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Mobile Shrubbery

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"Take care of the box, and it'll take care of you..."
"I would first go to my old thieving standby: dress up like a bush."

Alice hides from Bob behind an inanimate object. When Bob moves away or isn't looking, she picks up the object and follows him. The object is most often a bush (hence the name), but it may be anything that fades into the background (such as a cardboard box or traffic cone).

Frequently the object or Prop will end up somewhere it has no right to be (e.g., a shrub may end up in the middle of a street). Sometimes the object will fall apart almost completely, leaving them with only a few twigs left, which they then either look at and toss away, or maybe continue to hide behind. Alternately, the disguise might work a little too well and get mistaken for the real thing, with humorous consequences (e.g., a fake tree getting "marked" by a passing dog).

Often this overlaps with Paper-Thin Disguise, but not always; this can actually be Truth in Television to a degree. It's called "Change Blindness." So long as Bob doesn't actually see the bush move, there's a good chance he won't notice that it's in a new location. There are some very fascinating videos on YouTube demonstrating this. Thusly, if Alice is competent, she may not actually be obvious to Bob, only to the audience.

Occasionally utilized by Naked People Trapped Outside. If the object used to hide is literature of some kind this can be a Newspaper-Thin Disguise. If the shrubbery is stationary, that's Tree Cover. If you're doing this on stage, it's Playing a Tree.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Digimon Tamers, Takato tells Guilmon to stay in the box. He does. As he goes all over town at will.
  • In Muhyo and Roji, Roji and Muhyo walk into a client's house while hidden in large pots in order to stake out a haunt.
  • Konohamaru's signature move in pre-Shippuuden Naruto, using a blanket painted to look like a section of fence and a box painted to look like a one-foot-tall brick wall (as lampshaded by the abridgement).
    • A fence-post blanket, it should be noted, that he holds sideways. And then he compliments Naruto for seeing through his disguise.
      • A similar gag appears in Dragon Ball, where Agent Murasaki tries to hide from Goku by leaning against a tree and holding up a bark-pattened cloth, but instead holds it up backwards, the reverse side being an American flag. Oops.
    • In the Hidden Star Village filler arc, Tenten and Lee hide under a barrel while following two of Akahoshi's henchmen. They get discovered quite easily.
  • In one episode of Negima! Magister Negi Magi, a trio of cheerleaders do this to Negi and Konoka, in increasingly absurd fashions, until one point where they are dressed up in can-can dancer outfits and conceal themselves by using the enormous peacock-like feathers attached to their outfits to create a giant poofy wall. Negi points this out, but still fails to realize he's being followed.
  • In the Ninja Hattori episode "Play and Play", Kemumaki moves around while hiding in a bush in order to get away with throwing a frisbee to distract the dogs as they are playing a game of soccer.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Team Rocket does it often, from the very earliest episodes onward.
    • After agitating a pack of Mightyena with his Coordinator skills in Pokémon Adventures, Ruby gets his ass saved by a figure shrouded in leaves, which he mistakes for a talking Pokemon and commands his Poochyena to attack. He only gets a clue how wrong he is when the shroud comes off...
    Sapphire: This is how you treat your savior? You ungrateful little brat!
  • Ranma ˝:
    • In one chapter, a jealous Akane carries branches around so she can hide while spying on Ranma and Nabiki.
    • This is a standard for Tsubasa Kurenai, who enjoy silly disguises to stalk Ukyō, like a tree or a mailbox.
  • In Ratman a Jacky reveals they got into the hospital by hiding in cardboard boxes labeled MGS4.
  • At one point in the second series of Rosario + Vampire, Kurumu, Mizore, and Kokoa begin trailing Gin, all three girls hiding under cardboard boxes and peering out through the slits normally used as handgrips. Oddly, they've drawn mouths on the boxes under these openings — and the "mouth" on Mizore's box has her trademark lollipop drawn sticking out.
  • In Sailor Moon SuperS, when Chibi-Usa is in a restaurant with Mamoru, the girls spy on them by hiding behind statues and stuff, and moving closer to them. She does notice.
  • In SD Gundam Force's second season, Grappler Gouf and Destroyer Dom sneak aboard the Gundamusai while hiding under cardboard boxes. This wouldn't be so bad, (As that episode's Zako Zako Hour shows them successfully blending in) but they've also cut holes for their mono-eyes, in the shape of their eye-screens! (Grapper's even has the scar he has.)
  • In episode 3 of Tamagotchi Yume Kira Dream, Himespetchi hides under a bush and sneaks around to figure out why Mametchi is hanging out with Yumemitchi and Kiraritchi (for context, Himespetchi has a crush on Mametchi and is worried that he may be in love with someone else).
  • In an episode of Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i, Dolores attempts to avoid detection by satellite cameras by carrying a tree while moving through the Florida swamp. It works until somebody monitoring the cameras notices a tree that suddenly appears in one shot and vanishes the next.

