Follow TV Tropes


"Spread Wings" Frame Shot

Go To

In visual media, a character is framed in such a way that for a brief moment, it appears as if they have actually gained wings. However, it's soon revealed it was only a composition and a camera trick and the wings belong to an animal or a statue. Similar effects can be done with photography or advertising.

Similar to Background Halo, it makes for a very surprising and usually beautiful, stunning or awe-inspiring shot. The character is usually heavily connected to the symbolism of the winged creature, be it a butterfly, a bird of prey, a bat, a dragon, a demon or an angel. White feathered angelic wings mean the character is pure and innocent. Bat-like demonic wings signify the character is evil and diabolical. Butterfly wings might show that the character is beautiful but fragile.

See also Good Wings, Evil Wings.

Subtrope of Symbolic Wings and Background Body Part.


    open/close all folders 


  • Taylor Swift commissioned Kelsey Montague to create a mural of butterfly wings for people to pose in front of to promote her "ME!" music video.

     Anime and Manga  

  • Parody Sue Teruhashi Kokomi of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. appears to have wings growing from her back when Rifuta Imu first sees her. When the image properly comes into focus it turns out the wings are actually a cloud formation seen through the nearby window that just happened to perfectly line up with her.


  • Artist Colette Miller created a series of murals of empty angel wings in Los Angeles that soon expanded to other locations. Posing in front of these murals became an Instagram fad as people posted to appear with wings.
  • Kelsey Montague is a street artist. Her work went viral when Taylor Swift posed in front of Kelsey's angel wing mural in New York's Nolita neighbourhood and posted it on her Instagram. Kelsey creates large-scale, interactive murals. Huge angel or butterfly wings for people and children to pose in front of pop up often among her credits.

     Asian Animation  

  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Joys of Seasons episode 15, after Tibbie explains that she's worried about the toys she's fixing because "toys have lives too", Sparky imagines her with wings like an angel. Then a bird walks into view from behind her, revealing that the wings are part of the bird.

     Comic Books  

  • Hellblazer: Rise and Fall: One cover has Occult Detective John Constantine stand in front of a brick wall painting of angel wings.
  • Shutter has a "Spread Wings" Frame Shot on the cover of Issue 5 with Kate posed in front of a monster with a halo and angel wings. This makes her look like an angel.
  • Vampirella: One of the covers for Vampirella: Bloodlust depicts Vampirella standing in front of a wall with a pair of wings made out of blood drawn on the wall behind her. Played with in that Vampi actually is a Winged Humanoid. She just hides them most of the time to appear more human. Her actual wings are not made out of blood anyway, they're bat-like.

     Films — Animated  

  • Played for laughs in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. During the church meeting where the townpeople try to decide what to do about the Were-Rabbit attack, Lady Tottington, recommending Wallace for the job, appears to have wings and a halo from the pulpit behind her.note 
  • The Willoughbys: When Jane starts singing to comfort her brothers after their parents leave them for dead on a mountain in a blizzard, the Barnabys appear on either side of her leaning away from her body in a manner reminiscent of angel's wings. Her song is what leads to them being rescued.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: "Poor Jack" is staged with Jack lying dramatically on a statue of an angel holding an open book. At one point Jack sits up directly in front of the statue's head making it look like he has the angel's wings.

     Films — Live-Action  

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Riggan is a washed-up actor who imagines his most famous role, the superhero Birdman, as a critical voice in his head. At one point, Riggan is walking on the street and now sees Birdman as a visible figure, who flies up behind him and for a second makes him look as if he has wings.
  • Posters for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay pose Katniss in front of the Mockingjay (a modified bird) sigil, making it look like she has wings. Katniss is called the Mockingjay for her role in La Résistance.
  • Mulan (2020): As Mulan asserts herself in her final fight against Bori Khan, her family's phoenix can be seen briefly spreading its wings behind her, giving her the appearance of having wings.
  • Peppermint has a poster with Riley standing in front of wall art that looks like angel wings. Closer inspection reveals that the "feathers" are actually bullets, which fits with how she is seen within the film — some characters view her as a protective guardian angel figure, others just see her as a killer.
  • When the judge admonishes Ichabod Crane at the beginning of Sleepy Hollow and sends him to the titular town, he appears to have wings. Those wings belong to a statue of an eagle (an emblem of America) behind him.
  • Twilight: When Edward is seated in the science class at school, there's a stuffed and mounted owl behind him. At one point, the camera view makes it look like the owl's wings belong to Edward. Owls are creatures of the night, very much like vampires.

