Look Behind You!

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Look, it's the Goodyear Blimp!

Alice is in a tight situation involving Bob. Maybe Bob wants money from her, or has a gun pointed at her head, or is just plain annoying.

Alice points past Bob's shoulder and yells, "Hey, what's that over there?!?", or "Look! A [insert improbable thing here]!" Bob looks. Alice legs it. In the subversion, Bob doesn't look, but instead mocks Alice: "You'll think I'll fall for that?" or "That's the oldest trick in the book!" Unfortunately for Bob, deciding not to look drastically ramps up the probability that the thing Alice described is there, and it'll be something he's not going to like.

A variant is for Alice to just look past Bob with a quizzical expression, or to duck herself—this latter being an almost certain guarantee of Bob mocking Alice and then getting brained by the oncoming low bridge.

One of The Oldest Tricks in The Book; quite possibly the oldest.

Related to We Need a Distraction. Also in the process of becoming a Discredited Trope (if not an outright Dead Horse Trope). Note, however, that just the two last words (behind you) are pure Paranoia Fuel on their own. Compare Snap to the Side. If the method involved deliberately having them look somewhere just in time to be killed/heavily injured by something, see Death by Looking Up.

Not to be confused with Look Around You, Right Behind Me, or the Viewer Stock Phrases yelled at blinkered horror movie victims.

Examples of Look Behind You! include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In one episode of Black Lagoon, after a long car chase and shootout, Revy and Roberta are convinced to settle things with an old-fashioned fistfight. Robert tells her that her shoelaces are untied. Revy seems skeptical, not to mention smart, to fall for such an old trick. However, the very second she does decide to look down, Roberta delivers the first punch (or uppercut, in this case).
  • In the first episode of the Tenchi Muyo! OVA series, Tenchi pulls this trick on Ryoko. He's quite surprised when it works. He figures that since she's been sealed for 700 years, maybe she predates the invention of the trick.
    • And in the third movie, he does the same to both Ryoko and Ayeka. It is, again, alarmingly effective.
  • In one episode of Samurai Champloo, an undercover cop posing as a prostitute distracted Mugen on two separate occasions by shouting, "Look! A naked woman!" To be fair, Mugen had a swollen bruise the size of an egg on his forehead at the time, so he probably didn't have his wits about him. To be also fair, Mugen has by then a track record of being taken in by women.
    • She then followed up by performing a quite respectable Groin Attack, which, unfortunately for her, only turned Mugen on. (I like a woman with some fight in her).
      • Or perhaps not so unfortunately, given that by the end of the episode she has decided that when she finally settles down she will find Mugen and marry him.
  • In Ranma ½, Genma Saotome would often use this trick to cheat in games of Shogi or Go. The tables are turned on him, though, as Genma can be distracted by someone shouting "Look! A 100 yen coin!" (that's about $1). In fact, Genma has gone as far as to create a "fighting style" based entirely on pointing up, down, to the side, or behind the opponent (all of these are different techniques, even) before moving in with a surprise attack while the opponent is distracted.
  • In the third episode of the Ichigo Mashimaro anime, this trope is subverted when Matsuri tries this, but is not very good at it, failing miserably. Miu, the Jerkass, not fooled by Matsuri's feeble attempt, does a Look Behind You! of her own back on her, which given Matsuri's vague The Ditz tendencies, is played straight, working very well. In episode 8 Miu tries it on Cool Big Sis Nobue with "Look! A UFO!", but is confused when Nobue just agrees. Then laughs at her. But then Miu launches into We Need a Distraction...
  • Cui, a minor underling of Frieza in Dragon Ball Z, distracts Vegeta by looking over his shoulder and gasping, "Lord Frieza?!". This later became his Ultimate move in the video game adaption, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2.
    • The most amusing thing about this, is that in Tenkaichi 2, even Frieza himself falls for it!
    • Krillin uses this move successfully on Goku in their Tenkaichi Budokai fight.
    • In the first Tenkaichi Budokai we see in the series, Goku falls for this yet again, By way of his opponent pretending to be holding something, and asking if Goku wanted to see what it was. When he peered in to look, the enemy smacked him.
    • Subverted in the Frieza Saga: Goku tells Frieza to look out behind him, and Frieza ignores it. Unfortunately for Frieza, Goku was actually being very serious about telling him to look behind him, and his ignoring him resulted in his being horizontally vivisected by his own attack, which was what Goku was referring to.
    • The next true example is in the Imperfect Cell arc, right as Cell manages to sneak up behind Android 17. Tien sees him, and warns 17, who had been monologuing and believed 16 had destroyed Cell, in spite of his saying otherwise. Even though he turns around to see Cell, he's too late to react, and it costs him his life.
    • Played for laughs in Yo! Goku And His Friends Return. When Goku and Vegeta proceed to attack Aka, Goku asks Vegeta "What's that" to their left (which he fell for) so that he can make his final attack. Vegeta then tells him it's not fair.
  • Keroro Gunsou opened the series with this. Natsumi tries to get her paranormal-obsessed brother Fuyuki out of bed by pointing and shouting, "Look! An alien!" Suddenly, a section of the wall where she was pointing peels away, revealing a surprised Keroro who, thinking his cover had been blown, asks "How did you know I was here?!"
  • Used a few times in Fushigi Yuugi, most memorably when Miaka distracts Tasuki by shouting, "Look! Nakago's doing a strip-show!"
  • Played with in an episode of Kodomo no Omocha: Sana, trying to distract a child, points at the "camera" and says "Look! Some people watching TV!"
  • Parodied in To LOVE-Ru manga's RPG Arc. When the "stun" spell is used...all the female characters' boobs pop out of their clothes, while the enemies (and Rito) gawk.
  • In the GetBackers manga, Emishi is hiding in a maneki neko figure. He gives a fake meow, which of course doesn't faze Shido, who actually asks if Emishi really expected that to work. So Emishi points behind him and yells, "Look! It's Madoka!" Shido spins around, yelling "Where?! ♥"
  • Appears in Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged. Subverted, as Yusuke forgot to run while his opponent was distracted.
    • Yusuke: Aw, ****! I don't suppose you would fall for that again, would you?
  • Used recently in One Piece to wake Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji out of a coma that was supposed to last three days, just by Usopp shouting "A BEAUTIFUL LADY SWORDSMAN just brought some MEAT!"
    • Franky uses this to trick Nero, a trained assassin. He falls for it. Franky promptly hits him when he's not looking.
  • Used in slightly more subtle (and funny) way in Darker than Black. "The stars are pretty", indeed.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, while Ed is fighting the Slicer, he mentions that Al is much stronger in a fight then he is. Halfway through the fight, he yells out for Al to attack, at which Slicer turns around to stop Al... only for it to be a hastily transmuted statue, which is all the distraction Ed needs.
    • Also happens in episode five when Ed confronts some of the train-jackers. He points dramatically and shouts "LOOK!" before kicking the idiot who fell for it in the jaw.
  • Yukari uses it in the first sports fest episode to get out of giving her class juice.
  • In Hajime no Ippo, this is one of Aoki's most effective techniques - he feigns surprise during the bout and slowly turns his head as if to look at something. More often than not, his opponent is so taken in by the act that they are almost forced to look away from him, leaving them totally open for a free punch.
  • Phantom Renegade from Medabots used this tactic after falling into the Rubber Robo hideout and found himself surrounded. After being told not to try any tricks he bows his head saying the Rubber Robos were clearly the pinnacle of evil geniuses. In the same breath he immediately pointed behind them and shouted "LOOK! IT'S THE PHANTOM RENEGADE!" successfully tricking everyone in the room.
  • In the "Odd One Out" segment of Halo Legends, Spartan 1337 does this to Pluton.

1337: Oh, hey! What the heck is that?
brother: As if he'd ever fall for that!
(Pluton looking behind)
sister: He did fall for it!
1337: He did? He did! Now let's get out of here!

