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Sleeping Dummy

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A character wants to sneak somewhere at night without being caught, so he or she stuffs the bed with rolled-up sheets or pillowcases or something to make it look as though he or she is still in bed, maybe with a fake papier-maché head sticking out from the sheets and with some clothes on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Bonus points if they use a tape recorder to add breathing/snoring.

One of The Oldest Tricks in the Book.

See also Bedsheet Ladder and Ninja Log. Sometimes, it is used to avoid being Slain in Their Sleep.


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  • One beer commercial had guys sneaking out of their chores to go to the bar by leaving a stuffed pair of pants and shoes sticking out from under some large object that might need repair, along with a tape recorder playing the sounds of mechanical tinkering to make it look like they're busy repairing something. The first guy used his car. The second used his refrigerator. The third used his lawnmower, prompting one of the others to say "You idiot! You're going to get us all caught!"

    Anime & Manga 
  • Appleseed: Deunan Knute, after so many years used to sleeping on the ground, has a preference for sleeping under her bed, with her gun at the ready, and the pillows set in this fashion to fool any potential assassins barging into her bedroom.
  • Happens in Baccano! when Szilard starts eating other alchemists onboard of Advena Avis. He leaves a sleeping dummy on his bed to cover up his doings. It is found when Maiza attempts to eat him himself.
  • In A Bride's Story, the twins Laila and Leili are bored to death sitting under a cloth at their wedding, unable to eat or dance or talk to the guests. Eventually, they place pillows under the cloth and sneak out to play with the grooms. Their mother is naturally very angry when she discovers the subterfuge.
  • A convoluted version in an episode of Case Closed - the employees at a restaurant are searching for the owner. He usually naps on the couch in the back room, but they look and see that he's not there. Later, they go back and see him sleeping there, but it's not him, it's this - he's the Body of the Week, and this was used to confuse the time of the murder. The twist is how the cushion got there - the murderer put some puffy jackets in a vacuum bag, vacuumed it flat, then, when they all went to check the first time, poked a hole in the bag through the blanket with a corkscrew, which wouldn't be odd for a restaurant employee to carry. The bag inflated and became this.
  • In A Certain Scientific Railgun, Kuroko makes dummies for herself and Mikoto at one point so they can sneak out of their dorm past curfew. To Mikoto's annoyance, Kuroko puts the dummies in the same bed, making it look like they were sleeping together.
  • In Code:Breaker, when visiting Rei's apartment, everything is designed as protection from intruders, and Rei explains he sleeps in a sleeping bag under the bed, putting a dummy in the bed. Sounds paranoid, until Sakura realises the numbers in dummies name imply some of them were actually "slain". And Yuuki does a mini-funeral for the dummies.
  • Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy: While staying in Mamba's house, Goku Jr. becomes suspicious and has himself and Puck arrange their pillows so that it looks like they are sleeping in their beds and then hide near the window. Later that night, Mamba sneaks into their room and stabs the pillows.
  • In the anime of Golgo 13, Duke Togo does this in the bedroom which is under video surveillance at the time, pulling the pillows under the sheet with him, then slipping off the bed on the opposite side from the CCTV camera.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: Onizuka sticks a crossing guard cutout in his hospital bed when he sneaks out. In 14 Days in Shonan, he sticks Uchiyamada's dog (also named Eikichi) under his blanket with only a wig poking out.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Team La Verite episode 9. Taro puts a dummy in his bed to trick his personal care maids into thinking he's still in it.
  • Irresponsible Captain Tylor. While supposedly a prisoner on the Soyokaze, Empress Azalyn leaves a stuffed kid's toy in her bunk so she can sneak off to Captain Tylor's room.
    Yuriko: The Empress turned into a...tanuki?
  • In Lupin III: Dead or Alive, Fujiko sets up a dummy of Emerah, along with a voice recorder, to fool General Headhunter and allow Emerah to escape.
  • Episode 2 of Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! begins with Miyako sneaking into Yamato's futon in the middle of the night hoping to have her way with him, but instead she finds this, much to her chagrin.
  • As shown in a flashback in the 95th episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Rishid makes one of Marik out of a pillow while he and Ishizu spend an hour outside, which they were not allowed to do since they belong to a family of tombkeepers. Marik and Ishizu's father wasn't fooled and beats Rishid within an inch of his life until Marik's imaginary friend/dark side intervenes.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 8, Mr. Slowy sets up a robotic dummy of himself to make it look like he's sleeping in bed while he goes out to steal watermelons from a farm since he doesn't have much to eat. The dummy repeatedly plays a recording of Slowy saying "Come back later, I'm asleep" in a sleepy voice.

