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No Peripheral Vision

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"What Baloo had said about the monkeys was perfectly true. They belonged to the tree-tops, and as beasts very seldom look up, there was no occasion for the monkeys and the Jungle-People to cross each other's path."

In real life, human vision covers a substantial arc (roughly 60° horizontally toward the nose, 100° away, 60° up, and 75° down.) Try it: Inside a building, look straight ahead, and see how much of the ceiling you can see while looking straight ahead and not at the ceiling—quite a bit, except for the part directly over you.

This tends to get ignored in fiction. Someone can see things that are directly in front of them, but it's easy to hide on the ceiling, to the sides, or even up in the air if you can fly. This may also be related to the Rule of Perception and Behind the Black, since as long as the audience can't see the ceiling, it's assumed that nobody can.

There may be some real-life support for the idea of not noticing things on the ceiling. After all, in nature the only thing that will be above you is the sky and maybe a few birds, which are very rarely dangerous predators that you need to avoid. Police and military training spend a great deal of effort on teaching trainees to check "Up" when they are searching or entering an area. On the other hand, fiction tends to apply this to things which would be much more obvious than a typical sniper (who by definition is trying to stay hidden) or ceiling bloodstain. There's really no reason why Spider-Man should ever be able to hide on the ceiling unless it's either 40 feet high or a really small room. In fiction people may even ignore moving objects that aren't directly in front of them, despite the fact that peripheral vision is sensitive to motion.


However, peripheral vision is different to different people. Some people, and in fact a great number of people, pay no attention, or don't even register things that are outside of their direct line of sight. As such, unused peripheral vision can sometimes be justified in fiction if the hidden person or object is close to the border of what one's eyes can cover.

A variation happens in video games where things can be hidden on the ceiling. The Player Character, in real life, would be able to notice most of them casually. But the display seen by the player doesn't have much peripheral vision, being locked in by the frame of their monitor, so the player can't see them normally and must purposely look up. Most players don't do this much. This is why third person cameras are usually seen as Acceptable Breaks from Reality, as they give back some of the awareness a real person would be expected to have. Some more hardcore first-person games do allow to enable a wider field of view — with a fish-eye camera effect or even a multiple-monitor setup. Note that some games justify the tunnel vision effect by putting the player in a full-face helmet. Conversely, Video Game A.I. is often similarly limited to very narrow vision cones, especially in stealth games to make it easier for the players to sneak up on them.


This may cause a character to miss a Ceiling Corpse. Compare 1-Dimensional Thinking, where fleeing characters could avoid mishap by stepping aside rather than continue rushing forward. Also compare Failed a Spot Check, where peripheral vision isn't necessarily the issue but something goes unnoticed anyway.


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  • A somewhat memorable Tyson chicken commercial has a kid strong enough to hide on the ceiling. “We've got a climber!”

    Anime and Manga 
  • In one episode of Ghost Hunt involving a bell sound at a small school, the ghost turns out to be that of a young boy who used to go to that school but disappeared years ago while playing hide-and-seek. The boy had climbed up to an old, out of the way cove of the school grounds and his way up collapsed from underneath him, leaving him stuck up there. He couldn't make any noise to draw attention to his location because he was mute — the mysterious sound was a set of bells he carried with him to get people's attention but he had dropped them when he became stuck. Thus, he perished without anyone finding him despite the grounds being searched over and over. Mai realizes what had happened when, in the present, the kids play hide-and-seek again and she notices that the kids look all around the school grounds but none think to look up.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man does this constantly. Except when it doesn't work and he has to give up a photograph and autograph to escape, which thanks to his colorful costume, makes it difficult to NOT be seen.
  • Heroes in Invincible can do pretty much anything without being noticed as long as they're up in the air. Typically this means using their powers out of costume without blowing their secret identities. There is a fairly constant lampshade hung on it.

    Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Izuku manages to hide from Bakugou for weeks by ducking into classrooms and sticking to walls and ceilings out of his direct line of sight.

