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Hidden in Plain Sight

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"The best place to hide something is out in the open. Nobody ever thinks to look there."

Something hidden is looked for in lots of secret places, and in the end turns out to have been plainly visible all the time, usually disguised as an ordinary object.

There was and still is a rather chilling Real Life version in dictatorships: an object of the size of a military base or town which is not shown at all on a map. Something even more secret, or closed, or shameful than good old Area 51, because not just what happens inside is secret, but the mere existence of the place is denied, or ridiculed, or handwaved as some silly legend. In dictatorial political systems, it's far easier to hide something that way, because people are so accustomed to never asking questions and never wandering away from their path they would ignore the Elephant in the Living Room.

Can overlap with Failed a Spot Check, It Was with You All Along, Public Secret Message, Luck-Based Search Technique, or Nobody Here but Us Statues. Can be a sub-trope to MacGuffin Blindness.

Sub Tropes include Needle in a Stack of Needles, Wax Museum Morgue, Lost in a Crowd.

Compare Weirdness Censor (bizarre things are not noticed because they are so outlandish that our minds block them out in the interest of sanity), Missed Him by That Much, Refuge in Audacity, Devil in Plain Sight (when a conspicuous villain does this), Infraction Distraction (where evidence is concealed by more minor evidence), and Stolen by Staying Still. For robots in disguise, see Transforming Mecha. For special gadgets disguised as mundane ones, see Shoe Phone. If a person hides this way, that person might be taking advantage of being Beneath Suspicion. For poor hiding skills, compare Neon Sign Hideout. May or may not be an Unsafe Haven. Alternatively, a person may decide that the safest place to hide from a crime syndicate is somewhere with plenty of witnesses. See also Secret Identity and Clark Kenting.

Not to be confused with Right Under Their Noses, when people sneak past someone by doing this.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • During a war game, how does Nagisa Shiota of Assassination Classroom hide in a battlefield full of his fellow assassins? He camouflages himself to match the referee's outfit and stands back-to-back with him in plain sight of the entire battlefield.
  • One long-running mystery in Bleach is the identity of Kenpachi Zaraki's zanpakuto. He doesn't even know that his zanpakuto is supposed to have an identity, can't even release Shikai, and doesn't really care to do so because he's already so unbelievably strong that he holds back considerably to make his fights more fun. Turns out, we were introduced to Kenpachi's Zanpakuto about the same time as Kenpachi's own introduction. She was just introduced as Yachiru Kusajishi, Kenpachi's lieutenant. Kenpachi had unconsciously been manifesting his Zanpakuto spirit the whole time without any idea of what she was or what he'd accomplished.
  • Girls und Panzer: After the Pravda match the Oarai teams start searching for more tanks to boost their numbers in preparation for the Final Battle. Some of the girls search around in a parking lot and manage to walk right past a Type 3 Chi-Nu parked under an awning. Fortunately for them, another student spotted it on her way to go sign up for the club.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Despite being a prolific Serial Killer, Yoshikage Kira doesn't bother to hide himself at all, due to him erasing every trace of his victims so that nobody even knows there's a serial killer in Morioh (the only reason anyone knows is because one of his victims returns as a ghost and warns the heroes); the victims are considered missing person cases by the Morioh Police since they have nothing else to go on. When his true identity is revealed, he grabs a random person off the street, forces Aya to use her Stand so he can swap faces and fingerprints with them, kills both of them (erasing them as well) and then just returns to his ordinary life as a new person, with only the son of the man he replaced suspecting him.
    • Josuke subjects two of his opponents to a Fate Worse than Death by merging them with inanimate objects: serial killer Angelo is fused with a large rock in town, which is simply declared a strange-looking town landmark and ignored by everyone despite having Angelo's deformed face on it. Teranosuke is fused with a book and donated to a restricted section of the local library, where it's rumored that anyone who borrows it can hear a voice coming from the book. Since Morioh is already a town with plenty of weird occurrences (in no small part due to the sheer amount of Stand users living there), nobody bats an eye at either of these.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Fujiwara keeps the top secret file detailing what really happened between Ishigami, Otomo, and Ogino back in middle school on a bookcase in the student council room, placed in such a way that anyone could find it if they bothered looking. Unlike most examples she does this because she wants it to be found, having put it there as an act of silent protest over Ishigami's desire to keep the truth hidden.
  • My Monster Secret: The student council president Karen (who is also an angel) lost her Holy Halo 20 years ago and still hasn't found it. It turns out to be hidden as the lightbulb of the student council room all this time. Karen herself even noted "The light reminds me of my own halo", but never made the connection.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Canimals retreat into their can bodies whenever humans are around. Nobody ever thinks to pay attention to the seemingly normal cans for some reason, even if they're out in the open.
  • Mechamato: The Cone Konchos look exactly like traffic cones and remain hidden in the middle of the road until an angry driver kicks one of them, prompting it to reveal itself and retaliate by bashing his car while the driver cowers inside.

    Comic Books 
  • Bullseye tells the FBI agents interrogating him that he has hidden the plutonium he stole in a local park under a big X. They assume he's being uncooperative. Once he kills them and escapes, Bullseye goes to meet his contacts:
    Contact: So, where did you hide it?
    Bullseye: In a park about two miles from here, you can't miss it. I even painted a big X on the ground.
  • Clone Wars Adventures: Done in a chapter fittingly titled Hide In Plain Sight, and promptly foiled by Luminara in said chapter. After warning the refugees fleeing Nadiem that they'll have to leave all items or pets that will take up too much space on the transports, she notices one seemingly overweight refugee. She proceeds to slice his poncho open, revealing he's of perfectly normal weight, trying to smuggle dozens of luxuries onboard that would take up valuable room. The conversation between Luminara and Barriss Offee afterward discusses the flaw in such a plan.
    Barriss: How did you know he was hiding something?
    Luminara: Because he was the only person in line not carrying something. Sometimes trying too hard to escape detection will draw attention to one's self. Besides, for a man of his apparent girth, he had awfully skinny legs!
    • Barriss herself later pulls off a more successful variant of this trope in the same story, carying out an ambush and playing dead after the initial droid attack goes through, allowing her and her clone contingent to strike them from behind.
  • The Flash:
    • Inertia in DC Comics' All Flash #01. Helplessly immobilized and placed on display in a wax museum of superheroes.
    • During Barry Allen's run as the Flash in the Silver Age, Professor Zoom deliberately invoked this trope in the "Death of Iris Allen" storyline where he murdered Iris because she wouldn't leave Barry for him. He threatened to kill her at a certain time if she didn't change her mind, wiped her memory of that conversation so she couldn't warn Barry, then went as himself to a superhero-themed costume party the next night so he could get close enough to Iris to carry out his threat. (She got better, much later.) In DC Comics' published edition of Barry Allen's biopic, Iris (the in-universe author) comments on it long after the fact.
      Iris: [Zoom] couldn't get to me... unless he managed to hide himself in plain sight.
  • Inside Galactus's ship, one can find sitting on a plainly visible shelf the Ultimate Nullifier, the universe's most dangerous obliterator weapon. Thanos lampshades this.
  • In Iron Man, The Greys are secretly running a Vegas casino. Said casino is shaped like a flying saucer and called Area 52. Nobody would believe it contained actual aliens.
  • In Luke Cage Noir, Cage describes being black in early 1930s New York as akin to this. "We're everywhere... yet no one ever sees us. It's like bein' invisible."
  • In Paperinik New Adventures, multi-millionaire supergenius Everett Ducklair needed a place to put his gigantic, ridiculously advanced star cruiser. In the end, he made the ship transform into a slightly less sci-fi-ish shape and put it on the top of his tallest sky-scraper, overlooking all of Duckburg. Everybody thought the roof was just overly decorative.
  • Robin (1993): During Batman: No Man's Land, Tim Drake's father makes a media circus of trying to get his son back after learning that he's made his way back to Gotham. While Tim's face is plastered everywhere even inside the condemned city Robin is very openly working in Gotham.
  • The Sandman (1989): One of John Constantine's ancestors is tasked by Dream with retrieving the still-living head of Orpheus from revolutionary France. She manages to hide it before being caught- in a huge pile of guillotined heads. When she's made to recover the head at gunpoint, she gets out of it by having Orpheus sing a song so enthralling the other heads join in and the guards are completely stunned (she covered her ears and so was less affected).
  • Invoked in Secret War (2004) when Nick Fury assembled a team of heroes for a black ops mission in Latervia. When the assembled heroes met Fury in Latveria, Peter Parker asked if the entire team getting on the same plane was a bit too obvious for a supposedly secret mission. Fury counters that the team traveling under their secret identities are 'just' a teacher (Peter Parker), a lawyer (Matt Murdock), a kid on spring break (Daisy Johnson), a bodyguard (Luke Cage), whatever Logan is and Captain America, on a plane with over a hundred other random passengers; the only person looking that closely at the situation would be Fury himself.
  • One Star Wars Legends comic book had a story about Han Solo and Chewbacca constantly being searched by a certain Imperial captain who was convinced that Solo was a smuggler instead of making honest cargo deliveries as he claimed. However, no matter how intently they searched the ship, they never uncovered any evidence of smuggling. In the end, the Imperial realizes that Han was only travelling one way (away from the planet) on his deliveries. Since Han was constantly leaving the planet on ships made to look identical, he was actually smuggling the ships themselves to the Rebellion. See the "Jokes" folder below.
  • Superman:
    • In Pre-Crisis comics, the key to Superman's house is a gigantic golden arrow sitting in front of the Fortress of Solitude, meant to be mistaken as an old air navigation marker which used to be a thing before modern telecommunications made them unnecessary. Then again, Superman and Supergirl are some of the few people on Earth capable of even lifting it, so that helps.
    • In early Post-Crisis continuity, Superman doesn't wear a mask and everyone knows that he's an alien named Kal-El who lives in his Fortress of Solitude. Nobody bothers trying to figure out his Secret Identity because it never occurs to them that he might have one. In The Supergirl from Krypton (2004), Kara guesses her cousin's disguise is so effective because the Earth's people would never think such an average-looking person is their greater-than-life champion.
    • In Pre-Crisis continuity, it often happened folks in Midvale or Stanhope were wondering about Supergirl possibly having a secret identity while plain, old Linda Danvers walked by.
    • In the Starfire's Revenge storyline, the city of Carvale faces a wave of robberies during Mardi Gras, and the police cannot find the thieves because they are wearing carnival costumes.
    • In The Super-Revenge of Lex Luthor, the titular villain repurposes an abandoned prison island into one of his secret lairs because who would suspect he would hole up in a prison?
      Lex Luthor: "This abandoned island prison is one of my secret lairs. It's equipped with my most advanced weapons. Who would suspect I'd use a prison for a hideout?"
  • Usagi Yojimbo arc "Grasscutter" has Usagi discovering the fabled sword, whose owner can lay claim to the throne of Japan. Knowing that the possession of the sword could instigate a civil war, Usagi has to keep it safe. In "Grasscutter II", Usagi hits upon the genius notion of traveling to a town where an exact replica of the sword is kept in a temple for visitors to see. By switching the real Grasscutter with the fake, Usagi will ensure the blade is forever safe by being totally in the public eye.
  • Wonder Woman (2006): The DEO begins an investigation into Wonder Woman's disappearance while she is working for them as an agent under the false identity of Diana Prince. She manages to only be found out by the resident Master of Disguise she is partnered with despite never actually lying about her identity at any point.
  • Young Justice: SloBo's final fate is being shot into the future by Darkseid and immobilized in a hall of statues of historical heroes.
  • Ultimate Marvel Team-Up: Wolverine points that the odd thing about mutants is that anyone can be a mutant, even the man in the street talking to you.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Running Gag in Calvin and Hobbes was Calvin's absolute hatred of taking baths. He would frequently hide in increasingly bizarre places, such as up the chimney, inside a vacuum cleaner bag, or on the roof just outside the window of his bedroom, to avoid them. However, in one instance, he decided to hide in a spot he knew his mother would never think to look for him—inside the (empty) bathtub itself.
  • This nearly happened to Dick Tracy, when he was paralyzed, lightly covered in wax and left to starve to death on display in the middle of his own wax museum exhibit.
  • In the Spider-Man newspaper comic, Peter Parker has Aunt May repair his Spider-Man costume, convincing her that it is a replica for a costume party, and openly carries it home. To his amusement, Peter notices that no one gives him a second thought with that sight because obviously no one has any reason to think it is the real thing.

    Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, the Venom costume completely hides the identity and build of the Bakugou of Earth-2018.688. He can blend back into a crowd simply by having Venom recede out of sight and walking around in his street clothes.
  • Black Sky
    • George Weasley disappears from Hogwarts after his twin's petrification, and the staff and students wonder where did he go. Immediately following his vanishing, a new student came from nowhere, but everyone knows that George Weasley is a flamboyant prankster and a staunch Gryffindor and as much would never assume the persona of Jerry Prewett, the quiet Slytherin well-accepted by the Snake Pit. Everyone's wrong.
    • When Rose Potter vanishes into thin air right after Voldemort's demise, Dumbledore immediately concludes her godfather Sirius hid her overseas in one of the many Potter estates and spends ten years searching for her. He realizes how wrong he was when Dorea Black - the Black Heiress, raised in Britain all along by Sirius' family - comes to Hogwarts.
  • In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, C.C. decides to enroll as a student at Ashford Academy partly for this reason. After all, who would expect a fugitive to hide out at a school for children of the upper classes?
  • The Dangerverse has a textbook example of this: Rather than fleeing to America or the Continent, the Pack—which includes two of the most famous children in the British wizarding world and the only man to ever escape from Azkaban—sets up shop in London. When the fic was discussed on Potter Fic Weekly, The Purloined Letter was even brought up.
  • In Dirty Sympathy, Daryan never figures out that Apollo is the one that Klavier was cheating on him for. Apollo is Klavier's opponent in court, was invited to their concert and was one who accused him of killing LeTouse.
  • Hero Academia D×D: Due to the advent of Quirks, the supernatural has been interacting with the mortal realm more openly as any oddities can simply be dismissed as a Quirk. The only individuals who would have to worry about breaking the masquerade is those who have both Quirks and Sacred Gears.
  • In If They Haven't Learned Your Name, various governments and entities that want to take Barnes to trial, put him to work for them, or both start setting up sensors that can detect Barnes and Motherfucker the Weird Spaceship, as they put out similar energy signatures. Tony does some scans, and suggests that they just park Motherfucker right in the lobby of Stark Tower, and that Barnes move to Manhattan, because it turns out they're basically indistinguishable energy-wise from the Chitauri detritus that's still turning up around Manhattan years later. If anyone asks, they can just call Motherfucker a really ugly modern art piece. Barnes winds up not accepting the offer because he's accidentally commanded Motherfucker without intending to before, and he's afraid that a stray thought or even a nightmare could make Motherfucker zip out of the tower and destroy Tony's lobby.
  • In The Man with No Name, the Serenity crew takes on the Doctor as a passenger. They then proceed to forget that a valuable giant blue box from the Earth That Was is sitting around in storage. Also counts is the Doctor himself, as they are supposed to be looking for an alien, but they keep getting sidetracked.
  • In My Miraculous Academia, Izuku had his mother make him a costume identical to his hero outfit as a means of allowing him to turn his Miraculous on and off without raising too many questions.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku is a Kryptonian boy masquerading as a Japanese human in a society filled with supernatural powers. Because of this, he's able to blend in quite easily and his powers make his peers envious. The trope is even lampshaded by his adoptive mother, Inko, who says that people will be looking for a big, green monster man instead of a baby boy while searching for the alien whose spaceship crashed into Mt. Fuji.
  • Scarlet Lady sees Marinette cleverly engineer this sort of situation after being given the Bee Miraculous. She stays up all night casting various pieces of resin jewelry with a similar theme, then offers them up to her classmates, claiming she was inspired by the new heroine Marigold. This offers an explanation for her new accessory and extra cover, as a number of her peers now have accessories of that theme and her ownership of one is passed off as being a fan.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Alex hides her spare Terawatt uniform by hanging it up with her cosplay outfits.
  • After Panthro kidnapped baby Lion-O (at the behest of his mother, to protect him from his father) in ThunderCats: Sword of Kings, he hid the both of them in the slums of Thundera, figuring that King Claudus wouldn't even look for them in his own kingdom. Surprisingly, it worked (for the most part), since Lion-O wouldn't be found until he was a teenager.
  • In Tales From The Blue Sea, when the Strawhats Pirates decide to disguise themselves on Sabaody Archipelago, they opt for a traveling circus, with Luffy pretending he's impersonating Straw-Hat himself, and Keimi putting a false zipper on her fin to avoid slavers and bounty hunters.
  • In A Wand for Skitter the main Death Eater base which the Order and Ministry could never locate is a floor of the Ministry of Magic itself. An Unspeakable experiment had gone wrong and erased the floor's existence from human memory.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys (2022): The Zumpango Diamond, a gem infamously stolen by the legendary thief Crimson Paw, is being worn as Diane Foxington's diamond ring that Mr. Wolf steals when he first meets her. The Novelization expands on this slightly; the diamond has a distinct, recognizable shine, but it's not as prevalent in a different holder, making it harder to recognize. It's not until Marmalade removes the diamond from the ring that Mr. Wolf finally recognizes it.
  • Batman and Harley Quinn: Harley has been working at the "Superbabes" diner and letting people assume that she's just a waitress in a scantier version of Harley's usual costume that's really good at a Harley impression.
  • The Cat Piano: The lighthouse, which is the highest and most noticeable of buildings in the entire city, stands isolated on a small island in the bight and serves the mad human as a hideout. At first, when the kidnappings start, the light goes out, and when the piano starts playing, a red light goes on instead. This is when the poet takes action and storms the lighthouse with a mob of citizens. Nevertheless, the trope is justified as the tower is heavily symbolical rather than anything else.
  • Frozen: Marshmallow can conceal himself in plain sight by sitting down on the ground next to the stairs up to Elsa's ice palace with his back turned. He just looks like a big mound of snow until Hans and his entourage get too close to the steps.
  • Frozen II: The rock giants in the enchanted forest can camouflage themselves as the rock croppings on a riverbank. It's only when Anna and Olaf get closer and one of them emits steam from breathing that the jig's up.
  • The Iron Giant: In order to stop Mansley from finding out about the giant, Hogarth and Dean disguise him with several metal parts and pose him as a gigantic piece of artwork. This fools Mansley, Rogard and the army so well that it leads to Rogard furiously yelling at Mansley for the false alarm and wasting their time and money to come here.
  • In Kubo and the Two Strings, Kubo finds a legendary sword deep in a cavern and its corresponding legendary armor at the bottom of a lake. Kubo spends the longest time searching for the helmet to complete the set and ultimately finds it as the bell rung every morning in the village near where he lives. Though this trope applying did slow Kubo down a lot, he would have found it sooner had the Moon King not appeared in his dreams to deliberately mislead him.
  • Pooh's Grand Adventure: Christopher Robin's note explains where he has gone but because honey is drenched over it, and because the characters are illiterate, they are unable to interpret what has actually occurred.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Toad does this accidentally when Mario first arrives. Mario finds himself in a forest of huge mushrooms and cautiously approaches a blue one on the ground. Then another "mushroom" behind the blue one — actually Toad kneeling on the ground — yells out Don't Touch It, You Idiot!, which leaves Mario very startled.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Alaska, the search and rescue team has a lot of trouble finding a bright yellow plane (the plane of the protagonists' father) stuck in a snowy mountain range. Admittedly, the protagonists thinking he stayed on his scheduled flight path instead of flying a few miles off course before crashing might have complicated things.
  • The aliens in the Alien franchise:
    • In Alien, the eponymous Alien's semi-mechanical appearance helps it blend into the background of the spaceship Nostromo. There's a scene in which the creature is hanging from a chain, completely in the open and highlighted by a beam of light, but its unusual dark appearance, the way it doesn't move at all, and the fact that it's bunched up surrounded by machinery makes it almost unnoticeable so its first victim Brett and a first time viewer won't understand what they're looking at.
    • In Aliens, the Aliens blend in even better with the walls of their own hive. "Maybe they don't show up on infrared" indeed.
  • This is how Johnson wins the hide-and-seek match in Bad Times at the Battle Royale. Having an inkling that the match was rigged against him, he successfully tricks Hatsuka into hiding under the blanket covers seconds before the ghost arrives to search all the blanket covers specifically. Johnson's hiding spot? Out in the open on a patio playing video games.
  • In Bank Shot, the crew hide the stolen bank by painting it pink and parking it in a mobile home park. FBI agents walk past it several times without giving it a second glance.
  • At the end of The Birdcage, Albert and Armand must sneak Senator Keeley, his wife Louise, and their daughter Barbara out of the titular nightclub, which is swarming with reporters hoping for a scoop on the family. They hide them by dressing them in drag outfits and having them dance right past the news crews; only one guy is remotely suspicious, and even he decides it's not possible.
  • Candleshoe: The pirate treasure is disguised as a bronze statue of a treasure chest.
  • The title character from the film The Cat from Outer Space is an alien cat whom, you guessed it, pretends to be a normal house cat.
  • In Charade, the $250,000 turned out to be a set of antique stamps on a letter that had been among Charles Lampert's possessions.
  • Dead Again in Tombstone: After searching the town for the Horn of Lucifer without success, Madame Du Vere realizes that the Horn has been hidden in plain sight all the time: it is disguised as one of the hands on the non-functioning church clock.
  • In Down Periscope, the crew of the USS Stingray is forced to resort to this during their first encounter with the USS Orlando. Since the Orlando has already detected them, they can't just go into the Silent Running Mode. Instead, Dodge has the sub surface and the periscope raised with lights on it, while the crew is doing the opposite of "running silent" by drunkenly singing "Louie Louie". Since the crew of the Orlando hasn't been told that their war game opponent is a diesel sub, they assume that the diesel-running target they picked up was a fishing boat. The boat's profile in the stormy night (it helps that World War II-era subs looked more like ships that could dive than modern cucumber-shaped subs) and the singing convince them. Knowing that It Only Works Once, they try other tricks later. Another variant they get away with is when they do get caught during silent running and the sonarman walks around the ship doing whale calls.
  • The Continuum Transfunctioner in Dude, Where's My Car?, disguised as a Rubik's Cube.
  • Emperor (2020): Shields and the slave in the swamp sneak past the slave catchers inside a hollow log that they push across the river like it's floating.
  • Europa Europa: Solly survives the war by claiming to be a non-Jewish German named Josef Peters and joining the Nazis after they invade the Polish village his family originally fled to from Germany. He even gets adopted by a childless aristocrat Wehrmacht officer and inducted into an elite Hitler Youth school, where the 'race scientists' declare him a genuine Aryan!
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: E.T. hides from the mom, Mary, among the stuffed animals in Gertie's closet.
  • Rambo in First Blood manages to hide by lying flat on the ground in a forest, and is almost completely invisible until he jumps up to ambush a cop.
  • In Gaslight, the Tsar's precious jewels are hidden on the costume the singer wore to the opera in her attic, amidst all the worthless fake jewelry she wore for her performance.
  • In the Disney Channel original movie Get a Clue, a bank manager steals 10 million dollars and frames one of his employees, but nobody can figure out where the money actually went. Similar to one of the Real Life examples below, it turns out the manager used the money to buy a very rare diamond and disguised it as a kitschy brooch; when he lost it, it got picked up by the scapegoat's mother, who proceeded to wear it almost every day without knowing its true value.
  • In Getting Even with Dad the stolen money is hidden in a duffel bag on a mannequin at a sporting goods store.
  • A central theme in Glass Onion: During The Summation, Benoit Blanc uses the titular phrase as a metaphor for something that seems complex and multilayered on the surface, but is actually completely transparent. This applies to the film's plot in several ways:
    • Despite Blanc's initial assumption that he's dealing with a hidden mastermind's complicated murder scheme, it eventually turns out that Miles Bron, the person with the most obvious motive, is in fact the killer, and the murders were committed on the spur of the moment, without any regard for the consequences, and, in one case, right in front of multiple witnesses. The main reason the killer was able to avoid detection for so long is that Blanc vastly overestimated their intelligence, expecting complexity where there was none.
    • The Reveal hinges on the realization that Miles is a fraud who pretends to be much smarter than he actually is. As Blanc points out, this should have been obvious to everyone due to the impracticality of his business ideas and his frequent misuse of technical terms, but because of his self-confidence and charisma, everyone, including Blanc himself, fully believed in his fabricated reputation as an eccentric genius.
    • The most crucial piece of evidence for the solution of the case was never carefully concealed or secured, but openly displayed in the culprit's office and accessible to everyone the entire time.
  • Harry and the Hendersons: At the end of the film, when the Hendersons release Harry back into the wild, no less than three other sasquatches suddenly appear from in front of the trees and follow him into the brush.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Snape, now the headmaster of Hogwarts, calls all the students into the Great Hall to question them about Harry's location. Harry is standing inside of the crowd.
  • The "X marks the spot" moment in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. From the same movie: the Holy Grail is hidden amongst a collection of many other cups. Indy correctly picks it out by looking for the only cup that's not made of gold or studded in gems - after all, the son of a carpenter turned humble teacher would never have had a jeweled golden cup.
  • "The Big W" under which the money was hidden in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
  • In Jasminum the prophesied saint is the very first monk we get to see - Zdrówko.
  • The wuxia The Magic Blade revolves around the hero, Fu, searching for a powerful, nigh-invulnerable weapon called The Peacock Scale, which appears to be hidden in a guarded, underground vault in Peacock Hall. But after it's removed from the vault by its master, a friend of Fu, a traitor quickly steals it and threatens to use it - only for the Scale's owner to reveal the real Peacock Scale is actually right on the mantelpiece of the hall itself, as a seemingly normal-looking, random wall ornament.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun:
    • Francisco Scaramanga's titular weapon is distinctive when it's put together (not just because it's, well, gold), but when it's disassembled it's basically a golden cigarette case and lighter, a pen and a cufflink. Several times in the film he casually takes these items out and starts fiddling with them, with his intended victim not realising what he's actually doing until it's too late.
    • Also, Scaramanga keeps a cardboard standee of Bond in the final room of his Death Course, which he makes potential assassins run while attempting to kill him. When he makes Bond himself run the course, Bond gets ahead of him by going Off the Rails and beats him to this room. He then hides the standee and poses like it, waiting until Scaramanga is distracted with waiting for him to enter the room the proper way to shoot him.
  • Men in Black trilogy:
    • Men in Black:
      • The Galaxy was "disguised" as the charm on the cat's collar. With the additional benefit that the uninformed assume that a galaxy would by definition be enormous, and thus don't think to look for something the size of a marble. The point is driven home with a vengeance at the end of the movie, when a pullback reveals that our galaxy is itself trapped inside a marble played with by a gigantic alien.
      • There's also a more mundane (but still weird) example earlier when J and K go to see an alien informant at a newspaper stand, which is run by a creepy-looking, pale-skinned man. J remarks that the man's disguise is absolutely pathetic — but then the pug sitting next to him starts talking.
      • It turns out that many aliens live among humans and go about their daily lives; they either wear humanoid disguises or look human enough to pass, especially in a dense population center like New York City. K also confirms that the stories found in cheap supermarket tabloids are often the MIB's primary source for information on invasions—no one bothers to take them seriously because they seem obviously fake.
      • The spaceship that the first alien refugees used to travel to Earth was hidden by being turned into a decoration at the site of the 1939 World's Fair in Queens.
    • Men in Black II:
    • In Men in Black 3, we discover that aliens pretending to be eccentric humans dates back as far as the '70s, as it turns out Andy Warhol was actually an agent watching aliens from "Glamoria" — i.e., supermodels. In the present, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Danny DeVito continue the tradition.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Kong: Skull Island: Most of Skull Island's native creatures are hidden or camouflaged among the terrain, helped by a lot of them being Planimals. For examples, the Mother Longlegs' impaling legs blend seamlessly into the bamboo forestry, the Sker Buffalo can submerge themselves to look like small islands in rivers or lakes, and at one point one of the soldiers discovers the log he's sitting on is actually itself such a camouflaged giant creature. There were more creatures like this which didn't make it into the film but were recycled as official creatures with Monarch profiles in Skull Island: The Birth of Kong. The Iwi themselves employ this, managing to get the drop on the expedition by camouflaging themselves with clay and mud.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: When Kong runs through the Hollow Earth towards his ancestral homeland, he passes through what seems to be a barren lava field. However, it turns out much of the rocky ground were actually the carapaces of Arachno-Claws which scatter as he passes by (and one of which gets eaten by a Foetodon).
  • In National Treasure: Book of Secrets, some of the most important clues to finding the legendary lost city of gold sought for centuries are hidden this way. Both U.S. Presidents and the rulers of England hide individual pieces of information inside the "resolute desks"—that is, a pair of enormous desks that are sitting in the middle of their private offices in the White House and Buckingham Palace, respectively. The current U.S. president conceals the titular Book of Secrets (a one-of-a-kind text that is passed from president to president) in a false shelf in the Library of Congress, using what would be the book's call number as the combination (which would be obvious to anyone who noticed the odd gap in the numbers on the books immediately surrounding that spot). But the biggest clue to the lost city, both literally and figuratively, is Mount Rushmore—as in, the gigantic monument in South Dakota that millions of people visit every year.
  • The last of the engravings in The Ninth Gate is hidden in what, in hindsight, is an extremely obvious spot. "If this is a forgery or a copy with missing pages restored, it's the work of a master," says the master bookbinder.
  • Nope: The UFO had been living in the valley for at least six months by hiding itself in a low cloud when it's not hunting. Angel eventually discovers this because the specific cloud never moves - something he only catches when looking at sped-up footage.
  • In Ocean's 8, how do the gang smuggle a $150 million necklace from a huge gala event? By carefully breaking it into pieces and then each member walks right out of the museum wearing a piece as bracelets, earrings, etc.
  • In Ocean's Thirteen, François Toulour (a.k.a. the Night Fox) knows Linus Caldwell and his dad will show up on the roof of the "Bank" and has hidden by standing near an elaborately-painted wall and wearing a jumpsuit that matches the wall design. Somehow, they don't notice that his head is still visible. That was all part of the plan.
  • The uncut diamonds that the ex-cons are looking for in Out of Sight turn out to be hidden among the stones at the bottom of a fish tank.
  • In Pan's Labyrinth the first scene where the Faun appears, he's standing face towards the wall in the bottom of a cavernous well but remains unseen to the protagonist and all but the most attentive viewers until he starts to move, due to his skin, which resembles rotting wood.
  • In Psycho, Marion Crane hides the stolen money by taking it out of the envelope she carried it up to the Bates Motel in, wrapping it in a newspaper she bought earlier and just putting it down on top of the cabinet.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope: This was the Rebels' plan to destroy the Death Star. The X-Wings would distract the turrets and TIE Fighters while the slower Y-Wings, unnoticed in the confusion of the X-Wing attack, made their way to the Trench to attack the exhaust port. Unfortunately, Darth Vader is wise to see through that plan and goes after the Y-Wings.
    • The Empire Strikes Back: The Millenium Falcon once escaped detection by the Star landing on one itself!
    • Stated in later material as the reason that Luke Skywalker is hidden on Tatooine, despite it having been the home of his father, Anakin Skywalker, who is now Darth Vader, in a Galactic Empire of thousands upon thousands of worlds. As it's explained, even if Anakin did think to look, he'd avoid Tatooine because he'd come to hate the dustball that had been his homeworld. Indeed, as it turns out, he doesn't even have a clue until after Luke leaves Tatooine and starts exhibiting his Force powers.
    • The Big Bad Darth Sidious is no other than a humble Senator/Chancellor Palpatine. While Jedi did have suspicions of him having ties to Sith, they overlooked him as it's too obvious and he already rules the galaxy.
  • Suspect: It turns out that the killer who Kathleen has been searching for to clear her client was right in front of her the entire time, as he's Judge Matthew Helms, who's presiding over the trial.
  • In Taken, Brian Mills gets into a fight and kills everyone in the room. Unfortunately, one of the other men fired a gun, so he knows someone is going to come to check it out. So he just lies down among the other bodies, and is able to catch the people coming in to look entirely off-guard.
  • In The Thieves, Park hides the yellow diamond inside the yellow fitting in his hotel room.
  • This is a natural part of Transformers Film Series.
  • Used ruthlessly in Vabank, where they get Kramer's fingerprints on a piece of metal that disables the bank security system by fastening Natalie's necklace with the metal bit and having her ask the mark to help her get the necklace off.
  • Vamps: Cisserus turns out to have her coffin inside of Grant's Tomb.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Marvin Acme's Lost Will and Testament. It was printed in disappearing-reappearing ink in the paper Roger used to write his love letter to Jessica.
  • Early in The World's End, the cast go past a new addition to their old neighborhood: a vaguely humanoid statue that's apparently a piece of modern art. It's actually an alien robot.
  • Used almost comically in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Mulder and Scully have been on the run from the FBI for six years after a bogus murder trial, evading an execution order, and breaking out of a federal prison. So, you would think they would go into hiding. Change their names, their appearance, their Social Security numbers, even leave the country. At the opening of "I Want to Believe", where are they? In West Virginia. Using their real identities and appearances, and not making any attempt to deny them when approached by the FBI. Smart.

