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I Can See You

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This is the creepy counterpart to Short-Distance Phone Call. It's when someone calls another person from a cell phone. At first the person being called believes the caller to be far away, but then the caller makes a comment like "nice outfit" or whatever, and the person being called realizes they are within line of sight of the caller.

Needless to say, it was even creepier before cell phones came around.

Also related to The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House. See also Harassing Phone Call. Not to be confused with You Can See Me?.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kamyu of ''Utawarerumono can chant herself invisible. She sneaks into Hakuoro's bedroom to take a nap and the invisibility spell wears off. When she wakes up Hakuoro is there just quietly staring right at her. She asks: "Can you by any chance see Kamyu?" When Hakuoro confirms that, Kamyu panics and quickly chants herself invisible again but due to her panic the spell wears off immediately. She doesn't notice anyway until Hakuoro quips in complete deadpan: "I can still see you."
  • In Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid, Miyasato and Kouzuki ditch work and lounge at the beach. When their boss calls them, they lie about where they are, only for their boss to reveal she is near them.
  • StrikerS Sound Stage X has a heroic variation where Teana uses her illusion powers to make it look like she's a good distance off and leaving the scene while talking to Runessa, using the opportunity to immobilize and arrest them when they drop their guard.

    Films - Animated 
  • Miles briefly does this to his uncle Aaron in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Aaron receives a text with a picture of himself taken seconds ago and "I'm watching you!" written on it. He glances at the window of his apartment where Miles is making funny faces at him through the glass.