  • Hanaukyo Maid Tai La Verite episode 4. While Taro is out on the town, security maid Konoe shows up with her sword. When the passersby see the sword and become afraid, Taro distracts them by yelling "What is that giant furry seal doing there!" When the passersby look where he's pointing, Taro leads Konoe away.
  • Kenji does it to Love Machine, a super-advanced AI, in Summer Wars to save Kazuma's avatar. He doesn't even say anything; he just points over the bot's shoulder and acts shocked. Hilariously, it works.
  • Usagi and Chibiusa try this on a Snow Dancer chasing them during the second Sailor Moon movie. The Snow Dancer falls for it completely, and looks genuinely puzzled when she turns around and they aren't there anymore.
    • Played adorably in the last episode of SuperS, where Chibi-Usa wants her private discussion with Helios while the rest of the girls watch them. She screams "LOOK! A UFO!" and every one of them turns while she gives him a huge hug and says her goodbye.
  • There's sort of a variation in Black Butler. There's a mass murderer on the roof of a train, along with Sebastian, and the mass murderer tricks Sebastian into not hurting him for a bit before ducking for a bridge. Sebastian, however, is totally unfazed by the rocks that hit his back and proceeds to literally throw said mass murderer off the roof, because he is, after all, one hell of a butler.
  • A Running Gag in Bomberman Jetters is that any given character at any given point could say "Look, a Komodo dragon!" as a distraction.
  • In Mai-Otome, as Shiho evaluates Arika and Erstin's cooking results, she refuses to even try the "food" they made because of how disgusting it looks. Arika tells her that there's a spiral in the sky before putting a morsel in her mouth while she's distracted. Shiho finds the food disgusting and gets angrier.
  • Parioded in a episode of Nichijou. There's this scene in which Nano prevents the Professer from having candy. The Professer tells Nano to turn around. Nano does so, and the Professer has the chance to take the candy, which follows an epic chase scene.


Comedy[edit | hide]

  • Eddie Izzard's monologue on beekeeping depicts the process of honey-harvesting as walking into a hive and then saying "Look, there's a Ferrari over there!" so you can steal all the honey.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In Hsu and Chan, Hsu attempts to gain the edge in a swordfight with lifelong rival Akira Yamamoto by resorting to this tactic. However, while Akira is distracted, Hsu laughs at him for falling for the ruse, missing the opportunity to strike and finding himself caught off guard instead.
    • Played straight multiple times when confronted by obese nerds. The brothers commonly point behind the nerd and shout "Look a gallon of pecan ripple" or "Look a display of Princess Leia slave girl lingerie." This tactic hasn't failed yet.
    • Norm has employed this trope humorously in some of his other works. For example, in Violence Man, 3 mob thugs attempt the think of a distraction for Violence Man so that they could escape him. Eventually one shouts "WE HAVE SCRABBLE IN THE CAR!" which surprisingly succeeds in distracting him for a few seconds.
  • When the cops and S.H.I.E.L.D get the drop on Spider-Man after his first encounter with Doctor Octopus in Ultimate Spider-Man and were arguing over who gets to take him away, Spidey gets the brief distraction he needs to dive into the water by pointing and saying "Hey, is that Charlton Heston?"
  • Subverted in an Infinity War issue of The Fantastic Four. The Puppet Master is being confronted by The Thing. The Puppet Master shockedly tells the Thing that a monstrous massive figure is behind him. Thing doesn't buy it. Thing then gets clobbered by his evil twin.
  • Used in Incredible Hulk, during a "inside Bruce Banner's brain" sequence, as the gray Hulk distracts the green Hulk by saying, "Look! It's Lou Ferrigno!" before locking that aspect of Banner's mind away again.
  • Vampire!Jubilee uses this trick to sire Wolverine in the X-Men story arc Curse of the Mutants.
  • Used in one of the first X Wing Series comics. The agent Winter has found a pair of stranded New Republic pilots and doesn't know if they're who they claim they are, so trains a blaster on them. One of them tells her that there's a local predator creeping up on her; she asks if they really think she'll fall for that, they set up for Stab the Scorpion - and she fires behind herself without looking. "I believe you.".
  • Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog specifically issue 27 of Sonic Universe. Silver the Hedgehog has found himself in yet another alternate Mobius, battling alongside that universe's Freedom Fighters against Enerjak, who has hammered Silver into the ground like a hammer, singlehandedly beat the entire team, and has the leader on the ropes. He's taunting her mercilessly then stops and asks "Why are you smiling?" Cue a psychically powered pillar of energy to erupt behind him and truly pissed off Silver ready and raring to go for next issue's Final Battle.
  • Empowered uses this trope successfully against the B.F.Gunnaz.
  • In an one-page story of Monica's Gang, Bucky (Titi) was standing up with his back turned on a slope. When Jimmy Five (Cebolinha) showed up, he screamed about a Latão (Brazilian-Portuguese for "Big Can") and ran away. Because of Jimmy's Elmuh Fudd Syndwome and Bucky's teeth, Bucky assumed Jimmy was calling him a Ratão (Big Rat) and didn't notice a big trash can (Popularly known among Brazilians as "Latão") coming towards him down the slope.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

Sirius: Wait.
Remus: What?
Sirius: Don't interrupt them.
Remus: Why not?
Sirius: Because I'm supposed to stall you.

    • And then, later: "You know telling someone you're stalling them," Harry criticized, "is poor stalling technique."


Film[edit | hide]

  • Top Secret has a subversion of the second variant: During a train-top battle one of the combatants ends up ducking for a bridge... Only for the east-german soldier to hit the bridge and raze it completely while remaining unfazed.
  • Marty McFly used this against several generations of Tannens throughout the Back to The Future trilogy. It only failed once, with Griff in 2015. He did turn and look, but was still able to block Marty's punch.
    • For example, in Part II, just as Biff was about to kill Marty, Marty says, "Yo, I bet you're forgetting one thing. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?" Biff falls for it.
  • In The Princess Bride, Vizzini pulls this trick on the Man in Black so he can switch cups of wine in a battle of wits, but dies anyway, because TMIB had poisoned both cups, having built up an immunity to the poison beforehand. Whether the trick actually worked or TMIB just played along is unclear.
  • Jijii from Ichi the Killer manages to disarm and kill Takayama after the latter proclaims "Ichi isn't here to help you, now." and Jijii nonchalantly replies "What do you mean? He's right behind you," then swiftly takes advantage of Takayama nervously looking over his shoulder.
  • Like pretty much everything else, Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure took this to ludicrous extremes: Bill shouted "Look, it's the Goodyear Blimp!" in a Wild West town, and they fell for it. (Probably justifiable; all the characters who fell for it may have been thinking, "Wait, the what??")
  • In Hudson Hawk, George Kaplan tried to use this on Eddie (HH's real name). Kaplan: "Good God! What's that?" Hawk: "You don't expect me to fall for that old gag." Kaplan: "Shucks, I guess not." Eddie is then knocked unconscious.
  • In the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the character of Pike escapes from some none-too-bright vampires by pointing and saying "Look! Air!"
  • James Bond pulls this off in Casino Royale: While struggling over a knife with one of the bad guys, Bond glances over his shoulder, and the distraction is enough for him to wrest control of the knife and kill the bad guy.
  • Villainous example: In Freddy vs. Jason, Kia is busy taunting Freddy to distract him from the heroes, keeping out of his reach, when he suddenly points behind her. She turns around and spots... Jason standing two feet away, who promptly swats her and sends her flying until she hits a tree with a crunch that causes even Freddy to grimace.
  • Last Action Hero: Schwarza is carrying a body away from a funeral, and in order to jump with him from the top of the building, distracts people by pointing and saying "Look! Elephant!".
  • Speed plays a similar beat, with Traven and Payne on top of a speeding subway train. Traven ducks, Payne gets his head knocked off.
  • Fletch: The title character stumbles on an Angry Guard Dog while snooping around a construction site at night. He distracts the beast by shouting, "Look, defenseless babies!"
  • Land of the Dead: Thinking that Cholo is about to destroy Fiddler's Green, Kaufman tries to get himself (and millions of dollars in duffel bags) to safety. An associate questions the bags. Kaufman shouts 'get down' and shoves the poor guy down, shooting him in the head seconds after. And what happens just as Kaufman goes to holster the gun? Why, Riley calls and tells him that Cholo's been captured.

Associate: "What's the bags?"
Kaufman: "Money."
Associate: "Who's money?"
Kaufman: "Watch out! Get down, quick! "
BANG!
Kaufman: "Our money."

  • Used in Dogma where the anti-abortion protesters are distracted, "Holy shit, it's the Pope!".
  • In Finding Nemo, Marlin tells Dory, "Look! A shiny thing!" Somewhat of a subversion in that he wanted her to come with him, but it effectively distracted her from her insistence that they should go through the big scary crevasse instead of through the clear blue water over the top with all the jellyfish.
  • HAHAHAHA! You think this is the real Quaid? It is! * mows them down*
  • Done several times in Midnight Run (1988) as a distraction. The last time it doesn't work, only there really is someone behind him.
  • They Call Me Bruce parodies the "Take the stone from my hand" scene in Kung Fu with this. Bruce, challenged to do the same trick by his father, replies that there's a large bird hovering over him. His father laughs at the idea that he could fooled by such a simple trick, whereupon said bird promptly poops on his head, enabling Bruce to snatch away the stone.
  • During Rebecca's job interview with Luke in Confessions of a Shopaholic, she shouts "What's that behind you?!" to distract him from asking further questions about her knowing Finnish (which, of course, she lied about on her resume).
  • Mirror Mask - 'Look, an idiot!' 'Where?'
  • In Igor, when Igor's newly created monster disappears:

Brain: Uh, Igor, where did the monster go?
Igor: * looking around worriedly* I don't know, Brain.
Scamper: Might I suggest... * dramatic music* looking behind you!!

  • Igor and Brain look, see nothing there, and look back at Scamper*

Scamper: It was just a suggestion.

Buzz: You're mocking me, aren't you?
Woody: Oh, no, no, no no... * points* Buzz look, an alien!
Buzz: * turns* Where?!
Woody proceeds to laugh at Buzz

    • Disney Adventures did something very similar in one of the April Fools' Day editions. Woody basically shouts to Buzz "Buzz, look! It's the evil Emperor Zurg!", Buzz turns around and shouts "Where?!", and Woody says "April Fools!"
  • In Bolt, Mittens tries to threaten Bolt into letting her go with a Styrofoam packing peanut (Bolt has become convinced Styrofoam is what made him lose his "powers"). Bolt distracts Mittens long enough to disarm her by looking over her shoulder and saying "...That's a weird place to put a piano."
  • Beetlejuice. While sitting in the afterlife waiting room with a witch doctor, Beetlejuice says "There goes Elvis Presley! Yo, King!" When the witch doctor turns to look, Beetlejuice snatches his number so he can go next. What makes the gag even funnier is that there are literally millions of dead souls in the waiting room, and Beetlejuice's number that he wants to switch has an absurd number of digits in it.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy does this to the Nazi Giant Mook mechanic he fights near the plane. It doesn't work.
    • Then the unvoiced variant comes into play when Indy frantically scrambles to get away from the spinning plane propeller. Said mook doesn't get the hint until it's already too late.
  • The Guns of Navarone. When Brown confronts a German sailor on the small boat, the sailor tries this on him. It only works for a moment, then Brown knifes him.
  • Up the Creek After Bob McGraw (Tim Matheson) is caught in a girl's hotel room by her (ex)boyfriend & the boyfriend's sidekick , he uses this."Look the Goodyear Blimp." They look. "Smart real smart"
  • Up had Russell shouting "Squirrel" when about to be gunned down by several dogs, exploiting the dog's weaknesses about squirrels earlier. The dogs easily fall for the trick. Not only does Russell escape unharmed, but the dogs are so focused on trying to attack the squirrel they ended up shooting each other down.
  • In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Chance managed to retrieve some fish from some bear cubs. However while bragging about his victory, Sassy and Shadow are getting very worried and then Shadow shouts for Chance to look behind him before fleeing. A subversion, because he was actually trying to warn him, as there was a mother bear approaching Chance and was not too happy with Chance for the latter scaring her cubs up a tree. Luckily, Chance managed to escape, although just barely.
  • In A Bugs Life Francis flies up to P.T. Flea and shouts, "Hey, P.T.! Look! Money!" P.T. instantly turns, and is webbed up by Rosie. This was a little redundant, as it wasn't really much use as a distraction; the trick could have been pulled without the line. But it was damn funny.
  • The main character of The Invention of Lying, being literally the only person in the world capable of telling a lie, uses this to cheat at roulette in a casino.
    • Specifically, he shouts "look at that unusual thing!" and everyone in the casino does.
  • In Murder Ahoy, the villain has disarmed Miss Marple while her friend Mr. Stringer has gone off on an errand. Just as the villain is about to kill her, she suddenly looks past him and she speaks to Mr. Stringer as if he is standing right behind the villain. This is the cue for the villain to turn around and look, but instead of doing so he smugly tells Mrs. Marple that he isn't going to fall for THAT old trick ... whereupon he gets hit over the head by Mr. Stringer, who really IS standing behind him.
  • The trope is also used in Batman Begins... kind of. When a criminal ambushes Rachel Dawes, she threatens him with using her tazer (which she always carries around with her for some reason). The criminal then flees, although not because she was carrying a tazer, contrary to what she thought: He fled because his partner in crime who stalked her off the train (presumably as some sort of hit job for Falcone) is ambushed by Batman and then beaten down. Rachel then turns around after gloating a bit just in time to see Batman, and instinctively shoots the tazer at him only for it to have little, if any, effect. Luckily, Batman just happened to be on her side, supplying her with incriminating photos of a Judge to blackmail him into essentially giving Falcone imprisonment.
  • Used when The Lorax first encounters the Once-ler:

Lorax: Did you chop down this tree?
Once-ler: Uh, no... Who did it? *gasps* What's that? *points*
The Lorax looks away. The Once-ler drops his axe on a small barbaloot.
Once-ler: I think he did it.

  • A variation occurred in Return of the Jedi: During the battle above the Sarlacc Pit, Chewbacca attempts to warn Han Solo that Boba Fett is nearby and aiming at Luke. Han Solo (who is temporarily blind due to the events of his undergoing freezing in a block of Carbonite in the previous film) panics and asks where Boba Fett is and turns around. He then (accidentially) activates Boba Fett's jetpack while turning around in a frenzy with his pole, resulting in Boba Fett flying smack into the side of Jabba's barge and right into the Sarlacc pit.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • At one point in the Tolkien parody novel Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon, a character distracts another by shouting, "Look! The Winged Victory of Samothrace!"
  • In Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle, "Half-Cocked" Jack Shaftoe resorts to this to outwit his enraged and violent sons, in characteristic Vagabond style:

"Powers o' Darkness!" Jack exclaimed, focusing his one eye that hadn't swollen shut on a point in the middle distance. "I do believe that elephant is fookin' that camel up the arse -- or is it t'other way round?"