    Asian Animation 
  • Big M. and Little M., the primary antagonists of Happy Heroes, have sneaked around while hiding in a bush or similar inanimate object several times.
  • In the Noonbory and the Super 7 episode "Bragging Rights", Wangury and his goons Taegury and Mungury disguise themselves as a big bush so that nobody will notice them sneaking their way to Bakerbory's bakery in an attempt to snatch a pie that he has just baked.
  • In Pleasant Goat Fun Class: Animals & Plants episode 6, Wolffy sneaks up on a giraffe while hiding under a bush in an attempt to take a picture of it. The giraffe mistakes him for a lion (thinking the bush is his mane) and runs away.
  • In the Simple Samosa episode "Chutney Dam", Samosa, Jalebi, and Vada hide under boxes when they go to find Dhokla, so as to prevent them from being chased by the townsfolk who are convinced they stole all the chutney from the Chutney Dam. The disguise works until they trip over a rock and are noticed by Cham Cham.

    Comic Books 
  • The Romans do this every now and then to spy on the Gauls in Asterix.
  • In Book 1 of Earthworm Jim (2019), PsyCrow moves in a bush to get his blaster back after his fight with a bull.
  • So did an Indian tribe in Lucky Luke once. Yes, with one shrub for each of them.
  • When Art Spiegelman's father, Vladek, recounts his life in Maus he mentions that during his service in the Polish army, he shot and killed a Wehrmacht soldier wearing branches as part of his camouflage.
  • The "Wacky" ninjas from an early The Tick story, "Night of a Million Billion Ninjas", try this, with about one branch each. They even tell passers-by "We are a hedge, please move along."

    Comic Strips 
  • Johnny Hart's strip The Wizard of Id has Sir Rodney disguise himself as a tree when trying to spy on the Huns. In theory, this disguise would work, except Rodney's huge nose sticking out of the trunk is always a dead giveaway.

    Fan Works 
  • In Altering Destiny Harry uses some loose branches as a makeshift bush in order to steal food.
  • Dr. Brainstorm hides in a bush to spy on Calvin in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series.
  • Child of the Storm: in the sequel, Harry tries a number of methods of avoiding girls under mistletoe in the run-up to the Yule Ball, and eventually gets desperate enough to try this with a trunk, so he can hide in plain sight if needs be. Plus, no one's going to try and kiss a trunk. It actually works, more or less, until Trevor (Neville's toad) makes a bid for freedom... near a window... just as Harry turns around suddenly.
  • Mario attempts to do this with a pipe in Mario's World 1-1 Calamity to get through an area swarming with Goombas wearing spike top helmets. He makes it to the pipe on the other side and comes out the top... only to be eaten by a three-headed Piranha Plant.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Aristocats: The evil butler Edgar disguises himself as a haystack mounted on top of a sidecar in order to escape Napoleon and Lafayette.
    Napoleon: Sounds like a one-wheeled...
    Lafayette: A one-wheeled what?
    Napoleon: You're not gonna believe this, but it's a one-wheeled haystack!
  • When everything starts going south for Julius Caesar in Asterix Conquers America, he escapes the Roman Camp in this fashion.
    Gaul: Halt! Who goes there?
    Caesar: A barrel, you fool!
    Gaul: Oh, a barrel.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, LeFou hides in a snowman near Belle's house when she and her father return home, then runs off to alert Gaston so he can execute his plan.
  • In Cars, Lightning tries to avoid his meeting with the rusty cars by driving by them behind a cardboard piece of himself. This works for a few seconds before he's noticed by everyone in the room.
  • In Despicable Me 2, some minions move around at the mall hidden inside trash bins.
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie: One of the Gammas hides in a bush while sabotaging one of Team 99's bikes during the X-Games.
  • In Ice Age: The Meltdown, Ellie (a mammoth) attempts unsuccessfully to hide from the vultures by using bushes. Well, she did think she was an opossum at the time.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2. While in his so-called "Stealth Mode", Po picks up a pot plant and tries this technique, only to trip over another pot plant.
  • The Indians in Peter Pan actually do this to capture John, Michael, and the Lost Boys.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: The Tiger Prowess, Wolffy walks around under a bush to avoid the various spotlights at Lord Japper's amusement park.
  • Toy Story:
    • In the original film, Woody and Buzz use a drink cup and a burger box to sneak into Pizza Planet.
    • In Toy Story 2, the members of the rescue party hide under traffic cones to safely cross the street (and wreak havoc among the cars in the process). At one point, Rex tries to get across a sidewalk while hiding underneath a bush disguise. However, with each step, he loses some of the leaves, ultimately being left with just one.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Japanese soldiers who invade California in 1941 (1979) disguise themselves as Christmas trees. Hollis Wood even tries to chop one down and gets rather confused when it jumps out of the way.
  • 3 Ninjas: Kick Back: After Rocky and Colt fail to attack Grandpa, Tum-Tum attempts a sneak attack using a bush while Grandpa's back is turned.
  • In Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Ace holds a palmetto frond in front of himself in order to sneak past his landlord's window. Then he throws away the frond, onto the pile of fronds from all the previous times he snuck past.
  • Be Kind Rewind. The protagonists break into a power station wearing jumpsuits marked like the fence they're climbing, including part of the KEEP OUT sign. Played for Laughs when a police car stops to investigate and they freeze in exactly the right place to match with the sign.
  • Hilariously subverted in A Bridge Too Far when a British unit wearing camouflage augmented with actual twigs and leaves marches through a Dutch town being cheered as liberators. A junior officer tells his commander:
    Officer: With all due respect, sir, I don't believe our camouflage is fooling anyone.
  • Caddyshack has:
    Carl Spackler: Pay no attention to that bush, moving around over there by that tree, it's just a bush. Nothing to look twice at. Nothing to be alarmed about. This looks like it could be gravy.
  • The Siamese natives in Chang camouflage themselves with bushes as they herd the elephants across the river. This was the idea of filmmakers Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, and was conceived as a Shout-Out to Macbeth. Apparently, the natives working on the film loved the idea and said they'd keep doing that in the future.
  • In Genghis Khan, the Khan does this when he and his small band attack an enemy camp, disguised as shrubbery.
  • The heroes adopt this tactic in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster while trying to sneak into the villains' base. Played more intelligently than most examples by the strategy of bringing along a bird to release if anyone gets suspicious.
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy has a textbook example of this trope.
  • The end of the James Bond film, GoldenEye, has him being picked up by a squad of US Marines hiding in a tobacco field. He never knows the Marines are there..until they stand up on orders from his CIA contact. For bonus points, Bond was so sure they were alone he and the Bond Girl were about to get it on!
  • In The Great Race we get our first glimpse on Professor Fate and his assistant Max when he is following Leslie's latest deed inside a shrubbery.
  • The Ladykillers (1955): The Professor pulls this trick on Louis while trying to sneak up on him on the waste ground between the house and the railroad tracks.
  • Happens in Muppets from Space as Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Pepe try to infiltrate COVNET to save Gonzo and Rizzo. The bush only goes as far as a short distance from the guard station- whereupon the Muppets apply some of Dr. Honeydew's invisibility spray.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean:
  • Red (2010): Frank Moses has to go to retired Femme Fatale Spy Victoria to get patched up. The others are convinced she might shoot him instead, but she's quite friendly once she realises Frank isn't there to kill her. She tells Frank to lie down so she can look at his injury, "And tell Marvin to stand down before he gets hurt." Cue zoom in to Marvin badly dressed as a bush out the window behind her.
  • In Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed, Shaggy and Scooby do this whilst following a suspect. Though they gain his attention (namely by Scooby screaming in terror at the word "ghost") his reaction is decidedly non-plussed, merely grumbling about "Darn bushes yowling at me again!".
  • In Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, while on a farm, Big Bird hides in a haystack to avoid being spotted by Miss Finch. While the Sleaze Brothers are on the road, Sid notices a haystack running and casually points it out to Sam, who just remarks "We're not looking for any haystacks, you chowderhead!"
  • Charlie Chaplin dresses as a tree in World War I comedy Shoulder Arms when he has to sneak behind German lines to gain intelligence. This works pretty well until a German soldier decides to chop him down for firewood.
  • In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, BB-8 moves around hidden under a box when he, Finn, and Rose infiltrate the Supremacy.
  • Stanley Stupid in The Stupids gets a bit… carried away.
    Stanley: This walking bush! He lives in two worlds, but is the master of both! OH, MAN-BUSH, YOU ARE NATURE'S GREATEST WONDEEEEEEEER!
  • Throne of Blood, Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of Macbeth, naturally uses this just as Macbeth itself does. The spirits tell the Villain Protagonist that he will never be defeated until the forest moves. For what happens next, check what page you're on.

  • In Armageddon 2419 A.D. the Invaded States of America is now covered in large forests used by La Résistance Gangs to hide from the Han air patrols. Those without such cover have to get inventive.
    The headgear of the Winslows was quite different from the close-fitting helmet of the Wyomings, being large and bushy-looking, for in the Winslow territory there were many stretches of nearly bare land, with occasional scrubby pines, and a Winslow caught in the open, on the approach of a Han airship, would twist himself into a motionless imitation of a scrubby plant, that passed very successfully for the real thing, when viewed from several thousand feet in the air.
  • Dead Man's Land by Robert Ryan. During World War One, a sniper is sneaking into position to shoot Winston Churchill, who was serving as a front line officer at the time. The sniper supports his rifle on a tree as he prepares to fire, only for the tree to put a bayonet to his neck. We then get a Proscenium Reveal that it's a demonstration of camouflage techniques being put on for Winston.
  • In The Dragon Hoard, after the heroes' ship is captured by the sea-creatures of Queen Emeraldis, Jasleth the raven sneaks aboard disguised in a large seashell.
  • Exploited by Arthur in Keys to the Kingdom: Lord Sunday when hiding from the titular trustee. It starts out as Tree Cover under a sorcerously crafted illusion of a shrub (granted, not a real one). When Arthur needs to move on, he considers dismissing the illusion; however, he then decides that walking plants probably aren't especially out of place in the Incomparable Gardens. On the other hand, he doesn't maintain the cover when he reaches an area where it would stick out like a sore thumb so that particular common consequence of the trope is avoided. Although the book doesn't actually explicitly mention that he dismisses the illusion at that point, it can be assumed that he does.
  • The Kings Rifle by Biyi Bandele. One of the West African soldiers leans against a tree and gets a nasty shock when it runs off only to get blown up in a minefield. He spends the rest of the book in a state of paranoia, including shooting at his own shadow because he's convinced that if Japanese soldiers can become trees, they can also disguise themselves as shadows.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of The Andy Griffith Show, Barney attaches a whole bush to the front of his new motorcycle as part of a speed trap.
  • Dad's Army:
    • In "Don't Forget the Diver", Jones disguises himself as a tree and is pushed along a river by Frazer in a diving suit as part of a plan to capture a windmill.
    • In "The Lion has Phones", a montage shows the Home Guard platoon disguising themselves as haystacks, garbage cans, and gravestones for their camouflage training. Then when we see a row of milk churns lined up like the platoon, who actually turn out to be hiding behind a fake wall attached to a nearby barn.
      [The platoon are hiding in a church graveyard]
      Captain Mainwaring: Sloppy, men. Very sloppy indeed.
      Private Walker: [from behind gravestone] Get knotted!
      Captain Mainwaring: Get that man's name, Sergeant.
      Sgt. Wilson: [reading gravestone] Potter, died 1910, sir.
  • Played for laughs in 'Allo 'Allo!, when Colonel von Strohm and Captain Geering don bulky and lifelike tree costumes for a spying mission. They end up having to give chase in them. Cut to two trees (plus other characters) running after a dog that had stolen an important Knockwurst sausage (it makes sense in context- honestly).
  • Get Smart: Trying to evade Siegfried, Max and 99 sneak along under a cardboard box...only to see Siegfried following them in another box.
  • The BBC wildlife documentary Lions: Spy in the Den features Boulder-Cam, a remote-controlled camera disguised as a boulder festooned with leaves, which the camera crew use to infiltrate the lion family. Similar techniques and disguises are used in the subsequent Spy in the... programs (cameras disguised as dung for filming elephants, a Salmon-Cam for filming grizzly bears fishing, a Tortoise-Cam for filming migrating wildebeest, etc.).
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Radar attempts to shadow Hawkeye using this technique, to little effect, in the episode "I Hate a Mystery". Amusingly, he continues with the charade even after Hawkeye calls him out,
    • Klinger tries to escape from camp by disguising himself as a shrub in "Dear Peggy"; he says he would have made it if not for that dog.
    • In "Are You Now, Margaret?", Colonel Flagg has a covert meeting with Winchester by hiding himself in a garbage bin. After Winchester leaves, someone comes out of the kitchen to empty a load of garbage...
  • Parodied rather hilariously in The Mighty Boosh episode "Mutants". During a montage where Howard is tailing Dixon Bainbridge, Bainbridge is shown walking across the screen followed closely by a large, conspicuous hedge. Moments later, Howard himself walks past, looking around and on the alert. Who or what the hedge was is never explained.
  • Parodied in an Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode; Pearl and Brain Guy hide behind small, almost foliage-free branches.
  • The New Avengers: "Sleeper" contains an odd variant, in that does not involve any actual cover. Steed and Gambit pretend to be asleep at a bus stop. Every time the gangster there looks away, they slide closer to him. He is just on the verge of working out something is wrong when they jump him.
  • Out of Jimmy's Head: In the pilot movie Re-Animated, Jimmy sneaks into Appleday Studios by disguising himself as a potted plant. (Fun fact: That's actually Tommy of Cartoon Network's Fridays in the bush!)
  • Done in Spaced. Tim appears to be alone, talking about how much he hates Daisy's new dog. But the large bush behind him is actually Mike, practicing his camouflage skills.
  • Played with on Candid Camera Prank show Trigger Happy TV. A woman enters a hedge maze, and men dressed as bushes keeping moving around, changing the maze to confuse her.

