up behind the latch.
  • In Gunslinger, the main heroine Rose and the Mayor spend one scene discussing that they were going to keep him in the town jail to protect him... not realizing that antagonist Cain is nearby, listening in. When shown on MST3K, Joel muses that "peripheral vision hadn't been invented yet."
  • In Halloween (1978), Dr. Loomis is looking for proof that Michael Myers has returned to Haddonfield. He hangs around the old Myers house for hours before noticing that Michael's stolen car is parked on the street nearby, which would have saved him a lot of trouble earlier.
  • In Hornets' Nest, Nazi soldier Gunther enters a room after hearing suppressed gunfire. He sees Aldo and the two dead guys on the floor in front of him, and Turner is immediately to his right, but apparently Gunther has no peripheral vision because he completely fails to notice the American, allowing Turner to knock his gun away and break his neck.
  • Used a lot in comedies like Hot Shots! and The Naked Gun, where there's always something bizarre happening in the background and the deadpan main characters just ignore it completely. This is apparently a Zucker-Abrahms-Zucker trademark.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss destroys the Careers' supplies from much closer than she did in the book, and is quite visible in the composition of shots focusing on Cato in the middle of his Villainous Breakdown.
  • As noted by "40 Things I Learned From Independence Day", regarding Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum storming the mothership:
    Aliens are just too stupid for words to express. An alien air traffic controller can look at a fighter that has been human-modified for 20 minutes and is only 50 feet away and not notice the welded-on missile rack until the missile is fired through his work station.
  • In Inglorious Basterds, the Bastards knock out a Nazi guard in the German general's private train car. Later, Yeager enters, and has completely forgot about him, and so when he's going to get off, the Nazi wakes up and shoots him.
  • In Jurassic Park:
    • After the scientists first arrive in the park, Ellie (a paleobotanist) notes an unusual fern and begins describing at length how it appears to be a long-extinct species. Meanwhile, Alan is trying to draw her attention to the rather large dinosaur right in front of them.note 
    • A Tyrannosaurus rex (which up until then had been heralded by the ground shaking as they approach) appears out of nowhere to save the heroes by getting into a fight with some Velociraptors at the end. Somewhat mitigated by the fact that they are now inside, and on presumably a more stable foundation; and by the fact that they are at that point too busy running for their lives to notice.
  • In Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legendary Riders both Michihiko Zaizen and his troops somehow do not realize that they are talking to a rider, nor that he is someone that can't be honest about joining them. Haruto simply bluffs them and goes on. Mind you, he wears his driver and rings pretty much all the time. They are somewhat recognizable even when in inactive state. No wonder he is bit smugger than usual when his plan works out without them noticing.
  • Kiss of the Tarantula: The police get reports of seeing Susan at the scene of the drive-in deaths. Apparently they only saw her and not the four teenagers' screaming death throes (which resulted in two of their heads sticking out of windows.)
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • In The Two Towers, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas encounter Éomer and his riders but apparently make no note of the huge plume of smoke rising to the sky until it is pointed out to them. Rather a poor showing for trained rangers and trackers.
    • Aragorn claims to Theoden that he has "thousands" of good men riding north. While there were quite a few Riders of Rohirrim in the pack we saw, the number is probably closer to "one hundred."
    • Also in The Two Towers, Wormtongue is surprised that Gandalf didn't have his staff confiscated at the door to Théoden's hall, even though Gandalf was holding it in his hand as he walked down the length of the hall in clear view of Wormtongue. In this case, we might infer that A Wizard Did It and Gandalf put a Perception Filter on his staff, which might also be how he got in with his "old man's walking stick" shtick (though it could be that Háma had decided that it was as good an excuse as any to let Gandalf keep it and help his king). Ian McKellen on the commentary track says he was well aware of this problem and that he was trying to make the staff as inconspicuous to the camera as possible during his walk towards the throne—you can see he's holding the staff fairly low and partly under his grey cloak, but it's still clearly visible.
    • As Alan Lee points out in the Design Team audio commentary of The Return of the King Extended Cut, the orcs crossing the river to Osgiliath have great big bloody torches. And yet no soldier really notices.
  • In The Lovely Bones Susie Salmon admitted after the fact that she didn't pay any attention to her surroundings, implying that she might have lived if she did.
  • Mindhunters: In a Danger Room Cold Open situation, two FBI trainees enter a house to save a serial killer's latest victim and declare the area safe before they're both "killed" by a second perpetrator. Their supervisor later chews them out about all the telltale signs they missed that the killer might have had an accomplice, including two cars parked in the front.
  • Parodied in Monty Python's Life of Brian, where members of the Judean People's Front (or was it the People's Front of Judea?) hide from the Romans behind coat racks, under blankets, behind poorly constructed and non-concealing chairs, and out on the patio, only to have the Romans fail to discover them. Somehow, the Romans do find a spoon. On the second try.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Crow says this when digging through the Satellite of Love ends up breaching the hull. When he asks for his plans and gets them, he spots out the detail. "Oh, well, look at that! 'Breach hull, all die!' Even had it underlined!" Then, he lampshades it with a case of Didn't Think This Through.
  • Lampshaded in A Perfect Getaway: "Your situational awareness kind of sucks."
  • The entire first third of Shaun of the Dead is one giant failed spot check, with the protagonists not noticing a Zombie Apocalypse unfolding around them even when they run into actual zombies — "Hey! We're not using the "Z" word!" In particular, the long scene where a hungover Shaun goes through his morning shopping routine (which we've already seen in its "normal" form in the beginning of the movie), utterly failing to spot things like some blood in a glaringly obvious place (then slipping on said blood before shrugging it off), or actually paying for what he gets from the store.
  • The Sixth Sense is a classic example of a Tomato in the Mirror ending which, while brilliant at first sight, relies massively on this trope when you think it through.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
    • Spider-Man sneaks into his bedroom by the window, clinging to the ceiling, taking off his mask and closing the door before going down... and only then does he notices Ned Leeds sitting on the bed. Sure it's a bunk bed, the top of which having blocked Peter's line of sight from the window, but still, so much for super-senses.
    • At the end of the film, Spider-Man puts on his Spidey suit again in his room, failing to notice Aunt May standing behind him...
      Aunt May: WHAT THE FU-(cut to credits)
  • Star Wars: In The Last Jedi, Supreme Leader Snoke gets so caught up in his successful capture of Rey that he fails to notice Kylo Ren using the Force to shift the lightsaber next to him, aiming it at his waist. He only realizes what's happening when Kylo uses the Force to switch the saber on, bisecting Snoke. It really doesn't help that Kylo is thinking in Exact Words; when Snoke reads his mind, all he sees is, essentially, "I'm going to stab my enemy with a lightsaber". Snoke fails to realize that the "enemy" in this case is him, so he lets his guard down.
  • In Tragedy Girls, a janitor walks in just after Sadie and McKayla murder Syl, and are chopping up her body. The two girls freeze in place, but he doesn't even look up, and simply goes about his business, shuts off the lights, and leaves the two of them standing there in the dark. Their faces make it clear even they think this is absurd.
  • A particularly egregious example in Michael Bay's Transformers, wherein a hobbit-sized (and glaringly product-placed) Decepticon sneaks around in an incredibly obvious manner, yet somehow manages to avoid being caught by the security guards standing only a few feet away. Appropriately mocked in the RiffTrax. "How's your peripheral vision, Frank?" "Terrible. Yours?"
  • Not played for laughs in The Tribe where one of the deaf students is run over by a truck slowly backing up behind him.
  • The infamous scene in A View to a Kill where Stacy doesn't notice a blimp approaching her, even when Bond yells at her to look out.
  • In War of the Worlds, the family tries to steal a car to get away from the tripods. A mechanic sees them and orders them to stop. They frantically try to warn him to come with them or else he will die, and when he won't listen, drive away. He chases them on foot, ordering them to stop, and doesn't notice the tripods even though they are very loud and destroying everything, and ultimately gets blown up.
  • In The Wolfman, Dr. Hoenneger gets so wrapped up in discussing Lawrence's delusions and the treatment he's devised, that he's the last person in the room to notice Lawrence is transforming right behind him.

  • Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson decide to go on a camping trip. After dinner and a bottle of wine, they lie down for the night, and go to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awakes and nudges his faithful friend.
    Holmes: Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.
    Watson: I see millions of stars.
    Holmes: What does that tell you?
    Watson: [thinks for a minute] Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.
    Holmes: What else?
    Watson: Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.
    Holmes: What else?
    Watson: Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three.
    Holmes: What else?
    Watson: Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant.
    Holmes: What else?
    Watson: Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.
    Holmes: What else?
    Watson: [exasperated] I don't know! What does it tell you, Holmes?
    Holmes: [facepalming] Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent!