     Live-Action Television  

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When Buffy is resurrected from the dead at the start of Season Six, she's walking through a graveyard and due to the camera angle she appears to have the wings growing from her back. The wings belong to a statue of an angel.
  • As Jonas lays dying in the Dark (2017) episode "Life and Death", his body is in between the two branches of the family tree Eva has compiled, which branch out and make him look like he has wings.
  • Doctor Who, "The Parting of the Ways": The Ninth Doctor says to the Emperor Dalek, "Am I gonna be one of your angels?" while an illuminated pattern of lines on the door behind him spreads out of his sides like wings.
  • Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne": As Queen Daenerys Targaryen approaches her troops in King's Landing, her dragon behind her is spreading his wings to fly up and for several moments, it looks as if the Dragon Queen grew a pair of dragon wings and as if she literally became a demonic dragon. The shot ended up becoming infamous among fans for its on-the-nose nature, with many joking about its perceived pretentiousness.
  • The Handmaid's Tale, "Household": Handmaid Ofjoseph aka June Osborne is used by Gilead's totalitarian fundamentalist Christian theocratic regime in a propaganda video aimed at Canadians. She and other handmaids (who are all oppressed, tortured and treated like sex slaves and baby factories) are gathered around a huge statue of an angel. Long-suffering June is walking from the statue and it looks like she has white feathery wings.
  • There is a shot in Impulse (2018) where Nicholas rests before a mural of wings lined up perfectly to make it look like he has angel wings.
  • Done for the season 3 poster of The Leftovers, with Kevin Garvey standing in front of a wall that is cracked to look like angel wings.
  • One poster for Lucifer (2016) has the titular Fallen Angel stand in front of a gate that looks like wings.
  • The poster for the second season of Shadow and Bone has three of the main characters posed next to animalistic body parts that symbolize the three legendary amplifiers. Mal is posed with a pair of wings appearing to sprout from his back. This represents the Firebird, and foreshadows that the third amplifier is not actually the Firebird, but Mal himself.
  • Supernatural: When Castiel first reveals himself as an angel, we see a lightning flash that reveals his spreading wings as shadows on the wall behind him since he can't show his true form to unworthy mortals. He gets this sort of shot every time he appears after a significant absence or is revving up his powers for an attack. Whenever an angel is killed, there is carbon scoring on the ground where they fall that always forms an outline of fully spread wings.

     Video Games  

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: Continuing with the Icarus motif from the previous game, promotional shots feature Adam Jensen standing in front of a rack of yellow lights posed to look like wings.
  • In Saints Row 2, when the Boss delivers a Rousing Speech to the newly-reformed Third Street Saints, they do so in front of the Saint of all Saints statue — an icon of the gang, depicting a young winged woman with a gun in each hand. Towards the end of the speech, when the Boss directs the gang to take over Stilwater, the Hitler Cam very deliberately frames them to make it look like the statue's wings are theirs, casting them as a Luciferan figure (this is much more obvious if the statue is fully restored at this pointnote ). Amusingly, the allusion comes full circle in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, when another member of the Saints, Johnny Gat, gets the actual, physical wings formerly belonging to the actual Lucifer grafted onto his back.
  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus has an exceptional instance at the tail end of the post-game story. After initially defeating Volo, Giratina arrives from a rift of dark smoke; the first thing to emerge is its left wing, positioned such that it looks like Volo sprouted it himself.

     Web Animation  

  • When Weiss summons her Nevermore for the first time in RWBY, the emerging bird makes angel wings behind her back. Traditionally, Schnees can only summon foes they defeated personally, but Weiss only assisted her team rather than killing it herself, so summoning the Nevermore demonstrates how her powers have evolved. Plus, it looks cool.
  • Happens in this animation by wingedwolf94, with the twist that the wings are actually real but don't belong to the person they at first look like they do.



Video Example(s):


Mulan's Phoenix

Mulan's family's phoenix spreads its wings behind her as she steels herself to fight Bori Khan.

How well does it match the trope?

3.67 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpreadWingsFrameShot

Media sources: