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"Where did it come from? There's nothing here but ceiling! I love how these animals just fall out of nowhere, right into your hands. What do they do, just hang up there by their claws and wait for people to pass by?"—Mike, There's Nothing Out There
A cat scare is a strong build up of high tension, followed by a fright from something harmless to give us a sense of release. Our heroine now tip-toeing down a dark hallway to escape a serial killer she knows is in the house- a door in the hallway slowly opens... Our heroine pauses, watching a door swing wider- she's expecting the serial killer anytime now! As a cat jumps out, hissing wildly. A Cat Scare. Horror ain't pretty. She sighs with relief, only to confront the real killer!
As Roger Ebert points out in his book of Hollywood Cliches, the cat often enters shot, hissing and raving, airborne at chest height. Apparently it has been thrown into shot by a technician. (Hence another common name for this phenomenon: "the spring-loaded cat;" in particular because the feline in question often appears to be deployed as soon as the door / chest / other suitable object is opened).
An increasingly common variant is having the cat somehow reveal the real trap. As in "aww, it's just a cat." "Hang on, all they doors were shut, how'd the cat get in...?" and then the villain enters, being revealed to have inadvertently let the cat in when he came in.
Moving toward Discredited Trope territory, but still shows up done straight from time to time. A common play is to time after the Cat Scare when the audience was starting to relax to have the real threat suddenly appear.
If there is an avalanche during the fight with the actual menace, expect the cat to get hurt.
Not to be confused with Convenient Decoy Cat, where the cat diverts the attention of the bad guys from a hiding hero.
Also see Hope Spot (a false sense of tidy resolution before heading into an ugly one instead), Hey, Wait! (a false sense of discovery of subterfuge) and Your Princess Is in Another Castle (a false sense of resolution quite early in a story). When you want a fake scare without launching a feline, you deploy the Scare Chord.
Anime & Manga
- Pops up in the very first episode of Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, when Mayura goes to investigate a haunted clocktower. Even though she was nowhere near the cat, and though it was apparently asleep when she entered, it just HAD to leap up and scream at her. Really, these cats ought to just switch to decaf, or something...
- Taken literally in the first episode of Inuyasha, when Kagome goes down to the well to search for her cat. She hears noises coming from the well, and is frightened when her cat brushes up against her leg. After realizing her error, she faces away from the well with the cat as the Centipede Woman shows up to drag her back in time. Her brother, of course, sees it all, and tries to warn her. No luck.
- Subverted in Darker Than Black: the first two episodes are loaded with so many supposedly coincidental "oh, it was just the cat" moments that one begins to wonder if that furry little bastard is actually plotting something. He is.
- Naruto. Although it doesn't use cats. Twice in the story a bunny is seen in the bushes and then someone paranoid throws a kunai or shuriken and the rabbit leaves but a bad guy comes. First time Zabuza came and the second time was Orochimaru.
- In Pooch Cafe, Poncho shows a little Genre Savvy by thinking, "If this was a dumb Horror movie, something would jump out at me right now." A cat jumps out. Somewhat subverted in that Poncho believes that cats really are trouble.
- Lampshaded, Defied Trope and Subverted Trope in Chapter 42 of Tales of Cosplayers: The characters are in a dark and scary forest, suddenly there's a noise coming from the shrubs: It's a rabbit! However, the protagonist doesn't believe that that's all, he tells the others to wait, since in stories a big, scary monster's always showing up when a cute one appeared before, at which someone else makes a snarky comment. after they waited half a minute and still nothing happened, he argues with the professor of the group and they finally keep on going. It's stated that the protagonist's "faith in television shattered."
Films -- Animation
- The Disney version of One Hundred and One Dalmatians. In this case, it's because a fiesty cat is purposefully helping the puppies to hide, and he knows that jumping out hissing with limbs splayed will startle Jasper just enough to let the puppies get away.
- Weirdly inverted in The Secret of NIMH, where the cat itself is the monster, and its arrival is preceded by a rabbit.
- In Tangled, shortly after Rapunzel leaves the tower with Flynn, she's startled by something in the bushes. Much to her embarrassment, it turns out to be not thugs or ruffians, but a harmless bunny rabbit.
Flynn: (sarcastic) Stay calm, it can probably smell fear.