    Films - Live Action 
  • The Accountant (2016). After searching the house of the title character, FinCEN agent Ray King reveals to Medina that the Accountant has actually been passing him information via his Voice with an Internet Connection. At that point the latter rings up on the house landline and tells Medina to tell Agent King to get his feet off the couch.
  • Scream:
    • This is generally how the killer or, as we later learn, killers operates. It's first done during the opening sequence, with Casey getting calls from an ostensible "wrong number" who appears to be rather nice, but instantly turns menacing as hell with this exchange:
      Caller: You never told me your name.
      Casey: Why do you want to know my name?
      Caller: Because I want to know who I'm looking at.
    • Later, it gets even more menacing with this exchange after Casey finally gets fed up with the caller:
      Casey: Listen, asshole — !
      Caller: [aggressively] No, YOU listen, you little bitch! You hang up on me again, I'll gut you like a fish! Understand?! [starts chuckling creepily] Yeah...
      Casey: [scared] Is this some kind of joke?
      Caller: More of a game, really. Can you handle that...blondie?
    • The killer from Scream 2 openly taunts Dewey, Gale and Randy about being able to see them while they sit at a crowded campus in broad daylight. This prompts them to start searching for everyone with a cell phone to find the killer... after all, they assume he can't strike to kill under such circumstances. Turns out he can. The killer was hidden in a news van, pulls Randy inside, butchers him and gets away scot-free.
  • As a spoof of Scream, the killer in Scary Movie plays and subverts this. After making the threatening phone call, he claims that he can see the hot blonde he's calling. He's actually reading a porn magazine. It gets worse when he issues the threat, "I want to see what your insides look like!". Her response? Telling him to turn to page 54 of the same magazine.
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance:
    • Simon makes a phone call to the FBI car after the Wall Street subway station bombing. Despite Cobb making a stern order to the others to not tell Simon where they are, when Simon talks and gives them his bomb threat, he asks them who is in the van with them, and comments about Andy Cross and Phil Jarvis, the two federal agents in the van, and Jarvis's habit of fidgeting with his glasses. Once we see the emergency vehicles move out, we see that Simon is standing on the rooftop right nearby, watching them.
    • Also when he demands to know why McClane didn't answer a certain payphone when he was supposed to. McClane tells him off, only to have Gruber say "All you had do was say that there was a fat woman on the phone and that you couldn't get her to hang up", thus revealing that he's watching them, as that is in fact exactly what had happened.
  • The Bourne Series: Jason Bourne does it to Pamela Landy, twice:
    • In The Bourne Supremacy Bourne calls up Landy while he set up a sniper position on a nearby building. While they're talking Bourne discovers Landy is not in fact running Treadstone, notices Nicky Parsons, and demands to meet with her instead.
      Bourne: There was a girl in Paris, part of the program. She used to handle logistics. Alexanderstraße, thirty minutes, under the World Clock. Send her alone, give her your phone.
      Landy: What if I can't find her?
      Bourne: It's easy. She's standing right next to you. [click]
    • In The Bourne Ultimatum (in the scene we relive from Supremacy)
      Bourne: Get some rest, Pam. You look tired.
    • The Bourne Ultimatum also inverts this.
      Bourne: Where are you now?
      Noah Vosen I'm sitting in my office.
      Bourne: I doubt that.
      Noah Vosen Why would you doubt that?
      Bourne: If you were in your office right now, we'd be having this conversation face-to-face. [click]
  • Speed has an interesting example: everyone assumes the villain is watching the drama unfold via the news stations, who have naturally put all their helicopters on the scene for the story. They assume that when they drive onto an airfield, the villain will be blind to their actions (airfields are restricted airspaces, so the news helicopters can't follow them there). But when he refers to the woman driving the bus as "the Wildcat" in reference to the jacket she's wearing, the hero realizes the villain must have a camera somewhere inside the bus as well, which complicates things.
  • The opening scene of Yes-Man involves Jim Carrey's character on the phone while in a video store. He tells the caller that he is in his apartment, but is caught in the lie when it is revealed that the called is standing right outside the window of said store.
  • Variant in the movie Hannibal - Clarice is trying to track Hannibal Lecter while he taunts her over the phone, and gets close enough to him for him to mess with her hair when he rides by on the carousel.
