%% Image selected per Image Pickin' thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1464969329060410700
%% Please do not replace or remove without starting a new thread.
[[quoteright:350:[[Franchise/{{Batman}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/batman_death_trap.jpg]]]]

->''"I could have killed him when I had the chance, but ''no''... I had to get theatrical."''
-->-- '''Doctor Regulus''', ''ComicBook/LegionOfSuperHeroes''

Ah... you've finally woken up, Agent 00-Trope. I apologize for the KnockoutGas, but sometimes it's necessary for taming my more unruly guests. Now, let me tell you all about [[SelfDemonstratingArticle the fate in store for you]].

When an EvilOverlord (such as myself) wants to dispatch one of his enemies (such as you), he tends to go the extra mile. Sure, [[BondVillainStupidity he could just shoot them, but what's the fun in that]]? So, he instead comes up with an [[ComplexityAddiction over-elaborate]], bizarre, and sadistic means to murder his heroic adversary in some [[CouldHaveBeenMessy potentially]] horrific fashion. Hence, the Death Trap.

Usually {{Hand Wave}}d by the villain remarking that [[CruelAndUnusualDeath simply shooting the enemy is too easy a death for them]] and instead coming up with something considerably more dramatic and sometimes more [[CruelAndUnusualDeath slow and painful]]. It's not just about getting his foe out of the way, it's about proving his superiority. Besides, it makes a useful CliffHanger to keep viewers on the edge of their seats for the next episode or commercial break. Also, the odds of success in RealLife are probably reasonably high.

However, the villains typically make the mistake of [[VillainBall not closely observing the heroes]] and they figure out a way to escape just in time -- a form of GenreBlindness to which [[BondVillainStupidity supergenius supervillains are uniquely prone]]. Not that I'd do that; I'd much rather stick around to watch the show.

A related phenomenon is the tendency for villains to resort to other means of assassination which are more complicated than they need to be; such as the use of an AnimalAssassin.

One variant on the trope is it being used as an [[ATorturedIndex interrogation method]].

The hero is often (but not always) delivered to the Death Trap via a TrapDoor. See BoobyTrap or DeathCourse for death-traps used as protection rather than execution (never mind that such obstacles [[NoOSHACompliance tend to be more deadly]] to [[{{Mooks}} incompetent henchmen]] than the heroes).

Expect the villain to helpfully note that YouHaveNoChanceToSurvive. Which, of course, you don't.

Not to be confused with the 1977 play ''Film/{{Deathtrap}}'' or the 1982 film of said play.

'''Here are many types of deathtraps which my peers have resorted to:'''
* AcidPool
* BabyBoomers
* BoobyTrap
* BuriedAlive
* TheChainOfHarm (see description, it can be used as one)
* ChainedToARailway (such a DeadHorseTrope that hardly anyone even parodies it anymore)
* ChainedToARock
* ConveyorBeltODoom
* DecapitationStrike
* DeadlyGas
* DeadlyRotaryFan
* DescendingCeiling
* DrowningPit
** TrappedInASinkingCar
* ElectricTorture
* ElectrifiedBathtub
* FakePlatform
* FedToTheBeast
* FrightDeathtrap
* GasChamber
* GladiatorGames (where they often watch, which is a mistake because the hero can turn the monster he's fighting on them)
* HandInTheHole
* IndyEscape
* LavaPit
* LockedInAFreezer (when done on purpose)
* MurderByCremation
* PackedHero
* PendulumOfDeath
* RoboticTortureDevice
* RubeGoldbergHatesYourGuts (for those ''extremely'' complicated death traps)
* SandNecktie
* SaunaOfDeath
* SealedRoomInTheMiddleOfNowhere
* ShackleSeatTrap
* SharkPool
* SmashingHallwayTrapsOfDoom
* SnakePit
* SpikesOfDoom
** SpikeBallsOfDoom
* StrappedToABomb
* StrappedToARocket
* StrappedToAnOperatingTable
* StuckOnASkiLift
* TrapDoor (usually used to deliver the heroes to another Death Trap)
** TrapDoorFail
* TrialAndErrorGameplay
* ToThePain
* TheWallsAreClosingIn

!!And here are some series where different kind of Death Traps play a large role:

