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Suspiciously Stealthy Predator

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Ripley: They cut the power...
Hudson: What do you mean they cut the power? How can they cut the power, man? They're animals!

The flip side to Super-Persistent Predator, this is what happens when a dangerous creature with the intellect and mindset of a wild animal, which has no business knowing what closed-circuit cameras, firearms, vehicles or other man-made devices are, nevertheless avoids these objects like the plague or takes steps to neutralize them. This guarantees that the heroes who report it to the authorities will never be believed, as no photographic evidence exists to document its presence.

The creature will know not to leave tracks, claw tree bark, or dump a load where it might be found, save by a master tracker who's escorting the heroes. Likewise, this trope ensures that the creature will consistently find unarmed victims (usually confirmed jerkasses or lone sexy females) to prey upon, even as the armed hunters, police, and/or soldiers scouring the woods for the mysterious threat walk right by without noticing. In extreme cases, the creature might slip right by dozens of potential witnesses by sheer luck. Often used to maintain a Monster Delay, both in and out of Verse.

Sometimes clumsily justified as the creature disliking the smell of weapons or machinery, although it'll always lose that aversion in time for a climactic battle with the heroes. If this goes on long enough, viewers and/or characters may eventually deduce that It Can Think.

Well known to be Truth in Television for species known to be ambush predators, such as Crocodilians (who can hide underwater until well within lunging distance) and sharks (whose breaches out of the water are often the only warning of an iminent shark attack).


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  • The Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise are very smart.
    • They can cut electrical power, sneak past defenses using ducts, lay traps using bait, and sneak aboard ships to be exported to other locations without the crew knowing before it's too late. It seems they are at least as intelligent as humans, but driven entirely by instinct mainly to kill, but if a queen is around to lay eggs they will capture targets alive instead.
    • When alone, a single Xenomorph will hunt and stalk its prey with cautious and carefully-planned cunning, doing everything in its power to stay alive until every other living thing in the area has been killed. When in a group or with a colony, aliens will use Zerg Rush tactics when possible and make sacrifices to make sure their brethren can get a good shot at their prey.
      • In a similar vein, in Alien: Resurrection several Xenomorphs are locked in a cell. They slaughter one of their own so its acidic blood will melt through the floor and let them escape.
    • In one proposed ending for the first film which was never used, it would have been revealed that the Xenomorphs can mimic human communicate over a radio transmission and lure more humans to find the Nostromo. Yes, they were almost sentient.
  • The first American remake of Godzilla (1998) has the titular monster somehow being able to hide in the middle of New York City. Quickly revealed to be because it uses the City's subway systems to burrow around Manhattan Island.
  • In Alligator, the gator always retreats to the sewers unseen after its nightly hunts, rather than staying outside to bask in the sun as any real alligator would.
  • Bigfoot in Night Claws, the Reb Brown movie. It seems to hide Behind the Black sometimes and just straight up murders people in clearings of forests. The latter is Justified because there's a pack of them.
  • Tremors movies:
    • The Graboids in Tremors. Justified since they live and hunt underground and are therefore invisible to most tracking techniques.
    • Tremors 2: Aftershocks subverts this. Earl and Grady have a major Oh, Crap! moment at how smart the Graboid hatchlings seem to be after they destroy a running car engine to block any escape and take out the radio tower so they can't call for help. Then someone observes that their rudimentary vision is based on heat signatures, and they only went after the car and the tower because both were putting off heat.
  • One would think that somebody in Snakes on a Plane would've immediately noticed the arrival of hundreds of venomous serpents in the passenger cabin, but it takes so long that they infiltrate every inch of the aircraft and even the purse a woman is holding before anyone catches wise. This is especially jarring, given how many of the snakes are brightly-colored and would want bigger animals such as humans to spot this warning-coloration and keep away, so have no particular reason to hide.
  • Deep Blue Sea: One of the first things the super-intelligent mako sharks do that proves their intelligence is when they take out all the cameras in their pen so they can't be tracked, despite there being no reason why they would even understand a technology like that or ability to communicate it to each other.
  • Jurassic World uses this quite absurdly. The Indominus Rex, who has spent her entire life in one cage, claws at the wall of her enclosure to make her handlers believe she might have managed to scale it, uses her ability to control her body temperature to foil their heat scanners, and hides until they open the big door so she can get out. Then she claws out the tracking device they implanted her with when she was born, and uses her camouflage ability to get the drop on the retrieval team. In case you were thinking there was some history of her working this stuff out, her previous escape attempt consisted of bashing her head against the enclosure window.
  • King Cobra (1999): After Seth escapes from his confinement, it takes two years for the giant snake to get on anyone's radar. He was actually much smaller initially, and grew bigger after feeding on woodland animals. Throughout the rest of the film, it has a rather frightening talent for creeping up on people without them even noticing before it's too late.