    Films — Animation 
  • Brave: When Elinor as a bear sneaks into the crowded ballroom by backing against the wall and tip-toeing, Merida distracts everyone by having them focus on her. No one — not even those who face her — notice Elinor moving around in her large form and occasionally even actively waving to draw Merida's attention, even though she should be in their cone of vision. The only person who gets suspicious is a guard who has his back to the wall and even he believes her to be a stuffed bear when she poses as one. Even King Fergus, who has it out bad for any bear, and was facing in that direction, fails to see her.
  • Elastigirl in The Incredibles pulled a Spider-Man to avoid being spotted by a pair of Mooks once inside the enemy compound.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: After Oogie Boogie realizes that the knife-wielding king cards wasn't going to stop Jack from kicking his ass, Oogie pulls a rope that stops the murderous cards. Jack goes for Oogie, never noticing the gun-wielding gambling game cowboy skeletons approaching to his left and nearly getting shot.
  • In Turning Red, Ming completely misses that Mei is a giant red panda when she's beside her in the bathroom.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The burglars in Home Alone 3.
    • Marv in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York missing a huge gaping chasm in the floor right in front of him, even taking a few moments to observe the room and then falls immediately down it.
    • In the first film, both Harry and Marv fail to notice the floor between them is completely covered in toy cars. In Harry's case, even though he glances down to see Marv isn't wearing shoes, he still doesn't see them.
  • Lampshaded in Get Smart: when 99 notices a KAOS agent on the plane, she tells Max to “use his peripherals.” Max, being who he is, merely widens his eyes and then says he can't see a thing.
  • A particularly odd example comes from the 2007 Transformers, where Frenzy skitters right between two guards completely undetected (doubly odd in that Frenzy was also making plenty of noise as he did so), which the RiffTrax crew is quick to lampoon:
    Mike: So, how's your peripheral vision, Bob?
    Kevin (as "Bob"): Terrible! Yours?
  • River hides from the doctors looking for her by climbing to the ceiling in the escape-from-the-lab opening of Serenity. And again to Jayne later on. Although that time, there was almost no light, and Jayne was drunk enough to think going after River over Mal's orders was a good idea.
  • And again Spider-Man in the movies. In the first, he at least had the excuse of a rather high ceiling in his loft apartment. He's also smart enough to try and hide as close to directly over the heads of the people he's hiding from as he can.
    • Inverted in Spider-Man: Homecoming, twice in the same scene, even. First, Peter, crawling across the ceiling, fails to notice his friend, Ned, sitting in his bedroom waiting for him, while Ned was watching him the whole time. Then, when Aunt May walks in on them, she fails to notice his suit on the floor between herself and Peter.
  • Alien? So many scenes where a friendly little bit of drooling by our favorite xeno-morph caused our soon-to-be-ex-protagonists to look up a little too late… Somewhat justified by the fact that the Xenomorph's natural colouration makes for very effective camouflage against a dark background in dim light: On a couple of occasions in the first film it's literally Hidden in Plain Sight, looking like a piece of set dressing even to the audience.
  • Lone Star: Burke gets the jump on Craden's goon squad when they ride down a trail and fail to see him in the tree branches directly over their heads. Of course, it was dark.
  • Léon a/k/a The Professional. Fairly justified, in that he was just inside the room, right above the door. The incoming SWAT team are all wearing respirators, which really seriously cut down all peripheral vision.
  • This happens quite often in slasher movies, only with the killer standing to the side rather than clinging to the ceiling. Notably Friday the 13th and Halloween.
    • Halloween II (1981), where a girl near the beginning looks out the door to see if she sees anything suspicious, but doesn't seem to notice that Michael Myers is almost directly ahead of her. She can't see him simply because he's standing slightly to her left, as if she's wearing those blinders that they put on horses.
    • In Prom Night (2008). When the protagonist is under the bed she doesn't notice her friend's dead body right next to her until after she slowly looks to her right.
  • The Thirteenth Chair: After Ned Wales is murdered right in the middle of the seance, no one can find the murder weapon, not even after all the guests are searched by the cops. No one notices it stuck in the ceiling.
  • A scene in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) has Jane Smith jump out a skyscraper by using a special purse that turns into a metal rope that drops her right down onto a crowded sidewalk. No one seems to notice she came from several hundred feet in the air.
  • Adventures in Babysitting. Thankfully the only one who noticed them wanted them to escape safely. And they were definitely high enough, especially when everyone else in the room was focused on a table full of documents and papers.
  • Avatar: Last Shadow's one weakness appears to be maniacs falling out of the sky from above. Naturally, this is basically the only way to impress it enough to fly one. Jake manages to sneak attack a flying beast, after realizing since the monster is considered king of the sky, it'd never bother to think to look up.
  • Pops up in A Christmas Story, when the teacher asks where Flick is after he stuck his tongue to the pole. The camera shot over her shoulder reveals that Flick was right there, out the window, right within her range of vision.
  • A quite believable one in The Shawshank Redemption, when Andy wears the warden's shoes into his cell as part of his escape plan. Red's narration points it out: "The guard simply didn't notice. Neither did I. I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a man's shoes?"
  • AVP: Alien vs. Predator has a giant Predator spaceship pass by overhead without the guards seeing anything. It helps that the ship somehow moves without making a sound, but those must be the worst guards ever.
  • In Matilda, Matilda manages to hide from Miss Trunchbull by using her powers to levitate herself up to the underside of a kitchen table. Miss Trunchbull doesn't think to look up. Somewhat justified in that Miss Trunchbull would have no reason to think someone could do that, but if she'd even happened to glance up (say, out of the corner of her eye while looking sideways), she would have seen Matilda there.
  • Lampshaded a bit in The Fisher King when Jeff Bridges character is scaling a castle wall in New York City (makes slightly more sense in context), he remarks that he is glad no one in the city ever looks up.
  • At one point in Five Graves to Cairo, Lt. Schwegler leans up against a wall, and completely misses Bramble, passed out on the floor about four feet directly to his left.
  • In The Vagabond, Charlie Chaplin is perched in plain sight in a tree branch that's maybe nine feet off the ground. He knocks out five mooks with a club, leaving a little pile of unconscious bad guys. No one ever looks up.
  • Secrets: With her father William hammering on the door, Mary hurriedly throws her dress down on the floor (it's a huge 19th century formal dress) for John to hide under. William enters the room, sees the dress on the floor, picks it up, and scolds Mary for not taking care of her dress, while John's legs are in plain view at his feet.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: Justified example. In the first battles, Furiosa ruthlessly rams anything off the road that gets near her. During the storm, a piece of debris shatters her side view mirror and gives Nux an opening to overtake her. Later on, she is far less able to use the massive rig itself as a weapon, with the notable exception of squashing the Interceptor against the People Eater's rig.
  • In Carrie (1976) No one at the prom spots the bucket of pig's blood in the rafters, even though it's only about 12 feet up, and in plain sight. The remakes fix this by having the rafters be much higher up.
  • In Split Second No one notices the blood "diagram" the killer drew on the ceiling until it blood starts dripping on one of their heads, which finally prompts them to look up. This is even though the diagram is quite large and is still red, which is one of the most eye-catching colors.