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Franchise/YuGiOh''
** The [[Manga/YuGiOh manga]] (before it got taken over by card games, and ever occasionally after) is one long series of these. An interesting twist is that it's usually ''the hero'' setting them up as a punishment for local bullies. At one point, he turns his own mind into a death trap when someone invades it. Then there's BigBad Kaiba, who builds an elaborate theme park of doom for the heroes in an insane revenge plot. His Death Traps are unique in that they involve things like trained mercenaries and serial killers trying to kill Yugi and his friends, so he does at least avert WhyDontYouJustShootHim.
** In the Battle City arc, the villains often pulled a few of these and ''claimed'' that the same conditions applied to them; thing was, ''they'' had a way to escape. In Pandora's duel with Yugi, the trap had two spinning rotary blades that would hack the loser's legs off, and only by winning the duel could one of the duelists unlock a box with a key. Pandora lost, but he had a spare key up his sleeve. In the team duel between Yugi and Kaiba and Lumis and Umbra, the duel took place on the top of a skyscraper with a glass ceiling rigged with bombs that would cause the loser to fall; the villains had parachutes. Of course, the villains didn't actually escape. In Pandora's case, Marik [[YouHaveFailedMe clouded his mind]] so he couldn't see the key, and Yugi had to rescue him with his. But this heroic act was pointless, because Marik killed him anyway after [[DemonicPossession possessing his body]] and using it to threaten Yugi. Marik apparently did the same thing to Lumis, and probably Umbra too. (It can at least be safely said that they were never seen again.
** In ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'', a [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain D-Wheel thief named Cid]] tried to pull this on Jack. The trap consisted of two conveyor belts leading to car crushers, the idea being the loser would be dumped into one of them. Cid tried to jam his belt to make sure he'd be safe even if he lost, but he didn't jam it very well, and [[SaveTheVillain had to be rescued by Jack]] after he lost. (Didn't stop Jack from beating up the other members of his gang afterwards, however.)
* An episode of ''Anime/DirtyPair'' has the villains capture one of the heroines, and strap her to a laser cutting table (mercifully aiming top-down instead of bottom-up) which they rig to their security system to lighten the guilt.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}''
** ''Detective Comics'' #824 parodies the ''Series/{{Batman}}'' TV series by suggesting that with some villains, it's just a quaint routine; the Penguin traps Batman in a death trap that Batman easily escapes from -- and when Batman challenges Penguin as to this, Penguin admits that he knew Batman would escape, and that he wouldn't have even bothered if he thought that Batman ''wouldn't'' ("I even left your utility belt on."). The Penguin had "reformed" at the time, and had the public image of a law-abiding businessman. It wouldn't have exactly done wonders for his reputation if Batman actually died in his nightclub.
** For the Riddler, however, it's implied to be part of the same crippling Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder which compels him to leaves clues and riddles about his crimes.
** In ''ComicBook/DeathOfTheFamily'', [[spoiler: Catwoman gets trapped in a centrifuge by the Joker. The idea is to be spin her around really fast until it kills her. Just when she's about to escape that, the centrifuge get flooded in an attempt to drown her. She escapes that too]].
* Although victim to the usual power fluctuation of comic book universes, Franchise/TheDCU's {{ComicBook/Darkseid}} never attempts to kill Franchise/{{Superman}} by using his consistently effective vaporizing Omega Beam. Rather, he prefers to inflict pain by slow and agonizing methods, from which Superman inevitably breaks free.
* In ''ComicBook/GothamCityGarage'', ComicBook/LexLuthor's secret underground facility is protected with traps such like laser hallways and turret guns built in elevator shafts. ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}, ComicBook/{{Catwoman}} and ComicBook/{{Nightwing}} find them annoying and trite. Especially Nightwing.
-->'''Nightwing:''' Laser hallway. How cliché. What's next, the floor is lava? A room filled with sharks?
* In ''Comicbook/SupermanVsTheAmazingSpiderMan'':
** Comicbook/LexLuthor's submarine mecha's cockpit was armed with a network of lasers strong enough to kill Franchise/{{Superman}}.
** Lex Luthor and Comicbook/DoctorOctopus' warehouse. When Franchise/SpiderMan sneaked in the place, he found himself in a dark corridor. Then the door shut behind him suddenly. Then he found out about the machine guns in the floorboards, the electrified walls and the red-hot ceiling, and his spider-sense warned him about wire screen designed to slice him apart.
* Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}:
** In ''Adventure Comics'' #400, the titular heroine is at the mercy of revenge-hungry villain Black Flame: trapped in a locked room, unconscious and sprinkled with Green Kryptonite. However Black Flame doesn't "want her go that easily", so she orders her hired guns to hurry up and bring Supergirl to an elaborate death trap involving a giant bowling lane and oversized bowling pins. Supergirl survives but she is immobilized, rendered unconscious and brought to another death trap (this time consisting of a giant crossbow) from which she also breaks free.
** In ''[[Comicbook/{{Supergirl 1982}} Supergirl Volume 2]]'' #20 super-villain Parasite builds a floating metal coffin to throw a depowered Supergirl in.
* In the Creator/DonRosa ''[[ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse Scrooge McDuck]]'' story "Treasure of the Ten Avatars", Scrooge and Donald have to get out of [[DeathCourse a series of these]]. Among other things there's a DescendingCeiling and FakePlatform with SpikesOfDoom, TheWallsAreClosingIn, FedToTheBeast, and a SnakePit. Donald even lampshades it by the end when he points out that they've already been through every B-movie cliché.
* The Marvel villain Arcade ''always'' uses elaborate death traps, intentionally providing his victims a chance at escape however slim, because he's in the business for the fun of it. After all, it's not really a game at all if there's no chance of losing. That is psychologically understandable, but considering that his business is assassin-for-hire, one wonders how he finds any customers.
** To be fair, Arcade is rich enough that he doesn't really need the money to begin with, and so his deathtraps are more for his entertainment than anything else. He also [[CutLexLuthoraCheck markets his deathtraps to others]], setting up obstacle courses that villains sometimes use to train themselves. When he uses Murderworld in that capacity, he ''still'' has at least some of the traps set for lethal effect...but the supervillains are informed of this in advance. Just not ''which'' parts are lethal.
*** Also, he does successfully assassinate non-superhero targets in his Murderworlds; one such is shown in an early issue of Excalibur.
* Lampshaded and played straight simultaneously in the ComicBook/XMen's first confrontation with Doctor Doom: He captures them, places them in situations which could kill them, then explains to his temporary ally Arcade that he doesn't care if they escape or not. If they don't, he's rid of them; if they do, he gains valuable information concerning their skills and powers. [[XanatosGambit Either way, he benefits]].
* [[MeaningfulName F.A. Schist]] has a scientist build one of these to end {{NighInvulnerab|ility}}le Comicbook/ManThing's meddling, once and for all.
* In an early Creator/JimShooter ''ComicBook/{{Legion of Super-Heroes}}'', a strike team of Legionnaires are captured and each put in a death trap designed especially for them by the minions of the Fatal Five. In this case, the Five ''wants'' them to escape and expend so much energy that they can harness for their own ends.
* In ''ComicBook/AllFallDown'', [[spoiler:AIQ Squared]] employs a deadly PowerNullifier on the moon. [[spoiler: It succeeds in killing Siphon.]]
* In ''{{ComicBook/Violine}}'', Muller has a TortureCellar complete with DeathTrap, consisting of a pool filled with crocodiles.