    Comic Books 
  • Played straight in the Batman story "Troika: Dark Rider": Two Ukrainian gangsters open fire on what they believe to be the body of the Dark Rider (who has defected from his underworld allies to become a Dirty Commie). They instead discover that they have just machine-gunned a stack of pillows covered by a bedspread, and are still standing in shock when the real Dark Rider appears from around a corner and shoots them both in the head.
  • In Cigars of the Pharaoh, Tintin helps the Maharaja of Gaipajama put a dummy in his bed to take a poisoned dart for him.
  • Chlorophylle: Subverted. Shark Island, where, despite being Tunnel King, it took more to Anthracite escapes from Shark Island by hiding in his makeshift dummy.
  • Code Name: Gravedigger: In Men of War #5, Major Birch leaves a dummy made of pillows in his bed and sneaks out of his military hospital to attend a secret rendezvous with Winston Churchill. Not bad for a man confined to a wheelchair.
  • This is a favourite tactic of Jonah Hex, and has saved his life on countless occasions.
  • The Invisible Man does this in volume two of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in order to covertly meet with Martian invaders and betray humanity.
  • In Runaways, when Alex's parents discover the Sleeping Dummy he set up, his mom's first response is to ask, "What is our son doing with a male mannequin head in his room?" In retrospect, this may have been a hint he'd been planning this for a lot longer than the others...
  • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: In "Wonder World" Diana shoves her doll into her bed before locking the door and sneaking off. It is not remotely convincing from any angle that the doll would be mistaken for her, but Di has a long history of being bad at lying.
  • Superman:
    • Clark Kent does this in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #11: Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent's Pal!'' to keep Jimmy Olsen, who is temporarily rooming with his alter ego, from discovering his Secret Identity. He took it a step further by using super-ventriloquism to make it talk.
    • In The Unknown Supergirl, Lesla-Lar creates an inflatable Lex Luthor's replica to sneak the real Lex out of prison at the night without the guards noticing. They make off with an armored car by working together, and then Lesla sneaks Luthor back in his cell before dawn so nobody can prove he pulled that crime.
    • From Super Sons, when Alfred finds Damian's bed empty:
      "Hmm. At least when Master Richard snuck out, he had the decency to construct a pillow dummy."
  • In The Wicked + The Divine, Minerva uses her robot owl to project a hologram image of her sleeping in bed, to fool her parents.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin does this with a broom to mimic his hair.
  • Appears in The Far Side, where gecko assassins trying to kill another gecko in his sleep, only to find that it was just his tail in the bed. "Idiots! You fell for the oldest trick in the book!"
  • One Gahan Wilson cartoon has a prisoner in his bunk whispering to his cellmate "C'mon! Tell me when you guys are gonna make the break-out!".. and lying in the other bunk is a stuffed dummy.
  • Safe Havens: The Dodos were able to sneak into the rocket to Mars by leaving behind fake dummies of themselves back on Earth.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Asbjørnsen and Moe's "The Old Dame and her Hen", the main character is held captive by a troll. One day the troll leaves his lair, and the girl, she stuffs her clothes with straw, sticks up the dummy by the chimney and ties a besom to its hand so it looked like she was standing there. Then she sneaks out of the place.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fortune Favors the Bold Harry stuffs his hospital wing bed with pillows and blankets so he can sneak out to participate in the Hogwarts underground broom races.
  • Here There Be Monsters: In order to break villain Mr. Atom out, Doctor Sivana causes a blackout. Before the facility's auxiliary generators started working, Sivana got in there and got Mr. Atom out, leaving a bogus robot body in its place. It took a week for the guards to find out they were guarding a phony prisoner.
  • In Out of the Pensieve and Into the Fire Harry stuffs his bed with pillows before sneaking out to see Sirius.
  • In Patchwork Wishes Sirius puts a pile of pillows and a black-haired baby doll in Harry's bed before they sneak out to Gringotts.
  • In Snape's Little Brother Snape stuffs his bed with clothing to fool Slughorn during a bed check.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    "A fluffed pillow? Impossible!"
    "It's f***-ing foolproof!"

