Follow TV Tropes

Following

Stealth Hi/Bye

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/batman_gone.jpg

"One of these days, I'm gonna nail his feet to the ground."
Commissioner Gordon, Batman: The Animated Series, "Off Balance"

When a character either suddenly appears or disappears close to someone when they weren't looking to start or end a conversation. Maybe they teleported, maybe they used amazing ninja-like abilities of stealth and concealment, but they're just so good that whoever they're talking to wasn't even aware of it.

An integral part of the Stealth Hi/Bye is that not only doesn't the character see the actual entrance/exit, but neither does the audience. Often there will be a pan of the room first showing that nobody is there, a close-up of the "victim" and then suddenly there they are.

Mysterious beings will often use the Stealth Hi/Bye to disappear as soon as the person they're talking to looks away, possibly because a third party comes into the room. (The third party will never see the person engaging the Stealth Hi/Bye.) There will always be some minor distraction making the "victim" glance away for a second, even if they're familiar with someone doing this. The camera will also pull away from the hero, thus the audience won't see how they disappeared. Sometimes, the hero might even somehow disappear unnoticed while offscreen even though the surrounding characters are positioned in a way that should let them see how the hero departs. While the Technicolor Ninja is all about this tactic, it may not be on the to-do list of any Highly Visible Ninja.

Occasionally, will be pulled off in such a way as to make it appear that the one pulling off the Stealth Hi/Bye is still in view of the other person.

This tendency is usually not really explained, but common possible interpretations would be a character who is able to teleport/turn invisible or else moves very quietly and/or quickly. Although to some extent this ability can be used in Real Life, most of the time this ability is exaggerated to the point where it is an example of very soft/implausible SF, and at times relies heavily on the Rule of Cool in order to avoid breaking Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

Compare:

See also Offscreen Reality Warp, Trespassing to Talk. Surprise Vehicle is when a vehicle enters using this. Contrast Dynamic Entry, which is all about calling attention to yourself.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Steve Smith, demonstrating "incendiary" speed, does both hi and bye in this Sportscenter commercial.
  • The Burger King can do this, which helps in his quest to bring delicious burgers to everyone.

    Comic Books 
  • It's a Once per Episode moment in French comic Lucky Luke, and several Animated Adaptations too, for the eponymous character always disappears when people are trying to reward him. Lampshaded in Tous à l'Ouest when he actually tries to tell everybody he's leaving, but they're too busy bickering to notice until he's left.
  • In Astro City, the Confessor, who's something of a Batman Expy, loves to pull this. He even sneaks up behind his sidekick when he's looking at a mirror, which turns out to be a clue...
  • In Superman story War World The Spectre helps Superman find Supergirl and gives him food for thought. As Clark reflects on his newly-learned lesson, The Spectre fades quietly when he was not looking.
    Superman: Thank you again, Spectre. Spectre? He's gone.
  • Supergirl:
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton, Big Barda ushers Superman and Wonder Woman into her house, turns around and finds Batman is already waiting inside.
      Big Barda: Batman...? But... How... Where? WHEN did you get here? (muttering) Why do I even ask...?
    • In the third issue of Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Lena is so busy berating her rival Belinda that she doesn't notice Linda sneaking away.
  • Escape Artist Yorick pulls a vanishing act on several occasions in Y: The Last Man, much to the annoyance of his bodyguard Agent 355. At the end of the series Agent 355, though claiming this is one trick Yorick hasn't taught her, pulls the same trick to avoid having to say goodbye to him.
  • Wolverine is also fond of this. Notably, he once pulled it off inside the cockpit of a plane while it was in flight (okay, coming in to land). On a ninja with psychic powers. Wolverine has an unusual advantage in that he's short, making it easier for him to hide.
  • Likewise his Opposite-Sex Clone/daughter, X-23. In one case she appears out of nowhere to regroup with Hazmat and Reptil (who hangs a lampshade on it) in Avengers Arena, and her fight against the Facility mooks sent to recapture her in Target X has her taking many of them down Batman-style (before Kimura does it to her). Justified due to extensive training as an assassin, and arguably the genetics she shares with daddy.
  • Spider-Man's been known to do this too, although it's usually played more comedically. He often does this by webbing himself to a nearby out-of-sight surface, like an exterior wall.
  • Spider-Man is on the receiving end in Sensational Spider-Man Volume 2, Issue 40 when a non-descript homeless guy ( The One Above All, a.k.a. God) approaches while Peter is giving a vicious beat-down to a city dumpster, without setting off Peter's spider sense.
  • Storm Shadow makes a habit of this in IDW's continuation of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic.
  • Wallace pulled this on Lt. Liebowitcz in Sin City. He even had time to make sure that the Corrupt Cop didn't have any bullets in the gun that was supposed to be hidden.
  • John Constantine pulled this on Swamp Thing. "How do you baffle a vegetable?"
  • In the 2005 Blue Beetle series, Peacemaker manages to pull this while riding a motorcycle.
  • 2012's The Shadow comic from Dynamite does it, no doubt due to the character being the main source of inspiration for Batman.
  • V from V for Vendetta has this as his calling card.
  • Batman's erstwhile Outsiders teammate Black Lightning demonstrates this trick more than once in his 1990s solo book. He first uses it to infiltrate and surprise a group of teenage gangbangers. When one of them asks, "How'd he do that?", Lightning explains that he "had a good teacher", with the Bat-symbol forming in shadow behind him.
  • The first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws has this being pulled on former Robin, Jason Todd. Apparently he never learned the trick.
  • Batwoman, as part and parcel of the entire Bat-package, has on numerous occasions just appeared in a scene without anybody aware of her presence, but it is not a requirement for her like it is with Batman. During her run on Detective Comics she once needed to visit a doctor to have a pair of blood samples analyzed and the script for the scene explicitly instructed that she be drawn just waiting in the office, not trying to surprise the doctor. This time she is standing in plain view, and would be seen by the doctor as soon as the lights were turned on.

