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Stalker Shot

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"See, we frogs are really quite amazing. We can stick to walls and hear people's secret plans to impersonate Malina."
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Stalker Shot is when the camera reveals someone stalking another character without their knowledge. The character and the audience have no idea there's a stalker in the area, but only the audience will be aware of them once the camera reveals their presence. The purpose is to make the audience believe the character is alone and/or safe and no one will find out what they have done until the audience learns the stalker already knows what they're doing, and to let the audience know that the stalker will either cause trouble or help the character later in the story with that knowledge. This will usually lead to Dramatic Irony.

For this to work, the character that is being stalked appears first and then later the stalker is revealed. Typically, when a character tempts fate by saying no one will ever find out what they're doing, the camera would immediately cut to the stalker watching them. The stalker is usually revealed at the end of a scene, but they can also be revealed in the middle of the scene. The stalker can also be revealed in a flashback, like where the same scene is played again but with a twist that the stalker was there the whole time. Another example would be if a character says they're leaving to another character and they leave off-screen until the camera reveals they came back or never left and they're hiding and the other character is unaware of this, or if a character is told to stay put by another character and after a moment goes by, the camera would reveal that character ignored that order and is shown stalking the other character.

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There are many ways for the stalker to be revealed to the audience. When a character is leaving the area off-screen, the camera remains in place and then the stalker comes out from hiding to reveal themselves or the camera pans to them hiding. The camera zooms out or cuts to a far location away from the character, revealing the stalker has been watching them from a distance. The camera suddenly switching to a P.O.V. Cam of the stalker watching the character from their perspective. Rack Focus can be used to focus first on the character and then later focus on the stalker. The stalker doesn't have to be revealed entirely, maybe a small portion of their body, like their arm or a leg, could be revealed and their entire appearance will be later revealed in the story. Other times when they're not following the character, the stalker may have planted a Spy Cam or a Tracking Device in the area or on the character and the camera would focus on the device and then cut to the stalker watching or listening to what the character is doing. The stalker may be hidden in plain sight like their face is hidden, they have their back towards the camera, or they're wearing a disguise, and once the character is done with what they're doing, the camera shifts to the stalker to reveal their face to let the audience know they're aware of what the character has done. In other cases, it may involve Offscreen Teleportation if it seems the stalker wasn't there before the camera got to them.

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Tropes that are usually associated with this trope are Binocular Shot, Impending Doom P.O.V., Meaningful Background Event, Murderer P.O.V., Mysterious Watcher, Portrait Painting Peephole, Spy Cam, and Van in Black. This can sometimes be a Wham Shot if the stalker's appearance dramatically shifts the story.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Inazuma Eleven: Played for laughs in episode 41 when Endou is talking to Aki outside after they both get up early and the camera reveals that Natsumi, who likes the same guy as Aki, is eavesdropping on their conversation.
  • In The Laughing Salesman, when Moguro helps his clients with their problems, they would later betray his trust or ignore his warnings. When that happens, the camera would reveal that he's in the vicinity of his clients and he's aware of their actions and he plans to punish them later on. And after his clients suffer from his punishment, the camera would most of the time reveal Moguro watching them from a distance and then he would walk off to find his next potential client.
  • In Pokémon, during the "Black & White" a.k.a "Best Wishes" seasons, when Ash meets the starter Pokemon of the Unova region, he comments Oshawott looks cutes, and when Trips chooses Snivy over him, he took an interest in Ash. Later in the episode, the camera would reveal Oshawott following Ash and hiding from a distance several times with Ash and Pikachu unaware of him. It's not until the third episode that Oshawott officially becomes a part of Ash's team.

    Films — Animation 
  • Arlo the Alligator Boy: As Ansel Beauregard is preparing to present his presentation at the Met Gala, the instant he walks out to the stage, Ruff, Stucky and the Beast are shown spying on him from the shadows behind him.
  • In Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, while Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are discussing the invasion plan to take down Darkseid on Apokolips with the Justice League and the Teen Titans, the camera zooms in on Cyborg's cybernetic eye and then the scene cuts to Apokolips where everything Cyborg sees and hears is being transmitted to a monitor that is being watched by Darkseid himself. This is the moment where the Justice League lost the fight before it even started.
  • Puss in Boots: Shows up in the flashback scenes as Humpty Dumpty reveals he's been setting up Puss-In-Boots and has actually been present at several important points in story, often in some ludicrous disguise.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Ant-Man and the Wasp, near the start of the movie, Hank shrinks his lab and gets in the van with Hope and Scott. As they drive away, Ghost materializes, clearly watching to see where they're going.
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978): Stephen is teaching Fran how to fly the helicopter atop the roof of the mall when a Binocular Shot reveals that two bikers are watching them in secret. They make their presence known later that evening right before their gang executes a raid.
  • In The Hills Have Eyes (2006), after the survivors reunite after killing the mutants, the camera switches to a Binocular Shot, revealing there's another mutant watching them from a distance.
    • The sequel does the same ending again but this time an unknown mutant is watching them using a government laptop and surveillance equipment, and the mutant watching it closes the laptop in frustration.
  • In The Invisible Man (2020), when Cecilia thinks that Adrian, her late abusive husband, is stalking her, she steps out of her friend's house where she had been hiding since she ran away. The street is eerily empty in the middle of such a cold night, so cold that her breath condenses, just before she goes back inside, the camera focuses on Adrian in his invisible suit, letting out a deep breath.
  • In The Warriors, while Swan is navigating his way to Union Square through the subway station, as Swan walks offscreen, the leader of the Punks appears around the corner wearing roller skates and stalks Swan from a distance.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: In one scene, Eddie and Dolores are outside in the street talking when they hear Roger loudly singing inside the bar, even though he's supposed to be hiding. After they run inside, the camera pans below to reveal that the Toon Patrol weasels had been listening from below in the sewers and now know Roger's location.
    Wiseass: The rabbit... Get the judge!