  • M.Y.T.H. Inc in Action—double subversion and then unusual subversion again.
  • The usual subversion in The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davies—notable for the villain mocking Falco for using "that old trick" in Ancient Rome.
  • In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Locke is getting his ass kicked by the Grey King, and tricks him into thinking that Jean (who is a much better fighter than Locke) is right behind him. While he's distracted, Locke steals the dagger from his enemy's belt and stabs him to death.
  • In the Time Warp Trio book Your Mother Was A Neanderthal, the eponymous group pulls this on a group of cavewomen using the phrase "Woolly mammoth!" The boys are aware that the targets don't understand English, leaving the strength of the ploy in the body language and emotional acting.
  • Fablehaven has a bizarre version of the not looking version. While Kendra is trapped in a cave by the human form of Navarog both the literal and figurative dragon for the Big Bad and Raxtus appears behind Navarog , Kendra makes an expression of genuine surprise and Navarog comments that she's over acting and lectures her on the lack of ingenuity and says she needs to try harder on this trope to fool him even saying "If something tried to creep up on me, I would know". This comes back to bite him, literally as Raxtus eats him.
  • Sherlock Holmes actually does this in one famous scene, though being Sherlock Holmes, he does of course give the trope a little finesse. (All protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, he has to be having a bit of fun at Watson's expense. It's not like he didn't have Mrs. Hudson as a gauge, if nothing else.)
  • A running joke from the later chapters of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal is Biff and Joshua pulling off various stunts (including some of Joshua's miracles) by pointing into the distance and yelling, "Hey, look! Is that a seagull?"
  • In Stephen King's The Stand, Stu Redman tells the soldier who's been sent to terminate him at the Stovington hospital that there's a huge rat behind him, then hits him over the head with a chair.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Slithering Shadow" how Thalis distracts Conan the Barbarian.

"What do you hear?" he demanded.
"Watch that doorway," she replied, pointing.
He wheeled, sword ready. Only the empty arch of the entrance met his gaze. Then behind him sounded a quick faint scuffling noise, a half-choked gasp. He whirled. Thalis and Natala had vanished.

  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Bartimaeus once defeated a group of Djinn by using this trick.
  • In the Alternate History novel West of Eden by Harry Harrison, Vainte uses the ability of humans to lie by instructing her captive human Kerrick to shout "Look, a ustouzou (human) in the trees!" on a particular signal. She later stabs a rival with a human arrow and gives the signal—fortunately the startled Kerrick remembers his cue.
  • This is used for a Crowning Moment of Funny in Turn Coat. A minor villain believes that Harry has been hiding the person he's after.

Binder: I'll give you one last chance to save yourself, Dresden. Where is he?
Harry: ...he's sitting in a wheelchair about forty feet behind you. Holding a shotgun.

  • Tom Sawyer does this to his Aunt Polly early in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
  • Chas McGill pulls this on Boddser Brown when Brown has him cornered. Turns out that Clogger has just arrived behind Boddser to lay the smackdown on him.
  • In Gerfalcon (1927) by Leslie Barringer, Herluin looks past a bandit and shouts as if to reinforcements, "This way! This way! We have him!" The bandit turns to run, and Herluin hits him with a thrown club, then finishes him with his sword.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Parodied frequently on Mystery Science Theater 3000—their version usually boils down to, "Hey, look, a big distracting thing!"
  • Would you believe that Maxwell Smart used this ploy in most episodes of Get Smart?
  • The first episode of Season Three of House featured Cameron following House down a corridor, pestering him about something he didn't want to discuss. House tells her she's forgetting: he can do something now he couldn't do before... and then trails off, looking over her shoulder with a puzzled expression. As soon as she turns to check, he runs away.
    • Wilson does this to House in "Frozen", when House keeps pestering him about who he's dating: "Okay, but you swear not to tell anyone? It's-- (dodges around House and runs)."
  • Reese from Malcolm in the Middle

Hey look, I'm over there.

    • In another episode, Malcolm and Reese are playing the Circle Game (if you see someone's thumb and index finger in a circle below their waist, they get to punch you). Then Stevie joins in, and it turns out he's very easily distracted, as Reese manages to get him with "Hey, look, a snake!" while indoors.
  • Larry of Perfect Strangers distracts Balki by saying something like "Hey, isn't that Wayne Newton?" This upsets Balki, as Larry "took the name of Wayne in vain."
  • Space Cases, when Thelma is cornered by the cast of Evil Twins:

Thelma: Look over there.
Evil Harlan: You don't get it. We're evil. We don't do what we're told.
Thelma: Don't look over there.
(everyone looks, and Thelma bolts)

  • One sketch in the improv-comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? has Ryan Stiles playing a ruthless "killer" taking out the other cast-members. When he finally corners lone "survivor" Colin Mochrie, Colin pulls this trick. Ryan dopily turns and stares, and Colin, showing impressive speed, sprints off the stage to safety.
  • Red Dwarf... "excuse me, could I just distract you for a brief second?" The villain's response is to grunt "huh?" and turn around!
  • Used in The Sarah Jane Adventures, where Maria says, "Look! UNIT!" to a Sontaran. However, the Sontaran claims he looked deliberately as he knew where Maria and the others would escape to, and it would save him having to chase them.
  • In The IT Crowd, when Moss needs to distract a roomful of women so Roy can escape from under a desk, he looks out of a window and starts describing a builder on the scaffolding outside, "taking his shirt off, just like in ads!" Subverted as there is a shirtless builder out there, but he's not exactly sexy.
    • This was actually Jen's successful tactic. Moss' attempt involved literally saying something unbelievable was happening that couldn't be described, in an unconvincing tone. It fails miserably.
  • In Kenan and Kel, the two are about to be beaten up by a bar gang, when Kenan says, "Look, the Great Wall of China!" The entire gang, plus Kel, not only looks, but stares silently awe-struck at this nonexistent wonder.
  • An extended version of the cup-switching trick is carried out in Haggard wherein two characters repeatedly get one another to look behind them in order to switch who has the drugged cup. Both are well aware of what the other is doing.
  • Pee-wee Herman would often do this. The talking doll even says, "What's that? Made you look!" However, it was subverted in the Christmas Special: inside the Magic Screen, Magic Johnson says, "Pee-wee! Look! A polar bear!" Pee-wee responds, "Oldest trick in the book!" but looks behind anyway. Sure enough, a big, mean-looking polar bear is behind them.
  • In an episode of Stella, a novelist with writers block escapes with the three main characters' manuscript by shouting "Oh my gosh! a baby deer!":

David: Hey, you guys? She's gone!
Michael: There was no baby deer!
Michael: Do you mean the entire time she was talking about the baby deer, she was lying?
Michael: Yes. I'm afraid so...
David: She's brilliant...
Michael: I'm gonna look one more time for that baby deer...

  • Subverted in Jack of All Trades: during a poker game with Napoleon with the Louisiana Purchase as the stakes, Nap tells Jack, "What on Earth is that?!" and when Jack makes a great show of looking intently and trying to see what it is that Napoleon saw, Napoleon slips a fourth queen into his hand. What he doesn't realize, but Jack does, is that when Jack's back was turned to Napoleon, his front was obscured from Napoleon, and Jack took the opportunity to slip a fifth jack into his own hand (he had a joker).
  • One recurring segment on The Colbert Report is called "Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A." and the opening graphics depict Stephen playing chess against The Grim Reaper. He points, yells "Look!", and moves some of the pieces around while Death isn't looking.
  • In Scrubs Season 2's finale (if I remember right), when Dr Cox finds out that Jordan has just had his baby (that he previously thought was someone else's), he (rightfully) tells her outright that, because she lied to him, he's not sure if they will be able to continue in a relationship. She refuses to accept this and won't stop pestering him until he takes back what he said. He manages to buy a few moments of sweet relief by starting a sentence normally, then trailing off and stating loudly "and oh my God, is that guy on fire?", then making a break for it when Jordan isn't looking.
  • Arthur pulls this on Merlin in one episode of Merlin so he can mix the liquids and drink the poison rather than letting Merlin do it This turned out to be how he passed the test, and saved Camelot
  • In the Doctor Who serial The Time Monster:

Benton: You didn't really think you could fool me with a fake telephone call, did you? It's the oldest trick in the book.
The Master: I underestimated you, Sergeant. ... [glancing behind Benton] Why, Doctor! What a very timely--
[Benton turns around; the Master hits him, and he goes down cold.]
The Master: You're wrong, Sergeant Benton! That is the oldest trick in the book!

    • Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart actually pulled this on the Doctor in Battlefield; when the Doctor was preparing to face Morgaine(who would very likely kill him), the Brigadier suddenly shouts, "My God, it's a flying saucer!" When the Doctor turns to look, the Brigadier punches him out, then says, "Sorry, Doctor, but I'm More Expendable Than You now!"
    • Later, in The Pandorica Opens, the Doctor does this himself, in his own...unique fashion.

