[[quoteright:187:[[ComicStrip/BrewsterRockitSpaceGuy http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TrapDoorFail_8008.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:187:It can be difficult to get out of a tax audit.]]

->'''Mr. Burns''': Is that so? Well, I have the feeling you'll be... ''dropping'' the charges!\\
''-He hits a button on his desk, causing a trapdoor to open several feet behind the inspectors-''\\
'''Smithers''': The painters moved your desk, sir\\
'''Mr. Burns''': Ah, yes...
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''

The villain sits in his lair, waiting eagerly to hear how his most recent plan was a success. Suddenly, a Mook comes running in. He looks frightened, and upset: [[BearerOfBadNews He has bad news.]] The Mook delivers the news and winces.

The BigBad sits a moment to comprehend this recent update, [[ShootTheMessenger before bursting into rage]]. He angrily berates the Mook who has [[YouHaveFailedMe "failed me for the last time!"]] Convenient TrapDoor time! The Big Bad pushes the button, the trap door opens... and it just happens to be right next to the Mook who was supposed to fall in. This is usually followed by a moment of awkward silence before the villain asks, "Do you mind?" The Mook will promptly jump into the trap door after this.

Of course, there are alternate varieties. Sometimes the trap door fails to kill its victims, and they continue to complain. Other times, the victim is too fat to slip through. Or in true ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' style, it refuses to open until the villain decides to jump up and down on it. Regardless of how it plays out, if the trap door doesn't work the way it should, you've just met a Trap Door Fail. Note that the joke need not show where the trap door ''goes''. Can lead to FridgeLogic if the villain's lair is underground.

Usually found in comedy.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/ExcelSaga'' has Lord Il Palazzo dropping Excel down a trapdoor on numerous occasions (the first half of the anime in particular has this happen almost OnceAnEpisode). The trap itself works fine, it's just not as... permanent as one would expect, with Excel typically clambering back up no worse for wear.
** There is one point early in the manga where Il Palazzo opens the trapdoor to drop Excel into the oubliette, but she wasn't standing on it. After staring at each other for a few moments, Excel apologetically jumps into the pit.

* ''Film/AustinPowersInternationalManOfMystery'': In this case the trap door dumps the mook into it correctly, however:
-->'''Mustafa:''' But Dr. Evil, we were unable to anticipate feline complications due to the reanimation process-
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' Silence! ta
-->[he presses a button and Mustafa's chair tilts back, dropping him into a pit of fire]
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' Let this be a reminder to you all that this organization will not tolerate failure.
-->[Mustafa can be heard moaning from an air vent]
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' Gentlemen, lets get down to business.
-->[Mustafa's moans continue]
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' We've got a lot of work to do.
-->'''Mustafa:''' Someone help me. I'm still alive only I'm very badly burned.
-->[Dr. Evil ignores him and tries to keep talking, but Mustafa's complaints continue to interrupt [[OverlyLongGag for a while]] until Dr. Evil picks up the phone and chats with someone on the other end for a minute]
-->'''Mustafa:''' If somebody can open the retrieval hatch, down here I can get out. See, I designed this device myself-- [a hatch is heard opening] - Oh, hi. Good. I'm glad you found me. Listen. I'm very badly burned, so if you could just-- [a gunshot fires] You shot me!
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' Okay, moving on.
-->'''Mustafa:''' You shot me right in the arm! Why did-- [another gunshot fires; all is silent for a moment, then the hatch is heard closing]
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' Right.
* ''Film/JamesBond'':
** In ''Film/DiamondsAreForever'', Bond is in a elevator, and suddenly straddles the sides of the floor, expecting it to be a trap door. [[SubvertedTrope He's gassed unconscious instead]].
** In ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'', the elevator really does have a trap door -- [[ChekhovsGun we see it used early in the film]]. And this time, Bond straddles it and avoids falling in.

* A variation appears in the ''StarWars'' novel ''Darksaber''. One of the henchmen fails his boss for the [[strike:first]] last time, and the master pushes a button to electrocute him in his seat. The master pushes the wrong button and someone else gets electrocuted instead [[spoiler:FridgeBrilliance: It was the right button, but it was wired incorrectly, an early symptom of how shoddily put together the entire place later proves to be.]]
** The next time someone fails, everybody jumps out of his chair before ''[[CrowningMomentOfFunny any]]'' buttons can be pushed. Eventually, [[spoiler:all the people are restrained in their chairs so they can't get up at all]].
* In "The Tachypomp" by Edward Page Mitchell, Rivarol has a trap door over a tunnel right through the centre of the earth, so that anyone falling in will reach the center, and in the process acquire enough momentum to fall ''up'' the other half of the tunnel, until they run out of momentum and fall back down, ''ad infinitum''. He uses it to get rid of unwanted creditors. Unfortunately, the wrong person falls in....
* A pit opens under [[ImplacableMan Walking Man]] in [[{{Literature/Nightside}} ''Judgement Day'']]. He simply ignores it and continues walking on air.
* Likewise in ''Literature/{{Swellhead}}'' thanks to the hero's LevitatingLotusPosition (he deliberately sat on the trapdoor to shake the villain's confidence).

