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Vehicle Vanish

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Where's Wally? Not here anymore.

Alice wants Bob for something, whether because she wants to talk to him face-to-face, kill him, or she's just leaving and is looking back over her shoulder. Suddenly a bus or large truck comes out of nowhere between the two, and in the split second it takes to pass, Bob has mysteriously disappeared.

This may happen when Bob is apparently not looking, and therefore wouldn't know when to duck out of sight; alternatively, Bob may be standing there, grinning and staring at Alice, right before he disappears. It might be revealed that Bob latched on to the speeding vehicle justifying this trope.

If Bob really wants to show off, he'll do this with a single person walking past, rather than a vehicle.

Related to the Stealth Hi/Bye, but with large noisy wheeled props. See also Train Escape. If the vehicle itself vanishes, that's Dude, Where's Our Car?. A child-themed sister trope is Carousel Kidnapping.


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  • There's a advert where a man is singing to a woman on the opposite platform at a train station. A train passes, and when it has gone past, she's gone. He begins to sing again sadly, believing he'll never see her again, when he turns his head and she's sitting next to him.
  • There was a similar commercial for beer: A group of young people are sitting at the railroad station in some remote town out west. A train races by, and through glimpses between the cars a strange young man in t-shirt and jeans is spotted on the other side. After the train passes, he crosses the tracks, introduces the group to the pleasures of the brand-name beer, and after a few moments returns to the other side of the tracks, where another train rushes by; again he is glimpsed until the second train has passed, revealing... nothing.

    Anime & Manga 
  • A subtle variant occurs early in Ah! My Goddess: The Movie, where Morgan has her back to the camera and is looking at some posters, passing students block the camera's view of that student, and Morgan is gone. This varies in that Morgan isn't actually trying to hide or shake pursuit, and hasn't even been properly introduced yet as a character.
  • This occurs in the first scene of Eden of the East, where the main character uses it to elude a police woman after grabbing her attention away from Saki, who was under suspicion due to having thrown something over the White House fence (a coin).
  • Part I of Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel has Illya watching Shirou from the other side of the street. When he's briefly distracted by an emergency vehicle, she vanishes.
    • Hilariously deconstructed here.
  • Used to heart-wrenching effect in the Bittersweet Ending of 5 Centimeters per Second: Takaki and Akari (or someone who looks like her, or even an outright hallucination; it's never made clear) walk past each other at some train tracks. He turns to look just as a train goes past; by the time the train clears, she's gone. Earlier on in the third act too, there is a shot where Takaki is on his computer at home, a wind causes a curtain to obscure him for a moment, and he's gone when it settles down.
  • Somehow, Jiyu's comic relief friends do this with a train to get her away from her Dark Magical Girl Counterpart (after being beaten soundly) in the second episode of Jubei-chan season 2.
  • Subverted in Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji quits NERV; Misato shows up just in time to see the train he has (presumably) boarded pull away. The train departs; he does not.
  • Hell Girl did this frequently with Enma Ai.
  • Subverted in The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. Sorata shouts a Love Confession to Mashiro as the latter's train pulls in; when the train leaves, she's gone. But a few seconds later, she comes running down the stairs to meet him.
  • Sailor Moon features a hilarious inversion of this trope. In one episode, Mamoru is standing by himself on a street corner. A large truck passes by the screen, and suddenly Usagi is right next to him. He doesn't even notice she's there until she greets him, which startles the hell out of him.
  • In episode 22 of Your Lie in April, Kousei sees a black cat on the other side of some train tracks, which is gone after a train passes, symbolising Kaori's death.
  • Your Name has the inverted people variant; when Taki is waiting for Miki to show up for their date, the latter appears seemingly out of nowhere behind him where some people were passing.