  • In 1635: The Cannon Law, a Spanish officer is irritated by an Inquisitor who accuses him — an officer from a known noble family — of being a secret Jew because he slept in on a Saturday, while completely missing the two actual Jews in his unit. Then again, the two Jewish soldiers weren't that observant, to the point that he imagines a hypothetical Jewish Inquisition might suspect them of being secret Christians.
  • In Battlefield Earth (the book), Fort Knox is one of the first places the gold-loving Psychlos hit. The humans get the gold for their plan from an armored car, which still leads to the same problem as in the movie, of how the Psychlos missed all the gold that humans had already mined.
  • In Dragon Queen, Trava fails to spot a dragon. Luckily, Sajag sees it.
  • The Dresden Files: In Fool Moon, Harry makes an "invisibility" potion which works by inducing this trope on anyone nearby. It works too well, and he is unable to get the guard's attention to save him from the Loup-Garou.
  • A boy in one Encyclopedia Brown book is notorious for this. Narration mentions that he once hired the title character to find his wristwatch, when it was on his other wrist the whole time.
  • In the children's book Good Night, Gorilla, a zookeeper fails to notice the titular gorilla stealing his keys, letting itself out of its cage and freeing several other animals (including an elephant, a giraffe, and a lion). Then all the animals follow him home to his bedroom and he doesn't notice anything until his wife says good night to him and all the animals respond "Good Night."
  • This trope is used as a major plot point by two members of the main trio in the third Harry Potter book to accomplish some daring rescues during Time Travel without being seen by their past selves.
  • This causes a character's death in A Memory Of Flames. He forgets that he's wearing the armor of a dragon knight when he walks into a village filled with people who have hated dragon knights for generations. All the more bizarre when the character himself hates knights.
  • One Murderous Maths book, dealing with ellipses, featured a group of evil aliens dragging a giant space rock into the path of Earth's orbit (which they had plotted as a circle) and adopting a position some distance out of the way, only to be rudely surprised to learn that the Earth's orbit is an ellipse when the planet crashes into them unexpectedly. Needless to say, this requires absolutely heinous incompetence, because even though the Earth moves at thousands of miles per hour, it is a frigging planet.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's The Purloined Letter is about a man who possesses a letter which is highly embarrassing to the royal family, and is blackmailing them with it. He freely allows the police to search his house, and after a very thorough search they come up empty. He had hidden the letter in the one place no-one would think to look: in a card holder, out in the open.
  • In The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft, our hero is fleeing and has the entire Town with a Dark Secret after him. He has made it out of the town proper and is following an abandoned railroad. He hears them coming and in desperation, dives into a nearby ditch. And... the entire search party just passes him by. A force that big, and it never occurred to any of them to search the surrounding area instead of just sticking to the railroad. Even for a bunch of degenerate mutants, that's pretty jaw-dropping. To make matters worse, the protagonist actually faints from horror so it's not like he was making much effort.
  • Sherlock Holmes never had this problem, and was in fact the polar opposite, but Watson often seems oblivious to the most thuddingly obvious clues. The level of obliviousness varies depending on the particular portrayal, being fairly low in the original stories, but played up by Nigel Bruce. In the original stories, Watson just doesn't make logical conclusions in ways that would solve crimes. Holmes usually asks Watson to come with him when there is a slim chance of sudden assault. With firearms. At night. Watson, when prompted by Holmes, can be said to make quite a lot of intelligent and observational jumps — and in stories like The Hound of the Baskervilles, where he has to function in Holmes' absence, he is nonetheless very effective at helping Holmes. He's good — Holmes is just so much better.
  • In Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Simon was too caught up in his own insecurities to put on the Elliot Smith shirt Blue got him for Christmas, so he almost missed the note taped inside that reaffirms his love for Simon.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, during Tyrion's second trial, he notes that there are six Kingsguard in the crowd. Since there are only five active members of the Kingsguard currently in the city—the others being either dead or in Dorne—the sixth member can only be his beloved brother, but he doesn't make this connection.
  • In one Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, "A Time for War, A Time for Peace", Kahless II swapped himself with a hologram for six months to see if anyone would notice. How did Martok and the High Council find out? When the Klingon rebel group Klahb took over a Federation Embassy and demanded the removal of the hologram.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the X-Wing Series, Wedge is preparing to depart on a mission where he is disguised as Han Solo. He is travelling on an imitation of the Millennium Falcon dubbed the Millennium Falsehood and has Chewbacca along to fly and help maintain the charade. Literally minutes before launch, Wes Janson points out to Wedge the minor detail that has been overlooked:
      Wes Janson: Wedge, you don't speak Wookiee.
  • The Stormlight Archive, Edgedancer: Lift fails to notice the Indicium — the only building in Yeddaw that sticks above the ground level — until it's pointed out to her. Keep in mind that she actually ran to the city from the hills, and even commented on how flat it was.
    Lift: Was it always there?
    Wyndle: Yes, actually.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die:
    • A criminal planning to rob a jewelry store at gunpoint failed to notice that he entered the wrong store... and found himself attempting to hold up a gun shop.
    • Related is the tale of a would-be robber who tried to hold up a gun store, despite walking past a marked police cruiser sitting outside. Featured in the Darwin Award.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • A surprisingly non-lethal variant, when Simmons walks into the lab and immediately starts telling Fitz about the covert research they've been conducting together, failing to notice that May is standing literally right next to him. Luckily, Fitz is able to stop her from giving away anything definitely incriminating, and the other agents are mercifully better at spot-checks.
    • Another benign one in "Parting Shot" where Hunter and Bobbi, the former being an expert soldier and mercenary and the latter one of the best spies in the world, somehow fail to notice that all of their former co-workers are in the bar with them at the end of the episode. Especially strange since they managed to peg a complete stranger as a tail in the same scene. Luckily, the people involved aren't hostile and it leads to a Heartwarming Moment.
  • Happens all the time on The Amazing Race when a team walks by a clue, and their cameraman points it out for the audience.
    • Particularly good in season 17 when almost every team somehow fails to notice the cypher key covering an entire building wall.
    • In season 3, several teams happily fill up their cars with unleaded gasoline, despite the warning on the gas cap that the vehicle takes diesel fuel only.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • The Nazis just plain forget to check under the damn car until Walt points it out.
    • In "Face Off", the final episode of the 4th season, Tyrus Kitt, a goon of Gustavo Fring does a thorough check for cameras, wires, etc. in Hector "Tio" Salamanca's room at Casa Tranquila Nursing Home, however, he still misses the bomb underneath Tio's wheelchair, which Tio detonates to kill Tyrus and Tio, but also blows half of Gustavo Fring's face off (and he still survives barely long enough to fix his tie).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Xander doesn't even notice Willow's bloody shirt after Tara is killed, because he's so shocked over Buffy taking a bullet.
    • Throughout the early part of Season Six, Buffy repeatedly fails to notice that Willow has developed an addiction to magic, even after said addiction drives Tara away; it isn't until said addiction leads to Willow causing a car crash that lands Dawn in the hospital that she finally catches on.
    • Played for Laughs on several occasions when Buffy is waiting for a vampire to Rise from Your Grave, but doesn't notice because she's too busy yakking to one of the Scoobies. At least one vampire is smart enough to quietly sneak off when he sees the waiting stakes and crossbows.
  • In a 2008 game of Deal or No Deal, host Howie Mandel secretly invited a player's sister to appear as a model with a suitcase. He'd tried prodding the player into realizing her sister was there, but she, and her parents who were also there, kept missing it. It was a good thing Howie shaved off his hair otherwise he'd have ripped it out. One wonders if the sister was The Un-Favourite in the family.
    Player: Am I missing something?
    Howie: Are you missing something? YES! Look at the model holding the briefcase!
  • In Doctor Syn ("The Scarecrow"), Syn, Mipps, and John all sneak into Dover Castle disguised as a press-gang to free the prisoners inside. Lieutenant Brackenbury sees through at once, but he lets them through as he's doing a Heel–Face Turn. When General Pugh berates him later for "not recognizing" them, Brackenbury points out that Pugh met them himself and failed to pick up on it, despite seeing Syn all the time at the Squire's house.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This trope is common throughout the classic series, where the Doctor and/or his companions will be "concealed" so long as the villain doesn't casually glance in their direction. Which they never do, of course.
    • In "The Dominators", the Doctor notes that a volcano is erupting on the island he is on, but needs to have it pointed out to him that he should probably leave because a volcano is erupting on the island he is on.
    • The Doctor in "The Mind Robber" spectacularly fails to remember what Jamie is supposed to look like when he has to reassemble his face. This gives rise to a headcanon that Time Lords are slightly face-blind, or don't recognize other people in the same way as others.
    • In the first episode of the classic series story "Earthshock", a pair of assassin robots dart down a corridor just before a soldier turns to look. While the robots themselves are out of view, their shadows are clearly visible retreating down the passage; however, the soldier completely fails to notice despite staring straight at them.
    • The technology of "perception filters" are often used as a Handwave whenever the plot demands that something not be noticed until it needs to be dramatically revealed. The basic principle is that perception filters don't stop you seeing something, but will stop you noticing something unless you are either already aware of it or are specifically looking for it, and even then it takes effort to consciously spot it. For things that you would never consciously think about, like the number of rooms in your house or whether your house actually has an upstairs, the filters are pretty fool-proof, and even the Doctor is not immune to their effects. At one point the Doctor incorporates the technology to sneak around. While demonstrating it and telling Martha to focus on looking at him, she described the effect as "It's like... I can see you, but I don't want to."
    • The Ninth Doctor does this in "Rose": he and Rose are discussing the Nestene invasion plans by the Thames, with a clear view of the London Eye, and the Doctor mentions that the Nestenes will need an enormous transmitter. "What's it look like?" "Like a transmitter, round and massive. Smack dab in the middle of London, must be completely invisible." She has to make him turn around three times before the penny drops.
    • The Master isn't immune either. In "The End of Time", he converts 99.9999999...% of the human race into copies of himself and still fails a spot check, something which the Tenth Doctor is only too delighted to point out.
      The Doctor: Six billion pairs of eyes and you still can't see the obvious, can you?
      The Master: And what's that?
      The Doctor: [gesturing to the guard aiming a gun at Wilfred Mott] That guard is one inch too tall. [guard knocks the Master flat on his back]
    • The Eleventh Doctor and River Song have one of these in "The Time of Angels", when they fail to notice that while the Aplan race who built the catacombs had two heads, the statues they supposedly put there only have one... so all the statues are Angels that had lost their wings.
      River Song: How could we miss that?
      The Doctor: Low-level perception filter, or maybe we're thick.
    • The Eleventh Doctor again in "The Pandorica Opens". He's in ancient Britain during the time of the Roman occupation when one of the Roman soldiers who've joined his cause turns out to be Rory Williams, who had died thousands of years in the future and then was erased completely from ever having existed by a crack in the universe. The Doctor is the only person who still remembers him. He tries to approach the Doctor but the Doctor, lost in thought about the other aspects of their situation, asks him to be quiet while he tries to figure it out.
      The Doctor: I'm missing something, obvious, Rory! Something big, right slap in front of me, I can feel it!
      Rory: Yeah, I think you probably are.
      The Doctor: Well, I'll get it in a minute. [walks out of the room carrying two Cyber guns]
      [a loud clatter is heard from outside]
      The Doctor: [slowly walks back into the room, staring at Rory, and pokes him in the chest]
      Rory: [rocks back on his heels from the poke]
      The Doctor: ... Hello again.
    • In a flashback scene from "Let's Kill Hitler", it's established that Amy took ten years before she realized that Rory was not gay, and that there was one girl he paid attention to: Amy.
    • In "The Wedding of River Song", with all of time crashing in on itself, the Doctor pleads with Amy to remember who he is... while absently picking up a model of the TARDIS on a nearby table and ignoring various sketches on her office walls depicting her adventures with the Doctor.
    • Early on in "Time Heist", the Doctor ponders why he isn't just using the TARDIS to do this job. Clara then brings up the more obvious question: where is the TARDIS? The Doctor admits he should have led with that.
    • In "Dark Water", the Doctor massively fails to notice all the Cyberman imagery everywhere.
    • "The Pilot": Bill takes a while to realize the TARDIS is Bigger on the Inside after entering it — mainly because she's known the Doctor for months by then and has only ever seen the TARDIS parked in the corner of his office, flush against two walls, and thus assumes it's a knock-through. Even after he pulls the lever to take off, she assumes it's a lift. It takes exiting in a completely new location for her to catch on, which is lampshaded by the Doctor and Nardole.
  • It takes Father Ted a few minutes before he realizes the living room is full of rabbits.
  • Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers completely fails to notice that one of his guests has died as he's serving him breakfast in bed. Basil, we suspect, tends to think of most of his guests as somebody else's problem.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In "Baelor", Arya is by far the most conspicuous person in the crowd, yet no-one but Ned notices her outright.
    • Despite suffering Flaying Alive Fingore on an X-shaped crucifix, Theon fails to guess his torturers are House Bolton, whose sigil is literally a flayed man on just such a cross.
  • One episode of The Golden Girls has Sophia get misplaced while in the hospital. She ends up in an elevator. Meanwhile, Dorothy and Blanche go to the hospital to search for her. At one point, they get into said elevator, take it to a different floor, and get out without Dorothy and Blanche or Sophia noticing each other.
  • In the House episode "Skin Deep", Dr. Wilson gave a patient an ultrasound and failed to notice that she doesn't have a uterus. Actually tends to be a common medical hangup among less experienced doctors (or alternatively, medical technicians and such who have worked so long everything has become routine). Generally caused by patients having a specific problem, and the doctor searching for and then treating that specific problem... only to miss the cancerous growth over the heart.
  • iCarly:
    • Gibby in "iWin a Date":
      Carly: We have to keep the game clean and fair.
      Gibby: How would I know which one is Shannon?
      Sam: Listen. There will be three girls: Girl Number 1, GIRL NUMBER 2, and Girl Number 3.
      Gibby: So, which one is Shannon?
      Carly: If you want TWO go on a date with Shannon, you got TWO choose carefully.
      Carly & Sam: That is all you have TWO do.
      Gibby: O-kaaaaay!
    • Spencer runs into the apartment excited about a girl he just met in "iThink They Kissed", and doesn't notice that the Power Trio is tied together with duct tape.
  • GSN game show Idiotest exploits this. The visual puzzles presented to contestants are designed to test their observation skills. While often filled with misleads and misdirection, the correct answer is usually blatantly obvious.
  • The Knights of the Round Table, Karadoc and Perceval, from the French Kaamelott TV series are rather oblivious as a general rule. In the spin-off comic book Le Serpent Géant du lac de l'Ombre ("The Giant Snake from Shadow Lake"), they however take it to a whole new level. While rowing on the title lake in search of the eponymous giant snake, a huge coil of said monster rises above the water behind them... and they don't notice. Then its tail strikes their boat, and they wonder if they hit a rock. Finally, a stronger tail lash capsizes their boat and sends both in the water. Their conclusion? There's no giant snake in this damn lake, they're just wasting their time.
  • Played for Laughs in the Crossover between Kamen Rider Gaim and Ressha Sentai Toqger, where Takatora gets a phone call about the Humongous Mecha vs. Giant Monster battle going on, then looks out the window at the exact moment the two giants leave his field of vision. He tells the person on the other end of the line "That's ridiculous, get back to work" and wonders if he's the Only Sane Man in the company.
    • He usually is.
    • The gag was repeated the next year in the crossover between Kamen Rider Drive and Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, except this time Brain saw the battle and desperately tried to point it out to a disbelieving Heart and Medic.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid
    • This happens to Kuroto Dan in the web spin-off Kamen Sentai Gorider where he fails to understand the nature of the Kamen Rider he is disguised as, leading to his plans falling apart in spectacular fashion.
  • Like the aforementioned Gaim-Toqger examplenote , Played for Laughs in the Den-O-Decade crossover movie The Onigashima Battleship, where Kuchihiko (the Big Bad of the movie) fails to notice Teddy/Neotaros standing right in front of him when he was riding the Denliner. To a lesser extent, the GelNewts also did this, not noticing the other Imagin, the crew of the Denliner, Ryotaro, and Kotaro faking the train passing through time.
  • In Legends of the Hidden Temple, if a team enters with 1 and a half pendants (used to make a temple guard go away, and you need a whole pendant to do so), another half pendant is hidden somewhere in the temple. It's usually hanging from a button that needs to be pressed to open the only unlocked door, but the teammate that needs it usually walks right by it.
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of Leverage, where Parker and Hardison have a conversation in front of the mixing desk in a recording studio... and completely fail to notice Eliot fighting a bunch of goons behind the soundproof window next to them.
  • On the Discovery Channel series Mind Blast, to demonstrate this trope in action, they had a clown on a unicycle ride through a crowded plaza. The people on their cell phones were completely oblivious to the existence of said clown, even saying they saw no clown when they were asked about it later.
  • For more British goodness, a blowaway priest in one Monty Python's Flying Circus episode utterly fails to notice a very large cannon pointing out of a grave at his face, just so the Bishop could get there too late to save him.
  • NCIS:
    • In an episode, Gibbs comes upon the aftermath of a shootout in Mexico. Ocean on one side, desert on the other, and as soon as Gibbs dismounts there's a man with a gun behind him. We guess he was hiding behind the horse?
    • In the episode "Jurisdiction", Gibbs and DiNozzo go into a house with guns drawn and searching for bad guys, and DiNozzo calls "clear!" on a room with a CGIS agent in it that DiNozzo would have easily seen, if he'd bothered to look anywhere but straight ahead.
  • Lily Charles of Pushing Daisies misses the fact that Chuck, her daughter who thinks she's her niece, is back from the dead despite Chuck standing right in front of her. While Lily is missing an eye, it's her right eye that's missing/blind, and in the scene in question the obstruction was to her right — so the eye that was best placed to see Chuck was actually her good eye.
  • The final task of series two of Taskmaster involves the contestants building a bridge that can support a potato on a model field using materials like spaghetti, straws, elastic bands, playing cards, etc. Nobody notices the three separate clues that there was useful building materials attached to the underside of the table; the words "debajo de la messa" — Spanish for under the table — painted on the side of a toy boat; a button on the table which lights up a clue under the table; and a sign above the doorway that tells the contestant to look under the table.
  • The tape 00083 for the family 00437 in This House Has People In It has the family failing to see the very obvious presence of the pink humanoid.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: Even Walker has been known to miss what's right next to him.
  • The Walking Dead, being a horror series, naturally has a few of these but episode 1 of season 2 has a particularly egregious example. Dale, who is perched on top of his RV on a highway, specifically being there as an outlook, somehow manages to completely overlook this horde of walkers until it almost hits the group.
  • Wipeout has the infamous "Where's the pole?" incident (at 1:30). To wit, the contestant was doing great (and was also the first to ever successfully clear the course's infamous Big Balls obstacle) until she was unable to find a thirty foot pole that was right in front of her. According to her, "I thought the pole was yellow!"
  • In episode 2 of the British kids' show The Witches and the Grinnygog, the children's mother reports a theft from the store where she works, a dummy wearing a white dress and yellow wig. Later, she takes in a pair of lodgers, a woman and her ill daughter. The daughter is being carried by a local boy, and is quite blatantly a dummy in a white dress and yellow wig. Absolutely no one realizes it, not even the boy carrying her! Possibly justified in that the woman is a witch, after all, and might be manipulating what the children see.
  • Used a lot in the drama Wizards of Waverly Place.
  • Wonder Woman: In early episodes Wonder Woman protected her Secret Identity via Clark Kenting, but towards the end of the series she didn't bother to wear glasses or a ponytail. So Diana was essentially walking around looking exactly like Wonder Woman - and the entire world failed their spot check for reasons that were never addressed.

