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Boobytrap

Gloval: It was so obvious! We should have known! A Boobytrap of course!
Lisa/Claudia: Boobytrap, sir?
Gloval: Yes, one of the oldest tricks in military history. A retreating enemy leaves behind hidden explosives and such. The aliens who designed the ship left it with an automatic defense system designed to detect and destroy their enemies. The activation of the guns means that unfriendly forces have approached close enough to be a threat to us.
Robotech Episode 1: "Boobytrap"

A version of the Death Trap, except instead of the good guys being put into it, they have to somehow get past it to achieve their objective. Such devices will usually gruesomely kill the first Red Shirt sent into it before the hero correctly figures out how to get past.

Otherwise, most such traps act in exactly the same way as Death Traps. Explosives are a particular favorite, as they will also destroy the installation involved. Expect a retreating character to trick a pursuer into it. Naturally a feature of the Death Course and Temple of Doom.

If you're looking for that other kind of Booby Trap, see the Marshmallow Hell page.

Also, please note that while some good guys and definitely the audience knows when and where the booby trap is, most characters just don't have these privileges. Unless they feel compelled to do things the "right" way.

Obviously, Truth in Television. Keep in mind, however, that in most countries booby traps are illegal and if they kill someone you'll likely face jail time. This includes incidences of home invasion by a thief.

Compare and contrast Trick Bomb.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • When visiting an Abandoned Hospital in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Sousuke suspects that a telephone that suddenly starts to ring is a Booby Trap (when in fact, it was "just" set up to scare him and Chidori), commenting that one of his friends was killed with such a device before.
    • In the Full Metal Panic! novel "Burning One Man Force", Kurama sets up a booby trap for Sousuke in the arena, which succeeds in dislocating Sousuke's left arm, and giving Kurama the time to deliver an almost lethal shot.
  • When Lupin and his gang go after the Zufu national treasury in Lupin III: Dead or Alive, they find it is protected against thieves by programmed Nanomachines. It beats Lupin twice before the gang is finally able to fool the traps.
  • As mentioned in the page quote, "Booby Trap" is the title of the first episode of Super Dimension Fortress Macross (and Robotech). It refers to the SDF-1/Macross having been set up to automatically fire at any Zentradi ships when they approached it.
  • In an early episode of Sgt. Frog, Giroro rigs the Hinata household with these to ensure no one gets in the way. This requires a quick definition which the Gag Dub makes the obvious joke on.
    Narrator: A booby trap is a bomb that's attached to something. Contrary to popular opinion, it has nothing to do with a woman's bosom...99.9 percent of the time.

    Card Games 
  • Hunter heroes in Shadow Era can cast some trap cards, such as "Spike Trap" that either harm or kill any monster summoned after it is cast.

    Comics 
  • Y: The Last Man has a rat soaked in kerosene, set into a hole in wall of the bad guy's HQ and then set on fire.
  • During the ElfQuest Shards storyline, the elves follow Two-Edge's secret tunnels under the Citadel. Two-Edge (being the half-crazy engineer he is) has booby traps to supplement the obvious barriers he's planted.
  • The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers are alarmed to hear the police can break into homes without knocking, so they booby trap the apartment with falling bowling balls, high-voltage wires - then they have Fat Freddy go to the store, telling him "Don't forget to be careful coming back in". He walks along repeating the mantra...then forgets what he was going to get. He rushes back in and, well...

    Fanfiction 

    Film 
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Blowing up the Enterprise with the Klingons on board.
  • Blazing Saddles. The citizens of the town of Rock Ridge create a fake Rock Ridge filled with explosives as a giant trap for Hedy Lamaar's army.
  • The Goonies: Several, including a couple examples of the Rube Goldberg Device. Data, in his broken English, calls them "Booty Traps".
  • The Beast Of War (1988). The Soviet tank crew leaves one of their own comrades tied to a rock with a grenade under his head. ("If you want anything, just nod.")
  • In Treasure Planet, the entire titular planet is booby trapped.
  • Blown Away centers on an bombmaker hounding a bomb disposal officer by rigging booby trapped bombs. The devices are cruelly ingenious in foreseeing how the bomb squad will work. At several points the camera passes through the scene and into the workings of the bomb in what appears to be a continuous take, striking shots which highlight, almost fetishistically, the workings of the device.
  • Indiana Jones deals with these on any given day.
  • A rare heroic example - Marv sets up a few of these for Kevin in Sin City.
  • In The Road Warrior, Max's gas tank is set to explode if anyone tries to steal from it.
  • Part of the appeal of the Home Alone series is during the final segments of the movies, watching Kevin set up some ingeniously nasty traps for Harry and Marv to stumble into. A good number of these traps, particularly in the second movie, would probably kill those who stumbled into them, but Harry and Marv are Iron Butt Monkeys, so apart from getting banged up, neither of them get fatally hurt.
  • In Red Dawn (1984), the Wolverines leave the dying Toni Mason's body behind for the Russians to collect, with a live grenade wedged beneath her body.
  • Laird set up one long ago in the castle dungeon in The Princess and the Pea. He tried to lead Rollo into it until Fearless set it off.
  • Brannigan (1975). John Wayne is targeted by a hit-man who rigs up a Sawn Off Shotgun behind his hotel room door. In case this fails, the hit-man plants a bomb in the toilet as well, knowing that a near-death experience would lead to a Bring My Brown Pants reaction. Fortunately the Duke is smart enough to dodge both traps.

    Literature 
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, a squad of Space Marines finds one portion of Dark Eldar defense particularly fierce. Breaking in, they find that the eldar had left explosives in the phosphorus mines; they lug them off before they can explode.
  • The English Patient is set in areas of World War II Italy that have been thoroughly boobytrapped by the retreating Axis. One of the main characters, Kip, is a sapper with the British army; the presence of unexploded bombs and mines is what brings him to the villa where the other protagonists live.
  • Rogue Squadron, when the world they were hiding on was discovered, left a lot of explosive traps for the Imperials. Said Imperials did work their way through all of them, but exactly what they were trying to achieve is up in the air. They didn't need anything that had been left on that world and they knew the Rogues had already left.
  • In Kiss Me, Deadly The Mafia leaves a brand new Ford for Private Detective Mike Hammer as a bribe, with several sticks of dynamite attached to the ignition. Figuring he's smart enough to figure that out, they have a second bomb hidden underneath wired to the odometer. Fortunately Mike has a mechanic check out the car thoroughly. Later when two hitmen take him for a ride, Hammer lets them think he's missed the second bomb; the hitman driving instinctively slams on the brakes, giving Hammer a chance to overpower them both.
  • A smuggler's encampment in A Brother's Price is surrounded by such traps.
  • Adventure Hunters: Lisa and Artorius have a running bet whenever they go treasure hunting: "What do you think? Giant boulder or rushing water?"
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Salvation's Reach, the Ghosts attack a heavily fortified Chaos facility on an asteroid. While one group stages a frontal assault as a diversion, the rest of the regiment are trying to infiltrate from the others side through sections of the facility that have been abandoned. However, the Chaos forces booby trapped all the unused rooms and teams of sappers and specially trained snipers have to go ahead of the main force and painstakingly disarm all the traps. As they get deeper into the facility, the traps get more elaborate and the soldiers get tired and start making mistakes. The success of the mission hinges on whether the Ghosts can reach their target before they run out of sappers.

    Newspaper Cartoons 
  • One of Bill Mauldin's World War II cartoons showed a couple of Germans rigging a disabled tank ... unaware that American troops were already close enough that they could have reached out and touched them. The caption is an American saying, "Dang clever booby trap! I kinda hate to disturb 'em..."

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. Naturally only Captain Kirk can get away with a fake booby trap to win the day.
  • At least one episode of Foyle's War had a murder committed using the booby trap techniques which were being taught to the Home Guard in case of invasion.
  • Admiral Chegwidden's girlfriend is killed by a booby trap, set up by an old rival, in front of him on his own porch in the JAG episode "Ghosts".
  • On Strikeback during a mission Stonebridge Failed a Spot Check and almost got the team killed when he missed a basic grenade-with-a-wire booby-trap in a room he was securing. Stonebridge is suffering from PTSD and such a rookie mistake means that he is way off his game and should not be in the field.
  • Supernatural: A Genre Savvy Gordon makes, not one but two traps for Sam, so that the first one would act as a Red Herring and Sam wouldn't expect the second one, which triggered an explosion.
  • The Mexican drug cartel in Breaking Bad sets one for the DEA in the form of a large tortoise with "Hola DEA" painted on the side ... and the severed head of "El Tortuga", a cartel member turned DEA informant, riding atop it. When one of the agents picks up the head, it sets off the explosives concealed beneath it.
  • On True Detective, Marty and Rust discover a meth lab booby trapped with grenades. One of the cookers runs and gets blown to bits by them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A staple during pretty much any old-school Dungeon Crawling in Dungeons & Dragons. Particularly fiendish Game Masters love filling their dungeons with these.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the Combat Trapsmith in 3.5. They specialize in being able to set up simple traps in the middle of a fight and are capable of trapping a small area within seconds.
  • In Hunter: The Vigil, more Security dots in Safehouse merit means that your hiding place is rigged with those kind of mechanism. The illustration is a triggered shotgun.

