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Mike: Turns out... someone's living in the walls.
Jay: Whaaaaaat!
Mike: Oh my gaaaaaawd!
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You've heard of rats in the walls, but what about people?

Inside The Walls is when a character finds themselves between the walls or ceilings of a building. Reasons for this include:

  1. A character was already inside the wall (doing maintenance, looking for something etc.) when they became stuck.
  2. The character wants to spy on someone (like through a peephole).
  3. The character is using the walls as an alternative route.
  4. Someone has trapped the character in the wall as punishment.
  5. A stray animal like a puppy or kitten is stuck in the wall, or vermin like rats and mice.
  6. Someone traps themselves in a wall to commit suicide.

The trope is often in the comedy genre, since the visual act of being stuck in a wall is so absurd. Another version is when someone is above the ceiling to ogle others creepily, which usually ends with the person breaking through the ceiling. In rare occasions, it appears in the horror genre and the character who is hiding does so insidiously. While this can be comic, that falls under Secret Squatter.

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In classic Hollywood fashion, the walls are usually spacious enough for the person to walk around freely. There may even be abundant light that allows them to see perfectly.

Compare Air-Vent Passageway, Chimney Entry, Portrait Painting Peephole, Ceiling Cling


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • A key plot point to Attack on Titan at the end of the first major story arc/season was the revelation that inside the walls of Paradis Island were Colossus Titans.
  • In My Lovely Ghost Kana, Kana sometimes hides herself inside a wall when she doesn't want to talk to Daikichi. Being a ghost, it's much easier for her.

    Comic Books 
  • Detective Comics: In the Batman issue Midnight is the Dying Hour, Barbara Gordon (aka. Batgirl) is knocked out, and wakes up in time to find herself Bound and Gagged and at risk of being sealed up behind a wall in the vein of The Cask of Amontillado.
  • Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom and Susan Richards travel through secret passages behind the walls of Doom's castle in Latveria. Their aim is to confront Reed Richards, who is acting as Latverian regent after a "Freaky Friday" Flip, and somehow reverse the process.
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    Films - Animated 
  • Anastasia and the Grand Duchess manage to escape capture when the Imperial Palace is overrun by Bolsheviks by traveling through passages behind the palace walls that were meant for servants. This escape route becomes an important plot point later in the film.
  • Ratatouille After escaping from the sewers, Remy travels through a building via the ceiling and witnesses the bizarre events of each room.

    Films—Live Action 
  • The Cloverfield Paradox: A woman mysteriously appears on the ship, but does so by travelling through time and materialising in the wall of the ship. When they find her, she is pierced and bloodied by the insulation.
  • The Boy: A woman is hired to look after an elderly couple's life-like porcelain doll. The doll is modeled after their deceased son, who died twenty years ago. The plot twist is that the son never died, and has been living in the walls of the house and causing havoc in the woman's absence.
  • The Gate features a demon that, among other things, takes on the form of a construction worker that the child protagonist had been told was sealed in the wall when the house was built.
  • The Matrix: The team is escaping by sliding down the gap between the inner and outer walls. When Agent Smith discerns their location, Morpheus launches himself out of the wall at him and simultaneously sends the others rapidly descending down, then delays Smith long enough for them to escape.
  • The People Under the Stairs: The kids kidnapped by the man and woman are able to get into the walls and walk around and/or hide in there. Fool later uses this to lure the dog into the wall and get it killed, and to hide in there from "Daddy".
  • Porky's: Four teenage boys sneak into the girls' gymnasium through a ground-level window, which puts them in a service space between the walls where much of the plumbing runs. From there, the horny boys access the wall behind the girls' showers, and spy upon girls through holes left by uninstalled plumbing fixtures.
  • Tenet: During the temporal pincer movement at Stalsk 12, one of the soldiers camping out in a bombed out wall of a building is sealed in when the blue (backwards) team hits it with a rocket launcher.