  • Daniel Amos uses this twice in their album Horrendous Disc.
    • "(Near Sighted Girl with Approaching) Tidal Wave", the girl of the title ignores warning signs—such as other people screaming and fleeing the beach—and is completely taken by surprise when the tidal wave comes.
    • "On the Line" points out how the listener is constantly ignoring messages from God.
  • The P.D.Q. Bach string quartet, The Moose starts with the performers playing a few awful-sounding bars, restarting, and only then noticing that they've been playing the wrong parts, in the wrong clefs.

    Music Videos 
  • In the music video for the Caravan Palace song "Lone Digger," the dancer is completely oblivious to the fact that a very bloody fight is happening around her, even when blood splashes on her body, until the end of the video when everybody else is dead.

  • Happens in the Cool Kids Table game Homeward Bound 4. Josh manages to hide in a few trees when the humans come after them, While Shannon and Jake are stuck out in the open for humans to find, Josh manages to disguise himself by hiding behind a few trees. Also they're all dinosaurs and Josh is a T-Rex, which is why him being able to hide like that is so notable.
    • In The Fallen Gods, Tuatha doesn't notice that the party's room at the inn has been disturbed and search because she's drop-dead drunk.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Referees. All. The. Time.
    • Halloween Havoc '97, Steve "Mongo" McMichael vs. Alex Wright. Wright won thanks to interference from Goldberg... who was in the ring for 2 minutes while the ref was distracted by Debra... despite the wrestlers bumping into him while so distracted. Even better? He looks back twice while the interference was going on. As depicted in Botchamania (At approx. 7:30 mark).
    • While referees are easily distracted allowing for all sorts of shenanigans and can't put two and two together, the referee of this match deserves honorable mention.
  • Wrestlers also frequently pay poor attention to anything not directly in front of them, allowing opponents to easily sneak up and blind side them. The TV cameras often try to emulate this with selective viewing angles, although a loud cheer or boo from the arena crowd will usually alert viewers that someone new has just shown up to interfere. The wrestlers never notice this crowd reaction either.

  • All over the place in Bleak Expectations, usually for the purposes of humour.
    • For example, Pip Bin fails to recognize his evil ex-guardian Mister Benevolent regardless of the man's disguise, or that the latest person he's met is one of Benevolent's henchmen. And then there was the time he spent seven hours ranting at a member of parliament before realizing the man was dead.
    • There's also the Reverend Godly Fecund, who didn't catch on that his parishioners had all died from starvation. Pip Bin fails to recognize him when they meet up again in series 4, even though nothing about the man has changed. Meanwhile, Reverend Fecund fails to notice that Harry Biscuit is at that moment a dinosaur.

  • In Major League Baseball (or baseball in general), there is a trick play called the "hidden ball trick" that relies on base runners and their coaches failing to spot that an infielder has the ball, allowing said infielder to tag out said base runner as soon as he steps off the base. This does not happen very often, however.
  • When playing dodgeball even a small, weak player can get the strong ones out by tossing a ball while they're throwing.
  • Several of the more spectacular American/Canadian football trick plays rely on the opposing team failing to notice one player on the other team doing something oddly: why is that player hunched over in the middle of the field, not moving, as if he were bent over concealing a football, while the play has moved over to the sidelines?
  • NFL examples:
    • The Chicago Bears were set to return a punt, they placed their two best returners (Devin Hester and Johnny Knox) back to receive the punt. The ball is kicked, a few seconds later, Hester took off up the field, moving towards the left sideline. Every player on the field followed him to block for him, or to stop him. Every player except one, that is; Johnny Knox was the one who actually caught the ball and streaked up the right sideline to the opposing endzone. Too bad the play was called back because of a holding penalty on a different Bear.
    • Keep in mind that Hester is widely regarded as one of the best returners of all time (he holds the records for both most punt return touchdowns and most (kick and punt combined) return touchdowns) so the defense focusing on him is entirely logical.
    • It happened again in a game in 2014 between the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams. On a punt by the Seahawks, primary return man Tavon Austin drifted to his left, frantically moving around as if he had trouble locating the punt against the background of the stadium's domed ceiling. The Rams players moved to block for him, and the Seahawks moved to follow. Unnoticed by nearly everyone was wideout Stedman Bailey, who caught the punt on the right side of the field, than ran up the sideline while most of the Seahawks were oblivious. He too scored a touchdown, and unlike the Bears example, there was no penalty on the play.

  • Character obliviousness is a genre convention for several stylized theatrical forms, particularly opera. There's no unified standard, of course, but the basic rules are roughly as follows: anyone hiding behind or under something is invisible, and that talking or even singing won't attract attention unless their speech happens to be a startled exclamation; anyone wearing a mask is unrecognizable, sometimes even obscuring gender. Individual productions have been known to subvert these rules, for instance by having all five eavesdroppers on a scene hide behind the same chair, concealed for plot purposes not only from the scene's principals but also from each other.

  • Arsenic and Old Lace makes this a Running Gag, first with hero Mortimer completely failing to notice his Ax-Crazy brother Jonathan sneaking up behind him with a curtain cord, and then taken to Refuge in Audacity levels with the policemen who visit the house. Not only do they completely misinterpret the reason for Mortimer being tied up, but they don't recognize Jonathan and Dr. Einstein from wanted posters in the precinct even while he's trying to kill them. This is given a brutal Lampshade Hanging by the police chief later. And, of course, there's the ultimate Running Gag about the bodies in the cellar, which the police don't investigate even when told about them... four times.
  • The Pirates of Penzance:
    • General Stanley rolls a 1 about six times on his spot check during "Sighing Softly to the River" in the climax. He fails to notice the roughly two dozen pirates and policemen who are not only hiding (poorly) in his garden, but are actually singing along with him.
      Stanley: And as I lay in bed, awake, I thought I heard, a noise.
      Pirates/Policemen: He thought he heard a noise. Ha Ha!
      Stanley: No. All is still, on dale, on hill. My mind is set at ease...
    • Don't forget the lines that precede it.
      Pirates: Yes, yes. The Major-General comes
      Policemen: Yes, yes. The Major-General comes
      Stanley: Yes, yes. The Major-General comes
    • Of course, the pirates themselves completely fail to notice the (badly) hidden policemen who are singing along with them.
    • And the scene where the pirates sing loudly about how quietly they are sneaking up to the Major General's house before engaging in a little burglary in "With Cat-Like Tread" (the badly hidden policemen join in here as well occasionally). "A fly's footfall would be distinctly heard" indeed.
  • In Pokémon Live!, Jessie and James report that Ash got away from them while walking right past him.

  • How about spotting that one Lego piece you really need? That one piece you KNOW there are several copies in the same pile? That very one piece you saw FIVE times when you weren't actually looking for it?
  • This also happens when doing a jigsaw puzzle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • There's one stat in Call of Cthulhu literally called "Spot Hidden". Roll a 100 and guess what happens... though sometimes it's a blessing, as ignorance is bliss and one can easily Go Mad from the Revelation.
  • Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies suggests the GM tells the players what their characters are checking to spot, and if players then fail the check, the player gets to explain why. For example, the GM will call for a check to notice an assassin sneaking into the team's home, and a player who fails might say they were busy cleaning their gear... meaning they're armed when they do finally notice.

