Created By: FredMSloniker on July 1, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on August 15, 2016

Unwitting Bait

Someone is being used as bait and doesn't realize it.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
YKTTW now sponsored by Morgenthaler per Up for Grabs rules.
Needs a Better Description; Example As Thesis.

The Evil Army is trying to track down their Super Prototype before it goes Ax-Crazy and decides to Kill 'em All. The Only Sane Man among them, however, is convinced that a peaceful solution can be found; there's this girl who the machine trusts, and if he can just convince her to help him, they can recover the prototype without violence being necessary. So he goes to meet her, starts up a conversation...

...and General Ripper and his goons come busting in, thanking him for leading them right to the bait they need to trap the beast.

Close cousin to Hulk's Cooldown Hug Corollary, and may overlap with it in some cases. The key distinction is that the aggressive idiot who foils the peaceful solution is only able to do so because the Unwitting Bait led him to his target, either without the bait's knowledge or by misrepresenting his intentions ("we'll wait for you to try your thing, and we promise not to rush in with guns the second it exposes itself...") It's also true in almost every case that the target believes the Unwitting Bait deliberately betrayed them, despite any protests to the contrary.


Examples:

Film
  • The little girl in Outbreak who thinks of the Patient Zero monkey as her pet. They send her out with fruit to lure the monkey in, knowing the monkey is a carrier of a deadly Ebola-like virus, so they can tranq it, and synthesize the cure from the monkey's blood.
  • The Empire Strikes Back: When Darth Vader appears in Bespin, Han and Leia initially believe he's come to capture them. It isn't until Lando explains the situation that they realize the truth: that Vader had no interest in them at all. He was merely using them as bait to lure Luke to Bespin.

Literature
  • Dr. Kelly Connolly in Deadline is sent to the heroes as a Judas goat, but ends up baiting them into digging deeper into the conspiracy.
  • In The Devil's Right Hand, Japhrimel uses Dante Valentine as bait to draw out the demons they have been sworn to hunt.
  • Frank Herbert's Children of Dune. Alia sends Buer Agarves to meet with Stilgar with an offer of peace. Agarves doesn't know that it's a trick, that Alia has hidden a signal transmitter in his boots to lead her forces to Stilgar so they can capture him, Irulan and Ghanima. Agarves ends up being killed during the capture.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of Chuck, Casey tells Morgan that his role will be to be the "magnet," making no attempt to conceal the fact that Morgan will be used as bait, but Morgan still doesn't quite understand him. Then when the target of their operation shows up and holds Morgan at gunpoint, it finally clicks, and Morgan's angry at being used. I'm not quite sure whether that would count, or it's just Morgan being Too Dumb to Live.
  • Burn Notice: Happens to Michael Westen in the season 1 episode "False Flag". Mike is hired by a woman who caims to have had her son kidnapped by his father, who has now disappeared. Michael hunts him down, then drives the woman straight to him. Once Michael realizes what he's done, he takes on the guy he was hunting down as his new client.

Video Games
  • In the interim between Tekken 2 and Tekken 3, Heihachi Mishima trains his grandson Jin Kazama with the intention of using him to lure out Ogre so he can capture it for scientific study.


Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • July 1, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Literature

    • Dr. Kelly Connolly in Deadline is sent to the heroes as a Judas goat, but ends up baiting them into digging deeper into the conspiracy.
    • In The Devil's Right Hand, Japhrimel uses Dante Valentine as bait to draw out the demons they have been sworn to hunt.
    Film
    • The little girl in Outbreak who thinks of the Patient Zero monkey as her pet. They send her out with fruit to lure the monkey in, knowing the monkey is a carrier of a deadly Ebola-like virus, so they can tranq it, and synthesize the cure from the monkey's blood.

  • July 2, 2011
    FredMSloniker
    I think we can actually expand this trope a bit (and it probably needs a better name). The key elements of the trope I'm thinking of are:
    • Alice follows Bob so he'll lead her to Carol. Bob either doesn't know he's being followed or doesn't realize Alice's true motivations.
    • When Bob meets Carol, Alice reveals herself and attempts to kill, capture, or otherwise betray Carol.
    • Alice usually claims that Bob was working for her all along, though this may be sarcasm rather than an outright lie ("thank you for leading us to her").
    • Carol usually believes Bob has deliberately betrayed her, despite any claims to the contrary.