    Literature 
  • Warrior Cats: The original cover of Rising Storm depicts an unaware Fireheart as Tigerclaw sneaks up on him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Better Call Saul:
    • As one of Gus's top men, Victor is tasked to track and follow certain people to keep tabs on them:
      • In Season 4 "Smoke", Nacho goes to a bridge to dispose of the pills that caused Hector to have his stroke. When Nacho thinks he's safe, the camera cuts to show a different view of the bridge and the camera zooms out to reveal Victor sitting in his car watching Nacho from a distance and it's revealed he has a tracker installed on Nacho's truck so he's able to follow his movements.
      • In Season 5 "Bad Choice Road", after Lalo is done visiting Hector at the retirement home and he gets into the car with Nacho in the parking lot, as they depart, the camera cuts to Victor, who is parked several spots away from them, tracking their movements with the tracker that's installed in Nacho's car, again.
    • In Season 4 "Winner", Lalo is on a hilltop overlooking Gus's chicken farm to watches the activities going on through binoculars and jots down detailed notes. When he notices Gus and his men getting into cars to hunt down Werner after he escaped, Lalo decides to follow them to sees what's going on. Mike goes to a money transfer office to find clues on Werner's whereabout, and once he figures out where he might be, the camera switches to a Binocular Shot where Lalo is watching Mike through his car. Lalo was originally following Gus, but he changed his target to Mike to see what task Gus has him doing.
    • In Season 5 "Bagman", the Twins are grabbing $7 million dollars at a Cartel stash house to pay for Lalo's bail and to meet with Saul to deliver him the money. As they leave in their car, the camera zooms out to reveal one of the workers at the stash house was observing the Twins and he makes a phone call to someone to inform them about the Twins' next move.
  • In Breaking Bad Season 3 finale "Full Measure", Saul takes Walt to a laser tag arena that he's trying to get Walt to buy. Before they enter the building, a red car can be seen driving in the background and coming to a complete stop, and as they enter the building, the camera remains focused on the red car. The camera changes shot of the car to reveal Victor is tracking Walt as his reflection can be seen in the side-view mirror. It turns out Walt and Saul suspected they were being tracked and only went to the arena to meet Jesse where he's being hidden so they can think up their next plan.

    Theatre 
  • The Phantom of the Opera: After the Phantom upstages a performance with a sudden murder, Christine dashes out of the theater in fear until Raoul arrives to calm her down. Thinking each other safe, they profess their love to one another before heading back inside... and as they leave, the Phantom crawls up into view, revealing he has heard their entire talk and is now very jealous.