  • Referenced in the Sparks song "Reinforcements", a cabaret-influenced number describing a relationship using military clichés:
    I'm on guard again but unprepared to fend for myself in a battle
    You won't tell me why the shrubbery moves
    Or why there always has to be subterfusion
    You won't even say "at ease"
    After waging a costly siege
    When a potentate ain't so potent in his state he summons help fast

    Music Videos 

  • In Finian's Rainbow, the leprechaun Og disguises himself as a tree to follow Finian, who is secretly burying his stolen pot of Og's gold near Fort Knox in hopes it will grow. Finian is totally drunk and even ends up dancing with the moving tree.
  • The title character of Macbeth is told by the witches that he shall be invincible until "great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him." In the end, he's defeated after an invading army uses shrubbery taken from Birnam Wood to conceal their numbers. (Incidentally, J. R. R. Tolkien felt this was a cop-out, and he decided to write a story where the trees could really come to attack. Thus, the Ents.)
  • In some productions of Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick uses this to hide from Leonato, Don John, and Claudio while they're discussing how much Beatrice loves him. Of course, the joke here is that they know he's there the whole time, even if he thinks it's working.
  • Used in some productions of The Pirates of Penzance to conceal the police from the pirates, and later the pirates from the Major-General. The scene already has both parties using ineffectual methods of stealth successfully, so it's very much in the spirit.
  • In Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew, and company do this to spy on Malvolio. Depending on the imagination of those involved, it can get truly over-the-top. (One truly magnificent amateur production involved Sir Toby Belch freezing in a stupid pose and hissing "Hey Andrew, I'm a topiary!" Obviously, that line was added.)