Doctor: LOOK AT ME I'M A TARGET!

  • Used in the "Bicycle Repair Man" sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus.
    • Another Python sketch has a well-to-do household gathered in a drawing room after a murder has been committed. A Scotland Yard inspector strides in, introducing himself as Inspector Tiger. They echo his name in puzzlement and he spins around shouting "Where, where???" Later, Inspector Lookout enters, the same thing happens. Later still, Inspector There's-a-man-behind-you enters, they echo his name, and he chuckles "Oh no, I'm not falling for that one!"
  • Subverted in an episode of Primeval where Danny is fighting a knight and successfully gets him to look up. His subsequent Groin Attack however fails due to the knight's armour.
  • In one episode of The Golden Girls, Sophia yelled, "Look! Saint Francis of Assisi!" in order to distract a priest so she could slap Stan.
  • Used - and lampshaded - by Drew Carey on The Drew Carey Show: "Look, it's the oldest trick in the book!"
  • Used by Daiki Kaitou/Diend in the Den-O Trilogy: Episode Yellow, trying to escape Time Cop Reiji Kurosaki by pointing out the DenLiner crew trying to reclaim the time train. Kurosaki doesn't buy it at first, so of course this is one of the few times Kaitou is being 100% truthful.
  • In The Cosby Show, Cliff does this to Rudy during a checker game. It doesn't work. Rudy then tries it on Cliff. It works.
  • Saturday Night Live did a sketch that purported to show the historical origin of this trick (although, judging by the way the characters were dressed, the sketch had to be taking place in the 1920s at the very earliest). A teacher at a high-school spelling bee (Will Ferrell) loses his cards and is reduced to making up words for the contestants to spell. When they start to catch on to his deception, he points and shouts: "Hey! Look over there!" - before humorously creeping off the stage with his hands held in front of him like a praying mantis. Cue a Freeze Frame and a Lemony Narrator announcing: "That was the first time that 'Hey! Look over there!' was used to escape an embarrassing situation. And how do I know this? Well....Uh....'Hey! Look over there!' "
  • Used in a Mad TV sketch in which The Terminator travels back to Biblical times, shows up at the Last Supper, and shouts: "Look! Pontius Pilate at six o'clock!" so that he can shoot Judas Iscariot.
  • Double Subverted in Sister, Sister. Tia got Tamera a date with what was initially believed to be a college kid from her date (although it was later revealed that he was actually an elementary/middle school person, and the confusion stemmed from the fact that the school was referred to as an "academy."), Tamera then approaches Tia when telling some jokers about her having a date, then asks Tia where her date is. Tia then tells her that he's right behind her. She turns and then asks where. Tia then specifies that she has to look down when turning, to show a kid right behind her.

Tamera: Tia, where's my date? (oblivious to the child behind her)
Tia: (irritated) Right behind you. (pointing behind her)
(Tamera turns quickly and back)
Tamera: Where?
Tia: (sighs heavily) Look 'down'.
(Tamera's face grows nervous at the implication, turns cautiously while looking down, then jumps away in shock)
Kid: Well, whaddya know?! T-wins! Looks like I've hit the jackpot! (mimicking a slot machine payout) Ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-CHING!!

  • On Law and Order: Criminal Intent episode "Renewal", a cop was able to make the robber look by shouting "Don't come in here!" while pointing at the door behind the criminal.
  • While fighting with a sword-wielding intruder, Sherlock shouts, "Look!" then punches the man when he turns his head.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • FoxTrot had Paige invoking this trope on an Ice Cream vendor at the Zoo, claiming that there is an escaped Lion, Tiger, and Bull Elephant in that order. By the time he even turns around, he notices that the Ice Cream Cone he prepared for Paige had far too many swirls (about 16, with some drooping over the cone). He also mentioned that she did something similar the previous summer.
  • In the Pooch Cafe comic for March 9, 2011, Chazz uses "Look! Halley's Comet!"


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, the bard power "Timely Distraction" is made of this trope. It's even lampshaded in the flavor text:

"Look! An owlbear!"


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In Sherlock Holmes, Holmes uses this trick to handcuff Moriarty after getting him to place his hands within convenient reach.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Played around with in Bionicle: Krika tells Tahu, who has him cornered, to look behind him. Tahu asks Krika if he really thinks that Tahu is stupid enough to fall for that. Krika tells Tahu that he's counting on that, since there actually is something behind him. Tahu chances the look, and sure enough, four of Krika's allies are charging straight into the battle.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In a cutscene in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Bowletta tricks Luigi, disguised as Peach, into revealing his identity by saying "LOOK BEHIND YOU! IT'S A HUMONGOUS COCKROACH!!!"
  • The Monkey Island series has a Running Gag involving the phrase, "Look behind you! A three-headed monkey!" Part of the gag is that every time the distraction doesn't work, there actually is a three-headed monkey.
    • Subverted in the first game, where Guybrush tries this ploy to get away from some cannibals who have him cornered. They do look behind themselves...but only for a split second, not enough time for Guybrush to get away.
    • Escape from Monkey Island requires you use this to distract a pair of chess players so they make bad moves, thus getting them too busy arguing with each other to notice Guybrush has stolen their chess clock. One of the players is easy to distract, but the other is only distracted by the prospect of seeing Brittany, the Brainless Beauty bank teller he has a crush on.
    • Tales of Monkey Island lets you keep trying to distract a couple of pirates as much as you want, but eventually Guybrush runs out of ideas.

Guybrush: Look! A distraction!
Pirate: Oooh! (turns to look) What's it distracting?

    • And later on you meet a master thief who may have the single most menacing, sarcastic indulgence of this trope to date.
    • In Sam and Max Freelance Police: They Stole Max's Brain!, Sam distracts Sal by pointing and saying "Look at what those three monkeys are doing to that head!", a slight spin on a Shout-Out to Monkey Island. Appropriately, after Sal turns back around, he points out that all of the monkeys have been locked downstairs with the fine leather jackets.
  • The first episode of Telltale's Back to The Future game has Marty doing this to Kid Tannen so he can steal his hat. It gets quite a bit of use in later episodes, too, with various victims but Marty always the perpetrator.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, one of Zidane's thief skills is actually called "What's That!?", and makes enemies turn around temporarily to allow for a back attack. Also, during an early battle in the game, some of the characters tell Steiner that there is a massive Bomb behind him. He refuses to believe them, and, in accordance with this trope, the bomb is actually there, and explodes in a spectacular fashion.
    • Subverted in Dissidia 012. After Bartz fights Giglamesh in battle, Bartz says "Hey, look at your body!" Giglamesh believes that Bartz is attempting to trick him into letting his guard down. Turns out, Bartz was actually being quite serious when telling him to look at his body, as he was growing transparent just before being sucked into the Void.
    • Double Subverted, in the same game, when Kefka lures Lightning's allies away when telling them that there are still more manikins out there behind them (which there actually are).

Kefka Palazzo: Really? Could it be you're...out of steam? Oh, you poor dears, I mean turn around! You've still have more manikins waiting for a chance to play!

  • During the fight with Ben-K's robot form in Gitaroo Man, U-1 distracts Ben by pointing and saying "Look over there!" at the start of each Charge sequence.
  • Played straight in Tomb Raider: Chronicles. Larson doesn't look, and gets killed (though that's not the end of him.)
  • In the first level of Psychonauts, "Basic Braining", Bobby does this to Raz in a cutscene as part of a prank:

Bobby: I'm not stupid, you're stupid. The coach is stupid. The whole camp is stupid! (points) That thing flying at you is stupid!
Raz: What's flying at me? (Bobby kicks him off a ledge) Woah!
Bobby: A-ha-ha-ha-ha! Bobby Zilch's foot, that's what!