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* Averted hilariously in ''Fanfic/TheKeysStandAlone: The Soft World''; while Gothmarik Citadel is loaded with deathtraps, Ringo [[MindOverMatter telekinetically disables all of them]] (except one he missed) before the four even get to the citadel.

* Bond. Film/JamesBond.
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xc17zmeMlSI I'm thankful I haven't been shot.]]
** The ''Film/{{Goldfinger}}'' scene where Bond is strapped to a table with a [[GroinAttack laser beam moving toward his private parts]].
* The ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' series of films are based entirely around a psychopath drugging a person or a group of people and placing them in a room where to escape death they must either kill someone else or mutilate themselves. Normally, once having done one of these two things, they die anyway, either because they had to do ''something else'', or because the DeceptiveDisciple made the trap. Notable among examples of the DeathTrap as actually doing what it was intended to do.
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d and mercilessly parodied in the ''Film/AustinPowers'' films. See this exchange from the [[Film/AustinPowersInternationalManOfMystery first movie]]:
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism.
-->[''guard starts dipping mechanism'']
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' Close the tank!
-->'''Scott Evil:''' Wait, aren't you even going to watch them? They could get away!
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' No no no, I'm going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I'm just gonna assume it all went to plan. What?
-->'''Scott Evil:''' I have a gun, in my room, you give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here, [[BoomHeadshot BOOM, I'll blow their brains out!]]
-->'''Dr. Evil:''' Scott, you just don't get it, do ya? You don't.
* Lampshade hung in ''Film/TheJewelOfTheNile''. Heroes Jack Colton and Joan Wilder (the latter an author of romantic adventure novels) wind up captured by the villain, who hangs them both over a well, then explains that Jack's rope has acid slowly being dripped on it, while Joan's rope is being gnawed on by rats, creating a race as to who will fall first. Jack demands to know where he got the idea for such a ridiculous setup, and Joan admits it's from one of her books.
* In ''Film/ReturnOfTheKillerTomatoes'', Dr. Putrid T. Gangrene leaves our heroes trapped in an experimental chamber where they will be turned into tomatoes after a timer runs out! Then he leaves. Just shooting them would be wrong for a mad scientist of his caliber.
* The miraculous escape from an inescapable deathtrap is superbly spoofed in the 1983 film ''Film/{{Bullshot}}''. The dastardly Otto von Bruno completely immobilises the hero "Bullshot" Crummond with a [[AppliedPhlebotinum Converse Forcefield]]. As soon as anyone opens the door it will ReverseThePolarity and detonate the stick of dynamite in Bullshot's mouth. Otto is, needless to say, rather disconcerted when Bullshot later turns up alive.
-->"When you directed Dobbs to the room where I was paralysed, there was one small thing you hadn't accounted for -- that he would be wearing a regimental club tie which is 100% silk! The static electricity temporarily neutralised the forcefield, giving me time to take advantage of the inflammable properties of the brandy that you offered me earlier. Within the small amount of neck movement available to me under the magnetic paralysis, I formed my nasal cavity into a type of Liebig condenser, thereby concentrating the alcohol fumes in one place. I then forced the fumes down each nostril with such intensity that they were combusted by the lighted end of the dynamite, thus forming a natural blowtorch, which completely severed the fuse, rendering the dynamite totally harmless. The rest was easy."
* In ''WesternAnimation/PenguinsOfMadagascar'', Dave has one in his ''submarine,'' where victims are tied into a {{Theme Park|s}}-style ride car and driven through a series of swinging blades, mashing spikes, and explosive rockets fired at close range.
* ''Disney/TheGreatMouseDetective''. Professor Rattigan can't figure out which method to use to kill his ArchNemesis Basil, so he decides to use them all, setting up a series of lethal weaponry to hack, shoot, splatter and squash our heroes, activated by a RubeGoldbergDevice.
* {{Discussed|Trope}} in ''Film/KingsmanTheSecretService'', [[spoiler:then averted immediately after]].
-->'''Valentine:''' You know what this is like? It's like those old movies we both love. Now, I'm going to tell you my whole plan, and then I'm going to come up with some absurd and convoluted way to kill you, and you'll find an equally convoluted way to escape.\\
'''Harry Hart:''' Sounds good to me.\\
'''Valentine:''' [[spoiler:[[ThisIsNotThatTrope Well, this ain't that kind of movie.]] *''Shoots Harry in the head''*]]
* ''Film/{{Help}}'': The cultists set up increasingly elaborate death traps to get Ringo. [[RunningGag Which, because of the requirements for the sacrifice, also involve painting the victim red.]]
* ''Film/{{Maverick}}''. After Angel captures Maverick, he leaves him with a noose around his neck tied to a tree, on the back of his horse, with his hands tied behind his back. He also leaves a bag full of rattlesnakes nearby to spook the horse so it will move away and leave Maverick to hang. Luckily the branch the rope is tied to breaks, allowing Maverick to avoid death.
* In ''Film/LemonTreePassage'', [[spoiler:Toby]] is left tied up in a death trap that is designed to be triggered by his friends when they come looking for him: dropping a deadfall that will then hang him.