    Video Games 
  • In Silent Storm and it's sequel S3: Sentinels, it's more than likely you will stumble upon a rigged chest or door. Having a skilled engineer around can save a lot of folks failing spot checks- and they're also useful when you lay your own traps for enemies to stumble upon.
  • Jagged Alliance and it's sequel both had numerous areas littered with mines or booby-trapped boxes.
  • Arcueid apparently booby traps her underwear drawer, if that's as accurate a detail of Shiki's life as a lot of other things were in Kagetsu Tohya. The trap? A magical talking leopard that pops out and eats you. Yes. Really.
  • Fallout 3 features a wide variety of booby traps. Don't be surprised when you:
    • Get hit by a swinging cow, log or I-beam chained to a ceiling.
    • Try to use a computer, only to have it explode in your face.
    • Get your leg crippled by a bear trap.
    • Exploding mail boxes
    • Encounter one of several types of plain ol' fashioned mines (which come in frag, plasma and EMP flavours) which you can disarm and replant yourself.
    • Get shot by a pressure plate- or tripwire- activated shotgun sitting on a nearby bench.
    • Get grenades hanging from a ceiling dropped on your head.
    • Exploding nuclear-powered cars
    • Get pelted with baseballs by a pitching machine
    • Ignite a gasleak with gunfire or explosives
    • and all sorts of other booby fun!
      • You even get a perk which makes you invulnerable to tripwires, mines etc by allowing you to walk over them without triggering them (hard luck if an enemy or ally gets too close though).
      • Don't forget the exploding baby carriages.
    • The Point Lookout sidequest "The Velvet Curtain" leads you to a Chinese spy bunker, where upon activating the extraction terminal in the basement, the door locks and radiation starts venting into the room. If you don't have a high enough repair skill, you're doomed. This was meant to be a double-cross for the Chinese agent who died at the Turtledove Detention Camp. While not lethal (unless you're low on health), the Calvert Mansion has a collapsing floor trap that drops you into its basement.
    • Trash compactors in the Waste Disposal area of Mothership Zeta.
      • These are not at all like the slow sideways crushing trash compactors in Star Wars, but lightning-fast power hammers smashing down from the ceiling. Fortunately for the player, they're more of a "hazard" than a "trap": they're timed rather than triggered by proximity.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has all of the above. Also concealed mines which don't glow. Finding (or being victim to) them in an area full of corpses, without finding evidence that someone Crazy-Prepared set them up, is usually evidence in itself that Caesar's Legion is responsible for said corpses.
  • In StarCraft Terran players can set up hidden land mines.
    • And in Warcraft III, any side can buy landmines from the goblins and lay them around the place. They turn invisible, so most units won't see them.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, many dungeons have booby traps in them. It is pathetically easy to kill the people who set them up with them.
    • Well, it would be, if the booby traps weren't so slow moving and badly designed...
    • One dungeon in Skyrim has what can only be the most obvious booby trap evernote . By contrast, there are some booby traps in Dwemer ruins that can be really deadly. One type can only be described as a helicopter rotor in a trench; it can take out a steam centurion in two hits.
    • Though once you recognise the pattern Dwemer traps can be surprisingly easy to realize are there: they tend to be colour-codednote . Some of the traps appear to be less trap and more dangerous machinery, as well.
  • In the Stronghold series, players can set up all sorts of traps for their enemies, such as sand-covered pits or cages full of starved wolves that open up when enemies get too close.
  • Pills and armor shards often trigger ambushes in Serious Sam.
  • Half-Life has mines which can be set off via their blue/green laser tripwires and sentries which can be set off by nearby red beamsnote , the former are one of the available weapons. Half-Life 2 has "hopper mines" which can be wrenched off the ground with the gravity gun and replantednote  or simply punted for a quick explosion, as well as several traps in zombie infested Ravenholm: re-purposed gas mains, blades on car engines and cars on pulleys.
  • The TimeSplitters series has both remote and automated land mines as weapons.
  • Ah, the horrible, horrible things you can do in Dwarf Fortress. From the simple "stone-fall trap" (which, as one would expect, drops a rock on something's head) to sections of hallway loaded with ten giant serrated whirling discs to fully-fledged Death Traps, the game lets you indulge your horrible little imagination endlessly.
  • These are half the "fun" of Theresia: Dear Emile, and an excellent reason not to Try Everything. Just after the title sequence, attempting to move a stretcher and see what's behind it makes it fire arrows at you—and it only gets worse from there.
  • The Prince of Persia series has lots of traps. Spikes Of Doom? Yup. Snapping metal jaws? Yup. Wall-mounted scythes or buzzsaws? Yup. Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom? Yup. Bladed pendulums? Yup. Spinning poles covered in spikes? Yup. The list goes on and on. Frequently combined with Death Course for extra fun.
  • It simply wasn't Tomb Raider without these. Huge rolling boulders, trap doors that gave way, spikes, lava pits...the list goes on and on.