- In Disney's Brother Bear, Kenai is spooked by a rodent before the bear comes along. In the DVD Gag Commentary, the moose comment on how squirrels/chipmunks/etc. always appear before something bad happens, and falsely interpret every rodent afterwards as a sign of trouble.
- Of all things Invoked by Thomas O'Malley to hitch a ride in The Aristocats by scaring a truck driver. A literal Cat Scare.
- A particularly notable example in Disney's adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane is wandering through some genuinely terrifying woods just after midnight, trying to get home on a painfully slow horse after a town get-together. He hears a variety of spooky sounds, such as owls and frogs croaking his name. The cat scare appears as Ichabod and his horse are suddenly brought to the ground... but Ichabod can still hear hoofbeats! Trembling, he turns to the side and realises it's just the wind blowing a set of cat tails against a hollow log. He and his horse start giggling in relief... and are soon joined by someone else's cackling.
Films -- Live-Action
- In Alien, the cat scare precedes the absolutely terrifying first appearance of the adult alien. Since the cat wasn't being tossed through the air, the film crew got it to hiss on cue by suddenly putting it nose to nose with a dog.
- In Aliens we have a rare human example. While in Medlab the Marines detect something moving and hunt it down. It finally bursts out of cover and is almost shot, whereupon they discover that it's Newt, a little girl who's the only survivor of the xenomorph attack.
- In Predator, Blain hears rustling foliage and readies his minigun, only to have it turn out to be a small animal. He rolls his eyes and turns away ... then promptly gets killed by the Predator's plasma gun.
- Alien vs. Predator, combining the two, naturally goes one better, featuring a penguin scare early on (before the characters even know "there's something out there").
- Most Friday the 13 th films feature at least one cat scare (or dog scare, etc.), followed by Jason killing the person scared by the cat once they get over the initial shock and decide there's nothing to be afraid of.
- The opening scene of Friday The 13th: Part 2 has a special example, as you can actually see the hand of the technician throwing the screaming cat through the window.
- Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood had another goofy one, as it occurs near the end, and at no point beforehand was it even mentioned there was a cat in the house.
- An actual cat also turns up in The Ring.
- Parodied in the Scary Movie films.
- In the first one, the victim is investigating a noise in a closed garage and finds a cat. Then a dog. Then a horse.... Then the killer. The dog and cat vacate through a doggie door. The horse gets out via a larger opening. The victim? Follows the cat out. Did we mention she's slightly overweight?
- In the second film, the protagonist goes to investigate a noise, and discovers a cat... who then beats up her up with a broken bottle.
- Parodied repeatedly and beaten to death with a stick in the horror movie parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth, where characters keep being scared by cats with tell tale names, like "Cheap Shot" and "Lame Gag". The final cat annoys a cast member so much that he tries to hit it, only to be told "No, don't beat Dead Horse Trope."
- Played straight in Tears of the Sun -- the team's point man at the river crossing calls for everyone to stop and get to cover because he hears something approaching through the foliage. Upon seeing that it's just a wild pig, he calls away "all clear" and stands up... right in time to eat a sniper's bullet from across the river.
- Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan: While searching the abandoned space station Regula 1, Bones is startled by a rat. He then walks straight into a dead body.
- A Cat Scare appears early on in Romancing the Stone, in a particularly obvious instance of the cat being thrown in from off-screen.
- In Dog Soldiers there's an incident with a spring-loaded dog when the soldiers are investigating a potentially hazardous closet. By all appearances the border collie who startles Cooper must have been sitting on one of the closet shelves waiting for the chance to jump straight forward.
- In A View to a Kill there's a very good cat scare when James Bond is creeping up the broad stairway of Stacey's house.
- There is a Cat Scare in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when Marion is trying to locate the source of a sound. A hissing cat leaps onto the table before her, just before a soldier throws her down onto it.
- The Amityville Horror has one of these, with an actual cat.
- In House II: The Second Story, someone in a haunted house full of portals thinks he hears something ominous, but it's just a harmless dogerpillar.
- The Haunting in Connecticut did this for the movie's second shock moment. Barely a minute after the first shock, Matt is investigating the plane of glass where it came from, and the camera then cuts to his mom slapping a mop on the ground. After a moment of relief, you see that the water she's using to clean has turned into blood. Thanks a lot, Cornwell.