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Airplane II: The Sequel. Ted Stryker leaves one behind when he escapes from the insane asylum.
  • In the 1953 POW Camp movie Albert RN the eponymous Albert is a dummy built by British POW's to fool the head count done by their German guards, based on the Real Life case mentioned below.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is possibly the Trope Codifier. After Joan's abduction, Francis searches the box Cesare sleeps in. He finds a dummy that looks vaguely like Cesare.
  • In Chocolat, Luc pads his bed (with crumpled drawing paper) so he can sneak out to his grandmother's birthday party.
  • Timothy Cavendish in Cloud Atlas prepares one to trap the warden in his room and enable him to escape from the retirement home.
  • In Death Rides a Horse, the two men who have been trailing Ryan ever since he was released from prison break into his hotel and shoot the form under the blankets on his bed. Ryan, who is seated on a chair in a darkened corner of the room, then lights the lamp and guns the two of them down.
  • Deranged (2012): After Faking the Dead, Gabriella leaves a pile of cushions under the blanket covering her 'corpse' as she sneaks out to murder everyone else.
  • Escape from Alcatraz is both a major film example and Truth in Television: The Guards Must Be Crazy! Also subverted in the same film, when a guard reaches through the bars to rouse the figure in the bed and it turns out to be the real prisoner, not his plaster dummy-head.
  • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, this is elaborate to the point of being kinda silly; it includes a soundtrack of him snoring and a pulley system to make the dummy appear to react when the bedroom door is opened.
  • In Final Justice, Palermo places pillows under the bed covers to fool Geronimo when Geronimo invades his bedroom in the mansion.
  • The Giant (2016): When Rikard sneaks out of the institution to visit his Missing Mom, he leaves bunched-up sheets under the blankets.
  • Halloween II (1981): Laurie Strode escapes her hospital room after putting pillows under her blanket. A few minutes later, Michael Myers appears and stabs the pillows before realizing he was tricked.
  • James Bond:
    • In the movie version of Dr. No, Bond uses this to trick an assassin into emptying his gun into the bed, leaving him defenseless.
    • Discussed in The Man with the Golden Gun. When Mary Goodnight is hiding under the covers, James Bond tells Andrea Anders that he was using the Sleeping Dummy trick.
    • The Living Daylights uses a standing dummy—Bond Girl Kara enters a phone booth, a streetcar passes by, and as it pulls away, so does a car. Only when the KGB operative following notices that she's been in the booth an awfully long time and gets confused and suspicious do we see what happened—Kara and Bond used the few seconds that the streetcar was blocking the booth from his view to drape her coat and a wig around her cello case and for her to quickly get into his car and duck down, thus allowing her to defect.
  • In Law Abiding Citizen, the protagonist uses a simple 'pillows under the sheet' trick to hide the fact that he's not in his cell. Justified as the cell is dark and in solitary, so no one goes in to check.
  • Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring helps the Hobbits with this in Bree, which saves their lives when the Nazgul come calling.
  • Lou (2022). The title character sees Philip is supposedly wrapped in a sleeping bag next to the little girl he kidnapped. Although she has the chance to snipe him from a distance, she chooses to try sneaking up on him and gets captured because the sleeping bag is a dummy. The Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? moment foreshadows The Reveal that Philip is Lou's estranged son.
  • In Mustang, Lale and Nur make one.
  • Used for comedy in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, where the dummies of Rocko and Slasher are so obviously fake that only a bunch of idiots would fall for the trick (which, of course, they do).
    • To be more precise, they aren't sleeping dummies. They're dressed and posed like department store mannequins.
  • In Raw Deal (1986), the hero does the 'fake snoring' version while Monique is talking to Max Keller on the phone about the (fake) ID she's found in his wallet.
  • Reform School Girls: When Jenny sneaks out of the dorm to meet the truck driver, Lisa covers her absence by stuffing pillows under her blankets.
  • Used in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982) in one of the Pimpernel's aristocrat rescues to delay discovery of the escape.
  • In the Korean movie Steel Rain the coup plotters discover that Kim Jong Un is being treated in a South Korean hospital, so send a North Korean special forces unit to assassinate him. Their commander makes it to the patient's room where he battles a loyal North Korean agent in a Gun Kata scene. With one bullet left he fires it into the heart of the patient lying on the hospital gurney, only to pull back the sheet and discover he's shot a corpse that's been left there as a decoy while Kim Jong Un has been taken to another room.
  • In the silent film Sky High (1922), this is how Tom Mix sneaks out of the bad guy camp he's infiltrated, so he can alert the authorities.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022), Sonic uses one (with a head that looks like Sanic, no less) to try and fool the Wachowskis into thinking he's in his room while Sonic himself goes out crimefighting at night. Tom immediately breaks through the ruse though.
  • Used by the hero in Steamboat Bill, Jr. to escape from his father and meet his girlfriend.
  • In Superman II Lex Luthor goes one better and creates holograms of himself and his henchman to fool the guard.
  • In Terror Train, Alana fools the killer by leaving a blow-up doll under a blanket in the compartment where she is supposed to be resting.
  • Truman Burbank improbably pulls this off in The Truman Show, even though he doesn't know exactly where the hidden camera is which he's trying to fool.
  • In Waxworks, Harun al-Rashid leaves a wax figure of himself in his bed when he sneaks out at night.
  • According to Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, teen Al sneaked off to an illicit polka party by building a "hay boy" — a boy made out of hay — and placed it in his bed to fool his parents.

  • In The Hare's Bride, the girl is taken away by a hare and made to prepare food. She dresses a straw doll in her clothes, puts a spoon in its hand, and leaves it beside the cooking pot while she runs away.

