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Sometimes people need to get up to speed on a secret mission or plan quickly, it's a fact of life. One would probably expect them to whisper or duck into a broom closet, restroom, or office to discuss said information, to prevent their enemies or mark from overhearing them. Sadly, some people just stand around out in the open, while speaking at or above their normal speaking volume, and the question of the enemy/mark catching wind of the mission/plan never comes up. AT ALL!

Also happens in settings involving The Masquerade. In order to keep Muggles from catching on to, say, the fact that dragons fill the sky every spring and fall, you'd expect that the people in the know would only talk about them behind closed doors, not in the middle of Trafalgar Square or on The Washington Mall. Can sometimes result in a Broken Masquerade depending on the circumstances.

More Truth in Television than you might think. Unless they're specifically targeting you as an eavesdropper, most other people in the room will pick up your tone rather than the actual words. As long as you're speaking in a normal, conversational sort of way the actual subject is Hidden in Plain Sight. Only rarely is this justification acknowledged, however.

Compare Overt Rendezvous, Public Secret Message, and Easily-Overheard Conversation. Contrast Undercover When Alone.


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  • Subverted in an iconic series of ads for the brokerage firm E. F. Hutton. Two people are out in public discussing stocks, and one of them says to the other, "Well, my broker is E. F. Hutton. And E. F. Hutton says—" and then notices that all other sound and activity have stopped. Everyone around is listening to find out what E. F. Hutton says.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass: In the audio dramas, Tamaki takes the Black Knights' new recruits out drinking "to discuss their secret plans and complain about Zero", and he doesn't understand why Ohgi and the others don't want to join him.
  • Queen's Blade: Hide & Seek: Elina pins Leina right at the start of the semi-finals and feels her up in the center of the arena. Leina tries to make her stop by pointing out that the crowd is watching. To which, Elina bluntly replies she doesn't care, because she wants everyone to know she's horny for her sister and says Leina belongs to her!

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • Subverted in an Adventure Comics issue when Supergirl visits Clark Kent's workplace and openly calls him Superman. Although there was nobody nearby, her cousin is not amused and chides Kara for her carelessness.
    • In Supergirl story arc Bizarrogirl, the titular heroine and Lana Lang argue Kara's actions during New Krypton and her unwillingness to become a hero again while standing in the street. Justified because a super-villain is trashing the neighborhood and people are too busy running away to pay attention to two women arguing.
    • The Killers of Krypton: When the owner of an alien bar sees Supergirl walking into her place and spots her "S"-shield, she takes Ambush Bug aside to discuss over a Kryptonian's arrival shortly after Rogol Zaar dropped by. In their defence, they were whispering. Yet still, they were talking about the self-proclaimed perpetrator of Krypton's destruction while standing three meters away from a Kryptonian, and they should know that whispering would not help.
    • The Legion of Super-Heroes!: Subverted. Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl talk about Superboy's secret identity in public places as the streets or a park. When they reveal their identities, though, they reassure Superboy they took care that nobody was within earshot.
  • Watchmen:
    • Dan and Laurie have a conversation in a restaurant reminiscing over old times as superheroes without any regard to anyone who might overhear. This is included in the film version.
    • Dan attends the the funeral of Edward Blake alongside Dr. Manhattan and Adrian Veight. The latter three are a state-sponsored hero, a superman and a masked-hero-turned-businessman. Dan himself has no obvious reason to be there. He is surprised later when a detective turns at his house, mentioning the funeral and subtly warning him off further vigilante activity.

