Follow TV Tropes


Revealing Reflection

Go To
Should've just gone for the lamp instead of just sitting there, slack-jawed, buggy-eyed.

This is when someone is alerted to danger behind their back by a conveniently-placed (or ill-placed, depending on whose side you're on) reflective surface, whether an actual mirror, window, body of water or anything else that might have a reflection on it. This allows the mark to realize something's going on.

From there they have several options. Depending on whether the tail realizes they've been made, the mark might just act as normal to lull the tail into a false sense of security. Or they might try to confront them or make an escape. A common scenario is when one party is being tailed by another and given away like this.

Expect to find this in espionage and detective stories. Compare Mirror Scare. Not to be confused with The Mirror Shows Your True Self or Watching the Reflection Undress.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Bat Lash #7, Bat is escorting a young lady from the saloon to her hotel when the reflection in the glass of the door allows him to spot a shadowy figure tailing along the street. (Who actually turns to out be an old friend, but that's another story.)
  • One Batman arc has Selina Kyle run for Mayor of Gotham. Worried mobsters hire Gunhawk to silence the cunning minx, and Gunhawk tries sniping at her from an adjacent building during a fundraiser. Selina notices the sniper's reflection in a champagne flute, and dives for cover in the nick of time.
  • In "The Ghost Robbers of the Wax Museum!!" in Big Bang Comics #6, Knight Watchman sees Mr. Mask seeking up on with a knife in the reflection in the mirror in the Sherlock Holmes exhibit in the wax museum.
  • In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #22, Ben Ali Ayoob is holding Indy, Marion and Marcus at gunpoint. Indy's unwilling ally Degen is sneaking up behind him when Ayoob sees his reflection in the display case in front of him and spins around and shoots him.

