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
Anime & 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 Schrödinger's Cat joke when the trap goes off.
- 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.