Created By: ginsengaddict on May 8, 2011 Last Edited By: GirlofMassDeconstruction on February 2, 2018

X Marks The Spot

Looking for something? Check under that giant X over there.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
"To whoever finds this, check this out. You're totally not gonna believe what I just found! That is an actual spot in the shape of an actual X. X marks the spot. X is the spot! Mind blown."
Zak recording his find, Zak Storm, "Morlock the Unstoppable"

In your everyday stock Pirate Booty Treasure Map, a path is drawn on a dotted line. It goes past illustrations of dragons and dolphins and palm-trees before coming to a complete stop at an "X". This is usually where you can find the stolen cargo buried on that beach.

Not to be confused with the educational short film of the same name.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: in a clever variant, this is a way to locate Raftel, the ultimate Treasure Island where the titular One Piece is located. Using the writings of ancient stone blocks known as "red Poneglyphs", the writings show the position of a particular island; there are 4 such Poneglyphs in existence. Once all 4 islands are located, then you draw a cross between those 4 islands on the map, and Raftel is located at the center of that X.

    Film —Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Treasure Island may be the Trope Maker. Robert Louis Stevenson was painting a watercolor that he was using to entertain his nephew, and the painting of it became an engrossing story in its own right, with the appearance of the fantastically/horrifically named locations on the island culminating in the story's apotheosis, the X where the treasure is located. To hear the nephew tell it, it was quite exciting. The novel came from that rainy afternoon's adventure in watercolor.

    Live-Action Series 
  • M*A*S*H: North Korean pilot "5 o'Clock Charlie" comes by every day at 5 o'Clock and tries to blow up an ammo dump that's near the hospital but misses. So the guys in the unit decide to help him by painting giant arrows pointing the way to the correct location.
  • In White Collar, Kate leaves Neal a linked list of clues for how to contact her. One of the clues is an empty Bordeaux wine bottle with a map of Manhattan drawn on the label in invisible ink; Neal figures out that she wants him to go to the location on the map marked by the "X" in "Bordeaux".
  • Discussed in episode "Dig Dug" of Stranger Things, where Joyce marks on one of Will's drawings with an X and proclaims "That's the objective. Find the X." upon which Bob jokingly asks "What's at the X? Pirate treasure?

    Music 
  • Doctor Steel has a song entitled, "Planet X Marks the Spot", a play on this phrase.

    Video Games 
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, the scuba gear and pirate treasure Sly and the gang were looking for was buried on a spot with an X made of rocks laid out to mark its location.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: the final level of the Pirate Seas era takes place on an X, which the map says it's "Treasures! (Not zombies)". You do get a "treasure" there... after fighting loads of zombies.
  • In the Monkey Island series, buried treasure is almost always marked with an X, sometimes because it's intended to be found; others, because it's a trap for the obliviously greedy. The Secret of Monkey Island, LeChuck's Revenge, and Tales of Monkey Island all have such Xs, though in all these cases the treasure is well-hidden and not out in the open with a map leading right to it. The other games also have hidden treasure, but in secret rooms or caves.
  • After beating Dubloon's final boss, you can ask an old man on Pyrite Island for help in getting all the loot. He will put an X over any island in your Point-and-Click Map that still has unopened treasure chests.
  • In the ZX Spectrum game Driller, the player has to save an artificial planetoid by teleporting in drilling rigs to flare off a dangerous underground gas buildup in every sector and needed to follow clues as to the correct location to place the tower in each sector for maximum effect. In the first sector, a large "X" on the ground made it blindingly obvious where the first rig should be placed.

    Web Comic 
  • Inverted in Girl Genius - a group of jagers drew a large X on the ground, where their war machine was aimed, to lure an egomaniac x-themed villain to set his tent there.
  • In Freefall, a giant X on the ground is used to mark a drop zone for ice asteroids.
  • Mocked in Schlock Mercenary. Hey, look, Nick foun' a big treasure map! Five pages later they discover why exactly it's marked "X".

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • The episode "X Marks the Ed" is named after this trope.
    • In "O-Ed Eleven", the Eds uncover a sheet of paper hidden in Eddy's brother's room. Edd does his best to decipher it, even laying it over a projection of a map of the neighborhood, but nothing comes of it. In a momentary fit of Cloudcuckoolander intelligence, Ed puts Eddy in front of the projection, the starting point being Eddy's nose and the end of the line leading to Eddy's ear (which so happens to be an X in design). Ed claims he was able to put it together because he is a brother just like Eddy's brother.
  • At the beginning of the Zak Storm episode "Morlock the Unstoppable", the Seven Cs find a giant x-shaped hole in the ground of an island. They correctly assume that this means there is treasure where the giant x leads, so they venture in.
  • Subversion in the Darkwing Duck episode "Just Us Justice Ducks, Part 1": Negaduck has a huge and very obvious flag over his headquarters pointing out the exact location of his lair (right in the background of the scene at that), but Darkwing fails to see it and instead goes for a cryptically-placed clue at the site of their last confrontation. Of course, Negaduck was counting on Darkwing finding the clue and not seeing the obvious flag.
  • The Simpsons episode "Homer the Vigilante" references It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Molloy the Cat Burgler tells the Springfield police that he hid a large sum of money under a big T. They rush out to find it, and realize that there's dozens of big T's in Springfield, so they go talk to Molloy again to get detailed directions to the real big T.
  • In Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, Planet X conveniently has an X on its surface. They find it following a line of likewise alphabetized planets.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants episode Arrgh! also features this trope. The treasure Mr. Krabs is looking for lies underneath a kinda obvious large X. (Which is located 100 steps to the west, not weast.)
  • The jerkass bulldog from Tex Avery's cartoon "Bad Luck Blackie" paints an X on the sidewalk exactly below a safe that's suspended from a pulley hoist. Bad Luck Blackie appears and stands on the X, whereupon the dog smugly releases the rope. Blackie hears the Bomb Whistle, looks up, assesses the situation, and calmly slides the painted X with his foot until the X is beneath the dog. Toon Physics dictate that a falling object must land on the X, even if it must bend gravity to do so. Therefore, it does.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "No Toon is an Island", Plucky finds an X on the ground and starts digging for treasure, but finds none. He then finds another X, and then another, which are really the X-Bird's tracks. Later, the gang finds two trees forming and X, and find the treasure buried there.

Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • May 8, 2011
    JusticeReaper
    Does it have to be an X? If not, then I think this counts:

    Subversion in Darkwing Duck, "Just Us Justice Ducks, Part 1": Negaduck has a huge and very obvious flag over his headquarters pointing out the exact location of his lair (right in the background of the scene at that), but Darkwing fails to see it and instead goes for a cryptically-placed clue at the site of their last confrontation. Of course, Negaduck was counting on Darkwing finding the clue and not seeing the obvious flag.
  • May 8, 2011
    TonyG
    On Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, the treasure is supposed to be under a giant W, formed by four palm trees.
  • May 8, 2011
    MetaFour
    • The Simpsons episode "Homer the Vigilante" references It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Molloy the Cat Burgler tells the Springfield police that he hid a large sum of money under a big T. They rush out to find it, and realize that there's dozens of big T's in Springfield, so they go talk to Molloy again to get detailed directions to the real big T.
  • May 10, 2011
    SinisterShenanigans
    Inverted in Girl Genius - a group of jagers drew a large X on the ground, where their war machine was aimed, to lure an egomaniac x-themed villain to set his tent there.
  • May 10, 2011
    Stratadrake
    @Justicereaper: Well, in this case it usually is a literal X marking the spot....
  • May 19, 2011
    TBeholder
    ^^ not to lure, they only set a mark to adjust artillery. Poor sod simply happened to be self-important enough to think it's for him.
  • May 20, 2011
    randomsurfer
    MASH: north Koeran pilot "5 o'Clock Charlie" comes by every day at 5 o'Clock and tries to blow up an ammo dump that's near the hospital but misses. So the guys in the unit decide to help him by painting giant arrows pointing the way to the correct location.
  • May 20, 2011
    jaytee
    @Justice: I think it's best to keep this page for literal Xs, or specific subversions of that (like hiding it under a W or a T).
  • May 20, 2011
    jaytee
    Also, definitely needs a link to Treasure Map in the description.
  • December 15, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Bump.
  • December 15, 2011
    JonnyB
    Doctor Steel has a song entitled, "Planet X Marks the Spot", a play on this phrase.
  • December 15, 2011
    Micah
    • In White Collar, Kate leaves Neal a linked list of clues for how to contact her. One of the clues is an empty Bordeaux wine bottle with a map of Manhattan drawn on the label in invisible ink; Neal figures out that she wants him to go to the location on the map marked by the "X" in "Bordeaux".
  • February 3, 2018
    TBTabby
    In Freefall, a giant X on the ground is used to mark a drop zone for ice asteroids.
  • December 27, 2011
    TBeholder
  • September 2, 2012
    TBeholder
    There's evidently a film page "X Marks The Spot". So... let's rename this "X Marks The Place" and launch?
  • September 2, 2012
    TonyG
    In Duck Dodgers In The Twenty Fourth And A Half Century, Planet X conveniently has an X on its surface. They find it following a line of likewise alphabetized planets.
  • September 2, 2012
    surgoshan
    ^^^^^ On White Collar, it was even discussed. "Kate loves the classics."
  • September 2, 2012
    surgoshan
    • Treasure Island may be the Trope Maker. Robert Louis Stevenson was painting a watercolor that he was using to entertain his nephew, and the painting of it became an engrossing story in its own right, with the appearance of the fantastically/horrifically named locations on the island culminating in the story's apotheosis, the X where the treasure is located. To hear the nephew tell it, it was quite exciting. The novel came from that rainy afternoon's adventure in watercolor.
  • September 2, 2012
    21stCenturyDaysleeper
    1. Sponge Bob Squarepants episode Arrgh! also features this trope. The treasure Mr. Krabs is looking for lies underneath a kinda obvious large X. (Which is located 100 steps to the west, not weast.)
  • March 7, 2016
    DAN004
    • Plants Vs Zombies 2 Its About Time: the final level of the Pirate Seas era takes place on an X, which the map says it's "Treasures! (Not zombies)". You do get a "treasure" there... after fighting loads of zombies.
    • One Piece: in a clever variant, this is a way to locate Raftel, the ultimate Treasure Island where the titular One Piece is located. Using the writings of ancient stone blocks known as "red Poneglyphs", the writings show the position of a particular island; there are 4 such Poneglyphs in existence. Once all 4 islands are located, then you draw a cross between those 4 islands on the map, and Raftel is located at the center of that X.
  • March 7, 2016
    Generality
    To expand and clarify on the above, Treasure Island features a Treasure Map with an X marking the location of buried pirate treasure, which is probably the origin both of the idea that pirates bury treasure and that they use maps to mark it. Almost all examples of this trope are homages to the book.

