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He Was Right There All Along

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That's no light... it's a Space Pirate!

You enter an expansive, seemingly empty room or area. Perhaps the dungeon music or sound effects stop playing. It appears that things are safe... but no! When you walk forwards, you trigger the boss to reveal itself, and it turns out that it was simply hiding. Maybe it was hiding on the ceiling, over the entrance to the room, or was camouflaged in the environment. Or maybe the boss was dormant and you've now just awakened it.

Common variations include a boss that doesn't appear until you try to leave the room, an underwater creature that doesn't respond until you swim around for a while, a boss that has disguised itself in the environment and won't reveal itself until you approach it, and so forth. If there is any sort of item, power-up, or Plot Coupon waiting in the Boss Room, it's guaranteed the boss won't show up until you collect it. Basically, this trope applies to any boss that simply isn't standing right there when you walk into the boss room, and requires some action on your part to trigger the boss fight.

No, you may not kill the boss by grenading the whole room before waking it up.note 

For applications of the trope on a very large scale, see That's No Moon. Also see "Jaws" First-Person Perspective, Empty Room Until the Trap. Drop-In Nemesis sounds like an alternate name for this trope, but it is something else entirely. The same goes for Right Behind Me. Teleporting Keycard Squad operates under the same idea but for in-game enemies. Monstrous Scenery appears to overlap with this trope, but subverts it where the scary-looking things visible in the game's background doesn't really interact with you. See also So Near, Yet So Far.

This trope is one variation of Nothing Is Scarier.

Video Game Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    The Legend of Zelda 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has many examples of boss rooms that appear to be empty until the player performs a specific action:
    • Gohma doesn't appear until you look up at the ceiling. However, before the door closes behind you in Gohma's room, you can look up and see her, and it will not trigger the battle.
    • Volvagia won't appear until you jump to the main platform.
    • Phantom Ganon won't appear until you try to leave the room.
    • Dark Link doesn't appear until you turn around (though sharp-eyed players will notice Link's reflection vanish as he passes the tree, implying he wasn't there the whole time).
    • Morpha doesn't reveal itself until you swim to the center platform.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
    • The game contains a particularly unique example in Goht, who is in plain sight the moment Link walks into the Boss Room, but is frozen solid and must be hit with a fire arrow to be awakened — at which point he promptly tramples you and runs off.
    • The mini-boss Wart (the giant eye surrounded with bubbles) will not attack until you go into first-person mode and look up at the very, very high ceiling. Once you make eye contact, it will drop to the floor and begin trying to ram you.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap: The boss of the Temple of Droplets is an ordinary Octorok which has been frozen, as has the element of water. You can see it sticking out of the wall soon after entering the dungeon, but you cannot face it until you unfreeze it, along with the element, much later on.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
    • The Deku Toad miniboss is the straightest example. You surface in the boss arena, and, in true Zelda Ghost Butler form, the hole seals itself behind you. He will not drop down and start the fight until you go into eye-camera mode (c button on Wii) and scan the ceiling for him.
    • Death Sword, the mini-boss in Arbiter's Grounds, doesn't show up until you cut one of the ropes holding its sword. You can't actually see the boss until you activate your wolf senses.
    • The Darkhammer, the mini-boss of Snowpeak Ruins, initially appears as just one of two suits of armor in a narrow hallway that Link passes through. Once Link passes him and is just past the second armor, it triggers the cutscene where he comes alive and destroys the other armor with his Epic Flail while Link dodges out of the way. The main boss in Snowpeak Ruins is another example: Yeta's affliction turns out to be from a Mirror Shard, which eventually possesses her and transforms her into the monstrous Blizzeta (though she thankfully returns to normal after the Boss Battle).
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has Blind the Thief, the boss of one of the Dark World's dungeons. While exploring his dungeon, there appears to be a room with absolutely no purpose at all, but upon exploring the dungeon some more (rescuing one of the seven maidens that are sealed in each dungeon and blowing up some floors on the level above in the process), you can return and discover that the "maiden" is actually Blind himself, who is forced to reveal himself by the bright light (which is his weakness) that now shines in the room (thanks to the aforementioned floor bombing). Cue boss fight.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening:
    • Facade, the boss of the Face Shrine in does this. Walk into a room. Empty. Giant face on the floor which will kill you. Boss. For extra fun, he returns as a mini-boss in Snake's Remains, the second dungeon of Oracle of Seasons, and then again at Onox's Castle. Because fighting a demonic-looking disembodied face once wasn't bad enough.
    • Slime Eye, boss of the Key Cavern, is hidden and drops Mooks from the ceiling until you dash into a wall and dislodge him, causing him to drop into sight. If you don't pick up on the hint to use the Pegasus Boots and ram the walls, he'll eventually drop down of his own volition.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass has the boss on the ghost ship that won't show up until you get all four of the "sisters" together. Justified in that the sisters themselves are the boss.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • Taluses stay buried in the ground, sticking out a bit but otherwise just looking like a pile of rocks, until you walk by their resting points.
    • Unlike the other major bosses, Waterblight Ganon has a designated chamber for his boss battle that can be entered from the get-go as soon as you enter the dungeon. However, he will only appear after you activate the five terminals and return to the podium in the boss room, wherein he reveals that he was possessing the podium all along. It's quite a surprise if you fight him as your first boss (which he probably will be on your first playthrough due to the game heavily encouraging you in that direction as the reward for defeating him is an automatic revive).
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: When the player enters its boss arena, Marbled Gohma is present only as an inert pile of Gloom-infused rocks on the ceiling. It will stay that way until the player gets Yunobo to do his Rolling Attack on one of the room's curved walls, which will have him roll into and smash open the cluster, awaking the beast and starting the battle. This serves to clue the player from the start that this is a thing that can be done, since it is necessary to harm the boss when it climbs on the ceiling during the second phase and isn't otherwise an immediately obvious option.