* Averted in one of the ''Literature/JamesBond'' novels, ''Literature/YouOnlyLiveTwice'', when he sneaks into a Japanese castle. He peeks through a keyhole, and sees a guy at the far end of a hallway, fiddling with something beside a door, then leaving. Upon entering, he makes it halfway across the room before the floor falls out from under him. As he falls, he berates himself for not remembering the traditional traps of such castles. He nearly dies.
* ''Literature/ThePitAndThePendulum'' by Creator/EdgarAllanPoe. A man is tortured by means of a series of death traps, including a BottomlessPit and [[TheWallsAreClosingIn crushing walls]], from each of which he barely manages to escape. In the most famous scene, he is secured to a table, over which is a large curved blade which swings back and forth like a pendulum, lowering itself slowly with each swing.
* Inverted in the ''Sharpe'' series of novels, specifically the India trilogy. It is antihero Richard Sharpe who keeps throwing his nemesis, Sgt. Obadiah Hakeswill, into a villain's recently abandoned death traps and then leaving him to die. Hakeswill always survives. In ''Sharpe's Tiger'', Sharpe throws Hakeswill into a pit of tigers. In ''Sharpe's Triumph'', he leaves Hakeswill under the foot of an elephant trained for executions.
* Used by Warlord Zsinj in ''[[StarWars Solo Command]]''. While setting up a booby-trapped industrial site for the [[BadassCrew Wraiths]] to hit, the baddies decided it'd be fun to [[TrapDoor drop them]] into [[KillitwithFire an incinerator]]. It almost works, too -- they remember to send a squad of troops to demand the Wraiths hand over their explosives. The Wraiths' demo expert doesn't fall for it and throws a pack full of rations to the troops, and [[StuffBlowingUp gets out of there]] before the enemy realizes what just happened.
** The bad guys are also smart about it. They ALSO send in reinforcements as soon as the heroes escape, cut off all communications, and send an extremely large number of troops to handle the back-up. Still fails, but they get points for trying.
* Almost every frickin' installment in the Literature/AlexRider series includes a deathtrap at the critical plot point.
* Parodied several times in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', most notably in ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'':
--> "The phrase 'Set a thief to catch a thief' had by this time (after strong representations from the Thieves' Guild) replaced a much older and quintessentially Ankh-Morporkian proverb, which was 'Set a deep hole with spring-loaded sides, tripwires, whirling knife blades driven by water power, broken glass and scorpions, to catch a thief.'"
* ''ThePhantomOfTheOpera'': The back door to the Phantom's house leads into his "torture chamber," specifically built there to trap anyone who tries to sneak up on him. The walls, ceiling, and floor are mirrors, which (depending on what single object is placed in the room) drive a person insane until they kill themselves by hanging themselves on the conveniently provided iron tree... if the rising temperature doesn't roast them alive first. He once had a job building these for the [[CoolAndUnusualPunishment Cool And Unusual Execution]] of criminals as entertainment for a particularly sadistic Persian princess.
* In ''Literature/ArtemisFowl: The Opal Deception'', Opal Koboi traps Artemis and Holly in an abandoned theme park overrun by trolls and leaves them to die, as revenge for [[spoiler:thwarting her world domination plan in The Arctic Incident.]]
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian story "Literature/TheScarletCitadel", Tsotha captures Conan only to get him to AbdicateTheThrone; when that fails, he chains him where a giant snake will get him. Unfortunately, a {{Revenge}} seeking man intervenes.
* In the ''Literature/TransformersShatteredGlass'' story, "Do Over", Ricochet threatens Megatron with not one, but ''five'' death traps at once. When Megatron [[GentlemanSnarker snarks at him]] about it, Ricochet comments that [[NoKillLikeOverKill "Anythin' worth doin' is worth overdoin."]]
** And in "Dungeons & Dinobots", Blurr, Cliffjumper, Rodimus, and Sideswipe find themselves stuck in a creepy temple chock full of death traps.
* In Fredric R. Stewart's ''Literature/{{Cerberon}}'', Merlen and Oethelzeiren face off on the ground level of a colossal tower in the center of a city. After discussing the futility of a direct fight between them, Oethelzeiren improvises a DeathTrap for Merlen by blasting out all the supports to the tower above them, leaving Merlen to hold up the tower with his magic while people inside the tower escape, and while an unstoppable GiantWallOfWateryDoom bears down on the city. Becomes NoOneCouldSurviveThat when Merlen is still there when the flood water blasts through.
* In Creator/PGWodehouse's "Do Thrillers Need Heroines?", he complains of how the villains, the natural person to rid the thriller of its TooDumbToLive DumbBlonde, resort to this -- for her, only for her, he can kill a ''man'', in a straightforward manner.
* Can actually be {{justified}} in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': if a wizard sees their death coming, they can cast a powerful DyingCurse at their enemy. However, if you leave the wizard in a Death Trap and then slip away [[LayeredWorld to another plane of reality]] before the wizard dies you'll be beyond the reach of their curse.
* L'ombre Jaune (Yellow Shade ?), an evil genius and reccuring villain of the Bob Morane serie, can't seem to be able to choose how to kill the heroes. They are the main reason he never succeed, and he want them dead, but in a way that befit their status as his biggest adversaries. Simply killing them when they get in his hand is not enough, so they have to do thing like fighting robotic alligator... Of course, while they are not in his hand, a horde of mindless killer is on par.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr.'': The series often involved deathtraps. Some were relatively simple, like leaving the heroes to drown in quicksand. Others were far more convoluted, such as binding the victims to a tree with dampened straps of rawhide. Rawhide shrinks when it dries, which would crush the ribs of the victims. That's not what kills them, though; it's the rifle pointed at the victims with a dampened rawhide strap attached to the trigger. See, I told you it was convoluted.
** The deathtrap as a cliffhanger was common to old Republic Serials as well as comic books, which ''Brisco County Jr.'' was an homage to. A similar homage/parody can be seen in SCTV's fake cowboy serial ''Six Gun Justice'', where the main characters are left in a deathtrap at the end of each episode (such as being tied to a lit powderkeg, or being left trapped in a room with a wild bear) actually ''seen'' being killed, and then getting away from it at the beginning of the next episode with a ridiculous convoluted explanation as to how they got free in the nick of time.
*** Wouldn't it have been great if some actual latter-day cliffhanger had an episode where they don't show the hero's escape from the death trap at the beginning, and he just pops up back at headquarters or wherever everyone else is waiting for him, says he'll explain how he escaped later, and never does?
* ''Series/{{Batman}}'': The live-action series from the 1960s used this plot device as a typical schtick for the {{Cliff Hanger}}s. The trope remains common in Batman comics; the Riddler in particular seems fond of death traps. (This is slightly more excusable in ''Batman'', since most of the villains are ''insane''.)
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': The Master has always used both simple booby traps and elaborate deathtraps against the Doctor and his companions. As seen in "The Sound of the Drums", the Master has [TaughtByExperience learned]] his ArchEnemy will always escape the simple traps, but they're a useful means of putting additional pressure on the Doctor until he falls into the ''real'' trap.
** In one of adventures from the first series, with Jon Pertwee as the titular Doctor, the ''BigBad'' was using a death trap consisting of artificial plastic flowers which would fire a plastic seal over a person's nose and mouth, suffocating them. After enough time had elapsed for the victim to die, the plastic seal would then shrivel up and vanish. Naturally, it only works until the Doctor's current companion falls victim to the trap, whereupon the Doctor saves her by using a spray which causes the seal to lose adhesion so it can be removed before the victim dies.
* ''Series/EstateOfPanic'': Simply reveled in this, with each room the contestants need to search for money in having a particular "deadly" trap, many inspired from the above list.
* ''Series/TheGoodies'': MadScientist Rat Fink Petal tries to kill the Goodies with a simultaneous pair of deathtraps: a bathtub slowly filling with water in which sits a [[FedToTheBeast man-eating alligator]], and a candle burning a rope holding a [[AcidPool tub of concentrated acid]], so they'll be tormented over which horrible death they'll experience. After a comical CliffhangerCopout in which they make an unseen escape thanks to Graham's fruit peeler, their escape is foiled by Rat Fink who's lurking outside the door. He then straps them to an enormous CartoonBomb, which if moved will open a canister of poison gas.
* ''Series/JonathanCreek'': Expertly parodied in one episode, in which Jonathan and Carla are trapped by villains in a cage that has been suspended over metal spikes as part of a magic trick, with the rope holding the cage set on fire... however, as Jonathan ''knows'' it's a magic trick, he ''also'' knows that there's actually a steel cable under the rope suspending it as part of the trick, so he's not particularly worried.
* ''WebVideo/KateModern'': In the episode "The Ice Man", Terrence locks Kate's Watcher in a freezer van. Something of an inversion, since the Watcher is the more obviously villainous of the two characters.
* ''Series/MacGyver1985'': Murdoc is entirely too fond of these. they usually end up being his undoing.
* ''Series/TheManFromUncle'': In this 1960s spy series, a DeathTrap was often used by THRUSH (or whatever other threat to world security U.N.C.L.E. was battling that week) as [[DoesntLikeGuns an alternative to shooting]] the heroes. Almost all of the two-part episodes used a DeathTrap to set up a CliffHanger between the episodes, but the single episodes had their share of {{death trap}}s, too (these were often used against only one of the heroes, setting up a BigDamnHeroes moment for the other).
** This was enough of a standard device that ''Magazine/{{MAD}}'' ended their parody of the show with Solo and the girl of the week suspended by chains, being slowly lowered toward a giant bowl of boiling oatmeal.
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': In the episode "[[Recap/RevolutionS1E4ThePlagueDogs The Plague Dogs]]", one psycho captures Charlie and ties her to a chair with a crossbow set to go off if anyone opens the door to the room.
* ''Series/TheTwilightZone1959'': The episode "The Jeopardy Room". A Soviet commissar traps a defector inside a hotel room with an hidden explosive BoobyTrap. If the defector finds the bomb within the time limit, he lives. If not, he dies. The defector figures out the truth and brilliantly turns the tables.
* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' did a ''Film/JamesBond'' movie parody, where archvillain Christopher Walken has Bond captive in his lair, which is still under construction, so he can only describe the death trap he was going to subject him to, with conceptual drawings as an aid.
* ''Series/CSINewYork'' had an episode where an old house was rigged with death traps; the CSI team had to go in because they found the recently dead body of a young man who'd broken in and been killed by one of the traps. They included things like an axe falling from the ceiling if you didn't follow the right steps to deactivate it.

* The most bizarre, improbable and overly-complicated deathtrap '''ever''' was the winning entry sent in to ''Magazine/AmigaPower'' as part of a [[http://amr.abime.net/issue_41_pages competition]]; they also had to come up with an escape plan for the hero:
[[AC:the trap]]
# Mr Hero is tied to a chair.
# Mr Evil Villain pulls lever, which activates springboard, sending onion flying towards mouse.
# Mouse sees flying vegetable and runs to west coast of Australia. En route to Australia, he knocks over fisherman's Sound of Music video.
#Fisherman is so distressed, a milk bottle top flies out of his pocket, colliding with stray wasp.
#Wasp becomes disorientated and drops copy of ''ComicBook/TheBeano'' on pensioner's pen refill.
#Passing salesman sees this happen and rushes to help.
#Eyelash dislodgement causes lamp post to turn on for seven milliseconds.
#Power change helps Belgium win at Snap.
#Over-joyous reaction makes termite in carpet drop crisps.
#Widow in Greece senses termite's grief and raises flag.
#Flag blocks out sun, which Captain Kirk mistakes for Klingon Bird of Prey. He fires phasers, which hit corner of leopard's eye.
#This encourages swan to sell three bars of gold to cod.
#New wealth upsets whelk, who fires jet towards Poland.
#Buskers in Poland tie wool around barn to ward off evil spirit.
#In disgust, spirit throws can of Lynx at barn, can rebounds striking man on head.
#Man loses bookmark from book. Bookmark causes mass pile-up on M27.
#Han Solo quickly reacts and throws radish at Daley Thompson.
#Daley Thompson picks up phone and airs opinion about Communism.
#Neighbouring swordfish stops watching TV, which enables flower to jump from window box.
#It gets caught in helicopter blades, forcing helicopter to swerve 32 degrees.
#Change in wind causes zebra's side parting to waver.
#Zebra's third cousin mocks and falls down ravine. The splash makes a tornado in Kent which pulls up huge rock.
#Worm is released and crawls into man's briefcase.
#Man drops pint and piece of glass lodges in llama's ear.
#Llama spits at lamp stand. Stand falls on cactus. Cactus spine embarks on journey, hitting vicar's jaw.
#In great pain, vicar utters "Jesus!"
#God strikes down hero, mistaking him for clergyman.