  • There's a joke about a man who tries to cross a border on bike, with a sack of rice on his back. The border patrol inspects the sack, but can't find anything but rice. The man returns the next day, and the day after, and so on for several years. Eventually, one of the guards meet him in a restaurant and asks what he was smuggling. The man responds; "Bikes".
  • One variation involves an employee at a car manufacturing plant who asks to take home a wheelbarrow full of useless scrap metal every Friday to tinker with over the weekend. His boss, suspecting that he's trying to smuggle out valuable car parts among the scrap, digs through the contents of the wheelbarrow and never finds anything, so he lets him go. Years later, the boss realizes he's just stealing wheelbarrows.


By Author:

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Black Widowers short stories:
      • "The Cross of Lorraine" hinges on discovering where a Cross of Lorraine appears in everyday life without anyone noticing. It turns out it's part of the Exxon company logo.
      • "Quicker Than the Eye" has a spy somehow pass a small object to his contact at a restaurant without being seen by the counterspies carefully watching for just such a transfer. The object is roughly the size and shape of a coin, and no one thinks anything of the spy tipping the doorman as he leaves.
    • Second Foundation ends with the (First) Foundation hunting for the Second Foundation, and... you guessed it, it was right under their noses. (Although not the way that they think.)
    • In The Stars, Like Dust, the "rebellion world" is actually somewhere in the Rhodian System itself (the capital system of an ostensibly loyal Tyrannian vassal state) rather than in the inaccessible depths of the Horsehead Nebula, as everyone assumes. The protagonist even points out:
    There are two ways of hiding an object. You can put it where no one can find it...Or else you can put it where no one would ever think of looking, right in front of their eyes in plain view.
    • His science fiction short story "The Talking Stone" has the police searching for the coordinates for an uranium-rich asteroid. In the end, they find them hidden among the serial numbers of the miners' ships and its components.
  • There's a John Dickson Carr story where a killer hides a glass knife by dropping it into a jug of water. This was referenced in a Three Investigators mystery where a glass statue is hidden in a swimming pool. Jupiter Jones figures it out by remembering the Carr story. It's also referenced in Larry Niven's "What Good Is a Glass Dagger?", in which a wizard also points out (fatally) that wizards can use non-magical weapons as well as magical ones.
    • This might not work with water and glass, which have an index of refraction of 1.33 and 1.5 respectively, but it works excellently with glass and corn syrup, which apparently have the same refractive index.
  • Agatha Christie loved this trope and often lampshaded it. Some examples:
    • In The ABC Murders, the mastermind behind the titular crimes is the brother of the "C" victim, with that particular death as his goal all along; he deliberately murdered three other people with matching initials to create the illusion of a nutty serial killer and thus disguise his motives.
    • In "Miss Marple Tells a Story", the culprit behind a murder turns out to be a woman disguised as a chambermaid; Miss Marple herself points out that no one really notices maids so even eyewitnesses who saw the woman enter the victim's room wouldn't be able to provide an accurate description.
    • In "At the Bells and Motley", one of the Harley Quin stories, a group of clever antique thieves disguise themselves as a married couple and furnish their new home with their spoils; when the husband mysteriously "vanishes", the distraught wife immediately sells the house, including the furniture, to an overseas buyer. No one questions her actions, because they're totally in line with those of a grieving widow.
    • In "The Sign in the Sky", another Harley Quin story, the murderer insists on winding all the clocks in his mansion himself; on the day of the crime, he secretly places the clocks back an extra ten minutes, then goes about his day, thus creating an alibi for himself at the supposed time of the murder.
    • In "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim", a Poirot short story, the titular character finds the perfect place to hide: in prison. He robbed his own safe to frame a visiting businessman for the theft and his own murder, disguised himself as a petty thief, and got himself arrested, thinking nobody would look for a missing man in prison.
    • In And Then There Were None, Justice Wargrave disguises himself as his own corpse, then secretly moves about the mansion when no one is watching, figuring that the dead are above suspicion.
    • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, the novel that established her as a master of the crime genre. Who is the murderer? The man narrating the novel!
    • Dame Agatha used the trope a few times in The Labours of Hercules, a Hercule Poirot short story collection:
      • In "The Erymanthian Boar", Poirot is tasked with tracking down the dangerous mobster Marrascud at a Swiss chalet, and the case is seemingly solved when Marrascud's body turns up. But Poirot proves that the body is not Marrascud — rather, the mobster has disguised himself as a waiter at the chalet (who interacts with the guests daily), killed the actual waiter, and secretly arranged for a plastic surgeon to arrive at the same time to permanently disguise him.
      • In "The Girdle of Hippolyta", a rare Reubens painting themed after Hercules meeting Hippolyta is swiped around the same time that a young girl named Winnie traveling to a finishing school in France via the Chunnel is kidnapped. Oddly, Winnie definitely boarded the train in England, but somehow vanished during the ride, and later turns up unharmed, but drugged. Poirot eventually realizes the two crimes are connected: one of the art thieves who looks about twelve disguised herself as Winnie (who'd already been kidnapped at that point) and concealed the priceless Reubens under a shoddily-painted watercolor to be gifted to the headmistress of the school. The crooks knew that nothing was less likely to be searched than a girl's trunk, and would have gotten away with it had it not been for the headmistress' policy of reviewing her students' suitcases upon arrival.
      • In "The Apples of the Hesperides", a rich man tasks Poirot with finding a priceless golden goblet featuring a tree engraving, with emeralds as "apples". The goblet was purchased at auction but vanished before it could be delivered. Though Poirot engages his web of contacts all over the world to find the treasure, he eventually finds the goblet being used for daily masses by a small group of nuns in Northern Ireland. He realized that since the cup was so precious, it had to be hidden "where material values did not apply"; that, plus the fact that the thief who stole it from the auction house had a daughter who became a nun, pointed to a convent.
    • "The Man in the Mist", one of the stories in the Tommy and Tuppence collection Partners in Crime, is a deliberate pastiche of Father Brown which takes the concept from "The Invisible Man" even further. Tommy and Tuppence actually speak to the murderer as he leaves the scene of the crime, yet he remains as "psychically invisible" as Chesterton's postman, because he's a policeman.
    • In "Strange Jest," a Miss Marple short story, Charmaine and Edward, a young couple, asks for the elderly lady's help in finding the inheritance their Uncle Mathew left them. They've torn his house and garden apart looking for it, but the actual treasure is much easier to find. Upon being shown a hidden cabinet in Uncle Mathew's writing desk, Miss Marple realizes that there's "a secret inside a secret" involved and uses a hairpin to open a concealed drawer in the cabinet; the opening is hidden as a clearly-visible wormhole in the back of the structure. The drawer itself contains old letters and a strange recipe, and Edward and Charmaine think that the letters and recipe form a secret code, but Miss Marple tells them they're overthinking it: the stamps on the envelopes are actually extremely rare and valuable and thus the true inheritance. As she explains it, Uncle Mathew, as a prankster, couldn't resist playing a little joke as a final puzzle for his relatives to solve.
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • Mistborn: In the second book, the main characters trying to establish a stable, non-despotic government learn that it has been infiltrated by a shapeshifter. The Mole finally turns out to be not the butler or The Big Guy or anyone else the viewpoint characters considered, but the shapeshifter on their own team. Another shapeshifter of the same species pulled a Kill and Replace...and took his role as the main character's "dog", so this is a double example.
    • The Stormlight Archive:
      • Words of Radiance: The Parshendi are a bigger, smarter version of the parshmen that everyone in the world uses as slaves. When the Parshendi go to war with the Alethi, they easily slip a few moles in among the slaves. We first hear about this in one of Navani's journals (seen early in the book, but written after the events of the novel), where she notes that they really should have seen it coming.
        Rlain: We choose a form based on what we need, the job required of us. Dullform, one of those forms, looks a lot like a parshman. Hiding among them is easy.
        Navani: We account our parshmen with precision.
        Rlain: Yes, and we are noticed — but rarely questioned. Who questions when you find an extra sphere lying on the ground? It's not something suspicious. It's merely fortune.
      • While not particularly surprising to the audience, the Voidbringers are this in-story from the human perspective. A number of them actually state outright that it was a bit obvious in retrospect, especially since pretty much everything they did know about the Voidbringers was literally a physical description of them.
    • Wax and Wayne:
      • In Shadows of Self, they're looking for a shapeshifter trying to kill the governor. Who is it? The shapeshifter already killed the governor and took his place.
      • The titular artifacts in The Bands of Mourning grant the holder every power in both of the local magic systems. Where are they hidden? They're the detachable spearhead of the statue right outside the Death Course protecting the fake Bands.

