The villain is an unstoppable force of evil! His evil lair is impossible to find! Hidden in the darkest corners of the planet! How will our intrepid heroes ever find it?
Oh wait, the giant, brightly lit sign proclaiming "This Way To Villain's Hideout!" Nice work!
- In Astro Boy, the three robots' underground hideout is marked by a garishly painted sign.
- A "good" or at least "neutral" example: In Kill la Kill, the Mankanshoku Back-Alley Clinic has a flashing neon sign pointing it out (it's also in their own house).
- A "good guy" example: Lupin III had his name written on the roof of his hideout in neon for one episode so the bad guys trying to assassinate him could easily locate him.
- In World Conquest Zvezda Plot, the protagonists' Supervillain Lair has a sign on the door which clearly states it to be Zvezda's secret headquarters. Hero Antagonist White Robin still manages to fail to notice it, getting distracted by background events while Dva sneaks up and flips the sign around to the back side.
- In one issue of Jughead's Diner, Jughead and his Dinersville pals have to lure a giant gelatin monster to the secret lab of Sal Monella, but don't know where it is. Luckily, there are signs pointing the way. ("See the secret lab!") When Jughead lampshades the concept of signs leading to a secret lab, one of his pals suggests that the lab was so secret even Sal couldn't find it!
- In Marville, the Kingpin of Crime's lair is a gigantic skyscraper with "KINGPIN ENTERPRISES" written on the side.
- An Abridged Series crossover special between Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged, Naruto: The Abridged Series and Berserk Abridged had our heroes go on a long and dangerous journey in the name of Saving Christmas, only to discover the thieves were not only right next to their Christmas party, but had a sign out front reading "We are not thieves; we do not have Christmas".
Kuwabara: Aw, this can't be the right place!Guts: Yeah, just look at that sign.
- Ballser's Castle in Something. It only looks that way because it is a sprite-edit of Bowser's Castle from Super Mario World
- Megamind had a variation of sorts. Roxanne was able to easily find Megamind's hideout because it was the only building in town with a fake observatory on the roof, but she couldn't have gotten in without the doormat that said "Secret Entrance".
Megamind: Minion!Minion: (meekly) I kept forgetting where it was.
- Quest for Camelot: Kayley says there should be a sign declaring the border of Dragon Country, despite the fact that the air suddenly turns gaseous, the sky is orange, and the heroes walked over a dragon skeleton to get there.
- A version of this takes place in Spy Hard, as the villian's headquarters has a clearly marked "Intruder Entrance" sign on one of their doors, and it isn't Schmuck Bait either, it's actually pointing out the best place for intruders to enter.
- The live-action Dudley Do-Right movie had this with Snidely Whiplash and his secret hideout.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939): While going through the Haunted Forest to the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, our heroes encounter a sign that says "Witches castle 1 mile" [sic]. Mind you, the Witch is the ruler of the country, and has no need of secrecy.
- Justified in Blade where the vampire safehouse is marked with symbols in UV paint.
- Mr. Freeze's lair in Batman & Robin is an ice cream factory lit up with a bright neon sign and moving spotlights lighting the place up like it's a Hollywood premiere. Really, if Batman and the police can't figure out that's where he's hiding they really don't deserve to defeat him.
- The 1960s Batman (1966) series, naturally. One example has a villain hideout in a run-down factory, with a big "run down factory" sign over the door.
Wesley: How do you expect to find Angelus without Connor?Faith: The old-fashioned way. The kid's not the only tracker. Something'll turn up. A trail of bodies, tell-tale clue... (sees a huge banner on a building reading WELCOME FAITH) Maybe a carpet fiber...Wesley: So much for the element of surprise.
- This occurs in the Community episode Ladders when the group builds a speakeasy under Greendale after Frankie bans alcohol. They think it's Hidden in Plain Sight. It is, of course, actually this.
Britta: Who tattled?Frankie: In what world, Britta, do you see this as covert enough to require 'tattling'? You built a bar in a school. There was lumber involved! I have been letting you hole up in here because it kept you contained and satisfied, because you are all compulsively defiant.
- Mr. Robot has fsociety's base of operations, a derelict arcade that was once called "Fun Society," but the broken sign now reads "F Society". The FBI agent who eventually discovers it lampshades how long it took them to find it.
- In The Mighty Boosh, Dixon Bainbridge's secret lab, which Vince struggles to find, is clearly marked by a giant sign that says "Secret Lab".
- At Universal Studios
- In Doctor Doom's Fearfall, the location of the "Tower of Doom" is made very blatant due to the ride's name being displayed in big letters on a massive sign that can be seen from quite afar.