  • The Animorphs once went flying around a Yeerk base pretty much unseen, hugging the ceilings because "people don't look up much."
  • In David Eddings books, the thieves are quick to point out the usefulness of rooftops. Almost justified as they explain guards with metal helms don't look up much. As well as the fact it was snowing rather heavily at the time, making it even likely no one would look up.
  • Inverted and Justified in Frozen Innocence, the tenth book in the La Fuerza Series. Blindspot’s superpower is that she can only be seen in your peripheral vision.
  • Lampshaded more than once in Ranger's Apprentice - Will always hid as a child by hiding in the tops of trees, relies on not being seen by guards on the ground when climbing a wall because they won't look up (though, to be honest, he only relies on this when the guards are right beneath him), and was taught all throughout his training to always look up, just in case your enemy's there.
  • In the Robin Hood novel The Outlaws of Sherwood, a younger outlaw wonders how the sheriff's foresters never seem to learn to look up. Little John dryly points out that if they don't see the outlaws, the outlaws are unlikely to bother them.
  • Lampshaded in the novelization of Titan A.E., where Cale escapes from a couple of alien pursuers by climbing up into the ceiling. He guesses that those aliens "came from very flat worlds" since neither of them thinks to look up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Amazing Race.
    • An extraordinary Real Life instance in the first episode of Season 20. The next-to-last team dashes through an entryway into an open courtyard. Phil, the greeter, and the Pit Stop placemat are in plain sight, approximately 80 yards away, directly to their right. They do not see him, and after they cluelessly rush back out of the building, the only other team left makes it to the Pit Stop and the no-peripheral-vision team is eliminated.
    • In Season 16, Jet & Cord passed by Brent while looking for a clue box, yet did not see him despite spotting his bags against a wall, looking right over his head, and being close enough to touch him. Brent's reaction to the whole thing was hilarious.
  • Blake's 7. While at least the Federation Gas Mask Mooks have an excuse for their restricted vision, this trope even applies to the Security Robot despite having sensors placed around a rotatable head. In "Seek-Locate-Destroy" Blake is Hidden in Plain Sight by lying flat on a sloped piece of ground, and in "Project Avalon" the rebels press themselves against the side of a cave, despite the robot coming back from the opposite direction leaving them clearly exposed.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In the episode "Listening To Fear", the Queller manages to hide on the ceiling in a busy hospital, even in long corridors.
    • An even earlier example from the first episode: Buffy "hides" from the person stalking her (Angel, but she didn't know him then) by doing a handstand on a pole projecting from the side of a building about 10 feet up in a dark alley.
  • CSI: Zigzagged in one of Langston's episodes. He & Catherine are looking back into a old case. She tells him Grissom taught her that "no one looks up." They do so, and eventually find a hammer embedded in the crook of a tree. It turns out to be the murder weapon which had been overlooked by the original investigators and had been there for so long that the tree had grown around it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The classic series is riddled with cases where this is played straight. While it is perhaps excusable with Daleks and aliens who wear helmets such as Sontarans or Ice Warriors, almost everyone else in the Whoniverse seems to have tunnel vision. Perhaps the most egregious are "The Twin Dilemma" (when Peri manages to miss a smouldering space fighter) and "Warriors of the Deep" (when guards march right past the Doctor while looking for him, due to the fact that he is off to one side).
    • Averted in "The Mark of the Rani", where the Doctor dodges a danger that seems to be sneaking up on him out of sight. When Peri asks how he knew about it, he simply replies "Peripheral vision."
    • "Daleks in Manhattan" has a good example of Dalek eyestalks' lack of peripheral vision: a Dalek rolling through an Absurdly-Spacious Sewer does not notice the Doctor and Tallulah in an alcove that it passes by.
  • In The Dukes of Hazzard, Bo and Luke are sneaking on the rooftops of town to get to a location and the Balladeer does some Lampshade Hanging when he describes the action and notes "You notice how people don't seem to look up?"
  • Fawlty Towers: In "Waldorf Salad", Basil is in the dining room, busily reading out a fabricated letter from the chef, failing to notice smoke pouring out between the doors leading into the kitchen.
  • Heroes:
    • West mentions to Claire that it's easy to fly around unseen because nobody looks up. Exactly how that works when he's ten feet in the air and people are forty feet from him horizontally remains to be told.
    • Monica also tries hiding on the ceiling, and it works until she drops something.
    • Peter Petrelli also completely fails to spot Mohinder on the ceiling until blood drips on him.
    • This seems to be the key to Sylar's frequent Offscreen Teleportation, seeing as how he's still able to do it even when stripped of all his powers except his base Awesomeness by Analysis and Telekinesis.
  • This happens in some of the Little Britain sketches involving Lou and wheelchair-bound Andy. When Lou goes to talk to somebody else, Andy will get out of the wheelchair to ride on a horse, or to dive into a pool from the top diving board, with Lou completely unaware.
  • Superman in Lois & Clark. Well, it was a rather high ceiling with some conveniently placed beams to place herself between.
  • The Mandalorian: On more than one occasion the Mando has been surprised by someone who gets the drop on him because he failed to look up while tracking them.
  • The Middleman subverts the trope by not only looking up but by firing a Concussive Stun Field Generator at the quarry to take her down before she can leap on him.
  • Literally every single extra character in any Mr. Bean episode. One would think he could do just about anything and get away with it, because no other character ever seems to notice any of his actions unless he's directly in front of them, and maybe not even then.
  • The Muppet Show: In one At the Dance segment, one dancer is surprised when her partner, Blue Frackle, tells her that he has three feet, and at the end of the segment, she asks him if he really has three feet, which he proves by lifting them all up off the ground (and falling). She would have been able to see those three feet if she'd just looked down, and should have been able to see that he had three feet before they started dancing (unless they were really close to each other when they picked each other to dance).
  • In the BBC 2 documentary Murder on the Victorian Railway, the presenter takes to strutting around 2013 London in period costume including a cane with a silver knob on the end. On passing through the ticket barriers at a suburban station he encounters a man in his path, eyes glued to an iPad - and uses the knob end of his cane to move him to the side. The presumably hardened commuter doesn't even look up.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Gunslinger mocks this when Sheriff Rose and Mayor Polk are talking about hiding the latter in the town jail while the villain Cain is in the background watching it all take place.
    Joel: They must not have invented Peripheral Vision yet.
  • Sesame Street: In the "Cookie Disco" song, Cookie Monster becomes unhappy that he can't find any more cookies to eat, though there is one laying on the wall in front of him, easily within his view. Though this is probably more likely a mistake than intentional.
  • In the pilot of Supernatural, Sam gets a snack, goes into his bedroom, lies down on the bed, and then closes his eyes. Only when blood starts dripping down on him does he notice that his girlfriend's body is stuck to the ceiling directly above him.
  • Pretty much every character in The Walking Dead. The walkers are slow and stupid and should pose little threat to the protagonists, so the show compensates by having them somehow sneak up on people without them noticing.
  • In the pilot of Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, Matt "Feedback" Atherton was so focused on the finish line to a race that he missed the real test: a crying girl who needed help finding her mother.