By Work:

  • Acacia: In The Song of Elenet, a spellbook containing the most powerful and dangerous spells known to humanity turns out to be an unmarked book in the royal library.
  • Alex Rider: In the opening chapter of Never Say Die, a top-secret helicopter is stolen and disguised, by tilting it vertically and covering the fuselage with plywood, like a windmill. Agents searching the area assume the windmill is too small to hide the helicopter inside and so never look there.
  • Ariel Jardell in Ariel invokes this as her rationale for keeping her Secret Diary in an ordinary spiral notebook with her school stuff.
  • Belisarius Series:
    • The rescued Indian princess travels with the heroes in the guise of a common whore, while the bad guys scour the entire country for her. At the time they're traveling in a caravan with the bad guys.
    • Belisarius pulls off similar stunts throughout the series:
      • In the first book, his wife hides the meetings of their fellow conspirators by insinuating they're guests at orgies she's supposedly having.
      • Belisarius conceals the fact he's got an entire unit of Kushans (formerly prisoners who change sides) by having them wear different uniforms but otherwise traveling with him.
  • In Fritz Leiber's The Big Time, a piece of equipment, the "Major Maintainer", seemingly vanishes from the extra-temporal Place. The characters know that it couldn't have been removed from the room since it is the very machine whose presence maintains the Place's continued existence, but it's nowhere to be found even after they ransack the entire room. It turns out that one of the characters had turned it inside-out, using one of the medical machines, and hid the resulting unrecognizable object among a gallery of equally abstract-looking alien art pieces.
  • The narrator of Born Again accidentally opens an anniversary card that acknowledges that her parents had sex before marriage. Knowing she'll get in trouble for seeing it and that her mother regularly searches her room, she hides it on her desk, under a newspaper. She says she saw MacGyver do it.
  • The Bridge Kingdom Archives: In Traitor Queen, elements needed to create a heavy crossbow, including the bolt, are hidden as a piece of abstract art, behind glass and in a frame, which itself hides rope. The crossbow itself is an essential element of an escape plan.
  • In Bridge of Birds, the main characters are searching for a lost goddess kidnapped by the Duke of Ch'in at one point and Li Kao says that the duke could have asked the Man of the Mountain to transform her into a single petal in a field full of flowers or something else of a similar Needle in a Stack of Needles nature. Of course, it turns out to be much simpler than that: after all, why would the notoriously greedy duke bother to hide a worship-inducing goddess when he can pass her off as his wife and collect all the riches her admirers shower on her?
  • Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci: In The Magicians of Caprona, the true words to the hymn Angel of Caprona that will solve everything are just the old words in Latin, carved onto humongous angelic statues in plain view.
  • C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The entrance to Underland in The Silver Chair is hidden in the ruins of a Giant city, under the remains of a slab engraved "UNDER ME" in lettering so enormous that the protagonists actually traverse it, taking the letters for oddly-dug trenches, without realizing what it is.
  • Dick Francis' Dead on Red features an assassin who lives in France, and takes a contract in England. Since he's a licensed firearms instructor, he simply crosses the channel with his guns as normal luggage, having filled out the requisite forms.
  • Discworld:
    • In Feet of Clay, the Patrician is being poisoned by arsenic from his candles. It hasn't worked out for such a long time because they are what allow you to look, not something you look at. As Vetinari himself says in a possibly poison-induced rambling, don't put it in the last place they will look, put it where they will never look at all.
      • Just to show how badass he is, Vetinari actually figures it out much earlier. He would cut the candles down, light them for a few minutes, and hide the cut-off part. He faked the illness afterward. The villain of the story meets his downfall this way; as he hid the murderer in plain sight: the fish-shaped lamp on the candle maker's crest; the Lampe de Poisson a.k.a poison lamp, along with the family motto "Art Brought Forth The Candle", meaning in Discworld pseudo-Latin Ars Enixa Est Candelam. He didn't think that Vimes would be intelligent enough to notice.
      • Sam Vimes later uses the same trick to give himself the advantage in a fight with Dragon, by earlier replacing his candle order with ones that had their wicks soaked in holy water.
    • Referenced in The Fifth Elephant, when Vimes speculates that the missing Scone of Stone could have been on display in the Dwarf Bread Museum all along. Carrot shoots down his theory by pointing out that the museum's replica Scone is marked on its underside to distinguish it as a fake.
    • Vetinari seems to love these. In Night Watch, he hides a book describing the secrets of camouflage by putting it in his library. With the cover "Memoirs of the Great Accountants".
      • Even more so, when he's using just simple coloration, and other simple techniques like standing perfectly still in a dimly-lit area to give off the appearance of... well... disappearing.
      • Vetinari is so good at hiding that his Stealth Instructor insisted he had never attended a single class.
    • In Men at Arms, Talking Animal Gaspode claims that Big Fido won't mess with him because he has "the power", though he won't specify what that is. Later in the book, the audience learns that "the power" is speaking Human, which invokes a dog's natural instinct to obey which is the first thing about Gaspode they knew.
    • The whole concept of hiding in plain sight is subverted in the later book Raising Steam, where a footnote on the Battle of Koom Valley notes that a Troll general used Fridge Logic to get around the fact the Dwarfs always knew where to find an army of Trolls was that they'd scout for hidden Trolls in amongst the rocks and boulders. (Rocks hiding as rocks). Therefore he had the whole Troll army stand motionless out in the plain on the valley floor, while the Dwarfs would fruitlessly search for them in the foothills and boulder fields. We are told this worked perfectly until the morning mist lifted. Then both sides claimed each ambushed the other, simultaneously.
  • In the memoirs book The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer, the Jewish refugee protagonist avoids being caught by Gestapo and lives in Aryan society for years by simply borrowing the documents of a Christian friend and then marrying as the aforementioned Nazi officer (who did know she was Jewish!), living a quiet life as a Aryan housewife. She even got praise as a "respectable Aryan mother" by a committee of Nazi inspectors.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden is at one point given Fidelacchius, one of the Swords of the Cross (aka Kusanagi), for safekeeping. He promptly sticks it, cane-like sheath and all, in the popcorn tub he uses as an umbrella stand. It remains there, undisturbed save for his maintenance, for upwards of five years, through home invasions, all sorts of guests, even his brother living in the same room (it's a small apartment) for almost a year. Divine providence is probably to blame.
    • White Night: Dresden suspects a few different characters throughout the book. The REAL killer is in fact one of the Ordo Lebes themselves, the woman always wearing just enough clothing to cover up her being an effeminate White Court vampire who has been infiltrating groups like this for months now, never being suspected as he acted like "one of them". They're mentioned multiple times, and takes a bit of a more active role in the story towards the end, but not until the very end around when Dresden himself figures it out would you have thought them to be the killer.
  • In Earthborn, Shedemei decides to come down from the colony ship and mingle among her descendants, having had an inkling of brewing conflict. She takes a guise as an itinerant school teacher, under her real name. At this point in the series, her name has been practically deified as "The One Who Was Never Buried". Most people who know her simply assume she's an oddball with Shedemei's name, spelled and pronounced in the old way.
  • Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely contains a case where Moose Malloy is looking for his red-haired sweetheart Velma, who either died or skipped town while he was in prison after being framed. Come the finale, it's revealed that Mrs. Grayle (Marlowe's employer for his second, seemingly irrelevant case) is actually a disguised Velma, and was responsible for framing Moose, murdering Lin Marriott, and attacking Marlowe previously; in other words, the book's damsel in distress was actually the villain disguised as the moll.
  • G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown: The Invisible Man is another well-known case: a murder takes place in a house while witnesses posted near the entrance swear nobody walked in. It turns out that nobody had noticed the postman. Many other Chesterton stories use the trope in various ways.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The third novel, Life, the Universe and Everything, discusses SEP ("Somebody Else's Problem") fields, which hide objects by making everybody think they are Somebody Else's Problem and therefore subconsciously ignore them). It is stated that this method is much simpler than making something invisible or (at least in the case mentioned) removing it. However, this doesn't work if the hidden object in question happens to be your problem.
  • In Jack McDevitt's Infinity Beach, an apparent model spaceship sitting in an executive's office turns out to be an actual spaceship that was crewed by very small aliens.
  • Judge Dee: In The Haunted Monastery, a missing girl is hidden as one of the statues in a diorama showing the Taoist Hells. She's immobilized and covered with plaster, but manages to move just enough for a spear to make her bleed.
  • Kane Series: In Dark Crusade, upon getting to Ingoldi, Erill and Javro find their place with the Theater Guild—and Javro is chosen to play himself, the cowardly general of the vanquished enemy forces, in the patriotic pageant The Invincible March of the Sword of Sataki, which is highly praised by the authorities for its propaganda value.
  • Keys to the Kingdom: Superior Saturday uses and references the trope, as the Simultaneous Nebuchadnezzar is kept on a shelf of similar bottles, which is referred to as the "purloined letter".
  • Melisande's plan to escape into La Serenissima in Kushiel's Chosen relies on this trope. Her looks are so striking that anybody looking for her would have an easy time spotting her. She decides to walk out in the open as Prince Benidicte's new D'Angeline wife who wears a veil because of her faith in the goddess Asherat.
  • The short story Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl is about a pregnant woman. Her husband says that he's leaving her, and she kills him by striking him in the head with a frozen leg of lamb. The police never find the murder weapon because she cooks it before they arrive, and thoughtfully offers them dinner before they leave. During that dinner, one of the policemen remarks that "the evidence must be under our very noses". The widow starts to giggle.
  • In Rory Clements's Martyr (set in Elizabethan England), a Catholic priest in London dresses in bright, lavish, fashionable clothes. People trying to catch priests would be looking for people trying to avoid being seen; they "wouldn't suspect what their eyes alit upon so easily."
  • Men in Black: The Green Saliva Blues: Late in the book, after their telepathic "ally" has been killed, Jay and Elle have to figure out where the last sixteen Zahurians are hiding. Jay comes to the sudden realization that they don't need to be looking for trees — they need to be looking for hiding places, where the tree-like aliens could blend in without being spotted. Later on, a comment from the waitress leads them further along the right path, to finding places where a lot of flowering plum trees could sit around without being seen as out of the ordinary. The agents ultimately find the Zahurians in a local mall, one already heavily populated by mundane flowering plum trees.
  • Mistress of the Art of Death: You'd think that Excalibur would be locked away in a heavily guarded treasure chest. No, instead it's been slid inside a wooden cross and given to a teenage boy to carry.
  • The Murderbot Diaries. In Exit Strategy, Murderbot gets past GrayCris operatives looking out for it because they're running a search based on people obscuring their faces with hats, scarves, tattoos or hoodies. Murderbot has its hoodie down and looks just like an augmented human in casual clothes, so walks right past them. In fairness Murderbot has had plenty of time to work on its Human Disguise.
  • The point of Nelly the Monster Sitter is that monsters do exist among us, but they don't have babysitters to look after their needy children and therefore cannot leave their homes, which convinces Nelly to become one in her local area. She is amazed at how quickly the responses were after she put an advert in the local newspaper. It's also surprising that many of the monsters live in the suburban neighbourhoods of Nelly's local area.
  • Nick Velvet: This is how Sandra "steals" a roulette wheel out of a busy casino in "The Theft of the White Queen's Menu". Unknown to the casino owners, the wheel was one gimmicked to drop inside the table when a hidden switch is hit (which is why her client wanted it stolen). Sandra waits till no one is looking, and then hits the switch. She later sends her men in dressed as movers to remove the now "empty" table.
  • The Jack Higgins thriller Night of the Fox (later adapted into a movie) has OSS agent Harry Martineau posing as an SS officer for a mission in the Jersey Islands. When Field Marshall Erwin Rommel comes for a surprise inspection, Harry decides to kill him to aid the Allied war effort. But he's naturally thrown when he suddenly hears Rommel uttering a Jewish phrase while in private. Held at gunpoint, the truth comes out: Rommel is meeting with German generals in a plot against Hitler and to cover himself has lookalike Corporal Eric Berger posing as him. But Berger was killed three years earlier with his family in a bombing raid. The man before Harry is Heini Baum, a Jewish actor who was on the run when he found Berger's body, with call-up papers in the pocket. As crazy as it sounded, Baum sums it up: "what better place for a Jew to hide but in the German army?"
  • In Ollie's Odyssey, Zozo's minions, which are made out of various pieces of scrap, collapse to the ground whenever a human's nearby so they'll be mistaken for piles of junk.
  • In The Pink Motel, the kidnappers left a note on the bathroom mirror. The detectives spend a good amount of time looking around before someone suggests looking in the obvious places.
  • Downplayed in The Secret of Platform 13. When Mrs. Trottle catches on to the rescuers and takes Raymond into hiding, they naturally expect that she's left London. They look into her summer home in Scotland, have lookouts at train stations and docks, etc. It turns out that she's still in the city, though at a very high-class and secure hotel that makes getting to Raymond much harder.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Purloined Letter" is probably the Ur-Example. A blackmailer's home was searched for an incriminating letter. Even though they searched under every rug, in every drawer, for loose paperwork in every book, and for hollow hidden compartments in the furniture, the searchers never found it because they didn't bother to consider and look closely at a torn and crumpled letter, clearly visible in a card rack hanging on the mantelpiece.
  • Redwall: In Pearls of Lutra, one of the titular pearls is suspended in candle wax in the main hall.
  • In the Repairman Jack novel Legacies, a spy spends days watching a lamp-lit window where two men keep standing in silent awe, staring at something. The spy assumes they've got something that requires light sitting under the lamp because they never turn it off. It's actually the lamp they're staring at, because it's drawing its electricity via a revolutionary new technology and they're amazed that it's staying lit at all.
  • Throughout the Safehold series, an object only known as "the Key" had been referred to by members of the Wylsynn family as an item entrusted to them by the Archangel Schueler. In the fifth book, How Firm a Foundation, we learn specifically what the Key is. Among other things, it's of such size and shape that it can be easily used as a paperweight, which is how several Wylsynns, including its current possessor Paityr, hid it.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • After Joffrey Baratheon orders the death of her father, Arya Stark escapes from King's Landing by having her hair cut short and dressing like a boy.
    • Littlefinger's illegitimate daughter Alayne is a pretty maid with brown hair, which she must keep dyeing brown since she's really Sansa Stark and her trademark auburn Tully hair screams her true identity.
    • There is in Essos the young son of a hedge knight who dyes his hair blue to mourn his Tyroshi mother or maybe he simply needs to hide his silver-white hair since they scream Targaryen. Or Blackfyre.
  • Tortall Universe: In the Trickster's Duet, this is how Aly prefers to operate. When the duke and duchess offer her freedom, she actually asks them not to remove her Slave Collar because slaves have an excuse to be anywhere, plus soldiers and nobles don't pay any attention to them. When she's "promoted" to free servant, she becomes Dove's maid so she can listen in on all the palace conversations Dove is a part of.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign:
    • The Founder's Gallery is a collection of valuable secrets, and can only be found by gathering three particular artifacts. After Kyousuke has obtained all three, he realizes that the gallery is on the floor below Aika's apartment. The same apartment he's in right now, which he's been using as a base for the entire series.
    • The seventh volume has the White Queen create numerous copies of herself. To defeat them, it's necessary to first find the original White Queen. She's disguised herself as Aoi, Kyousuke's partner for the volume. This is particularly noteworthy because the real Aoi is physically identical to the White Queen and wears the same dress, so the White Queen literally only had to copy her behavior (and get the real one out of the way). Though unlike the previous example, Kyousuke actually figures this out before the White Queen reveals herself.
  • There is a mention in the Vorkosigan Saga of a retainer of the Vorkosigan family who did the smuggling gag with pack horses. Miles uses that historical example to come up with a plan to smuggle used spaceships to a station that needs to augment its war fleet in Mirror Dance.