- Parodied in Fatal Instinct. While Ned Ravine is searching his house for intruders he opens the medicine cabinet in his bathroom and discovers his cat inside it. The cat jumps out yowling.
- The remake of When a Stranger Calls uses at least one Cat Scare.
- The first Scream wasn't above using one of these.
- Played straight in Pet Sematary, where the newly resurrected cat hisses at his owner as he walks into a dark area. The cat is only the first creature to come back changed.
- Parodied in There's Nothing Out There, where Mike finds the cat and then wonders loudly how it got there.
- Steven Spielberg felt that there weren't enough scary moments in the first half of Jaws, before audiences had seen the shark for the first time. He went back and edited in a plotless scare when a diver (Hooper) is exploring a derelict wrecked boat. Heralded by scary music and accompanied by a Scare Chord, they spot a corpse looking through a hole in the wreck. While it got a shriek from audiences, Spielberg always regretted adding it in because it ultimately sapped tension that would have paid off better when the shark finally appeared.
- In Darkness Falls, a woman sits in a car and a cat quickly runs across the hood, which scares both the woman and the audience. Darkness Falls has a lot of cat scares even at the very end.
- Cat People has an interesting inversion. There is a scene where the viewer is expecting a cat to show up and attack the heroine, only for the tension to be broken by the arrival of a bus with an air brake that sounds like a cat hiss. Cat People was made in 1942, so it's not clear if they were parodying this trope on purpose or playing it straight. The Cat Scare trope is also called a "bus" in commemoration of Cat People, which has one of the first uses of the trope in cinema.
- Cat People producer Val Lewton seemed to like this trope, he used it in his next film, I Walked With a Zombie, although in that case the animal responsible for the scare was an owl.
- In Lewton's film Body Snatcher there is a scare with a horse and in his The Leopard Man a tumbleweed and a train are used at certain points in the movie.
- Averted in A Nightmare on Elm Street, when Glen goes outside to investigate a noise and calls "Kitty kitty?" in hopes that it is this trope at work. It's actually the film's Jerk with a Heart of Gold who jumps out and scares him.
- In The Slumber Party Massacre has a cat inside a closet.
- Played straight in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film End of Days, as pictured above. The Nostalgia Critic has fun with this, making several jokes about the CAAAAAAAAAT!!
- Subverted for laughs in The Kids in The Hall: Brain Candy. The plot of the movie revolves around a new (untested) wonder drug that cures depression. When the primary researcher who developed the drug realizes one of the laboratory test animals has entered a catatonic state, he becomes concerned and goes to check on the drug's first human test subject, an elderly widow who lives alone. He finds her home seemingly deserted and eerily silent. As he gingerly makes his way through the house, calling out for the woman, a cat suddenly falls on his head from out of nowhere, startling him and the audience before it runs away. When the researcher looks up, he sees half a dozen cats hanging from the ceiling by their claws.
- In Halloween II, a bumbling security guard stumbles around outside the hospital checking for a disturbance. He gets startled by a spring-loaded cat, sighs and relaxes. Three guesses who he encounters next...
- I Am Legend has a rather effective one. Neville has been discussing Bob Marley. Then out of nowhere comes the loud sound of a window closing -- the heroes preparing to hide from the real enemies.
- In Demon Knight this tactic is used a few times, the cat in question belongs to the heroine Jeryline.
- A nicely done Fake Cat Scare can be seen in this trailer for The Whisperer in Darkness. As a man stands close to a window at night, lightning strikes and the flash reveals a shadow behind the curtain. The second flash allows the viewer to identify the shape as some vines growing next to the window. And at the third flash it moves it's head.
- Battle: Los Angeles: The soldiers enter their first combat situation walking down a smoke covered street. They stop and take aim when they hear movement coming toward them. Turns out, it's just a dog with a weird name and it's totally okay to let their guard down.
- In Tremors, Earl stumbling in a prairie dog hole is an animal-free version of a Cat Scare.
- Drag Me to Hell might as well have been called Cat Scares: The Movie. A good majority of the spooks are Lamia making jump scares to tell Christine it's coming to get her.
- Played with hillariously in Horrible Bosses, when the protagonists are breaking into the home of one of the titles bosses (the one labelled as the "Psycho" by the previews). The boss's cat startles the protagonists several times, but the audience always sees the cat long before they do... sitting extremely still waiting for the perfect moment to suddenly jump out and startle them, as if this trope is that cat's favorite thing in the world. The description here really doesn't do the gag justice, though.