  • Textbook example in the music video for Radiohead's song "Just", where a character accidentally stumbles upon another character lying in plain sight on the ground in front of him.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Wrestlers tend to vary between this and omniscience, allowing them either to be completely blindsided by an opponent that does not have their full attention or to counter an opponent that they didn't even know was in the building as the situation dictates. This trope may be enforced on the viewer by framing shots so that surprises are not visible until they happen, and this often requires selective blindness from the commentary team as well to prevent them from spoiling it. Of course the Easily-Distracted Referee suffers from this permanently.
  • There was a WCW event where Elix Skipper was talking about how he was going to beat Goldberg while Goldberg was standing direct behind him and turning in near perfect motion with Skipper so that he continued to be oblivious of Goldberg's presence. The problem here was that as he was turning, Skipper should have been able to see Goldberg on the jumbo tron.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Battles, figures have a 90° line of sight as they stand in close formation (but can see things above them). This is mostly logical (if you're in the middle of a formation, you can't turn much to aim even if you do spot something), but it sometimes prevents a lone wizard to be able to cast spells to his left.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Inverted in the tabletop rules: If even your toe is visible to the enemy, you and your entire squad might as well be waving giant flags, since that's enough for them to shoot at your entire squad and apparently kill people behind meter-long thick boulders (You do get the benefits of Cover in this case, but that isn't saying much.). Peripheral vision seems to be much more important in the 41st millennium. Which is odd, considering the preponderance of Shoulders of Doom within the setting.
    • The Mantis Warriors chapter of Space Marines have a unique mutation that causes them to suffer from tunnel vision.
  • Discussed in an early comic of Darths & Droids. Most players will check the floors, around corners, under things... but only experienced players will ever explicitly check up, which so happens to be the direction experienced DM's put most nasty enemies and traps. This shows up rather frequently in jokes about pen-and-paper RPG players as "you can tell who is an experienced roleplayer by watching them enter a room. If they look up first, they know what they're doing."
  • Invoked in BattleTech. The designers of the first BattleMechs were well aware of the poor visibility that other armored vehicles suffered from, so they incorporated a 360 degree camera onto the head of the battlemechs, which is projected as a 120 degree fisheye display in the top of the pilot's neurohelmet. Sneaking up on a battlemech with anything other than infantry is a very difficult task, made even more difficult by the battlemech's seismic, magnetic, infrared, and radar suite.
  • The heavier head armours in {GURPS} has this as a drawback; you lose full peripheral vision while you're wearing, say, a bucket helm.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Alien: Isolation: while the trope is generally averted in this game, sometimes an enemy could pass straight without noticing you crouched in an angle on their side. Even the xenomorph while being generally devious and perceptive is not totally immune, like in this example where it doesn't notice the player on its side and then gets distracted by a flare (only to successfully resume hunting a few moments later). In certain circumstances it can even fail to see you directly in its front just because its AI routine is tunnel-visioning another input, like in this example with the noisemaker overriding its focus right after rotating (the following gunshots are a subversion because it later quickly returns to your last known position, meaning that it indeed noticed you were here but was prioritizing another target first). This other example is even more egregious as the creature looks blind and dumb for not noticing the player in the corner, and the video is indeed making a comparison between normal behavior and a mod intended to make the game harder. However, never count on such cases when planning your moves.
  • El Hijo A Wild West Tale: Enemies in the game have a cone of vision that El Hijo needs to stay out of to avoid detection. The cones can only be visible from the bird's view.
  • Several solutions to puzzles in Outlast involve having to climb up through a raised vent or broken ceiling. However, many people, especially when being chased by one or more homicidal maniacs, often are too busy trying not to die to look up a lot of the time, making many of these sections extremely frustrating to first-time players.
  • Note that the player character's peripheral vision in first-person shooter games is much smaller, as the field of view is generally only 75 (Half-Life 2) to 90 (most other games) degrees and not very wide. In these games, you really do have no peripheral vision. Some games allow the player to alter the FOV, but doing so can make the game uncomfortable to watch/play, especially on 4:3 screens (non-widescreen). A few games get around this by allowing the player to hook up additional monitors to expand their FOV, and some arcade games having a 3-monitor setup for the same purpose as part of the cabinet.
  • In Doom and Wolfenstein 3-D, you can't even tilt your head!
  • In the opening cinematic of StarCraft: Brood War, one Terran marine on the battlefield asks another: "Where is the air support?" The other dude points to a humongous battlecruiser hovering directly overhead, which the first dude had somehow missed.
  • The vaporware Third-Person Shooter StarCraft: Ghost would have given the player the ability to hide on the ceiling.
  • The commentary for Portal mentions that since players seldom look up in games, they had to provide hints for the player to do so.