  • The Wandering Inn: Rock Crabs hide their massive body under a giant shell that looks like a boulder. Since there are no other boulders in the Flood Plains, it makes them really easy to spot...assuming that you know that the giant rock is a monster.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Birgitte — better known as Birgitte Silverbow, Hero of the Horn, eternally reincarnating Living Legend of innumerable generations — goes by her real name and does nothing to hide her astoundingly good archery. On the rare occasion that someone draws the connection between her and the Birgitte, she pulls some sarcastic variant on Never Heard That One Before.
  • Who Needs Enemies: In "Bystander," a space traveler spends hours observing a nearby alien ship to try and learn something about other (more powerful) cultures, then learns that a nearby comet that he barely glanced at was either a disguised alien ship or a secretly sentient alien itself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Lamb to the Slaughter" (based on the Roald Dahl story above, where a woman kills her husband by bashing his skull in with a frozen lamb's leg which she then cooks and serves to the unwitting police officers who are looking for the murder weapon.
  • Clues on The Amazing Race are hidden this way all the time, though most notoriously in Season 19 when the clue was a giant flashing sign written in Chinese that many of the teams spotted then disregarded at first.
  • Done extremely cleverly in American Horror Story: Coven. The driving question of the whole series is who will become the next Supreme Witch, leader of the titular coven; she will be chosen by the Test of the Seven Wonders, a ritual determining who of the witches can perform seven difficult magical tasks. Though every witch on the show gradually reveals the power to do some of those tasks, Ryan Murphy actually revealed the solution in the very first episode and every one after it—namely, in the opening credits. As each actor's name appears, a traditionally "mystic" image appears on the screen with them in the background. Sarah Paulson, who plays Cordelia—who becomes the Supreme at the series' end—has an image of Santa Muerte, or "Sister Death", a revered deity among the Mexica people. One of Santa Muerte's other names? The Lady of... the Seven Wonders.
  • The titular Aquila (a bright red, car-sized spacecraft) the main characters are hidden was "hidden" in one of the boy's garages with the cover story that it was a prop from a Sci-Fi movie.
  • In the new Battlestar Galactica, a Cylon hid an Incredibly Obvious Bug right in the center of the Galactica's bridge. Everyone assumed that it was new equipment that was supposed to be there until Baltar happened to ask what it was...
  • The killer in the mini-series The Bletchley Circle, they originally think he's a guard or ticket taker, but it turns out he's just using one as a patsy.
  • Both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul have Gustavo Fring, who camouflages being one of the biggest drug kingpins in Albuquerque with his legitimate restaurant business and a reputation as a friend to law enforcement. In fact, the very first time we see him is when Walter White is in his restaurant, awaiting for his order and trying to guess which one of the customers is Fring. Meanwhile Gustavo is in the background, a humble manager explaining something to one of the employees.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Key, which is why it was so important that Glory not find out that it was a person. If not for Ben's slip up to one of Glory's minions (and subsequent failure to kill said minion), she may never have found out in time.
  • Death in Paradise a murder needed to hide a body so what did he do? He dissolved most of the organs in lime but was left with a skeleton. Oh and he happened to be a teacher and that the anatomical skeleton in his classroom looks very real...
    • The same ploy was used in the series finale episode of Diagnosis: Murder, with the skeleton in Dr. Sloan's office.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The TARDIS itself. No one ever expects or believes that the battered old blue police telephone box standing on the street corner could possibly be a majestic living time machine that can take the crew anywhere and anywhere in the universe.
      • And again when the Master disguises his TARDIS as the Doctor's.
    • Double subverted in "The Invasion of Time": The Doctor first attempts to find the Key of Rassilon by figuring "Where would you hide a tree? In a forest!", referring to the large rack of keys in the Chancellor's office. It turns out to be in even plainer sight, in a desk drawer's keyhole.
    • In the unfinished (but eventually novelized) Fourth Doctor adventure "Shada", a Time Lord acquaintance of the Doctor retired from Gallifrey to Earth and has avoided notice by getting tenure at Cambridge. The old instructor who's been around as long as anyone could recall is such a typical part of British university life that nobody had noticed that one of them had been around for three hundred years.
    • "The Five Doctors": The musical code that will unlock Rassilon's secret chamber appears on a piece of sheet music depicted in a nearby painting.
    • "Rose": The Doctor is looking for a transmitter. "Round and massive, somewhere slap bang in the middle of London, a huge metal circular structure, like a dish, like a wheel, close to where we're standing. Must be completely invisible." Directly behind the Doctor in the scene: The London Eye.
    • "Utopia": Professor Yana is so well hidden, even he doesn't know the truth, so the Doctor doesn't realize that Yana is the Master in human form until it's too late. And interestingly, by Word of God, the equipment in Yana's lab was even designed to evoke the image of half-disassembled TARDIS consoles.
    • "The Sound of Drums": Following up from the above, it turns out that, after escaping the end of the universe, the Master, stuck on Earth because of the TARDIS' fused coordinates, has not only been there for the entire time that the Doctor has been travelling with Martha, but has been running for office in the Doctor's favourite country!
    • Downplayed in "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky": Donna, working her way through the Sontaran ship, hears a group of soldiers coming. She hides in a shadow in an alcove formed by the doorway they march through. Played straight in the sense that the Sontarans are all wearing their helmets, and there's no way they can have good peripheral vision in those, regardless of what they're doing with visual sensors being displayed inside.
    • "The Time of Angels": A lone Weeping Angel hides from the Doctor and a team of badass clerics in a Maze of the Dead: an enormous, pitch-black cavern full of statues. At the end, which of the statues is a Weeping Angel? ALL OF THEM!
    • Played straight in series 6. The first question, the oldest question, hidden in plain sight: Doctor Who?
  • Elementary:
    • In the episode "Leviathan", the thief hid the uncut diamonds he had stolen in a jar of multicolored glass rocks. In the same episode, they discover the identity of a legendary phantom thief with the priceless coins he had stolen displayed as his cuffs on his suit and the painting hidden in a replica of that painting displayed in his living room.
    • Also, Irene Adler, art restorer, had stolen paintings on the wall of her apartment, disguised as very convincing reproductions. She kept the originals and sent back the reproduction, to "preserve" them. Sherlock is presumably the first person who noticed.
    • The final arc of Season Two reveals that Sherlock's brother Mycroft is actually a spy for MI6 who's being framed as a mole for foreign intelligence. Things look bad for Mycroft when he realizes that he's been in all of the locations on a list of the mole's activities, but he swears up and down that he's innocent. It's Joan who figures out the truth: the real mole is Mycroft's handler Sherrington, who accompanied him everywhere and was considered Beneath Notice by MI6 (and indeed, Sherrington angrily admits that he's partially motivated because the organization has ignored him for so long).
  • Father Brown: In "The Smallest of Things", the killer hides the newspaper that was stolen from the diorama by placing it in one of the other dioramas.
  • One episode of Foyle's War involves the hunt for a spy who is leaking British bombing plans to the Germans. The culprit? Keppler, a German priest who claimed to have left in protest of the Nazis. He was found out when his mapmaker parishoner saw there was no church in Keppler's hometown. The British spy investigating even says he dismissed Keppler as a suspect early on because he was too obvious.
  • Frasier: In "A Crane's Critique," Frasier and Niles are shocked to learn that the notoriously reclusive author T.H. Houghton (an Expy of J. D. Salinger) is visiting Seattle. They're even more surprised when he's found sitting without disguising himself in a sports bar having a beer with their father Martin and enjoying a Seattle Mariners game—Houghton knows that none of the literary critics who love his work would ever think to look for him there.
  • Game of Thrones: How did Ned Stark manage to hide his nephew Jon — the son of his sister Lyanna and the last surviving child of Rhaegar Targaryen? By passing him off as his illegitimate son and raising him as part of the family.
  • In episode 6 of Gotham, when Gordon was on the run from Falcone, Bullock found him in Barbara's apartment. Bullock even lampshaded it because the mob wouldn't look for Gordon at a place they considered to be too obvious.
  • In Harrow, the key to Harrow's locked case of antique surgical instruments (which is central to the first season's resolution) is sitting in the key slot of a windup toy that is sitting on his desk.
  • In Highlander, Methos, the legendary oldest Immortal who the Watchers have been trying to find for centuries, is revealed to be a member of the Watchers and the guy in charge of the Methos project.
  • In Hustle, Stacie smuggles a famous picture out of an art gallery by posing as an art student wearing a T-shirt printed with a copy of the picture. After the real picture is removed from its frame, Stacie attaches it to the front of her shirt and walks out past several security guards.
  • In Plain Sight is a show about the Witness Protection Program. The title indicates exactly where the relocated witnesses are concealed.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster, one episode's macguffin is a silver milk pitcher in the shape of a cow, or "Cow Creamer". At one point it ends up getting disguised as a car hood ornament.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Initially believed to be either dead or in the process of resurrection, it turns out Sauron has been active this whole time, just adopting a false identity.
  • In one episode of MacGyver, a toy shop owner is questioned by criminals as to the location of some gold they had him smuggle when he snuck across the Berlin Wall some years earlier. The gold is prominently displayed in the toy shop window - as a set of painted model soldiers, which up until that point everyone had assumed to be lead.
  • In an episode of Magnum, P.I., the audio cassette of Robin Masters dictating his latest novel is revealed to have been stored alongside Magnum's music collection.
    • Also, the implication that Higgins may, in fact, be Robin Masters.
  • In an episode of The Mentalist a man hid a fortune in diamonds in the pretty princess "crystal" chandelier in his little daughter's bedroom.
  • Merlin: Camelot led a genocide of all magic users, but the man destined to become the greatest warlock ever and bring magic back to the land has never been found. Half the reason for this is that Camelot has little to no knowledge of the prophecies, and what they have they don't believe. The other half is that said sorcerer is living right in Camelot's castle as Arthur's personal manservant.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "The Sleeper Under the Hill", a criminal hides a stolen painting on his wall, claiming that is a forgery of the famous painting.
  • Monk had a similar example in "Mr. Monk Gets Married". Monk and Sharona visit a marriage counselor to keep an eye on Randy's mother who has recently married a man Randy is suspicious of. He's actually searching for a cache of gold somewhere around the counselor's estate, reading the 19th-century gold digger's journals to find clues. The gold was literally in the journals all along, as the gold digger had melted it down and mixed it into the ink.
  • NCIS:
    • An elderly criminal hid the money from a bank robbery by buying antiques and placing them around his house. To most people it looked just like 'old people furniture' and no one suspected that the items were worth tens of thousands of dollars.
    • This idea was recycled in a later season when a former KGB sleeper agent still had control over millions of dollars of fund meant to fund Cold War espionage operations in the US. He bought expensive rare books on the black market and placed them on display in the rare book store he operated as a cover.
    • The team track down how the assistant to a Coast Guard officer stole diamonds from an evidence locker. She boasts there's no way they can find them. Realizing she would be smart to find a good hiding place, Gibbs dips a net into the massive fish tank in the officer's office to reveal the "clear rocks" inside are, in fact, the diamonds.
  • The titular "Tale of the Big Why" in The New Avengers turns out to be the tail of a big Y - yes, it's a Shout-Out to It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
  • Person of Interest:
    • Finch uses this to hide himself. He is a billionaire computer genius who faked his own death and now works as a low-level white-collar worker in his own company. None of the other employees remember the reclusive co-founder of the company who disappeared from public view a decade ago. His coworkers do not know what his exact position is or who he really reports to, and when he has to abandon the cover identity everyone just assumes that he transferred to a different department.
    • In "Synecdoche", the US President is targeted by American radicals who use their own identities; amateurish yet providing perfect cover as long as no one realises their group exists.
  • Scrubs:
    • Parodied when Dr. Kelso once attempted to get out of a conversation with Dr. Cox by pretending to be his own painting on a wall mural. Cox is not fooled, not least because Kelso is, in fact, three-dimensional. Kelso appears to keep the "ruse" up for some time, however:
      Cox: [After grabbing Kelso's arm] Bob, I'm physically touching your arm now. Come on, I know you're here.
      Kelso: ['Coming to', apparently surprised]: ...Perry, hi, how are you?
    • Another episode had JD making a valiant effort at hiding in a similar manner by posing and holding still with some lifesize cardboard cutouts of himself. It doesn't work.
  • Sherlock:
    • "The Blind Banker":
      • Sherlock is wondering how to find the book behind a book code, when nobody involved seemed to have any books in common. It was a local directory, available anywhere and eminently disposable.
      • The stolen Chinese treasure is a jade hairpin, which the thief gave to his secretary-slash-mistress and she has been wearing.
    • In "The Sign of Three", this is a part of the Mayfly Man's M.O. for committing murders undetected. He poses as the photographer at John and Mary's wedding, reasoning that the photographer is the one person that never shows up in wedding photos.
  • In Star Trek, the clandestine Section 31 black ops organization seems to exist outside the law and the public eye. And yet anyone who bothers to read the Starfleet Charter in detail may find Section 31 of Article 14 interesting, as it allows for extraordinary measures to be taken in times of extreme threat. Seemingly innocuous words, but they do allow for the creation of a secret department that even Starfleet Intelligence may be unaware of.
  • Supernatural:
    • The Samulet, which Dean wears for most of the first five seasons, turns out to be a talisman that glows in the presence of God.
    • In early Season 5, Sam and Dean search for the Sword of Michael, which they believe will help them defeat Lucifer. Turns out Dean himself is the sword.
  • Survivor: During season 25, the Philippines, the clues to the Hidden Immunity idols all told players that the idol was "right under their nose", which naturally leads them to realize that it's somewhere that will seem obvious once they figure it out. They were revealed to be the tribe logos on the rice baskets.
  • In the Whoniverse, everyone knows who bloody Torchwood is: Some annoying government organization. Virtually no one knows their job is investigating alien technology.
  • In Warehouse 13, the Regents have a pattern of doing this. For example, their secret vault is hidden in a grocery store:
    Myka: This is the Regent vault?
    Pete: Of course. Hidden in plain sight. It's what they do.
    • The Regents themselves also fall into this trope. They're the governing body that oversees a collection of the world's most dangerous historical artifacts—and they all have mundane jobs and everyday lives. For example, the group's recording secretary, Theadora Stanton, is a waitress in the diner where the Regents hold one of their meetings (turns out that being able to quickly write down orders in shorthand is an surprisingly useful skill when dealing with top-secret information). Another works in the grocery store mentioned above, while another is a schoolteacher.
    • The Warehouse itself, while located in the middle of nowhere, doesn't exactly try to hide the fact that it's a warehouse. Specifically, the cover story is that they work for the IRS, and the warehouse is an IRS archive, knowing that most people have no desire to interact with the taxmen or dig through old tax returns.
  • Willow: Due to a vision Willow had that she would be killed and leave the world in ruins when the forces of evil took over, Sorsha determined she would hide Elora Danan as a simple servant in her castle, Brünhilde (nicknamed Dove), who at first has no idea about this.
  • The Wire:
    • A character example with The Greek. He rarely meets contacts directly, instead sitting and inconspicuously reading a newspaper nearby while his second-in-command Spiros talks to them, allowing him to know what's going on and remain anonymous.
    • The "New Day Co-op". A consortium consisting of every major drug dealer in Baltimore. Hold meetings at a very large, and very public hotel conference room, with "Welcome New Day Co-Op" plastered on the main billboard of the hotel.
  • The Wishbone adaptation of "The Purloined Letter" has the namesake letter in a stack of mail on the suspect's desk, so it was both hidden in plain sight and a Needle in a Stack of Needles.
  • Young Sheldon: In "A Box of Treasure and the Meemaw of Science", Mr. Givens was able to tell Georgie was the one taking copies of the tests because they had Sheldon's name on them (as well as Tam having told him).