  • Animorphs: Done many, many times by the title characters. It helps that (with the exception of Tobias and Ax, who live out in the woods) their parents actually trusted them.
  • Aunt Dimity: Snowbound: Late in the book, having convinced the caretaker that she and Wendy are ill in bed, Lori arranges one of these with pillows so she can slip out and help the other hikers search the house. Wendy compliments her on the ruse, and Lori is pleased to have out-thought the rocket scientist for once.
  • The Babysitters Club:
    • Mary Anne tries this at camp, using a cantaloupe as the head. It doesn't fool the counselors whatsoever, though she does impress the other counselors-in-training, which was was what she was trying to do in the first place.
    • In the portrait series, Claudia recounts a story from when she was seven and was afraid of the tooth fairy. When she lost her first baby tooth and put it under her pillow, she put several things on her windowsill, put a pile of things under her covers to look like her and hid in her closet. Her mom apparently didn't notice anything strange, and Claudia was relieved when she realized that the tooth fairy didn't exist and parents were the ones who took the teeth.
  • The Berenstain Bears: The Big Chapter Book At Camp Crush has Mike, the councilor for Brother and his friends at Camp Grizzmeyer, planning to sneak out of the camp so he can meet and run away with his girlfriend, and shows his campers that he's left one of these in his bed (made of straw and leaves) to fool any other councilor who's coming by to do bed checks. Mr. Grizzmeyer, however, is the one to check that night, and quickly catches on to the decoy... but he doesn't get mad, he just gets depressed and leaves without finishing the job of checking the other cabins.
  • Cloud Atlas: Cavendish uses this trick during the escape from the nursing home, in order to lure the fearsome Nurse Noakes into his room so he can lock the door behind her.
  • The Discreet Princess: Finette makes one after marrying Bel-à-Voir, guessing he might have some problems with her after his Evil Prince brother died because of her. Turns out the brother made him swear an oath to kill her as soon as possible.
  • Doubled Edge (by Mercedes Lackey): In one novel, Rhoslyn needs to go Underhill while seeming to stay in the mortal world. She arranges a couple pillows under her blanket ... and then casts an illusion of her sleeping mortal disguise on the pillows.
  • The Famous Five: In one adventure, the titular characters discover their host's butler set up a dummy in his bed while he went on criminal activities.
  • If I Fall, If I Die: Will puts dirty laundry under his blanket before he sneaks out at night with Jonah.
  • The Spy Who Loved Me. In the original book version only, James Bond does this trick to fool the mob hitmen hired to burn the motel down.
  • In the John Rain novel Requiem for an Assassin, the Big Bad murders an Innocent Bystander for this trick. Knowing that John is stalking him through a park at night, he kills someone and leaves their body in a position where he's apparently waiting in ambush. As Rain sneaks up on the corpse, he gets captured.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Used by the Hobbits in The Fellowship of the Ring, while the hobbits are staying in The Prancing Pony inn. The servant Nob puts a bolster in each of the hobbits' beds so it looks like someone is sleeping in them; during the night, some operatives of the Enemy break into the room and slash the bolsters.
  • Garrett, P.I.: In Old Tin Sorrows, Garrett leaves a blanket-covered suit of armor in his bed while he sneaks around the Stantnor mansion at night. When he returns, there's an ax buried in its chest.
  • Orkneyinga Saga: Magnus Erlendsson, later to become St. Magnus of Orkney, is an unwilling hostage of King Magnus of Norway. One night, when the king's ship lies off the Scottish coast, Magnus "prepared his bunk so that it looked as if someone were sleeping in it, then slipped overboard and swam ashore." By the time the Norwegians realize Magnus is not actually in his bunk, he has already a good head start.
  • Phoenix Force: A sophisticated version appears in "Tooth and Claw", where a KGB hit team tracks down Gary Manning to a hotel room and use an Infrared X-Ray Camera to spy on him, only to find he's suddenly disappeared from the screen. On investigating they find a mannequin with a remote-control battery-operated thermal unit that distributes heat to various parts of the 'body'. They also find a Booby Trap...
  • The Red House Mystery (by A. A. Milne): Anthony and Bill do this before going off to tail a suspect at night so that the suspect (who is staying in the same house as they are) won't realize they're onto him. Bill is pretty proud of his sleeping dummy, but Anthony's is so convincing that it even fools Bill.
  • Uglies (by Scott Westerfield): Tally puts a portable heater under her covers to convince the heat-sensitive room that she's still in bed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 100 Things to Do Before High School: In "Stay Up All Night Thing!", CJ, Crispo, and Fenwick stuff their sleeping bags when they sneak out of the school sleepover to see the sunrise.
  • In the pilot of American Gothic (1995), Caleb builds one at the hospital to fool the Sheriff.
  • Arrested Development. Buster, not wanting to disturb his mother with his snoring, puts a bunch of pillows in his bed and covers them with his sheets. He also puts a very loud recording of his snoring in with them. His mother, agitated with the loud snoring, starts beating the fake-Buster with a broomstick, eventually realizing that it's a fake. Riding on her luckiness, she decides to go out to try to find any family member in the car. Halfway to her destination, Buster starts snoring from the back seat.
    • George Sr. claims that making papier-mache copies of his own head is just a hobby to avoid boredom during house arrest. Nobody falls for it.
  • Arrow. In "Genesis", Damien Darhk has tracked down where John Diggle, his wife Lyla, and their baby daughter are hiding. He gloatingly moves to the baby cot and rips aside the blankets...only to find a pile of automatic weapons. Mind you that might be normal for this couple.
  • Implied in The A-Team episode "The White Ballot." The sheriff's deputy goes into "Joe Morgan's" room and shoots him as he lies in bed; however, all that is really shown is a bunch of rumpled covers, and Face is seen shortly thereafter in an entirely different area.
  • Blake's 7: The crew of Scorpio discover a Professional Killer is after them, so they teleport on board his spaceship to kill him first. The killer leaves a dummy in the pilot's seat and hides behind the door. Instead of blasting the dummy In the Back from the safety of the doorway, for some inexplicable reason our anti-heroes have to run inside the flight deck to confront him face-to-face, whereupon the killer steps out from behind the door to ambush them.
  • Bones: Zach does this with a pile of books when he escapes from the asylum.
  • Charmed:
    • Paige does this to sneak out of jail after being arrested. She claims she used to do it all the time to get past her adoptive parents and go out at night.