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' had a fake-commercial skit where a CorruptCorporateExecutive's trap door malfunctions in various ways: (1) opening too late, (2) opening too gradually, (3) not holding someone's weight above the door, and (4) opening upward. [[http://snltranscripts.jt.org/87/87mtrapdoor.phtml Stupid trap door company.]]
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgX6JFoV0TM#t=115s This]] Series/ThatMitchellAndWebbLook sketch has this trope comes into play due to the contractor [[DefiedTrope defying]] NoOshaCompliance.
* In the UsefulNotes/ComicRelief skit ''Series/DoctorWho and the Curse of Fatal Death'', the Master pulls a lever to open up a trapdoor under the Doctor -- and the trapdoor opens under his own feet, due to sabotage by the Doctor. (The Master eventually manages to escape the trap, only to almost immediately fall through the still-open trapdoor again. Twice.)

* A RunningGag in ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' with Ozzie (boss encounters specifically). During the boss encounter with Ozzie in Magus's castle, you have to trigger the various switches behind him. Each one opens a trap door that ''just'' misses opening under a main character. Then, you trigger the last switch...which opens a trap door right under Ozzie. ([[InventionalWisdom Why does he even HAVE that lever?]])
** Then, later on, you encounter him again, in his own tower. The encounter is much the same. You again target the switches... and the first one doesn't seem to do anything at first. [[SubvertedTrope Then it opens a trap door under all your characters...]] [[spoiler: [[DoubleSubversion which just sends you back to the previous room.]] You then face him again, but before the boss encounter really gets going, a cat wanders into the room and presses the last switch--which, again, opens a trap door right under Ozzie. One would think he'd have learned from before....]]
* In ''VideoGame/OverlordII'' there is a RunningGag where LesCollaborateurs turn up at the [[PlayerHeadquarters Netherworld Tower]] and give you info that kicks off story-related quests, then start making obnoxious requests of you and get dropped down a trap door for their trouble. After a while a mysterious hooded figure appears to deliver a quest of her own and simply levitates above trapdoor when the Overlord opens it. ([[spoiler: This is actually the mistress of the previous game's Overlord, i.e. your mother.]])
* In a cutscene in ''VideoGame/DeBlob'', Comrade Black opens a trapdoor which dumps several of his minions into a furnace, but misses one. Who is then ordered to jump in, and reluctantly does so.
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'' has Leon fall through a trap door, where a QuickTimeEvent allows him to save himself with a grappling hook, before [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome sending a bullet into the old speaker]] TheDragon is listening in.
* The endings for Kuma and Panda in ''VideoGame/{{Tekken}} 5'' do this. Both have separate endings, where they are visited by someone. Two large buttons are on the CEO desk. The first drops the visitor. The second drops the CEO.
* ''WallaceAndGromit: Project Zoo'' has Feather [=McGraw=] activate one beneath Wallace and Gromit while trying to escape. However it jams before it can open more than an inch.
-->'''Wallace:''' He he! You should leave the inventing to us professionals. *[[TooDumbToLive starts stamping on the door]]* Your trapdoor is stuck ti*[[SubvertedTrope trapdoor opens completely]]*iiiiiight!