  • This is what makes the Barnacles so dangerous in the Half-Life games — you're walking along all casual-like, and all of a sudden you're being yanked up towards the ceiling... Valve in fact mentioned in commentaries that the Barnacles were specifically made for this purpose: get the player to look up and check the ceilings. Suffice to say that players of Half-Life learned to do that very quickly.
  • Also in the Orange Box, Team Fortress 2 Demoman players exploit this tendency by placing sticky-mine traps on the ceiling. Bizarrely, this works even when the ceiling-mines are easily visible; for whatever reason, players tend to ignore even easily visible objects on the ceiling. (Blame the tunnel-vision effect you get when in high stress situations.)
  • While Minecraft can fall under this, surprise creeper attacks can be avoided by setting the POV slider to "Quake Pro."
  • The Tenchu videogame series, where you play a Ninja in Hollywood Medieval Japan, makes tremendous use of this. Your main method of killing foes, (or avoiding them if they spot and chase you) is generally crouching on top of short nearby walls until they turn away and you can sneak up on them. Enemies almost never look up, and have a great deal of trouble seeing around corners.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
      • The first boss, Queen Gohma, is hiding on the ceiling and only attacks after the player looks up. Although that boss isn't as good at hiding.
      • The guards in the castle's courtyard stop to turn every so often, but otherwise can only see straight ahead. The ones outside the castle also seem to have a rather low line of sight.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
      • An extreme example of this are the Deku Palace guards. Their line of sight, which you can actually see at night, is a straight line a few feet long and they will only notice you if you happen to come in contact with that line (this line may be longer during the day, but they still can't see at angles).
      • Another example occurs to the player character. One of the mid-bosses of the Great Bay Temple is Wart, a giant eye covered in bubbles. The room you encounter it in is gigantic. You must switch to first person and manually look up, towards the ceiling, to see the gigantic eye attached to the roof, staring back at you. Only then will the fight begin.
    • Same with the Phantoms in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, though they at least have the excuse of wearing helmets. In addition, they don't see you even if you're directly in their line of sight as long as you're far enough down the hallway.
    • The Gohma and Wart examples above are mirrored with the Deku Toad in Twilight Princess. That one at least has the benefit of dropping tadpoles on you from the ceiling and Midna prodding you to check it out.
  • Likewise, in the Pokémon games, all NPCs have a sight range that is in a direct line in front of them. Even a 15 degree angle is enough not to get noticed. Of course, they and the player character can only move in 90-degree increments until Pokémon X and Y let the player move diagonally.
    • Averted as of Pokémon Sun and Moon where trainers not only frequently look around but also spot players that aren't quite in their line of sight.
  • The guards in the Metal Gear series have this problem (and they can only see about 10 feet in front of their own face). In the original MSX games, they can only see in straight lines - even being one row off made you completely invisible to them. Metal Gear Solid added some peripheral vision to them, as you can see through the Soliton radar, which points out the guards' cone of vision. It's far from perfect, however, and you can be standing literally right next to them (or even slightly in front) and they won't notice you. This is subtly corrected in the later games, particularly as they moved away from having an Enemy-Detecting Radar, and in some later games the harder difficulties give enemies almost 180-degree peripheral vision and a very long line of sight.
  • The Alpha Section troops from Beyond Good & Evil, who can't see Jade unless they look at her. They can, however, hear fast movement. They have full-face helmets. Not that you would want to see how they look beneath their helmets.
  • Fallout 3 is relatively good about enemies noticing you sneaking around their peripheral... until you max out your Sneak skill. A character with the Silent Running perk is able to sneak attack just about anyone while wearing 50 lbs of futuristic plate mail, an irritatingly loud vacuum cleaner/leaf blower hybrid, and carrying the tons of tin cans, bottles, and various bits of junk this weapon uses as ammunition. Even while right in front of the enemy at point blank range, in some cases.
  • Played somewhat straight in the Boktai series, which rely heavily on sneaking. Most enemies will only come suspicious of you if you are in front of them, about a sixty-degree cone that extends out to seven paces maximum in front of them. The exceptions to this are blind enemies that you should kill with flame anyway, and enemies that can't alert other enemies to your presence. Having said that, making a noise like knocking on a wall or stepping in a puddle is enough to make every enemy in the room rush over to your spot.
  • In one of the final cutscenes of Wing Commander Prophecy, Blair is surprised, aboard the alien wormhole gate, by an alien hiding on the ceiling. He's alerted only a brief moment before it attacks by a bit of slime dripping onto his gun.
  • One of the most prominent stealth techniques of the first Splinter Cell game was the 'split-jump,' which allowed you to hide just above an enemy's head. Although you could sometimes still be spotted depending on the lighting. In later games, Sam can deliver an inverted Neck Snap while hanging from a beam.
  • NPCs in "don't get spotted!" portions in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days won't notice you if you're right in front of them, as long as you stay far enough ahead; nor will they hear you if you're right behind them. Their range of sight is, however, an arc rather than a straight line.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • So long as they're not chasing you, provoked, or saw you climbing up, the guards on the ground never seem to notice you when you're up in the rafters or rooftops. The guards who are patrolling the rooftops will see you fine, though. Averted in later installments, however. If you're not particularly high up on the building or it's not tall enough and the guards are some distance away, they will notice you.