  • Mother 3 has an item called the "Made-Ya-Look." It causes the enemy to turn around, exposing their back to reduce their defence and making them waste a turn to face you again (except for Mecha-turtles). It also allows you to see their back sprite, which is essential for someone that wants to complete the Battle Record.
  • At one point in Chrono Trigger, the party encounters Queen Zeal's underling Dalton. He tricks the party into turning around. Then he shoots you in the back and you start a Prison Episode.
  • In an omake for Sonic Unleashed, Sonic and Chip are fighting over a meat bun, and Chip tries to have Sonic look the other way so he can jack it. This is subverted in that Chip is much smaller than Sonic and doesn't have the strength to wrest it away from him.
    • That and Sonic was just acting distracted when he turned around.
  • Used in Persona 4 where Yosuke distracts Rise's stalker, who threatened to throw himself in front of any car if threatened further, for 'interrogation'.

Yosuke: "Look, a Martian!"

  • Grand Theft Auto: Tennpenny has CJ at gunpoint. CJ looks over Tennpenny's shoulder and shouts his brother's name, getting Tennpenny to look away and giving CJ a chance to escape.
  • Super Monkey Ball 2: The I'm-not-falling-for-that-one variation is used. Aiai and friends have Dr. Bad-boon cornered in the middle of the ocean. The latter spots a giant whale approaching, and you can guess the rest.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 3: Played straight a few times; seems to work every time. Later aliased as "pulling a Bubbleman", after the first character to use it.
  • Sonic the Fighters: One of Amy's special attacks is named "Look Over There!" or "Hey! What Is That?" I'll give you three guesses what it does.
  • Various "distract" abilities for several classes in Dragon Fable are carried out by the player's character shouting something at random at their opponent to distract them, most often some variation of this trope. Occasionally lampshaded with "Look! It's the oldest trick in the book!"
  • Caveman Ughlympics uses this as a battle tactic for the Clubbing event. If a meteor is passing by, the player's caveman will scream at his (or her) opponent, driving them back considerably and possibly to a ring out.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, a weakened Master Xehanort resorts to this when Terra is about to finish him off. Terra, refusing to become a sucker or tempt fate, is very, very cautious as he checks to see what's behind him... only to wind up throwing that caution to the wind because of what he saw. To subvert it even more brutally, it actually was intended to be a distraction, and he turns around to find Xehanort stabbing himself in the chest with a Keyblade, which shocks him so badly that he's able to do nothing to defend himself against Xehanort's freed heart until it's too late. Needless to say, it's probably one of the least amusing uses of this trope ever.
  • This exchange in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2:

Shocker: How much more do you think you can take, hero? Now don't keep telling you came in here alone. Where are the others? Huh?
Ms. Marvel: Right behind you.
Shocker: (scoffs) C'mon! You really think... (turns around and sees the team) ...Oh Crap.

  • The introduction to Interstate '82 has Groove Champion being held at gunpoint by two people. They want to know who he's told some secret. He tells them that the only person he's told is "Dan", pointing behind them. They turn around and see a bottle of whiskey branded as "Dan Jackal's".
  • In Seven Days a Skeptic, after Angela locks John in the brig and holds him at gunpoint, he warns her that captain Chahal is sneaking up on her from behind. Since the captain is supposed to be dead, she mocks him for such a pathetic ruse and refuses to turn around. This ends badly for her, because John wasn't lying. (Made even more Egregious since John was locked up and of no threat to her, so she had no real reason to not take her eyes off him.)
  • Played for Laughs in Kid Dracula for the Famicom as an ending stinger.
  • Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs does this; after beating the second boss, one of the Pokemon Pinchers say, "Hey, look! A flying pizza!" Then, the Pokemon Pinchers make a run for it while the guy that has electricity looks.
    • Also happens in the past story, in which after you clear all of the levels in the Ice Temple before the final level of the Ice Temple, after the cutscene of the level, Ravio wants to get into the door, but Kira says that Ravio is too young. Then Ravio says that he will have Celebi on Ravio's side, but Kira refuses to let Ravio enter the door. Ravio then says to Kira, "Hey, look! A flying pie!" Kira falls for it, and Ravio and Celebi manage to get to the door, much to Kira's surprise when she realizes that Ravio and Celebi are entering the door.
  • In Fable III, the player character occasionally does this as a finishing move against Hobbes. It is always effective.
  • The Colonel pulls this on Conker in Conker's Bad Fur Day after clearing away a crashed plane blocking a transport vessel, and it is implied that he did so in order to have Conker unwittingly participate in the war.
  • In Eversion, one of "level start" messages on deeper everson layers says "BEHIND YOU".
  • In Sengoku Basara, Mogami Yoshiaki has this as one of his moves. It only works on Mooks though.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny has Vivio using this to get away from Yuuno after she realizes that she's been sent back to the past and should get away before she reveals too much about the future. Though she probably should have used a less incriminating distraction...

Vivio: Ah! Nanoha-mama and Fate-mama are coming here!

  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner, if you click on The Cheat, Strong Bad does this to The Cheat so that Strong Bad can kick The Cheat into the dryer. Strong Bad even tells The Cheat to "turn around." This only happens in the basement, because The Cheat is also in the Photo Booth building.
    • After winning the trophy and clicking on the trophy and then Homestar Runner, Strong Bad also does this to Homestar Runner by saying, "Look at that... thing over there." Homestar Runner falls for it, saying, "A thing? Where?" Then, Strong Bad hits Homestar Runner on the head with the trophy.
  • The "you're shoe's untied" ploy seems to be an endemic weakness of Paladins in the Adventure Quest Worlds universe, given how many of them were defeated by opponents who told them just this.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in this Wulffmorgenthaler strip, when a gazelle caught bluffing at poker warns the other players about an incoming lion.
  • The first storyline of A Modest Destiny had Maxim pull this from time to time. However, he took it to the next level by substituting an "escape dummy" (a giant stuffed doll of himself on a scarecrow frame) before running off.
  • In El Goonish Shive, characters distract each other with some variant of "Hey, is that a demonic duck of some sort?" It always is. (except for once there was a picket sign instead, stating that the demonic duck was on strike. This caused the distraction to fail.) Occasionally he complains about feeling used.

Lucca: Could I please be allowed to distract you for just a moment?

    • Captain SNES has also used the "three-headed monkey" line a couple of times as a Shout-Out to the Monkey Island games.
      • Legendary Frog used it in his Resident Evil flash cartoon, only Brad doesn't even wait to see if they look, he just runs like hell.
    • And let us not forget how Zeromus (the representation of Alex's hatred) was tricked into turning around three times. Naturally, the moment he finally catches on and refuses to look, the thing Bob and Alex are talking about (a naked Alanis Morisette, the representation of Alex's cynicism) actually is behind him.
  • However, in this Sequential Art strip, it fails.
  • Occurs once in Jack in this strip
  • Lampshaded in this Looking for Group comic.

Richard: Good evening. This is a diversion. * fwoosh!*

Web Original[edit | hide]

Sarge (stage whispering): Caboose! You hear something behind you!
Caboose: I do? I wonder what's causing it... * turns around*

    • Tex does this to Tucker later on in order to steal his laser sword.

Tex: Look, Tucker! Hot chicks!
Tucker: You don't really expect me to fall for that, do you?
Tex: And now the hot chicks are making out~!
Tucker: Okay, now that's worth the risk. *turns around* Aw, crap... *expected backstabbing ensues*

The Defenestrator: Look! Captain Distraction!
The Whisk: * drops her fighting stance and turns around* Where?