- The location of Snidely's hideout in Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls is directly shown with a large neon sign on the building, that reads, "HIDEOUT".
- Bowser's castle in Super Mario World was marked with a literal neon sign proclaiming "BOWSER", though it wasn't trying to be hidden in the first place.
- Serious Sam II sees Sam wonder where he can find the imprisoned Simba shaman right outside a building with a huge neon side that reads "Lucky's imprisoned Simba shamans".
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the "Secret Entrance" to the Great Tree is cleverly hidden by a large piece of paper that's the exact color and texture of the tree. You blow that paper away...and you find that the "Secret Entrance" has been marked thusly with a large movie-theater–style sign, complete with flashing lights around the edges.
- Hilariously, an NPC traveling with you, when talking about the Secret Entrance and how it's hidden, mentions that it wouldn't be marked by a sign.
- Dragon Quest IV doesn't have a neon sign, obviously, but it does have an island shaped like a spider with four smaller fortresses in the northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest corner.
- Bio Menace has a secret door in the last level of episode 1. It is actually a normal visible door. What makes the door so secret are the bright red letters written on it reading "SECRET DOOR".
- Bob and George, with Wily's castle.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Has the label "Secret Train to Large Animal Holding Cells (Very Hush Hush, You Know.)"
- Ziggy's base of operations in Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal (2022) is a run-down building named "Totally Normal (Not Sketchy At All) Establishment".note
Throg: Why pray tell doth thou havest a secret lair, then?
Ziggy: Well, considerin' how many of you mook-imals found it, guess it ain't all that secret. Might as well charge admission at this point.
- Invoked by Mumbo Jumbo, who makes a YouTube video of himself "building the best unhidden bunker in Minecraft" using fireworks, cakeheaded glowing zombies nametagged with invitations, a beacon with decorative stained glass shooting multicolored light beams into the sky, an arrow sign with redstone lamps spelling "HERE", and more.
- Darkwing Duck had Negaduck's hideout raise a giant flag with his face on it. Which Darkwing, naturally, completely fails to notice. Instead, he laser-focuses on a single bread crumb left behind at the crime scene and figures out the location of the hideout just from that. When he shows up, Negaduck reveals that he deliberately left the crumb behind in order to lure Darkwing there because he knew Darkwing wouldn't notice the flag.
- Looney Tunes
- In the 1946 short "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery", Daffy Duck (as "Duck Twacy, the famous detec-a-tive") takes a streetcar (labeled "To Gangsters' Hideout") past neon signs that read, "Gangsters' Hideout," to one that reads, "This is IT! Entrance."
- Another Looney Tunes example: The 1952 Bugs Bunny short "Water, Water Every Hare" started with a shot of castle with a neon sign alternating "Evil Scientist" and "Boo".
- In "Bugsy and Mugsy" Bugs Bunny is living in an abandoned house that two criminals use for a hideout. Bugs invokes this trope by putting up a literal Neon sign that says "Rocky's Hideaway." naturally it doesn't take long for the police to find them. Rocky never noticed the sign and thought that idiot sidekick had turned him in. Poor Mugsy gets a beatdown for nothing.
- In the The Fairly Oddparents TV movie, Fairly Odd Baby, Wanda and the other were looking for the evil baby lair, and she said that her maternal instincts were a sonar device to locate Poof. She credited her maternal instincts to finding the room where Poof was located, but there was clearly a sign that pointed to where the door was.
- Also done in the Super Mario World cartoon, where Bowser's Castle has the same sign as in the game, except it lights up letter by letter. And is apparently called the Coney Island Disco Palace. A menacing name it is not.
- In Phineas and Ferb Doof 'trades' as 'Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated', even going so far as to have his own advertising jingle. His headquarters are usually in a large skyscraper-type building, with a giant 'Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated' sign on the outside.
O.W.C.A. Secret Headquarters (Please Pay No Attention To This Sign)
- Similarly, Perry's spy organization, the O.W.C.A.: Organization Without a Cool Acronym, has this sign in front of their building:
- In My Life as a Teenage Robot, the Cluster has a recruiting office with a storefront right on human territory in Tremorton.
- In The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror IV story, Bart Simpson's Dracula. Bart and Lisa are coming back from washing themselves of the blood that Lisa "spilled" on the two of them. At first they think they stumbled onto Burns' vampire lair when Bart leans on a structure and opens a hidden wall, but it turns out to be just the laundry room. Then they find it when Lisa turns around and sees an open staircase leading down with a neon sign on the wall reading "To Secret Vampire Lair" (followed by a blinking sign under it stating "No Garlic").