    Film — Animation 
  • Coco: Miguel escapes a guard in the square when vanishing behind a line of people passing between them.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Like so many other tropes, 1941 (1979) takes this to the extreme with three Vehicle Vanishes in a row, one of which we see from behind the vehicle, demonstrating how the trick works.
  • Spider-Man gets to do the Buster Keaton example in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
  • Played with in The Art of War when Shaw escapes from a group of assassins by lying flat in the road, seemingly to avoid being hit by an oncoming truck. When it passes he's nowhere to be seen, until it's revealed he escaped by grabbing on to the undercarriage.
  • Inverted for Cleve's first appearance in Best Seller. The cop protagonist is chasing a criminal when he's stopped by a passing train. As the train passes, Cleve is revealed calmly watching events.
  • In Billy Elliot, Billy's friend vanishes like this after they have a conversation. A strange use of this trope, as it happens randomly in the middle of a gentle family comedy about a boy's dreams of being a dancer.
  • Inverted in the first Blade movie, when we see the titular hero latch onto a train as it passes by, and he dislocates his shoulder in the process.
  • Blowup: Done with a group of people, not a vehicle, for a surreal effect. Thomas is driving through London when he sees Jane across the street in front of a nightclub. As he parks the car, a group of people pass in front of Jane...and she vanishes into thin air. She's never seen again.
  • The Bourne Identity
    • This is the first sign that Bourne is more than he seems. When he's leaving the boat that found him, he vanishes behind a very small car passing between him and the camera. You can clearly see him running ducked behind the car for a few frames before the transition.
    • Justified Trope during the car chase in Paris. A police motorcyclist is pursuing Bourne's car by driving along a parallel street. A large van obscures the car for a moment, only for it to vanish. The policeman is craning his neck to see where Bourne went when he collides with another vehicle. The next shot reveals that Bourne had turned down a side street.
  • The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes pulls one of these (using a bus) in the trailer for Captain America: Civil War.
  • Casino Royale (2006). Vesper Lynn's happy mood is brought to a halt when she catches the eye-patched villain watching her as they sail into Venice. He disappears when a barge carrying cargo moves between them, but she gets the message.
  • In C.K. dezerterzy, the protagonists pull this off to dodge the gendarme chasing them - getting on a passing tram and ducking out of sight inside.
  • The kid in Cop and a Half disappears this way.
  • Used extensively in Entrapment, with trains, cars, and crowds.
  • Inverted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Harry is waiting for Dumbledore at a tube station, and looks across at the deserted platform opposite. A train goes past, and Dumbledore only appears once it's gone. Justified: he's the world's most powerful wizard.
  • Holmes & Watson: In the epilogue, Moriarty is sitting in a saloon in Wyoming when he receives a threatening telegram from Holmes. Looking up, he sees Holmes and Watson sitting at the bar. Watson makes a Finger Gun gesture at him, and then a pair of patrons pass between him and the bar. When they pass, Holmes and Watson have vanished.
  • Juncture: On the el platform in Chicago, Anna sees her first victim sitting on the bench on the opposite platform. He stares at her, and then vanishes as a train passes between them. Justified as he is just a hallucination brought on by the tumor in her brain.
  • Reversed in a scene from Killer Klowns from Outer Space with a little old lady sitting alone on a bench. A bus passes through the shot in front of her at full speed. When the bus is gone, one of the killer klowns is mysteriously sitting beside her.
  • Clever variation in The Living Daylights - a KGB agent has Kara under surveillance. He watches her enter a phone booth, then, after a streetcar lumbers by between them, a black Aston-Martin parked nearby drives off. It takes the agent a short while to realize she'd put her hat and coat over a cello case in the booth and gotten away with Bond in the car.
  • M might feature one of the earliest examples. Child killer Hans Beckert is being chased by a beggar when an ambulance passes between them. After it's gone, he is nowhere to be seen.
  • Inverted during the highway chase in The Matrix Reloaded. At one point, a civilian driving near the heroes briefly passes behind a barricade, and when he returns, he's been taken over by an agent.
  • The Trainman disappears behind a train this way near the beginning of The Matrix Revolutions. Justified, as he's a computer program that runs the virtual train station, giving him nigh-omnipotence.
  • Subverted in National Treasure (1:19:52). Nicholas Cage is being tailed by the villains. A bus passes in front of him... and when it's finally passed, we and the villains both see him high-tailing it.
    • Played straight earlier when Riley is waiting for a kid he's been bribing to write down specific letters from a museum display. Ian is in the museum as well and sees the kid writing down individual letters, which he knows are for a clue. In the meantime, Riley saw what he was writing (now in full) inscribed on the Liberty Bell in an ad on the side of a bus. By the time Ian and the kid run outside, the bus has passed and Riley is gone.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: The first time Dr Gordon sees Sister Mary Helen she vanishes when a group of people walk in front of her and block his view. At the end of the film, he learns she is a ghost.
  • Charles Bronson's character in Once Upon a Time in the West makes his first appearance this way.
  • Clint Eastwood in The Western Pale Rider does this with a train, one of several Stealth Hi/Bye scenes that suggest he's a supernatural figure. However the train is moving slowly so there's plenty of time for him to have simply ridden away, leaving the whole question ambiguous.
  • In Prom Night (2008), Donna sees Fenton reflected in the beauty salon mirror. As she turns around, a fast-moving bus passes between him and the salon and he vanishes.
  • Chow Yun-fat does this a lot in The Replacement Killers. Including at the very end, having saved both Meg and his own family.
  • In Spider-Man 3, Peter leaves a confrontation with Harry in a diner, then once he's across the street, glances back; Harry gives him a sinister smile, then a truck passes and Harry is gone from the diner. How he achieved this is unclear, as there's nothing in his goblin powers that suggest super speed. Perhaps he just ducked under the table?
    • Made even funnier by the guy behind him turning around with a look of annoyed confusion, like "What was that guy in such a hurry for?"
  • Superman: The Movie. This happens from the point of view of the cop following Otis. He sees Otis on the other side of the rails, and after the subway passes by Otis has disappeared.
  • In Unknown (2006), two cops observe the principle kidnapper leaving a gas station. Then the view is blocked by a truck upon which the kidnapper is gone.
  • At the end of Wanted, Wesley Gibson is seen, battered and bleeding, checking the ATM to see if he still has a fuckload of money sitting in the bank for him, his account is pretty much empty, and Wesley collapses in front of the machine. A truck passes by, and suddenly...

  • Lampshaded and Averted in The Astonishment of Haruhi Suzumiya:
    As though the future was flashing before my eyes, I felt a sudden conviction that when the train had finished going past, Kuyou would no longer be standing on the other side of the line. Somehow she would be standing right behind me instead, reaching out her pale, ghost-like hands...
    A terrible delusion. The train went past. The red warning lights, relieved of their duty, stopped flashing. And the black figure of Kuyou was standing, as ever, on the other side of the gates.
  • Played with in the Discworld book Night Watch. Vimes spots one of the History Monks, who have a habit of disappearing when he tries to get information they don't want him to have, from across the street. A cart blocks his view, but Vimes throws himself to the ground so he can still see the monk's feet under the cart. Once the cart's gone Vimes dashes towards him - and is almost run down by another cart, distracting him long enough for the monk to vanish for real.
  • In Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy:
    She stepped into the street. A bus pulled into the crosswalk behind her, concealing her from Mayland Long's sight. A black Lincoln stopped at the corner parallel to her path, then turned right into the crosswalk.
    The light changed as Mr. Long reached the corner. He raised his eyes over the roofs of the cars, seeking the blue dress along the next block.
    She was not there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Akela Amadour does this at the start of "Eye Spy", vanishing as a train passes through a subway station. She seems to be doing this for the benefit of the camera as there is no one else there to witness it.
  • Band of Brothers. When the counterattack at Carentan is routed, an American paratrooper takes aim at a German soldier and fires. He's seen to stagger, then a half-track passes between them. By the time it's gone, the soldier has vanished. Just to ensure the audience knows the German is dead, we see a shot of his helmet rolling downhill.
  • Used in the title sequence of Bottom as Richie disappears behind a fast moving bus.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Although involving a person as opposed to a vehicle, there's one in The Teaser of "Passion". Buffy is dancing with Xander at the Bronze. A man crosses in front of the camera, temporarily blocking the view, and when he's gone by Angelus is standing there, staring coldly at them.
    • In "Tough Love", Willow is at the Culture Fair and sees Glory attacking Tara. Willow runs through the crowd while trying to remember a protection spell. A Chinese dragon passes between them and Glory vanishes using her Super-Speed, leaving an insane Tara behind.
  • Castle: In "Dial M for Mayor", Castle meets with his mysterious informant in a parking garage. A car passes between the two of them, blinding Castle with its headlights. When it has passed, the informant is gone.
  • Cold Case: In "Sherry Darlin'", Lily is meeting with a suspect at Berks elevated rapid transit station. At a tense moment, a train passes between Lily and James and, when it has passed, James is gone.
  • CSI: NY: In "Vacation Getaway," Shane Casey holds a hostage at gunpoint and drags her across the street. A bus passes between Casey and Mac and Stella. When the bus passes, the hostage is there but Casey has vanished.
  • Doctor Who: As the Doctor walks away in the minisode "The Great Detective", a hansom cab passes between him and Vestra, Jenny and Strax. When it has gone, he has vanished.
  • The Observer of Fringe has done this once or twice, in addition to more mundane vanishing.
  • Leverage: Nate and Sophie do this in "The Homecoming Job," disappearing as Hardison drives a truck between them and the guards in the cargo yard. As an added touch, they leave their luggage behind.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "For Love or Money", Mac and Pete are watching a pair of defectors at the zoo who disappear when a crowd of pedestrians temporarily blocks the view.
  • In the Midnight Caller episode "The Added Starter," a hitman prepares to shoot a woman who is checking the mail when a truck drives between them. By the time it's gone, she's already vanished into an apartment.
  • Deliberately invoked in the Mission: Impossible episode "Leona" in order to convince a mobster that he is seeing visions of his dead wife. Casey, disguised as the dead wife, is pulled into the van as it passes, causing her 'vanish' in the moment she is out of sight.
  • Person of Interest. Inverted in "Relevance" for the introduction of series regular Sameen Shaw. We see a coffee stand in Berlin, a large vehicle then passes across the screen and Sameen is now standing next to it, waiting for a takeaway coffee.
  • The Punisher (2017). Deliberately invoked in "Two Dead Men", when Frank Castle waits until a truck passes between himself and where he thinks Micro is watching him from the roof opposite. After the usual Vehicle Vanish shot, we're then shown Frank running like hell up the stairs for the roof (turns out Micro is actually watching Frank from the roof of the cafe he was just in, so he saw the whole thing).
  • Inverted in a episode of Scrubs, Turk is reading a book in a bench, an ambulance passes and Dr Cox is sitting right next to him.
  • In Season 9 of Smallville, Major Zod realizes that Tess has played him. He looks across the street, and sees Tess raising her coffee cup in a sarcastic salute to him. A truck passes and in that split second, Tess is somehow gone. Unless she somehow jumped onto the side of the truck and rode away with it, one wonders exactly how Tess did this, considering the fact that she has no superpowers.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), Dean sees a woman in white. Dean is almost hit by a car when he crosses the street, and when he looks up the woman has disappeared.
  • Used as a prank on Trigger Happy TV. One of the cast asks some passersby to take his picture while he stands on a median strip. After a slow moving van passes in front of him, he'd gone (having jumped inside the van) leaving some very confused people holding his camera.
  • White Collar: While it's done for the viewer's benefit rather than a character's, Matthew Keller does this at the end of "Payback".
  • Happens in the third episode of Wild Boys. Butler vanishes during a gunfight with Jack, when the gold coach and its escort of troopers passes between them.
  • Justified in The X-Files with a shapeshifting alien, who simply changes his face while being interviewed by a detective when a truck passes between him and the security camera. The detective looks up from his notepad and sees an apparently different person, who casually walks away.
  • Occurs near the end of X-Play's "Passion of the Christ 2: Judgement Day" parody. Jesus is standing on a sidewalk, a car passes by and he's gone.

    Tabletop Games 
  • SLA Industries. When an Ebon reaches Formulae Rank 10 he starts seeing Necanthropes watching him from a distance. After a vehicle passes between the Ebon and the Necanthrope watcher and blocks the Ebon's view, the Necanthrope will have disappeared.

    Video Games 
  • In Halo 2, the frigate In Amber Clad sneaks out of New Mombassa by hugging the Covenant carrier to be drawn along as it makes its slipstream jump to Delta Halo. It's later shown from another perspective in Halo 3: ODST.
  • In The Last Remnant, a guy who's so badass that he is only known as "The Conqueror" managed to pull this off with a passing SOLDIER.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Thane the drell assassin manages to do this when two bystanders cross between him and the camera. One of them even looks back, as if wondering where he went.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, as befitting his class' tendency to stick to the shadows, Rogue's Guild leader Jacke pulls one of these at the end of Level 30 quest Cloying Victory, vanishing as a passer-by wanders through the camera shot.

    Web Original 
  • Waldo The Movie: Waldo does this with a bus when his skills at disappearing are being discussed. He is seen standing on the side of a street, facing the audience; a bus passes in front of him, and when it's gone, so is he.

    Western Animation 
  • Played With in The Amazing World of Gumball when Rocky tries to invoke this on Alison after accidentally proposing with a bagel, but unfortunately, it fails because she's on the same side of the road as Rocky.
    Alison: Kid, I'm on the same side of the road as you, I saw you hide behind the trash can.
  • Subverted in an episode of American Dad!, when Stan and Roger try to transport Jeff to Florida to claim a bounty on his head. Stan and Jeff are on opposite sides of a train track, and Stan yells to Roger to "chase after him! He's getting away." The train passes between them, and Jeff is still standing next to Stan's car.
  • Black Dynamite: In "Black Jaws", Black Dynamite sees and elderly fisherman stare at him. The fisherman silently disappears the moment a beach babe walks between them.
  • Likewise subverted in Family Guy: missing their flight, Brian and Stewie have to improvise a cross-country trip back to Quahog. They find the cops investigating a car they stole, a semi passes by, and they're gone... until the camera pans over and shows them standing just a few feet to one side. "Maybe we should've jumped on that truck..."
  • Pinky and the Brain: The Brain does it in "The Third Mouse", which was a parody of The Third Man.

    Real Life 
  • Artist Ryan Estrada made a blog post indicating he made a mad dash into a shop, so that it would appear he did this to the people who were watching him watching them.
  • A more dramatic example than most, but during the Second World War, the tram that always made rounds in front of the Dutch Theatre in Amsterdam (Hollandse Schouwburg) would unknowingly fulfill this function. People who were to be deported were called and grouped to be collected there, but every time the tram stopped in front of it, the guards could not oversee them for a very small timeframe. This proved to be enough for some very brave people to 'smuggle' children to safety and hide them in the school that was at the other side of the road.


Video Example(s):


Monarch on a bus

Monarch, spying on his wife, attempts to hide from her by latching onto a passing bus.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / VehicleVanish

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