    Video Games 
  • Armageddon MUD has massive, dinosaur-sized lizards called Mekillots, creatures that happen to live in a vast stretch of land called the salt flats, which contains no hills or mountains at all. Despite that, the game's engine only allows people to look in the four primary wind directions, which means that despite clear weather, broad daylight and not an obstruction in sight, your character will not notice the gargantuan murderous monster to the southeast.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • In Assassin's Creed II and Brotherhood, Ezio's default appearance involves wearing bright white clothes, visible weapons and armour. He can still blend into any crowd, as long as he has 3 or more people around him. Even if he killed a dozen guards seconds ago and the guards just lost sight of him for a moment.
    • At least Ezio has a half-cloak that partially covers some of his weapons. Altaïr in the first game blatantly walks around with visible weapons. All he has to do to hide is bow his head slightly and hold his hands in prayer form. Apparently, it's not uncommon for the guards to see a heavily-armed monk. (Templars were warrior monks, so it isn't exactly unheard of.)
  • Baten Kaitos Origins has Sagi leading a small squad of soldiers and machina into a room, where they find two people: the Emperor they are trying to assassinate, and someone who has been having a conversation with the Emperor. Sagi tells his men to let the bystander go, apparently missing the slightly significant detail that the Emperor is dead. Way to let the killer loose there, Sagi...
  • BlazBlue pulls this one. During Slight Hope, Makoto is trying to help Jin to a local clinic when Hazama comes along and talks up a storm with the wounded Major... before trying to kill him. Given a squirrel beastkin, even in black cloak and hat, would be easy as hell to spot by her huge fluffy tail, and she was likely carrying Jin shoulder to shoulder to minimize the bleeding, Hazama only notices her when she directly interferes.
  • Borderlands marks the objectives for the missions on the map with a large target. However, once you go into Old Haven you have a mission to shut down signal fires that are spewing columns of smoke up into the air and drawing unwanted company from miles around. For the first time in the game, the map doesn't show you the locations of the fires, the map instead displaying a ping dead in the middle of the map, which will be obviously useless for anyone who has spent the game using the map markers as gospel. Or you could just look up at the sky and see whereabouts in the level the massive columns of smoke are coming from.
  • In Bravely Default, Qada manages to brew a concoction that allows him to fake death and takes it before the wind vestal and her companions paste him to the wall. However, he goes on about his plans to leave Eisenberg so that he could recover and brew up an even more toxic mist - this despite Kamiizumi's clear warning that he will die should he disobey an order for selfish gain again. This trope comes in when a voice asks him if he truly wishes to run away midway through his monologue. No points for guessing what happens next.
  • Used and Mocked in Brütal Legend.
    • The roadie unit is a large musclebound guy carrying an 8-foot stack of speakers on his back, yet he is a stealth unit... because no-one ever notices the roadies.
    • At the end of the single-player campaign, after the heroes have spent half the story divided over the revelation that one of them either is or is connected to the demon agent Succoria, the big bad incredulously asks how nobody, including Eddie, noticed that the name is written on Eddie's shirt.
  • In the Carmen Sandiego game "Great Chase Through Time", a lot of the thieves are Hidden in Plain Sight. It's easy to assume that the Good Guide spotted them right off the bat and just wanted you to figure out where they were hiding yourselves, with you failing the spot check. However, everyone in the past apparently does this too, as Julius Caesar never looks to his left to see Doctor Belljar hiding behind a pillar right next to him, The servant never looks behind him because the camel Buggs Zapper is hiding to find that the camel is a cardboard cutout, Isabella doesn't notice a chart with mysterious lands in her room, Beethoven doesn't spot the foreign instrument in the orchestra that Jacquelyn Hyde is playing, and Thomas Edison simply stands there staring at the wall without realizing that Dee Cryption is RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM hiding behind a battery.
  • In the extended trailer for Dead Island 2, a jogger is so absorbed in the music pumping through his earbuds that he completely fails to notice a Zombie Apocalypse happening around him, even as pandemonium unfurls behind him. This stops in a hurry when he changes into a zombie himself, losing his toupee and muscle implants in the process.
  • Guards in Dishonored, particularly the lower ranks, will usually fail to spot Corvo behind objects when he is in stealth mode. They also won't notice the absence of a comrade unless they find the body.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, Steiner insists that Faris not be allowed to join the team because he has no intention of fighting alongside pirate scum like him (her). This causes Vaan to pipe up saying that he's a pirate, and in fact, there are several other party members who fit the Loveable Rogue mold. Steiner is aghast and says they should all leave.
  • ENIGMA: An Illusion Named Family has this for the murderer. The locked down mansion is suffering from a blackout, so everything is really dark and the murderer could walk by Minhyuk hiding in shadowy areas without noticing, because it's so dark.
  • Evil Genius: Anyone with a low Attention becomes more vulnerable to pressure pads and motion detectors, and in the case of hostile agents, may well blunder past a pile of body bags without noticing them, especially at lower competence levels. People in the process of having their stats lowered by social minions may well completely ignore gun battles taking place around them.
  • Both games in the Fairune series feature hidden pathways difficult to see for the player due to the top-down view, which should be readily visible for Hope Girl. Especially egregious and silly when you realize these paths in the Grasslands of Fairune 1 and the Green Fields and Snowy Fields and the Ashen World of 2 take the form of floating trunkless tree foliage.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 3, enemies take about 1/10 of a second or so to see you when you pop out in front of them, and about 1/2 a second to react. Thus, if you are creeping around an office building or underground tunnels, you can just peer around corners in third-person, and then pop out while mashing the VATS button, and get a sneak attack critical without actually sneaking. Furthermore, all enemies are apparently deaf, and cannot hear your gunshots. They will not notice you are in the building, killing their comrades, unless they actually see you, no matter how much noise you are making. They will also ignore their fallen buddies' corpses.
    • Fallout 4 has the Fortune Finder and Scrounger perks, which respectively make bottle caps and ammo appear more often in containers. At their higher levels, it will make you wonder how a survivor without these perks would be able to miss so much on a regular basis. One explanation: since many of the perks are supernatural or follow game logic, it's possible that the bonuses don't exist in the containers at all unless someone with the perks opens them.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's consists of you checking all possible paths of attack the antagonistic animatronics may take against you. The problem is there are many of these and while you may get caught up checking out one of them that is giving you plenty of grief, you'll fail to notice another coming after you. They know this and take full advantage of it. The Five Nights at Freddy's 2 takes this Up to Eleven with even more paths of attack and animatronics.
  • God of War III: During the Final Boss, Kratos and Zeus are so busy fighting each other they don't notice a very pissed off Gaia showing up until she's right on top of them.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn:
    • During the Grave Eclipse event, you can wake up an old man who will go and attempt to make tea, knock over all his furniture, and go back to bed muttering about spilling his tea. No comment on the invasion of shadow monsters from the netherworld horribly killing the screaming and panicked townspeople right outside his house.
    • All of Weyard seems to fail a spot check when Eoleo, an internationally-renowned violent criminal under a death sentence, joins your party and goes cruising the Eastern Sea with a bunch of teenagers.
  • Played with in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which has many RPG elements. Characters will notice if you are out of shape or if you are not wearing the appropriate gang colors. You can pick and choose clothes and whatever you are wearing shows up in the cut scenes. However, characters will not notice if you attend, for example, a serious business meeting in a gimp suit. Said meeting includes the character's sister. Ew.
  • Hitman:
    • You would think that by now, Somebody would have noticed that Agent 47 has a Barcode Tattooed to the back of his head. That would make identifying him rather easy. This is lampshaded in Absolution; the first thing he does when he goes into hiding is cut the barcode off.
    • The series overall zig-zags with this due to how the effectiveness of disguises doesn't always make sense. Twenty guards mill about a mansion, all wearing identical suits with sunglasses and some of them even have shaved heads. You'd think 47 would blend right in, but other guards actually see through the disguise easily. On the other hand, nobody notices when the only cook in the house suddenly loses all his hair and grows half a foot taller.
  • Hometown Story has an incident during which the special pumpkin planted by one of the farmers turns out to be a plant monster of sorts. Sue, the local witch, berates the farmer responsible the incident's trigger, except that the trigger of the event was a very long process, the later part of which had consequences visible to anyone who walked by the farmer's yard. One would think it would have given Sue plenty of time to notice or find out what was happening before things got serious.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: Lumiere and Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast are found in some missions at Beast's Castle on patrol, and the player must stay out of their line-of-sight since the Organization wants to lay low. Their sight range is very limited and they move in a fixed pattern, so it's entirely possible to be fighting Heartless from across the room without them noticing.
  • The Legend of Dragoon: Martel wants the player's help to find all fifty stardust hidden throughout the world. While several of them are very well hidden, in Deningrad there's two directly behind her and the fiftieth one is in the room right next to hers in her home village.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker:
    • An important part of the game revolves around dumb guards in the Forsaken Fortress. Link must hide inside barrels to avoid being caught by the Moblin guards roaming the grounds. Apparently, the guards do notice that barrels seem to have moved suspiciously, but they merely sniff the barrel and continue on the way. Word of God says that Moblins are actually very dumb.
    • This trope is also averted in the game with Link, the player character. He turns his head and looks at important objects within the area, even if that object has already been found, activated, etc.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Geth aren't liked at all in the Mass Effect universe. So, in the second game, when you bring along Legion, your geth party member, to the Citadel — where security has been heightened since the events of the first game to prevent "geth infiltration" — someone would notice, right? WRONG.
      Shepard: It's been a couple of years since I passed through here. Security seems to have tightened a bit.
      C-Sec Customs: After the geth attack, there was a review of security protocol. A few minor changes were made to reduce the risk of geth infiltration. We apologize for the inconvenience.
      Legion: Geth do not infiltrate.
      C-Sec Customs: You should leave your personal synthetic assistant at home. They aren't allowed on public shuttles anymore.
      Legion: Geth do not intentionally infiltrate.
    • In the first game, Shepard can try to comfort Ashley Williams, who is the last survivor of her squad which was ambushed by the geth. She brushes him/her off, pointing out that you'd have to be pretty blind not to notice a bunch of robots with flashlights instead of heads sneaking up on you.
    • Even better is Tali's loyalty quest in the second game. If you bring Legion onto the quarian fleet, the guards are understandably edgy about it — the geth drove their species off their homeworld, after all. The leader of the welcoming committee even threatens to shoot you both if you don't send him back to the Normandy (or you convince him otherwise). However, there is really no excuse for the court audience's horrified gasps of surprise when Admiral Koris loudly points out that there's a geth in the courtroom and accuses Shepard of psychological warfare to manipulate the proceedings. Not to mention the quarian civilians' prior chatter about a geth on the ship... with said geth standing right next to them, drawing no reaction whatsoever.
    • Played for laughs in the Citadel DLC, when Shepard fails to notice a wrecked, burning C-Sec car all of twenty feet away until Grunt points it out. Of course, Grunt knew it was there because he crashed it. Also in the Citadel DLC, in one potential party event, James Vega manages to fail a touch check by not noticing, during a push-ups contest, that Kasumi — who, while slightly built, is still a grown woman — is sitting on his back until she decloaks.
  • Mech Commander: The first cinematic in the first game features a Raven scout mech whose pilot manages to fail his core competency of being the team's sensor operator, leading directly to the loss of the team's Glass Cannon. He is promptly demoted to "Bait".
    Cdr. Harrison: Hit him, get his attention.
    Panther, Raven Pilot: Uh...I...uhh....
    Cdr. Harrison: DO IT!
    (''Panther launches two missiles, which hardly scratch the paint on the 75 ton Mad Cat; Mad Cat turns to face him, Arm Cannons first, giant shoulder missile racks towering above, even close enough to make out the underbelly autocannons.
    Panther: I've got his attention, Sir...
    Cdr. Harrison: Now move out.
    Panther: ROGER THAT!
  • Because people tend to rely on the radar for detection alerts in MechWarrior Online, a viable tactic for ambushing is to shut your 'Mech down in some isolated corner or blind alley and just wait. A surprising number of people don't actually notice when they walk right by a 'Mech because it doesn't show up on their radar until it's too late. Even the 100-ton Atlas can go unnoticed this way. Players who over-rely on the Seismic Sensor equipment also tend to miss obvious enemies because their 'Mechs were holding still, which naturally does not trigger the Seismic Sensor.
  • Metal Gear Solid's guards weren't particularly bright in the original, upgraded in The Twin Snakes and its other entries.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the guards would never think to check human-sized lockers while actively searching for the player during an alert mode. This made lockers a great place for hiding dead bodies and yourself during the alert (so long as you didn't make any noise while in the locker)
  • A Space Pirate Log in the first Metroid Prime notes that the Pirates have been looking for Samus' gunship, but haven't been able to find it due to what they suspect to be advanced cloaking technology. Said gunship is actually parked completely in the open, two small rooms away from a small Space Pirate force (complete with aerial troops) and even with cloaking the perpetual rain in the area should alert the Pirates to its presence (due to the rain bouncing off it). Apparently it's not only the science team that has vapor for brains.
  • In both Neverwinter Nights games, your Hide checks are not affected by the (sometime dazzling) light effects of buff spells (though they are affected by torches and the Light spell). And in this D&D-based game, you tend to use tons of buffs all the time. Therefore, you can frequently see a rogue who looks more like a Christmas tree sneaking unnoticed past an enemy.
  • The guards of Ninth Rock will fail to see you behind a waist-high cubicle partition.
  • This is one reason for many of the most infamous chokes in osu! and other rhythm games, especially when exploited by mappers hiding what needs to be hit next on an animated/bright background or after/under something that's drawn the player's focus/muscle memory elsewhere. For Osu! specifically, it's also a problem with marathon maps or particularly difficult sequences, especially when nearing the end of a map.
  • From Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, at the beginning of secret episode 4 ("Here Comes Team Charm"), sure Graveler it's an empty room with a treasure chest and three statues.
  • In Pokémon X and Y, during the penultimate chapter of the Looker Bureau storyline before you engage in a Boss Rush, you enter a room filled with stolen Poké Balls and records on Xerosic's Powered Armor, when Xerosic walks into the room and doesn't notice you until after he moves to the back.
  • In Police Quest, if you don't check your tires before driving off, you WILL end up with a flat tire. In Open Season, if you don't check the door with a stick mirror, you WILL get your throat ripped out by the guard dog. In SWAT, failing to slice the pie while entering a room = death.
  • Portal 2:
    • Wheatley, being himself, tries to figure out a way to open a door and finds himself totally dumbfounded. He fails to notice the glaringly obvious button right in front of the door. Possibly justified, as his initial panicked reaction between when you press it and when he noticed the door's open implies he probably thought that Big Red Button did something more dangerous.
    • In the opening sequence, he deduces that a solid concrete wall is a docking bay and attempts a "manual override" on it — smashing your hotel-room sized pod into it until one breaks. Written on said wall is an arrow with the caption "Docking Bay 500M below." Could be justified/subverted with the hints later on that he's afraid of heights, so it might have been less him failing the spot check and more him being reluctant to make the vertical trek. He's also a blithering idiot and most likely can't even read, his internal schematic just tells him there's a docking station at those x/y coordinates.
  • In the demo for Resident Evil 7: biohazard, you can watch a video tape. After it's over, there will be a note sitting front of the TV that wasn't there before. How on earth the character missed a note appearing right in front of the TV he's watching is a mystery for the ages.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, if he is not taken down already, Metal Sonic will fail to notice that his attack carrier is about to crash into a massive fuel tank of the Sky Fortress Zone.
  • Despite her tentacles and facial markings, Word of God states that Inklings in Splatoon 2 don't notice that Marina is an Cctoling, assuming these differences to be fashion statements.. Only the members of the Squidbeak Splatoon notice, and even her best friend Pearl doesn't bother confirming her own suspicions until the events of the Octo Expansion. Somewhat justified, as Octarians live underground and haven't had regular contact with the Inkling race in almost a century.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the Czerka Corporation is on the lookout for an old employee of theirs who could rat them for their corrupt activities. They've apparently got all manner of mercenaries and bounty hunters after this guy. As it happens, he's hiding in an apartment right up the hall from their headquarters.
  • Toward the end of Chapter 7 in Super Paper Mario, the heroes rush into the final room, to find Grambi (who is a little taller than Luigi) injured and Luvbi (who is the shortest person in the room) trying to see if he's OK. They apparently didn't notice the 30-foot demonic skeleton dragon standing just off-screen until he announces his presence.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • To his teammates, a disguised Spy looks like he's wearing a paper mask. The enemies must be rolling a lot of ones.
    • The players themselves often fail them, too. Just go around Sawmill for a while and look at the killfeed, see how many sawblades you spot there. Of course, they often fail Listen checks as well, as any map with trains announces by way of ringing bells when a train's gonna arrive, and yet there's someone getting run over every minute.
    • Sentry guns. Particularly on Attack/Defense maps, there are some areas that are almost always guarded by sentries, and yet people run into the open and get shot to pieces.
    • Everybody gets tunnel vision in the heat of the moment, but the king of missing spot checks definitely go to a scoped Sniper, since he is robbed of his peripheral vision while zoomed in on a target.
    • While everyone berated Metal Gear for being unrealistic that you could just hide in a box and no one would spot you, with the recently added taunt, The Box Trot, it has been proven multiple times that a Spy hidden by nothing but a cardboard box in the right place could fool many unaware players. This is hilariously displayed in these three videos.
  • A mass failed spot check that is both humorous and gratifying comes in the middle of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. A defeated and captured Optimus Prime is dragged before a triumphantly gloating, ranting Megatron, and is to be executed before his enemies, though Prime remains Defiant to the End. Before Megatron can kill him, Metroplex, a even more Humongous Mecha compared to the already large Transformers appears outside a giant viewing window. Right behind Megatron. The massive Autobot is the size of an entire city block, hence his name, and yet no one notices him until he tears the roof off the Decepticon chamber. Megatron attacks the giant and is squished like a bug. Four times.
  • In Tsioque, the titular princess can put on an Invisibility Cloak right in front of a group of Imp guards coming straight at her... And they will run right passed her, even if they were facing her general direction when she put it on.
  • In World of Tanks has Hero tanks, uniquely painted versions of other units like the Motherland, a Tier VIII Soviet medium tank that sports an eye-searing group of red and white splotches (looking rather like a mime expoded) or the Freedom, a repaint of the T26E4 Super Pershing with a red-white-and-blue Stars and Stripes paint scheme that could only conceivably provide camouflage in the parking lot of a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Despite sticking out like a sore thumb on most maps in the game, because said paint schemes count as permanent camouflage, they make the tanks stealthier than the default variants' generic brown and green.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • One quest in Hellfire Peninsula has you search for a special corpse in a marsh filled with green bubbling liquid. Many people have searched and searched, looking in every pool, checking every corner, before giving up and asking in general where the frig the stupid corpse is. Soon after that, they generally find out it's the 10-story-high ribcage and skull that you can see before you even ENTER THE AREA. Granted, people are expecting and looking for an average-sized corpse, but it's still kinda funny.
    • The player has to be standing in one specific pool of ooze to use the quest item, or else it won't work. There are several pools surrounding the giant corpse, and using the quest item in all but one of them will return an error message.
    • The distance from which a player can get noticed and attacked by monsters varies based on level; if players try to enter a zone clearly too high-level for them, they will get swarmed and overpowered by monsters from far away. But if they are much higher level than the monsters, it's possible for them to walk very close to and in front of a monster without getting attacked. Then again, not attacking a player 10+ levels stronger than them could be considered smart behavior, as opposed to the alternative.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: You could be forgiven for thinking that the prosecutor's office and the police force both go out of their way to hire people who are guaranteed to fail spot checks, as the only way to win is to find evidence that the prosecution missed or a conflict between testimony given and evidence. Sometimes justified, but it can reach the ridiculous: at various points, you'll wind up retrieving murder weapons, security camera footage, and evidence left for over a month that's immediately visible as crucial to the case. In the second case of the first game, you will have to remind a detective of the victim's cause of death and the fact that the death was immediate (to be fair, this is Gumshoe we're talking about). Later games lampshade the process. The series takes an aversion in Apollo Justice, when both the new prosecutor and detective begin by taking a level up before advancing.
  • Dangan Ronpa: It's fairly common for most students to not notice obvious hints or make obviously wrong conclusions, and the protagonist and other savvy characters have to point that out. Speaking of conclusions, the protagonists have to play mini-games in their minds to make the correct and logical ones. This can also be invoked by picking the wrong choices deliberately.
  • HF route in Fate/stay night. Nobody except Ilya, who isn't saying anything about what she knows (a surprisingly large amount), notices that Shirou took the cloth off his arm, meaning every time he projects he causes himself brain damage. His memories and ability to concentrate go pretty early, and no-one notices.
  • In some routes of Nightshade, Kuroyuki's failure to catch one is what kicks off the plot. He was ordered to murder Hideyoshi Toyotami, but didn't realize that Enju was in the next room over when he did, and so Enju ends up being accused of the crime.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors:
    • After discovering that Lotus's death had happened recently, Junpei fails to realize that the floor they were on had only one elevator to serve as the only entrance/exit. And since he didn't bump into anyone on the way down, the killer was still on the floor. Guess what happens to Junpei next...
    • Happens more than once in the Submarine ending. Upon seeing Santa, Ace, and Clover lying dead on the ground, Lotus immediately points out they should leave before the killer returns. However, they don't check to see if the victims' bracelets are still on (they fall off if the wearer dies), and don't realize Ace was still alive. Later on, Junpei fails to notice that some of them disappeared from right next to him. Given the shock that the characters go through at these discoveries though, it's justified that they aren't paying a ton of attention to relatively minor details.
  • In Virtue's Last Reward (the sequel to 999), Sigma badly fails a spot check when he doesn't realize his voice has changed, or that he's missing an eye, or that with the exception of his arms he's suddenly 67 years old.

