A character is given a seemingly innocent reason to go to a specific location, but it turns out to be a trick; rather than what they were expecting, they find their enemy lying in wait to capture or kill them. There are many different ways this could be played out: they could be a detective looking for a vital clue or meeting an informant; someone trying to heroically rescue
one of their comrades; or even just someone delivering a message or package. But whatever they expected to find there, it was just a ruse; in fact, they've been lured into a trap.
This is usually a technique used by villains, though there are exceptions to this. Frequently, the one who sent the character is The Mole
, in which case this will be played for Dramatic Irony
(in that the audience can guess it's a trap but the characters won't know any better) or as a clue to The Mole
's identity. This can also be the result of a Batman Gambit
by the character's enemy.
If the trap is blatantly obvious, this becomes Schmuck Bait
. If it's so obvious the character recognizes it for what it is, but then elects to walk into it anyway, it's Trap Is the Only Option
See also Defensive Feint Trap
. Nasty Party
and the Malicious Trap variant of Prank Date
Spoilers may follow.
Anime and Manga
- Happens in season 2 of Code Geass, when Kallen is sent by the Black Knights to take Lelouch to a warehouse as part of their betrayal.
- Attempted several times in Ranma ½ such as when Gosunkugi has tried to trick Ranma.
- Used twice in Girls und Panzer.
- The first time is in episode 5 when Miho lures some of Saunder's tanks into a trap by using fake radio commands.
- The second time is in episode 8, when Pravda uses this against Oorai by having them chase down a lone tank into a town, where the other Pravda tanks then surround them.
- Used in Gatchaman on Ken. He wants to find his father, who's been presumed dead for years, so Galactor sends an old friend saying he's seen him.
- In Ojamajo Doremi, Oyajide uses his magic to lure the Ojamajos into his grasp so he may kidnap Hana. The girls return the favor later on, but aren't as successful.
- In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared creates this using a hoax massive asteroid and a shrink ray on the moon that runs on Living Batteries.
- In Knights of the Dinner Table, Nitro takes his revenge on Bob by sending him a fake invitation to a Hackmaster LARP at Hawg Wallers. In this case, there's no specific trap or enemy waiting there; Nitro (correctly) assumes that Bob will get his ass kicked by the bar's rough-and-tumble clientele.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, the main characters talk about how re-taking Canterlot might have been a little too easy. It turns out they were all lured into a Defensive Feint Trap to tire them out, with the enemy returning with forces three times in number.
- In one story of the Facing The Future Series, the Fentons are called in to clear out a haunting, only to find out too later it was all set up by Vlad.
- Batman (1989): Boss Grissom sends Jack Napier to retrieve the incriminating information from Axis Chemical so Lieutenant Eckhardt and his team of corrupt cops can kill him.
- In the Aladdin movie, The Return of Jafar, Iago betrays Aladdin and the Sultan by leading them into Jafar's trap. Of course, he later feels sorry and saves all of their lives...
- In the first Return of the Living Dead, a few zombies attack some emergency medical technicians. They then use the radio in the ambulance to call for more, who likewise also fall prey to the trap. Later, several police squad cars arrive at the scene, and are also ambushed by the zombies.
- In Hounddog, Wooden's Boy has Lewellen's best friend Buddy trick her into going into the shed where she gets raped with the promise of Elvis tickets, though it seems that Buddy didn't know what was going to happen to her when he helped.
- Star Wars Return of the Jedi: Not only was the shield still up, and not only was the Imperial Fleet on the scene to pin the Rebel Fleet down, but it turns out that the half-completed Death Star was quite operational when they arrived.
- The One Nation Earth agents in the Apocalypse film series movie Tribulation are misdirected to what they think is the Haters' hideout, and start shooting up the place, only to find out that it was rigged with explosives. Cue the Oh, Crap.
- In the Jorge Luis Borges short story Death and the Compass, the series of connected deaths were done for the purpose of luring the detective to a specific location, where his enemy can kill him.
- In Deryni Checkmate, Morgan and Duncan have to pay their respects at Saint Torin's shrine to obtain pilgrim badges and enter the city of Dhassa. Some of Morgan's foes put a drug on a needle on the gate latch, just where anybody would put his hand to open the gate. Morgan is drugged and abducted this way.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his friends are lured to the Department of Mysteries under the pretense that Voldemort has Harry's godfather, Sirius. It turns out (surprise, surprise) to be a Death Eater ambush, and Sirius ironically dies at the end when he tries to save them.