  • Resident Evil had several of these peppered inside the mansion; one room would fill with poison gas if you didn't seal the vents before pressing a button and another room would have the ceiling come down on you if you take the shotgun from the room next door. The underground leading to the laboratory had huge boulders that would start rolling down your path, crushing you instantly if you didn't find a place to duck into. The remake adds a few more traps, such an advancing spinning blade of doom and crushing walls. They occur throughout the rest of the series, including spiked pit traps and ceilings, pitfalls into bottomless pits, Deadly Gas traps as previously mentioned, a Sauna of Death, tripwire bombs, a gauntlet of pendulums, Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom, falling heavy objects, laser hallways, Living Statues, lava pits, etc.
  • Project Reality has accurate depictions of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's) which are often used this way, ranging in size and sophistication from a hand grenade in a tin can with a tripwire across a doorway to pipe bombs & artillery shells with a cell phone acting as a remote detonator.
  • Portal 2: The Final Boss of the game demonstrates how even a complete idiot can be Dangerously Genre Savvy — and subvert Boss Arena Idiocy along the way — by taking into account the possibility that you might win and placing a trap on the Stalemate Resolution Button.
    Wheatley: (triumphantly) PART FIVE: BOOBY-TRAP THE STALEMATE BUTTON!
  • It's possible In Batman: Arkham Asylum to use the Explosive Gel as a booby trap with the right upgrades, it's especially effective when planted at the top of a ladder which results in a flying mook and an instant KO.
  • Plentiful in Dark Souls, from rolling iron balls to pressure plate activated arrow storms. Sen's Fortress is so thick with these that players occasionally roleplay as Indiana Jones while running through it.
  • Pyramids in Minecraft have TNT traps hidden from view. When you enter a pyramid and destroy the blue wool block, you can see 4 chests below and a pressure plate. Stepping on the plate triggers the TNT and will most likely kill you, but it will definitely destroy the chests and their contents.
    • In a similar fashion, jungle temples have tripwires that, when tripped or destroyed without using shears, will activate a nearby dispenser that will fire arrows at you.
    • The trope can be invoked by the player themselves with nearly any block they can use, such as pressure plates, TNT, pistons, etc.
  • A staple of Metal Gear. Trap doors, poison gas traps, laser cannons, laser tripwires rigged to explosives, rolling spiked cylinders, crushers, electrified floors, sentry guns, and the list goes on.
  • One apartment in Max Payne is booby trapped with a tripwire shotgun.
  • The main weapons in Spy vs. Spy, which include a gun on a tripwire, a Cartoon Bomb, a giant spring, an electrified water bucket, and a Time Bomb.
  • In Grim Fandango, when Manny and Glottis attempt to retrieve their Cool Car from its garage after two years of travelling without it, they discover that it is surrounded by an elaborate set of dominoes that will trigger a bomb if disturbed. (Glottis's question about who could've done this seems a little odd, what's with one of the villains being named Domino and all...)
  • The Legend of Zelda franchise has had these in spades since the beginning. Razor traps, flying tiles and pots, landmines, rotating spiked cylinders, guillotines, crushing ceilings and walls, fake switches that release bombs or enemies, fake doors that fall on Link, fake treasure chests, etc
  • One of the many many, many threats in Metro2033. They come in the shotgun-with-tripwire form, the pipe bomb-with-tripwire form, and the falling-log-with-nails-in-it form. Any of these can and will ruin your day if you don't look where you're going.
  • Sniper Elite,''Sniper Elite V2, and Sniper Elite III: You have land mines, trip mines, and explosives to place in doorways, along stairs, etc.
  • The Space Quest series includes: Collapsing bridges, grates with monsters lurking underneath, laser fences, hallways lined with invisible laser traps, Disintegrator Ray-equipped slot machines, sticky trees that get you eaten alive by insects, acid pits, conveyor belts leading to shredding machines, and many more.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and Platinum, you set these for other players in the Underground.
  • Soldier of Fortune II has tripwire mines in some levels, which the player can disarm.
  • In the Call of Duty series, Care Packages can be rigged to explode when an opponent attempts to capture them.
  • An obligatory obstacle in Lemmings, including 10-ton weights, bear traps, rope snares, needles, crushing pistons, shredders, flame jets, and disintegrators.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Wikipedia will tell you more than you ever wanted to know.
  • Rigging boobytraps is the bread and butter for Military Engineer troops.
  • It is common in some older areas of Britain to see walls with pieces of broken glass embedded in the cement tops, a common and surprisingly effective variant of this trope. Pretty too, because one can use a mix of clear, blue, and green glass to make the wall top. Illegal now, though you may keep the glass in place if it was already there when you bought the property, provided warning signs are displayed.

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Body SushiImageSource/PhotographyBoomerang Bigot
Boarding PodMilitary and Warfare TropesCitadel City

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