  • The Defenestrator punches the Whisk, causing her to fall over*
  • The Evil Overlord List has tips on how to counter this.
    • If I have the hero cornered and am about to finish him off and he says "Look out behind you!!" I will not laugh and say "You don't expect me to fall for that old trick, do you?" Instead I will take a step to the side and half turn. That way I can still keep my weapon trained on the hero, I can scan the area behind me, and if anything was heading for me it will now be heading for him.
    • If I'm eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both of us instead of trying to decide whether or not to switch with him.
  • Some of Wukeywukey's AGK episodes use this, but in this episode, Leopold says, "Oh my goodness! That cactus didn't floss his teeth!" Later on, the dentist says that the cactus Leopold metioned flosses twice daily. The scene then changes back to the dentist's office, and the cactus is seen flossing his teeth.
  • Spoofed in Smash Kingdom, where Mr. Game and Watch and Peach are fighting, and the Ultimate Chimera approaches behind her, and Mr. Game and Watch attempts to warn her, but she doesn't listen, apparently misinterpreting his warnings. Finally, he resorts to holding a big sign that says "look behind you!" And Peach then finally understands what he's trying to say, and turns around, only to end up in the jaws of the Ultimate Chimera.
  • In this episode of Cute Mario Bros, Mario does this to the teacher, and it works so that Mario can change the time on the clock.
  • In this Super Mario Fables episode, Toad does this to Wario two times.
  • Happens in the first episode in Sonic Goes to Chaos High School. Sonic says to Amy, "Look! Super Sonic!" Amy falls for it and Sonic escapes.
  • In Bite Me, the owner of the pizzeria assumes that this is what the group is trying to do to escape from him. Wrong answer.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In one episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny distracts an angry elephant by saying "Isn't that Don Knotts?" After realizing he'd been had, the elephant remarked "I hate it when people use Don Knotts to deceive me."
    • Johnny pulls the same trick on a killer doll, using Pinocchio.
  • Various characters in Secret Squirrel, good and bad guys alike, had a thing for using Fred Flintstone to fulfill this trope.
  • Parodied on Codename: Kids Next Door, when the trick is pulled at the Grand Canyon by a character who yells, "Hey, look! The Grand Canyon!"
  • Used in an episode of Drawn Together, where Clara keeps distracting Foxxy by claiming that Denzel Washington is in the hallway. Foxxy falls for it time after time, but on the third distraction it is subverted in that Denzel is actually there. Clara then distracts Foxxy again by claiming that further down the hall is a bi-phallic version of the same man, but alas, there is only a tri-phallic Wesley Snipes.
  • Animaniacs revelled in this trope

Yakko: Look, its Merv Griffin.
Death: Where?
Yakko: Oh, my mistake, it was just a big cloud.

Pinky: "Look, a diversion!"

  • Spoofed in the Family Guy episode "Wasted Talent", where Peter accidentally says "Look over there!" to Lois and "Run!" to the cops who caught them drinking at a teen party. Oddly enough, it works. Considering that the cops were hassling them for being a little old for drinking at an underage party, one would have to consider this an intentional inversion.
    • Peter uses this often. When he crashed into the TV satellite dish:

Peter: Look. There's Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti!
Bigfoot: Whoa. This isn't about me. This is about you.

Hey, look over there! There’s a woman learning!

    • During one of Peter and Ernie's fights (specifically in the episode where Quagmire is forced to become chasted by his neighbors) Peter ends up giving an implied "Look behind you!" reaction to Ernie as the propeller blades of the aircraft they are fighting under are drawing closer to Ernie (he sees the propellers, gives an "Oh Crap" look, and then braces himself). Ernie seems to take the hint and looks behind him... only to get cut up by the propellers, á la Raiders of the Lost Ark.
    • Brian has also tried this. In "Brian: Portrait of a Dog" he tells an angry dog to look because there is a tasty little baby. He then tries a Groin Attack which doesn't work, noting "I see someone's been neutered." He distracts Civil War survivors in "To Love and Die in Dixie" by shouting, "Look over there! It's a newly-married, interracial gay couple burning the American flag!"
  • Veggie Tales did a musical number called "Look, Olaf!" that was all about this trope in "Lyle the Kindly Viking".

Larry the Cucumber: Look, Olaf! There's a turtle
And he's wearing pink pajamas
And he's got a cowboy hat upon his lid!
Look, Olaf, very close, and see
He's riding on a llama
And he's chasing down a herd of giant squid!

  • In the Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "Will Work For Ed", Eddy distracts Kevin with "Holy cow! Is that Nazz skydiving in a bikini?"
    • In "A Case of Ed", Ed is rather less successful at distracting Kevin by pointing and shouting "Sponge stampede!"
    • Ed also tries to distract Eddy during a footrace in "Eds or Tails" by shouting "Look, Eddy, it's Rolf!"
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer manages to trick Lisa with this ploy, though it takes a bit of extra effort on Homer's part.

Homer: Lisa, look out behind you!
Lisa: Dad, I'm not gonna fall for that.
Homer: No, Lisa, I swear to you, I'm 100% completely serious! You've got to turn around right now before it's too late!
Lisa: Huh? * Turns around*
Homer: Sucker! * Runs away*

    • Moe is also extremely susceptible to these. Once, Bart needed to get the Red Hot Chili Peppers out of the bar, so he did this:

Bart: Hey Moe, look over there.
Moe: <Turns around> What? What am I looking at? <Bart ushers the band outside> I'm gonna stop looking soon. What, is that it? <Homer comes in>
Homer: Hey Moe, can I look, too?
Moe: Sure, but it'll cost you.
Homer: My wallet's in the car!
Moe: He is so stupid. And now back to the wall...

    • In one episode, Homer tries this on a cow, and it works.

Homer: Look! A flying saucer!

    • The subversion pops up in "Bart's Comet": Bart accidentally discovers a never-before-seen comet, and the next morning at school, the nerds (including Lisa) try to get him join their science club. They ask Bart if he'd show them his comet, and he responds "There it is right there," pointing out a window. The head nerd imperiously retorts that "I make it a point to never turn around unless I expect to see something." Bart presses the issue and when they finally look, they do indeed see his comet - and realize that it's close because it's on a collision course with Springfield.
    • Another subversion is when Homer yells out "Look, a bear!" seemingly in an effort to escape from the hospital without paying his bills. Unfortunately, since he was in for a broken leg, he doesn't get very far - and while we're busy laughing at that, pan right to reveal that there is a bear!
    • Knowing the history of Shelbyville, Bart escapes from a gang by yelling, "Hey look! Someone's attractive cousin!"
  • From Dilbert, Dogbert is teaching a girl scout to cheat at Blackjack at an illegal casino set up in the office by Wally.

Dogbert Look Asok, its a rewarding career
Asok (turns and Dogbert looks at the top card of the deck) Where? I don't see a rewarding career.
Girl Scout Look Asok, its a woman who respect you despite your low status and income.
Asok (Turns and Girl Scout replaces her 2 with an Ace) Where? I don't see a woman who respects me despite my low status and income.
Loud Howard Look Asok, its a Brick Wall.
Asok doesn't react
Loud Howard What am I doing wrong?

  • During the Nickelodeon run of Doug, Doug's tormentor Roger is forced to escape the bully Percy by pretending to see Percy's uncle, the school's hardline vice-principal, and Percy falls for it every time...until the end, when Doug tries to use the trick. Percy has finally caught on- but as it turns out, it wasn't a trick this last time. Making this a straight-straight-subversion.
  • In a Looney Tunes short, Bugs Bunny gets rid of a penguin by shouting "Hey! Look! A four-legged airy-plane!" and kicking the bird down an icy slope when it turned around.
    • In another one, he thwarts the Sherrif of Nottingham twice with "Lo! The King approacheth!"
  • In the Beast Wars episode "Bad Spark", Silverbolt and Blackarachnia are stuck traveling together to escape an energon storm (and Silverbolt pledges to protect her from Tarantulas). When they find out Tarantulas is indisposed, Blackarachnia predictably tries to destroy Silverbolt. He sees something, yells "Behind you!", and Blackarachnia laughs and answers "Don't be pathetic". The next instant she's jumped by a Smilodon.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has an episode where Jade and Finn were battling atop a moving train (Jade using a jetpack, Finn the levitation talisman), when Jade shouts out and flies out of reach. Finn says, "Yeah, right, like I'm gonna fall for--" and smacks right into a concrete tunnel overhang. Lucky he also had the immortality talisman, or...
    • Another episode had Jade doing this to several mooks while in Scotland by saying the Loch Ness Monster was behind them, sure enough they look. This was subverted in a dream sequence in the same episode where she also does this, but this time the Loch Ness Monster is behind them, since it was a dream.
  • In Catscratch, Mr. Blik pulls this to get away from an angry alley cat. It works, but the cat catches him eventually anyway.

