Created By: FredMSloniker on July 1, 2011 Last Edited By: FredMSloniker on August 12, 2011

Unwitting Bait

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

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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.

I saw it in Short Circuit and wondered: Do We Have This One??
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • July 1, 2011

    • 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.
    • 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
    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
    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
    ^^^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
    Darthcaliber: oh my -- you're right; been awhile since I've watched that movie all the way through.
  • July 2, 2011
    This would go on the Distraction Tropes index.
  • July 2, 2011
    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
    • 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
    • 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


    • 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.