    Action Adventure Games 
  • Bound by Blades does this in the first boss battle. You assume you're fighting a harmless Training Dummy scarecrow, until suddenly the scarecrow comes to life, having been possessed by Gallows, the first boss, whose head turns into a sinister Jack-O-Lantern. Cue boss battle.
  • Multiple colossi in Shadow of the Colossus. Often they will appear to be nothing but a pile of ruins, but will begin to form when you approach them. One of the underwater colossi doesn't appear until after you swim around for a little while.
  • In ICO, the Queen doesn't appear until you try to leave the apparently-empty throne room.
  • Grabbed by the Ghoulies: The main gimmick of the warlocks is that they won't present themselves until the player finds them by breaking a randomized container they're hiding in.
  • Castlevania:
    • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has a rare example of He Was Right There All Along the level: in the "Nation of Fools" portrait, you can see in some sections of the level a huge spherical object darkening the background, and when you grab an important object on a small room he comes forth, revealing himself to be the well-known boss Legion.
    • And then there's Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, with the giant rock boss.
    • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow had the appropriately named boss, Paranoia, who won't appear until Soma walks in front of a mirror in the middle of the room.
      • Then in a later boss fight against Dario Bossi, a large demon can be seen in Dario's reflection in a mirror during the fight. Continuing to attack Dario will lead to a bad ending. However, using Paranoia's soul to enter the mirror behind the apparent boss, you get to fight the demon Aguni.
      • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate the Necromancer can be seen standing in the background before he ambushes Simon; his ragged cloak blends in with the curtains, making him harder to spot.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver has Dumah, the fifth boss, who has already been killed once by a pack of vampire hunters and impaled with six-foot stakes to his own throne. Of course, being a vampire, he can be brought back to life in an instant by pulling the stakes back out, and players can square off against his spirit in the game's Spectral Realm.
  • Beyond Good & Evil has a particularly impressive sequence where you enter a room over a strangely organic-looking bridge, then photograph a cute pair of one-eyed creatures. Then the boss retracts its tail which you just walked over and eyestalks which you just photographed.
    • Also done with both bosses in the second dungeon. The first one appears in the central part of the level (which you're bound to go back and forth through a few times), but not until you've gone and saved Double H. The second one's found in a room you can see the room long before you can get to it, and even when you do, the boss doesn't appear until you look around the room in camera mode.
  • Cave Story. Monster X allows you to walk right past it before it activates and begins attacking. The Core is inert while you explore its chamber, and only becomes active at the end of a cutscene that you trigger by speaking with Curly.
  • In Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, there's a section where Monkey, Trip and Pigsy are looking for parts to repair Pigsy's flying craft. The last part they need is a power cell, which they find sitting out in an open area, otherwise occupied only by large piles of junked machinery. Monkey and Pigsy have a brief discussion about how lucky they are to just find it sitting there, Monkey clearly not believing the group's apparent luck. Only after Monkey jumps down into the area and gets the cell does Pigsy warn him to "watch out for the Rhino." Monkey doesn't know what he's talking about — until one of the junk piles shifts, and a huge mech emerges from it.
  • Dark Souls has the Ceaseless Discharge, a giant demon that is the source of the molten pools just after leaving Quelaag's Domain, and you can enter the arena, and have to pass by it and pick up a set of armor and turn around before the demon will even think of trying to attack you.
    • More true to form, the Moonlight Butterfly and Centipede Demon can both be seen from areas leading up to their respective boss fight arenas: the former clinging to a tower visible from Darkroot Garden and the latter hanging on a bridge overlooking his boss arena in the lower Demon Ruins.
      • Dark Souls 3 has the two Deep Accursed minibosses do this via Ceiling Cling, and they will drop: a few seconds after you enter its room (first one) when you try to pull the lever it's guarding (second one). Further, the Carthus Sandworm will only rear up and attack once you try to cross the Smoldering Lake it is in. There is a giant ballista that can kill it, but it aims at YOU.
  • Bloodborne does this in a truly horrifying way with the Amygdala. They're absolutely gigantic and lurk on top of a few buildings. They're normally quite invisible, at least until you rack up enough Insight. Then, you can see them. And they can see you. And then they get grabby.
  • Ys: Multiple:
    • Several bosses in Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen don't spawn until you try to open the treasure chest in the room.
    • In Ys III, a statue in a bubble blocks your path in Valestine Castle, and you must find the Plot Coupon to make it disappear. Later, it returns as a boss.

    Action Games 

    First Person Shooters 
  • Unreal:
    • In one stage, a giant statue of a Titan is seen sitting on a throne. When you grab the upgrade sitting on the conspicuous button, the statue stands up... It's the first time you see a Stone Titan which is basically a normal Titan with a different texture and an extra helping of HP.
    • Another example is the Warlord. When you enter the lava-filled cave, the boss is facing the other way and only gets alerted when you get closer.
  • Doom³. In the final area, you walk through a doorway into a seemingly empty arena, before finding out you just walked under the Cyberdemon's legs. Either it just likes to stand over doorways and freak people out or the door spontaneously changed its destination.
  • Resistance 2 features the Mother Spinner, who you don't see on the top of the tower in Twin Falls, Idaho until you look directly up the girders and then the battle begins.
  • Some bosses in the Descent series do this, for example the first boss of II is initially hidden behind a disappearing wall. The second boss doesn't activate until it directly sees you or you hit it.
  • The Giant Eye of Doom (Golden Eye) in Turok 2. You walk into a large supposedly-empty cavern, then look up to see the eye gazing at you.
  • The final map of the first part of Quake has Chthon, a Puzzle Boss. You can go anywhere on the map and do anything but he won't appear until you grab the Rune next to the lava pool. Cue giant lava monster rising out of the pool...
  • The boss Spider Splicer Rose in BioShock enters in this fashion. After first meeting Peach Wilkins, you hear someone humming The Ink Spots' "I Didn't Care", petals start falling from the ceiling, and Peach, recognizing the sound, quietly informs you, "My friend, you are fucked!"; only when you look up does she attack, but she escapes before you can kill her. At the end of the mission when you are heading back to Fontaine Fisheries, you hear her humming again, but she doesn't appear until you grab the Wrench Lurker tonic.
  • Shadow Warrior (2013) has the first boss arena oddly empty when entered. On turning around toward the entrance it's revealed the two pillars you walked between were Gozu's legs, as this triggers him to stand up.
  • Thardus from Metroid Prime starts out as just a pile of boulders in the middle of the arena, but as Samus walks up to it, a small stone floats up from the ground behind her, and then all of the rocks start to take a humanoid shape...
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has the Jump Guardian, which is loaded into the room before the cutscene that signals the beginning of the battle. Notably, the model is missing, but the hitbox is not. If the player positions themselves in that room just right without triggering the cutscene, they can start dealing damage to the creature and bring it down to one hit point remaining, before the battle officially begins.
  • ULTRAKILL: Throughout the game, Thinker-esque statues holding orbs of light appear as decorations. However, these are no mere statues; they are Cerberus demons in their dormant state, and the first time they're shown to be more than statues is when one of them and later a second wakes up to protect the Gate of Hell from our Killer Robot protagonist V1. Every statue is a dormant Cerberus, and first-time players will be kept on their toes, as any one of them could spring to life at a moment's notice.