    • In "Sword in the City", Mordaunt comes to the house and attempts to kill baby Wyatt by stabbing him with Excalibur. When he pulls back the sword he discovers he stabbed one of the boy's teddy bears which the Halliwells left in his crib as a decoy.
  • Done in the second season premiere of Covert Affairs when Ben and Annie narrowly escape some assassins in a hospital.
  • Dexter. In this case, it was used to lure the Ice Truck Killer into Dexter's clutches, when said ITK came after Deb.
  • Doctor Who:
    • When the Doctor finds a way out of the room the Monk has imprisoned him in in "The Time Meddler", he makes one of these to delay the Monk noticing he's gone.
    • In "The Ark", Venussa and Dassuk pull this trick to allow Dassuk to escape from the Security Kitchen and free the slaves.
    • The Doctor and Jo pull this off to help them escape from imprisonment by The Master in "Frontier in Space". The Master is only fooled for a little while, but long enough for The Doctor to royally muck up his plot.
  • Used in one of the prime-time soaps (Falconcrest?) a decade or two ago. A man tried to murder his boss, firing several shots into the lump on the bed. Then the "victim" walked into the room, accompanied by guards, and before the guards dragged the would-be killer away, the boss mocked him by "praising" his shooting: "That cushion's a goner."
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Parodied when Philip's elderly mother and Will were sneaking out. Philip's mother suggested stuffing the bed, but Will explained that these days we do things electronically, and played a recording of snoring.
    • Played straight, since Will does use sneakers, pillows and a bust of King Tut to stuff his bed. The snoring tape was just the icing on the cake.
  • The Goodies. In "The Bunfight at the OK Tearooms", Graeme uses one so Tim and Bill won't realise he's made off with their cream mine claim until it's too late. It's made out of a frying pan, a mop, two cups, and a banana (which prompts Tim to comment "He's never at his best first thing" and Bill to ask "Oi Graeme, why have you got a mop on your head?!")
  • In the Heroes episode "Company Man", Claire uses this to escape from Ted.
  • On Hogan's Heroes, Newkirk was captured during a mission. To keep the prisoner count the same, they put a dummy wearing his hat in Col. Hogan's bed, claiming he's sick and is in Hogan's bedroom because it's warmer in there.
  • Leverage: In "The Order 23 Job", the crew use a dummy in an MRI machine to stall a pair of US Marshals. However, the ruse is busted when an emergency case comes in and the hospital needs the MRI machine.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "Jack in the Box", MacGyver and Jack hide chickens and pillows in their beds so it looks like they were still there when people were looking for them.
  • The Magician: Tony leaves behind one made out of balloons when he escapes from a jail cell in "Lady in a Trap".
  • Malcolm in the Middle: one episode had Malcolm and Reese sneaking out to a party and using decoys in their bed to trick their parents: Reese used a balloon and Malcolm a stuffed monster mask. This ends up backfiring when Hal comes inside, feeling nostalgic since there is a possibility that he and Lois have a grave disease. As he goes to give "Reese" a kiss, the balloon bursts, causing him to start screaming, which in turn woke up Dewey (who shares the bed with Malcolm) and finds himself face-to-face with the monster mask. Cue more screaming.
  • Mr. Bean did this once so he was at the front of the line for the big New Year's sale. It consisted of a sleeping bag filled with balloons (which he pops in front of the stunned queue upon revealing his deception) and a head of lettuce (which he throws in a nearby rubbish bin).
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • Murdoch does this to fool a killer after he realises his substitute landlady is trying to kill him in "Convalescence".
    • In "Buffalo Shuffle", Murdoch and Julia trick the murderer into attacking a stack of pillows under a sheet instead of the intended victim.
  • On My Name Is Earl, Ralph uses one of these to break out of prison. He would have made one for Earl but ended up eating the watermelon that would have comprised the Earl-dummy's head.
  • Rex does this to convince the others his mother is in the console in the Pixelface episode "Mrs Dynamo's Son".
  • The No Soap, Radio sketch "Basketball Head" has a teen build one of these so he can sneak out of the house. When it is found by his parents, they are horrified and immediately call the paramedics to save it.
  • The Professionals. In "Slush Fund", a South African hitman being held prisoner by CI5 lures his guard into his cell by faking his suicide, kills him and leaves the body in the cell bed covered by a blanket.
  • Played for Rule of Funny in Red Dwarf when the crew try to dress up a mannequin as Lister, who's waiting behind the door to clobber Legion. Unfortunately the mannequin is extremely unconvincing, and Legion has seen the movie that inspired Lister to try this trick.
  • In The Rockford Files, Jim Rockford used a variation of this to escape from jail. First he repeatedly told the officer guarding the jail that he would escape and do it easily. Next he invoked this trope. After the officer realized that it was only a dummy in the bed, he ran off to look for Jim. At that point, Jim got out from under the bed and walked away.
    • Hannibal did the same thing on The A-Team in the episode where BA got shot.
  • Becky does this to sneak out of the house when she is supposed to be down with the flu the Sick Episode of ROY.
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "Murder Ward," Starsky is undercover as a mental patient. When he leaves his room to snoop around, he leaves two pillows under the blanket.
  • Supernatural
    • In "Time Is On My Side", Bella tries to assassinate Sam and Dean in their motel room, only to find herself shooting a couple of blow-up sex dolls. Dean then calls her on the phone, saying that they're not even in the same state any more.
    • Played straight in "Swap Meat". Dean thinks Sam is Not Himself. Sure enough 'Sam' sneaks into his room at night and tries to shoot the sheet-covered figure on the bed. Dean then appears out of the darkness and punches him.
  • Done by Mozzie in White Collar so that he could sneak out of the safe house to great success.
  • Subverted in a prime-time spy show that aired on FOX around ten years ago. (name, anyone?) The spy and his girl-of-the-week were in a hotel room that the bad guys were closing in on. The baddies break in and see two big lumps on the bed. The leader scoffs at the use of such an old ploy and shoots up the closet. The baddies leave...and the protagonists throw off the blankets and get up from the bed. They were counting on the enemy to assume they were just pillows.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for Barenaked Ladies "Shoe Box", the girl leaves one of these in her bed when she sneaks out of her room to meet her older lover. It doesn't fool her mom for a moment. (And it's All Just a Dream anyway.)

  • The Bible Features an instance of this when David tries yet another time to escape a murder attempt at the hands of Saul. His wife Michal warns him about Saul's plan. After David escapes through the window, she takes the house idol and dresses it up in clothes. She covers its head with goat hair and lies it in the bed. When Saul's messengers come, she tells them that he is sick. This doesn't deter Saul. He asks the messengers to bring David to his bed and all so he can kill him in it at which point the ruse is discovered.
    11 Then Saul sent messengers to David's house to watch for him, so that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David's wife, told him, "If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed." 12 So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled and escaped. 13 And Michal took the household idol and laid it on the bed, put a pillow of goats' hair at its head, and covered it with clothes. 14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, "He is sick." 15 Then Saul sent the messengers [again] to see David, saying, "Bring him up to me on his bed [if necessary], so that I may kill him." 16 When the messengers came in, there was the household idol on the bed with a quilt of goats' hair at its head.

    Video Games 
  • Played with Assassin's Creed III by the bad guys. Connor is in a prison with Hickey, and plans to murder him in his cell. When he tries strangling, but it's neither Hickey nor a dummy, but the already-dead prison warden, and both Hickey and Charles are behind him, ready to pin the death on him, plus an assassination attempt against George Washington.
  • Shay in Broken Age escapes the all-seeing eye of his overbearing digital mother by placing a blow-up doll of himself in his bed. He decides not to wonder why someone has a blow-up doll in his likeness (implicitly it was made by Merek to help him).
  • Bed dummies are made out of blankets and pillows in The Escapists. Vital for sneaking around at night when you're supposed to be in bed, as if the guards see that your bed is unoccupied, they call in a lockdown of the prison.
  • Prisoners in Prison Architect use fake heads when they work on their escape tunnels.
  • Holmes uses this gimmick to sneak around the asylum in Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, leaving his hat and coat, a rolled-up blanket, and a water jug arranged like a sleeping figure in his cell.
  • Roger Wilco uses this to escape the brig in Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier by making a life-sized sculpture of himself out of food, aided by the fact that Lt Dworf the security guard has terrible eyesight.
  • In A Tale of Two Kingdoms, Maeldun is locked in his guest room after being accused of murdering the King. In order to escape, he has to hide a pillow under his bedsheets, knock down a statue from a dresser to distract a guard and hide behind the door so the guard doesn't see him.
  • In Yo-kai Watch, in order to sneak out of the house at night, Nate/Katie enlists the help of the Yo-Kai Baku, who turns into a double of your player character and goes to sleep in their place. As Baku is also a yo-kai that manipulates sleep, this also makes that the character doesn't need to sleep, so they don't feel tired while wandering around so late.