* In ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', Dr. Steve's trap door is [[http://sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/19991002 only a few centimeters deep]].
-->'''Torg:''' Isn't this TrapDoor supposed to be deeper?
-->'''Dr. Steve:''' Like I got nothing better to do than to dig pits. Oasis, please escort "Mr. Picky" to his cell.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In the ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' cartoon "[[http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbsample.swf Pay Plus]]," Strong Bad and The Cheat drop Homestar through a trap door, but Homestar does ''not'' plunge into a bottomless pit.
* [[http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/542666 The mastermind has some issues, too.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' and ''WesternAnimation/MerrieMelodies'': A frequently seen trope, where trap doors are disguised by the likes of Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, etc., only for their adversaries to completely ignore it or go over the trap doors as though they weren't there and then it works when Yosemite, Wile E., and others try it.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
** Some painters moved Burns' desk, so when Burns sprang it, it opened but not underneath its would-be victim.
** In "Grift of the Magi", Burns dumps the victims through the floor, only for them to fall back ''into'' the room from the ceiling. His reaction: "Oh, it's doing that 'thing' again!"
** In another episode where Smithers approached Burns for a vacation, Burns tried to dump him into the trap door, but Smithers had the foresight to disable it.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'':
** Mayor West dumps people who complain to him out of his office with a trap door, but Peter got stuck in it because he was so fat. He said he hadn't planned on being menaced by an especially portly malcontent, but would have a "fat malcontent trap door" installed sometime soon.
** Carter Peuterschmidt successfully dropped a lawyer through a trap door, only to lead to him defeating the Rancor in a ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'' parody.
* In ''WesternAnimation/LeagueOfSuperEvil'', when Skullossus loses his suit of armor (due to his soldiers misplacing it at the drycleaners), he angrily yells at his minions for "FAILING ME FOR THE LAST TIME!". It even goes so far as to show a flashback of him yelling this numerous times, and the results, one of which was a classic Trap Door Fail. Ironically enough, since he's just a skull in a jar without his suit, the minions toss him into a chute that leads out to space.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ILoveToSinga'', auditioners for a talent show are sent down a trap door when they fail the audition. One of them is a fat pigeon, who has to be hit on the head with a mallet for her to make it all the way through.
* A rare benevolent version appears in ''WesternAnimation/TheCurseOfTheWereRabbit''. Wallace has a device in his bedroom that causes the bed to dump him through a trap door into the dining room. He gets stuck due to his pudgy gut, and requests "assistance", which is provided in the form of a large mallet.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'', Stan had a trap door set up for just in case Hailey starts being liberal to a guest (in this case, George W. Bush). When she attempts to call Bush out on the whole Iraq thing Stan opens the trap door, only for Hailey to move her legs so she's standing on the sides. However, Stan thought ahead and hits a button that widens the hole, sending her down.
** In the non-canon (for what little there is) James Bond parody, Tearjerker, the titular villain (played by Roger) opens a trap door below a scientist who failed him. The door works fine, but the scientist gets stuck on the slide it leads to, forcing Tearjerker to call someone to push him into the water tank trap.
* Since ''WesternAnimation/WordGirl'' can fly, trap doors are useless against her.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Pelswick}}'', the titular character goes to a radio station to complain about the change in programming (and the building's doors not being wheelchair-accessible). The manager tries to drop him down a standard trap door, but Pelswick's wheelchair is too wide to even get caught in it. The manager then makes a note to self to make the trap doors wheelchair-accessible.
* In an episode of ''{{WesternAnimation/Superfriends}}'', ComicBook/LexLuthor drops Superman down a trap door, but he simply flies out.
** Averted in another episode in which a trap door worked when it [[ForgotAboutHisPowers really shouldn't have]], trapping Black Vulcan (who can fly) the Flash (who has super-fast reflexes) and Batman and Robin (who carry grapple lines).
* A non-funny example is used in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Belphegor}}'' at one point. An old general Belphegor is after, tries to use a trap door on him, as the man confronts him in his own office. However, the minute he presses the button, Belphegor proceeds to inform him that the trap door is disabled, much to the general's surprise and horror.
* ''WesternAnimation/CampLakebottom'': In "Stage Fright", Gretchen attempts to sabotage Susie's audition by opening a trap door on the stage. When this misses, she opens additional trap doors (by continually yanking the same lever) until most of the stage has dropped away. This still fails who get Susie, who eventually falls though a trap door in the back wall.
* Happens in the episode "Loo-Kee Lends A Hand" in ''WesternAnimation/SheRaPrincessOfPower''. A running gag for the series has [[BigBad Hordak]] regularly dropping [[EliteMook Mantenna]] down a trapdoor and into a water tank (sometimes for annoying him, sometimes for kicks). For this episode, Hordak gets his hands on a device called [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the Time Stopper]]. Eager to test this out,he summons Mantenna and promptly zaps him freezing him in time. [[TheImp Imp]] then asks to activate his boss's trap door, only to be come absolutely crestfallen when Mantenna remains frozen in mid air... at least until Hordak undoes the time stop.
* There's a surreal cartoon called ''The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird'' in which this is the evil king's favorite method of dispatching people. Bizarrely, anyone who tries to dodge the trapdoor quickly learns that the trapdoor can ''actively follow them''! It's that kind of thing.