    Literature 
  • The Black Cat: After the narrator murders his wife, he hides her body in a wall in his house. However, later when police are investigating, they hear yowling from inside the wall and open it up to find the narrator's cat had been walled in with the carcass and is sitting on the head, meowing loudly.
  • The Cask of Amontillado: Montresor murders Fortunato by luring him into catacombs and then walling him in with brick, leaving him to die and remain undiscovered for at least fifty years.
  • In "Hotel World" by Scottish author Ali Smith, a woman working in a hotel sits on a room service trolley and has her friend push her around on it. After she's pushed with too much force, she crashes into a wall and breaks through. Behind the wall was actually an old elevator shaft, and she falls to her death.
  • In Lords Of The Starship a giant starship is being built over hundreds of years. The builders have divided in two; the Technos (aristocrats) and the People (workers). A war breaks out between them- the ship is big enough to have tank battles in the corridors. Finally, the victorious People seal up the tunnels where the Technos are still resisting. Years later, it is said you can hear the ghostly hammering of the Technos slowly starving to death within the walls.
  • The Opera House secret passageways in Maskerade turn out not to be anything as romantic as a secretly built web of tunnels, and are instead forgotten hallways long since partitioned off.
  • Savvy: Little Samson gets trapped in a wall. His big sister, who has the power to hear tattoos, finds him because he drew on himself and the drawings said, "I'm in the wall! I'm in the wall!".
  • The Wolves In The Walls by Neil Gaiman features a young girl who thinks she hears wolves in the walls of her house. Her parents dismiss her, until one day the wolves come out of the walls. The girl, Lucy, eventually comes up with a plan to scare off the wolves and take back her house, but at the end wonders if she should tell her parents about the sounds of the elephants now in the walls.
  • The Woman In The Wall by Patrice Kindl is about a girl who builds secret rooms behind the walls in her family's home and retreats completely from the outside world.

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: In "Mr. F", we see Annyong for the first time in twenty episodes using a HAM radio and living in Lucille's walls.
  • Full House: In "The Hole-In-The-Wall Gang", Jesse gets himself stuck in one of the walls while renovating the house.
  • The Haunting of Hill House: Hugh believes he has a rat problem after he hears scratching behind one of the brick walls. He takes a few bricks out to put in rat poison, then photographs the inside to assess the damage. He realises there's a skeleton inside and calls the authorities. They determine it to be Henry Hill, who disappeared mysteriously in the 20's. The man killed himself by building a wall and effectively trapping himself to die.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: One of Dee's cats gets trapped in the walls of her apartment and she seeks help from Charlie to get it out. After she gets another cat stuck in the wall, she decides to go in herself but gets stuck. She cries out to the guys for help, but they laugh and simply leave her there.
  • Kickin' It: In "Dude Where's My Sword?" they hold a party at the dojo without Rudy's permission but it gets out of control. They leave Jerry and Eddie to clean up the mess. When all that's left is a huge stain on the wall Jerry decides the best way to clean it is from inside the wall. It's only after he gets in there that he realises he has no idea how to get out. He is trapped in there until the end of the episode, which is how Rudy finds out about the party.
  • The Last Man on Earth: The main cast move to Mexico, where they settle in an abandoned mansion that, unbeknown to them, used to belong to the leader of a drug gang. They only find out when, while remodeling, find corpses buried inside the walls.
  • New Girl: In "Where The Road Goes" Winston holds a memorial at the bar for his cat Ferguson, but begins to concern everyone else when he hears meowing in the walls. He breaks various holes, meowing and calling out to the cat. The gang views it as a weird form of grief, but the episode ends with Winston actually finding a cat hiding in one of the booths.
  • A Running Gag in the 2021 season of The Weekly with Charlie Pickering was Zoë Coombs Marr being fired after her first episode, but refusing to leave. A later episode reveals that she is living in the walls of the studio.

    Music 
  • "Woman in the Wall" by The Beautiful South is about an alcoholic who kills his wife in a drunken rage and hides her body in the walls of their house, but is tormented by hearing her voice from the walls every night.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Realms: The Wall of the Faithless, the barrier around the City of the Dead on the Fugue Plane established by former god of death Myrkul, is a punishment for people who refused to worship any god ever. The souls of the Faithless are entombed in the Wall and slowly consumed by it over thousands of years.