    Visual Novels 
  • Gian and the team do this in Lucky Dog 1 when they break out of prison as a precaution but it never comes into play.

    Web Originals 

  • The cast of 8-Bit Theater does this to escape an assassination attempt... only instead of pillows, they sneak over to a camping site, kill several campers and stick their corpses in the beds. On the other hand, pillows don't bleed when cut.
    • To be fair, neither do corpses.
  • They do this all the time in A Modest Destiny, and it isn't even to stand in for sleeping people! [1]
  • Max of Paranatural uses one involving a football and his baseball cap.
  • The Hare's Bride: As in the original fairy tale, the girl escapes with a variation; she builds up the straw and dresses it in her hat and apron so she can leg it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Jimmy Neutron does it on occasion, but being a boy genius with seemingly unlimited resources, he has a full holographic representation of himself in bed. And it doesn't work.
    • Another case had him use the "Bedroom Android" when Judy was coming up to wake him for breakfast, so she didn't know he slept in his lab. Not only does the robot have clear red lights in the pupils, the lips just open and shut while the head bobs to simulate talking with a speaker, offering various pleasantries too. And it malfunctions after she leaves, causing Judy to speak right into the camera monitoring his room later that evening since she knew he was in the lab with the robot still left broken in his bed:
      Judy: James Isaac Neutron! Get to bed this instant, and I mean you! Not the Jimmy robot who says nice things.
      Jimmy: Boy, moms are smart.
  • American Dad!
    • The episode "Max Jets" had one of Roger's personas being released from prison so he escaped back into prison to take on the persona again. He had a dummy in his bed for six years.
    • In the episode "Stan & Francine & Connie & Ted", Stan and Francine, during a parent-child reversal with Steve, pull off a needlessly elaborate version where they sneak out of their room with a Bedsheet Ladder, play a tape recording of Stan, and replace themselves in bed with two orangutans stolen from the zoo wearing their clothes with wigs. As it turns out, they actually stole three orangutans; the third suddenly breaks in through the ceiling and repeatedly slams Steve's face into the floor.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara stuffs her sleeping bag with grass in order to sneak away from the group and engage in a little secret factory sabotage.
  • In The Batman episode "Cash for Toys", Bruce does this to throw off the detective who's been assigned to protect him.
  • Blue Eye Samurai. Runaway Princess Akemi has a servant dress in her robes for several days of prayer and meditation before her father rumbles to what's going on.
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode "The Belchies", Louise, Gene, and Tina each leave one of these when they sneak out of the house. Each dummy says something of its respective maker: Louise leaves a convincingly-shaped pile of clothes and an inflated balloon, Gene leaves a full bag of trash, and instead of anything even remotely resembling a sleeping body, Tina just left a post-it note on her pillow with her name on it, apparently thinking it would somehow fool her parents.
  • Subverted in one episode of Camp Lazlo, when Raj gets two dummies to place in his and Lazlo's beds. He thus hires Chip and Skip to sleep in said beds.
  • In Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, "Adventures in Squirrelsitting", Tammy stuffed her bed to forestall, if only for a few moments, Chip's discovery that she wasn't there, and had gone off to Fat Cat's Casino to retrieve the Maltese Mouse, figuring she could prove something if she did it herself.
  • In Code Lyoko, Yumi tried this tactic by stuffing her stuffed Totoro toy in the sheets so she could help Aelita on Lyoko. It didn't work with her mom, however.
  • In The Crumpets episode "Ghost in the Attic", Bother and Blister does this to fool their parents before sneaking to their bedroom and the attic. Ma thinks her Trickster Twins are sleeping this time.
  • In Detentionaire, Lee uses one in the episode "Friday Night Bites" so he can sneak out and go to a party to gather clues. Unfortunately, his mother hears about him attending anyway when the fact is broadcast over the news.
  • In the Donald Duck Wartime Cartoon "The Old Army Game", Donald and a few of his fellow soldiers use dummies to fool Sergeant Pete while they go AWOL.
    Pete: Private Duck, you can't make a dummy out of me!
  • In the DuckTales (2017) episode "GlomTales", Louie is grounded to the mansion while the rest of the family goes on, as Louie calls it "the laziest adventure of all time". He obviously wants to leave to get there himself, but Della has programmed a security bot to make sure he stays put. One of his plans involves planting a sleeping dummy in his bed, seemingly getting out of the room and into a doorway, when in reality, the "Louie" the robot sees is another dummy on a remote-controlled vehicle. Unfortunately for Louie, the robot catches on faster than he expected and nonlethally zaps Louie back inside.
  • In The Fairly OddParents! episode "The Big Problem", Vicky constructs one of Timmy when she sees he's gone missing and she doesn't want his parents finding out or she'll be held accountable. Timmy's Dad buys it, even close-up where it's obvious that its head is a basketball wearing Timmy's hat.
  • Family Guy episode "Let's Go to the Hop" has Peter doing this to sneak out from under the nose of his wife, Lois. When she goes to check on him, the dummy speaks to her, courtesy of a tape recording Peter made of himself responding to the comments he predicts Lois will make. The ruse works surprisingly well at first, but after a few exchanges, his "answers" no longer sync up, prompting Lois to pull back the bedsheet and reveal the dummy. Of course, at that moment Peter's stupidity ruins the charade anyway: "Lois, if you still haven't discovered I'm gone, please flip the tape over to side B."
    • In another episode, Lois pulls the sheet off the bed thinking that it's Peter and finds that it's a pile of skulls. Apparently, Peter always does it when he's depressed.
  • Fangbone!: Bill leaves one in his bed when he sneaks out of the house to collect his mother's presents in "The Present of Feathers".
  • At the end of the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Foster's Goes to Europe", after Madame Foster gives Mac an extended hug to steal the gang's plane tickets for her and her friends, Frankie checks on her in bed only to find that she's stuffed her bed with toys while she snuck out.
  • Hoot Kloot: Played with in the episode "Strange on the Range": The episode starts with sheriff Hoot Kloot bringing imprisoned criminal Billy the Kidder his prison meal and, upon entering the cell, finding (instead of Billy) a dummy made from bedsheets lying on Billy's bed. Instantly, Kloot storms off to search for the escaped criminal; however, Billy is really inside the dummy and, since Kloot did not bother to lock the cell, walks out after him.
  • The Hair Bear Bunch escape with Bananas to a wrestling contest. When Botch goes in their cave for a spot check and asks if they're sleeping, the three figures under the blanket reply "yes." Botch buys it. The three figures turn out to be the zoo ostrich, Fur-face the lion and Hercules Hippo.
  • Played straight and subverted in a King of the Hill episode: Bobby sneaks out of the house, leaving behind a sleeping dummy that Hank finds. Hank runs into Luanne's room, assumes the lump in her bed to be another dummy, and pulls the covers back to reveal... Luanne and her boyfriend.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Marinette constructs one so she can sneak out of the house to become Ladybug while grounded in "Simon Says".
  • Jenny does this in an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot. And as a robot, naturally she stuffs the sheets with a toaster.
  • My Little Pony:
  • In the Madagascar short "The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper", Private uses a bowling pin as a dummy. When Skipper discovers it, he slaps and interrogates it.
  • The Simpsons: Lisa puts a miniature Statue of Liberty head in her bed to fool Marge.
    • Homer has also done this on multiple occasions. In an odd form, he does this at work, but at the same time, he's normally asleep at work anyway.
    • Also, the dummies are normally blatantly obvious (A mop with a painted bucket with a recorded message), yet seem to actually work.
      • This latter characteristic was subverted in an episode when we see a perfect duplicate of Bart sitting still reading in class despite also being talking to Lisa in the hallway. "It's a shop class project. It's made of latex".
  • In The Smurfs episode "Squeaky", Smurfette does this with a bunch of pillows under the covers of her bed to disguise the fact that she has run away from the village.
  • In the Static Shock episode "Static in Africa", Ananzi helps Virgil sneak out to fight crime by creating an illusion of Virgil sleeping in his bed.