[[AC:the escape]]
#Mr Hero telepathically contacts eagle.
#Eagle drops cheese on rooftop.
#Slate becomes loose.
#Discarded chair begins squeaking.
#Entices mouse from route to Australia.
#Knocks over Barry Kencov's ice cream maker.
#Excess ice cream causes staple guns worldwide to rust.
#Rogue staple gun calls elephant's bluff.
#Elephant storms Mr. Evil Villain's hideout, freeing hero!

* OlderThanFeudalism: In Myth/ClassicalMythology, Daedalus used a [[DeadlyBath booby-trapped bathtub]] to kill King Minos. Daedalus was living in exile in Sicily, and Minos came demanding the right to execute Daedalus for helping Theseus solve the Minoan Labyrinth. The Sicilian king pretended to be hospitable and invited him to take an awesome bath with running water (courtesy of Daedalus' engineering) but the water was set to overheated, and burned Minos to death when he turned on the tap.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Short form games in ''TabletopGame/{{The Splinter}}''. Players have to complete an objective and escape the S.P.L.I.N.T.E.R. within 8 hours. If they donít meet that objective, neurotoxins are released into their bloodstreams.
* The ''TabletopGame/GrimtoothsTraps'' books from Flying Buffalo were death trap after death trap, just waiting for a GM to install them in his dungeon. (And to come up with game stats for them.)
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'', [[DarkMessiah Infernal Exalted]] can atone for acts that offend their demonic masters by behaving like [[CardCarryingVillain Card Carrying Villains]]. One of the methods for such atonement is called "Fiendish Deathtrap Compulsion," which is ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.
* ''TabletopGame/TimeLord'' RPG (based on ''Series/DoctorWho''), supplement ''Journies''. A captured PlayerCharacter could use the "Master Effect" to make the BigBad [[JustBetweenYouAndMe tell the PC their plan]] and put them in a DeathTrap instead of just killing him.
* A ''TabletopGame/HeroClix'' set based around the 1960's ''Series/{{Batman}}'' TV show had to include a mechanic for this, even called Elaborate Deathtrap. It gets the target out of the way for a while, but they can and will come back, since they get a chance to escape every turn and will always succeed if the guy that out them there has been K.O.'d.

* ''Theatre/SherlockHolmes'' has the GasChamber at Stepney, personally inspected by Moriarty. Holmes finds it easily escapable.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* There are numerous death traps in ''VideoGame/Portal2'', set up by [=GLaDOS=] in the first portion of the game, and [[spoiler: Wheatley]] later on. [[spoiler: Wheatley]]'s last trap deserves a special mention for how he refers to it.
-->'''[[spoiler: Wheatley]]:''' Just jump into that [[BuffySpeak masher]]! Less a death trap, more of a... Death option for you!
* There are countless in ''VideoGame/{{Marathon}}''. Some of them will have an item that you usually don't get until much later in the game or an invincibility power up, but failure to get said item perfectly results in death somehow. These are also in multiplayer.
* A particularly {{JustForFun/egregious}} example from ''VideoGame/EverythingOrNothing'': the villain captures Franchise/JamesBond and takes him to his underground mine, where he straps him to a table, points a large mining laser at him, turns the laser on, and then ''leaves the room'', leaving not so much as a guard to notice when Bond inevitably escapes.
* The game ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'' allows you to construct several different kinds of death traps for your enemies [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential and / or residents]], including most of the ones listed on this page.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Deception}}'' series by Tecmo tasks you with using death traps as your only line of defense against aggressors.
* Nearly every ''VideoGame/NancyDrew'' game features a form of a death trap.
* ''VideoGame/{{Nightshade}}'' uses these in place of continues--if you lose a fight, you need to escape a trap in order to avoid a game-over. There are a total of seven traps (counting the one you start in at the beginning of the game), and only the seventh is truly inescapable.
* Done to [[spoiler:Sonic]] in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2''. [[spoiler:Dr. Eggman, who is at that point armed with a blaster and an enhanced mech, is offered a fake Chaos Emerald in exchange for Amy. Eggman knows it's a fake and tricks Sonic into placing it on the floor of a capsule, which he seals, ejects and hurls toward the atmosphere where it will blow up. The flaw is that not only is Sonic's "fake" [[ArtifactOfPower Chaos Emerald]] partly real, it's via Shadow Sonic escapes.]]
* The Fu Syndicate's Mandarin in ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'' tries to kill the character with a series of different death traps joined together like a bizarre obstacle course. This is explicitly because he knows that guns are ineffective against vampires, and as such he tries several different methods to see which ones work best. If a trap kills you, fine, you're dead. Said method works. If you escape that particular one, a) he knows it won't work later, and b) he finds out more about how strong/fast/enduring you are. He also keeps a stable of guards at hand and keeps observing you through viewing ports. [[spoiler:His main error is placing a high-pressurized gas tank from a KillItWithFire trap next to one of the viewing windows.]]
* Lampshaded in ''VideoGame/CrashMindOverMutant'' when [[BigBad Doctor Cortex]] orders the Grimlies to kill Crash quickly. "No games, no foolishness, no death traps that take ten flipping hours."
* In ''VideoGame/HalfLife1'', [[spoiler:there's the part where Freeman gets knocked out and [[TheWallsAreClosingIn thrown into a garbage crusher]]. By using the conveniently placed crates that are to be crushed along with you, you can jump up above the compressing walls. The whole thing could have been averted by a simple bullet to the head.]]
** They try to HandWave it by having the soldiers say they're supposed to bring you in alive, but don't want to. The DeathTrap is meant to ensure there's no body to prove they killed the person they were supposed to capture. Exactly why they don't shoot you ''then'' throw you in, or why they don't stick around after throwing you in, is not explained.
* Part of the fun in ''VideoGame/EvilGenius'' is making elaborate death traps for unwitting foreign agents.
* ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}'' has tons of these, such as bomb-ridden rooms, arrow shooters, pitfalls, drowning traps, one-way doors... Some spawn naturally, some are set by players for other players, and some are built to [[IndustrializedEvil harvest enemy mobs]].
* In ''Cadenza 4: Fame, Theft and Betrayal'' Adam sticks Martha in one of those magician's tables, with interlocking swords shoved into the holes above her and a slowly-descending electric saw suspended overhead.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''Franchise/DanganRonpa'' features these frequently, as a way to execute those who lose the {{Deadly Game}}s the series is based around. As such, [[CharactersDroppingLikeFlies they have a remarkably high success rate]].