    Light Gun Game 

  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Lurker Below has to be fished from the water before your group of heroes can fight it — this is usually pretty hilarious, as twenty-five players stand around buffed to the gills while someone fishes.
    • Sapphiron is probably a better example. You walk into what sure looks like an empty room with naught but a few bones laying about. They may as well have put up a neon sign screaming TRAP!
  • Dark Falz, in Phantasy Star Online. It's an obvious trap of course; after slogging through the hell that is the Ruins, you enter a sunny meadow chamber with a monolith in the middle, all sunny and cheerful and peaceful with calming music. You walk up to it and interact with the altar near the monolith... suddenly everything goes hellish and a droning sound starts as hundreds of bladed things come after you. Then Dark Falz shows up!

    Platform Games 
  • Lampshaded in Voodoo Vince, in which Vince enters a large room and sees nothing but a pile of bones. He wonders aloud where the boss is, and as he says it the bones begin to form into the boss of the level.
  • The Metroid series loves this one. Let us count the ways:
    • In Metroid Prime, both of the bosses in Phendrana Drifts wait for you to try and grab their power-up before they attack. Later, in the Phazon Mines, the Elite Pirates (and the Omega Pirate) won't wake up until you approach their stasis tubes. The Phazon Elite won't do anything unless you blow up the tube he's held in.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes:
      • The Chykka boss won't attack until you shoot its cocoon and drop it into the water. In the same area, the Alpha Blogg mercifully can't reach you until you've visited the room just beyond it. Finally, the Ingsmasher waits in a storage rack until you approach, just like the Elite Pirates. There's also the Alpha Splinter, Alpha Sandigger, Dark Missile Trooper, Amorbis, Quadraxis (you already saw him dismantled in the light version of his room), Boost Guardian, Spider Guardian... Hell, it's quicker to list Prime 2 bosses that don't do this.
      • The Jump Guardian in Prime 2 actually inverts this; as you enter the room, he's right where he'll be when the cutscene starts. He's invisible, but you can still hit him.
    • In Metroid: Zero Mission (which is actually a remake of the original game), the Acid Worm won't pop out until you zipline across the room. Similarly, Ridley waits before divebombing from the ceiling until you've entered the room behind his lair, retrieved the (temporarily unusable) power-up, re-entered his room, walked to the far door to see that it wouldn't open, and turned back around.
    • In Super Metroid:
      • The Torizo boss is a Chozo statue which won't attack until you take its item and try to leave the room.
      • The Ridley battles. He waits from the background until Samus tries to approach the baby Metroid.
    • Metroid Fusion:
      • One of the X-Parasites tries the same trick done by Torizo in Super, but you can see it coming a mile away because it's the only Chozo statue in a Federation-built science lab. Or, if you didn't already catch that one, you can shoot at it (in an attempt to reveal the power-up, like in the other games with Chozo Statues, which is probably what they wanted you to do)
      • The first time you leave Sector 5, you see a large shadow dashing through the background, accompanied by a loud noise and screen-shaking. Much later in the game, you are sent back only to find out what's really been there all along is a giant, grotesque boss, aptly named "the Nightmare."
    • Metroid II: Return of Samus: Arachnus looks like a power up Samus usually gets from Chozo statues but attacks Samus if you try to acquire it. It does jump around a lot and beating it does yield the spring ball for Samus, meaning it was meant to "defend" the power up or was just a hostile explorer who found it first.
  • Nearly every single boss example in Super Mario Galaxy has the boss invisible or out of view until the battle begins with only about 4 examples in the entire game being in sight beforehand. Also, in the sequel, there's a boss that's disguised as a planet!
  • Bigger Boo in Yoshi's Island starts off just beyond the far edge of the room. Like all Boos, he can't move onto the screen until Yoshi is turned away from him. All other bosses usually subvert it by waiting already. Amusingly, by refusing to follow this trope the letter, it's actually possible to defeat the giant Piranha plant boss of World 3 before the battle starts. Kamek then flies in and the reaction on the ordeal is priceless.
  • Used rather weirdly in Rayman Revolution. When pursuing the second Mask, you find yourself in a room with a big statue. Of course, as every one who doesn't suffer from acute Genre Blindness would guess, when activated, this statue is Umber, the Guardian of the Mask. It gets weird when Umber not only does absolutely squat to guard the mask but also provides you with transportation along deadly lava to where it's being kept.
  • The Hulking Lungfish boss in Psychonauts doesn't immediately appear when you enter its arena. You get to wander around in the air bubble on the lakebed for a while before it appears.
  • The boss of the first area of Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu is a Buddha-like statue that becomes alive when you scroll fully into the room. The boss of the third area is a toad that suddenly transforms into a huge flying fire-breathing toad, and the boss of the fourth level is a suspicious cloud that transforms into a huge purple cloudy cyclops.
