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Kidnapped from Behind

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Most kidnappings occur when the target is either alone, or lured to their abductor(s). The victim may also be coerced into surrendering themselves to protect their friends, or in exchange for someone else.

This abduction occurs when the victim is taken in the presence of their friends, without the kidnapping being seen. The most common reason is that the victim is either standing near the back of the group or trailing far enough behind for the abduction to go unnoticed by their friends. Alternatively, the victim may be positioned off to the side, just outside their friends' field of vision.

Regardless of how it occurs, it allows the culprit to demonstrate their stealth, cunning, and brazenness by committing the act right under their enemies' noses, which they're all but certain to boast about later. And don't be surprised if the perpetrator turns out to be a Phantom Thief, an enemy spy, or worst of all... a ninja. It can also be done by heroic characters, usually to either steal the victim's clothes, or for interrogation.

A common occurrence in spy thrillers and espionage films, but just as likely to occur in other genres. Related to Phantom Thief and may overlap with Vertical Kidnapping.

Since the audience is often meant to be as surprised as the kidnap victim, examples of this trope will contain mostly unmarked spoilers.


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  • During Nintendo's 2018 E3 trailer, Ridley was revealed as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate by a scene showing him silently snatching away Megaman and Mario as they follow Samus. Naturally, she turns around to see her Arch-Enemy playing with Mario's hat.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Case Closed: When Conan is escaping from the woman who claimed to be his mother and then revealed herself that she's affiliated with the Black Organization, Conan notices Professor Agasa in front of the latter's house. Right when Conan is about to call him, the woman narcotizes him from behind and kidnaps him, bringing him to an abandoned house where she and her masked partner are discussing their next murder. In the end, after a series of shenanigans, it turns out that his kidnappers were his real parents who pulled a prank on him.
  • My Hero Academia: During the Training Camp arc, Midoriya learns that the villains are attempting to kidnap Bakugo. He and several other students respond by forming a group with Bakugo at the center and remaining on high alert as they walk back to the lodge. Despite this, the villains manage to kidnap both Bakugo and the student behind him without anyone noticing.
  • In the Thriller Bark arc of One Piece, Sanji, Zoro, and Luffy are each quietly grabbed one by one by Moria's zombie spiders without the remaining crew realizing they were taken until long after the spiders had left with them.

  • Jerry Seinfeld acts this out in his bit on his proposal for a new Olympic sport: the Involuntary Luge. (He says that the Luge is the only sport where you can have people competing in it against their will and it would be the same.) He suggests they just grab people off the street and walk backward with his arms outstretched to simulate being abducted.

    Comic Books 
  • Simon Dark: As the heroes fight their way through the Moss Estate one of their number, Tom Kirk, gets knocked out and dragged off to a torture chamber with his allies none the wiser until he's used as a hostage against Simon.

    Fan Works 
  • After the end of the 1994-95 Hogwarts term in How Friendship Accidentally Saved Magical Britain, Harry is at the very back of his group of friends when he's kidnapped in broad daylight on the Muggle side of King's Cross Station by an Apparating Barty Crouch, Jr.
  • Naru-Hina Chronicles Mini-sodes: Naruto, Hinata, and Lee try to find Naruko, Naruto's female clone, who is making an impromptu bikini contest. However, Naruko gags Hinata with her hand and pulls her away, with Naruto and Lee not noticing it before it's too late.
  • Summer and Winter: Law is silently grabbed by Pitch Black and trapped in shadows without the Straw Hats realizing what happened until much later. Pitch took Law to stop him from being able to teleport the Straw Hats out of his lair, allowing him to trap the rest of them in nightmares.

    Film Live-Action 
  • All Through the Night: When Gloves and Sunshine are investigating a factory, Sunshine slips and falls on a skate. A bit later, two Germans grab Sunshine from behind, and Gloves is too busy investigating to notice - not until he says something to Sunshine and Sunshine doesn't answer does he realize Sunshine's been captured.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: While the protagonists are escaping from Lo Pan's lair with the freed female slaves, Gracie Law brings up the rear. When the rest of the group goes ahead, Gracie Law lingers behind to check out something odd and is confronted by one of Lo Pan's monster guards. After Fainting, she is captured and taken away by the monster.
  • In the infamous "Don't go into the long grass!" scene of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the protagonists and the InGen hunters are chased into the tall grass by the T. Rex. Velociraptors start quietly picking them off without the rest of them knowing and continue doing so for a while before the survivors realize what's going on and run for it.
  • A lethal variant is discussed in Sergeant York. York is telling the other troops that when you're hunting turkeys when they're in flocks, you always shoot the ones at the back of the flock, and then work your way forward. This comes up again when his position is charged by German soldiers, and he uses the same technique to take them all out before the soldiers in front can notice what he's doing and start retaliating.