    Fan Works 
  • A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script: In the first chapter of this The Silmarillion fanfic, Beren talks to Beleg and Mablung before leaving... and in spite of they were watching him, neither of them saw how he vanished in the woods. He just disappeared.
  • HERZ:
    • In chapter 5 Rei does this to people when she is walking around.
    • And in chapter 12 she does this to Shinji. She appears for an instant to say goodbye, Shinji looks away for one second, and when he looks back she has faded.
  • Last Child of Krypton: In chapter 1, Shinji saw Rei standing in the street. He turned his head for a second, and when glanced back at her, Rei was gone.
    In the distance, shimmering with the heat, there was a girl in a school uniform, her skin as white as alabaster, hair so pale that in the strange afternoon light, it looked blue. She gazed at him with piercing red eyes. Instinctively, he turned his head towards the screech of approaching tires. When he glanced back at the street, the apparition was gone.
  • Nobody Dies: If you see an airduct in Tokyo-3, chances are that you are Being Watched. This is Terrifying!Rei's trademark move, on borderline-Big Brother Is Watching levels. "Heee~ey..." On (at least...) one occasion she did it on purpose to Scare 'em Straight.
  • The "Hi" part happens between Vegeta and Ginyu in Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
    Vegeta: What are you, dense!? The Ginyu Force could be here any second, and then we're...
    Ginyu: Hi Vegeta.
    Vegeta: [barely paying attention] Hi Ginyu. And then we're... [stops and does a Double Take]
    • In Season 3, Krillin manages to sneak up on Future Trunks while they're in mid-air, despite the fact that Trunks has the ability to sense ki; Krillin affectionately refers to it as his "Stealth Mode".
  • One Piece's Fan fiction Website, Ship of fools, Brings us Tarakudo Hunter, who is so quiet that pretty much every time he does anything somebody jumps out of their skin (at one point, he answered a question, and made the person asking jump). Malachi is a more standard case, who tends to appear from nowhere, often entirely unnoticed.
  • In Weightless, Garrus pulled one on Aria while she was disguising as a dancer. To boost the effect, all the cameras were hacked by Archangel's team, too. Needless to say, Aria wasn't impressed to say the least.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, the Master Chief (while wearing Power Armor no less) repeatedly does this to Samantha Shepard. It's entirely Played for Laughs so he can drop in to give a one-liner of some kind.
  • A Shadow of the Titans: Jade maintains this trait from her canon counterpart, though now it's aided by her ability to hide in shadows. That said, it's been done to her a few times as well, usually by either Gadjo or Jinx.
    • Slade does this to Brother Blood in his first appearance, seemingly for no other reason than to rub his superiority in Blood's face.
  • Bad Future Crusaders: Snails does this a few times, but the cake goes to the Masquerader. who seemingly cannot enter or exit a scene without doing this, at time bordering on Offscreen Teleportation.
  • The Twilight Child:
    • The main character manages to perform one of these, while standing in front of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who by all accounts haven't turned away from her either. Sweetie Belle even questions how it happened.
    • Zecora's second appearance involves her managing to perform one of these in a heavily crowded wedding.
  • Episode 7 of Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm: Jason does this while planting bugs in Darien's apartment in the middle of the night. He leans close over a sleeping Darien to hear what he's saying during his nightmare. Darien wakes up suddenly and gets up to take melatonin, but Jason has somehow made it out of the apartment and onto the roof without making a sound.
  • Child of the Storm has a few examples:
    • Sean Cassidy, thanks to his powers, is able to nullify sound around him, making him capable of sneaking up on anyone whenever he feels like it.
    • Doctor Strange, in keeping with his all knowing mysterious figure role (and the fact that he loves messing with people), often does this as well.
    • Huginn and Muninn do this as a Running Gag, popping up on people's shoulders without anyone seeing them approach.
    • Loki gets into this occasionally, as does Harry, causing Carol to complain that someone should put bells on him.
    • Naturally, Bruce Wayne is an up-and-coming master at this - as in, even Thomas Raith, an actual vampire, has no idea how he does it.
    • In the sequel, Dumbledore occasionally demonstrates a knack for it. Among other things, this startles all of the teenagers, making them jump, including Diana, who jumps about fifteen feet in the air.
    • On a grimmer note, the Winter Soldier is also incredibly good at this.
  • In "Wayne Manor", part of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts series, eight-year-old Bruce is already good enough at this to catch out a secret agent who's trained to be alert to his surroundings.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim:
    • Zim and his group pulls this on Dib in Episode 2.
    • Norlock, as a vampire, is capable of doing this. And does so, more than once.
  • In the Superman fan film One on One, Clark Kent pulls this on a young woman he's been interviewing. No prizes for guessing how...
  • In the Fate/Zero and Lupin The Third crossover fan fic Just an Unorthodox Thief, Lupin shows up in a chair in Zenigata's office seemingly out of nowhere, then leaves equally mysteriously while Zenigata's back is turned. When he first shows up, Zenigata reveals he anticipated Lupin's tendency toward this and prepared a trap to capture him.
  • In Something in the Night, Chat Noir pulls this on Ladybug (both out of costume, but he can't see her face and she can't see his) when he walks in on her in his kitchen getting a glass of water.
    Chat: I should have thought to offer you a drink. Do you need anything else?
    Ladybug: Iím good. So long as you donít give me any more heart attacks.
    Chat: I wasnít the one sneaking around someone elseís apartment.
    Ladybug: (chuckles) No, you were just sneaking around your own apartment. Are you actually a goddamn cat or something?
    Chat: (laughs) Sorry, just a force of habit.
  • Universe Falls: In "Magic and Mystery, Part 2" Dipper, Mabel, and Steven have to find a second Laser Light Cannon, and Steven calls Lion out to help. Much to Dipper's mixed shock and annoyance, Lion suddenly appears standing right behind him.
    Dipper: Steven, whatís Lionís deal with always trying to scare me to death?
    Steven: That just means he likes you!
  • X-Men: The Early Years: At the end of "Hit Women, Goats, and Other Vacation Blunders", Scott gives Jean a present and slinks off before she can turn it down.
    "It's gorgeous." Jean held up the robe so she could see the whole thing. "I love the color! But I can't accept this. I mean, it's just too expensive." But when she lowered the robe to see Scott, he was gone. The ice was on the floor. The Band-Aids and ointment for her blistered feet were on the bed.
    But Scott was nowhere to be seen.
  • In To Hell and Back (Arrowverse), Barry, Oliver, and Kara, having been trained by the League of Assassins, often pull these on people-either for tactical advantages, or else just because Barry (and, to a lesser extent, Kara) is The Gadfly.