  • Targitzan in Banjo-Tooie — you walk into his "Really Sacred Chamber" and see a Jiggy in the middle of the floor, and as you approach it he leaps out of the floor. And Old King Coal of the same game...and Mr. Patch...and about every third boss from both games.
  • Mad Jack, the boss of Frantic Factory in Donkey Kong 64. You can actually look up at the ceiling and see the boss hiding in a hole, but he won't move. There are sixteen short platforms on the floor, and you have to step on the one with the light flashing over it. Only then will the platforms rise several stories into the air and the creepy evil robot jack-in-the-box duck thing come down to fight you.
  • The boss of the Mausoleum of the Giants in La-Mulana is a robot disguised as one of the giant statues in the background.
  • At least three Maverick Reploids in Mega Man X were right there: Sting Chameleon (active camouflage), Spark Mandrill (fade to black, his light bulbs light up, and then the lights return), and Boomer Kuwanger (fades in ninja-like). The wall-face Rangda Bangda was also right there.
  • Averted in I Wanna Be the Guy, where the moon, which has been in the background for much of the game, drops out of the sky as if it's a boss. A moment later the real boss kicks it aside.
  • At the end of Mushroom Hill Zone Act 2 in Sonic & Knuckles, you find a radar dish, destroy it, then Robotnik's Eggmobile emerges from beneath it. In Flying Battery Zone Act 1, you find what appears to be a Prison Egg, but then a pair of Epic Flails pops out and attempts to smash you.
  • In Ori and the Blind Forest, after Ori restores the Element of Waters and escapes the flood in the Ginso Tree, one of the trees in the background reveals itself as Kuro, who is expectedly pissed.
  • At the end of Amagon's third Zone, nothing happens until you jump to the far-right platform, whereupon creepy boss music starts up and the Hippo Demon's eyes appear in the waterfall background, then after a few seconds, the background fades to black and the boss fully reveals himself.
  • Several bosses in Hollow Knight:
    • A room in the Forgotten Crossroads appears to just contain another horde of zombified bugs, but then the gates slam down and the False Knight drops in.
    • The Mantis Lords initially sit idle on their thrones and only attack when you voluntarily challenge them, though they will close the gate to Deepnest if you approach it.
    • The Soul Master is first seen as a distant shadow before teleporting into the foreground.
    • A room in Crystal Peak contains a bench that is useless because it is occupied by what seems to be a crystallized corpse. The moment you attack the motionless body, the Crystal Guardian wakes up ready to fight.
    • The Watcher Knights are a variation: they are dead bodies when you enter their room, but the Infection is floating right above, and it starts taking control of one of them the second the room locks itself.
    • A strange voice in the Royal Waterways beckons you to a room (literally) full of shit and nothing else, whereupon a Wormsign heralds the Dung Defender.
    • In Deepnest, a doppelganger of the Knight leads them down a twisty corridor to a room littered with strung-up corpses, where the doppelganger reveals its true form as Nosk.
    • In the Ancient Basin, you find a corpse of one of the player character's brethren, and as you approach the Infection pustules on the left side of the room, a swarm of Lightseeds reanimates the corpse, commencing the Broken Vessel boss fight.
    • The Traitor Lord's boss fight in the Queen's Gardens at first appears to be yet another Multi-Mook Melee before he makes his appearance.
    • The True Final Boss arena starts empty except for a couple platforms leading to a Challenge prompt. Cue the Sun in the background unfurling wings and revealing herself as THE RADIANCE with full-screen Boss Subtitles.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin:
    • There are the Beady Long Legs, who drop down on you. The Titan Dweevil, Snagret, and Emperor Bulblax all come up from underground.
    • Pikmin 2: The Creeping Chrysanthemum looks like a lot of the normal flowers that are all over the game except it has narrow blinking eyes staring at you which are hard to notice. If you approach it, it pops out of the ground & reveals the giant fat root that is its torso. It uses its stem arms to scoot around on its "butt" & tries to eat your Pikmin with its red flower mouth. If you or your Pikmin are too close to it when it initially pops out of the ground, you'll get knocked over making it extra hard to avoid losing Pikmin.
    • Pikmin 3
      • The Armored Mawdad's arena appears to be an empty, hollowed out tree stump. Just walking forwards a short distance will reveal that it was on the wall right above the entrance, meaning that Alph and/or Brittany walked right under it.
      • The Quaggled Mireclops at first appears to be merely an oddly-shaped hill poking out of the mud, with something organic-looking buried inside of a crystalline substance. Try to break it, and the "hill" underneath you will begin to rise...
  • Red Alert 3: A non-villainous example in the Mount Rushmore mission, when Mirage tanks will suddenly appear around your base (with the advisor actually saying they were there all along) even if they could have revealed themselves earlier or helped with the first part of the mission.

    Role Playing Games 
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • In Magus's Castle, the party comes across an easy monster they believe to be the sorcerer Flea, who dies quickly. Then the bat which followed them for the entire time reveals himself to be the real Flea.
    • A scene later on plays with this. Your party passes Nizbel II, who politely tells you the real boss is through that door. As you go to leave, he stops you and says "Hey! Why do you think I was flexing my muscles and looking all intimidating for?" and starts a boss battle.
      • Kind of a Fridge Brilliance moment, if the player thinks about it. Since the whole episode paints the reptites as being culturally superior than the humans (what, with proper grammar, masonry, medieval constructs during the Stone Age), Nizbel II is actually offended that you didn't challenge him to battle first, since y'know, you're the invader and all.
  • Shadow Hearts: The cute doggy following you through Chapter Nine turns out to be under Dehuai's control. Yuri just has to insult him, causing Dehuai to transform it into the aptly-named Beast Dog.
  • Also parodied in the new Bard's Tale, where a giant undead viking lies dormant, waiting for you to approach his throne before attacking you. However the Bard, being extremely Genre Savvy, calls him out on it, and refuses to move forward until said undead berserker wakes up from afar.
  • Mega Man Legends has a room with a strange yellow column in the middle. You bypass it and move on. When you go through the room again on your way back after finding the Plot Coupon, arms, legs, and a head pop out and you have to fight it.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II in the basement of Beast's Castle , you enter an empty room with a stone door carved with a gaudy double-gargoyle thing with its "arms" guarding the handle. Donald walks up to the handle... and the "decoration" takes a swing at him. Cue boss music.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VII Gi Nattak, who is nothing but a frightening mural on the wall when you enter the room that he is in, but after a short conversation, the mural suddenly comes to life.
    • Another example in the same game (and really every Final Fantasy game that features this monster) is Demon's Gate, who starts out as simply a creepy wall with audible heartbeats, but later appears through said wall and attacks.
    • Final Fantasy IV had one dungeon with quite a few mini-bosses called "Trap Doors" they look exactly like regular doors so you won't know which are safe. They are very tough, and like to use unavoidable 1-hit KO's on your party members. The most annoying thing about them is that 70% of them lead to empty rooms, thus wasting your time.
  • The World Ends with You features a boss during the third week who hides in Beat's shadow for most of a week, and she's supposed to be that week's GM! Really was there all along.
  • This occurs anytime you encounter a Thresher Maw in Mass Effect, primarily in the mission where you're searching for Admiral Kahoku's missing marines. It doesn't appear until you drive really close to the Marines' vehicle, which is sitting right on top of a Thresher nest.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter (2004) introduces Basarios, a relatively small boss monster with a layer of rocks over its body. It has a big clump of rocks on its back, and when it hides underground this part sticks out, looking like any other cluster of rocks you'll see on the volcanic belt.
    • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri) brings us the Gobul, who hides in the riverbeds of the Flooded Forest with its whiskers (which resemble the local aquatic plants) above the surface to lure in fish, Epioth, and hunters alike.
    • Monster Hunter Portable 3rd: The ridges on Nibelsnarf's back resemble the mounds of sand that only appear in the desert in missions that involve it.
  • Done in a weird way in Wild ARMs. In a volcano dungeon, our heroes enter a small room with a dead end and an odd tapping noise coming from one of the walls. After wondering aloud what to do, the tapping stops, and Zed smashes through the wall and challenges you to a duel. Afterwards, he leaves and you continue through the hole he made.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 3, you discover a teddy bear in a shopping cart cage in the Jury Street Metro trainyard. Opening the cage causes the bear to wave its arms, still nothing special happening. But then, a Super Mutant Behemoth appears out of the east to clobber you.
    • In Fallout 4, as you enter the Museum of Witchcraft basement, there are rumblings in the ceiling and scare chords in the music. When you reach the main floor, you come face to face with the source of the commotion, a Savage Deathclaw.
    • Fallout: New Vegas is no stranger to this either. Enter Vault 22, a Vault covered in supposedly lethal plants. As you make your way through the corridors, noticing the lack of plant-like enemies, you eventually come across a terminal talking about how people infected by the plant spore turn into plant-zombies that are able to camouflage themselves by standing perfectly still in the bushes and leaves. When you make your way back through the previously empty hallways, said plant-zombies start popping out seemingly out of nowhere and attacking you. And then it dawns on you that you've walked past these things without even knowing they were there.
  • Pokémon Colosseum and its sequel Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness have Cipher Peons that drop from the ceiling after you come into a room.
  • Pokémon X and Y now feature Pokémon that jump out at you from bushes if you go past, or drop down from the ceiling.
  • As part of the Medali Gym Challenge in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, you need to find out the components of a secret meal order in the sushi restaurant by battling fellow student trainers, though one of the hints is provided by an unassuming patron at the counter. When you acquire all of the pieces and place the order, the aforementioned patron is revealed to be the Gym Leader, Larry.
  • Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard: Though not present in the original version, the Fafnir Knight remake has you wandering around Ginnungagap when all of a sudden the FOE alert sounds, notifying you one of the floor's wandering superpowered enemies has noticed you. You may be tempted to turn around and see where it's coming from, only to find nothing at all as you look... and then the instant you take your eyes off the wall in front of you, the damn thing will reveal it's hiding inside the wall, and using part of the brickwork as a cover.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • The game likes to do this now and again with Giant Frostbite Spiders hiding in the ceiling, and despite how unimpressive they are in combat, being ambushed by one from above will still make you crap yourself every time. Ironically, it's scarier when you're also sneaking, because if you're just running around openly, it will probably notice you and drop in front of you as soon as you enter the room. If you're sneaking, it probably won't notice you until you're directly underneath it — and neither will you.
    • The Draugr- ancient Nord Undead that are encountered in the caves and ruins around Skyrim- have a habit of coming to life and attacking you when you walk by their resting spot. Since it's difficult to tell if a Draugr is long dead or simply sleeping, most players develop the habit of slashing/smashing/burningnote  any entombed corpse they happen across while exploring. You could also use Aura Whisper or Detect Dead/Detect Life
    • In the Dawnguard DLC, there is a mini-boss called The Reaper in the Soul Cairn who will not spawn until you have placed three soul gems in specific spots around its lair. However, if you use Detect Life prior to this, you can see that it was always in the room, just did not react to your presence.
  • Kellam of Fire Emblem: Awakening has this happen a few ways. An eagle-eyed player might notice him standing just barely on-screen when they first visit the Shepherd's base, but he's on and gone in a flash. The next mission, he's on the battlefield as a recruitable NPC, which some players might miss entirely, so he remains wholly in the background. He winds up invoking this unintentionally in-universe, as well, where several of his Supports involve another character turning around and "suddenly" there he was, despite having been standing there in full plate the entire time.