    Web Animation 
  • asdfmovie: "Hey guys, check out my new camera!" *BANG* "Oh wait, this isn't a camera."
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device:
    • Descius fails to notice a five-meters-tall Primarch standing in front of him, although the unspotted himself suggests it's more of a case of Selective Obliviousness.
    • Both superhumans checking the mail that's supposed to enter Emperor's private chamber fail to notice Nurgle's Rot bomb in one of the packages.
    • Salamanders somehow completely miss a giant, earth-shaking tank rolling right past them, as well as several brightly-coloured Ultramarines accompanying it. It later becomes a Running Gag that Salamanders are nearly deaf, which is why they all speak with a deep booming voice.
    • Corvus Corax somehow doesn't notice the Greater Catachan Barking Toad that's snuck onto his head to suckle on his ammonia-laded hair until one of the Catachan Jungle Fighters realizes it's there. Kayvaan Shrike both lampshades and berates himself incredulously for how he could have missed that. Granted, they were all busy freaking out about Vulkan messing with the Lesser Catachan Barking Toad seconds before, but they had more than enough time to figure it out.
  • In Machinima series Red vs. Blue Badass Action Girl heroine Tex at one point says she is going to go take out a small army of mooks. Knowing that she is a Stealth Expert the audience naturally expects her to move in ninja style and take them on one at a time. Instead she picks a single target and starts thrashing him loudly and in full view. The sentries watching guard continue their inane conversation, even raising their voices to be heard over the screams of their distressed comrade who is right behind them.
  • Being intended as a guide for Team Fortress 2, Team Service Announcement often warns about doing this.
    • In "Objectives", the spawn camping RED Team fails to notice a lone BLU spy that made it past them. This proves fatal.
      Announcer: The payload has almost reached the final terminus!
      RED Team: ...AAAAAAAAA!!!
    • BLU tries their hardest pushing the cart in "Body Blocking", failing to notice the RED Spy hiding in front of it who's canceling their efforts.
    • All the BLU Snipers in "Class Balance" don't seem to see the RED Heavy capturing the King of the Hill control point.
    • Heck, "Attention and Initiative" is built around a particularly brutal Double Subversion, because it shows RED Team not responding to any threat to their progress, noticing the problems just in time to help but not actually helping.
    • "Minigun Spinup" has a Heavy being followed by an enemy Spy and Sniper. They eventually get tired of it and decide to run him over with a steamroller.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck:
    • It's implied that Equius's "Heir of Void" power amounts to being able to make things impossible to spot check. This can range from pixellization on musclebeast penises to hiding something from the omniscient view of a god. Specifically, it was implied with his Ancestor Darkleer, who had the ability of the Void.
    • Previous to this, Dave Strider manages to mistake the apocalypse for a heatwave.
    • On a more meta level, it took almost two years for the fans to notice that Dave's hair is a bird, which subsequently became a meme.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, it has been implied that it is impossible to find anything that has been deliberately hidden in Bob's sock drawer (such as a 65-million-year-old iridium bomb). Because there are just so many socks in it.
  • In Knights of Buena Vista, Mary races her PC down a street to foil a robbery, but rolls a 2 to see if she notices Bill's character riding right to her. That's how Anna in Frozen got knocked into the boat.
  • The Looking for Group crew does this once. Somehow they fails to notice the dragon perched conspicuously atop the spire in the middle of the cavern while they go down into the crater to play with the eggs. Oops. Apparently, it was a statue before they touched the eggs.
  • In MegaTokyo, countless photos of Miho are uploaded online by Ping, causing her to go from zero online presence to massive meme overnight. Piro assumed it was a jilted ex-boyfriend, even though Ping stamped every individual photo with her serial number.
    Piro: Huh? Ping?
    Miho: Who else would it be?? These are all from when she was with me!!
    Piro: How was I supposed to know that?
    Miho: You can even see her in the mirror!!
    Piro: What? I never saw Ping—
    Miho: That's because you were too busy staring at my underwear!!
  • Mulder and Scully of Monster of the Week repeatedly fail a spot check, and (surprisingly) it's rarely lampshaded. For example, Mulder doesn't notice that the Senator who ordered him to investigate the aliens has a photo of himself shaking an alien's hand, and Scully doesn't notice that her doctor's surname is Evil.
  • Yeagar doesn't seem to notice that the guy he's asking for directions is a demon from the pits of Hell (albeit a polite one) carrying a victim in one strip of Nodwick.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar does this so often it's become a Running Gag, which the characters hang lampshades on. A Justified Trope, given that Wisdom, which Spot and Listen checks are based on, is his Dump Stat. He misses an army of ninjas while they are talking to him. To his credit Haley and V fail their spot checks as well, and Belkar is alerted to the presence of something because while he's not aware of the ninjas, he's aware of his own failed spot checks.
      Belkar: Wait! I think I just failed a Listen check!
    • By the rules, ninja are hard to spot (and automatically considered hiding regardless of circumstances). Belkar can't even spot the ninja panel in the bonus page about the Pirates vs. Ninjas controversy.
    • And shortly after Belkar finally succeeds on a spot check, the bad guys fail.
    • Then Celia takes her turn, strolling through Greysky City and completely missing the various rampant evil acts that happen all around.
  • In Sinfest, Seymour often walks past Jesus without noticing him.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • In "Art Belial", Aylee calls Riff for help because she can't find her way out of Art Belal's (sic)note  large compound. When he gets there and the creatures living inside agree to help them find the exit, they point to a big obvious door with the word "EXIT" all over it.
    • In "Most Wonderful Time", someone has stolen all the main characters' Christmas stuff, including the tree. Eventually Riff and Zoë notice Kiki's hidden it under the couch they're sitting on wondering where it's all gone. The tree doesn't remotely fit under the couch and they haven't been noticing the fact that the couch is at about a thirty-degree angle from the ground. To the artist's credit, the reader probably won't notice the angle either before the view zooms out.
    • In "Years of Yarncraft", when Riff plays an MMORPG, he's frustrated trying to get an item that's only dropped by female slimeblobs, which he can't tell apart from the males. It takes Torg to point out that, like all women in the game, the female slimeblobs all have the bodies of supermodels.
      Riff: In retrospect, why the hell didn't I notice that sooner?
    • In "Homeward", Riff invents a joy buzzer version of his overpowered Omnitaser Supreme, but it's a relatively large contraption and way too visible for anyone to miss it — until he paints it camo, which makes it no less visible but still, illogically, works.
    • Subverted in "The Research and Development Wars": Torg tells a story about the architect who designed the building they're now in and, due to having made its core into some kind of an inescapable Möbius strip shape, was trapped there forever. Zoë asks where he is now if that's the case. Torg points to a skeleton sitting right next to her. She states that she "totally thought he was part of [their] team" — which while she was away had come to actually include a vampire and a zombie head on a stick.
  • Grymm and Creepknight from Voodoo Walrus make a bad habit of this when it comes to not noticing that they're being tailed by ninjas or various henchmen looking to ruin their day. Everyone but Mirth seem to be susceptible to this when it comes to the strange spooky yet cute creatures that regularly pop up in places without any explanation at all.
  • This is the only possible explanation for why Kurassa could have failed to notice the dragon he's walking on in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic. Though in this one case, it leans into That's No Moon!.