    Fan Works 
  • In fanfic Hellsister Trilogy, Linda Danvers and her adoptive parents attend Clark Kent and Lois Lane's wedding. During the reception, Fred Danvers tries to talk his daughter into introducing him to the Leaguers, although he's clever enough to use deliberate euphemisms such like "the team" or "the Gotham guy".
  • Invoked in Fate/Reach Out, by Yosuke. By discussing the case and their actions in the TV World with Dungeons & Dragons character sheets in front of them, the Investigation Team is pretty much Hidden in Plain Sight, although Yosuke does admit that the trick also relies on people's Bystander Syndrome.
  • In some point of Shazam! fanfiction Here There Be Monsters, Mary and Freddy -a.k.a., Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.- talk about Mary's mother knowing her secret identity and discuss the troubles caused by their agelessness over burgers in a diner. To their credit, they speak as ambiguously as possible.
  • Spoofed in the Fantastic Beasts parody fic The New Adventures of Newt Scamander. It's mentioned that Newt and Jacob "walked down the streets of London, talking about their top-secret mission in full view of various onlookers and potential eavesdroppers. However, the streets of London looked really moody and atmospheric, so I think we can all agree they made the right decision here."
  • The Persona 5 fic Masquerade (Vellaen) brings up Ryuji's tendency toward talking about the Phantom Thieves:
    Ryuji: We should hit another you-know-what. The share from the first place was sweet. It was nice havin' a little pocket change without havin' to beg my ma, y'know?
    Ann: Ryuji, when I see you two standing together, I don't want to overhear a conversation that sounds like you've just knocked off a bank.
    Ryuji: What? I was bein' all discreet and shit.
    Akira: You get points for trying, at least. We should work out some code words.
    Morgana: I second that idea. True Phantom Thieves should be proficient at disguising their conversations in public.
    Akira: Says the one member who doesn't have to worry about being overheard.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • When the courier brings the photographs in Spies Like Us, he announces himself quite loudly. The frustrated recipient lampshades this immediately, snarking, "Could you say that a little louder? We could open a window, and you could shout it towards Moscow."
  • Happens quite often in the James Bond films:
    • Invoked in You Only Live Twice, both the book and film. Tiger Tanaka, Bond's contact with the Japanese equivalent of MI6, says it's a Japanese custom.
    • Casino Royale (2006): After making contact with Mathis, Bond and Vesper proceed to discuss their secret mission in a café just off the town square. Mathis also brings up blackmailing Royale's chief of police, with none of the other patrons noticing any of it.
  • The 1979 film The In-Laws, CIA Agent Vincent Ricardo and Dentist Sheldon "Shelly" Kornpett (played by Peter Falk and Alan Arkin respectively), are conversing about the situation that they are in while dining at a restaurant. Shelly is not the least bit happy to have been dragged into this adventure and expresses his displeasure in the loudest possible manner which attracts the attention of its patrons.
  • In Jurassic Park (1993) Dennis Nedry and Lew Dodgson discuss the plan to steal dinosaur embryos from InGen in a Costa Rican restaurant. Dodgson even demonstrates the functions of the shaving cream can be used to smuggle the embryos there while sitting at the table. Nedry lampshades their Overt Rendezvous, believing that Hidden in Plain Sight is in full effect here:
    Nedry: Dodgson!
    Dodgson: You shouldn't use my name.
    [Nedry makes "you've gotta be kidding me" expression]
    Nedry: [starts pointing at Dodgson] Dodgson, Dodgson, we've got Dodgson here! See? Nobody cares. Nice hat. What are you trying to look like, a secret agent?
  • In Munich, two Israeli agents discuss the workings of their terrorist hunting operation on a crowded street, passing dozens of potential witnesses while only talking at slightly below normal speaking volume.
  • Hot Shots! has the two conspirators discussing their plans at a noisy boxing match, while lampshading it.
    Lieutenant Commander Block: Isn't this place a little public?
    Wilson: No, a crowd offers remarkable anonymity.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015):
    • Subverted: the KGB and CIA spymasters are briefing the protagonists in a cafe, announce they're going to leave them alone to get acquainted, and get up to leave... along with everyone else in the cafe, as all the other customers are their agents.
    • Played straight when the trio discusses their mission and cover stories in/on the street outside the West Berlin fashion boutique and outside the hotel in Rome.
    • Deliberately invoked by Napoleon on several occasions to troll Illya.
      Illya: [when Napoleon approaches him and Gaby at the Spanish Steps] You're not supposed to make contact in public!

      Illya: [when Napoleon knocks on his hotel room door] What are you doing?! You're not supposed to be here!
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Justified in Thor, while the human characters still have no reason to believe that the title character is that Thor, so they see nothing wrong with discussing Mjolnir and Asgard in the cafe or on the street.
    • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, after Ned finds out the truth about the "Stark Internship", he keeps pestering an increasingly concerned Peter about being Spider-Man in places like shop class, P.E., and lunch.