    Video Games 
  • Dishonored 2: In the Clockwork Mansion level, the walls can be moved around by various levers. This makes it possible to hide in crawlspaces and sections behind walls in several areas of the game.
  • Doom has a cheat code that allows a player character to "ghost" into walls. It's called "No Clipping Mode Off." While inside a wall, the player's view is greatly distorted, and the player cannot hurt any enemies in the map. Curiously, if No Clipping is restored, the player cannot move laterally, as though embedded in the wall, but can rotate in place. It's like spinning in one's grave, but vertically.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow: Prince Alexander is informed of hidden passages inside the Castle of the Crown's walls by a ghost child, using them to communicate with his beloved Princess Cassima and find out what the villain is up to. This only comes into play if you're on the game's hard path, though; otherwise Alex needs to sneak around in plain sight while avoiding the guard dogs.
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King: Throughout the game, three separate characters (Olivia, Luigi, and the Origami Craftsman) are stuck inside of walls. Due to the paper theme of the game, all Mario needs to do is peel away part of the wall to free them.
  • Portal: In various sections of the game, you can travel through crawlspaces behind walls. In one such space is where you first see the phrase "The Cake Is A Lie".
  • The Secret World: The mission "Science And The Arts" reveals that Innsmouth Academy has been designed to provide the staff and students with a reliable source of Anima with which to do magic. Unfortunately, that source of Anima is a number of unwilling victims that were bricked into the walls of the Academy at precise locations, unable to die and fully aware. Unfortunately, your employers want the Academy and its secrets preserved for as long as possible, so the mission requires you to prevent the unfortunate victims from attempting a jailbreak.
  • While The 7th Guest had surreal secret passages in the Stauf Mansion, the sequel, The 11th Hour amounts to Carl Denning moving between the walls of the house. Barrels and other junk can sometimes be found in them.
  • Thief II: The Metal Age has two levels in which Garrett sneaks into Gervasius' Big Fancy House, which has plenty of hollow walls serving as secret passages.

    Web Original 
  • The Super Mario 64 DS parody Mario Dy Es took the part of the game where Yoshi's friends were trapped inside the castle walls literally. With Mario, Luigi, and Wario (even few mooks) in poorly constructed walls in the castle, their limbs sticking out and flailing.
  • In a fundraising livestream for Half-Life but the AI is Self-Aware, the Science Team attempts to break into the White House to save Tommy, only to discover he has escaped already and is “scurrying around in the walls like a rat!” The rest of the adventure becomes a race against the clock to find him before he dies of asbestos poisoning. It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Crawl Space", Bob's unbearable in-laws visit to stay the night. They arrive while Bob is in the walls doing repairs, and he decides to pretend to be stuck so he doesn't have to socialise. In classic Crying Wolf fashion, he actually becomes stuck. Similarly, Tina crawls into the ceiling at school and looks at half-naked boys in the locker room.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Once Upon an Ed", Johnny finds the Eds trapped inside his bedroom wall. After a series of "Rashomon"-Style stories, it is explained that they crawled into the wall to escape the Kanker sisters (who are then revealed to have followed them in).
  • The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, "The Haunted Sonata" has the ghost of a young woman take revenge against the descendant of the man who had taken credit for her work and caused her death, as he was about to murder her descendant. She ends up bricking him up in the same wall where her skeleton was buried just as the eye sockets began to glow red. We're later informed that when he was pulled from the wall, he'd gone insane.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror VI" segment "Homer³", Patty and Selma are coming over and Homer tries to find a place to hide. He finds a spot behind the bookcase, but ends up going through a portal in the wall. He ends up in a 3D world with an Art Shift, but can still be heard calling out from beyond. At first everyone believes he is inside the wall, until Professor Frink explains Homer's situation. The Inside a Wall trope is somewhat subverted here.
    • In "Pray Anything", the kitchen's drywall collapses, and it's revealed that Maggie was hidden behind it for some reason.
    Homer: (feigning surprise) You was hiding behind the dwywall! Yes, you were! I'm glad Social Services didn't see this! Yes, I am! (Maggie starts coughing) Ooh, you coughed up some dwywall.
    • In "Gal of Constant Sorrow", Homer has to fix a hole on the kitchen wall. Surprisingly, Homer does a perfect job... except he left Snowball II trapped inside the wall. When he finally rescues the cat, he realises Santa's Little Helper is now stuck inside.
  • Squirrel Boy: Rodney gets trapped inside the walls of the house after trying to fix the fan. Andy thinks he ran away, while his parents mistake Rodney for a mouse when he makes noise inside the wall when he's chased by spiders.

    Real Life 
  • Horror author Grady Hendrix revealed on Twitter that a man was found dead behind a vent in his house when he was a kid. He had previously seen a pair of eyes looking out from behind the vent, and evidence found in the walls revealed that he had been living there at least since May of that year.

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