Blik: Look! A flying saucer is giving away free gold!

  • Seen in an episode of The Fairly OddParents when Francis the Bully was about to beat up Timmy, Timmy pulls this ploy:

Timmy: Look! A Rottweiler!
Francis: I'm not falling for that one.
Timmy: You're right, it's just a brick wall.
Francis (looking): A brick wall?! Where?!

    • There was also "Look! A hot shower!" to which Francis responded with terror.
  • An episode of Batman Beyond has Batman trying to warn Shriek to look behind him because a building is about to fall on him. Being deaf, Shriek thinks Batman is begging for mercy and gets crushed.
  • As Kim Possible and Dr. Drakken fight on top of a train, Kim suddenly gasps and hits the deck. Drakken turns to look, and meets the roof of a tunnel.
  • In the Word Girl episode "A Simple Plan", Dr. Two-Brains (who is consciously making his plots much less complex) escapes by using this phrase and running away while her back is turned. As Word Girl readily admits to a nearby grocer, "That... was embarrassing."
  • Played straight in Re Boot where Mouse distracts two agents with the "open-mouthed stare" variant, then takes that split second to cut their guns in half with her trusty katana. Considering that there was something running around preying on unsuspecting victims, they can probably be excused.
  • In a Dexter's Laboratory short, Dee Dee keeps Crying Wolf, taunting Dexter with "Dexter, what's that?" Then she says "Dexter, what's that?" one last time, and Dexter replies, "I'm not falling for that again" - when there's a giant bug sitting on his head, big enough that it's even obscuring his vision.
  • Sonic in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog manages this by just pointing and casually stating, "I'M over there." The villains in this show were pretty damn stupid.
  • In an episode of Justice League, Green Lantern yells "Duck!" while fighting Star Sapphire. She refuses, and gets hit by a statue of a cartoon duck. He quips, "I tried to warn her."
    • Also, in "Tabula Rasa, Pt. II"

Flash: You're too fast for me... But not for him.
AMAZO: That's the oldest trick-- (gets blasted from behind by Green Lantern)

Actress Azula: You caught me. Wait, what's that? I think it's your honor!
Actor Zuko: Where?!

  • South Park: In the "It's a Jersey Thing" episode, Kyle pulls one on Cartman.

Kyle: Dude, what is that behind you?
Cartman: Kyle, do we really have to resort to that? Your tactics don't work on me. (2 second later) Dude, what the fuck is that thing behind me?

    • The episode "Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants" has an even funnier one. Cartman is cornered by Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and distracts him by shouting: "Look, an infidel!" Once Osama's head is turned, Cartman pulls down his pants. Osama isn't wearing underwear, and it's revealed that he has a freakishly small penis. Cartman concludes that it's no wonder Osama is so mad at the world.
  • Invader Zim just points upward to distract the other aliens in "Abducted." It takes them more than a few takes to realize he's not standing there anymore.
    • In "Gaz, Taster of Pork," Dib tells a pair of pig monster guards "Hey, look! There's something a pig thing would like!" It works, but the guards catch him soon after he gets past them.
  • From Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot, the episode "Hard drive" has a subversion. When Big Guy starts getting the upper hand in their fight, Hard Drive which is really a Powered Armor piloted by Dwayne Hunter's (Big Guy's pilot) friend backs away and threatens to set off a bomb in Rusty's new rocket. Big Guy then shouts out "Behind you!" Hard Drive mocks Big Guy's attempt to distract him with the oldest trick in the book, claiming that "only a robot would fall for that". His motivation is to prove that humans could never be replaced by robots. Only it's not a trick. The other threat of the episode, a gigantic insect Hive Queen monster, really is right behind Hard Drive and promptly crushes him in her jaws.
  • In Arthur, Buster, after apologizing for his cocky persona after letting his heroism get to his head, shouts to Francine and Arthur "Look out! A Runaway Piano!" Francine utters "Very funny!" in a disbelieving manner, but the POV shows that Buster was being very serious when he tells them this, as a piano was rolling towards them, causing Buster to tackle them to get them out of the way.
  • Phineas and Ferb, "Canderemy": Candace points and shouts "Hey, isn't that the guy from that movie?" to distract Stacy from the fact that Candace and Jeremy have literally become joined at the hip.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Hitman", Ice King tries several to distract Scorcher.

Ice King: Look! A supermodel!...Look! A hoverboard!...Look! The apocalypse!...Someone got hit in the boingloings...Hit in the boingloings. Boingloings. Boingloings. Someone got hit in them. (Scorcher looks) PEACE OUT! (Freezes him)

  • In the cartoon version of Space Ace episode, Wanted Dexter, during the scene where Dexter falls into the water, after turning into Ace, Ace says to the sheriff, "Baby Face Nerks went that way." The sheriff falls for it, and Ace tries to escape, only to get caught between the hands of the two servents of the sheriff.
  • From the Thundercats episode "The Demolisher":

Demolisher: (throws a grenade, Lion-O braces himself, but it releases smoke) A harmless toy for a harmless boy. Unlike the one behind you! (Lion-O turns around, Demolisher hits him) Ha ha ha! You fell for the oldest trick in the book!
Lion-O: It's not the oldest, Demolisher! (throws dirt in his eyes)

  • In an episode of Static Shock, Virgil escapes an angry street gang by yelling, "Look over there! It's J-Lo!" then running away when they turn around.
  • Mercilessly parodied in an episode of El Tigre:

Dr. Chipotle, Jr.: Look, a thing!
Frida: Where? (Turns around, then realizes Chipotle ran away) Aw, man!

Time Cop: I got ambitions, man. Bringing you guys in is my ticket up.
Rick: What if I told you there's a huge ticket up right behind you?
Time Cop: You really think I'm that stupid?
Rick: All right, hear me out on this. You're immortal, right, which means your life is infinite. Okay, well, then that means there's a 100% chance that you'll eventually do everything, including turning around to look behind you.
Time Cop: I cannot argue that.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A real life example would be Operation Fortitude, where the allies fooled the Germans into thinking the real liberation forces landing in Normandy were actually a diversion so that he would keep the majority of his armed forces where the Germans expected the real liberation force to land.
    • Likewise, earlier they'd convinced the Germans that the coming attack on Sicily was a diversion and the real attack would be a two-pronged assault on Sardinia and Greece. Winston Churchill said anyone but a fool would know the target must be Sicily, but British intelligence made the Germans believe that was what they wanted them to think.
  • #6 of The Thirty-Six Stratagems is practically this.
  • If anyone says, "Look, an X!" to someone in emoted tones, people around them will almost always look around. A great way to use this as a joke is simply, "Look, a distraction!"
    • Also good: "Look, a gullible!"
    • "Did you hear? They took gullible out of the dictionary."
    • "They did?"
    • "Yes - but now because of you, it's back in."
    • "I don't get i - Hey!"
    • Variants of this line were used when The Texas Seven escaped from the John Connally Unit in Karnes County, Texas. Whenever someone walked into a room they were trying to escape from, they used some form of, "Hey, what's that behind you?" and managed to trick sixteen people this way.
  • Another example of this as a prank is to hold up your hand, say "Hey look at this," then when that person looks, slap them with the other hand.
  • Almost as cruel is to point and ask: "What's that thing on your shirt?" - and then, once they're looking down, bring up the pointing finger to hit them in the nose.
  • A much simpler version is to say: "Look at my thumb" - and then, once the victim is staring at your thumb, remark: "Gee, you're dumb." In Animal House, this gag is coupled with a "Hey You!" Haymaker.
  • Wild Bill Hickok once saved his own life by doing this. A drunken man with a rifle had the drop on him, when Hickok looked past him and yelled, "Don't shoot! He's just drunk!" The man spun to face Hickok's imaginary friends and was shot through the temple.