    • And of course, the fact that the protagonist is always wearing a hooded garment that should block not just peripheral but everything from nose-level up and yet has no problem being aware of and dispatching multiple enemies.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum the mooks never see you hiding on the gargoyles unless you do something to draw their attention.
    • Partially averted if they see you on the ground and you hook away within their line of sight. They will continue to shoot you anywhere as long as they can see you. The second you've mashed the RT/R2 button a few times, they don't notice you. And won't ever check the gargoyles even though they saw you go up.
    • The same rules go for crawlspaces in the floor; they won't look down through grates unless they're already tracking you.
    • Averted by Batman himself, who defends against and counterattacks mooks coming from behind as easily as those in front, particularly in the penultimate cutscene.
    • The same goes for Batman: Arkham City, only with a few modifiers. First of all, some enemies are equipped with thermal goggles, and they will occasionally scan gargoyles to be safe. Second, Catwoman is playable and she has a Ceiling Cling - she's subject to the same rules as Batman (enemies won't see her up there unless they're tracking her), but it seems more blatant as Batman, at least, can hide in the shadows with a gargoyle blocking enemies' view; Catwoman's right in the open.
    • Also in Batman: Arkham City, sometimes an enemy can be completely oblivious about the fact that Batman has just taken out two of his friends right next to him. Sometimes it takes a little bit of looking around for him to figure out what's just happened.
    • Batman sits on top of the gargoyles by default, but if he hangs lower, he's not any more visible, despite being a big black yoyo just above someone's head. Then they notice the enemies you've done inverted takedowns on, which hang low on the same level. Some enemies do realize Batman hangs out on the gargoyles in the later portions and shoot at them even if you're not there, eventually bringing the vantage point down.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, soldiers never see you as long as you're above them. This could be justified, though, since they wear vision-obscuring helmets.
  • The guards in Secret Agent Barbie seem to have this. In fact, you can see their exact field of vision on the minimap. You could be standing right next to one of the guards, but as long as you're not in that vision field, you won’t get noticed.
  • In the video game for GoldenEye, one of the stages has you shooting out security cameras. Sounds straightforward enough, but one of the cameras is placed slightly higher up than the others, and you never see it within your normal field of vision, which can get frustrating as you run around trying to find that last camera.
  • This is inflicted on the enemies in [PROTOTYPE 2] by an upgrade which decreases the guards' fairly normal field of vision by 25%.
  • The guards in Dishonored mirror Arkham's mooks by being unable to look up. Middle of the day, broad daylight, in a courtyard littered by guards? Just hide up on that street light which not only supports your weight, but sits above the guards' cone of vision. Speaking of said cone, you can use an ability to see it... and it's about two yards in distance on Normal. Alerted guards, on the other hand, can look up, so jumping up to a vantage point isn't a sure way to avoid them spotting you again.
    • Averted in the sequel which will have a special difficulty setting where guards can look upward.
  • Averted in Gunpoint. Any guard's field of vision goes all the way up to the roof and all the way across the room, so jumping on one to knock him out or toss him out a window involves turning off the lights and hiding above doorways (which block their field of view) waiting for them to come through so you can drop on them.
  • In the Sly Cooper series, guards with flashlights can't see you unless you stand in the cone of light the flashlight provides. This even applies to stages set during the day, when they shouldn't even need a flashlight to see!
  • Zigzagged in Valkyria Chronicles: The cone of sight for laying down interception fire is only a ninety degree arc for tanks and two of the classes capable of it. Scouts, however, have an interception cone extending in a two hundred and seventy degree arc. Relatedly, units on the receiving end of an attack are capable of evading attacks from anywhere except directly behind (including from directly behind in the first game). The sequels also avert this by allowing units to turn around to meet enemies encroaching too close to them, even if they were out of the interception cone range.
  • Shinra guards in Final Fantasy VII will regularly turn and move to a new spot, players can (and are expected to) run right past them to a new hiding spot despite only being a few feet away.
  • Most enemies in The Swindle have a defined line of vision, generally horizontal (although the penny-farthing robots can see vertically). Of course, if you ever screw up and get caught in that line, it's time to run.
  • Discussed in Anachronox. When Sly asks a flying alien how it knows so many secrets, it takes to the air and says "You'd be surprised how seldom people look up."
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - in the ruins of Saarthal, Tolfdir remarks on how he's never seen a burial chamber like this. It appears to just be a standard circular room with about 12 coffins on the walls with nothing remarkable, however if one opted to look up they can see what Tolfdir means: coffins lining the walls for at least 5 storeys, with the ceiling barely visible.
  • Thief: The Dark Project is full of this. Guards will be oblivious even to their companions being knocked out of their sides if they're not too close, as their cone of sight isn't very wide.
  • Grand Theft Pizza Delivery: In the first Stealth-Based Mission, Speedy Joe and his mistress can only see what's in front of them, even beyond their given cone of vision. However, if Bob sticks to the sides of said cones, they won't see him.

