Created By: tvtroper98April 3, 2012 Last Edited By: CaveCatMarch 27, 2013
Troped

Box And Stick Trap

Exactly What It Says On The Tin

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Trope
In fiction, a common way to trap a small animal is to hoist up a cardboard box with a stick, tie some string to it, and put some food in the middle. The expectation is that the animal will be attracted to the food and go in the middle of the box to eat, only then the person pulls out the string and the box falls, trapping the animal. This sometimes works, but it usually backfires, often accidentally trapping someone else.

Compare to Bear Trap and Mouse Trap for other traps frequently found in cartoons. The Hunter Trapper may use the realistic version of this, the deadfall trap, which drops a heavy weight on the animal rather than a box.

Truth In Television.


Examples:

Advertising
  • A Taco Bell commercial had the chihuahua attempt to capture GODZILLA this way. (part of a marketing tie-in for the 1998 American film)
    Uh oh. I think I need a bigger box

Anime And Manga
  • Haruhi Chan: subverted in episode 8, Ryoko is Genre Savvy when she sees this particular trap made by Nagato. She goes directly to where "Nagato" is hiding and holding the string. Instead, she finds out that it's not her, and a cage falls on her, trapping her.

Comic Books
  • One Nickelodeon Magazine Sponge Bob Square Pants comic had SpongeBob and Patrick try this as one of their attempts at catching the Sea Leprechaun, with a Bland Name Product version of Lucky Charms as the bait. It fails thrice: first it catches Patrick ("I got hungry."), then Mr. Krabs ("I can't resist a free breakfast"), then Plankton ("If Krabs has it, I want it!"). They then decide they need a new plan.

Live-Action TV
  • In the "Canyonlands" episode of Survivorman, Les builds a "figure-four deadfall", in which a flat rock is balanced on an easily-triggered arrangement of sticks. He baits it with a bit of peanut butter and successfully flattens a ground squirrel for dinner.

Comic Strips
  • This Garfield strip has Jon doing this to Garfield to take him to the vet:
    Garfield: Jon thinks he can trap me into going to the vet using a grilled cheese sandwich as bait. What kind of gluttonous idiot does Jon take me for anyway?
    [Gilligan Cut to the stick down and Garfield in the box, enjoying his sandwich]
    Garfield: What, no pickle?
  • B.C.. In the strip for 2-25-13, Thor has set up this kind of trap. When he hears it fall he goes to open it. He finds the Fat Broad inside, holding the piece of cheese he used as bait.
    Thor: Diet not going well?
    Fat Broad: Be quiet and close the lid.

Video Games
  • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, you need to make one of these to catch a rat.
  • A somewhat infamous case in The Dig, due to its frustrating difficulty, requires you to catch a scavenging creature so that you can find its nest, by constructing such a trap out of various bones and machine parts that are lying around.

Web Comics
  • In the Webcomic Life And Death.... Chaos catches Steve with a six pack of beer (laced with enough drugs to put an elephant to sleep) when Steve was wandering the Sands of Time.
  • In the Order Of The Stick book, Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, the Order sets this sort of trap for a ninja. As none of them can actually see the ninja and an unreliable poison gets thrown into the mix, the party proceeds to make a Schrodingers Cat joke when the trap goes off.

Western Animation
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode The Best Night Ever, Fluttershy tried to catch a rabbit this way, using (What else?) a carrot as bait. She ended up catching the Grand Galoping Gala janitor.
  • In Family Guy Peter traps James Woods in one, twice.
    Okay, Brian, next time let's remember this right away, because he's done this twice.
  • On Bugs Bunny's first regular appearance, "A Wild Hare", Elmer uses such a trap to try and get Bugs, but catches a Smelly Skunk instead.
    • Elmer tries it again in "Hare Remover". Bugs finds the trap amusing ("My grandfather told me about these things, but I never thought I'd see one.") and decides to humor Elmer and get trapped, since he went to such trouble to make one.
    • Elmer uses the trap a third time in "Pests for Guests", this time on the Goofy Gophers Mac and Tosh. As soon as the trap falls, the sounds of a car driving are heard from inside, followed by a loud car crash. An alarmed Elmer lifts the box to see what happened, accidentally letting the gophers out.
  • In the Napoleon Dynamite episode "Pedro vs. Deb" Napoleon catches Deb and Pedro for an intervention by using a "free girl clothes" trap on both of them.
  • In The Simpsons, Homer tries to lure Bart with a bottle of Focusin pills. The string tied to his finger went all the way into Moe's Tavern while he waited.
  • An episode of The New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh had Pooh trying to locate Rabbit's lost hammer, by using one of these and setting out a bunch of nails as bait. The trap gets set off and when Pooh goes over to see what he caught, he finds that he caught a saw instead.
  • On Its A Sponge Bob Christmas, Patrick makes a box trap for Santa Claus, with a cookie for bait. He gets trapped instead when he forgets what the cookie is for and tries to get it.

Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • April 3, 2012
    madcapguy3310
    I beleive one episode of Family Guy shows Hubert ( The creepey old guy fawning after Chris) buying a box, a teddybear, and a ruler and then setting them up as one of these on the counter.
  • April 3, 2012
    KZN02
    Haruhi Chan: subverted in episode 8, Ryoko is Genre Savvy when she sees this particular trap made by Nagato. She goes directly to where "Nagato" is hiding and holding the string. Instead, she finds out that it's not her, and a cage falls on her, trapping her.
  • April 3, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Also in Family Guy Peter traps James Woods in one, twice.
    Okay, Brian, next time let's remember this right away, because he's done this twice.
  • April 4, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    • On Bugs Bunny's first regular appearance, "A Wild Hare", Elmer uses such a trap to try and get Bugs, but catches a Smelly Skunk instead.
      • Elmer tries it again in "Hare Remover". Bugs finds the trap amusing ("My grandfather told me about these things, but I never thought I'd see one.") and decides to humor Elmer and get trapped, since he went to such trouble to make one.
      • Elmer uses the trap a third time in "Pests for Guests", this time on the Goofy Gophers Mac and Tosh. As soon as the trap falls, the sounds of a car driving are heard from inside, followed by a loud car crash. An alarmed Elmer lifts the box to see what happened, accidentally letting the gophers out.

    • I think Wile E. Coyote has used this trap once or twice as well, with hilarious results.
  • April 4, 2012
    StevenT
  • April 4, 2012
    Generality
    A somewhat infamous case in The Dig, due to its frustrating difficulty, requires you to catch a scavenging creature so that you can find its nest, by constructing such a trap out of various bones and machine parts that are lying around.
  • April 4, 2012
    Mauri
    In the Webcomic Life and Death.... Chaos catches Steve with a six pack of beer (laced with enough drugs to put an elephant to sleep) when Steve was wandering the Sands of Time.
  • April 4, 2012
    Chabal2
    The Far Side shows the caveman version, with a large drumstick hanging from the box, the caveman standing ready to pull the stick away... while standing under the box.

  • April 4, 2012
    SharleeD
    Variations of this trope appear in a lot of hidden object puzzle/adventure games, because finding the stick, string and bait makes for a handy inventory-item subquest.
  • April 11, 2012
    StevenT
  • February 21, 2013
    KaiserVictor
    In The Simpsons, Homer tries to lure Bart with a bottle of Focusin pills. The string tied to his finger went all the way into Moe's Tavern while he waited.
  • February 21, 2013
    CaveCat
    • An episode of The New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh had Pooh trying to locate Rabbit's lost hammer, by using one of these and setting out a bunch of nails as bait. The trap gets set off and when Pooh goes over to see what he caught, he finds that he caught a saw instead.
  • February 21, 2013
    thewriter
    For alliteration's sake can we call this Box Bait Stick And String?
  • February 21, 2013
    TonyG
    On Its A Sponge Bob Christmas, Patrick makes a box trap for Santa Claus, with a cookie for bait. He gets trapped instead when he forgets what the cookie is for and tries to get it.
  • February 21, 2013
    Darthcaliber
    A Taco Bell commercial had the chihuahua attempt to capture GODZILLA this way. (part of a marketing tie-in for the 1998 American film)
    Uh oh. I think I need a bigger box

  • February 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    Compare to Bear Trap and Mouse Trap for other traps frequently found in cartoons. The Hunter Trapper may use the realistic version of this, the deadfall trap, which drops a heavy weight on the animal rather than a box.
  • February 24, 2013
    DracMonster
    Honestly I think Box And Stick Trap is the most readable. Adding "Bait" kinda obfuscates it a little. (To me anyway.)
  • February 24, 2013
    Megaptera
    I like the shorter Box And Stick Trap. The string isn't even necessary, sometimes the trap relies on the stick being knocked over rather than a string being pulled by someone off screen.

    Reality TV
    • In the "Canyonlands" episode of Survivorman, Les builds a "figure-four deadfall", in which a flat rock is balanced on an easily-triggered arrangement of sticks. He baits it with a bit of peanut butter and successfully flattens a ground squirrel for dinner.
  • February 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    Is a deadfall actually this trope? I can bring a lot more examples if it is, but the harmlessness and ineffectual nature of the box and stick seem to be key.
  • February 24, 2013
    spacemarine50
    ^^Les also tries that trap in a Canadian forest, but he failed that time.
  • February 24, 2013
    DomaDoma
    In the Order Of The Stick book, Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, the Order sets this sort of trap for a ninja. As none of them can actually see the ninja and an unreliable poison gets thrown into the mix, the party proceeds to make a Schrodingers Cat joke when the trap goes off.
  • February 24, 2013
    Megaptera
    Aaah okay, is this specifically for the live trap version? Fair enough.
  • February 24, 2013
    Unlucky29
    I recall Calvin trapping Hobbes like this once, or maybe vice versa. Someone should look into that.
  • February 24, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    No, Calvin caught Hobbes using a rope loop that carried him up into a tree. See?

    http://riteshjsr.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/firstc1.gif?w=700
  • February 24, 2013
    CaveCat
    ^Technically, that kind of trap is called a snare trap.
  • February 24, 2013
    acrobox
    -
  • February 25, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    I'll third Box And Stick. As for it being Truth In Television, it's an extremely easy trap to escape, so almost any other design works better.
  • March 3, 2013
    Arivne
    Changed the redirect Newspaper Comics to its main title, Comic Strips.

    Comic Strips
    • B.C.. In the strip for 2-25-13, Thor has set up this kind of trap. When he hears it fall he goes to open it. He finds the Fat Broad inside, holding the piece of cheese he used as bait.
      Thor: Diet not going well?
      Fat Broad: Be quiet and close the lid.

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