    Web Original 
  • A photo seen on the internet, captioned "43rd Annual Ninja parade" — showing an empty street, of course.
  • During Achievement Hunter's Let's Play Minecraft series, it's not uncommon to have one of the guys totally spaz out and forget where something went.
    • One of their largest instances of this was in the very first episode. After losing their original house (as everyone had died since building it) Ray set out to build a replacement house, walking past the original house and starting construction of the new house about 6 feet away.
    • Among these were Geoff not realizing he turned his blocks of wood into sticks and Jack diving down a hole in an attempt to ambush Gavin.
    • Probably the longest case of this involves a picture of two guys performing karate. Back in episode 15, Michael had heard Ray making stereotypical karate noises and told him to shut up. Flash forward to episode 28 when Michael finally discovers it and exclaims "How long have we had this?!"
  • Cartoon Drive Thru: Deadly Space Action!: At one point Lemarion misses a sign the size of a moon.
  • Freddiew's Lightbulb Assassin features a particularly egregious case of a security guard unable to notice the man shooting out lights from 2 feet behind him. See it here.
  • Played for Laughs in the last moments of The Music Video Show's 75th episode
  • In Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions, Sparadrap returns to a location he visited before and fails to notice an unnaturally large tree appearing in it since last time until someone else points it out.
  • In this War Thunder video, a player somehow manages to miss a T95, a 14-foot wide 100-ton superheavy tank, sitting right in the middle of the street (and taking up most of it) in broad daylight.
  • Not Always Right:
    • This guy stopped at a cultural heritage event to rant about Mexican immigrants. The event in question? The Scottish Highland Games.
    • This customer complains about what happened at the drive-thru but misses one crucial detail.
  • This Not Always Friendly entry has the world's dumbest carjacker realize that a stopped car by the side of a road probably wasn't a good target after all.
    My car is broken down, genius! You just carjacked a dead lemon!
    • This fruit fanatic failed to notice they were allergic to bananas, until they mentioned the sour, burning sensation they loved to their friends.
  • Many people featured on Retsupurae make it painfully obvious that their videos were directly uploaded to YouTube without them going over it first (that or just having extremely low standards).
  • Spoiler Warning:
    • During the Let's Play of Fallout 3, Shamus admits to having completely missed Liberty Prime until the big battle in during his first play-through, despite having passed through the room it's stored in several times during the course of the play-through. Liberty Prime is a 50-feet-tall Humongous Mecha.
    • This is the same man who only discovered that a new sofa had been delivered and was in the next room after seeing a tweet from his wife.
  • Team Four Star
    • Lampshadeed this during their Let's Play of Halo: Reach, when a giant Covenant capitol ship destroys a human ship idly floating below it.
    "Sorry, guys, I thought the planet had a ceiling for a minute!"
    • There are countless instances of them making a mistake during a playthrough because they neglected to pay attention to very obvious details. They have also acknowledged the frequency with which their viewers will call them idiots for it in the comments of any given video.
  • Used as a plot point in To Boldly Flee, where the fact that nobody notices continuity errors or the fact that Linkara has quite obviously been replaced by his evil robot counterpart are due to an in-universe plot hole sucking up continuity and sense like the black hole it resembles.
  • YouTube:

    Western Animation 
  • Used very often in young children's programming, usually to teach the kids.
    • A better example would be Blue's Clues, where the host does it, but gives off the impression that he does know it's there and is just doing it to teach the viewers.
    • A worse example would be Dora the Explorer and Diego, who seem to legitimately not see the mountain on the horizon and come off as kind of stupid for it.

