The box! The box!
Now hold on, Lois! A boat's a boat, but the Mystery Box could be anything! It could even be a boat!
All right, contestant, you've made it to the final round of everyone's favorite Game Show The Trope Is Dope
. Now you have a choice to make between two fabulous prizes. The first is an all expense paid trip around the world, complete with a complimentary Rolls Royce and $5 million in cash. The second is ... the Mystery Box! What's inside it? No one knows. It could be week-old garbage, or the keys to your new mansion. Maybe it's filled with rocks and mud, or maybe fabulous diamonds. It could be anything! Troper, make your choice!
. . .
You're gonna choose the box, aren't you? (chuckles) Sucker
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Film — Live Action
- In "Weird Al" Yankovic's UHF, there is a game show parody called Wheel of Fish. The contestant wins a very tasty red snapper fish, but is given the choice to take a box. The contestant chooses the box and is mocked: "You took the box! Let's see what's in the box!" ... (box is opened; audience gasps) ... "NOTHING! Absolutely NOTHING! Stupid! You're so stupid!"
Live Action TV
- Found in, of all places, Call Of Duty World At War when playing Nazi Zombies. Using your points to open a box instead of purchasing a gun is a bit of a crapshoot. You may end up with a sniper rifle (which is horrible to fight zombies with at close range) or the all powerful Ray Gun.
- Team Fortress 2 has the "Mann Co. Supply Crate" that randomly drops along with everything else. To open it you need to buy a key from the ingame store for $2.50USD. These crates can contain commonly dropped weapons (enjoy your $2 Equalizer), paint to recolour your hats or a special hat that has a particle effect applied to it. These hats have a <1% chance of actually being in a crate.
- The crates became more valued with the introduction of "Strange" weapons that count your kills. Now, all weapons obtained from crates, with the exception of certain holiday crates, are Strange, making the deal a bit more fair. Those particle effect hats are still ridiculously rare, though.
- Be careful when opening a "mysterious present" in Kingdom of Loathing; it might contain a random gift item, but it also might contain a boxing glove on a spring, which will punch you for severe damage if you open the box.
- Players that bought a lifetime subscription in The Secret World can give up their subscriber benefits for a month for a Mystery Box that contains either nothing, a pitiful amount of in-game money, or rare and powerful endgame items.
- When Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse has Skipper host the game show I'm Barbie's BFF!, she begins the final round by asking if any of the contestants would like to open Door #3. Raquelle refuses, recalling how many other game shows have lame consolation prizes. It later turns out Door #3 had Ken behind it, leaving Raquelle frustrated on how close she came to taking him away from Barbie.
- In The Simpsons, Mr. Burns pulls this out when trying to bribe some nuclear safety inspectors.
Mr. Burns: You can either have the washer and dryer where the lovely Smithers is standing. Or you can trade it all in (pulls out a box with question marks all over it) for what's in this box.
Inspector: The box! The box!
- In Family Guy, Peter's offered the chance to get a free boat, but he decides to take the Mystery Box instead, which merely contains tickets to a stand-up comedy show.
Peter: A boat's a boat, but a mystery box could be anything! It could even be a boat! And you know how much I've wanted one of those!
Lois: Then let's just...
- In one Looney Tunes cartoon, Daffy Duck turns down the "million box" which has a million smaller boxes inside it... and once Bugs gets the box, it's revealed that each tiny box had a dollar bill inside.
- In the first episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Shaggy and Scooby are offered their choice of a fancy doghouse, the airplane in which they arrived or the Mystery Box. The last is actually the Chest of Demons; when opened, it releases the 13 demons that had been trapped inside.
- The Jetsons and the Spacelys entered a game show and the Jetsons won. George then had a choice: collect the Grand Prize or whatever was behind the force field. If he picked the force field, Mr. Spacely would get the Grand Prize. Fearing for his job, George chose the prize hidden behind the force field. The force field then revealed a new stove (it was earlier shown to the viewers that the Jetsons needed one) and Mr. Spacely got a set of Cogswell products.
- Roy Rooster won 1 skillion dollars, a mansion with two kidney-shaped pools (to be anatomically correct) and several other prizes but traded everything for whatever was behind curtain number three. He got a dirty sock. The host commented that he's been on it for years and never gave any money but got rid of several socks already.
- Animaniacs: Slappy Squirrel once left a can at somebody else's garbage bin. The owner didn't like this and the two of them fought to pass it over to each other. One of Slappy's moves was having her rival trade prizes for whatever was behind a curtain. It was the can.
- SpongeBob and Patrick once tag teamed in a wrestle match and won. They could choose the money or whatever was behind the curtain. The trope was averted because, in that case, the winners were allowed to know what the prize behind the curtain was before they made their choice. Their option was trading the money prize for a trip to a wrestling-themed camp. Much to Mr. Krabs' dismay, they chose the camp.
- The Mr. Men Show had the episode "Game Shows." In the first segment in that episode, there was a game show entitled Guess What's in the Box, hosted by Mr. Nosy and Mr. Small.
Mr. Small: The rules are simple. We'll show you a box, and you must guess what's inside.
Mr. Nosy: Answer correctly, and you'll win whatever's in the box!
- The contestants were Mr. Rude, Miss Chatterbox, and Mr. Grumpy. Guess who won, and what was in the box; Miss Chatterbox, who ended up winning a donkey.
- Newcomb's Paradox is a thought experiment in which you are presented with Box A, known to contain $1,000 and Box B, which may contain nothing or $1,000,000. Your options are to take both boxes, or only Box B. The twist: the person running the game can reliably predict the future. If he predicted that you'd take both boxes, he left Box B empty; if he predicted that you'd take only Box B, he loaded it with the million-dollar payoff. What do you do?
- The apparently ironclad argument for taking both boxes: It's too late for the game-runner to change the contents of the boxes, so taking Box A gives you an extra $1000 no matter what.
- The apparently ironclad argument for taking only Box B: The game-runner has a good record at prediction, so taking only Box B makes it very likely that you'll get the million.