  • In Hunters of Gor, Bosk (fka Tarl) does this to a group of soldiers from Tyros who have captured Marlenus, Ubar of Ar, and his hunting party.
  • In The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge, when Jim is being escorted by soldiers after a failed escape attempt, he looks at his captors and suddenly notices their number seems to grow smaller. Turns out his wife has arrived and is quietly taking out the rear of the line one by one.
  • Tortall Universe: In Protector of the Small: Lady Knight, Kel's group takes out stragglers of the Scanran group they're tracking and takes back the prisoners they can reach without being seen in blitz attacks.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Americans: In the first season episode "Trust Me", Philip gets taken this way (the same people try this on Elizabeth as well, but she puts up more of a fight) by, as it turns out, Soviet agents who are trying to test their loyalty.
  • Probe's "Quit-It": Around twenty minutes into the episode, Austin and Mickey try to kidnap Karen while her brother is distracted in the next room, watching television.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Judges Guild supplement The Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor. A pair of doppelgangers will attempt to grapple, silence, and capture the tail members of any group of Player Characters that passes through their area.
    • Imagine magazine #26 adventure "The Great Paladin Hunt". While a group of paladins is traveling through a swamp, a small dinosaur-like monster called a babbler will try to sneak up on them from behind and attack and kill the last one in line. It hopes to return to its lair and eat its prey without the other paladins even knowing it was there.

    Video Games 
  • At the end of Life Is Strange's penultimate episode "Dark Room", Max (the Player Character) and Chloe return to where they found Rachel's body to stop the (apparent) Big Bad from destroying the evidence. They find it's still there, and while Chloe is sobbing, Max steps back, which allows the Big Bad to drug her silently, giving him time to draw a pistol and shoot Chloe before Max can warn her.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Elise gets kidnapped all the time. At least one time she's kidnapped from behind while Sonic and Silver are done fighting each other.

  • Girl Genius:
    • Agatha is grabbed and taken away while Tarvek and the rest of the group are looking out at the newest attack on Mechanicsburg with their backs to her kidnapping which delays their realizing what has happened.
    • It happens again in Paris with slightly more justification her friends are fending off an attack by a clockwork android, but it turns out the villain is controlling more than one body so another version of himself snatches Agatha while her friends are shooting in the other direction.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "City of Walls and Secrets" the Dai Li silently abduct Toph and Katara who were standing right beside Aang without him noticing, until Long Feng enters the room and tells him they're gone. He directs Aang to follow him to a private room to negotiate terms for their release.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Upon leaving the candy store, Numbuh Four goes on a rant on how he would beat up any dentist attempting to mess with his teeth. When his rant stops, the rest of the team assumes he just decided to shut up. It's not until they return to base that they find him strapped down to a chair with his mouth braced. It immediately happens again to Numbuh Two and Numbuh Five, without Numbuh One or Numbuh Three noticing.
  • The Loud House: In "Fool's Paradise", one of Luan's pranks at the booby-trapped hotel involves hooking Lily with a fishing line, reeling her from her mother's arms, and lowering a monkey in her place.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: The Hooded Claw does this to Penelope at least Once per Episode, often when the Ant Hill Mob are facing away from Penelope.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: Happens to Daphne (obviously) a number of times. In one episode the kidnapper (disguised as a demon) didn't even bother to cover her mouth, there was just its signature cloud of red smoke appearing around a corner while she was looking the wrong way, and its arms popped out and pulled her into it.
  • Skull Island (2023): A variation in Episode 4, "Breakfast Fit for a Kong". Charlie, at the rear of the kids' group, falls down a Giant Ant hill's entry, and Mike and Annie whom are busy talking with each-other take twenty seconds to notice that he's vanished.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): The turtles do this to the Foot clan mooks, setting up a four on two fight with Bradford and Xever.
  • Total Drama:
    • Owen and Noah enter a deserted bus in their search for Jack the Ripper in "I See London...". They make the mistake of walking in a line, which gives The Ripper an opening to drop down from the ceiling, grab Noah, and jump back up before Owen looks back to find his partner missing. The Ripper then attacks Owen, which backfires badly. Noah is freed thereafter.
    • The Villainous Vultures make their way to their seats for the campfire ceremony in "No Egg-spects the Spanish Opposition". Courtney walks behind the others when she is grabbed by the wrist and pulled into the bushes without anyone noticing. Her "kidnapper" is Gwen, who only wants a few minutes for a private talk about their abandoned friendship. They make a deal how to vote that evening and rejoin their team.


Video Example(s):


South takes out guards

Two guards are taken out by South in the style of a horror movie monster. One is yanked up off-screen by the neck while the other isn't looking. The other is lured in with a voice changer before encountering the first guard's dead body.

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