    • In the original script of The Silence of the Lambs, he compliments her (during their final phone call) on how lovely she looked in her blue suit at her graduation ceremony. She almost faints at the realization of how close he was.
  • The Caller in Phone Booth is pretty upfront about being able to see Stu, but Stu doesn't believe him at first. This goes up a notch in intensity when later the Caller asks Stu just what he thinks he's watching him with, and reveals that with the sound of a gun cocking.
    Stu: You can see me right now?
    The Caller: Uh-huh.
    Stu: What am I doing?
    [Stu scratches himself]
    The Caller: You're scratching your ear. Now you're brushing your hair back.
    [Stu gives the finger to the windows in the buildings around him]
    The Caller: That isn't very nice, Stu.
    Stu: Did you call me Stu? Who's Stu? I don't know any Stu.
    The Caller: Why, do you prefer Stuart?
  • Happens as part of a Scream spoof in The Angriest Video Store Clerk in the World. Somebody phones the video store and starts asking leading questions about "scary movies". The conversation goes downhill after the clerk says that his favourite horror movies are Nosferatu, Suspiria (1977), and Bride of Frankenstein, and the caller has never heard of any of them:
    Clerk: You're damned lucky you're not in the store, buddy!
    Caller: But I am in the store! And I've got a reeaallly big knife. And I think that I might just kill you!!! BWAHAHAHA!!!!
    Clerk: You know, when you laugh that loud it becomes really obvious that you're hiding behind the animation section.
  • Played pretty straight in Fright Night (1985) "I know you're there, Charley. I can see you."
  • In 2008 movie Get Smart, Max has escaped the prison cell and needs to deliver important news to Chief and 99, who are in Los Angeles. She receives a call from him. Chief orders to trace this call. The call traces to the rooftop in Washington. When a police SWAT team enters that place, they find Bruce or Lloyd, while Max stands on the rooftop near 99 in Los Angeles, and reveals himself when he tells her to turn around. That's because of Max having done a call forwarding across the country and back.
  • Frequency has a scene where Frank thinks that this is happening when talking to a weird guy on a shortwave radio. He tells Frank that he knows that Frank just accidentally burned the table. Actually, the weird guy is Frank's son thirty years in the future and he knows about the accident because a 30 year old burn mark has just appeared on the table he is sitting at
  • "Why haven't you checked the children?"
  • In the sci-fi movie Runaway Gene Simmon's character does this twice to Tom Selleck, first by hacking into the security cameras inside the police station ("You're punching buttons on a computer trying to trace this call but you won't because I'm using a mobile phone, shithead!") until his partner puts her cap over the camera. He is not happy. Simmons calls again while Tom Selleck is at a restaurant, eventually revealing himself to be sitting next to his partner holding a pistol on her.
  • Weirdly inverted in Lost Highway, when Fred meets the Mysterious Man at a party, who insists he's at Fred's house. Fred calls his house, and the Mysterious Man's voice answers, even though the Man is standing right in front of him. It's a strange movie.
  • An Invoked Trope in The Peacemaker. The protagonists are watching a live satellite feed of a long line of trucks at the Iranian border, one of which contains Renegade Russian Kodorof with a stolen nuclear warhead. Lt. Colonel DeVoe rings up Kodorof's sat phone and gloats over how there's a smart bomb coming down on his head right now, causing Kodorof to pull his truck out of the line and give away his position.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Used verbatim by General Chang aboard his cloaked Bird-of-Prey.
    Chang: I can see you, Kirk... can you see me?
  • The Art of War (2000). Shaw rings up the Inspector Javert who's been chasing him, and says there's a rifle pointed at his rookie partner, who's standing next to him holding his umbrella. The cop quips, "I can live with that", but agrees to Come Alone to meet Shaw after a silenced shot cuts the umbrella shaft in two. There's also a silent version when the heroine is trying to sneak out of a building, but the hitman is in the security room watching her, and activates an escalator just as she's about to step on it.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sam calls Sitwell to his cell phone and tells him that he must follow him to a van a few blocks away. Sitwell at first doesn't take the threat seriously until he sees a sniper laser on his tie.
  • Brightburn. Tori discovers Brandon's Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book depicting the murders he's committed and rings her husband in a panic to warn him. Brandon answers having already killed his father. When his mother asks Brandon where he is, Brandon replies that he's home. We then get a Reveal Shot of him hovering above the Breyer house.
  • Fragment of Fear: During Tim's first phone conversation with his stalker, he reaches over to close the window. The stalker says, "You closed the window."