    Films ó Animation 
  • Emily in Corpse Bride does this on the bridge before sealing the marriage, complete with Jump Scare.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • The title character manages one on Master Shifu at one point, after being told that he'll have to face Tai Lung. Impressive considering he's a panda, and Shifu is a Kung Fu master with super sensitive hearing who you'd think would've heard him leaving. Shifu's reaction is priceless.
    • Shifu has this pulled on him again (possibly knowingly) by Tai Lung, when the latter appears before him after a flash of lightning on the steps of the temple.
    • Parodied in Kung Fu Panda 3 as Shifu's "dramatic exit" consists of him saying "What's that?" and walking out the door as Po looks away.
  • In Monsters University Squishy does this so often they incorporate it into his scaring technique. The dummy turns around to see him staring at it.
  • The Shadow Man in The Princess and the Frog does this all the time.
  • In Ellie's introduction in Up, she goes from shouting at the far end of the room to directly behind Carl in less than a second.

    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • Likewise, the Igors specialize in appearing behind their masters' backs, regardless of how vigilant the master or how coverless the room is. Like most Igor traits, it's hard to be certain whether it is a natural talent, or the result of rigorous training. In Going Postal, Reacher Gilt tests this skill by setting a bear trap down, turning his back to it, and calling for his Igor; the Igor arrives and hands him the now-closed bear trap.
    • Another Igor example referenced in Going Postal has a character stand with his back to a pit of spikes before calling the Igor. Doesn't explain what Igor did, but they found it very laugh-worthy when the mad scientist forgot and stepped back.
    • The Psycho for Hire assassin Jonathan Teatime is also skilled at this, being introduced in Hogfather by entering undetected the heavily guarded office of the head of the Assassin's Guild (entering by and hiding in a chimney over a lit fireplace) and shortly afterward surprising his mooks in a Bad-Guy Bar by pretending to be a waiter. In the movie adaption, he does that all the time.
    • Another Discworld example: Lord Hong in Interesting Times has "the Grand Vizier's talent for appearing out of nowhere". (Note: The Grand Vizier on Discworld is usually not a wizard and is more likely to have been rejected from Unseen University for being mentally unstable. They can Stealth Hi/Bye on pure narrative-causality power.)
    • Night Watch shows Vetinari training himself in this. He got so good at it that he flunked his stealth class for lack of attendance — despite having never missed a class.
      "Where is Havelock?" cried Madam Meserole.
      "Here," said Vetinari, detaching himself from a shadow by the curtains.
    • It also has Vimes show himself to be aware with regards to the Stealth Hi/Bye used by the History Monks — not that it helps. He sees a monk, and then a cart begins to pass in front of him. He drops to the ground, watching the monk's feet. As it's partway past him, his feet are still there. As it's halfway past him, his feet are still there. As it's mostly past him, his feet are still there. When it's completely past him, he's gone.
    • In Pyramids, when Assassin-trained Teppic was cornered by Dios and a slew of armed guards, he was able to perform this when they looked away for a moment, although it's more like a Flash Step, since he wasn't too far away.
    • Granny Weatherwax is very good at this, managing to fade into the foreground and occasionally go where ever she'd like while people are keeping their eye out for her.
    • Inversion. Susan, granddaughter of Death, can make people forget or ignore that she's in the room. To them, it seems she's pulled one of these -if they remember she was there at all.
  • Bertie Wooster, in P. G. Wodehouse's stories, is perpetually astonished by his valet Jeeves's suddenly being at hand whenever Bertie realizes he needs something. When Bertie is the narrator, he describes it as if Jeeves had a mysterious power of teleportation and/or mind-reading, but the real (implied) explanation is always that Jeeves is streets ahead of his clueless employer.
    • This is possibly the reason for the Discworld example — Igors are portrayed as a cross between a butler, a surgeon and Frankenstein's monster.
  • Doctor Who Ė Expanded Universe: A rather weird example in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Vanishing Point.
    "How dare you?" It was a whisper colder than the wind outside, and it seemed somehow to fill the room. Vettul was back, just behind him. The way she seemed to just appear was uncanny. [...] And she swayed from the room, thump-thumping on her twisted legs.
  • Kragar of Steven Brust's Dragaera series is well known for entering a room and not being noticed until he actually speaks. He claims he doesn't do it intentionally; it's just a natural talent (but a handy one for a mob lieutenant). However, it's also why he expects that he'll never be more than a lieutenant; it's not easy to be a mob Boss when people don't notice you.