  • July 2, 2011
    Maklodes
    In an episode of Chuck, Casey tells Morgan that his role will be to be the "magnet," making no attempt to conceal the fact that Morgan will be used as bait, but Morgan still doesn't quite understand him. Then when the target of their operation shows up and holds Morgan at gunpoint, it finally clicks, and Morgan's angry at being used. I'm not quite sure whether that would count, or it's just Morgan being Too Dumb To Live.
  • July 2, 2011
    Darthcaliber
    ^^^actually the little girl in Outbreak was told they needed her to help them get the monkey so they could help the sick people. Dustin Hoffman's character told her that the monkey would be given a shot to put her to sleep but promised he wouldn't hurt it and if he did the girl was free to punch him in the nose. The capture did end up going a little more traumatizing than planned but on the whole he told the truth.
  • July 2, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Darthcaliber: oh my -- you're right; been awhile since I've watched that movie all the way through.
  • July 2, 2011
    Meeble
    This would go on the Distraction Tropes index.
  • July 2, 2011
    X2X
    Video Games
    • In the interim between Tekken 2 and Tekken 3, Heihachi Mishima trains his grandson Jin Kazama with the intention of using him to lure out Ogre so he can capture it for scientific study.
  • August 11, 2011
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Frank Herbert's Children of Dune. Alia sends Buer Agarves to meet with Stilgar with an offer of peace. Agarves doesn't know that it's a trick, that Alia has hidden a signal transmitter in his boots to lead her forces to Stilgar so they can capture him, Irulan and Ghanima. Agarves ends up being killed during the capture.
  • August 11, 2011
    Acebrock
    • Happens to Michael Westen in the season 1 episode of Burn Notice: False Flag. Mike is hired by a woman who caims to have had her son kidnapped by his father, who has now disappeared. Michael hunts him down, then drives the woman straight to him. Once Michael realizes what he's done, he takes on the guy he was hunting down as his new client.
  • August 12, 2011
    MiinU

    Film

    • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back When Darth Vader appears in Bespin, Han and Leia initially believe he's come to capture them. It isn't until Lando explains the situation that they realize the truth: that Vader had no interest in them at all. He was merely using them as bait to lure Luke to Bespin.
  • August 13, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Since it seems the OP has forgotten about this one, I'll take up sponsorship.

    Updated to here.
  • August 13, 2016
    DAN004
    Needs to get rid of Example As A Thesis
  • August 13, 2016
    Chabal2
    Lanfeust: Hebus and Or-Azur go hunting for a monster Or-Azur doesn't know much about. Hebus tells him to wait in a circle of pointy rocks while he waits under a tree. After a while, the rocks start to move inwards, and Or-Azur doesn't get why Hebus is picking up his club and grinning... After the monster is killed and Or-Azur angrily asks why he wasn't told about the monster, Hebus matter-of-factly responds that he probably wouldn't have agreed to be bait if he'd known.
  • August 13, 2016
    rmctagg09
    In Pact, Rosalyn Thorburn bound the demon Barbatorem by leaving her one year old infant child on top of a pile of festering boar carcasses in order to attract him over.
  • August 13, 2016
    MiinU
    Now that I think about it, this is already covered by Unwitting Pawn.
  • August 13, 2016
    Chabal2
    I dunno, I think it's specific enough to be a subtrope.

  • August 13, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ eh, being a bait doesn't make it any different from being a pawn.
  • August 14, 2016
    Chabal2
    According to the laconic, the pawn is unknowingly furthering someone else's goal, not just attracting something without knowing it.
  • August 14, 2016
    Arivne
    Film
    • Hanky Panky. A man gets mixed up in intrigue and is framed for murder. He finds out near the end of the movie that he was deliberately set up as bait by a U.S. government security agency to lure a group of conspirators into revealing themselves.
    • The Avengers 1998. The top secret Prospero weather control lab is destroyed by what appears to be its former boss, Mrs. Peel. The Ministry head Mother gives Mrs. Peel a chance to prove her innocence. He explains to his secretary that either she'll find the people who blew up the lab...or they'll find her.
  • August 14, 2016
    Chabal2
    Lucky Luke: In The Stagecoach, the strongbox full of gold is discovered to be full of rocks despite having been watched over for the entire trip. It turns out the trip was heavily publicized so as to attract the attention of bandits, while the gold left on a different stageoach. Luke is not happy at having been used that way, as the other passengers were at risk.

  • August 15, 2016
    MiinU
    ^^@Chabal2: If they're being used by someone else as bait, without realizing it, then it still falls under Unwitting Pawn, because it furthers the other person's plan - like Han and Leia, in the Empire Strikes Back example.
  • August 15, 2016
    DrNoPuma
    Music
    • In Jellyfish's "Ignorance is Bliss", Bowser kidnaps Princess Toadstool specifically to lure Mario and Luigi to his castle so he can get revenge on them for beating him so many times in the past.

    And this might make a good page quote:

    "Princess Toadstool, you're so misguided! Mmm... I've never been fond of bookworms, but then again this one does make good Mario bait!"
    Jellyfish, "Ignorance is Bliss"
  • August 15, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ what if the "bait" instead brings doom without it being part of a plan? Like unknowingly bringing a monster's attention to a place...
  • August 15, 2016
    MiinU
    @DAN004: Then it'd fall under Unwitting Instigator Of Doom.
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