    Video Games 
  • A cheat in Age of Empires give you archers that walk on water, and turn to trees when standing still. Even when standing on water. Useless against CPU's, but fun against players.
  • This is the premise of the Bishi Bashi minigame "The Not Too Great Escape," in which you have to guide escapees hiding underneath trash cans and such across the screen, stopping when the armed guard turns around.
  • One of the units in Calculords is the SMC Flanker, a scout hiding behind a bush, wearing all green with branches sticking out of his headband. They're very mobile — they have the Double Time ability, which means they advance twice as fast. The SMC Flanker is one of the only Push units with Double Time, maybe because the idea is that the enemy doesn't notice he's there.
  • In the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers video games, you can duck while carrying a box to hide from enemies. The presence of blinking chipmunk eyes on the box does not give away your presence, amazingly enough.
  • Citizens of Earth has enemies called the Not-so-secret Service, which are stereotypical secret agents hiding in a potted plant. Later on, you also encounter an Underground Monkey variation called the Oh-so-suntanned Service, which wear Hawaiian shirts and hide behind a palm tree instead.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 has the Allied Mirage Tank, which takes on the appearance of a tree when idle. The new version in Red Alert 3 turns into a lamppost or milk truck while on a road, to prevent RA2's issue of trees suddenly appearing on a street.
  • Commander Keen IV: The Secret of the Oracle has enemies that hide under boulders (much like the Toy Story 2 traffic cones). They're harmless (and well camouflaged) when stationary, but deadly when moving.
  • The Dark Souls series has the Chameleon spell, which does basically this: your character is covered by an illusion which makes you look like a piece of scenery until either the player attacks or is attacked themselves. A Chameleon'ed character can still move around without breaking the illusion, but this kind of gives away the disguise (trees, boxes, and the like typically do not move around on their own... even in Dark Souls).
  • In Devil Survivor 2, to rescue Daichi being held captive, Io hides herself in a cardboard box and makes her way towards him while the party is busy fighting the enemies.
  • One of the stealthier mooks in Donkey Kong Country Returns is almost entirely covered in shrubbery.
  • In the (hilarious) action/RTS hybrid Giants: Citizen Kabuto, the Meccaryns has a literal Mobile Shrubbery in form of a backpack. When activated, it transforms the player into a shrubbery. Perfect for sneaking around behind guards, who fails to notice why there is a bush where there shouldn't be one!
  • Henry Stickmin Series:
    • This is one of many ways Henry Stickmin can use to sneak past enemies, though more often than not it doesn't tend to work. One example in Fleeing the Complex for instance involves using a cardboard box this way (as well as doubling as a Shout-Out to Metal Gear). Unfortunately for him, it ends up working a bit too well since the guards instead use it to play poker... with him still inside. Cue fail.
      FAIL Screen: Hey at least you weren't found!
    • Another fail in the same game also has him try and sneak by some other guards while disguised as a snowman. Too bad it also doesn't work, albeit for a different reason...
      Guard: Frosty's escaping! *shoots Henry dead*
    • In one of the Completing the Mission scenes, Henry will try to get on a train while hiding in a bush. The guards joke on whether or not someone might be in it...and then set it on fire.
  • Joe & Mac has some enemy cavemen hiding underneath shrubs.
  • The H-Game Kimihagu has Emiri Yuuki do this to spy on the main character and Miren in a comedic scene.
  • In Kirby: Triple Deluxe, crouching while Kirby is using the Archer ability will have him conceal himself behind a randomly chosen cardboard cutout and he can crawl around while it's in place. It's usually something sensible, like a shrub, rock, or star block, but rarely, he'll bring out something more bizarre, like King Dedede or the HAL logo. Regardless of what's used, he's almost completely invincible as long as he remains still, though enemies will still actively target him.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: There are Spiny Beetles that hide under bushes, rocks, or skulls and walk towards Link when he gets close. The Power Bracelet is required to remove the rocks and skulls to make the beetles vulnerable, but bushes can be slashed. These mooks return in several subsequent games, namely Link's Awakening, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, and The Minish Cap
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The forest areas (including the Deku Tree dungeon), as well as many secret caves, have Deku Scrubs who disguise themselves under bunches of grass or leaves. While many of them are kind enough to do business with you after you deflect their attacks onto them, the Mad Scrubs will attempt to flee as soon as you attack them back and you'll have to kill them so they stop being a problem.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: Like in Ocarina of Time, Deku Scrubs often disguise themselves under bushes or Deku Flowers. However, with the exception of the Mad Scrubs (who are still unambiguously evil), they're all friendly this time, and the Business Scrubs will do business with you without even attacking you beforehand (and some of them will even give you their Deku Flowers if you give them title deeds during a Chain of Deals).
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: You can hide in a barrel in this fashion. The Moblin guard will not notice you even if you significantly shorten their patrol path by hiding in it, even as their noses clip through the barrel. (hey will likely, however, notice if your barrel is assaulted and consequently broken by a Rat, but only because you'll be standing out in the open.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Octoroks await their preys or enemies within seemingly-normal bushes, effectively acting like the Deku and Mad Scrubs from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: octoroks can dig through the dirt while staying under the plants as they stalk Link.
  • In LEGO The Lord of the Rings, using Frodo's Elven Cloak or the Mithril Camouflage Tome lets you do this. In Cirith Ungol, Frodo has to disguise himself as a crate to get past Orc sentries. LEGO Harry Potter and LEGO Indiana Jones also allow you to pick up bushes and crates and hide in them, though it's never actually required in the latter. In the former it is sometimes required, and you can get an achievement called "Solid Snape" by playing as Snape and hiding in Mobile Shrubbery.
  • Levelhead: The Tiptow ability involves sneaking past enemies by hiding in a bush.
  • In Little Big Adventure II this is done by the aliens after they land on Twinsun. Nearly every street has a walking trash can, and the Desert Island is full of moving cacti. Bonus points for the fact that they shoot at you.