    Video Games 
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron: In the first level with Optimus Prime, you can gain a special accolade by spotting Laserbeak and Soundwave surreptitiously following you at various points in the stage and driving them off.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad! "Shallow Vows", Roger, as his Jeanie Gold persona, tasks Steve and Hayley to get their parents a good wedding gift for their wedding renewal and if they fail he'll send Valik, another persona of Roger, to kill them. After they failed to get their parents a good gift, at the end of the episode, they flee to the South of the border to get away from Valik. After Steve states Valik won't find them here, in a Shout-Out to The Silence of the Lambs, they walk pass Valik, dressed as Hannibal at the end of the film, who's on a payphone with his back turned away from them, and after they pass him, he reveals himself to the audience and gets off the phone and follows them while holding a knife.
  • In The Emperor's New School, Season 1 "The Adventures of Red-Eyed Tree Frog-Man", after Yzma turns Kuzco into a red-eyed tree frog and he becomes like a superhero, Yzma comes up with a plan to capture him by having Kronk endanger Malina so Kuzco will come to her rescue where he'll be captured. But the camera switches angles to reveal Kuzco eavesdropping on Yzma's plan. So when Kronk puts Malina in danger by leading her to a rope bridge and cutting the ropes so the bridge will drop, Kuzco doesn't make an attempt to rescue her because he reveals he knows that Yzma is impersonating Malina and lets her drop to the bottom.
  • In My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Season 1 "Law and Odor", in order to stop the corruption among the school hall monitors, Adam tries to cut off their "dirtnut" supplies, the food that's used to bribe the hall monitors, by bribing the "dirtnut" delivery man with actual money so that he can't deliver it. Unfortunately, the camera zooms out to reveal Henry catching this on camera and makes an out-of-context news report about it.
  • The Owl House:
    • In Season 1 "Hooty's Moving Hassle", after Luz, Willow, and Gus accidentally brings the Owl House to life during the Moonlight Conjuring, they decide to take the house out on a joyride. As they control the Owl House, they walk past a demon hunter who appears in the foreground and decides to pursue it with his group.
    • In Season 1 "Lost in Language", after Amity gets the librarian to kick Luz and her siblings, Edric and Emira, out of the library for causing a ruckus, Edric and Emira invite Luz to come back to the library at midnight because they "forgot to check-out" a certain book. After Edric and Emira leave, Luz is the last to leave and as she runs off Amity is revealed to be hiding in the back and gets angry when she hears what they're going to do.
  • In Regular Show Season 2 "Really Real Wrestling", when Mordecai, Rigby, and Pops sneaks out from the House to go watch a wrestling match, Pop is mistaken for the wrestler Huge Head and takes his place in the match. After winning the match and they return to the House, the camera cuts to the bushes by the House where Huge Head's head emerges from the bushes and he's not happy about Pops unintentionally stealing his place and plans to steal Pops's identity as revenge. It goes nowhere until "Men in Uniform".
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power:
    • This is how Loo-Kee's games for the And Knowing Is Half the Battle at the end of each episode. Loo-Kee would recall the scene where he'd been hiding and, after giving a final chance to find him, reveal his hiding spot. While most of the hiding spots were fairly easy once you knew the scene, quite a few were much harder to find.
    • Typically Imp was shown when he went spying on the Rebels, retaining his blue coloring so the audience could keep track of him. In two notable episodes, "A Loss For Words" and "The Mines of Mondor", he's only revealed AFTER the Rebels have had an important conversation with no previous warning to the audience. Helped by the fact he had shed his natural coloring to assume his disguise.
    • In the second episode of the series, "Beast Island," Glimmer, Bow, Madame Razz, and Battlecat manage to make it to Beast Island to save He-Man. They fully believe their infiltration has gone undetected, but a panning out of the shot reveals Grizzlor is watching them on a security camera.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • Imp will usually be there when someone does something that might be a problem for Hordak and they're completely oblivious of his presence in the room.
      • In Season 1 "Light Hope", when Entrapta wants to experiment on the Black Garnet and Catra tells her she can get it for her, the camera cuts to a different angle of the room revealing a little bit of Imp in the shot and then the camera switches again to show a better view of Imp who then leaves to report what he saw to Hordak.
      • In Season 2 "Reunion", after Catra reveals to Scorpia that Shadow Weaver escaped and she has to find her before Hordak learns the truth, Scorpia tells her they'll find her together and they'll keep it a secret until the camera cuts to inside an air vent where Imp was watching them the entire time and leaves to report to Hordak.
    • In Season 5 "Perils of Peekablue", Mermista, Scorpia, Perfuma, and Sea Hawk are having a meeting in their tent about going undercover to recruit Prince Peekablue to help them find Adora and her friends to warn them about Horde Prime implanting Etherians with mind-control chips, but with the reveal that Spinnerella is one of the chipped victims, the camera zooms out from their tent to reveal she heard their whole plan and then walks off.
  • In The Simpsons:
    • In Season 4 "Last Exit to Springfield", in a union meeting, after Carl tells everyone their new contract makes them give up their dental plan in exchange for a free keg of beer, Homer slowly realizes that he has to pay for Lisa's braces and rejects the contract and convinces everyone to reject it too. The camera cuts to the keg to reveal the beer tap has a hidden camera inside and Mr. Burns watching them through the monitor.
    • In Season 6 "A Star is Burns", when the film festival judges are voting on which film should win, Mayor Quimby and Krusty votes for Mr. Burn's film. The camera then pans to a sandwich where it's revealed that the olive on the sandwich is actually a camera and then the scene cuts to Mr. Burns who is watching the judges on the monitor to see if they're voting for him.
  • In South Park, Season 22 "Bike Parade", after the Stotches get their packages from Amazon, they're happy to get their stuff. The camera then cuts to an Amazon Alexa in their living room, revealing that Jeff Bezos is eavesdropping on the citizens of South Park through Alexa.
  • In Teen Titans, Season 5 "Kole", after taking down Dr. Light, Robin gives Kole and Gnarrk a communicator and tells them to call them if they're ever in danger. Kole tells them they probably won't need it because they're going back to where they belong and no one's going to bother them there, until the camera cuts to The Brotherhood of Evil at their base listening to them the entire time through their communicator and they were able to pinpoint their location.
  • The Transformers'': Soundwave, Laserbeak, and Ravage would often be revealed to have been listening in on important conversations, either amongst humans or the Autobots, by having the camera pan over to some nook or cranny they'd been placed in while in their alt-modes.

 
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Video Example(s):

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Arlo the Alligator Boy

As Ansel prepares to give his presentation at the Met Gala, he doesn't know he's being spied on by Ruff, Stucky and the Beast.

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