Geralt: [completely unfazed] ... There's nothing behind me. I'm a Witcher, I'd have heard it. Just like I can hear your heart. Which is pounding. Like a liar's.
Alice is in a tight situation involving Bob. Maybe Bob wants money from her, or has a gun pointed at her head, or is just plain annoying.
Alice points past Bob's shoulder and yells, "Hey, what's that over there?!?", or "Look! A [insert improbable thing here]!" Bob looks. Alice legs it.
In the subversion, Bob doesn't look, but instead mocks Alice: "You'll think I'll fall for that?" or "That's the oldest trick in the book!" Unfortunately for Bob, deciding not to look drastically ramps up the probability that the thing Alice described is there, and it'll be something he's not going to like.
A variant is for Alice to just look past Bob with a quizzical expression, or to duck herself—this latter being an almost certain guarantee of Bob mocking Alice and then getting brained by the oncoming low bridge.
One of The Oldest Tricks in the Book; quite possibly the oldest. Telling the target his shoelace is untied or his fly is down are similar tricks, and are usually grouped with this one.
Related to We Need a Distraction. Also in the process of becoming a Discredited Trope (if not an outright Dead Horse Trope). Note, however, that just the two last words ("Behind you") are pure Paranoia Fuel on their own. Compare Snap to the Side. If the method involved deliberately having them look somewhere just in time to be killed/heavily injured by something, see Death by Looking Up.
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- Real Life
- GEICO did this with their "Did You Know" series, which featured character A telling character B that GEICO saves you money on car insurance. Character B knows that already, so character A asks "Did you know that there is an oldest trick in the book?" The oldest trick is revealed to be this.
- Bojangles did this twice in one of their commercials where one guy tells the other Dale Earnhardt Jr. is behind the other one, but it turns out it's just a cardboard cutout. The second guy claims the same thing, to which the first sarcastically describes the racer ordering a specific meal. Turns out he's the real Dale when he corrects the guy:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dirty rice, Tim. It's dirty rice.
- In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 22, Banana Wolf tries to distract Wolnie by yelling that there's a goat nearby so that he can escape from Wolf Castle. It doesn't work.
- Eddie Izzard:
- His monologue on beekeeping depicts the process of honey-harvesting as walking into a hive and then saying "Look, there's a Ferrari over there!" so you can steal all the honey.
- Part of his Supermarket routine.
Oh, look over there, there's a badger with a gun- NEW QUEUE!!
- FoxTrot had Paige invoking this trope on an ice cream vendor at the zoo, claiming that there is an escaped lion, tiger, and bull elephant in that order. By the time he even turns around, he notices that the ice cream cone he prepared for Paige had far too many swirls (about 16, with some drooping over the cone). He also mentioned that she did something similar the previous summer.
- In the Pooch Café comic for March 9, 2011, Chazz uses "Look! Halley's Comet!"
- Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin once pulled this at dinner. His parents turned to look while Calvin quickly pushed his own dinner off his plate and onto theirs.
Calvin's Dad: What did he see?Calvin's Mom: An opportunity.
Mouse: Look, a banana cream pie!Garfield: He's gone, isn't he?
- The very first time Garfield stole Jon's dinner, he uses this trick. And it won't be the first time Jon will fall for it.
- Garfield stops chasing a mouse when the mouse uses that trick.
- Hsu and Chan:
- Hsu attempts to gain the edge in a swordfight with lifelong rival Akira Yamamoto by resorting to this tactic. However, while Akira is distracted, Hsu laughs at him for falling for the ruse, missing the opportunity to strike and finding himself caught off guard instead.
- Played straight multiple times when confronted by obese nerds. The brothers commonly point behind the nerd and shout "Look a gallon of pecan ripple" or "Look a display of Princess Leia slave girl lingerie." This tactic hasn't failed yet.
- Norm has employed this trope humorously in some of his other works. For example, in Violence Man, 3 mob thugs attempt a distraction for Violence Man so that they can escape him. Eventually one shouts "WE HAVE SCRABBLE IN THE CAR!" which surprisingly succeeds in distracting him for a few seconds.
- In Harry Potter fanfic A Black Comedy:
Sirius: Don't interrupt them.
Remus: Why not?
Sirius: Because I'm supposed to stall you.
- And then, later: "You know telling someone you're stalling them," Harry criticized, "is poor stalling technique."
- The Immortal Game: At one point, Sir Unimpressive pulls this off on some Puppets. Since the Puppets are mindless, it works.
- In Triwizard Tales Harry points behind Voldemort with a look of terror and yells "What the hell is that?" then takes off when everyone in the graveyard turns to look. When Fudge and the Tournament officials refuse to believe Harry's (edited) account of having "distracted" Voldemort he uses the same technique on them.
- In Make a Wish Harry and Ron are dueling each other in Defense Against the Dark Arts.
"Hey look," Harry said pointing over Ron's shoulder. "Parkinson's in the nip."
"What?" Ron asked as he turned to look.
Needless to say, Harry's first and last spell ended the match.
- Nymphadora's Beau:
Arthur dropped the cloak hood, revealing his face. "Oh good it's you Tonks, for a moment I was worried. Why are you back? Did something come up?"
"In a way Arthur, hey, what's that?" Nym pointed to his back. Arthur turned quickly... then felt a spell hit him in the back and things went dark.
- In the first chapter of Old West, Sheriff Rango is held at gunpoint by three mercenaries and this trick is the first thing that comes to his mind.
"Look! Hawk!" He shouted as he pointed his finger at the sky.Whether by instinct or luck, all three mercenaries turned in fear to look at the sky, ducking low and covering themselves as if they feared talons would spear them as any moment. When nothing came however, they stood and Tomson quickly spun around, only to see the end of Rango's tail ducking behind an alley.
- Pony POV Series:
- In a flashback, Discord got into a fight with Celestia's brother Leo, the god of Strength and Gravity. When Leo grabs him, he boasts, "Who's your daddy?" Discord points and shouts, "HIM!" Shocked, Leo lets go and turns around, as Discord's father Havoc is one of the most powerful beings in the universe and The Dreaded for a good reason. Havoc isn't there, then Discord hits him. Leo says he can't believe he fell for that.
- Makarov goes One-Winged Angel and proclaims himself a god. Shining Armor looks over his shoulder and tells him to look behind him. Makarov misinterprets him and thinks he's saying to look to the past, then boasts that he controls the past, present, and future. Shining says to physically look behind him. This time, he turns around, and comes face to face with The Blank Wolf.
- This Bites!:
- Cross pulls this twice in Little Garden to convince someone from Baroque Works that a T-rex is right behind them. The first time, it's Soundbite using his powers. The second, there really is one.
- Right before Cross is about to be cuffed, Soundbite begins sounding alarm bells, warning them that something dangerous is coming. Tashigi is skeptical...and then comes the Advancing Wall of Doom.
- Happily Ever After:
Harry: Look, it's the Goodyear Blimp.
Isabelle Malfoy: Father, look, a distraction while I act unladylike.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire fanfic Two For The Price Of One, Self-Insert Eddard Stark, during the Greyjoy's Rebellion, decides to Troll a Drowned Man by doing this. Much to his shame, it works.
SI!Eddard: (points behind the Drowned Man attacking him) OH, NO, IT'S THE DROWNED GOD!
Every Drowned Man in earsight proceeds to turn and look. Eddard proceeds to kill the closest Drowned Men.
- Once in The Winx Club Loops Stormy managed to escape a pissed-off Darcy and Musa when Icy actually shouted "Look! A distraction!".
- In Ninja Wizard Book 4 Luna claims to see a dragon during a duel with Suki and wins when Suki turns to look.
- Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness: Marisa attempts getting out of making a promise to Patchouli and Alice with this method. It doesn't work quite as well as she would've liked.
"SOMETHING UNSEEABLE IS IN THE WAY!"
- Celtic Mythology: Cu Chulainn once fought a duel with the warrior woman Aife. She shattered his sword, but when she was about to finish him off, he shouted that her chariot and horses had fallen off a cliff. When she turned around to look, he attacked her from behind and overpowered her.
- When cheating in Jack*Bot, Pin*Bot says something to this extent.
- Sakura Hirota distracted Luscious Latasha at a REINA show by pointing and shouting "OBAMA!"
- CarlitoColon learned the "Look up at that, now look down at this!" trick in the World Wrestling League from La Parka Jr... Carlito thought it was really clever.
- Ivelisse Vélez successfully stopped rival Power Stable VALkyrie from kidnapping her injured teammate La Rosa Negra at SHINE 33, but had to abandon her healthy teammate Amanda Carolina Rodriguez for a minute to do so, resulting in Las Sicarias failing to acquire the Tag Team Title belts. While VALkyrie were beating up Kimber Lee, half of the other Tag Title contenders, later in the night, Las Sicarias decided to rescue her and get revenge, starting with Negra poking VALkyrie muscle Andrea in the back before retreating as quickly as she could manage while Velez and ACR picked off more vulnerable members.
- Bleak Expectations: In the series 1 finale, as Pip Bin and Big Bad Mr. Benevolent are fighting in a church, Pip does this. Only he claims there's a penguin flying behind the altar. In Victorian London. Mr. Benevolent falls for it anyway, with a massive dose of Lampshade Hanging.
Mr. Benevolent: What? A penguin, flying? But they're supposed to be flightless! Such an ornithological curiosity I have to see, even if it leaves me perilously off-guard for even a second!
- Played straight AND subverted AND discussed in the, uhm, let's call it a German Noir parody "Gestatten, mein Name ist Cox". Said private dick just got abducted, somewhat hastily whithout proper bounding-and-gagging, and waits for a convenient distraction to punch the big bad (who, alas, has a gun). So he points out that another car is following them since hours. The big bad laughs it off until panic and curiosity gets the better of him. Whack! "See, you finally did look behind you!" Of course (it's a parody) in the other car there is the cavalry. Cue further snarking about genre conventions.
- In Sherlock Holmes, Holmes uses this trick to handcuff Moriarty after getting him to place his hands within convenient reach.
- In Pantomime, a standard Audience Participation line: "It's behind you!" is often triggered not by a spoken line but by most of the panto audience knowing what's expected of them.
- In The Complete History Of America Abridged, Jo Chi Minh tells Spade Diamond to look at a monk setting himself on fire, Slipping a Mickey into Spade's drink while he looks away.
Spade: A monk on fire? I don't see a monk on fire.
Jo: Oh, he must have gone out. They don't make monks like they used to.
- Played around with in BIONICLE: Krika tells Tahu, who has him cornered, to look behind him. Tahu asks Krika if he really thinks that Tahu is stupid enough to fall for that. Krika tells Tahu that he's counting on that, since there actually is something behind him. Tahu chances the look, and sure enough, four of Krika's allies are charging straight into the battle.