  • The classic Metal Gear example gets a Shout-Out in a substory in Lost Judgment, in which the only way to sneak up on a robber is by hiding under a cardboard box and inching towards him when he's not looking.
  • Mark of the Ninja: The Cardboard Box has this effect wherever you are, no matter how illogical the place seems to be.
  • Two of the Spy mission cutscenes in Medieval II: Total War have your agent trying to sneak past Those Two Guards in a bush. The cutscenes are identical up to the point the walking bush slips into the gate, or the guards get suspicious and stab the mobile shrubbery.
  • In the Metal Gear games, everyone knows there's no disguise more effective than a cardboard box.
    • That is, until Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots came up with the Drum Can. Less conspicuous in the urban ruins, plus lots of fun to lay on its side and roll around in and has better protection against bullets. (Though take care of rolling around for too long at one time, lest Snake vomit due to excessive dizziness) Both the box and drum can return in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and both are pretty effective. What's more, a group of enemy mooks now hide in cardboard boxes themselves.
    • It gets silly in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater where Naked Snake can have several different camouflage patterns of boxes and they still fool guards... except when they notice a box moving. Of course, none of the Comm Officers believe them.
    • In Revengence, Raiden can actually roll in the Drum Cans and get dizzy from it.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain takes place in the forgotten apex of cardboard box technology; one long strip of paint (and a company logo) is considered extensive camouflage, you can paste a giant sticker on your boxes to look like a soldier or a hot babe or an anime idol (and they'll buy it), and your literally paper-thin boxes are bulletproof. In a firefight, just pull out a cardboard box and you get 270-degree protection from bullets, and you can stand up in them and shoot for full-frontal body armor. And you can carry up to 56 boxes. And they even come in waterproof and smokescreen!
  • In Modern Warfare, the mission "All Ghillied Up", as its name suggests, has Price and McMillan stealthing around in Ghillie suits. Later games also have enemy Ghillie snipers.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has a walking bush stalking Mr. Gumby through the game's opening area.
  • In Ori and the Blind Forest, while avoiding Kuro after escaping the Forlorn Ruins, you have to hide behind a movable log at one point.
  • In Psychonauts, the "Milkman Conspiracy" level has mailboxes which'll open the mail slot and look at you. If you turn your back on them, they'll start sneaking toward you until you turn around.
  • Quest for Glory:
  • You first meet Alouette hiding in a cardboard box beside your door in Recettear.
  • Some maps in Rising Storm have Japanese soldiers' character models feature leaf camouflage over their uniforms, helping them to blend into the thick jungle.
    • NVA soldiers and Viet Cong guerillas in Rising Storm 2: Vietnam have access to unlockable bush camouflage as well, though only once players reach Level 65.
  • Used by Rayman in Rayman 2: The Great Escape, to get past a security guard. The guard does spot him, but lets him through anyway ("It's just a big-nosed bush!").
  • RuneScape has Penguin Hide and Seek, where you try to find penguin spies disguised as bushes, rocks, giant mushrooms, crates, and for Halloween, pumpkins. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Saints Row IV makes a tribute to Metal Gear, in a mission that requires The Boss to infiltrate an enemy base by using a box to sneak around most of the level.
  • In Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf, the player (as Ralph Wolf) could hide in a bush to sneak past Sam the Sheepdog. If you weren't careful a sheep would eat your disguise.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Yoshi's Island has Spy Guys, Shy Guys who hide beneath a batch of yellow flowers. They make a reappearance in Paper Mario 64, this time wearing camo and hiding under a bush.
    • Mario Party 2: The minigame Sneak 'n' Snore involves the players sneaking to a door by a sleeping Chain Chomp. When the chomp wakes up, the players must quickly duck into the barrels or else they will be captured and taken away. If they don't stop fast enough, the players will for some reason be unable to duck their entire heads in to the barrel and still be caught.
    • Mario Party Advance: The minigame Barrel Peril has a solo player wear a barrel and use it to cross a street guarded by several Chain Chomps, which are sleeping. As soon as the Chomps hear the player's steps, they'll ram onto them. The player can hide within the barrel to block the ram and then continue moving; if they do not hide in time before the hit, they'll be stunned and waste precious time. The player has to reach the goal as fast as possible to attempt a record break. In Shroom City mode, the stroll is shorter, but the player has to reach the end under a time limit.
  • Snake can use this trick in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as well, but since that's a Fighting Game, it only serves as a taunt. In The Subspace Emissary, he tries this to escape from two pursuers... one of whom is Lucario. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Team Fortress 2 has an unofficial mod called Prop Hunt, where one entire team is disguised as props, frequently shrubbery, and hides from the other team among the scenery. Hilarity often ensues.
  • ToeJam & Earl featured an enemy called the Mailbox Monster which, at a glance, appeared to be a normal mailbox from which the player could buy presents through mail order. However, if the player approached, it would sprout arms and legs (with eyes visible through the mail slot) to pursue the player. If the player watched it for long enough without approaching, it would open the mail slot to peek out, revealing its eyes.
  • In the Toy Story Licensed Game, the ninth level, "Food and Drink", involves Buzz and Woody disguising themselves with a discarded burger box and milkshake cup to sneak into Pizza Planet, which is based on a similar scene from the movie the game is based on. They have to stand still any time humans walk by, with failing to do so costing Woody some of his health.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Two variants of trees have been used. One has a tree suit made for the character so they can observe a traitorous meeting, the other has a new Death Knight using a 2D wooden 'tree' to ambush a messenger (complete with a lampshade hung by said messenger).
    • In Cataclysm, a Westfall quest has the player use a box to spy on a meeting between the mysterious new chief of the Defias and a magi ogre who has joined them. The box is described as the quest giver's home.