    • In the Monkey Island series, buried treasure is almost always marked with an X, sometimes because it's intended to be found; others, because it's a trap for the obliviously greedy. The Secret Of Monkey Island, LeChuck's Revenge, and Tales Of Monkey Island all have such Xs, though in all these cases the treasure is well-hidden and not out in the open with a map leading right to it. The other games also have hidden treasure, but in secret rooms or caves.
  • March 7, 2016
    Diask
    • After beating Dubloon's final boss, you can ask an old man on Pyrite Island for help in getting all the loot. He will put an X over any island in your Point And Click Map that still has unopened treasure chests.
  • June 1, 2016
    DAN004
    Teh bump
  • June 1, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • The jerkass bulldog from Tex Avery's cartoon "Bad Luck Blackie" paints an X on the sidewalk exactly below a safe that's suspended from a pulley hoist. Bad Luck Blackie appears and stands on the X, whereupon the dog smugly releases the rope. Blackie hears the Bomb Whistle, looks up, assesses the situation, and calmly slides the painted X with his foot until the X is beneath the dog. Toon Physics dictate that a falling object must land on the X, even if it must bend gravity to do so. Therefore, it does.
  • June 1, 2016
    Shishkahuben
    Does this need to be an X placed as something of a visual gag in the actual landscape, like the Spongebob example? Or does it refer to any time where an X marks the spot on a treasure map, etc.?
  • June 2, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ both.
  • November 2, 2017
    eroock
    Live-Action TV:
    • Discussed in episode "Dig Dug" of Stranger Things, where Joyce marks on one of Will's drawings with an X and proclaims "That's the objective. Find the X." upon which Bob jokingly asks "What's at the X? Pirate treasure?
  • November 2, 2017
    ZuTheSkunk
    • In Ed Edd N Eddy, there's an episode where the trio lets Ed make a scam for once instead of Eddy. This results in Ed doing all sorts of bizarre things that he never explains, such as telling Edd to put a big rock on the X, even though it's the letter Q that Ed ends up drawing all over the place. Understandably, it provides no small amount of confusion to Edd.
  • November 3, 2017
    Arivne
    Needs A Better Description

  • November 3, 2017
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    Western Animation
    • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "No Toon is an Island", Plucky finds an X on the ground and starts digging for treasure, but finds none. He then finds another X, and then another, which are really the X-Bird's tracks. Later, the gang finds two trees forming and X, and find the treasure buried there.
  • November 7, 2017
    Exxolon
    In the ZX Spectrum game Driller, the player has to save an artificial planetoid by teleporting in drilling rigs to flare off a dangerous underground gas buildup in every sector and needed to follow clues as to the correct location to place the tower in each sector for maximum effect. In the first sector, a large "X" on the ground made it blindingly obvious where the first rig should be placed.
  • December 16, 2017
    ginsengaddict
    Guys, this is Up For Grabs
  • December 27, 2017
    LavonPapillon1
    I am officially claiming the trope as mine.
  • January 17, 2018
    DustSnitch
    The name has to be changed, since the current one violates No New Stock Phrases.
  • January 17, 2018
    MazeMaker
    • Played with in one episode of The Pink Panther. The Panther marks the location of some buried treasure with an X on the ground, which happens to be in the middle of a road. While the paint is still wet, a steam roller rolls over the mark and continues down the road. When the Pink Panther comes back for his loot, he is met with a near infinite trail of X's, and apparently no idea which is the correct one.
  • January 17, 2018
    MazeMaker
    • In Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, the entrance to the tomb of one of the Knights Templar is marked with a series of roman numerals, the last of which is a large X (roman numeral for 10) on the ground. Upon finding the numeral, Indy even muses, "X marks the spot."
  • January 18, 2018
    CrypticMirror
    On the "Looe Island" episode of archaeology show Time Team they were given a map discovered by a local historian which literally had a big x marks the spot on it where treasure was supposed to have been hidden. Intriguingly it did line up with a geophysical anomaly, but when they dug it it turned out to be the base of a Victorian flagpole.
  • January 18, 2018
    Omeganian
    Taz Mania had an episode where Bob finds a Treasure Map. He finds an X on the ground, digs there... nothing. Then he notices another... and another... turns out his hotel guests were being entertained with a race on stilts with an X shaped base.
  • February 1, 2018
    eroock
    TV:
    • Played for laughs in Community episode "Basic Sandwich", wherein the group is in the teachers' launch looking for clues for a Secret Passage. Annie sees a poster on the wall with two Xs and wrongly assumes that it's a hint. She even mentions this trope by name. So they break in the wall but there's nothing behind it. Then Abed finds the Trap Door.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=p1iln9ssevqyjhti8ydxsdo3