  • Somewhat lampshaded in MegaTokyo: While they are balancing on electrical lines over a busy street, Miho tells Yuki:
    Miho: They are as afraid to look up as you are to look down.
  • Lampshaded in this Darths & Droids, which features an entire scene consisting of a character looking around, checking for traps, and explicitly looking up to check for enemies. The writers point out that this is a sign of a very experienced RPG player.
  • Dead straight in this Schlock Mercenary. He's only about a foot above their heads...
  • Justified and lampshaded in this The Order of the Stick strip. Two gladiators and a guard are arguing about some nonsense in the arena, when an allosaurus appears out of nowhere and eats all of them. Then Tarquin comments that the helmets with no peripheral vision is not just for style.

    Web Videos 
  • The Slender Man has a disturbing tendency of managing to hide in plain sight, in glaringly obvious places. Preferred spots include standing in front of a forest (or in a forest) usually one of the Lost Woods variety, standing in broad daylight in positions where he should be blindingly obvious yet goes unseen, and directly behind you.

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in Stroker and Hoop when the two detectives attempt to hide from the villain of the week by hanging from the ceiling. He ends up walking directly under them, sits down at his desk... and immediately contacts security to apprehend them, commenting that he doesn't understand why they thought he couldn't see them.
  • Goes even further in an early episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Michelangelo enters a room. He, naturally, is looking straight ahead. He looks to his right, looks to his left. Then he looks in front of him again. Oops! Two slow-moving fugly mutants are there! Don't you hate that?
  • Max Steel. Yet another hiding-on-the-ceiling example.
  • While often played straight in The Spectacular Spider-Man, when the hero is fighting Venom at the school, they eventually end in the gym. Once Venom realizes Spider-Man is nowhere to be seen, the first thing he does is look at the ceiling.
  • Linda Flynn-Fletcher of Phineas and Ferb may be the Most Triumphant Example. She never, ever sees what the boys are doing, even when it should be at least noticeable (most of their inventions are huge, after all). It doesn't help that the shots are usually angled to where the viewers can still see it, making it all the more egregious. This is actually lampshaded in “Last Train to Bustville” where she reveals she’s “blind as a bat” and wants to get contacts to help her see.
  • In The Transformers, Brawn doesn't notice the Decepticon Laserbeak, in his cassette mode, sitting on his shoulder.
  • Lampshaded in Transformers: Prime by Wheeljack and Bulkhead during infiltration of a Decepticon base.
  • In "It's About Time" of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight and her friends sneak into the palace and slip past several guards who by all rights should have seen them out of their peripheral vision. It turns out to be a subversion: Twilight and her friends are welcome in the palace, and the guards were simply ignoring them.
  • During the escape from the human zoo in Steven Universe, the Crystal Gems (and Greg) slip to their Roaming Eye literally right under Holly Blue Agate's nose! From the way she was looking, she should have seen them. Instead, she only sees them when she turns to face the ship directly.