    Shoot 'Em Ups 
  • The obscure shooter Metal Black has an "all along the level" version with a literal That's No Moon: you can see the satellite right from the beginning of the second level, only to see the true one at the end of it. At this point the fake moon draws closer and cracks up, revealing the boss inside.
  • At the end of the final planet of Super Stardust HD you get the regular 'Boss Incoming' countdown. Then the planet explodes, revealing the boss to have been in its core all along.
  • In one level of R-Type FINAL, your ship slinks through a gargantuan biometrics lab cycling around an equally huge stasis chamber. From time to time you get a glimpse of the creature in the tube, who bears a resemblance to one of the game's most famous recurring bosses, Dobkeratops. No further explanation should be necessary.
  • G-Darius has Zone Nu, "Genesis". During the level, you see a large tetrahedron being formed as you revolve around it. After fighting through a slew of enemies, the tetrahedron suddenly morphs into an armed form. It turns out to be the boss, The Embryon.
  • Hazelnut Hex has a stage set in an ice cavern, where you'll need to avoid dropping icicles and ice spikes. The mid-boss, a gigantic ice skull, notably disguises itself as three icicles on top and below the screen, where it chomps you down when you approach.
  • The fourth chapter of Ikaruga is set in and around a satellite-like structure, which turns out to be the stage boss itself.
  • The second level of EDF: Earth Defense Force turns into a subverted Battleship Raid halfway through. After blasting your way through the turrets and several smaller aircraft, the level's true boss blasts its way out of the front end of the carrier.
  • In the third stage of Lightning Fighters, you encounter several battleship-type watercraft, then they all merge together to form the stage boss. In the first stage, the boss flies overhead a couple times before you fight it.
  • In Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony, you can see the boss of stage 4 dormant on the ground before you fight it if you pay attention.

    Survival Horror 
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine has a lot of cassette players recording events from the Joey Drew Studios' days in operation. In Chapter 4, Henry finds audio logs inside an uncompleted amusement park called Bendy Land. In one of the rooms, there's a fully-constructed octopus ride in the middle of the room. There's also an audio log in the room, which Henry goes to listen to. However, players can see that the "audio log" has subtitles playing, unlike all the other logs. If players don't get that Bertrum Piedmont's nearby then, they do when the ride activates, showing Bertrum's face inside of it, and starts attacking.
  • Resident Evil 4:
    • When you meet the Garrador, he's chained to a wall and covered with invulnerable armour. To escape the room, you need to get right up into the guy's hairy mutated grill in the hope of pulling the switch that opens the door. He waits till you're six inches away before breaking out of his chains and beginning the battle.
    • You pass by a locked gate that you can hear something growling behind. When you return to this area at night, that something is revealed to be El Gigante. Cue boss fight.
    • Mendez pulls this on Leon when you enter the warehouse where you fight him.
    • Also occurs with Verdugo. First he's shown stalking you from "Jaws" First-Person Perspective, then he periodically claws at you from the ceiling; only after you activate the elevator power and attempt to open the shutter does he drop down and fight you face to face.
  • The Resident Evil remake for the GameCube makes a damn fine scare out of this. You open a door and walk into an empty room... and then the door swings shut behind you and you see the giant fucking spider that was clinging to the back of the door all along oh God. Also in the REmake, the first encounter with Lisa Trevor in her cabin. Whilst there is the sound of the door opening to warn you, you had no idea she was around the cabin before that.
  • In Resident Evil 2's B scenario, you come to a security room, turn on the monitor, to find that Mr. X is right behind you, and he promptly smashes the camera.
  • In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Nemesis does this a few times. In fact, one of the game's selling points is that Nemesis can literally attack from anywhere.
  • Silent Hill: You enter the boiler room of the Evil School, you hear footsteps and heavy breathing, then you turn around to see the Split-headed Lizard monster. In the second game, you enter a hallway in the alternate hospital basement, then after taking a few steps forward, the camera shifts to reveal Pyramid Head right behind you.
  • In Clock Tower during the Library Chapter, you'll find a darkened room with your only source of light being a fish tank. Turn it on and it illuminates Scissorman who was standing right behind it watching you.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • Part of a level in the Transformers: Armada PS2 game is set on an aircraft carrier. When you clear it of Decepticons, you meet a very large head. The entire carrier transforms into Tidal Wave, the level boss.
  • In Transformers: War for Cybertron, Megatron's space station, which you were assaulting in the first place, turns out to be Trypticon. In a twist, instead of transforming on his own, you have to infiltrate further than planned and force him to convert into robot mode before a proper confrontation can occur.
  • The first phase of P.N.03's Final Boss battle is a robotic skull-looking thing. After you inflict a few hits on that, the boss's true form drops from the ceiling.
  • In the third level of Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain, Masson, the ALA terrorist leader, can be heard shooting and will kill the SWAT officers if you don't get them to safety, but he doesn't physically appear until you complete all the objectives.
  • In Vanquish's Act 2-6, you will observe a strange carousel-like object at the top of the hill from several points in the level. That's the Jamming Tower that serves as the act's boss battle.
  • Splatoon:
    • This is how bosses appear in Octo Valley's Octo Canyon. Once the player approaches the Zapfish at the center of the arena, an Octarian tentacle will reach out from the boss beneath it and pull it in, before the boss itself springs to life.
    • This also occurs during the Final Boss battle, where the Great Zapfish is directly in front of the level's entrance. As soon as you approach it, the Zapfish is sucked into the Octobot King, a Humongous Mecha piloted by DJ Octavio. Cap'n Cuttlefish attempts to warn the player that it's a trap beforehand, but, as Agent 2 points out, you don't have much of a choice.
  • Splatoon 2:
    • Compared to the first game, this one goes a step further, as the Zapfish is now suspended over an unassuming puddle of Octarian ink, from which the tentacle and the boss will emerge. Averted when the bosses are fought again in Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion, as the bosses now emerge from the ink as soon as Agent 8 enters the arena.
    • The Final Boss also appears this way. At the center of the arena is a concert stage surrounded by Octarian ink, with none other than Callie atop the stage. Once you approach, a brief cutscene plays, and the stage itself raises up out of the ink, revealing the rest of the Octobot King II underneath.

Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • Rise Matsumoto of YuruYuri doesn't formally get introduced till episode 9 of Season 1 in the anime. But when she does show up, they are really surprised to see her and that she's the Student Council President. One of the other characters mentions that she was always with them, but just slightly off-screen. Cue a flashback scene that then veers slightly to the side to reveal she was with them in that picture.
  • Sword Art Online: High-Floor Bosses tend to favour this, particularly The Skull Reaper, which drops from the ceiling and insta-kills two members of the clearing team.
  • In Cat Paradise, it turns out that Akitaka Sandou, the person behind most of the plot, the founder of the academy where the manga takes place, and someone who was also thought to be long dead, was actually hiding amidst Tsukomoisshu's severed head collection for almost the entire story.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, where it's given a meta twist: In the 2015 anime opening, if you look carefully during the scene where Star Platinum breaks the glass/screen you can make out the outline of The World, and DIO is standing behind Jotaro's shoulder when it zooms into his face. This was not a stylistic choice or an Easter Egg; "Dio's World Part 3" reveals that DIO was actually there the whole time on our side of the glass/screen, which The World actually broke during a time stop rather than Star Platinum. This is then followed by the camera panning around to Jotaro's back and showing DIO casually strolling past him during the time stop with a smirk before assuming his position behind him (now fully illuminated) before restarting time and engaging The World in a Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs duel with Jotaro and Star Platinum. In fact, the final version of the intro reveals that much of the imagery of the intro was perpetrated by The World (or Star Platinum), simply moving while we could not see.

    Board Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Pulled off with regularity by Diabolik. Who is forced to resort to such tricks during his capers because cops check the usual hiding places and some of the less usual but tend to forget about the ceiling and similar things (and when they actually check, he always has a way to stay hidden anyway).

    Fan Works 
  • Waiting is worth it: Izuku's (and later Bakugo's) reactions to finding out that Toshinori — the man who has been dating and later marries Izuku's mother — was in fact their idol and No. 1 hero All Might defies proper description ("amazed and freaked out" come to mind, though).
  • Chapter 66 of The Parselmouth of Gryffindor has a non-villainous example: after Umbridge has finished about how Hermione can't possibly compete in the Tournament on account of being in Azkaban, she reveals that she has been in the Great Hall all along.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Frozen (2013), Prince Hans and a group of soldiers approach Elsa's ice palace. As they get close to the entry staircase, a pile of snow next to the staircase suddenly stands up — it's Elsa's giant snow monster Marshmallow, who had been sitting down with his back to camera.
  • When Elastigirl finds the Screenslaver's hideout in Incredibles 2, you can actually see the faintest glow of his goggles in the background when Helen's stretching her arm through the gap in the door.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Leslie Nielsen film Spy Hard, the Director of the CIA often happens to be blended in with the surroundings, whether this entails becoming a leather armchair or disguising himself as the painting of George Washington on the wall.
  • Alien:
    • Brett in the original film moves through an empty room with machinery and chains hanging from the ceiling. After he moves off, the monster moves in the background, revealing that it was just camouflaged in plain sight the whole time. It happens to Ripley, on board the Narcissus, where the Alien is hidden in plain sight among the wall detail and then suddenly uncurls to the horror of Ripley. The Xenomorphs make something of a habit of this, it happens in almost every film.
    • Done again in the sequel Aliens. One of the soldiers shines her light on a dark bumpy wall, gives a Sedwich One-Liner, then when her back is turned, the wall starts to move..
    • This is actually subverted in Alien³, where Ripley believes she sees the xenomorph lurking in the shadows, but it turns out to be just a bit of piping in the shape of the creature's head. Played straight a few seconds later, when she backs up against a wall, only to find the creature waking up behind her.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy's bedroom in the palace has an elaborate mural decorating the walls. As Indy stands around waiting for Willie to arrive, one of the figures steps away from the wall behind him, revealing himself to be an assassin.
  • In Pan's Labyrinth, when Ofelia first enters the well in the middle of the titular Labyrinth, the Faun can be seen in the background for the whole scene before he declares himself, but his wood-like body blends in with the other debris so well that the viewer is unlikely to notice him until he moves.
  • Similar to the Indiana Jones example above, Wild Wild West has a painting of a man with a rifle, which turns out to actually be a man with a rifle, well camouflaged until he moves.
    • Not to mention the train passing under some complex of steel trusses or crane supports in one scene. Only later do the trusses move—they're the legs of Loveless' giant spider machine.
  • Killer Crocodile has its opening credits take place on a scene where two men on a boat complain about the lack fish biting at night. The camera approaches them slowly, and once they grab a flashlight, the crocodile that was lying in the shadows right next to them attacks, presenting the title at the same time.
  • In Copycat, this trope is combined with Lost in a Crowd. Watch the movie all the way through, then start from the beginning and count again all the crowd scenes — starting with the college lecture that begins the film — where the serial killer is right there all along, watching as the police try and find him.
  • In Rogue One, after the Rebels successfully transmit the Death Star plans to the spaceship waiting in orbit, the Rebel crew hauls ass inside the damaged flagship to get to their escape cruiser — the Tantive IV. Right as they reach the end of the hallway, the door jams and the lights go off. Then the Rebels look back down the hallway, and realize they're not alone in the darkness the moment that they hear his breathing. Then a blood-red lightsaber beam extends from the darkness and...
  • At the end of Saw, the Jigsaw Killer is revealed to be the seemingly-dead body in the middle of the room that Adam and Lawrence are trapped in. He'd been there during the entire movie, and neither of them noticed.
  • When A Stranger Calls Back, the 90s sequel to the classic horror film has the villain portrayed this way. He is a chameleon, serial killer who infiltrates his victims home wearing full body paint that matches the walls in their residence. There are many scenes that show the walls and it looking completely normal, until the villain opens his eyes, revealing that he was there the whole time.
  • In Jurassic World, the head of the Asset Containment Unit finds the tracker of the Indominus Rex clawed out and laying on the ground. Blood drips onto him from a leaf above his head. When he looks up, the previously-camoflaged dinosaur reveals itself and kills the entire ACU.
  • In Nope, the UFO Starfish Alien has the ability to disguise itself as a cloud, though it doesn't move like natural ones; the characters don't realize this until they look at timelapse footage of the sky. Given how it's mentioned on the radio early in the movie that a group of hikers disappeared in the area six months ago, it's been there at least that long, though possibly even longer if it had only been eating animals beforehand.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Meta example. Who turned out to be the real Big Bad in Tensou Sentai Goseiger? Warstar? No. The Yuumajuu? Nope. The Matrintis? Uh-uh. It's Bladerun, the villain who was a part of every single one of those organizations.
  • Spaced: Tim is sitting on a park bench, apparently talking to himself. Then Mike pops out of the bush he's disguised himself as. In another episode, Daisy enters Brian's apartment looking for him. He doesn't appear to be home, but as she leaves, we see Brian covered in paint and blending in with a canvas.
  • The Silence from Doctor Who Series 6 are practically the physical embodiment of this trope. The Silence's unique power makes other lifeforms unable to remember them except while looking at them; the moment you turn away, you forget you saw them. The episode seems to hint that this applies to the viewers as well, because they almost never appear on camera unless one or more characters is looking at them. This is done to truly creepy effect in "The Day of the Moon", in which Amy enters a seemingly empty room, explores for a moment, then looks down to see her arm covered in dozens of tally marks, revealing that at some point in the previous scene she saw the dozens of previously unseen Silents sleeping on the ceiling, but forgot.
  • One of the big twists of the utterly bizarre Too Many Cooks is that an Obviously Evil slovenly bearded man named Bill is in the cast; he turns out to be a serial killer who starts wiping out anyone who crosses his path. While Bill makes his first "official" appearance at about three minutes into the short, sharp-eyed viewers can spot him lurking in the background of many shots before then; usually, whatever weird activity is happening on the screen draws the watcher's attention away from noticing him.