  • Parodied in the American Dad! episode "Faking Bad": Steve becomes a fake ID kingpin and Stan is tasked with tracking him down. Despite forming a profile that describes Steve to a T, creating a list of the kingpin's personal traits that form the acronym S.T.E.V.E. and angrily throwing his coffee mug against a board, only to have it form the shape of Steve's face, he doesn't conclude that Steve is involved. This is taken a step further when he opens the van that Steve had been using as a base of operations and doesn't notice the huge pile of counterfeiting equipment just slightly to his right. Steve explains later he used the power of misdirection (by conspicuously waving his arms around, which is only seen in the flashback).
  • Subverted in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. While Batman is investigating a room, two goons on patrol check all the rooms in the hallway. One of them opens the door, and has an agonizingly long stare down with the Bat. When his partner asks him if he sees anything, the goon just gives him the most casual "Nope" he possibly can as if he literally didn't see the stealthiest and most dangerous Badass Normal hero in a rare moment of exposure, closes the door and walks off as if nothing happened.
  • On Bunnicula, none of the human characters ever notice the supernatural goings-on.
  • Cellbound has a prisoner digging a tunnel in his cell, while leaving a colossal mound of dirt right outside his window. Nobody ever notices.
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "Maternal Instincts" while trying to escape Vlad's mansion Maddie completely ignores two Hummers, two ATV's and a freaking Helicopter while trying to find a phone.
  • Happens to Darkwing Duck a lot. The best example is from "Just Us Justice Ducks"; Darkwing, searching the crime scene for clues to the location of Negaduck's hideout, is totally oblivious to the building in the background currently raising the giant flag with Negaduck's face on it, but easily spots a tiny bread crumb on the ground which he analyzes under a microscope and determines the hideout's location from that alone. Negaduck even planted the crumb there on purpose because he knew damn well DW wouldn't see the flag.
  • While not on screen, this trope has to be in effect during this exchange on Ed, Edd n Eddy.
    Ed: Hello, can Eddy come out to play?
    Eddy: I'm right beside you, Ed.
  • Happens often on Family Guy. A notable example occurs in season 2 episode "I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar" when Lois and Peter go to a timeshare presentation for a boat. The presenter failed to notice that over half his slides showing an ogre terrorizing the island's occupants until it he heard the crowds' response. After which point he tries to hurriedly proceed through all the slides showing the ogre ripping people in half and chasing them across the island, finally getting to a normal slide and following up with a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
    Timeshare Presenter: ...No city noise. No Flesh-Eating Ogres. No pollution.
  • Happens in the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", as Bender is talking smack about their new boss Morgan; Leela and Fry are making shushing motions, and he says, "Uh oh, is she behind me?" Morgan replies with, "No, I'm in front of you!" and Bender squeaks like a mouse.
  • On an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes where Jimmy is stuck flying a plane, Heloise tells him over the radio not to press the big pink button. It's right in front of him, and bigger than he is, yet he comments that he missed it.
  • Happens often on Johnny Bravo.
    • One time, Johnny became a reporter and wandered the streets trying to find a story, somehow not noticing a fire, a UFO, a goofy old man dancing, and a cow wearing a dress.
    • He was once challenged to find a rhinoceros in a room. He failed to notice it sitting on the sofa even after he lifted it to look under it. The rhino then beat him up and left. Johnny called out to it, asking where the rhino was, indicating he didn't know what a rhino looked like in the first place.
  • Justice League: In "Wild Cards", the Joker informs the people that he has planted bombs all around the Vegas Strip and challenges the Justice League to find and disarm them while fighting off the Royal Flush Gang. Everyone in the area evacuates, except for an old woman who continues to play at a slot machine. The Joker even asks her why she is not running away, and she says the slot machine is bound to pay off sometime. She is repeatedly shown playing the slot machine and not noticing the battles going on around her.
  • Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable repeatedly fails romantic spot checks in relation to himself, with Tara the cheerleader and Yori the ninja Action Girl. He failed to recognize their interest despite being kissed by them, Yori twice in one episode.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Dark Cupid", Adrien gushes about a masked superheroine's "hair dark as night" and "bluebell eyes", yet never considers that his classmate, mild-mannered Marinette has exactly the same traits and a habit of disappearing whenever an akuma attacks. The show milks this for all the comedy it's worth.
    Adrien: Eyes as blue as...
    [Marinette cranes around to look at him]
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Call of the Cutie", Apple Bloom is apparently distressed enough about being the last girl in her class to get a cutie mark that she briefly fails to notice that she's in the middle of a giant party.
    • And in "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Twilight is too busy gloating about how right she is to see the four hundred-foot-long hydra necks that are right next to her.
    • In the historical pageant from "Hearth's Warming Eve", the three rulers of the pony races all get through speeches claiming the future land of Equestria as their new home... before realizing the other two are nearby. Which is kind of a subversion when you consider scale. One is on the side of a mountain, another in the valley, and the third is on top of a cloud.
    • In "Secret of My Excess" Zecora and Twilight are so immersed in a discussion of Spike's recent kleptomania problem that they fail to notice him stealing literally everything from Zecora's shack.
    • Twilight is pretty bad about this. In "It's About Time", she tries to break into the Star Swirl the Bearded wing of the castle. At one point, she despairs over how to find it, while pacing around right in front of it, before Pinkie Pie suggests that they ask someone in the Star Swirl the Bearded wing.
      Twilight Sparkle: Huh, how did I miss that?
      • The same episode has a parody of it with the library guards; they spotted her instantly but didn't say anything because she's allowed to be there and they're playing along. One of them ends up letting them into the above wing when they see her trying to get in.
    • "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" gives "Sonic Rainboom" a justified example with Billy and Hoops: they said there was no such thing as a sonic rainboom despite having been in a race that produced one. However, seeing as at the moment it happened one was spinning out of control and the other painfully ensconced in a pillar, they would have needed Critical Success on their spot checks to notice it.
  • The Powerpuff Girls fail to notice they're being followed by a tank, a bunch of Wacky Racer-esque cars, and Professor Utonium while they're searching for the MacGuffin of "The Powerpuff Girls Rule".
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" Homer asks the director of the Shelbyville Orphanage where his long-lost brother lives.
      Director: Your brother could be anywhere. Even... Detroit.
      Homer: I know he could be anywhere, that's why I want you to narrow it down! Please!
      Director: You know, Mr. Simpson, if you ask me, the city of brotherly love isn't Philadelphia, it's ... Detroit.
      Homer: Well, if you asked me, changing the subject makes you the most worthless, heartless excuse for a human being I ever...
      Director: Read between the lines, Mr. Simpson!
      Homer: Oh, I get it! Okay. Here's twenty bucks. Now will you tell me where my brother lives?
      Director: Mr. Simpson, I don't want your—
      Homer: Just take it and tell me!
      Director: Detroit. He lives in Detroit.
      Homer: Fine! Thank you!
    • The episode "'Round Springfield" has a double-whammy of this. Lisa is talking to her mentor Bleeding Gums Murphy in the hospital while Dr. Hibbert is taking his blood pressure. Sadly, neither of them get the hint. (And Murphy passes away later the same episode.)
      Murphy: I don't really have a family... All I had was a younger brother who grew up to be a doctor. He used to laugh at the most inappropriate times.
      Hibbert: Ah, heh, heh, heh! You know, I have an older brother I'll never see again... He's a... jazz musician or something...
    • Another example is Moe, who can never recognize Bart's voice when he actually sees him, despite the headaches he has gotten from all of Bart's crank calls. He came close in one early episode, and the point was driven home with this exchange, and Moe still didn't get it:
      Moe: [lightheartedly] Bet you've been gettin' on a lot of trouble, eh?
      Bart: Well... I've made a few crank calls...
    • In "Children of a Lesser Clod", Ned Flanders has Homer babysit his sons so he can go to a "Christian rock concert". A close-up shot of his ticket shows that he's actually going to a Chris Rock concert. Even when he gets home he's clueless; as he tells Homer, "You know, it's strange, I've never heard a minister use the M-F word so much..."
  • South Park:
    • In "The Coon", Cartman poses as a superhero. When he reports his findings to the police, he "disappears" while talking to them, only to reveal that he is now on the other side of the room. They lose track of him again moments later when he moves back to his original position. Seconds after that, they once again can't find him, until he announces that he's about one foot to the left of where he had been.
    • In the season 3 episode "Succubus", there's a Running Gag of Chef's parents telling stories of the Loch Ness Monster's increasingly ridiculous attempts to get them to give him tree-fiddy note . One such story involves the monster dressing up as a Girl Scout selling cookies. Chef's parents don't recognize him... at first.
      Chef's Dad: Well it was about that time that I noticed this "Girl Scout" was about eight stories tall and was a crustacean from the Paleozoic Era.
  • Played for laughs in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Home Sweet Pineapple" where SpongeBob, having lost his home to pineapple-eating nematodes, tries to stay with Squidward for the night, and the latter takes at least half a minute to notice that SpongeBob's in his house. Justified in that it was the middle of the night, Squid was half-asleep and he must have thought he was dreaming the whole thing.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In "Nightmare Hospital", nobody at the hospital notices that a pair of "car accident victims" are moaning inhuman organless abominations consisting entirely of malformed gargantuan hands in the vague shape of a human body rather than, well, car accident victims until they get out of their hospital beds and start acting like zombies. Not even when trying, and failing, to find a heartbeat in the clearly-moving body.
    • During the Zoo arc, where the Crystal Gems travel to space to rescue a kidnapped Greg, the being in charge of the institution fails to notice that Pearl and Amethyst are wearing unusual outfits for characters supposedly working for Blue Diamond.
    • "Legs From Here to Homeworld":
      • Centipeetle is so happy to see Steven and the Chaaaaps he brought her to eat that she initially doesn't notice Blue and Yellow Diamond standing in front of her. Only when Steven talks to the Diamonds does Centi notice them, causing her to do a Jaw Drop.
      • When Steven takes everyone to Rose's dump in the desert in search of Pink Diamond's spaceship, he goes on about they'll have to split up and search around the two pink "pyramids" to find it. As he does so, everyone stares blankly at the "pyramids", which are clearly Pink's spaceship, specifically its knees as it's shaped like a pair of legs.
  • In the "Ballad of Scary Mary" episode of Sym-Bionic Titan, Mary fails to notice the girls laughing at her as the popular guy asks her out, then fails to notice the guy doing the same moments later. Justified, because unpopular Mary was clearly having the typical I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me reaction.
  • The Transformers:
    • While it is somewhat forgivable given the nature of the show involving robots in disguise, a number of characters in the course of the show manage to fail an astounding number of spot checks. One instance which is so ludicrous as to be hilarious involves Soundwave, already a notoriously sneaky Decepticon infiltration expert and intelligence officer... managing to hide inside Ironhide while the Autobot is in vehicle mode. Soundwave spends a good amount of time next to Blaster, his Autobot counterpart, who is also in tape player mode. Neither Autobot notices Soundwave until he decides to eject Ravage... and even then, Soundwave manages to sneak away. This astounding lack of perception carries over to the commercials as well, where in an amusing inversion of the norm (with people unwittingly carrying Soundwave into a secure location), Rumble struts back into Decepticon HQ carrying a radio he found. Soundwave, being wise to his own brand of tricks, immediately deduces the nature of the radio. Rumble... is a little slower on the uptake.
      Rumble: Hey, look at this radio I found!
      Soundwave: Autobot intruder!
      Rumble: Where?
      Blaster: [transforms on Rumble's shoulder, and kicks him aside] Here!
    • The human characters aren't much better. In the infamously dumb episode "B.O.T.", the teen protagonists don't seem to notice that the building they're standing nearby is engulfed in flames and surrounded by a fire brigade until they hear a scream.
  • Transformers Animated: the Cybertron Elite Guard completely fail to notice a pair of hulking Decepticons bypass their ship's force field by digging a very short tunnel under it (both openings of which are clearly visible from the ship itself) and then ripping off their tachyon transmitter. Even though there's still a pair of gaping holes right by the ship, they have no idea that they've been robbed until several episodes later when they try to use the transmitter and realize it's gone.
  • In the eighth episode of the second season of Winx Club, a monster sent to attack Red fountain is meant as a distraction while the Trix search for the codex. Realizing this, Saladin and Cordatorta bring several guards to the codex room in case the Trix find it. If any of them had looked behind them, they would've seen that Icy was following them.
  • In the very first episode of X-Men, Jubilee fails to notice the Sentinel hiding behind two very small trees. Because you know how easily purple and red blend in with the green of nature.