    Fan Works 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic erotic fanfic Complicated Relations, there are two times when the same reflective surface reveals a character spying on two other characters having sex. And ironically enough, in both cases it's the same characters — Twilight, Cadance and Shining Armor — except with Twilight and Cadance's roles reversed in terms of who's spying on whom.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, Jasmine attempts to distract Jafar so Aladdin can grab Genie's Lamp, but Jafar ends up seeing Aladdin in the reflection on her tiara.
  • In Barbie of Swan Lake, Odile admiring the Magic Crystal's crown shows her Prince Daniel sneaking up on her father in the reflection, letting her to alert him.
  • In Mr. Bug Goes to Town, as Mr. Beetle goes over his Evil Plan with his hench-bugs, he polishes his top hat and sees an angry-looking Hoppity in its reflection, cluing him in that he overheard the whole thing.
  • Pocahontas: While John Smith is exploring Virginia, Pocahontas follows him out of curiosity, keeping out of sight. When he stops by a waterfall to get a drink, he notices her reflection and casually gets up then goes to ready an ambush.
  • Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase: On the final Level world of the Inside a Computer System (which in this film, no is not just a man in a mask's set), the Creeper finds the Daphne's in the haunted house by appearing behind Cyber Daphne's reflection in the trick mirror.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The 6th Day, a movie about cloning, has the villains discovering too late that both original and clone Adam Gibsons are still in the cloning lab with them, instead of one having left. Big Bad Michael Drucker realises this when he reviews the visual memories of the Adam he's got in custody and notices that a jet cockpit window reflects not one but two of him.
  • Assassins. Bain is about to shoot Rath In the Back. If Rath turned to fire, he'd be killed before he got a shot off. So Electra puts on her sunglasses, enabling Rath to kill Bain by firing his gun Offhand Backhand.
  • The Awful Dr. Orloff: While Playing Drunk, Wanda pretends to be fixing her hair in the mirror and sees Orloff's pouring a powder into her champagne. This allows her to perform a Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo.
  • Back to the Future Part II: While trying to get the almanac from Biff's car, Marty begins creeping up along the driver's side on his hoverboard, but Biff sees him in the side mirror and is ready when he gets close enough.
  • In The Black Room, Colonel Hassel realises that Gregor has murdered his brother Anton and taken his place when when he is fixing 'Anton' a drink and sees 'Anton' signing a document with his supposedly crippled hand in the reflection of the mirror over the drinks cabinet.
  • In Day of the Evil Gun, Warfield becomes aware that Forbes is following him when he is shaving, using the still water of the waterhole as a mirror, and sees Forbes on the ridge behind him in the reflection.
  • Dead Presidents. The well-planned heist starts to become unraveled when the driver of the armoured car sees a robber in his rear view mirror and shouts a warning.
  • Firestorm: When Karge is sneaking up on Jesse in the trading post, Jesse looks up in time to see Karge reflected in the shiny bell of the old-fashioned telephone he is using. He ducks in time to save his life, but Karge's swing destroys the phone.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters: During the Boston battle, King Ghidorah's heads are at one point glued by Mothra's Projectile Webbing to a skyscraper, with the right head (Ni) getting loose and trying to free the other two heads. He's alerted to Godzilla approaching right behind Ghidorah's back when the head sees the Big G reflected in the skyscraper's glass.
  • In Hard Target, Chance sees Stephan sneaking up on him in the reflection of the crash helmet visor of the mook he is currently beating up.
  • Home Alone: When Harry comes to peer in the window of the house, Kevin sees him reflected off a glass ornament and pretends to call for his dad. Harry isn't fooled, and realizes he's there by himself.
  • Indiana Jones: In Raiders of the Lost Ark, as Indy is driving the truck carrying the Lost Ark of the Covenant, he looks in his rear-view mirrors and sees German soldiers climbing along the outside of the truck toward the cab so they can attack him.
  • James Bond:
    • The opening of Goldfinger has James Bond making out with a sultry cabaret dancer and look longingly into her eyes... which reflects her accomplice coming up behind Bond to try delivering a crack to his skull. 'Shocking', indeed...
    • In Diamonds Are Forever, Plenty O'Toole realises she's being followed when she sees a couple of suit-and-tie-wearing feds watching her in a showground mirror.
    • Bond is on the receiving end in Octopussy. He's sneaking up on Mischka as the latter is examining a stash of smuggled jewelry, but Mischka sees movement reflected in the facets of the jewel he's holding.
    • In GoldenEye, Bond spots a crewman on the Manticore sneaking up on him by his reflection in the brasswork.
    • Shows up again in Spectre Where a reflective teapot helps Bond be prepared for a murderous Mr. Hinx coming up behind him in a passenger train.
  • Jurassic World: When in the gyrosphere, the kids are aware of the Indominus' presence a few seconds before it attacks by seeing its snout reflected on the window.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has Solo at the customs station going into East Berlin when he notices a Russian following him in a camera flash reflector. Later that turns out to have been deliberate so the customs agent could slip a bug into his suitcase while he was distracted.
  • The Mexican: Jerry is changing a flat tire and sees, in the reflection of the hubcap, his supposed ally Leroy pull a gun on him. Leroy (actually Winston, hired to kill Jerry), not knowing he's been spotted, relents and goes to help with the tire. He then sees the reflection of Jerry pulling his own gun, who takes advantage of the opportunity and shoots Winston.
  • In The Sadist, Ed hides behind one of the junked cars in the junkyard in an attempt to ambush Charlie, but Charlie sees in reflected in the wing mirror of one of the other cars and is ready for him.
  • One of the espionage tricks Muir gives to his protégé Bishop in Spy Game invokes this when the two are at a restaurant and Muir out of the blue asks Bishop whether the man in the suit in the kitchen is a threat. As the two are sitting across from each other and Muir's back is to the kitchen door, Bishop is at first bewildered at how in the world Muir knew the man was there when Muir had not once turned around to look since they sat down until Muir taps on the polished tray cover on their table that was reflecting the view behind Muir.
  • In Transporter 2, Frank discovers a bomb has been planted underneath his Audi when he sees it reflected in a puddle.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: While Eddie is "chatting" with R.K. Maroon, he notices a gun reflected in Maroon's office window and dives for cover just as it open fire. Maroon, however is caught out in the open, but he was the actual target anyway.

  • According to the local folklore of Hoxne, Suffolk, the town was the place where King Edmund of East Anglia was captured and tortured to death by Danish invaders. Supposedly the king hid under a bridge later called the Goldbrook Bridge while the Danes were searching the town, when a newly-wed couple who crossed the bridge saw the reflection of Edmund's golden spurs glinting in the water below, and promptly revealed him to the Danes. On the basis of this legend, local tradition considers it unlucky for wedding parties to cross Goldbrook Bridge.

  • Feet of Clay: Vimes sees an assassin's attack coming in his shaving mirror in time to dodge. It's hinted that the mirror's design and placement have been carefully chosen to facilitate this.
  • In The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the hero is attacked from behind, but sees his attacker reflected in the glass over a framed picture. He then takes the picture off the wall and hits his attacker with it to buy time.
  • The Specialist by Gayle Rivers. Two people are warned of a terrorist ambush when one of them sees a man pretending to look into a shop window, which reflects the submachine gun he's hiding under his coat.
  • The Saga of the People of Laxardal: Thorkel Eyjolfsson wants to kill the outlaw Grim Helgason to avenge a distant relative, and discovers Grim fishing at a lakeside with a cloak drawn over his head. He approaches Grim from behind with his sword drawn, but at the last moment Grim sees Thorkel's reflection in the water and leaps up to face Thorkel. Though Thorkel wounds him in the arm, Grim manages to overpower Thorkel.
  • In Explorers of Gor, Tarl is propositioned by a woman as a setup for her partner to mug him. After the attack fails, he explains to the man what they did wrong including the woman not closing her eyes - Tarl saw the reflection of the attacker approaching behind him "in the mirror of her eyes."
  • Sherlock Holmes
    • In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Watson is surprised when Holmes, despite sitting with his back to Watson, knows he's examining the cane their mystery visitor has left behind. Holmes points out he has a well-polished coffeepot in front of him.
    • In The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, Holmes is apparently staring out the window in disinterest when he's actually using the window's reflection to observe the culprit.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The "Eye Spy" episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Ward impersonating a woman with a camera eyeball monitored by the bad guys. He's fine until he accidentally passes in front of a mirror and the handler looking at the camera feed sees a white man in spectacles instead of a black woman. Later revelations indicate Ward probably did this on purpose.
  • Babylon 5, episode "Revelations": After Garibaldi gets shot In the Back at the end of the first season, he has telepath Talia Winters come to jog his memory to see if he can remember who shot him. As he relives the incident, he notices a reflective surface where he sees his second, Jack.
  • Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa: One of the Shangri-La members that kidnap Arisugawa reveals to him that they're secretly a journalist who plans to help him if things get too dangerous. However, he's found out by the other members when one of them spies him using his dictaphone in a mirror's reflection, and he ends up getting killed as a result.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In “The Squire of Gothos”, one of the abducted members of the Enterprise attempts to shoot Trelane while his back is turned. Trelane, who’s admiring himself in the mirror at the time, naturally sees him and freezes him on the spot.
  • Vagabond: Dal-gun escapes from the assassin sent to kill him in episode 3, because they are in a convenience store, and Dal-gun sees the killer reflected in the glass of a cabinet of drinks, Just in Time.

    Video Games 
  • World of Warcraft: The end of the quest "The Tidestone: Shattered" has you staring at the reflective surface of the Tidestone core, seeing something on its surface, right before Athissa's naga capture you.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League: While looking for part of a key to the Underworld to rescue the Amazons, Superman and Wonder Woman are struck with a blinding beam of light. When it fades, both see monsters in each other's place and quickly begin fighting. It's not until Superman sees Wondy's reflection in the water that the spell wears off on him and he tries reasoning with her, with Diana only stopping when she sees his reflection in a mirror.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In the season 2 finale, Ladybug and Chat Noir confront Scarlet Moth, and she gets a jewellery box as her Lucky Charm and initially believes that it's to get him to give up his Miraculous. However, this is actually an illusion from Volpina, and the real Scarlet Moth is about to attack them from behind, only for Ladybug to see his reflection in the box and realise what's going on.
  • Transformers, Beast Wars: When the Vokk probe comes to the Standing Stones, a fight breaks out around it. When Rhinox goes to examine the probe, he notices Waspinator trying to sneak up on him reflected on its surface and turns to give the wasp a face full of Gatling Goodness.


Video Example(s):


Marty in the Rearview Mirror

Biff notices Marty in his rearview mirror

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / RevealingReflection

Media sources: