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Wallpaper Camouflage

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"Now I'm just somebody that just used camo."

This is when a character is decked out in an outfit that blends in seamlessly with the wallpaper or furniture upholstery, to the point they're either invisible or seem like a (not giant holographic) floating head and hands. Why are they wearing such a bizarre get up? They may have gotten the shirt/dress as a horribly tacky gift, worn a normal article of clothing and through sheer random chance end up in a place that they blend in to. Or they may be Crazy-Prepared and created the outfit/camo paint combo from scratch precisely to blend in to the background. Hollywood Chameleons can do this naturally.

Related to Stand-In Portrait, if they are impersonating a figure in a mural it is that trope not this one. See also Chameleon Camouflage and Nobody Here but Us Statues.


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  • There's an American ad for an antidepressant that utilizes this.
  • This Opel Mokka advert has the car drive around town standing out against the background while all the people seamlessly blend into the background due to their bland clothes.
  • In some Drunk Driving ads, they have police officers blending into the background this way while a plastered group of friends stumble passed them, only to be hit with a security check on the road.
  • A 2015 commercial for Lucky Charms had a man pour himself a bowl, only to get it stolen by his roommate who's disguised in this manner.
  • An old commercial for Nerf guns had a hapless pizza guy get ambushed by a gang of kids camouflaged as house wallpaper and sofa cushions. Don't think too hard about how he was able to walk past them without seeing that they were three dimensional.
  • A Public Information Film for Education Maintenance Allowance had a man painted to look like the school football pitch, an anatomy poster on the wall and hooks in a cloakroom to tell kids about the money they can claim if they stay on at school after GCSE.
  • An ad for eczema medication has embarrassed eczema patients dressing in outfits that match the background at social events, which they take off after learning about the medication.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Strips 
  • In this The Far Side comic, a woman named Lola and her husband Harold are home alone when a gigantic monster comes to the door. Lola is wearing a floral dress that exactly matches the wallpaper and upholstery of the house, and so remains "motionless and undetected," while Harold—dressed in the ridiculously tacky outfit of a striped shirt and plaid pants—is "immediately devoured."
  • One Garfield strip has Jon put up new wallpaper that just so happens to look exactly like Garfield's stripes.
  • One Krazy Kat strip featured a lecturer demonstrating Krazy's natural camouflage by having him/her stand against a black background. (Ignatz gives Krazy a bottle of milk to ruin the lecture; the lecturer retaliates by giving Krazy a bottle of ink to drink.)
  • One Gahan Wilson comic has a guy sitting in his easy chair, wearing full-body camouflage complete with a hood with eyeholes, so that he blends in with the chair, carpet and wallpaper. His wife comments on how creepy this is.

    Films — Animation 
  • Caesar's spy in the animated Asterix and Cleopatra. In the comic, he's simply dressed as just another Egyptian worker. In the film, he's introduced wearing a robe that blends with the wall decorations behind it, and gets more elaborate with each scene.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Addams Family Values, Wednesday does this, face paint included, to spy on the babysitter/Black Widow after their uncle.
  • Columbus and his girls do this in Baśń O Ludziach Stąd to hide, but invisibility turns out to have disadvantages.
  • In Garden State, this is a gift to Andrew from his aunt, who proudly says she had sewn it herself from leftover wallpaper.
  • Peeta learns to do this in The Hunger Games thanks to his experience as a baker. He is later able to paint his face and hands to match the pattern on a log.
  • In Jackass 3, Johnny Knoxville has himself painted into a mural, Liu Bolin-style, just to see if a bull will ignore him (it doesn't work). Likewise, in Jackass 3.5, Wee Man has himself painted to look like the hand-painted wall of the basement stairway at Ape and Phil's house. He scares a couple of people, until Ryan Dunn comes down and shocks him with a cattle prod.
  • Johnny English Strikes Again: Johnny demonstrates this to his students, proving effective when one of his fellow teachers is looking for him in his own classroom. After the mission, one of the students does this too when he returns.
  • Kong: Skull Island: Among the Iwi natives of Skull Island, the scouts paint themselves to blend in seamlessly with the jungle and ancient ruins on the outskirts of their village, leading to a Jump Scare introduction when one of them hiding among the ruins opens their eyes through the viewfinder of Mason Weaver's camera.
  • The stoned girl in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, whose outfit just happens to blend perfectly into the couch upon which she passed out.
  • Fran├žois Toulour (a.k.a. the Night Fox) does this in Ocean's Thirteen to get the drop on Linus and his dad. However, he reveals himself almost immediately, so the goal appears to have been to avoid alarming them as soon as they walked onto the roof.
  • Done by Inspector Clouseau in Steve Martin's The Pink Panther (2006) as he and his sidekick, played by Jean Reno, try to infiltrate a party where the villain will be present. (They are then discovered, but pass their strange skin-tight outfits off as being part of a dance troupe.)
  • Done by Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows when Watson first arrives at his office allowing Holmes to hit him with three darts. And once again at the end when Watson realizes that Holmes faked his death but fails to realize he was there the whole time.
  • The Chief in Spy Hard repeatedly wears camouflage in his own office to disguise himself as the furniture, the walls, and even the floor.
  • In the movie Toys, a few of Patrick's outfits are used in this way for his trademark Stealth Hi/Bye entrances.
  • Done by the killer in the remake of When a Stranger Calls.
  • Zoolander - Derek quits his career as a male model and joins his father and brothers as coal miners. It's clear he's not cut out for the job - at one point he surprises his dad, jumping out of the darkness dressed in black with his face painted black.


    Live-Action TV 
  • This is one of Carl Creel's tricks in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., doing it twice in his first episode. Given that he's capable of literally becoming the substance the wall is made of, it works really well.
  • Recurring trope in Arrested Development.
    • Tobias, as an understudy for the Blue Man Group, is constantly camouflaged against blue backgrounds. A notable incident is when Zuckerkorn hits Tobias with his car because he cannot see him against the blue sky. Tobias is also seen painting himself in his wife's 'diamond encrusted lotion' to camouflage himself against a glitter background.
    • Buster also wears clothes to match the living room's wallpaper in "Public Relations". Because Milford men are neither seen nor heard.
  • The Elementary episode "The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out" opens with Sherlock, surrounded by heaters, staring at what appears to be a Middle-Eastern style tiled wall that he's installed in the brownstone. He then complains that the woman in bodypaint standing in front of it has moved, ruining the experiment. And then, once the viewers' eyes have adjusted to that, there turns out to be three women, because he's studying the effect of the heat on different brands of bodypaint.
  • Played for laughs in a French and Saunders sketch parodying some current Costume Drama. Part of a pair of curtains turn out to be our heroines' voluminous dresses.
  • Fuller House: Stephanie gives Danny a jacket made from the upholstery of the old couch they've had re-covered. Jackson walks in and asks if Stephanie has seen Danny, who's lying on the couch.
  • Once on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Iolaus hid from some Mooks by covering himself in mud and lying down, blending in with the mud patch which the mooks ran through while looking for him.
  • Inverted in one episode of Home Improvement, when Tim pranks Al on Tool Time by wheeling out a portable wall decorated to resemble Al's plaid shirt, work pants, and tool belt, and then pretends he can't see Al when he walks in front of it.
  • Parks and Recreation: Andy is trying very hard to keep Leslie's secret (she is pregnant). After spending all day trying to forestall April's questions, he tries blending into the background by dressing in camouflage, then standing by the mural in the conference room. It doesn't work, though, as April spots him right away.
  • Taskmaster (NZ): The third-season task "Spot the 12 changes to this room" included an appearance from Season 2 fan favorite David Correos as a room change. Specifically, he was painted to match the striped blue wallpaper. The camouflage is subverted in that every contestant spots him.
  • Titus: In one of the flashbacks of Titus's childhood, Titus hides his brother Dave from his dad by painting him to match the wall. When Titus's dad comes looking for Dave, Titus tells him that Dave joined the circus. Dave blows his cover by coming out of the wall and asking, "Can I be the fat lady?"
  • Mrs. Goadion from This is Jinsy wears a dress that blends into the background of her hut, leaving her looking much like a floating head.
  • In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Kimmy and Andrea have a fairly long conversation before realizing that Andrea's current patient is still in the room - she admits that this doesn't help his feeling of being constantly overlooked, but says that it was his decision to wear clothes the exact same color as her couch.
  • In Season 6 of RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars Drag Queen Ginger Minj walks into the workroom wearing a patterned pink jumper that looks remarkably like the wallpaper the show uses. She makes a crack about being able to camouflage with the wall ... only to actually do so a couple scenes later, spying on her competitors (who eventually spot her in a moment of hilarity).


    Music Videos 
  • Suggested as a potential kink in "I Told You I Was Freaky" by Flight of the Conchords:
    I'll paint the wallpaper pattern onto your naked skin / Stand against the wallpaper and get off like chameleons...
  • Gradually, Gotye is painted to blend into the wall behind him in the video for "Somebody That I Used To Know". Kimbra initially appears already painted to blend in, but the paint comes off near the end.
  • One version of the music video for OK Go's "Do What You Want" takes this to extremes, with the entire band in such a get-up.

    Puppet Shows 
  • On The Muppet Movie, the psychedelic paint job the Electric Mayhem gives Fozzie's Studebaker serendipitously matches a billboard for soda, enabling Kermit and Fozzie to elude Doc Hopper.

    Video Games 
  • In the second level of Gamer 2, Hailey can hide under red lights. The zombies won't be able to see her thanks to her red fur.
  • In a rare serious example, the entire point of the OctoCamo in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is to do this. Whenever you flatten yourself against the wall or a floor, Snake's suit changes color to match, just like an octopus. Halfway through the second act, he gets a mask with the same technology that allows him to hide his head, too.

    Western Animation 
  • Classic Disney Shorts: In Tiger Trouble, the tiger's natural camouflage is parodied by making it invisible in front of a thicket of bamboo.
  • Family Guy: In "Love Thy Trophy", the Spooner Street families' feud escalates to the point of fortifying their houses military-style. On the Swansons' property, Joe has painted himself like the outside of the house, while Bonnie is nearly invisible lying on the pavement (causing Kevin to almost trip).
  • Futurama: In "Legal Inspection", Leela criticizes bureaucrats as "faceless bean-counters who blend into the woodwork." Hermes protests "I beg to differ," while wearing a shirt the exact same color as the wall behind him.
  • Looney Tunes: One gag from Unnatural History involves a chameleon demonstrating how he blends with many colors. But when he's asked to demonstrate in front of a plaid background, he breaks down sobbing "I can't do it! I can't do it!"
  • The Loud House: In "No Guts, No Glori", Luan uses camouflage when she and her sisters are sneaking into Lincoln's room to discuss a plan to do something about Lori's tyranny as their babysitter.
  • The Magic School Bus Rides Again: In "The Magic School Bus Hides and Seeks", the kids learn how animals camouflage themselves. Jyoti invokes this trope by donning an actual Invisibility Cloak, while Ralphie and Tim put on all sorts of disguises to blend into the surrounding walls.
  • Mickey Mouse (2013): In "Al Rojo Vivo", Mickey is running from a bull going after his red shorts when he's caught in a street where everything is red save for one white door. So he hides all the black parts of his body (including swallowing his ears) and stands against the door to hide.
  • Muppet Babies (1984): In "The Weirdo Zone", the babies try to make Gonzo feel less weird by proving they could be weird themselves. Kermit's attempt involved taping a large piece of green construction paper to the wall and blending into it. Unfortunately, this ends up freaking Gonzo out and makes him not want to be weird even more.
  • The Pink Panther: In The Pink Phink, the Panther hides by standing against a wall painted pink.
  • Screwy Squirrel: In The Screwy Truant, Screwy paints a barn wall white, then paints himself white as well to appear invisible and hit the dog chasing him with a bat.
  • 2 Stupid Dogs: In one Secret Squirrel segment, Secret and Morocco must capture a serial art thief called The Chameleon, who uses his chameleon ability to change colors by disguising himself as the art piece he plans to steal. In order to defeat him, Secret and Morocco lead him into the modern art wing of the museum (he'd earlier said he hates modern art), and the highly contrasting and garish colors over-stress his camouflage ability until he passes out and falls into an empty canvas where he remains trapped.
  • The Simpsons: The Couch Gag for "Homer Scissorhands" involves the family breaking into a museum, where their living room is on display. They're wearing strangely erratically colored jumpsuits and at one point evade guards by standing in front of a Jackson Pollock painting which the jumpsuits match.
  • Trollhunters: When AAARRRGGHH, Blinky and NotEnrique sneak into the school to find Strickler's office, they hear a security guard coming, so they pose in front of a mural to hide and the guard barely gives them a second thought.

    Real Life 
  • Chinese artist Liu Bolin.
    • He's also done cars for an advertisement for the Ford Bends; painting the cars so they appear almost transparent against the Ford.
  • The U.S. Army ACU Uniform.
  • Invoked by Banksy at his 2006 "Barely Legal" exhibit in Los Angeles.
  • Bence Bakonyi finds colourful places and then gets models to dress up in matching clothing, it's surprisingly effective.
  • Some haunted houses set up during the Halloween season do this. Especially effective if 3D glasses are handed out in conjunction with paint that makes it appear as if the walls are much closer than they are, allowing a guy to put on a scary mask and pretend to be a painting or something before scaring the customers.
  • The seemingly counter-intuitive tactic used by the Canadian Armed Forces where they wear the pants of the Winter White camouflage (a snow-white outfit with dots of gray) with the tunic of the CADPAT (which looks like relish). In the very specific terrain of "snowfield in front of a treeline" it helps them blend in fairly seamlessly.