  • Old Master Q have the titular character trying to hunt an ostrich. Said ostrich disguises itself as a tree, with an oblivious Master Q walking between it's legs.

  • The Adventure Zone: Balance has the Bulwark Staff, Lucretia's relic, which appears before the relics are even explained, and is mentioned in almost every arc.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • A repeated gag used by Sting (both in TNA and WCW) is to have him wear a Sting mask (a mask identical to his iconic facepaint, making him look like a fan) and sit in the front row in order to ambush his opponent, as seen here. At times he hides among a crowd of other people wearing Sting masks, overlapping with Needle in a Stack of Needles, as seen here.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has Mimetic Armor (for Battle Armor) and the Chameleon Light Shield and Void Sig System (for Battlemechs). Both use a form of active camouflage to make the Mech or BA look nearly invisible while it's still, even in the middle of an open field, but are subject to Invisibility Flicker while moving.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, some roguish classesnote  gain the ability "Hide in Plain Sight". Normally a character can't attempt to hide if someone is already watching, but the ability bypasses this restriction.
  • Shadowrun has the Ruthenium Polymer Coating upgrade, which allows people to have relatively inexpensive personal and vehicle cloaking devices. Vehicles need sensor jammers and upgraded mufflers for it to really work, though.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Ghostrick Skeleton's not an exhibit in the museum himself, but he nonchalantly slips around the other exhibits. Although it seems nobody really notices since he looks like an ordinary skeleton anyway.
  • Pathfinder: Two special abilities related to the Stealth skill support this. "Hide In Plain Sight" lets a creature make Stealth checks even while being directly observed, like a Shadow Animal's power to conceal itself in other shadows. "Freeze" lets it pretend to be something inanimate, like a Gargoyle impersonating an ordinary statue or a Stranglereed impersonating ordinary vegetation.

  • Jasper spends much of the first act of Jasper in Deadland looking for Agnes only to learn she's actually lost her memory and thinks she's Gretchen, the tour guide that's been helping him the whole time.

  • Transformers is all about this. Most of them have altforms that are indistinguishable from the Earth equivalents, but no one seems to have told them that you don't normally get such a diverse selection of vehicles in any one place.
    • This bit of fridge logic is lampshaded in the IDW comic series when Optimus some of his Autobots engage a squad of Decepticons in a Russian landscape. The human troops are completely baffled as to why a bunch of sports cars and an American police car are shooting it out with a space shuttle.

    Video Games 
  • "Hide in plain sight" is the second tenet of the Assassin's Creed, and every game has the option. In the first game, Altair is able to stand within a group of monks and guards won't spot him as he and the monks are wearing similar colours. From the second game onwards, any playable Assassin is able to do this with any group of people, based on the idea that they're simply lost in the crowd. Although when hiding in a group of courtesans, Male Gaze certainly comes into it. This ranges from plausible to ridiculous depending on the game later in the series, since the assassin uniform stands out like a sore thumb in several of the eras featured (although, starting from Arno, they start wearing less obvious colours than the signature stark-white).
  • In Baldur's Gate II, the shadow thieves headquarters are located in the largest building of the docks district, directly facing the main street, while the slavers are based in dragged dry ship in the middle of the slums (quite noticeable).
    • The Twisted Rune occupies one simple building in the bridge district, housing high level opponents that give a difficult battle. You need a specific gem to pass through the magically sealed door, though.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, Joker makes Batman think that he's been cured of his blood poisoning by having Clayface impersonate him. Lampshaded:
    Joker: So, how do you keep a secret from the world's greatest detective? Well, do you know? You stick it riiiiight in front of him, right under his long, pointy nose... and wait!
  • The true identity of the Big Bad in BlazBlue became an epic meta case of this. How well hidden in plain sight was it? Well, in the first game we're introduced to a shady captain from the NOL's intelligence division, referred to as "Hazama", who is revealed to be possessed by an Ax-Crazy spectre, identified as "Yuuki Terumi," who Noel identifies as "Dark Susanoo" (to contrast with Hakumen, who is the White Susanoo). In the second game, it's revealed that Terumi was the previous owner of Hakumen's armor, the Susanoo Unit, but that he abandoned it as it bound him to the will of the Master Unit: Amaterasu. Over the course of the second game, Hazama/Terumi also occasionally invokes the name Susanoo as an incantation.example  Come the third game, Terumi becomes a playable character separate from Hazama and his Astral Drive turns him into a black, demonic version of Hakumen who gloats that he's "the one true Susanoo" or, alternatively, that he will show his opponent "the blade of god," before erasing them from existence with a swift slash... "Oh well," thought the fans, "maybe he still has a fragment of the Susanoo Unit's power from back when he used it," thought the fans, "he's having a pretty severe god complex," thought the fans. Nope! By the third act of the fourth game, Terumi rips Hakumen's soul out of the Susanoo Unit and reveals that he wasn't just its "previous" owner, he was its original owner. As in, Yuuki Terumi is the soul to the Susanoo Unit's body, not a maniac with delusions of godhood, but the Takehaya Susanoo no Mikoto... It says quite a lot that Susanoo still qualified as an Unexpected Character despite all of that, well, the word "Foreshadowing" might not be applicable to something that's repeatedly stated straight to your face.
  • In the game Cadillacs and Dinosaurs the protagonists realize that the villains have an arms factory built under the island. When one asks: "how could they hide the smoke?" they gaze at each other for a moment and then turn to stare at the volcano which has been steadily blowing out smoke for the duration of the game.
  • In Dead Space 3, the Final Boss is actually visible for most of the game and on many promotional artworks. It is a post-Convergence Necromorph so large that it is mistaken for Tau Volantis' moon. It's the first thing you see when you enter the system, and the only foreshadowing is the broken, jagged hole in its side. Also, take a close look at the shape behind Isaac on the cover.
  • The Desolate Hope: Do you want to know where the much sought after Sample 217 is? Right in the background of Amos room, visible whenever you come in. It's in the cylinder case connected to Amos; you see it clearly at the end of the game.
  • In the DLC campaign in Dying Light called, The Following the main villain is revealed to be Kaan, the goofy acting merchant you meet and trade with in the new location during the beginning of the campaign. He is the new leader who took over for Rais' gang after you defeated him during the main campaign. Though he is just one of the threats Kyle deals with.
  • Fate/Grand Order has Marisbury Animusphere's magnum opus and the very reason for the game's plots, the globe simulation model at the center of Chaldea's Antarctica facility that players have been using to interface with the Singularities and Lostbelts from the start. Specifically, it is CHALDEAS, a perfect replica of Earth down to its soul, the culmination of the Animusphere family's two thousand year-old ambitions and the catalyst of the Grand Order. Its exact purpose is still shrouded in mystery, but it's apparently so serious that various characters were willing to go to extreme measures to stop it such as Goetia's incineration of humanity and Daybit waking up ORT in his Lostbelt.
  • In Fe, dark-colored grass camouflages the titular protagonist from the Silent Ones, which is necessary when sneaking through their territories.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, if you take the Revelation path, In Chapter 14 Orders, when Iago and Hans are talking about how Corrin's slow-growing army, what they don't notice is that Elise is eavesdropping from behind a wall pole.
  • Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist: To hide his true identity, Freddy makes a false ear for himself (his real ear having been shot off in the prologue). No one seems to recognize him until Penelope removes his ear and is shocked to discover that it's Freddy!
  • During the Stealth-Based Mission in Gamer 2, Hailey hides from zombies by standing under red lights the same shade as her fur.
  • Fittingly enough, the Xbox indie game Hidden in Plain Sight has you invoke this trope to win, where you play a character among a crowd of duplicate NPCs and must find a way to achieve your goal without drawing attention to yourself by the other players.
  • A major point of the Hitman games is you can disguise yourself as almost anyone, giving the option of approaching the target as yourself, his personal guards, or his own butler. In Absolution onwards, you have the added ability to hide with objects to look busy, such as wiping a work surface down like a kitchen hand, or hanging around the donut box as a cop.
  • Towards the end of Jitsu Squad, after the heroes managed to restore the cursed Kusanagi stone, sealing the demon Origami and his minions back into the underworld, their mentor, Ramen, then proclaims he'll hide it "in a place where no one can ever find it again". And where's the hiding place? As a lampshade in Ramen's bedroom.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • In Last Word, the titular MacGuffin turns out to be written on the collar of Saymore Family cat, who remained at the Saymore Estate after it was bought out by Chatter.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, one of the game's biggest mysteries is the whereabouts of Zelda, who had disappeared at the start of the game and was flung far, far back into the past to Hyrule's founding. As revealed in the final Dragon's Tear memory, Zelda was the Light Dragon that has been seen flying across Hyrule all along, having transformed herself by ingesting a Sage's Stone to take The Slow Path back to the modern era.
  • Mass Effect loves this trope. In the first game, you have the revelation that the Citadel is a gigantic Mass Relay and was built to let the Reapers emerge from Darkspace to cull the Galaxy of all life. Again! There is also the innocuous Statue of the Mass Relay in the Presidium that barely anyone looks at, until you discover its a miniaturised version of one, designed by the Protheans as a backdoor into the Citadel.
    • The Council repeatedly decrees that the "Reapers" do NOT exist! It seems they haven't noticed what the layout of the Council Chamber they are standing in resembles when viewed from above.
      • And the Nebula Citadel is located in bears an uncanny resemblance too. It's even called the Widow Nebula.
    • In the third game, the asari goddess Athame and all the miracles, interventions and gifts of knowledge turns out were actually caused by the Protheans when the asari were still a primitive race, to the point that their ancient artworks of Athame look Prothean, with the more modern stuff shaped more in the asari likeness. Their interventions include teaching them how to farm, saving their planet from a meteor shower and alien invasion, genetically modifying them to use biotic powers naturally, and finally leaving them a fully functional and intact Prothean beacon, which is how the asari have been thousands of years more advanced than the entire galaxy. Where did they keep the beacon? Inside the statue of Athame in the temple on their home planet.
  • In Persona 4, the protagonists spend most of the game at a loss for how a kidnapper keeps abducting people to throw into the Midnight Channel (which would require having a large television close by), sometimes during broad daylight or near heavily-populated areas, with not even the rescued victims remembering having seen anyone suspicious. The answer? He's a deliveryman, and keeps the TV in the back of his truck. The True Final Boss takes this even farther - the Japanese goddess of death is the gas station attendant you talked to on your first day in town. She doesn't even have a character portrait until you reveal her true identity, so while many players know something's up when the hero suddenly gets lightheaded and begins Dreaming of Things to Come, very few of them make the connection to shaking this character's hand - in actuality, that's the moment where she unlocks your powers.
  • Pokémon:
    • Lampshaded in Pokemon Heart Gold And Soul Silver, with a Team Rocket hideout disguised as a gift shop. The sign outside says something like "Just an ordinary gift shop. Nothing to see here..."
    • Pokémon Black and White plays this trope straight twice:
      • Once with the building directly opposite Castelia City's Gym, which was really Team Plasma's temporary hideout within the city.
      • Twice with the item needed to summon the mascot Legendary. It turns out to be the ordinary-looking stone at the Nacrene Museum. Ironically, Team Plasma did go there earlier... but took the wrong artifact.
    • In Pokémon X and Y, Team Flare just passes themselves off as something of a harmless fashion cult, hiding just how extremist their real goal is, and the entrance to their base is a coffee shop only a few feet away from the dead center of Lumiose City.
    • In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon, on a more meta example Ultra Necrozma was shown together with its other forms, though it's recognizable only in hindsight.
    • In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, the puzzle for the Medali City gym involves figuring out the favorite dish of a regular at the local restaurant. You can ask one of the apparent-NPCs at the counter for help with one of the hints. After gathering all the clues and correctly guessing the dish, it turns out that the seemingly-random guy getting lunch is actually the Gym Leader, Larry.
    • In the second installment of the Spin-Off series Pokémon Ranger, The Incredible Machine is camouflaged as Altru Tower until it's too late to stop the activation in time.
  • In the Professor Layton series, several puzzles use as this trope as their solution, often tricking the player into thinking outside the box (or sometimes just going straight into Moon Logic Puzzle territory).
    • One puzzle has players searching a scene for a monster attacking a village. It turns out the entire night sky is the monster, simply lying on its side.
    • In one puzzle, a man is offended by the odorous garlic in a pit and gives the player two corks to plug up holes so he won't have to smell it. Trouble is, there are three holes leading to the pit, and they're all interconnected. The trick? The two holes the player must plug up are the man's nostrils!
    • Some of the plot-centric puzzles also fall into this trope. For example, in Professor Layton and the Curious Village, everyone in the village of St. Mystere is on the hunt for Baron Reinhold's missing treasure, the "Golden Apple." It turns out that one half of the treasure is his daughter Flora, who he secreted a giant cottage that's visible from every spot in the village. The second half, a more traditional fortune of gold and jewels, is concealed behind a very large, conspicuous painting of Flora in Baron Reinhold's parlor; the only defense mechanism is that searchers must press a very specific spot on the painting, which is presumably why no one found the riches.
    • Layton's Arch-Enemy, the evil Don Paolo, appears in every game in the original trilogy impersonating a major character, including Layton himself at one point. It helps that Don Paolo is a Master of Disguise who has access to Latex Perfection masks and all manner of costumes to perfectly conceal his true identity.
  • Rabi-Ribi has the UPRPRC, a group of bunny-obsessed cosplayers scouring the island for any trace of bunny girls. When Erina - a normal rabbit transformed into a Playboy Bunny - makes her appearance, the group goes wild and starts hunting her down trying to capture her. Ironically, the leader of the group is a bunny girl herself, Irisu, who founded the organization to find another bunny girl like herself, but apparently everyone just assumed that she's another cosplayer.
  • How does System Shock get players to touch the conspicuous landmines? By mixing them in with inert landmines, of course. Be veeeery careful when picking things up in explosive caches.
  • Taiji has some of the solutions for later puzzles hidden in the environment. Sometimes, you might even walk over a clue without even realizing it is one.
  • Tunic explicitly spells out the game's major plot twist and how to get an ending in the collectible in-game manual pages. The twist is that they're written out untranslated in a difficult Cypher Language.
  • The Witness: The environmental puzzles. You spend the whole game solving puzzles involving drawing lines from circular starting points to rounded ending points, so clever players might be able to figure out that any instance of a line between a circular starting point and a rounded ending point can be drawn on, even when it's part of the environment. Naturally there are lots of such instances around the island to search for.
  • In World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor the Arakkoa outcasts passed down the blades and mask of their revered leader, Terokk. To hide them from their persecutors, the relics were used to decorate plainly visible effigies as they would be dismissed as too obvious. The quest is even titled "Hidden in Plain Sight".
  • The central mystery of XCOM 2 is what the aliens are doing on Earth in the first place. The answer is plainly visible before you even start the game at all. The game's logo is an alien head made of human skulls, and the alien's purpose is to create new bodies for their leaders from human DNA.
    • Also, the game places an Ethereal/Elder model on the Geoscape, in the middle of the ocean, to represent the Avatar Program. You don't actually know where the Avatar Base base and the final mission are. It's underwater.

    Visual Novels 
  • Late in The Silver Case, the location of the Shelter Kids experiments (and, by proxy, the source of the game's massive conspiracy) is divulged to you by Tokio Morishima. Where is it, you may ask? The Mulholland drug store that Tokio went to all game, which has a secret entrance to the underground complex that's right behind its vending machine.
  • A few Ace Attorney cases have the body of the victims being hidden in such a way, that hundreds of people are right near the body, but none of them actually notice it, due to it being disguised or concealed in some way.
    • In the final case of Trials and Tribulations, Maya is saved from being killed by someone channeling Dahlia Hawthorne by channeling her herself. It works to the point Dahlia thinks it's Pearl who is channeling her, and even Phoenix only realizes Maya is the one channeling Dahlia by process of elimination - By the time he gets her in court, Pearl had admitted she was unable to channel Dahlia, and the only other spirit medium was the case's victim.
    • A good example of this comes from Dual Destinies in the third case, where someone is killed at an academy. It's eventually proven that contrary to what was thought throughout most of the case, the murder occurred where the body was found and was never moved, bringing up the question of how none of the hundreds of students saw the body until the afternoon of the next day. It turns out that the killer kept the body on the stage the entire time, but it was wrapped in a cloth, and placed on a statue plinth, which was supposed to be holding a statue of Wright. The body was put into such a position, such as hands tied behind the head to make Wright's spikey hair, to make it look like Phoenix doing an objection pose. None of the students noticed anything, because the humanlike structure looked like it was supposed to be there.
    • Later in Dual Destinies, we find that the Big Bad was part of the main cast all along, posing as goofy detective Bobby Fulbright. Athena had been working with her mother's murderer without ever knowing it.
    • In case 3 of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Lamiroir is singing her song "The Guitar's Serenade" while crawling through a vent in the ceiling. The murderer in the dressing room under the vent didn't notice her presence since a loudspeaker was playing a feed from the concert. Effectively, her own voice hid her singing in the vent.
    • In case 2 of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, it initially looks like the victim found on the plane was beaten to death with the figurine found next to him, but Miles figures out that the real murder weapon is something else—something large enough to be completely overlooked by everyone so far. The victim died by being pushed over a railing and falling down hard on the floor of the plane's huge cargo hold. In effect, the murder weapon was the cargo hold itself.
    • One of the big reveals in Spirit of Justice is an example of this. Queen Amara, thought to have been assassinated 23 years ago, is still alive. Dhurke spent years looking for where the Ga'ran regime had secreted her away. Where was Amara hidden? In the palace itself, disguised as Royal Priestess Rayfa's personal assistant Nayna.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: The conflict in Chapter 3 is kicked off when the laptop containing Alter Ego is stolen from the bathhouse locker where the students were keeping it. At the end of the chapter it's discovered that Celeste simply moved it to a different locker.
  • Zero Escape: In general, writer for the series Kotaro Uchikoshi tends to have characters hint at major reveals by mentioning them very offhandedly, but for some specific examples...
    • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors one of the bigger twists is given right at the start. Over loudspeaker, the kidnapper Zero begins explaining the rules. He tells the players to check their pockets for a rule card, which explains they need to seek a door carrying a 9... except that the "9" is really a lower-case Q, which looks nearly identical to a 9 in the font used on the pictured rule card. It works better in Japanese, where there is no rule card and Zero explains the rules aloud instead, telling them to seek a door with a "kyu".
    • Virtue's Last Reward has this in its Game Overs. When someone escapes through the Number 9 Door (which means it's closed for good), an announcer notes that "all doors other than the Number 9 Door have been unlocked" - meaning the people still trapped inside are free to explore the entire facility. However, one floor below the Number 9 Door is a second warehouse, and a second door (with characters noting it's so rusty they doubt they'd be able to open it from this side). The maps of the facility everyone has access to use color coding to indicate that this second door is able to be unlocked somehow, so the game never lies about this twist.
  • In Nightshade, while being chased by the Kyo shinobi, Goemon attempts this by standing around unobtrusively while smoking a pipe to cover up the smell of the smoking bombs they had used. Unfortunately for them, Enju was able to differentiate the two smells and also notice the smell of blood on them.
  • This is how Beatrice from Tyrion Cuthbert: Attorney of the Arcane was able to cast Invisibility without alerting everyone in the ball room. She needed to clap her hands together and say "Okultarrae" at the same time. For the clap, she justified it by telling people it's a ritual she does when she's stressed to calm herself down. As for the incantation, she hid it in the middle of the sentence "The occult are a fascinating phenomena" while talking to Aster and Alaric. The effects of the spell took place elsewhere, so they didn't notice anything.

    Web Animation 
  • The second season of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device ends in this way — the Centurion, popping up time and again across the two seasons, is none other than Rogal Dorn beneath that helmet.
  • RWBY:
    • Some Faunus characters are able to do this depending on how major their animal traits are. For axample, Blake used to use a black bow to hide her cat ears in the first three seasons.
    • This is Ren's Semblance. With a little bit of concentration, he can make himself or someone else entirely invisible to the Grimm, despite them being right out in the open and visible to normal people.
  • Red vs. Blue: Singularity explains what Agent Carolina did after the Meta tossed her off of a cliff and she abandoned Project Freelancer; she re-enlisted in the UNSC under a false identity. The military was desperate for recruits against the Covenant, and wouldn't check her credentials thoroughly. Wash, using Mental Time Travel, finds her stationed at an average base as "McCallister" wearing the same kind of armor as everyone else.
    "It didn't take a genius to see the UNSC was losing The War. They were taking anyone that would sign up in those days. They weren't gonna look twice at forged documents. I figured it would give me constant access to military intel and equipment, allow me to keep my skills sharp and be the last place Freelancer would think to look. I just needed to land myself in an average, unremarkable squad stationed in one of who knows how many stations across the galaxy."

  • The Chekhov M.I.A. of Archipelago, Uru, actually joins the group as the Team Pet, because he's been put under a Forceful Transformation a couple of years earlier.
  • One of the branching paths in Bard Quest has the Bard's party look for dragons to slay in their immediate vicinity. One is standing straight up in a forest clearing, but the Bard fails to see it.
  • Employed at a Ninja Restaurant in Freefall, where one particular ninja is sent out to chat with customers and act as a distraction.
    Ninja Waiter: That man does not look anything like a ninja.
    Chef: Ah, but that is exactly what a ninja should look like.
  • Girl Genius: Master Payne's circus, in which the actors play famous sparks of the past, is a cover for minor sparks. At one point they take it up a notch by having Agatha hide with them and play her mother on stage. Subverted as the plan ends being self-defeating when the intentional quasi-anonymity of the players results in the players failing completely to recognize Agatha's poorly-concealed heritage. They even realize she's a stronger spark than they usually deal with and note that this is potentially trouble, but if their entire strategy hadn't hinged on intentionally downplaying that kind of thing they would have known immediately exactly how extreme their situation was in time to avoid a significant chunk of the plot.
    • Also, Mamma Gkika. How does a Jäger General hide in a city she's not strictly speaking supposed to be in? Why, by setting up a tourist trap featuring faux Jäger showgirls!
    • Dimo briefs Jenka on the current situation: "Ve is jagerkin charged by the ancient contract" (I.e., We found us a Hetrodyne!)
  • Irregular Webcomic!: The Ruby of Dwarven Might from the Arcane Crown of Power. It's the big red gem on Mordekai's belt.
  • Never Satisfied: During the fourth test, where all the competitors have removed their magic focus jewelry to avoid injuring each other, Philomena confesses to Lucy that she can't operate the quartz shooters without an emerald to act as a focus. Later, she uses the emerald attached to her familiar's head to shoot Peony and herself, ending the test.
  • Similarly done with this strip of Subnormality, where the James Bond-looking Overt Operative in the tuxedo that the comic seems to focus on is just some handsome guy in a tuxedo — the actual spy/narrator is the old guy with glasses in the background, who'd been trying and failing to get the waitress' attention for the duration of the strip.
    Spy: And I don't hide in plain sight. I don't hide at all. I just live in the blind spots that everyone has — the places you would never look because you assume — you know — nothing could be there.
  • The Wotch: Faustus is a true magician who pretends to just be a stage magician.

    Web Original 
  • Entirely Presenting You: During one particular riot in which everyone's dressed like her alter ego Blank Face, Alexis slips through the crowd by simply wearing a different costume.
  • Common in pictures of Slender Man; especially obvious in Just Another Fool.
  • RPC Authority: RPC-588 are in appearance and behavior (mostly) indistinguishable from normal bees making them difficult to locate and contain.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • Code Name: The Truth suggests this is actually how the Foundation hides SCP-001, giving it an otherwise innocuous number and hiding the true scale of its effects. That the true SCP-001 is SCP-184.
    • SCP-184 is hidden this way, because it can't be placed in any structure otherwise it will alter that structure. Specifically, it's attached to an electromagnet in a park, and both SCP-184 and its electromagnet appear to be a statue.

    Web Videos 
  • Noob actually told the info revealed the Season 3 Wham Episode to the audience as early as Episode 1. The series starts with an ad for the MMORPG in it's set featuring its top player and some text putting emphasis on him being The Ace. One of the snippets says "Cheated?".
  • Vat19's YouTube channel has a series entitled "Hiding in Plain Sight", featuring Danny trying to hide from Jamie (the CEO of Vat19) for as long as possible while still being obvious to a trained eye.
  • This is the primary strategy used in the Survive The Hunt series on FailRace. Alex, who is usually the one being hunted, mostly tries to blend in with the AI traffic in Grand Theft Auto V by wearing inconspicuous clothes and driving normal cars to avoid detection. There are enough player hunters around that if he draws attention to himself (by driving too well or getting the in-game police on him), they'll run him to ground and kill him through sheer weight of numbers, turning the game into a tense stealth challenge.