    Real Life 
  • Prison escapees have been known to do this for a long time. The three convicts who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962 went whole hog and made the papier-mache head. Ted Bundy did this in his second escape, and it worked so well that the guards didn't check until noon, by which time he'd already made it to the Denver airport and flown to Chicago. This was also the tactic of the two escapees from Clinton Correctional Facility in Upstate New York in June 2015. Like the above examples, it gave them a considerable headstart, as their absence wasn't noticed until 5:30 AM the next day.
  • Suspected CIA agents in the Soviet Union would find themselves under intensive overt surveillance by the KGB. To enable an agent to slip away and empty a Dead Drop or meet an asset, two agents would be in a car and as it turned a corner, one agent would jump out and a dummy on a spring contraption would pop up in the car seat. The trick relied on split-second timing and a KGB follow team made complacent by months of following the agents who'd make a point of never doing anything to shake them. Ironically the same trick was later used by a CIA agent who defected to the Soviet Union; he improvised a rig involving a blow-up sex doll.
  • During WW2 prisoners of war would be called on parade and counted by the guards every day, so in the Marlag-Milag prison camp several naval officers constructed a dummy they called Albert, R.N. that could be held in line to fool the guards.


Video Example(s):


Peter's "Sleeping" Rig

Peter sneaks out of the house at night, leaving behind a dummy in bed, complete with a rigged cassette tape of pre-recorded responses asking her to leave him alone. It works surprisingly well... at first.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / SleepingDummy

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