  • Secret Admireron Amazon's Kindle Network. It's been painting pictures of her.
  • In Harriet Spies Again, this is how Harriet's new friend proves she's an excellent spy in her own right. "I can see you. You're on the telephone. You've got the cord twisted around your wrist." "I'm watching your house with BINOCULARS and I can't see you!"
  • Played for Laughs in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Dirk manages to completely throw Richard off-guard by phoning him when - for what seem to be perfectly sensible reasons - he's broken into his girlfriend's flat and berating him for not having proper equipment, answering the phone, admitting his name and finally - after persuading him to look out the window - standing where he can be photographed.
  • A favourite Mind Screw tactic of Mack Bolan, aka The Executioner. The Mafia would hear Bolan was in town and start mobbing up to take him out, only for the boss or The Dragon to get a phone call from the man he was supposedly hunting. In the middle of the conversation Bolan would reveal he's actually watching them through the sights of a high-powered sniper rifle. Usually this conversation would be terminated by Bolan shooting the receiver out of his hand or some other display of marksmanship rather than actually killing the man he was talking to, as he knew it would rattle the mafioso's mooks to show he was so confident he could kill their boss any time he wanted to.
  • Subverted in Darkness Take My Hand; after taunting them for a while, a Serial Killer calls Patrick and mentions how handsome he looks at the moment. Patrick immediately asks the killer to tell him what he's wearing, and when the killer dodges the question Patrick immediately calls his bluff and taunts him for just making guesses, which immediately drives him into a fury. Played with, however, in that while being caught out in this way shows the killer is a narcissist on an ego trip rather than an infallible mastermind, he is still extremely dangerous.
  • In the Dresden Files shorty story "Monsters," Goodman Grey does this to Marcone and succeeds in unnerving the normally-implacable mobster.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for Laughs in Psych, when Detective Juliet O'Hara receives a call from Shawn Spencer, who teases and taunts her while she looks all around for him.
  • In the Cold Case episode "John Henry", the Victim of the Week gets such a call.
    • In the episode "In The Woods", as Lily speaks to Serial Killer George Marks, he snarks about how happy Jefferies seemed upon leaving a realtor's office (he had just discovered some very incriminating evidence), thus revealing that he's been observing the team's investigation.
  • Friends:
    • Monica and Chandler are at Ross' apartment across the street and can see the dog the rest of the gang is playing with. They call Phoebe.
      Phoebe: There's no dog here.
      Monica: Yes there is! He's black and white and shaggy and he's sitting next to Rachel and licking Rachel's hand.
      Phoebe: Oh my god! Where are you?
    • Another episode had Ross lying about taking care of Ben, setting up a dummy with a pumpkin head while he was in his apartment just across the street from Monica and Rachel's. The pumpkin fell off and he tried to play it off that "Ben" put his head in his shirt, but he was caught.
    • In yet another episode, Joey reveals that to pass the time he sometimes calls Chandler at work pretending to be a stalker. "She" claims that she can see Chandler, backing it up by describing his outfit (which, naturally, Joey would have seen while Chandler was getting ready in the morning).
  • Happens in an episode of White Collar (1x05), during a hostage negotiation.
  • In an episode of NCIS, Abby's stalker calls her at the office. As she tries to trace the call, the stalker suggests she use a different tracing technique. It takes her a few seconds to realize that that means he's watching through the window.
  • Sonny with a Chance: Sonny calls Chad to tell him about a little girl who is a huge fan of him and wants to meet him. Chad refuses claiming to be very busy and even makes Fake Static noises, yet Sonny finds him sunbathing outside the cafeteria.
  • Hawaii Five-0 (the remake): See at 1:20. "Should have taken the deal. By the way, that's a nasty cut on your eye."
  • The X-Files:
    • Amusing version. Scully's arrived at the address Mulder told her to visit, her phone rings, and it's Mulder complimenting her outfit. He's right behind her.
    • One episode has a criminal receiving such phone calls whenever he comes close to acting up again. Turns out the caller is blind and permanently seeing through his eyes, and as such does NOT want him imprisoned again.
  • Burn Notice, the episode "Dead to Rights".
  • Monk, where one case of this gets Played for Laughs. In the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert," Captain Stottlemeyer catches Randy in the act of Playing Sick to attend a big music festival. His response? Not to walk up to him and address him, but instead, call him on his cell phone from within earshot distance. Hilarity Ensues as Randy tries to pass off the very loud stage music as a broken stereo, while Stottlemeyer speaks in a tone that makes clear that he isn't convinced.
  • On All My Children, as Adam's stalker calls his wife Gloria, he tells her "I'm so close I could reach out and touch you". In a subversion, he isn't—Adam has set the whole thing up to test Gloria's fidelity and has told the man what to say to frighten her into thinking this is an example of this trope.
  • Patrick Jane plays this for laughs as one of his mind games in the fifth season episode "Cherry Picked" of The Mentalist. He and the CBI team are investigating a dead body in a suburban neighborhood. They follow a guy who looks out of place and he claims to be house sitting for two people who lived on the block. Patrick is a step ahead already and realizes they've been kidnapped, so to force the guy to admit it he uses his own cellphone to call the line the man is expecting to hear from the kidnappers on, making him freak out because they told him they'd kill the hostages if he involved the police (who are standing next to him at this very moment). The guy spills the beans and answers the phone nervously with the police staying quiet. Jane tips his hand at that point, "Tell me... what are you wearing?" He then laughs and reveals that he's the one making the call, but now they can help the kidnapping victims and track down the killer
  • In the CSI: NY episode, "Veritas," the criminal of the week does this when he sees Mac digging through his stash. Mac later returns the favor when the criminal is getting ready to board a train while they're standing on the same platform.
  • Blake's 7. In "Volcano", Servalan's force is regrouping for another attack on the Liberator, whose power banks are drained, so Vila uses this trope for a Brandishment Bluff.
    Vila: For your information, Madam President, we are all here, ready and waiting. I think I can see you on the screen. Yes, I know exactly where you are. You are at grid reference one three seven zero. Better start running.
  • Different Strokes. Drummond gets a phone call from an extortionist and initially thinks it's his buddies pranking him. . . until the man describes his outfit and that he's sitting on the sofa with his kids.

  • Aqua: 'Halloween' features one of these at the beginning, setting the spooky tone for the rest of the song.

    Video Games 
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Snake runs into Meryl. His priority is getting her somewhere safe (because he feels he owes it to the Colonel, her uncle, who is in the whole mess because she was a "hostage"), but he really didn't count on her insisting on helping him out, or her being pretty badass herself, so she keeps a few steps ahead of him early in the game... and when he asks where she is (at a point where he still seems determined to get her out of trouble, by force if necessary), the answer is "where I can see ya".

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Kappa Mikey, there is an example of this in the episode Hog Day Afternoon.
  • Played for laughs in Home Movies where McGuirk calls Erik and tries to arrange a get-together with him and all their other friends. Erik, looking for an excuse to not go to said get together, lies and says he is looking at his schedule and can't find any free dates. McGuirk then reveals that he is looking in through Eric's window and doesn't see the schedule Erik is talking about.