  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has a Double Subversion. Harry, Hermione, and Ron attempt to avoid this trope by not discussing their plan in the village pub where all the students go. Instead, they go to the (nearly deserted) local Bad Guy Bar (owned, or at least tended, amusingly enough, by Prof. Dumbledore's younger brother) where, as Sirius later tells them, they were more likely to be overheard.
  • How NOT to Write a Novel strongly discourages this in the section called "Don't Mind Us", using a passage where a couple loudly argues about the husband's sexual life and neo-Nazism during a town hall meeting as an example.
  • An odd example in the Wraith Squadron novel Mercy Kill. After the climax, Face and the others are walking through the streets of Coruscant discussing his new promotion to Minister of Intelligence (fair enough, that's prominent enough that it won't be a secret) and his intention to bring back the Wraiths, previously disbanded, as his own fully-deniable black-ops group. Of course, it does them no harm for people to know that the Wraiths are back...
  • Done fairly often in Unique. In their defense, no one actually believes vampires or werewolves actually exist, so it comes across as people discussing a roleplaying group or a video game.
  • In The Singing Bell, the villain considers a public place the best place to have a clandestine meeting -as long as you're out of earshot of everyone else. He meets his patsy in a public park.
  • The original Jurassic Park novel also features Nedry and Dodgson's meet-up, albeit it takes place in a busy airport concourse as apposed to a quiet cafe, making it even easier to keep a low profile.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens all the time on Chuck, especially in the early seasons. Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Morgan routinely discuss the secret mission du jour on the Buy More's sales floor. None of the characters in the know (including the folks back in Langley and Arlington) see any problem with this approach.
  • Happens a lot in the third season of Dexter when the DA repeatedly discusses murdering people with Dexter in restaurants, at parties, over the phone, in the office, and pretty much everywhere. Yet no one ever overhears, nor do the characters seem to be concerned that anyone will hear them. Because having the characters go somewhere private every time they need to move the plot forward would take too much screen time.
  • The Mentalist: In an attempt to catch Red John's mole, the team must "inform" five suspects of the supposed location of someone they know Red John wants dead. One of the suspects isn't someone they can tell directly without rousing suspicion, so Rigsby and Cho invoke this trope while they know the suspect can hear them.
  • Get Smart spoofed it on such a regular basis, that it's the Trope Codifier.
    • Max would often call CONTROL Headquarters on his shoe phone and openly discuss mission details in plain sight of several, if not dozens, of onlookers. One episode even has Max use a phone that is hidden in a fire hydrant, while people pass him on the street.
    • In other episodes, he makes collect calls to CONTROL by asking the operator to patch him through, after giving them their secured number. Eventually, the operator learned to recognize the number and would cut Max off in mid-sentence by simply stating: "Oh, you want CONTROL Headquarters. One moment please."
  • The special agents in Threshold would often publicly discuss the secret alien invasion they are investigating. In one instance, they interview a witness while pretending to be looking for terrorists... and then turn their back and immediately start talking about alien viruses and whatnot.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer made a lot of nods early on toward maintaining the masquerade for the muggles' benefit, but that fell by the wayside somewhere in the third season. From there on out, they would just talk about whatever wherever they happened to be.
  • Angel: In a season 5 episode where Lorne hosts a party, he invites the senior partners, who set a trap for Angel. They discuss the trap and the plan to kill everyone at the party while standing next to the dance floor.
  • Occurs from time to time in Burn Notice, including one scene in season 2 where Michael and Victor discuss the former's next job while playing speed chess in a park in the middle of the day.
  • The genre-blind titular characters of Pretty Little Liars discuss dangerous secrets, the goings and comings of A, and all the rest of their business in the open more than once. For example, in episode 23 of the fourth season, the Emily shouts with Paige about Allison, who is supposed to be dead, in the girls' bathroom. This behavior repeatedly leads to the girls getting more trouble from A.
  • Happens on Supernatural since they'll casually discuss whatever monster/ghost/demon their current hunt involves in the middle of diners with normal people just sitting around having a meal.
  • In a recent episode of Degrassi, two perpetrators of a sexual assault were loudly discussing said assault in the hallway which allowed two other students to identify them as the perpetrators. Though they spoke in slightly hushed tones, it was evidently loud enough for two people all the way down the hall to hear them.
  • A Running Gag in the first season of Roswell is Liz and Maria discussing the fact that Max, Isabel, and Michael are aliens in places like the Crashdown Cafe or West Roswell High School's cafeteria. Though they do not actually use the word "aliens", the word they decided to use is "Czechoslovakians", which manages to be no less weird and attention-grabbing a thing to talk about in New Mexico, especially in 1999-2000.
  • For undercover agents, Deeks and Kensi in NCIS: Los Angeles seem to spend a lot of time discussing their missions in public places.
  • In one episode of Callan, Callan and his fellow operative are in a bar in West Germany, talking heatedly about their mission to rescue an agent from behind the Iron Curtain. Lucky East German agents never visit bars near the border, isn't it?
  • Person of Interest is also guilty of this, though not to the same degree as some other shows. How easy it is for sensitive conversations to be overheard seems to vary, based on dramatic impact.
  • Happens all the time on Leverage. You would think that, considering the number of times the team runs a scam that depends on no one knowing that they're running a scam, that they'd strictly avoid discussing their scams in public, but they still do, and no one seems to notice or care.
  • Breaking Bad: Walt and Gus have a discussion about their meth enterprise in the middle of a hospital lobby filled with DEA agents and other law enforcement officers.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Pegasus", Riker and his former captain discuss their mutual secret (which could get them both court-martialed at best) in "Ten-Forward", the ship's bar, while it is full of people. Neither of them makes any effort to talk softly — they're sitting casually across a table from one another. Also remember that the person who runs Ten Forward is a woman famous for being a "great listener".
  • Happens occasionally on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and its Animated Adaptations. The masquerade is never actually broken, but there are multiple close calls.
  • In the Broad City episode "St. Marks," a woman has a screaming fight with her thieving, basement-dwelling 34-year old son during a dinner party.
    Mom: You think I like this? My only son. Having to lie about what my son does with his life? His loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser life!
    Timothy: Right, 'cause you have to lie about me but not about anything in your perfect little life. Not about the wine, the painkillers, my father. Do I look like the son of a quarterback?
  • In the Henry Danger episode "Sick and Wired, at the diner with others about six feet away from them, Henry and Jasper used the names Captain Man and Ray interchangeably as well as Henry stating (knowing Ray was listening in) that he was working on getting rid of Captain Man and he would make Jasper his sidekick afterward.