    Web Animation 
  • Duke attempts this in Duke Nukem ForeverQuest. It doesn't fool anyone, largely because the bush is an obvious cardboard cutout, and because Duke's ramrod-stiff pose means he's largely visible anyway.
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email bike thief, Strong Bad suggests disguising yourself like a bush as one of the possible methods he'd use to steal someone's bike. He also points out that he can use this method to get free pizza from Bubs just by asking for it while in disguise.
    Strong Bad: [as a bush] Can I have some free pizza?
    Bubs: Sure thing, bush!
  • Mega Man Dies at the End: Mega Man sneaks into the Battletoads' cave by covering himself in a large bush.

  • Thief from 8-Bit Theater hides behind a bush at one point and follows Black Mage and Fighter through a city gate using the disguise.
  • In The Fourth, Lord Skärva disguises Derk and himself as these to sneak into town. It doesn't work.
  • Pops up in General Protection Fault: when Ki is spying on Nick's dates with Trish and Trudy, and there's no potted plants close enough for her to hide behind, she carries one of them with her as she moves closer to the table to eavesdrop.
  • Hilariously spoofed in The Last Days of Foxhound.
  • Bina and Julie use a recycling bin in Monster Pulse to sneak through a shady facility and rescue their monsters, carrying it over their heads and hiding in it by crouching down. Complete with an Unsound Effect 'sit' when someone walks by.

    Web Original 
  • Dozens of "There are X ninjas hiding in this picture." Can you find the ones that aren't a joke?