    At one point, a devised plan relied on Kragar's ability to hide out in the open. It actually works, much to the not-surprise of anyone. In one instance, Vlad's wife accidentally sits down on him. In the latest book, Vlad takes great pleasure in finally pulling this on Kragar.
  • The Dresden Files: In book one, Storm Front, Morgan pulls this on Harry, who lampshades how terrifying it is to have a man suddenly appear out of nowhere in the middle of the night with a sword in hand, never mind the fact that this particular man has a grudge against him. Later books describe invisibility spells, which is probably how he did it. Surprisingly enough, despite her gift for them, Molly never pulls one of these.
  • In David Eddings's Elenium, one of the Knights gets tired of the Goddess Aphrael doing this and asks her to signal next time she appears. So her next manifestation is preceded by a huge trumpet fanfare and holy chorus. Naturally, they ask her to go back to popping up silently.
  • Bondsmagi of the Gentleman Bastard series are notorious for pulling this, generally much to the surprise and/or irritation of whoever they're dropping in on.
  • From the book (not the movie) The Guns of Navarone, Andrea describes Keith Mallory:
    "People call me 'the big cat,' I know, but among the mountains and rocks the captain is more than a cat. He is a ghost, and that was how men called him in Crete. You will know he is here when he touches you on the shoulder."
  • Witches and wizards in Harry Potter just love doing this. Causes quite some confusion for Harry in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when he wonders how Hagrid got to the island to give him his letter and how he left platform 9 3/4 in the time it took Harry to blink. Stealth skills are unnecessary for this, since most wizards can simply teleport.
    "'Don't waste your breath!' yelled Harry, his eyes screwed up against the pain in his scar, now more terrible than ever. 'He can't hear you from here!'
    'Can't I, Potter?' said a high, cold voice.
    Harry opened his eyes.
    Tall, thin and black-hooded, his terrible snakelike face white and gaunt, his scarlet, slit-pupilled eyes staring; Lord Voldemort had appeared in the middle of the hall, his wand pointing at Harry who stood frozen, quite unable to move."
  • In Rachel Aaron's "Legend of Eli Monpress" series, Nico is quite literally capable of disappearing or appearing with no warning, due to her ability to teleport through shadows. For the most part she only uses it in the presence of her teammates who are aware of her ability and used to it, if still fairly unsettled by it, but will occasionally use it more conspicuously in special cases. At one point, when her emotions overwhelm her to the point of panic, she teleports out of an entire room of onlookers, leaving Eli to talk everyone into believing nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.
  • Harley Quin. Not that one, but rather the title character of Agatha Christie's collection The Mysterious Mr Quin. He appears to the elderly Amateur Sleuth Mr. Satterthwaite and leads him to ask questions that will lead him to the solution, then disappears. There are signs Quin may not entirely be of this Earth.
  • The Rangers in Ranger's Apprentice are well known for this. Halt in particular likes appearing apparently out of nowhere. Reality Ensues when Horace, wearing a Ranger cloak, tries to pull this off . . . and it's pointed out that he's a tall man wearing a cloak too small for him and riding a one-ton warhorse.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Rhaegal, the green-and-bronze dragon, starts getting a rep for pulling these in Meereen. Where Drogon is The Dreaded of the three dragon siblings thanks to his size and strength, Rhaegal is quickly becoming feared for being far too sneaky for comfort. Ordinarily a vocal and highly visible individual, Rhaegal can very quickly find ways of popping up or vanishing where you'd least expect him/her/it to be able to... after dropping the loud act and going into hunting-mode, that is. As Quentyn Martell found, much to his cost.
    • The Stark direwolves can all be pretty hard to keep track of when they wish to be (just ask the Ironborn and Bolton trackers), but Ghost is the best of the bunch at pulling this trope. White fur + ice and snow = Cheshire wolf.
  • In the Spiral Arm series, this is a specialty of Greystroke. A Running Gag involves characters wondering where he is only for him to reveal that he is sitting next to them. At one point, he and Little Hugh are riding in a car together, and Little Hugh keeps checking to make sure Greystroke hasn't somehow vanished.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Noghri. A whole race having trained to hunt and survive on a Death World, their ninja-like abilities are so refined they're often able to sneak up on freaking (and freaked) Jedi.
    • Jedi and Sith (or, heck, any force user) also has a tendency to do this as well.
    • General Melvar does a bit of this. Justified as it turns out he A) has a talent for moving quietly, and B) has installed special hydraulics throughout the ship to allow him to open doors silently, for the explicit purpose of pulling these. His boss finds it annoying but tolerable.
  • In the "between the numbers" entries in the Stephanie Plum series and the Lizzy Tucker spinoff series, Diesel is an expert at this. His cousin Wulf can do a quite good Stealth Hi/Bye if he wants, but prefers a more dramatically pyrotechnic approach.
  • The Stormlight Archive book 2, Words of Radiance: Hoid pulls one on Kaladin for giggles.
    Wit sat on a bench by the far wall, outside the cell and under the spheres, tuning some kind of strange instrument on his lap made of taut strings and polished wood. He hadn't been there a moment ago. Storms... had the bench even been there before?
    "How did you get in?" Kaladin asked.
    "Well, there are these things called doors..."
    "The guards let you?"
    "Technically?" Wit asked, plucking at a string, then leaning down to listen as he plucked another. "Yes."
  • Hobbits are said to be good in that. A widely known Informed Ability. Well, a couple of them turned up in the middle of Mordor without anyone seeing them come in. Gandalf is Lampshaded as having this ability. "He is a wizard, you know." It's also how Merry managed to stab the Witch King of Angmar in the leg.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Elli Quinn pulls this twice in Ethan of Athos, both times by quietly leaving while everyone else is distracted by something very attention-holding. Fulfills the "audience doesn't see" criteria because the author doesn't describe her departure, just the reaction when somebody turns and looks for her.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The detective Alan Kuroki used to appear and disappear at will in Fighting Opera HUSTLE, typically scaring RG.
  • Winter achieves this either by climbing around to drop on unsuspecting wrestlers or in TNA, by virtue of being a Mirror Monster that disappears whenever a wrestler not named Angelina Love enters the scene.
  • A favourite move of Lucha Underground manager Catrina, usually invoked against face luchas like Fenix and possibly achievable because of her supernatural nature. Lampshaded by Dario Cueto during one of her sudden appearances ("you like doing that, like a ghost") and taken to an extreme when she managed to vanish from a casket at ringside.
  • If The Undertaker isn't making one of his big, dramatic entrances, he's doing this. Many a hapless victim has heard the gong, had the lights go out, and found Taker standing there when they came back on.

    Radio 
  • A Running Gag in Hut33 is Minka suddenly appearing and butting into the conversation, making everyone else in the room jump. And scream in terror.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1970's-80's British science fiction comic book. The Quick Exit and Vanish stunts allow you to do the "Bye" version of this out of combat and during combat, respectively. Using the Vanish stunt requires a dramatic flourish such as a smoke bomb or bright flash.
  • Maid RPG has a few different versions. As a maid, if you get the power 'Trespass', you can intrude on any scene - including if another character uses the power that makes another dimension solely for them and one other character. The power 'Stalking' makes you completely undetectable while following someone, so you could just appear after following them. And then of course there's "Teleport". As a butler, you can also get "Stalking". You can also get "Now You See Him..." which is exactly this, or "Two as One", which is limited to appearing near the master when in danger. As these have nothing to do with colors, you could even be wearing rainbow tie-die dress or suit while doing this.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. The Hermit will guide lost travelers to the edge of the Northern twilight region so they can return to the surface world. If after taking a few steps to the south they turn and look back, he will have mysteriously disappeared.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The 3.5 supplement Exemplars of Evil has a monk alternate class feature called "Invisible Fist". It allows one to turn invisible for 1 round every 4 rounds. Very useful in fights, of course, but can also be used to make sneaky entrances and departures, without wasting any ressource for such theatrics.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed allows you to do this when killing guards or targets, but for a non-gameplay example, this is how Altaïr kills one of his targets in the intro video.
    • Brotherhood also does this with your assassins. When you call them, they will immediately pop out of any nearby hiding space and attack.
  • Half-Life. The G-Man has this habit, which is lampshaded in Concerned when Gordon Frohman spots him hiding several times.
  • Sans from Undertale pops in and out as he pleases.
  • King Trode likes to do this to put a tag on dramatic scenes in Dragon Quest VIII. Every time he does so, Yangus leaps away and yells "COR BLIMEY!"
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
    • A shopkeeper does this to Link, then admits that it's a hobby of his. He doesn't like it much when Link manages to pull this on him.
    • Tetra likes this one as well. She pulls it once on Link and once on Ganondorf.
  • Gilgamesh pulls one of these, played for laughs, after the final battle with him in Final Fantasy XII.
  • Garrett does this to half the people he meets in Thief: Deadly Shadows, including the Big Bad. His mentor manages to pull the same trope over on him once, however, in a hilarious and brilliant inversion.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
    • At one point in "Subspace Emissary" mode, Princess Peach offers Fox a cup of tea to defuse a fight between him and Sheik. Not only is she able to pull a tea set out of thin air in the moment Fox glances away, but Sheik is also able to pour herself a cup during that same moment. Mundane Utility at its finest.
    • Sheik also did it straight in Ocarina of Time on at least one occasion, although she usually uses a Deku nut as a distraction.
    • This is also done by Impa the first time Link meets her. It is suggested that Zelda picked up many of Impa's techniques for use as Shiek.
    • The Pokémon Trainer also does this during Subspace Emissary gameplay, and in large scrolling multiplayer stages. The Trainer himself trails his Pokémon at all times. However, he doesn't follow its movements over Bottomless Pits and similar obstacles. So, the Pokémon can leave the Trainer behind to leap over pits, onto platforms, down elevators... only to find the Trainer inexplicably waiting on the other side.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Lucien Lachance will sneak up on you when you sleep (and the right conditions are met) to engage your first meeting. When the meeting is over he will use a powerful invisibility spell to hide himself, then leave the room. It's supposed to emulate this trope, but fun things like detection spells, dispelling, and the ability to speak to him tend to ruin the moment.
    • In a way, it's sort of a subversion — the game's makers could have just had him disappear into thin air, but they decided to do it realistically within their game's rules, and let the player not get "Gordoned" if they're actively trying to avoid it.
    • Try following him though a door, suddenly he's gone, spooky....
  • Vitali from Soul Nomad & the World Eaters does this constantly, much to the annoyance of Gig who inevitably gets spooked by his appearance whenever he does it.
  • A favorite tactic of serpent thieves in Achaea, who rely on various semi-invisibility tricks to creep into rooms and remain unnoticed while they plant hypnotic suggestions in their victim's mind, only revealing themselves at the last moment to snap their fingers in front of the victim's face and activate the suggestions. One prominent thief likes to play this trope literally, saying "Hi." at the moment of the snap.
  • One of Alma's favorite tricks in F.E.A.R. Justified, as she's a psychic ghost who can teleport at will.
  • The aptly-named Houdini Splicers in BioShock are big fans of this one, appearing and disappearing in a cloud of crimson smoke, usually right in front of you or, in your initial encounter with one, right behind you without any warning whatsoever, with hands ablaze.
  • Played straight with the Lutece's in BioShock Infinite who can appear and disappear at will and sometimes to use shadows caused by flickering lights to cover it.
  • Tales of Xillia has this as Jude's ability, called 'Snap Pivot'. Backstepping just as he's about to get hit by an enemy, he flashsteps behind them. It actually gets lampshaded in a skit that this is what he does, once the player has used Snap Pivot a lot.
    Alvin: I don't see Jude anywhere...
    Jude: [pops up out of nowhere] You called?
  • There's a neat little trick in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty where you can get an early peek at at a villain who will come in next scene. You can only see him by looking in first-person mode while unarmed (and his face will be partially obscured), and the second time you try it, he'll be gone(cue creepy fanfare).
    • Played straight in the same game by Mr. X, shortly after giving Raiden a cell phone.
    • In the ending to Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Solid Snake pulled this off on Holly and Campbell, although Campbell implies that this has happened before.
  • A rather unusual version of this occurs in The World Ends with You. Before Shiki and Neku make a pact by the statue of Haichiko, Joshua is standing right next to Neku. After the cutscene however, he's disappeared.
  • Government agent Mike Toreno does this to C.J. throughout his missions in GTA: San Andreas. C.J. eventually admits "that guy's like the devil".
  • In Vagrant Story, the mysterious Sydney does this. Ashley enters an empty room, looks around and sees nothing, then turns toward the door he entered. As he tries to open it, he finds it is inexplicably locked. He turns around again to face the room, and Sydney is there. Their conversation is intriguing. How he got inside or whether he was hiding there the whole time is never explained.
  • Faith does this in Mirror's Edge when speaking to a detective. The detective looks away briefly when he hears sounds, turns back toward Faith and she is gone. It turns out the sounds he heard were Faith's footsteps as she was vanishing while he was looking at her.
  • A Gmod addon called The Harmless Companion Cube remains still in plain sight and rewards players who look away with cold, unyielding steel between the shoulders.
  • Onikage from the Tenchu series is a demonic practicioner of this type of exit. One of his best was following a defeat by Ayame in Wrath of Heaven. The camera pans so that his body is behind her for only a split second, and he is gone. There are a number of other examples from the series. They are Ninja after all.
  • Played with in Xenosaga episode I, when chaos pulls this off in his first appearance. KOS-MOS re-checks her secondary sensors and sees that yes, he really did just appear out of nowhere. It's just the first clue that this Pretty Boy is far more than he seems.
  • In Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, Flay got this down pat, startling Vayne several times with his sudden appearance. Nicely averted when Vayne starts to look to where Flay should be at... then he walks through the door.
  • In Jade Empire, Sagacious Zu likes to pull this on the party while you're infiltrating the Lotus Assassin Fortress. He's even good enough to appear from nowhere in Death's Hand's throne room for his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Daxter, Taryn does this to Daxter.
  • Breath of Fire II has an interesting version of this. Characters tend to sneak in behind word bubbles.
  • In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Yuffie has a habit of popping in at the end of certain missions.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Thane will do this during his loyalty mission. He stops to pray in the middle of a well-lit street, and as he finishes the prayer, two people cross in front of him. As soon as they pass, he's gone. The Shadow Broker archives have a video clip of him stepping into a shadow and not coming out the other side.
    • It seems to be a drell thing, as Feron does the same in the closing cinematic for the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC during a momentary power outage.
    • Kasumi's special attack — she Lampshades it with her "Now you see me..."
    • Shepard himself does this in one scene. Cloaking devices are nice, huh?
    • In Mass Effect 3, the kid during the Vancouver blitz vanishes without a trace and without making a sound, while inside a rather echoey air vent, in the split second Shepard looks away. The implausibility of this has led to the kid in question appearing regularly in discussions of the Indoctrination Theory.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], Alex Mercer seems to be able to teleport in addition to his Person of Mass Destruction and Plague Master status. For example, he manages to get the jump on his ex-boss despite the fact that the morgue security camera confirmed he was still there less than a fraction of a second earlier. Of course, this scares the hell out of everyone else, particularly given that Alex is basically The Thing (1982) save the Antarctic environment and extraterrestrial origins.
  • Kingdom Hearts is full of them. Riku and Mickey are quite good at it, but the Organization 13 are experts. Xaldin manages to sneak up on Roxas, but the best example has to be Xion and Roxas, who manage to disappear in front of Carpet and Genie... in the middle of a vast open desert... while wearing black robes. That takes skill. Or a black swirling vortex that they use to travel between the worlds...
  • Team Fortress 2: The Spy's playstyle revolves around these.
  • Unintentional: One of the Sherlock Holmes adventure games, "Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis", wants Watson to always hang around the player (Holmes) so that you can talk to him. Watson doesn't have a walk animation, however. It gets really creepy.
  • The titular oni of Ao Oni is a master of this. He'll pop out from fireplaces, closets he's (logically) too big to fit in, rooms you were just in — that only had that one entrance! — and will even use the game's large black text boxes to its own advantage when the opportunity arises (which is notably played for laughs in the "South Park" version and even lampshaded by that version's Takeshi).
  • The Anguished One in Devil Survivor 2 likes doing this. He's so good at it that the hero, despite being very much The Stoic, can in one instance get freaked out enough to outright yell at him to cut it out.
  • Stefan in the Fire Emblem Tellius series consistently joins the party by sneaking onto the battlefield out of nowhere from a space he should have theoretically been visible from (i.e. one that was near but not an edge space). Additionally, in his first info conversation in Path of Radiance, Ike asks him "What the...? Um...who are you? How long have you been a member of my troop?."
    • Kellam from Awakening has it worse. Despite wearing gigantic shiny armor, he manages to be unseen by everyone. It even takes over a chapter for the characters to notice that he was there from the start, and he has to be re-recruited by the very group he's working with! Apparently he doesn't make any noise when he moves, and he tends to assume conversations are over before they really are, which is why several characters experience him "disappearing" on them as they're speaking to him.
    • Saizo from Fates is capable of doing this since he's a ninja (albeit a rather loud one), and in his supports with his prospect girlfriend Charlotte he trolls her via invoking the trope several times on her.
      • Setsuna from the same game also has a tendency of doing this. She even manages to surprise Kaze, another ninja, with how quietly she sneaks up on him.
  • In Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, Totori's father is an absolute master of this. In nearly every conversation with him, the characters freak out after his first line and wonder when he showed up. In his case, it's because he has so little presence that even his own daughters often forget he's there.
  • Suikoden:
    • A character joins your party using this trope in Suikoden III — simply travel through the appropriate area with space in your party, and he'll somehow slip into your ranks with no warning or notification whatsoever.
    • Ditto the flying squirrels in Suikoden II. While Mukumuku can be recruited in another way, the other four only appear if you wander around a certain area with a space in your party and wait.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog, of Sonic the Hedgehog fame, pulls off an absolutely awesome subversion in "The Fall" stage of his titular game. The GUN Commander gives him a (completely unjustified) You Killed Maria rant with a gun between Shadow's eyes, then pulls the trigger while the camera is on his face. Cue the camera cutting to behind the Commander — revealing Shadow is gone. And then panning down to reveal Shadow is standing behind the Commander, arms crossed.
  • In the Greed trailer for Crusader Kings II the Spymaster does this, repeatedly.
  • In the beginning of Mortal Kombat 9, tournament host Shang Tsung declares he will be the final opponent for the winner. Johnny Cage turns to the others and pokes fun at Shang's age, then is shocked when a displeased Shang is suddenly right next to him when he had previously been on the other side of the room.
  • Space Station 13 allows one to do this with some preparation or quick thinking, making the skill essential for any antagonist seeking to elude Security or get the drop on a kill objective. Common methods include smoke reactions or spells, vent crawling, cloaking devices, chameleon projectors, opening doors the player did not use while closing the ones that were passed, and hiding in a locker or trash bin after turning a corner. Less common methods usually revolve around the hard-to-obtain hand teleporter, teleporter stations and cleverly placed beacons, or the Teleport and Ethereal Jaunt spells.
  • MS Saga: A New Dawn has Hal Vizardt do this twice in the final dungeon of the game. Once when the main character is trapped alone and ambushed, and again when fighting the final boss.

    Visual Novels 
  • Hiroshi in Family Project has a tendency to either teleport into the screen or somehow sneak into the attic and from there gain access through to the bathroom ceiling to make sure he is present at any events he feels he should be at. Or at least to cling upsidedown to the bathroom ceiling. It's not exactly clear how he does strange things like this and is chalked up to the fact that he is pretty insane.

    Web Animation 
  • Agent Washington in Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction Chapter 5. From Church's comment, "I hate when they do that." It's a common Freelancer habit.
  • Both Condor and especially Kid do this in The LeBrons episode "Coach", when an angry Gloria chases them down the school hall for stealing a book that she wrote.
  • Penny pulls this off in RWBY, causing Ruby to ask where she came from.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Fubar of the Whateley Universe likes to pop in behind people. (Yes, his codename is really Fubar.) Since it's not his real body but an astral projection with telekinesis to give it the appearance of solidity, he can pop in and out whenever he wants.
  • Azrael of Gaijin Smash fame was once haunted by a Japanese Schoolgirl who would appear out of nowhere, shout "boobs!", then disappear again.

    Web Videos 
  • On Atop the Fourth Wall, Bear does this from time to time.
  • Todd in the Shadows does it in two Crossover videos, with The Rap Critic (vanishing when the Critic suggested a Lady Gaga review) and Film Brain (first, appearing in a locked bedroom; then, leaving when FB suggested to watch more The Asylum movies; and finally, appearing again when asked how the hell Todd vanished). He eventually explains that he "moves in the space between spaces".
  • Ystos from Noob is prone to doing this when using his assassin avatar, frequently creeping up behind other players while they're talking or distracted.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "Failure Is Not a Factory-Installed Option", Stan loses his confidence in his persuasive skills so he goes to see his Sensei. When he returns he enters and exits every scene by pulling a Stealth Hi/Bye, complete with a Sting. When the car salesman still manages to get the best of Stan, he attempts a Stealth Bye, only for the camera to pan over and show him with his head in the mailbox. "Damn! I can't even exit mysteriously anymore!"
  • Animaniacs: Yakko, Wakko & Dot, being modern inheritors of Bugs-style cartoon antics, pulled this a lot.
    Mr. Director: Hoyl! How'd you... with the going... you were there... [turns back to where they were standing before, and there they are again] but here now... [turns back forwards, where the Warners are standing in front of them once more] you are... for me to see... how'd you do...
  • Arthur: DW occasionally does this to Arthur.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Azula pulls this in the first episode of season 2. She waits for Zuko and Iroh by sitting in the shadows of the house they are staying in, and waits several seconds before interrupting their conversation. Given where she was sitting, they should have been able to see her.
    • Katara also does this in the middle of season 2. On their way to stop the drill from taking down Ba Sing Se, she approaches the guy who's fixing the drill, says a short "Hi", and freezes him so that the others could get the blueprints.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Eska pulls an impressive one on Bolin at the end of Book 2, nearly giving him (and the viewers) a heart-attack.
    • Iroh pulls a Stealth Bye on Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi at the end of Book 2 — from right in front of them. They all glance at each other for just a moment, and when they look back he's gone. Though it's probably justified, considering that Iroh is now a spirit, and they're in the Spirit World.
  • Birdman. Although the title hero doesn't normally do this, he does at the end of "Versus the Speed Demon" while the prison warden is telling him what will happen to the re-captured villain.
  • In Code Lyoko, the heroes frequently pull this kind of exit on any bystander whenever they hear about a XANA attack. Actually Lampshaded by William about Yumi in "Sabotage":
    William: As usual, she couldn't wait to give me the slip...
  • Fenwick keeps doing this to Bob Santino in Dogstar. Any time he asks where she is, it can be almost guaranteed that she will be standing right behind him.
  • In Droopy's case, there's often more than one Droopy. Whenever the antagonist wonders how Droopy can be everywhere at once, it turns out there are hundreds of them.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, a typical episode begins with Dungeon Master saying something off-screen, the characters going "Dungeon Master!" and then cutting to him as he gives out a set of cryptic clues and warnings, before either the characters look away, or he walks behind a tree or rock — and not appearing on the other side.
  • Family Guy:
    • Parodied when Stewie and Brian are standing by the side of the road, and note that they need a quick escape. A truck passes in front of them, and they're gone. Then the camera pans a few feet down the road. Brian and Stewie are standing there.
      Brian: It would probably have been a good idea to get on that truck.
    • Something similar happens in the first Chicken Fight between Ernie and Peter Griffin: Ernie the Giant Chicken manages to escape by Peter unintentionally knocking him onto a truck passing under the overpass, with Peter being shocked at letting the Giant Chicken escape. After waving Peter goodbye, the Giant Chicken smugly turns around, only to express shock at Peter being at the next overpass, who then proceeds to jump onto the truck after him.
  • The Robot Devil tries this in one episode of Futurama, vanishing in a cloud of smoke in an opera house. Cut to him running up the aisle while everyone is distracted.
  • Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe: Renegades, as befitting any self-respecting ninja.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade does this everytime her Uncle Jackie Chan tells her to stay away. Every. Mission. From opposite sides of San Fran, America, the world, and even IN SPACE.
  • Johnny Bravo:
    • Parodied when a villain throws a smoke grenade and gives an Evil Laugh, but when the smoke clears, he hasn't moved at all.
    • In another episode, the smoke in was parodied. Johnny had unwittingly summoned up a devil from the underworld with a ritual that ended with a puff of smoke in his living room, but with no infernal adviser showing up. To his credit, a devil came in through the front door Within the next few seconds, rushed to the spot where he should have appeared, and laughed maniacally before introducing himself.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Werewolf of the Timberland". White Feather disappeared repeatedly while talking to Jonny and Hadji.
  • Looney Tunes: Bugs Bunny does this all the time. Also Daffy, and in one of his cartoons, "The Little Man from the Draft Board".
  • Lucy Loud from The Loud House always does this whenever she appears. It is one of the show's most recurring jokes.
  • The penguins, both in Madagascar and The Penguins of Madagascar.
    • The human antagonist in the TV series adaptation, Officer X, is even stealthier, to the point that even the penguins themselves have to spend half an episode unsuccessfully trying to elude him to go for a swim at a nearby lake after he became a zookeeper.
    • In addition, there is Savio, a suave boa constrictor from the Hoboken Zoo who curbstomped the penguins multiple times, easily avoided their bombs and traps, and surprising them when they least expect it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Pinkie Pie can do this. The strongest examples come from the episode "Green Isn't Your Color", where Pinkie is able to appear from an apple cart (with apple in hoof, of course) and from a bucket of sponges smaller than her.
      Pinkie: FOREVER!
    To clarify, Pinkie said this from inside a mirror.
    • Zecora pulls this off in "The Cutie Pox". After she cures Applebloom's condition, she stays just long enough to offer the filly some sage advice before mysteriously vanishing, much to the amazement of all present.
    • Trixie... tries. She uses a smoke bomb, but everyone can still see her running away once it disperses — in her second appearance, she trips.
  • Mr. Burns once attempted this in The Simpsons, disappearing in a cloud of smoke (laughing maniacally as he did so), in order to avoid paying a sum of money. When the smoke cleared, he had only just managed to get the exit door open and shouted something along the lines of "Oh, fine! Take it!"
  • Parodied in South Park (in The Dark Knight parody episode "The Coon"), when Cartman's titular alter ego does this to the police repeatedly in each conversation, only to reappear on the other side of the room. Oddly enough, only Da Chief has to look away for him to do this — the rest of the force is still looking at him. Rival hero "Mysterion" plays it straight.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • At the end of "Spark of Rebellion", Kanan pulls it on Ezra twice while on the top level of the old communications tower Ezra lives in. Jedi tend to be good at this by default.
    • In "Through Imperial Eyes", Agent Kallus pulls one on Ezra when they're in Thrawn's office. Ezra doesn't even hear the door opening and closing. This is especially impressive because normally, when you have a Jedi, a non-Force-user and this trope, it's usually the Jedi pulling it on the non-Force-user instead of the other way around.
  • Storm Hawks: In the penultimate episode, Cyclonis does this a few times with Piper, popping up in front of/behind her. This was some sort of mental telepathic conversation they had, so it overlaps with Mind Rape and Circling Monologue.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series Clark sometimes does it when he has to be Superman, leaving Lois to wonder where the hell Clark is.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Slade combines this with Behind the Black. Terra sees Slade's reflection in a mirror and turns around to face him (and we actually see Terra facing in Slade's direction while his reflection remains motionless in the mirror) but when the camera angle changes to show where Slade should be standing, he's already gone.
    • Slade also manages to pull this several times in the Season 1 climax, on Robin. You know, the guy who was trained by Batman.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine does this during "Thomas and the Jet Engine", when Thomas passes Gordon of all engines.
    Gordon: Tempting Fate I am the fastest.
    Thomas: Hi Gordon, bye Gordon.
  • Dawn from Total Drama Revenge of the Island tends to appear and disappear without warning.
  • In the end of Turtles Forever, the Mirage Comics Turtles pull the bye part on their animated counterparts. 80s Raph approves.

    Real Life 
  • Sam Witwer and Sam Huntington of Being Human (US) seem to enjoy pulling this on each other when one of them is being interviewed.
  • Sir Anthony Hopkins was said to have pranked several people during the filming of The Silence of the Lambs via quietly approaching them from behind and suddenly saying "good morning" when they didn't expect it.
  • A well-known moment during the town hall-style U.S. Presidential debate of 2000: While answering an audience member's question, George W. Bush turned his head and was surprised to see that his opponent Al Gore had very suddenly appeared standing close to his face. Bush smiled, nodded at Gore, and continued talking, eliciting laughter from the crowd. Even Gore appeared to find the incident Actually Pretty Funny.


Alternative Title(s): Subtle Sneak

Top