    Video Games 
  • Exaggerated in SPY Fox. Not only does Spy Fox discuss secret plans on his spy watch out in the open, but he also refers to himself as a spy to incidental characters on the street.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Selkie: Todd has the bad habit of talking about things that are heavily classified without checking to see who's in earshot. For example, when he tells his dad that the mysterious laser beam in the sky means that he has to tell Andi about Selkie, he doesn't realize that Kenneth and Barbara were close enough to hear him.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Admiral Olsen reassures Torbjörn that he won't tell anyone about the illegal looting of Old World books that the expedition crew is going to be doing in addition to its research. In the middle of a busy part of his military base. On No Indoor Voice volume.

    Web Original 
  • The Booth at the End plays off of this trope. The Man at the Booth discusses lucrative, dangerous, and questionable information with visitors who come to see him at his Booth. There are always some other customers in the diners that he appears at, yet he seems not to mind, or care. This leads to a waitress asking about his "business" (assuming he's some kind of therapist based on the overheard snippets). And then the Man gets a new friend...
  • This trope is a major pet peeve for CinemaSins' Jeremy Scott. He usually gives an instance of it at least two sins alone.

    Western Animation 
  • In Code Lyoko, the heroes regularly discuss XANA's activities. This has gotten them into trouble a couple times, but because their super-computer has Return to the Past functionality, they're able to undo anyone finding out too much. They also pretend to be discussing some video game or movie when someone happens to inquire about it.