- Below is set on a WWII submarine, and pulls off a manta ray scare on a repair-crew of divers.
- Done straight in Shade's Children.
- Appears in Robert Southey's 1799 poem God's Judgment on a Wicked Bishop, making this one Older Than Radio.
- And also in Emile Zola's 1867 novel Therese Raquin.
- Goosebumps does this at the end of every first chapter, enough to be Lampshaded by Mad Magazine. It does this with very stupid things some of the times like a ghost just being a pile of clothes or a monster not actually being anything at all. It is pretty ridiculous.
- The book Friday the 13th: Church of the Divine Psychopath has a scene where the soldiers hunting Jason in the dark woods are all startled by a raccoon, right before Jason comes out of nowhere and attacks.
- How to Survive a Horror Movie cites cats jumping out of every door, cupboard, box, jar, or tube of toothpaste you open as clinching proof you're in a slasher movie.
- Lampshaded in the final chapter of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days. An elderly woman has just attended a blood-chilling revival meeting. She is calm as she walks home alone in the dark, but when she reaches for the light switch in her house she touches her cat, who was up on the back of a chair. He jumps sideways and knocks a vase to the floor. She just cleans it up and goes to bed. She's not unnerved at all until the next morning, when she doesn't immediately see anyone around and wonders if the Rapture has happened in the night, leaving her.
- Unexpectedly found in the Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton". While breaking into the title blackmailer's house under the cover of night, Watson and Holmes are indeed startled by a cat walking past them in a dark hallway. Older Than Radio indeed.
- Robert Westall's Blackham's Wimpy, in the Break of Dark anthology sees Gary, a Wellington bomber radio operator, boards a haunted plane at night with the intent of setting fire to it. He hears someone whispering in German and there's a hunched figure in the cockpit in flight crew gear... turns out to be his own Captain, engaged in a Hollywood Exorcism attempt.
- The Halloween episode of Community lampshades Ebert's comments on the trope, with a side scene of a cat jumping across the shot at chest level.
Jeff: Dude, what is UP with that cat?
Troy: Is someone throwing it?
- It eventually gets to the point, after the third or fourth time, where Jeff is actually more worried about the manic flying cat than he is about the Zombie Apocalypse waiting outside.
- After getting a lead on what might be a monster which hid under its victim's car, Sam responds to a sound from under a car, ducks down, and finds... a frightened cat.
- The show uses this again in season three with a cat in a locker -- since Dean is under a fear curse at the time, he Screams Like a Little Girl. Hilariously.
- The X-Files
- Played straight in an episode of Profit.
- Lost has had many a Dog Scare, thanks to Vincent. For instance, in "Homecoming," Vincent surprises Boone, who is waiting for Ethan to attack. While Vincent is licking Boone's face, Ethan comes up from the ocean to kill Scott (or was it Steve?)
- The Doctor Who serial Resurrection of the Daleks makes the mutant that escaped from a totaled Dalek casing a plot point. After searching for it a while (and describing the creature in such a vivid and horrible way the audience is terrified of it before they even see it), something is seen moving under a cloth... only it's a cat. Then, before the audience has time to catch their breath, the camera pans back to a character it had only been off for a few seconds, who's now being strangled to death by the Dalek creature.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- There's one in the early episode "The Witch". Notable only because it was used in the credits sequence for quite a while.
- Then there's "Dead Man's Party", when the same dead cat scares Buffy twice. It's a little more animated the second time.
- Salem Saberhagen from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a wizard turned into a cat, gains the power to startle people in this manner on Friday the 13th.
- The end of episode 4 of the 1991 Dark Shadows has the professor scared in this way when we know Barnabas is after him.
- When watching a scary movie in Corner Gas, the experienced horror movie watchers try to predict this, but as it turns out, a buzzsaw pops out and kills someone instead.
- NCIS. While checking out a house, Tony is startled by a cat jumping from the cat flap, leading Ziva to quip, "Don't tell me you're afraid of a little pussy...cat." Subverted though when Tony silently points to the bloody paw prints the cat has left on the ground.
- Used in an unusual fashion in Five Days to Midnight when Psycho Ex-Girlfriend Roy Bremmer lures a uniform cop assigned to guard the Neumeyer house by angering the cat, then, when the cop comes to investigate, he gets a faceful of kitty.