- In the Dragonlance series Kitiara does this to Laurana by convincing the elfmaid that their mutual Love Interest, Tanis Half-Elven, has been mortally wounded and wants to see her before he dies which coincidentally enough will require Laurana to leave the safety of the fortified city where her army is stationed and come in person without guards to a meeting site of Kitiara's choosing.
- A Brother's Price has a scene where a great number of soldiers of the Queens' Justice, led by Princess Ren, go after a mill where they know some of the enemy are hiding. Aware that it could be a trap, Eldest and Corelle Whistler go out ahead of them. The enemy turned out to have cannons, and with the soldiers filling the street...
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the King in the North loses the War of Five Kings despite winning every battle when he is lured into a trap orchestrated by the Lannisters, the Freys, and the Boltons.
- Not to be outdone by their film counterparts, the Star Wars Expanded Universe is rife with traps, usually declared with Ackbar's immortal line (sometimes lampshaded). Take, for instance, the Yuuzhan Vong attack on Borleias, which (for complex reasons) included the following line:
- The Shadow Line has an example of this being pulled on a villain. Gatehouse is sent to kill Jonah Gabriel for his assumed knowledge of Counterpoint, yet Gabriel's just bait and Glickman intends to kill Gatehouse when he goes to find him.
- In an episode of Burn Notice, a character is offered a meeting in an alleyway. Michael tells him that it's an ambush and that he'll go instead. He then makes a van bulletproof via phonebooks, before taking a man he wants to keep on his side with him into the alleyway and getting shot up. They get out of the alleyway unhurt.
- Downton Abbey: Thomas falls for former friend O'Brien's manipulations, and believing his feelings for the new footman to be mutual, goes to the latter's bedroom for a kiss. Suffice to say, it's all a set up which nearly gets Thomas fired with no reference.
- The Doctor has faced this many times over the years, it never really works out well for the guy laying the trap.
The Doctor: Oh, big, big mistake, really huge. Didn't anyone ever tell you there's one thing you never put in a trap, if you're smart, if you value
your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow, there's one thing you never, ever put in a trap.
Bob: And what would that be, sir?
The Doctor: Me.
- Happens frequently in the Stargate Verse. The protagonists always acknowledge that it's a trap and then go anyway.
- In The Wire drug dealers Fruit and Lex from rival gangs are both after the same girl, until Lex eventually ambushes and kills Fruit. Soon afterward Fruit's gang has a local kid tell Lex that the girl wants to meet him. He goes to an out of the way spot expecting to meet her... and comes face to face with Chris Partlow and Snoop, two of the most lethal enforcers in Baltimore. It doesn't end well for Lex.
- Call of Cthulhu campaign Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Worm That Walks". Mr. Edwin sends the player characters out to investigate a haunted house, and they end up getting ambushed by a family of cannibals who knew they were coming (because Mr. Edwin told them).
- Shadowrun supplement Super Tuesday, adventure "Ghost Story". Fletcher Quinn lures the player characters to an abandoned sporting goods store with a faked message so he can blow them up with the bombs he's planted inside it.
- Classic Traveller supplement The Traveller Adventure, adventure "Kidnapped on Aramanx". The villains who kidnapped Lisa Fireaux demand that Gvoudzon deliver the ransom so they can kidnap him as well.
- The "Poor Thing" sequence in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has a variation of this, with Beadle Bamford luring Lucy Barker to a masked ball at Judge Turpin's mansion, telling her that the Judge is remorseful about sending away her husband, Benjamin Barker, for life on a false charge. Turns out he's anything but remorseful, and has used this as a means to get her alone and defenseless.
- Ooblar in ''Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast purposely leads Jimmy, Carl, and the riders into Planet Yolkus just so he and King Goobot can trap them and have Poultra kill them.
- In Men In Black: Alien Attack, one alien pretends to be an innocent alien, only to reveal to the riders that they just walked right into an ambush.
- In the Obama Adventure series, George Bush lures Barack Obama into a trap using his two henchmen so that he can steal his identity.
- In The Gamers Alliance, the Alliance often ends up lured into traps such as when Shyralis and Izael lure Ax's team to a library where they betray the team, locking them inside the room and leaving them to face the Shadow.