    Western Animation 
  • A Villain of the Week in the Secret Squirrel segment of 2 Stupid Dogs was a chameleon that stole art pieces and hid them in the attic of the very same museum he stole them from. When confronted by Secret, Chameleon explained that hiding in plain sight was his specialty and that he stole the art to blend with it. As it usually happens to chameleons in cartoons, he wasn't able to hide in modern art pieces because there were too many colors.
  • The Angry Beavers has Big Byoo-tox combine this with Refuge in Audacity; he stands still in plain sight. And it works perfectly.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Happens with surprising frequency.
    • Zuko and Iroh spend much of season 2 wandering through the Earth Kingdom appearing to all the world like ordinary refugees, even when they get to Ba Sing Se, which Iroh once laid siege to for over six hundred days.
    • In Book 3, the Gaang hide in the Fire Nation by disguising themselves as ordinary citizens from the colonies, doing nothing beyond changing their clothes to more traditional Fire Nation garb.
    • In "The Beach", none of the Fire Nation teens peg that the two moody teenagers they're talking to are members of the royal family, one of whom helped end a hundred-year long war a few weeks before. Azula is actually puzzled and intrigued by this.
  • Big City Greens: In the climax of "Hurty Tooth", Bill's been so focused on trying to spot the difference in a child's magazine he's started to go insane. When Cricket reveals his lesson to "look at the bigger picture", Bill realizes he's been looking close all this time and sees the whole page, which reveals the difference as an obvious monster attacking the city in the background.
  • In Dave the Barbarian, a barbarian hero Fang idolizes comes to Udrogoth to slay a dragon. The only one around is Faffy, Dave's pet, so after failed attempts at using magic and teaching self-defense, Fang (who doesn't want her hero to see what a wimp her dragon is) sensibly tells Faffy to hide. The narrator says, "And what better place to hide, but in plain sight?" Faffy pretends to be a head mounted on the wall, a charade made difficult by his tendency to spit lightning.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In one of the original shorts, Cosmo and Wanda disguise themselves as posters of... themselves.
  • Family Guy: Played for Laughs in a Cutaway Gag about Peter's time in the Vietnam War. We jump to a group of soldiers in traditional uniforms walking through a forest, with Peter bringing up the rear in a full clown costume, complete with face makeup.
    Peter: You're all stupid. See, they're gonna be looking for army guys.
  • In one episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon, Odie, and Garfield visit a small seaside town and discover that Jon's ancestor "Long Jon," who owned a pet cat who's also one of Garfield's ancient relatives, was a pirate for the British during the Revolutionary War. But when Odie starts drooling on the pages of Long Jon's diary—which has been sitting on display in the local museum for centuries—secret writing appears that reveals that the "pirate" was actually a spy for the colonial rebels, capturing ships that were smuggling supplies to the British. The trope comes up again when the trio starts searching for evidence that would exonerate the pirate: a letter of commendation personally written by George Washington. Upon hearing that Long Jon gave his cat the letter to hide, Garfield quickly deduces that he would have placed it somewhere near and dear to his heart—a food dish, which has also been sitting inside the museum. Sure enough, the dish has a false bottom, and the missing note is tucked away inside of it.
  • Gargoyles: The fact that gargoyles turn to stone during the day allows them to do this, as anyone who sees them during the day assumes that they're simply statues. The only people this doesn't work on are those who know about the gargoyles (Elisa Maza, Xanatos, Owen, Macbeth, etc).
    • Due to a poorly-worded wish, Demona eventually stops turning to stone during the day and instead becomes a human. She utterly despises this, but as it's going to happen whether she likes it or not she quickly begins to take advantage of being able to interact freely with humans to further her genocidal goals.
      Demona: My current... "situation" - though disturbing and distasteful... does, I admit, have certain... advantages. For example, there's much less sneaking around, less hiding... I can drive right up to my home in broad daylight... and not a single human even thinks to scream. The more fool they.
  • Cobra seems to live on this in G.I. Joe: Renegades. The truck the Joes swipe from them can change its paint job to blend in with other cars. Their store's shipping network is a cover for their arms smuggling operation. Cobra Commander himself, with the help of a virtual disguise even cuts TV promos for the company.
  • Played for laughs in a Johnny Bravo short where he's tasked with finding a rhinoceros in a living room. The rhino is literally sitting in a chair out in the open, but Johnny fails to find him (even picking up the chair to look underneath it.) When he fails and the rhino jumps up and down on top of him making fun of him for failing to find him, Johnny just asks if he's seen a rhino.
  • In the two-part series finale of Oh No! It's An Alien Invasion, the kids find out where the Brainlings hid their parents. They were shrunk down and hidden in Emperor Brainlius's belly bag, which he wears all the time.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Played for Laughs. All of the major characters engage in this behavior: Phineas and Ferb design giant contraptions in their backyard; their pet platypus Perry is actually a super-secret agent; and invention-happy Evil Genius Dr. Doofenshmirtz builds various "-inators" to "conquer the ENTIRE TRI-STATE AREA!" None of them do anything to disguise their actions. Only Perry is undercover, and his only "disguise" is removing his secret agent fedora whenever humans besides Doofenshmirtz are around. Doofenshmirtz himself is so blatant that it borders on parody: his headquarters is a massive high-rise skyscraper clearly labeled "Doofenshmirtz Evil Inc."
    • Done In-Universe in "Hail Doofania". After showing Isabella her "first" rainbow with a Rainbow-inator, Phineas discovers she's never actually seen a unicorn, not a rainbow, and he notices a very small unicorn barely visible on the cereal box she's holding.
  • Ready Jet Go! thrives off of this trope. The Propulsions coincidentally look like humans, which allows them to hide in plain sight on Earth easily without anyone discovering their secret alien identity. Averted with Sunspot, some characters like Dr. Rafferty and Mitchell often question what kind of animal he is.
  • In the episode "Shiver and Shake, That Demon's a Snake" of Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, a key is found to a secret cache hidden inside a ship. It turns out the keyhole was out in the open all this time—it's part of the lock-shaped logo emblazoned on the side of the ship.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power: This was typically how Loo-Kee showed up in episodes. While sometimes he was covered up by the background, many times he was actually quite out in the open and simply blending in with everything else.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Lisa the Iconoclast", Lisa attempts to prove Jebediah Springfield, the beloved town founder, is actually a murderous pirate named Hans Sprungfeld. Her only solid evidence is that both Hans and Jebediah (supposedly) had silver tongues. After she gets the town to dig up Jebediah's grave, they find no silver tongue. She learns later the curator of the Jebediah Springfield Museum swapped the tongue out of the skeleton's skull before anyone noticed it, and hid it as a cowboy in one of the display cases of his museum. The 'plain sight' aspect is slightly questionable since no one (except Lisa) ever visits the museum.
    • In "Lisa the Vegetarian", the entrance to Apu's secret garden on the roof of the Kwik-E-Mart is a freezer compartment labeled 'Non-alcoholic beer'.
    • Subverted in "The Trouble with Trillions". Homer is sent by the FBI to get the trillion-dollar bill from Mr. Burns. On a tour of his mansion, they reach a room full of dioramas of Burns' ancestors. One of them is of Mr. Burns holding what looks like the bill. When Homer asks if that is it right in front of them, Burns says that would be pretty careless, as he keeps the real one with him at all times.
    • Played straight in Simpsons theatrical short The Longest Daycare, in which Maggie does this a couple of times in order to save her caterpillar/butterfly from Gerald. Once, she hides the caterpillar from Gerald by putting it over her eyes to mimic a Big Ol' Unibrow just like Gerald's. In the end, it's revealed that she threw her blue bow into the window and that the butterfly hid on top of her hair until Marge came to take her home.
    • A prank Bart pulls on the school faculty in "The Last Temptation of Homer" involves him simply repainting the parking lot to make each parking space slightly smaller so each car fits exactly into a space, which causes everyone to unintentionally box each other in without seeing any obvious change. He even lampshades how subtle this is.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Kanan wears his lightsaber disassembled into two pieces on his belt so most people won't realize what it is. Ezra, meanwhile, built his to look like a homemade blaster, which it also doubles as. In season 3, they've both stopped doing this, with Kanan wearing his saber assembled on his belt, and Ezra also wearing his second saber (the gunsaber having been destroyed in the season 2 finale) in plain sight.
    • "Blood Sisters": A boxy, low-mobility GNK power droid, which are common as dirt in the Galaxy Far Far Away, serves as a Rebel courier holding top-secret information precisely because most people wouldn't expect it to hold something so valuable.
  • In one episode of Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Spider-Man invokes this trope when he doesn't bother to change out of his costume after ending his patrol, as it's Halloween and everyone simply thinks he's a fan in a costume. It isn't until he starts shooting webs that the others realize he's actually Spider-Man.
  • The Venture Brothers episode "ORB": The titular Orb is hidden as a normal paperweight on a shelf.
  • The Young Justice Home Base is Mount Justice, the former base of the Justice League until it was exposed to the world. They gave the black-ops team the base that everyone knows about. Since the team uses teleportation devices to enter and leave and Mount Justice has a self-contained power source, from the outside there's nothing to suggest it's been reactivated and thus it takes a while before any villains find out. Building a whole new base from scratch without anybody noticing would've been much harder to pull off.

    Real Life 
  • Improv Everywhere had a skit where they sent 80 people into Best Buy wearing khaki pants and blue polo shirts, imitating the Best Buy uniform. To film the event, they inserted their own memory cards into the store's demo cameras and started recording. Additionally, one of the few photographers to not get caught was the one holding her camera in her hands.
  • Some of the best Geocache hiding places are right out in plain sight, though the cache itself will be concealed or disguised. Stealth on the part of the finder is of great importance in finding these. Some geocachers choose to wear a bright yellow reflective vest while searching in public places, making geomuggles think they're workers doing their legitimate work, thus applying this trope to geocachers as well as caches.
  • Shakira once went to college for a semester in Canada. She registered using her middle name and wore plain clothes and little makeup. The famous pop star went unnoticed by all of the students at the school.
  • Iconic Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway learned the best way to avoid being hassled by fans in public was to wear his own #7 jersey. After all, there would be no obvious reason for the real John Elway to ever do that.
  • Britain's Ordnance Survey maps show many military barracks and training areas, because there is no reason for them not to, and for the utilitarian reason that walkers and casual visitors do not stray into live firing ranges. A military barracks near a city on the Welsh borders is clearly shown on the relevant map. You would need additional knowledge to be aware this is the home base of Britain's Special Forces. However, there are only open rolling fields on the map sections featuring the military research complex at Aldermaston, the American signals installation at Menwith Hill, and the GCHQ communications centre at Cheltenham. You could be standing on top of the massive radomes the Americans installed at Menwith, looking at your OS map, seeing only empty moorland on the map where the base should be.
    • Amusingly, while the OS maps may have blanked out GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire County Council haven't, because they have rather helpfully put up signposts directing you straight to it from the Motorway junction.
  • During World War II, MI-5 spymasters would have their coded messages delivered between units by Girl Guides because they were Beneath Suspicion. It worked, too.
  • An anonymous individual on Reddit came up with the following trick: Can't remember your work computer's password without writing it down, but don't want some passer-by with nefarious intentions to get up to mischief with your login details while you're out of the room? Use part of an address, a telephone number or something similarly innocuous and write it down on a Post-It note.
  • Black holes can do this too. They are only recognizable when there are light sources (or any electromagnetic waves' sources for the matter) close or beneath them, but in areas with little to no sources of light or when the black holes are comparatively small, they can be unnoticed.
  • There's an abandoned building in the middle of Times Square in New York City, and no one pays any attention to it. One Times Square was originally constructed in 1904 to serve as the headquarters of The New York Times. They moved out only eight years later. The space sits abandoned, unnoticed because the building itself is now used for billboards and jumbotrons, as well as the New Year's ball dropping ceremony.
  • The most successful serial killers tend to be amazingly talented at doing this. If you're curious about this (and have a strong stomach), go to YouTube and watch a video of somebody like John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer being interviewed, and the most striking thing you'll notice about them is how dull and ordinary they seem, and how hard it would be to pick them out in a crowd.
  • Research labs sometimes do this — there could be a lab that works on a highly dangerous virus in your city, located in an old building decorated with little fanfare, and you would never know.
  • The BT Telecoms tower in London was a state secret for decades after its construction in the 1960s. Officially it did not exist, despite being the tallest structure in London at the time, freely open to the public and including a revolving restaurant.
  • Marilyn Monroe was able to do this by changing her gait. She was once walking down the street with an interviewer. No one was noticing her, and the reporter was confused by this. She then said, "Want to see her?" She changed the way she walked and gestured, and suddenly people started noticing her.
  • Puzzlehunts, or "Metapuzzles", often work this way. Ostensibly, each individual puzzle — such as a maze, a cryptic crossword, a word search, or some other game — has a commonplace solution. However, the true goal of the puzzle is to find the "meta-answer", which is hidden somewhere within the solved puzzle itself: for instance, solvers might have to read diagonally down the crossword answers to notice another phrase, or read the first letter of the first answer, second letter of the second, and so on. Truly difficult puzzles can veer into Moon Logic territory — for instance, recognizing that the apparently decorative cars on a grid are actually symbols in Morse code— but the whole goal is that all of the information you need to find it is right in front of you. It's all a question of knowing how to look at it.
  • Some Escape Games (real-life versions of similar online games) use these, often as the starting point of the room (most games basically follow a Linked List Clue Methodology, so you have to solve one puzzle to get information or a key that will lead you to the next one). For instance, there might be something written on the back of couch cushions, or the amount of cash in a seemingly innocuous wallet could be a code that unlocks a safe.
  • British television presenter and serial pedophile Jimmy Savile was incredibly talented at doing this, to the point where his predilections were an open secret within British comedy circles but not much further out. In 2000, he even said on Have I Got News for You that he was "feared in every girls' school in this country" to the laughter of the audience (but noticeably not the panelists). Ian Hislop noted later, "It's a brilliant disguise: you dress up as a pedophile."
  • Louis CK incorporated his sexual abuse predilections into his comedy for years, including an episode in one series about his character (also named Louis CK) forcing a woman to watch him masturbate, something he actually did to his female coworkers.
  • During the Holocaust, writer Ida Cook helped Jews afford refugee status in Britain. At one point, this involved smuggling a diamond brooch out of Germany. Upon seeing how tacky the item in question looked, she just attached it to her cheap cardigan and let border guards assume that it was fake. She and her sister Louise would wind up repeating that trick many times, and then just acted offended if people did comment on the disparity between the clothes and expensive jewelry that they wore.
  • Andy Kaufman and Cindy Williams of Laverne & Shirley briefly dated, and she used to love riding around town in a beat-up old car that Bob Zmuda (Andy's producer) owned. He bought it for fifty bucks on a whim and the car was in such poor shape it had literal holes worn in the chassis (Zmuda used to pass a handkerchief through it as a party trick). She loved it though because when they'd go out in public, no one would bother them, because they figured there was no way two famous TV actors would be driving around in a piece of junk like that.
  • Albert Einstein found the perfect way to go out and about in public while at the height of his fame. He did nothing to change his distinctive appearance, but whenever someone would approach him, he'd simply say they were mistaken: "Always I am mistaken for Professor Einstein!" By all accounts, this worked.
  • To try and prevent uprisings, colonial powers banned the practice of traditional martial arts. Practitioners had to get creative to continue training.
    • In Brazil, Capoeira practitioners set their movements to drum beats and claimed they were dancing or playing, when in fact they were sparring.
    • In the Phillippines, practitioners of Eskrima (also known as Kali and Arnis) incorporated strikes, blocks, and footwork into dances and passed their knowledge down as musical performances.
    • In Okinawa, bits of random farm equipment were repurposed into weapons. The removable handles used to turn millstones became tonfa, the flails used to beat rice and grain became nunchucks, a fishing spear becomes a spear, etc.
  • Before the Civil War, enslaved Black people in the Southern United States often tried to escape to the freedom and safety of Canada and the North. To do so, they devised secret codes to pass information to one another, but since slaveowners were suspicious of Black people talking covertly in groups, the codes had to be overt instead—namely, in the form of spiritual songs. These songs, ostensibly sung to keep spirits high during the inhumane forced labor of slavery, contained information about routes to the North. "Follow the Drinking Gourd" taught escapees to use the Big Dipper as a guide, while "Wade in the Water" told them to stay near rivers and travel in them when possible to mask their scent from slavehunters and their dogs.
    • The allies who helped free slaves in the chain known as the Underground Railroad would hang lanterns in their windows and quilts from their porches to signal that they were able to shelter the escapees. To an outsider, these symbols simply looked like common housewares.
    • Robert Smalls and all but one of the other slaves (the others didn't trust him) aboard a Confederate naval vessel snuck their families on board and stole the ship. They knew the correct signals, and so were able to sail without question to Union controlled waters.
  • Weather Station Kurt, an automatic weather station in a remote part of Newfoundland... emplaced by the Kreigsmarine in 1943. Rather than employ any elaborate camouflage measures, which would have drawn more attention than they deflected at a location this remote, the U-Boat crew assigned to erect it stencilled "Canadian Weather Service" on the crates the equipment was packed in and left them lying around along with a couple of empty cartons of American cigarettes. It worked better than they could ever have imagined, because the site's existence only came to light when someone noticed that a geological survey in 1977 made reference to a military weather station in the area, asked the defence ministry about it and learned they had no record of its existence.
  • It's fairly common for high-profile actors to attend San Diego ComicCon in costume so they can't be recognized. Bryan Cranston, who played protagonist Walter White in Breaking Bad, once went to San Diego Comic Con as his character, but with a rubber mask of Walter over his face. No one recognized him.
  • The legendary Michelin Guides, long considered the gold standard of restaurant reviews, can award up to three stars to eateries; just getting one is an amazing honor, while losing one is considered career death. As might be expected, the identities of Michelin's reviewers—known as "inspectors"—are an extremely well-kept secret, to the point where most Michelin executives have never met an inspector. But Michelin inspectors don't announce when they are coming to restaurants or draw attention to themselves when they do: they look just like any other customer, all while having the power to make or break a chef's reputation.
  • When Tom Cruise was practicing for his role in Collateral, he tested his ability to go incognito by working as a FedEx delivery man, with only a hat and sunglasses. Nobody recognized him.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hiding In Plain Sight



Buzz’s voice turns into a booming echo when he mimics Hacker calling himself the overlord of cyberspace. In fact, the impersonation is so good that it convinces Jackie and Inez that Hacker is coming towards them.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / PowerEchoes

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