  • A Song of Ice and Fire has Ser Barristan Selmy get the chills when he starts totting up the tactics Daenarys' dragons use both in hunting and fighting. Because the traditional "take down a boar or bull" approach most fighters or knights would use (and even tried to use, historically) could only ever work to deliver dinner to the dragon. And, in the specific case of Rhaegal, he even suspects It Can Think.

     Live Action TV  

  • Seems to apply to most of the creatures on Primeval, even the ones that otherwise act incredibly stupid due to low brain/body ratios.
  • For brainless corpses that shouldn't have a clue how to be sneaky, walkers on The Walking Dead are remarkably good at lurching past sentries right when the humans' attention is distracted.

     Real Life  

  • There's a very creepy Real Life example: the Lions of Tsavo. There were no cameras, but they did do things like avoiding an ambush to go attack helpless people in a hospital, avoided bait, and alarmingly good tactics. Modern experts in lion behavior who investigated the incident concluded that at least part of it was because many of the actions that were taken to try to protect the workers and stop the lions were based on assumptions of lion behavior that were widely believed at the time but were actually false. The Lions of Tsavo were given the movie treatment in The Ghost and the Darkness.
    • Actually rather true of a lot of Real Life maneaters, at least the ones who last long enough to get names like the Champawat Tigress, the Leopard of Rudraprayag, and the Beast of Gévaudan (which served as the inspiration for Brotherhood of the Wolf).
      • The Beast of Gévaudan was said to be not so much stealthy as just plain fucking unstoppable. She attacked in broad daylight, fought hand to hand (or rather paw to hand) with armed farmers, flaunted royal huntsmen, and was even said to shrug off bullets like nothing. Of course, what part of the things said about it are actually true rather than simply being hysteria and embellishment are difficult to determine.
  • Cats, wolves, trapdoor spiders, snakes and owls are just a few of the stealthy predators out there that are in fact very good at what they do against their natural prey. They're usually not seen as such by humans because they're not adapted to evade our senses, much less remote surveillance.
  • As documented in Fortean Times, this is a maddening trait of the Alien Big Cats long speculated to be living clandestine lives in the British countryside, which are glimpsed, which leave identifiable dung, make paw prints, rend sheep and lambs leaving unambiguous proof some sort of large predator is out there - but which manage to avoid traps, know not to walk in front of CCTV, can sniff out hidden cameras and evade pursuit even on the fringes of large cities.
  • Many leopards in southern Asia have learned to move discreetly through city parks and alleyways by night, preying upon the urban ecosystem's feral pigs and dogs, while avoiding human notice. Only the disappearance of pets or backyard livestock, and the occasional paw print, offers evidence of their intrusion.
    • Leopards in general own this trope. They're listed among the Big Five Game for African hunting (along with the obvious lion, elephant, rhino, and the vicious Cape Buffalo) just for being that hard to spot. Leopard-hunters often don't see their target until they're a few feet away, and no other hunter type has as high a rate of stress-related breakdown.
    • The snow leopard goes even further than this. Naturally shy, its mottled coat blends in so well with snow-covered rocks that even when moving it's extremely difficult to see, and its excellent insulation also renders it invisible to thermal-imaging cameras.
  • Skeptics who poo-poo popular rumors that recently-extinct predators such as the thylacine, Yangtze sturgeon, Javan tiger, or baiji might still be around point out that they'd have to be this trope to remain undetected in this day and age, what with camera traps, wildlife-monitoring drones, sonar surveys of river fish stocks, and practically every potential human witness having a camera on their phone.