- Parodied in the first episode of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace as, when the newly arrived psychic doctor Liz is greeted by an eldritch cat that tells her to leave, the hands that threw the cat are patently visible.
- A parrot scare was used on Law and Order Special Victims Unit, when an escaped macaw startles a woman in a laundry room. Bodies are found when she returns the bird to its apartment.
- Starsky and Hutch has a bizarre example: in "Targets Without A Badge", Hutch insists on checking Starsky's Torino over for explosives (not unreasonably, since his own car was blown up in the previous episode). Nervously, they ease the hood up...and a cat jumps out of the engine at them.
- Star Trek the Original Series episode "Catspaw". Played straight, in a Haunted Castle surrounded by an Ominous Fog, no less.
- Subverted in the very beginning of the Criminal Minds episode "Distress" when a security guard hears a mystery noise, starts to check it out, but then he hears that it's just a cat, so he relaxes. Oh wait, never mind, it's actually a serial killer!.
- Happens in The Bionic Woman (the original series) in the episode, "In This Corner, Jamie Somers". Jamie's walking into an empty arena and is startled when a cat meows and runs in front of her.
- Played with in Barry Louis Polisar's "When the House Is Dark and Quiet", in which the bratty kids set up a Cat Scare to hassle their babysitter. One in which the cat springs out of the freezer, no less.
- The original black box edition of the Ravenloft game rules actually included a random-encounter table for this trope, on which DMs could roll up what species of inoffensive furry animal might be rustling about in the bushes, scaring the pants off unsuspecting player characters with false alarms.
- Silent Hill
- In the monster-filled Midwich elementary school, Harry sees that there's something in one of the lockers; of course, when he opens it, it turns out to be a cat. However, once it's off screen, something decidedly not a cat can be heard devouring it.
- BRUTALLY subverted in the alternate form of the school. Harry can hear the same locker door banging against its latch, but when he opens it there's nothing inside except bloodstained rust. When he turns to leave, another locker bangs open and a mutilated body falls out.
- Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines
- In the haunted house level, the role of the cat is played by a lone rollerskate. Alternatively, one could argue that the whole level is a giant catscare, because even though there's plenty of ominous creaking, liberal use of the Scare Chord, sudden ghostly whispers, Ax Crazy apparitions, etc., nothing jumps out at you, and you're in no danger whatsoever (except for the one falling elevator).
- Later seen again several times in a level. Entering, if you look to the side--Gahh! A raptor! No, wait, it's just a statue. Then you have to walk past creepily rendered dioramas of dinosaurs, and on walking under a giant Tyrannosaurus head model, it roars... but no dinosaurs ever come alive, and they're just there to be scary.
- It's a stealth-based mission (or at least it's supposed to be,) but fortunately for the player, if they release a startled shotgun blast or three (or empty full magazine from their automatic rifle in a blind panic) into the raptor, nobody will notice.
- The raptor statue is lampshaded later, as the player can come across a note to a museum worker both praising the guy who placed the statue there for the scare factor, and telling him to put it back before someone important notices.
- Clock Tower for the SNES does this one literally. Upon entering either the second bathroom or the storage room, the crate in the opposite corner may start to shake. The protagonist's portrait changes to one of shock, and out jumps... the cat. Also subverted due to the fact that there's also about a one in four chance that it's the game's resident psychopathic killer instead of the cat.
- In Fatal Frame 3, as part of a reference to The Grudge. After having a dream about a ghost encounter in the attic, the protagonist can go downstairs and open a closet, at which point her housemate's cat will leap out.
- Alien vs. Predator
- In one of the games, shortly before the Aliens come into play, there's a piece of ventilation in THE EXACT SHAPE of a Xenomorph head that drops quickly in from above and hangs there.
- Cat scares are built into the game in the form of the marine's motion sensor. Rather than a standard enemy radar, it shows the relative location of any object that moves nearby, accompanied by a warning beep. It won't detect any Xenomorphs hiding motionless in the shadows, but it will freak you out every time you scare a cat, almost step on a cockroach, or walk by a crane hook swinging in the breeze.
- Literally used in Calling but they also are there to warn something bad is about to happen if you don't do exactly what the cat says.