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'': [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/040217c A shrinking force field]]. One that also protects the villain from the hero. Furthermore, he stays to the end to watch that it works.
** Too bad he [[HoistByHisOwnPetard forgot about the Law of Conservation of Energy]] [[spoiler: when he trapped the electricity-based superbeing George]].
* In [[https://web.archive.org/web/20080613175155/http://www.goats.com/archive/050412.html this webcomic]], [[StupidJetpackHitler Space Hitler]] [[spoiler:''actually'' pulls one of these off]]. Much to his own surprise.
* ''Webcomic/EvilPlan'' subverts this, usually. Lemon and Lime employ potentially a variety of lethal traps at their office entrance, solely for the sake of snapping humiliating pictures of the trespassers/invited guests.
* Honorable mention goes to ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'''s deathtraps, which are not to be confused with actual airships. Despite the name, the one the Light Warriors end up using and crashing repeatedly failed to actually kill anyone.
* ''Webcomic/GuildedAge'': Some sort of DrowningPit.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[Literature/WhateleyUniverse Mephisto the Mentalist]] once explains at great length the psychology of death traps: most of them are meant to either distract the heroes while the villain sets up some other, more mundane plot, or to scare the victim into compliance without actually killing them. In both of those instances, the victims are actually ''meant'' to be rescued as [[ThePowerOfActing part of the intended effect]]. He does admit that a lot of death traps are, in fact, actually meant to kill the victim, usually with the goal of scaring the piss out of someone else who is the real target of their plot.
* [[http://lorendiac.livejournal.com/2864.html This blog post]] discusses the use of this trope in comics as well as some possible motives villains may have for using such traps.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied on an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. Homer's new boss, an AffablyEvil Bond villain type, has a James Bond lookalike strapped to a deadly trap, and leaves him to die without watching. The Bond lookalike escapes in a suitably ludicrous manner, but is tackled to the ground by Homer during his escape. Homer and his boss depart, while his guards simply walk up and shoot the man dead.
** And again, in an episode spoofing the story of Moses, Lisa and Milhouse (as Moses and Aaron) are thrown in a room with [[TheWallsAreClosingIn spiked walls that close in on them]]. However, the spikes have all been installed opposite each other, so that the walls stop when the tips touch, leaving plenty of room for them to climb to safety (and for Lisa to remark, "Slave labor. You get what you pay for.").
* They made up the eponymous "Perils" of the old cartoon ''WesternAnimation/ThePerilsOfPenelopePitstop''.
* In ''Disney/TheGreatMouseDetective'', Ratigan says he couldn't decide which method he should use to kill the heroes, so he decided to use them ''all'', culminating in an elaborate death trap in which several things, including a mouse trap and a [[AnvilOnHead falling anvil]], would kill the heroes simultaneously.
* Common in ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'', whenever it (frequently) pays homage to spy movies. Especially common from villain cliché devotee Señor Senior, Sr. On one occasion of LampshadeHanging, as she and Ron are being lowered into a moat of electric eels, Kim asks the villain, who's comfortably sitting back and watching, "Uh, aren't you going to leave now?"
* Regular occurrence in ''WesternAnimation/TotallySpies''.
** "This machine will force-feed you cookies until you explode! ...Bye!"
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries''
** An episode entitled "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy" centers around this trope. An interrogator named Wormwood, who specializes in using Death Traps to terrorize people into giving him information is hired to steal Batman's cape and cowl. He repeatedly sets up a number of traps for Batman, who escapes every one until the Bat finally captures him. As it turns out, [[spoiler:it was a disguised Batman who hired Wormwood [[ThePlan to retrieve the loot Wormwood had obtained]] in a previous crime.]]
** Joker also had a habit of using these deaths on victims (ironically often being unable to kill them as a result). For example, he hurls Bullock and Batman into a Great White Shark Tank, Sid the Squid into a tank of acid and the Dark Knight (again) by trying to electrocute him.
** The Clock King uses two of them. The first one is for Batman, a GasChamber with a TimeBomb that will suck out all the air in a RaceAgainstTheClock. The second one is put the victim in between the hands of a ClockTower.
** The episode "Almost Got 'Im" features all of the villains around the table comparing notes on whose death trap came closest to 'getting' the Batman. All of them, that is, except [[DumbMuscle Croc]].
--->'''Croc:''' There I was, holed up in this quarry, when Batman came nosing around. He was getting closer, ''closer''...\\
'''Poison Ivy:''' And?\\
'''Croc:''' ''I threw a ROCK at him!''
* {{Lampshaded}} on ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'': When Dr. Gene Splicer leaves the room where he has left the heroes in his Death Trap, he [[NoFourthWall asks the viewers]] if they've ever noticed this trope.
* {{Lampshaded}} on ''WesternAnimation/TheEmperorsNewSchool'': Yzma traps a transformed-into-a-squirrel Kuzco along with a bunch of other squirrels and begins to lower them into a vat of acid. She sits down to watch, saying "I'm not going to leave the room like any other villain would." [[DoubleSubversion And then she ends up leaving the room anyway]] to get a refill on her drink.
* {{Lampshaded}} in ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' -- Xanatos has Goliath and Angela bolted to the ground and has a vat of boiling [[TechnicolorScience green acid]] hooked up to a timer. After ten minutes, the timer will tip the vat over, killing them. Says Xanatos "This is my first real stab at cliché villainy. How am I doing?"
** [[AncientConspiracy The Illuminati]] also have the Hotel Cabal, a fake hotel that is [[EverythingTryingToKillYou nothing BUT deathtraps]], a different one in every room, and hallway, and elevator..... All designed to kill anyone trapped inside or drive them to near madness.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'': The first thing Batman says in the entire series is to complain to Green Arrow about how often they get caught in death traps. Batman and the Joker FlashBack to the many death-traps Mr. J had trapped Bats in over the years in "Game Over for Owlman!". It's Lampshaded in The MusicalEpisode which showcased the most extravagant, multi-stage, redundant death trap the series has ever seen. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzPM9TnBFHU Observe.]]
-->''Gears grinding, ropes binding, coils winding,\\
For a super-sap: death trap.\\
Pistons panging, clamps a-clanging, springs spranging,\\
It's the last laugh: death trap.\\
[[HydrogenHollywoodide Acid steaming]], blades gleaming, [[FrickinLaserBeams lasers beaming]],\\
Final nightcap: death trap.\\
Bones crushing, flesh mushing, gore gushing,\\
It's a dirt-nap: death trap.''
--> Batman: [[LampshadeHanging Was the singing really necessary?]]
** Count 'em: Constricting ropes. Acid filling the room. Swinging blades of death. Lasers. [[TheWallsAreClosingIn Walls closing in]]. And just in case none of that worked, a ticking time bomb. Say what you will about Music Meister, but the man's thorough.
*** Sure, except it ''still didn't work.''
** In one cold open, Batman and Mister Miracle are strapped to a rollercoaster full of death traps, and escape at the last second. [[AllPartOfTheShow It turns out]] they were doing it ''for charity''.
** In the "Emperor Joker" episode, ComicBook/TheJoker with his newly acquired RealityWarper powers puts Batman in a RubeGoldberg of a DeathTrap. Batman escapes, [[spoiler:but not really, as his escape triggered the last part of it and he gets killed. ComicBook/TheJoker then revives him and kills him repeatedly in more death traps afterwards.]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "Read It and Weep" has, in its [[ShowWithinAShow Book Within A Show]], [[Franchise/IndianaJones Daring]] [[AffectionateParody Do]] encounters a huge variety of these, ranging from dart traps to throwing axes to flame pits to the entire chamber flooding with lava. Then Ahuizotl has perhaps the most awesomely silly - it has [[SpikesOfDoom spikes]] on [[TheWallsAreClosingIn advancing walls]], quicksand, spiders ''and cobras''. While Daring was tied to a table, no less. It's like he got everything from the "Cliche Deathtrap" aisle at Murdermart, and decided to use as many of them as possible at once.
* Strangely, averted in the animated series "''Belphegor''" by Belphegor himself, despite the presence of death traps. Whenever he places someone in an elaborate death trap, it's never to use it as a means to outright kill, but rather to intimidate, interrogate or just screw with the sanity and fear of the person trapped and those around them. Usually, he does so to provoke an action by the other characters that will help him achieve his true goal.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpaceGhost'' episode "The Final Encounter". After the Council of Doom captures Space Ghost they put him in a tube that leads to the center of their planet. They plan to have an electrode draw all of the planet's cosmic energy up through the shaft, which will destroy Space Ghost.


[[folder:Real Life]]
* There was [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Douglas_Wells a bizarre real-life murder]] involving something like this. A pizza delivery man had [[ExplosiveLeash a bomb strapped to his neck]] and was required to rob a bank. He supposedly had instructions for disabling the bomb, but was stopped by the police, after which the bomb exploded, killing him. Funnily enough it was discovered that the pizza guy [[HoistByHisOwnPetard was the one who originally came up with the plan]]. It's like the end of Tomorrow Never Dies when Elliot Carver gets taken out by his own drill.
* The confirmed Darwin Award [[http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2002-27.html "Booby Traps Trap Boob."]] A Belgian man lost a lengthy legal battle to keep his home after a nasty divorce, so he set up many booby traps in his home, apparently hoping to kill his ex. Things didn't go the way he planned, though; he ended up [[KarmicDeath accidentally killing himself]] [[HoistByHisOwnPetard with one of his own death traps]].
* The infamous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._H._Holmes#Chicago_and_the_.22Murder_Castle.22 H. H. Holmes]] converted a hotel into a building full of death traps, to the point it was dubbed the "Murder Castle." Special mention goes to the trapdoors leading straight down to the basement, stairways to nowhere, bedrooms in which gas could be pumped in to asphyxiate the victim at any time, and a bank vault where people were left until the air ran out.

Now that I've told you about everyone else's death traps, I should tell you about mine. As I'm sure you'll notice if you look down, you are currently suspended some distance above a pit of [[SpikesOfDoom deadly sharp spikes]]. The only thing keeping you from falling is a single electronic latch directly above you. The latch is connected to a computer right over there, displaying TV Tropes on a web browser...