    Real Life 
  • Popular graffiti artist Banksy relies heavily on this while painting on bridges or buildings. He apparently once did graffiti right above some cops.
  • Also, scouts and spies in real life. Baden-Powell (yes, him) tells a story in one memoir of escaping pursuit by freezing in place halfway up a ladder when the guard rounded the corner.
  • In GURPS Bunnies & Burrows Steffan O'Sullivan cites a naturalist who saw a rabbit escape from a dog in very close pursuit by doing a sudden leap at a sharp angle and upwards, landing on a log, and standing absolutely still. The dog was about 10 feet away, but it didn't sniff upwards, because it was trying to follow the trail it had which was on the ground, and it didn't find the rabbit, which got away.
  • There is a Real Life medical condition known as tunnel vision, which gives the afflicted these exact symptoms.
  • It's also a truth that people may have a peripheral vision that allows them to see upwards, but aside from that most people don't actively look up. In fact, most people focus on what's in the middle of their vision, and don't pay much attention to the peripheral, leaving that to the subconscious instead.
  • Fursuits frequently suffer from this to the point where alleviating (since outright preventing is not an option) this effect while maintaining a quality look marks the skill of a suit-maker. It is also the reason why suiters sometimes have spotters and handlers with them.
  • Deer hunters began using tree stands as most of deer's natural predators don't climb trees, and the deer tend not to look up into trees. Due to this additional pressure, in many areas where tree stands are used, deer are adapting to look up. The horizontal peripheral vision of prey animals tends to be an inversion, as their eyes are usually positioned to allow a much wider field of view than humans' (predator/scavenger) eyes.
  • Many individuals with strabismus diplopia have extremely limited peripheral vision. While the overall visual field may be greater than is often seen in tunnel vision, the usable part that the individual can actually see might well qualify them for this trope in real life. Additionally, individuals with extremely poor vision may experience a form of this phenomena when they cannot clearly see outside the frames of their prescription lenses.
  • Tunnel vision also occurs as a result of stress in combat conditions; again, police and military training tries to avert this.
  • Rookie fighter pilots are warned to fight the natural tendency of scanning for threats in the horizontal plane. They also tend to want to turn in one plane rather than climb/dive or chandelle (combo turn/altitude change) in a dogfight (also depends on whether they are flying an angles airplane or an energy airplane).
  • In real life, most people tend to not notice things that happen close to the border of what their eyes can cover. The expression "...out of the corner of my eye" comes from how unaware most people actually are to things moving outside of their direct line of sight, and therefore how aware someone who spots something moving "with the corner of their eye" must be.
  • Many eyeglasses have a frame that narrows the wearer's field of vision (the lenses have been getting steadily smaller since the turn of the millenium), either by outright blocking it, or by the simple fact that outside-lenses portion of the field of vision is blurry given the need to wear glasses in the first place.
  • Owls' eyes are developed like this, being more tube-shaped rather than spherical to allow them to see prey from extreme distances at great detail. As a result, their eyes can't turn, and thus, they developed the ability to do the Exorcist Head movement.
  • "One of the sources of the anecdote was Spin magazine which printed this response from Lemmy to the question: What is the weirdest place you’ve had sex? “On top of a photo booth in Chester Station in Northwest England. It was the only place we could find to be alone. Nobody saw us, because people never look up,” said Lemmy." ...mind you, it's only rude to stare.
  • One thing that many guide-dog trainers say is the hardest thing to teach the dogs is to look up, and when to do so.
  • Early Real Life tanks had only one window on the front (which had to be really small, as even bulletproof glass is far more fragile than tank armor.) As such, the driver could pretty much only see directly ahead. Later tanks would use periscopes which worked much better (but were vulnerable to being shot off), whereas modern day tanks usually use some kind of camera (which are vulnerable to electronic interference).