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Bob's Burgers episode "Drumforgiven", Teddy makes a very poor attempt to hide the fact he's got a gig at Jimmy Pesto's place by hiding behind one of the tall shrubs.
  • The Doctor uses the cardboard box version in the Doctor Who animation "Dreamland". When his alien companion asks how he knows where he's going, he explains he counted his steps.
    Doctor: Always count your steps, Saruba Velak. You never know when you'll need to escape in a box.
  • A Cutaway Gag in the Family Guy episode "I Never Met the Dead Man" has a young Peter trying to sneak into an R-rated movie disguised as a bush, not knowing that such an act wouldn't work indoors.
  • The Flintstones: In "Room for Two", Wilma did this to talk to Betty while their husbands were at war with each other.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "Herbicidal Maniac", General Skarr, who has been cursed with plant powers, follows Billy while disguised as a bush to get at him, but he encounters various misfortunes such as getting whizzed on by Billy, eaten by vegetarians, and used to store Jeff the Spider's eggs.
  • In one episode of Kaeloo, Stumpy spies on everyone else while they're having a conversation he's not supposed to hear. They immediately see through his disguise, but he keeps claiming he is a bush.
  • In the Let's Go Luna! episode "She Is the Moon of Moons", Mr. Hockbar hides in a bush so that he can be prepared to surprise Luna when the kids are ready to celebrate the surprise party they have planned for her at Beihai Park.
  • The Little Rascals: In "Poached Pooch", Butch and Woim disguise themselves as a bush and a fire hydrant, respectively, to steal Pete's collar.
  • This trope is so frequently used in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies that it is difficult to think of specific examples. One finds it impossible to recall, for instance, "Don't Give Up The Sheep," in which Ralph Wolf disguises himself as a shrub and Sam Sheepdog chases him disguised as a tree.
  • In Mater: Private Eye, Mater actually disguises himself as a wooden crate in order to sneak past Big D's henchpitties.
  • In the Muppet Babies episode, "A Backyard Divided", Gonzo and Piggy divide the backyard into two kingdom-like halves when they get into a feud. However, Piggy's magic wand is still in Gonzo's kingdom. One of Kermit and Fozzie's attempts to get it back is by disguising themselves as a bush. This plan fails because Gonzo sees through their disguise.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Twilight briefly follows Pinkie around while hiding in a shrub. Subverted in that Pinkie knows Twilight is doing so but is pretending not to notice.
    • Later happens in "Party of One" when Pinkie Pie attempts to combine this and a trench coat / Groucho glasses disguise, resulting in this abomination. Rainbow Dash's first reaction to seeing the thing is a thoroughly calm "Hi, Pinkie."
  • Private Snafu: In "A Lecture on Camouflage", after his jeep is shot by a Nazi shell, Snafu takes cover in the nearby woods, but the Technical Fairy First Class reminds him to cover his tracks. After doing so, it is time for Snafu to relax. He smokes under the shade of a tree. He is not alarmed when the tree asks for a light, speaking in a German accent. The Fairy has to remind him that the enemy can use camouflage too. Snafu sneaks away, but he is being followed by enemy soldiers posing as a tree, a tree stump, and a boulder.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Mitchell often hides inside an object and moves around while spying on the main cast. For example, he hides inside a present in "Holidays in Boxwood Terrace", and he hides inside a bush in "Jet Shrinks the Kids".
  • In one episode of Recess, a social worker studying the gang first follows them disguised (poorly) as a part of the jungle gym; she's spotted immediately and makes a note to improve her camouflage. She then starts following them disguised as a bush and gets trampled repeatedly, noting to her camouflage was working too well.
  • Appears frequently in Scooby-Doo, mostly involving Scooby and Shaggy.
  • Played with in She-Ra: Princess of Power. Resident Horde shapeshifter Imp took the form of a small bush so he could spy on the Rebels at a fair. When the Rebels moved their conversation elsewhere, he proceeded to simply hike up his lower branches and follow them... on tippy-toe no less.
  • On Sonic Boom, one of the members of the Lightning Bolt Society is always disguised as a tree.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Jellyfish Jam", to get close to the jellyfish at the beginning, SpongeBob disguises himself as a piece of coral.
  • Total Drama:
    • Duncan and Courtney join forces in "Basic Straining" to steal the good food only Chris and Chef have access to. They sneak their way over to the hosts' tent disguised as bushes to avoid detection.
    • While exiled to Boney Island in "Food Fright", Cameron dresses up as a fire hydrant for the explicit purpose of getting peed on by a large carnivore. His reasoning is that he'll get to smell like said carnivore and therefore no other animal will dare to go near him. To ensure the success of his plan, Cameron follows around a bear, standing still every time it looks around, until finally it takes a whiz.
  • Played with in the Wallace & Gromit short "The Wrong Trousers": Gromit spies on Feathers McGraw while hiding in a box. It turns out the box has a drawing of a dog on it, with Gromit's peepholes right where the eyes would be.
  • The Wombles use the cardboard box variety in one episode.
  • Yogi Bear did this to get past a mean bull in "Big Bad Bully".

    Real Life 
  • Malcolm III of Scotland's supposedly used this tactic at Dunsinane, as in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth.
  • David Johnson, the World Famous Bushman of San Francisco, dresses up as a random shrub and scares tourists walking through the area.
  • James Coldwell of Manchester, New Hampshire, who attempted to rob a bank in 2007. Disguised as a tree. Successfully.
  • There are some ads for the Navy that appear to be a picture of a rainforest. Until you read the caption at the bottom listing the half-dozen men in the picture. There's another one that shows a dozen security camera captures from a desert, taken every few seconds, with bushes visible. The bushes disappear somewhere between caps 7 and 8. How Not To Be Seen, apparently.
  • Ghillie Suits let their wearer blend in with near any foliage in which they can take cover. Useful for snipers, hunters, and anyone looking for all-around stealth capability, they turn their wearers into Mobile Shrubbery incarnate. Their most literal forms are actual shrubbery taken from the area and incorporated into the Ghillie Suit's makeup.
  • Pfingstblüttlern, a bizarre custom in the Swiss village of Ettingen in which men dress up as shrubbery, grab women and dunk them in water to make them more fertile.
  • In World War II, the Royal Netherlands Navy minelayer HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen escaped from the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies to the safety of Australia after the crew disguised the ship as a small tropical island.
  • A lot of animals have this by nature. They either have a similar colour to their surroundings (such as tigers and female ducks), can force themselves to blend in (such as Chameleons or octopi) or literally mimic shrubbery (such as Phasmatodea who look like sticks or leaves and are almost impossible to see unless they move).
  • If carefully disguised with foliage and parked within appropriate terrain, a Main Battle Tank can hide pretty well and not be noticed until the crew fires the main gun at an unsuspecting enemy.
  • In World War I, fake dead trees would sometimes be used to conceal forward observation posts. Of course, the enemy would notice immediately if a new tree suddenly appeared on the battlefield, so the ruse usually involved locating a real dead tree in a suitable location, copying its appearance in detail, and then, once night falls, quickly tearing out the real tree and installing the fake in its place, ideally while the sound of construction is covered by gunfire. Inside the trunk would be an armored tube large enough to house an observer, and a periscope or small viewing holes for him to see out.


Mirage Tank

High-tech tanks equipped with camo-projectors and spectrum cannons that can boil metal.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / MobileShrubbery

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