  • Discworld:
    • Anything involving Granny Weatherwax.
    • Vetinari, who at the Assassin's School was always marked absent in stealth class...
    • Death, and through him Susan and presumably Mort as well, have the ability to appear as part of the background, same as Granny Weatherwax (although presumably he came up with it first). In all cases the person using the ability in question is described as being there, but the eye doesn't really see them as a person until they reveal themselves.
    • There's a scene in Guards! Guards! when the dragon pulls this. The Watch is nervously scanning the city skyline at night, waiting for the dragon to show up. Then one of them asks if that tower has always looked like it has a dragon clinging to it...
  • Just before facing down Inheritance Cycle villain Galbatorix in his throne room, the heroes see a massive sheet of black in the back of the chamber, which they believe to simply be a mountain sized curtain. It moves aside, being just a fold in the wing of his dragon, Shruikan.
  • The Genoskwa in Skin Game, a novel of The Dresden Files, does this often throughout the novel. Harry and Murphy are told to meet their employer, Nicodemus Archleone, at an abandoned slaughterhouse to discuss their upcoming job. Nick has the place all set up for the heist crew when they arrive: a big, long table to plan the mission, comfortable leather chairs to sit in, and...a goat pen? It's only until a few days (and a few missing goats) later the others become aware of the Genoskwa, and it reveals that it had been following and watching all of them for the past few days, and nobody even noticed. Pretty impressive for a nine-foot-tall walking carpet.
  • Lantur, one of the titular Marlfoxes in that book of Redwall, makes her first appearance like this. She waits until a crowd gathers in the castle hall, sits through a long speech...and then calmly steps out from directly in front of a marble column, where she'd been blending in with her whitish-grey fur, startling everyone. It certainly fits her character, though it is slightly less impressive when she then has to be immediately dressed, being stark naked.
  • In A Wizard of Earthsea, when Ged faces off against Yevaud, the dragon of Pendor, Ged initially thinks that the monster is trying to fool him with an illusion when he sees a tower start to move and unfold limbs. However, it turns out that what he took for a building was just part of the immense dragon itself, which had been sitting in plain sight all along.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • On the November 11, 2005 WWESmackDown, there was a scene with Edge and Lita backstage with Edge talking about how SmackDown! General Manager Teddy Long putting him in a Street Fight against Batista can't happen and that he was going to talk some sense into Batista and that he was going to put some security on the door so nobody could come into the room. Edge walked out and the room got briefly dark before lighting up again and THE BOOGEYMAN popped up from behind the couch! He told the scared Lita, "Close your eyes! I'm the Boogeyman, and I'm coming to get you!", sending Lita screaming from the room.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Necron lore in the fourth edition of Warhammer 40,000 tends to involve this. In its most basic form, the aptly-named Necron Tombs appear to be just that — incredibly large and elaborate, with advanced technology strewn everywhere, but not a living thing in sight. And then some damn fool, usually a techpriest, gets the urge to fiddle with things and the Necrons themselves show up, often by teleportation, and proceed to slaughter everyone. Those are the poorly hidden ones; in quite a few cases nobody knew there was anything on the planet until awakened legions come pouring out.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: In the Black Trailer, Blake and Adam carry out a train heist to steal a cargo of Dust. When they enter the relevant carriage, they have to fight an army of Atlesian Knights just to gain access to the cargo. Once they finally reach the cargo and confirm it's what they're after, they discover there's one more threat in the carriage they'd never noticed: an enormous Spider Droid drops from where it was silently positioned on the ceiling to confront them.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: The finale reveals that the red moon of the planet seen in almost every night scene and was the first thing shown in the series was in fact the body of The Core, the Final Boss of the series, laying dormant until needed.
  • The Chief in Inspector Gadget always appears by popping out of some random object he happens to be disguised as in the background. Unfortunately he sometimes disguises himself as a trash can, and even when he isn't, Gadget always unthinkingly disposes the exploding message into the disguiese after their conversation... Also a variation since Quimby is the boss. The boss of the clueless title character.
  • Parodied in the Steven Universe episode “Steven the Swordfighter”. While watching his favorite anime series, Lonely Blade, Steven is surprised that the janitor turns out to be the main villain. The other gems point out that during every major fight scene, he was seen sweeping in the background, and that he was on the cover of the DVD set despite seemingly being a minor character.
  • In T.U.F.F. Puppy, The Chameleon, being a shapeshifter tends to spy on the heroes while being disguised as some mundane object.
  • GIR from Invader Zim does this rather hilariously.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): She Was Right There All Along


Ultrakill - Cerberus

Not sure where the boss is but these statues look cool. Wait... why is that one moving??

How well does it match the trope?

5 (20 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeWasRightThereAllAlong

Media sources: