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Through the Ceiling, Stealthily

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Usually, when someone enters a room through the ceiling, it's a Crash in Through the Ceiling, all noisy from breaking through the ceiling.

But, sometimes, like when you need stealth before a "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop, it's stealthy and silent. That's this trope.

It might be done mundanely, by sneaking in through an open skylight, or Air-Vent Passageway. On the supernatural side, it might be based on special movement, like Intangibility, Invisibility, Shapeshifting or Teleportation.

A Chimney Entry is usually this, because it's a guaranteed shaft that goes through a roof, and at least its intent is to be stealthy about it. If it works, it counts, such as most versions of Santa Claus, so there's a lot of overlap there.

The scenario of "entered with stealth, but there's a surprise witness", still counts for this trope, as a Subversion, since there was at least a somewhat successful attempt at stealth, only to be foiled at the end, unlike Crash in Through the Ceiling, where the attention-grabbing nature of the entrance is known from the start. But they can overlap if there's a transition between them, while the entrance is underway.

With Teleportation, it's usually Stealthy Teleportation, but if there's no one paying attention, Flashy Teleportation can still be effectively stealthy.

Flight would also help accomplish this, allowing people to get above the ceiling in the first place, if it's an exterior ceiling.

Also likely part of a Vertical Kidnapping, either getting in and setting up, or the hole is directly the kidnapping hole.

Leaving an area stealthily through its ceiling is an inversion of this, in direction.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd GIG: In the episode "Cash Eye": A hacker and thief called "Cash Eye" slips a female "android" from the roof, through a ventilation shaft that passes through the ceiling, into a millionaire's residence to deceive the security system. The "android" leaves a Calling Card and makes a dramatic escape. Consequently, Public Section 9 is involved to protect a safe during an upcoming secret sex party which many influential guests attend. The "android" in fact turns out to have been cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi of Section 9, in a ploy to expose corruption in the upper strata.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: On three separate occasions Steve Trevor manages to sneak into a bad guy hideout through a skylight or trapdoor above it. Though it was Etta Candy who located the trap door on both of those occasions that was by amusing chance and stealth really isn't her forte.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Occurs in multiple chapters:
    • "Convoluted Rescue Plan, Go!": Tserk entering a church through the shaft allowing the bellrope into the church:
      the huge instrument suspended from a thick wooden bar. More interesting was the shaft directly underneath it, barely wide enough for a man to move along the handholds set into the wall. Of course it was blocked, but the cover was a simple grate, so that the rope used to ring the bell could dangle down through the gaps into the building below.
    • In "Trapped (second half)", Tiger stealthily enters the underground sections of the city of Salthalls by taking advantage of a Crash in Through the Ceiling hole from a few chapters before.
  • Quizzical: In the first story, Quizzical, Sweetie Belle teleports into a rock chamber from right above it, bypassing the ceiling. Then Princess Luna follows yelling at her when she reappears.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers has Feathers McGraw operate the techno-trousers by remote control while Wallace is asleep and wearing them. The trousers take Wallace to the top of a museum, and walk him into a spacious Air-Vent Passageway that leads to the room where a huge diamond is on display. The ceiling grate swings open, and Wallace emerges. The suction-soled techno-trousers allow him to walk around on the ceiling, which avoids the waist-high light beams protecting the prize. All the while, Wallace is snoring away in perfect obliviousness.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Entrapment: As floors are also ceilings of underground chambers... the thieves cutting through the concrete floor under their target hallway using shaped explosive charges. They time the blasts to coincide with the beats of a clock bell to mask the noise.
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers: Count von Krolock slips in through through a skylight on the roof of the inn using some implied power, right into the bathroom where Sarah is bathing. She's caught off guard, only learning of his appearance due to snow falling through the now-windowless hole, and powerless to stop him from biting her.
  • GoldenEye has James Bond sneak into a Soviet factory via an Air-Vent Passageway. He emerges into the facility's men's room through the "stink vent" in the ceiling. Somehow the Soviet officer perched on the porcelain throne doesn't detect Bond's entry until the British superspy can deliver a Pre-Mortem One-Liner, though seeing as this whole infiltration is one giant charade so Alec Trevelyan can fake his death and defect to the Soviets, the guard may have noticed and was told to let him in.
  • Inspector Gadget (1999): Gadget tries to do this by grappling up to the roof of the Scolex building and going through the giant air vent up there, but overshoots and makes a clumsy, noisy hash of it. Luckily, he is able to get it right once he's inside.
  • Mission: Impossible (1996): The iconic "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop scene of Ethan being lowered from the ceiling into a computer room filled with motion sensors on the floor. One of his teammates holds the line from above in the ventilation shaft that goes through the ceiling, while Ethan works to hack and download a important file.
  • In Rififi, an important step of the heist the whole film revolves around is to saw a hole through the ceiling of the jeweler's office (after determining that every other part of the room is full of sensors), and although sawing through something usually isn't stealthy, the lack of listeners inside the shop makes it stealthy enough for a robbery.
  • The Caper in Topkapi, and also how it's undone as a bird flies in the window during the "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop and sets off an alarm before the villains have made their getaway.


    Live Action TV 
  • The Boys (2019). In "The Self Preservation Society", A-Train demands that Hughie Come Alone to meet him, and uses his Super-Speed to confirm that he is. While he's working himself up to kill Hughie, we see a ceiling hatch opening behind him, from which Kimiko drops down and breaks A-Train's leg with a lead pipe.

  • Red Panda Adventures: In "The Field Trip", the Red Panda and Flying Squirrel sneak into a museum in New York to locate an item the Nazis are after. They do this by using their static shoes to come in through the roof and walk on the ceiling. The Red Panda notes this mode of entry was picked specifically because there usually aren't alarms on the ceiling, though the Squirrel notes that, New York being a major hotspot of caped crimefighters and supervillains, one would think they would have considered it.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Great Muppet Caper has some intrepid muppets try to sneak into a museum to protect a rare jewel that the villains plan to abscond with. These muppets plan to enter the main concourse through a skylight, but Beaker discovers (ouch!) that it's electrified. Just then, the villains disable the alarm system, which cuts the power to the skylight, allowing the muppets to safely open the skylight from the outside. The muppets then descend into the museum without tripping an alarm.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Burgle Bros. this can be the result if you reveal a Walkway tile by moving into it: your token moves to the tile directly below the Walkway tile (in the corresponding location on the next lower floor), but it doesn't count as "entering" that tile. For example, if there is a guard in the tile, you do not lose a Stealth token when you fall into it.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto V: The mission "The Bureau Raid" can be completed in two ways, one of which involves stealthily entering the building through a hole cut in the roof's skylight. Then immediately after silently entering the building, stealth is completely foregone when Michael uses explosives to blow open a door.
  • Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass: After the opening, Jimmy's parents say they're going to have "adult fun time" and lock themselves in their room. By using the Revolting Blob or Happy Little Sunflower to become a more liquid / thinner form, on the second-floor shower drain, Jimmy can fall into their room and discover they're hula-hooping.
  • In Persona 5, the Phantom Thieves infiltrate Madarame's Palace by opening a skylight and lowering themselves down via a rope with a grappling hook to bypass the security in front. They do it again at the end of the Palace when they lower Mona down via a crane to bypass the security Shadow Madarame has set up around his treasure, though it turned out that he'd anticipated them doing this and swapped it out with a fake beforehand.


    Western Animation 
  • Josie and the Pussycats: Sneaky escape due to a lack of watchers, not from any attempt at stealth. The titular group get captured by the Secret Six, and are tied to stone pillars in an old temple. They're told by the villains that death by neglect will be their fate. Alexandra sneers. "These chintzy ropes won't hold us. I happen to be an expert at untying knots." This results in Alexandra, Josie and Alan being imprisoned in a secret compartment in one wall. The three prisoners discover water leaking from the compartment's ceiling, and chisel an exit using a nail file.


Video Example(s):


City Museum heist

Feathers navigates Wallace through the City Museum's security system to steal a diamond.

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Main / ThroughTheCeilingStealthily

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