- There's one particular corridor in Metroid Prime which the player can walk into, then a few bat-like creatures will drop down and fly towards the camera. They can be killed easily with some quick lock-ons and firing action, but they respawn the second the door closes, and if you haven't played the game in a while...
- Adventure game Scratches inverts and subverts this in the Director's Cut edition: in the additional chapter, Last Visit, the player spots in a hole a pair of glowing eyes which the player character mistakes for a cat. Most people, having played the original game first, will know that the thing in the hole is no cat. Except it is. The real scare is elsewhere.
- Occurs a couple time in Siren 2, although you're more likely to hear them hissing and then immediately run off given the poorly lit/dark environments. Lampshaded occasionally in this YouTube walkthrough.
- First Encounter Assault Recon: In the Exeunt Omnes level, something resembling the Assassins from later in the game jumps into the water in front of you, then vanishes. Many other variations of this trope abound.
- Dead Space 2 lots of these. The most embarrassing is cartoon sun prop falling from the ceiling.
- Inverted in Red Dead Redemption. If you see any Cats Are Mean around, that is your warning to run like a Kenyan sprinter. And you will only see them -- they are dead silent until they pounce, at which point you're probably already screwed.
- In Resident Evil 5, "Lost in Nightmares" has quite a bit of this in its first section, such as the dead body of a guard falling from above when you walk up the stairs, complete with Dramatic Thunder and lightning. The L-shaped hallway also makes its return, where bats break through the windows when you walk through it the second time. Players of the first Resident Evil get some extra Paranoia Fuel from dogs barking outside when you walk through said hallway. Once you enter the dungeons, however, there's no more Cat Scares to be had. But damn near everything else.
- The point and click adventure game Broken Sword has this early on in Shadow of the Templars if you examine the trash bins in the alley. Two of the bins are empty, but opening the third and final bin produces a Scare Chord and a yowling black cat who startles George. Trying to click the bins after opening the cat's bin will prompt George to shrug and say "I'd had it with sticking my nose into French trash cans."
- Happens twice in El Goonish Shive, parodied and justified at once -- Jeremy is not a kitty to be trifled with. Especially the second time, when he was defending his territory. And again, with another hedgecat.
- Lampshaded during Schlocktoberfest 2007.
- Girl Genius has a pre-scared kid seeing this:
Itto Wheelwright: Whaaaaassspp!!
- In Blue Yonder, Lena has actually injured the attackers before. Then she throws something in their midst. They scatter -- and realize they fled a 15-year-old girl with a cell phone when it starts to play music.
- Evil Overlord List Cellblock A #139: If I'm sitting in my camp, hear a twig snap, start to investigate, then encounter a small woodland creature, I will send out some scouts anyway just to be on the safe side. (If they disappear into the foliage, I will not send out another patrol; I will break out the napalm.)
- Parodied by the first winner of Spoony's Grass Battle Contest. When the hero opens the locker he finds a picture of a cat and jumps as though it were a proper Cat Scare.
- As noted in Film, mocked repeatedly by The Nostalgia Critic starting from the End of Days review, with "CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!" .
- every episode of Wacky Game Jokes 4 Kids! ends with a zombie cat screamer.
- In an entry of Marble Hornets, there appears to be somebody following Jay for the majority of one of the entries. Jay notices him and starts running, but the man's still following. The man stops near Jay, and Jay calls out to him. It turns out not to be the masked man, or some other dangerous person, but just some random guy playing with an iPod.
- Lampshaded in Arthur:
Brain: Let me guess. She walks over, opens the door, a coat falls on her, she laughs, then turns around and sees the ghost.
(said events happen in this movie)
Francine: You've seen this movie before?
Brain: No, but it's a horror movie- and they're very predictable.
- Transformers Animated, "Return of the Headmaster": After a Decepticon sighting is called in, Sentinel Prime and Optimus Prime split to look for the Decepticon. Sentinel gets spooked by a noise, whirls, and slashes some pavement into bits with his lance -- and a cat appears, then runs off. He grumbles about organics a moment -- and then the Headmaster zaps him.
- When the Gaang first sees Momo in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- Parodied and Double Subverted in the Thundercats 2011 episode "The Forest of Magi Oar" when cat-creature Snarf nervously reacts to noises in a supposedly haunted forest, but its only his tricksy Catfolk friends the Thunderkittens who jump out and yell "Boo!" Later on, the menacing spirits show up for real.