    Real Life 
  • The vast majority of humans can only pay full attention to a handful of things and our peripheral awareness also has limits. This is actually a good thing as it prevents information overload and frees up thinking power and memory capacity, but it does cause us to fail spot checks on a myriad of subtle cues, and ties into Confirmation Bias. Proper training and certain disorders can expand the aforementioned limits but they result in both positive and negative changes to the fundamental brain functions.
  • In aircraft crashes or near-crashes caused by pilot error, failing the spot check because the pilot(s) get too wrapped up in something is one of the more common causes, especially since planes are often flown on instruments only with no visual cues outside.
    • For example, one notable case had a 747 pilot focusing on his airspeed indicator because of an engine problems and failing to notice his attitude indicator, right beside the instrument he was looking at indicated the plane was about to go into a diving barrel-roll.
    • In another case the Lockheed L-1011 crew were so busy debating a failed warning light that they never even noticed they were losing altitude until they plowed into the ground!.
    • Then there are pilots who miss glaringly obvious things in their pre-flight checklists: such as in Air Florida Flight 90 when the pilots, in heavy ice and snow, left their plane's engine anti-icing system off.
    • This is, incidentally, why they have checklists aircrews have to follow when flying planes. It could be said that the rules regarding this practice are "written in blood"note . The first aircrew checklists were created for the B-17 after the prototype crashed.
    • As Northwest Airlines Flight 255 would indicate, checklists alone aren't enough, as they tend to be long, and it can be fairly easy, in stressful situations, to miss whole sections. Modern checklists tend to be digital, and place-saving, thus making it much less likely to miss bits.
  • Similar in surgeries — ask any surgeon who's been in the game long enough if they've left something in somebody or known somebody who has. Checklists and questions may seem annoying or unnecessary but its all too easy to glaze over glaringly obvious things. Going double when you have just spent over an hour doing delicate work with a person's life in your hands and now are almost finished and just want to go sit down and do anything else. A common (a study done suggests it happens in 12.5% of surgeries) mistake among surgeons is to leave surgical equipment inside the patient. This can vary from relatively harmless sponges and surgical gloves to life-threatening knife blades. These incidents are common enough that they are today considered the main form of res ipsa loquitur ("the thing speaks for itself") in modern tort law.
  • This is also a problem with pathologists, as sometimes they can get so focused in looking for signs of one disease that they completely miss the signs of another disease present. In one experiment, radiologists were asked to examine a picture of a liver, all of them noticed the cancerous tumour, but 83% of them failed to notice that someone drew a picture of a chimp onto the tissue.
  • There was a safety advert that featured an awareness test where the audience is told to watch a fast-paced basketball team between a team in white and a team in black to see how many passes the team in white makes. The point of the advert was to make the audience realize that if they're not paying proper attention, they could completely miss something else that they would have otherwise noticed — which could be anything from someone moonwalking across the court in a bear suit, or a pedestrian on a bicycle in the street...
  • This is how a lot of magic tricks work.
    • Derren Brown loves doing this even using the gorilla trick in a show, on quite a small stage. Also managed to replace people right in front of their eyes without them noticing by having them focus on the map and giving directions. It must be noted that Brown usually emphasizes the psychology of his 'magic tricks' rather than spectacle or sleight of hand as a way of demonstrating the interesting ways the human mind works and the strange exploits that can be performed on it. And not just similar people, he switched out people of different races and sexes. Derren Brown was able to convince someone to take money-shaped pieces of blank paper as money and walk out of the store with a $2200 gold braceletnote , asked to view a man's very expensive watch and then calmly walked away with itnote , and not only convinced a woman that the color yellow was in fact red, but then asked to see her red car, which she was absolutely convinced someone had painted yellow.
    • A television program about this had a similar experiment where they had a person at a registration desk bend down behind the desk for a pen and a different person stands to continue the sign-in process. In the span of seconds, the subjects failed to notice the guy had different features, voice, and clothing in a few cases. Another version of this has one of the testers stop someone in the street to ask for directions. While they are talking, two men carrying a sheet of drywall rudely step in between the two, separating them for an instant, after which the conversation continues. From the opposite side, of course, you see the person who stopped to ask for directions grab the sheet and be replaced by one of the men who had been carrying it: a man wearing different clothing, of different ethnicity, and of course a different voice. Most of the unwitting subjects never notice this. In Derren's version, it's not a sheet of drywall but a huge portrait of Derren himself.
    • Penn & Teller also use this in their magic shows. One trick has them call up a volunteer on-stage and have them use a video camera to replicate close-up magic. Of course, it's all a joke on them, as Penn switches the tablecloth, the background, etc. Penn makes sure to point out how much of a spot check the audience member failed at the end, especially since he failed to notice that he's not an audience member at all, he's actually Teller.
    • In this video, most of the audience fails spot checks.
  • Wearing a helmet makes soldiers more likely to be shot because helmets block peripheral vision. Modern helmets do not actually block peripheral vision, but do distort and block sound, which reduces awareness. Some helmets have a design to leave the ears open to avoid this. Wearing tactical goggles, night vision goggles or gas masks however does indeed block peripheral vision.
  • Military camouflage is designed specifically to encourage people to fail spot checks.
    • Think for a moment the last time you saw anything anywhere that actually looked like any of the camo patterns you see military personnel wear (other than a couch). Ditto for airplanes and even ships with camouflage painted on. The idea isn't necessarily to make the wearer look like everything else, it's to make them not look like what they are. If you are looking for a soldier, that weird pattern he is wearing might just throw you off for long enough for him to get away or find you first.
    • Military camo is also designed to disrupt the results of a spot check when looking at a group of camouflaged objects. The patterns weave randomly one into the next, making it very hard to see boundaries. When infantry or tents or ships are packed in close formation and viewed from afar, it's hard to tell if there's ten units there, or fifty. Thus, even a successful spot check typically fails to alert the spotter of the magnitude of the force they're facing.
    • The dazzle paint used on ships in WWII was intended not to make ships hard to see, but to make it hard to judge the shape of the ship. This made it more difficult to determine the type of ship and its range, heading, and speed.
  • Natural camouflage works the same way.
    • You might not think an animal is especially camouflaged if you are looking at it directly, and odds are a predator won't be fooled either, but if the camouflage only stops them from being noticed for a split second out of the corner of a predator's eye(s), it's still worth it.
    • Other natural camouflage like that of the zebra seems quite easy to spot. The trick is that the Zebra's predators want to look for a single Zebra to hunt. While the whole herd is running around, the stripes make it difficult for the predators to find a single zebra to attack.
  • Some less competent military commanders have been guilty of this.
    • At The American Civil War battle of Gettysburg Union, Gen. Sickles disobediently moved his corps to a new position. Sickles's new position was a better spot for his cannons... but it was also too far away from the rest of the Union army, too big to be defended by the forces he had on hand, left a much more important piece of ground unprotected, faced woods that could easily conceal large enemy forces, and was shaped in such a way that his forces had to bend into a salient. These are all things that are on the checklist, but Sickles apparently stopped after the "Good place for cannons? Yes/No" question. oopsie... This can be directly attributed to the Union defeat at the Battle of Chancellorsville, where he was in a strong position that could have turned the battle into a Union victory, but was ordered to abandon it by General Hooker, (who failed his spot check on the disposition of Lee's army) in turn exposing Sickles and his men to cannon fire from the position he had previously held. Sickles's actions at Gettysburg were more a matter of ignoring his spot check because of his previous experiences.
    • Later in the war, at the Battle of Five Forks, three of the Confederate commanders were sharing a late lunch and had no idea their troops were being attacked. Though if modern theories about the shad bake being in an acoustic shadow are correct, they didn't realize they would be taking penalties on that spot check.
  • This trope is one of the main reasons why open sights or optics are preferred for short range combat versus aperture sights. Aperture sights require that one eye stare obsessively through the hole and focus on the front sight post. This creates a huge blind spot for the user and cuts down on situational awareness.
  • This trope is often the reason that people don't notice severely problematic behavior from family, friends, roommates, bandmates, and the list goes on. Combined with the person engaging in the behavior having some ability to keep it a secret, this is the basis of the Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal trope, and can lead to people unknowingly offering what sounds like Blatant Lies (e.g. "No one in my band ever did drugs," "My daughter doesn't have sex, there's no way she could be pregnant!'' and similar) because they sincerely missed the signs they should have seen.
  • Everyone when looking for their keys, wallet, cell phone, remote, glasses, etc. Especially when actually holding it (i.e. looking for a phone while complaining to a friend about it on said phone, listening to music while looking for mp3 player playing said music, or wondering where one's glasses are while not noticing how suddenly clear everything is). More than one hilarious screencap has shown up on the internet of a person who texts their friend, telling said friend to call their phone because they can't find it. Or forgetting the blindingly obvious, such as suddenly being alarmed by thinking one has forgotten his/her keys, while driving. Showcased in this Awkward Zombie strip. Polish verse Okulary (Glasses) by Julian Tuwim refers to it: "Mister Hilary runs and screams: “Where on Earth could my glasses be?” (...) Eureka! Though who would ever suppose, His glasses are on his very own nose."
  • A lot of pickpockets apply this trope physically to their advantage. As mentioned in a book on the subject, one lesson all successful pickpockets learn early in their training is that no one can truly pay attention to two things at once. One individual technique that works remarkably well is the bump-and-swipe, in which one bumps the mark while swiping his wallet. While focused on being jostled, he can't make a spot check for his wallet to notice that it's slipping out of his pocket. Unless he knows about this technique, he's also unlikely to make such a spot check immediately after being bumped, especially if the pickpocket subsequently keeps him distracted with "flustered" apologies for jostling him.
  • How many times have you spent twenty minutes looking through a laundry bin for the mate to the sock you're holding? Vinyl record collectors experience this too when browsing stores — you can notice how common a record is when you're not looking for it, then when you are, suddenly they've all vanished.
  • Sadly, this is often the cause of car accidents; spot checks are very important when driving, which is why drunk driving and texting while driving are such bad ideas.
  • Some stroke victims have a condition called unilateral neglect, where they will not be able to notice anything that goes on one side of his or her body. They still have 100% vision, hearing, feeling, but they cannot breakthrough the blindspot without being prompted. Patients with this condition will only shave half of their face, acknowledge pain from one side of their body, and only notice half of a pancake placed in front of them.
  • In school, how many times have you heard someone forgot to write their name on a paper? A common "prank" that teachers pull on their students is to have a test that requires them to do random things like unscramble a word or start doing jumping jacks. What the missing component is tends to be the student failing to read the instructions, which commonly requires only for the student to read the "questions" and answer only the last.
  • You would think a train would be easy to spot from far away, given how big and loud most trains are. But even on a clear day, with no obstacles, trains are hard to see or hear, even with all their lights and horns and bells, and even harder to track. They move faster than we think something that big should be moving, and seem to speed up the closer they get. And that is why, when you are at a grade crossing, you should always assume that there might be a train coming, whether you are at a grade crossing with flashing lights, bells, and gates; and especially so at rural grade crossings marked with just a crossbuck; and this danger increases on grade crossings at curves (where trees and buildings might make seeing a train harder) and on double track lines (one train may have gone by, but there probably is another one coming on the other track within a few seconds). This trope has killed too many people and caused too much damage at railroad crossings.
  • When skiing, you risk colliding with someone if you come out of a glade onto another main trail and don't look uphill. Also on the ski slopes, beware of natural rises and dips that sometimes might not let you see a slow or stopped skier who is below the crest of that ridge. An excellent example of this is if you look at the trails off the Independence SuperChair at Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado: to get back to the lift from the trails north of it, you have this point on the return run where there's a rise, then a pretty sharp drop that leads into a relatively level segment that returns you to the lift. However, it's pretty crusty at times due to it being used by skier traffic on Peak 7 as well as by cross-traffic returning to Peaks 8 and 9 from the Kensho SuperChair on Peak 6. Some of these people do take the hill very cautiously, so you have to be careful if you're a fast skier because you might not be able to see someone who has crested this last hill. To alleviate the problem, the resort designates this as a slow zone, and after Peak 6 opened in December 2013, Mountain Safety men in yellow jackets were added there.
  • When you get on a chairlift, you must move forward to the loading line immediately at the point the chair passes the wait line, if you don't want the chair to clobber you. All too often, falls at the loading area are caused by inattentive people who either fail to judge how fast they need to move to the loading line, or are distracted by talking to someone else. Falls unloading the lift are likely caused similarly by someone failing to notice that you need to have your ski or board tips facing up at an angle to hit the ramp.
  • If you are passing a snowboarder, be aware that they have a large blind spot because they ride down the hill sideways, so you need to be careful if you're on a narrow run and passing a boarder on the left while he's riding with his left foot forward, or on his right while he's going down right foot forward, because he might not be able to notice you unless you shout an audible "on your left!" or "on your right!" warning.
  • During the 2008 US presidential election, a staffer for Republican nominee John McCain's campaign tried to smear Democratic nominee Barack Obama's campaign by claiming that she was assaulted by an Obama staffer, who drew a "B" on her cheek, until it was pointed out that the "B" was backwards, suggesting that she drew the "B" herself while looking in a mirror. She promptly dropped the accusation.
  • Very much present at skydiving, and that is one of the main reasons why parachutes are garishly coloured and the skydivers wear colourful overalls. Collisions in free fall can cause serious injuries or even deaths, and most fatalities are due to inadvertent collisions on canopy ride. The intention of the garish colouring is to warn other skydivers of the presence of yourself, and also to individuate each skydiver. Sadly even despite these measures, accidents due to this trope do happen, and many deaths are due to CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) [ironously pronounced as "see-fit"]: the skydiver has concentrated so well on one thing (such as making a good landing) that he has not noticed linear obstacles such as fences, power lines or lamp posts or ground obstacles and ran into them.

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