Pit Trap

"You fell into a pitfall! This was your first pitfall in the Schwarzwelt, wasn't it? how did it feel as you fell? Anyway You've been introduced to the typical cheap trap. Be very careful from this point on."
Achievement description, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

A hole in the ground that's somehow covered up so as to blend in with the surrounding terrain. Sometimes it's hidden beneath a Trap Door. Related to but not to be confused with Bottomless Pit. If it's not hidden, it's not a pit trap.

A standard subversion is where character A sets up a pitfall for character B, B walks straight over the covered pit and doesn't fall in, and then character A tries to cross (possibly preceded by tentative testing first) and does fall in, Wile E. Coyote-style.

Platform Hell titles will have these, usually with no indication at all that it's a trap.

Oftentimes it is a Conspicuously Light Patch. If there's an angry creature waiting at the bottom, you may have run into an Antlion Monster.

May have something nasty at the bottom to do additional damage on impact, such as Spikes of Doom (possibly poisoned).


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     Anime And Manga  
  • A spike-filled one is one of the traps found in the grounds of the Iga ninja dogs in Ginga Nagareboshi Gin. It is used by Hayato to kill one of the Koga dogs as well as himself, as he literally took the enemy with him.
  • Team Rocket in the Pokémon anime often uses these. They often mess up a la the standard subversion.
    • They were very effective in the episode "The Stolen Stones".
    • Used against "the twerps" in the episode "Here's Looking At You".
    • One is used in an attempt to capture a Rhydon in "Right on, Rhydon!" It captures Jessie's Wobuffet instead.
  • In an episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, Satoko sets these. Rika falls down one, though Satoko was, if I remember correctly, trying to trap Keiichi.
  • Used and lampshade-hung in the anime of Ranma ˝, in the episode that introduces Gosunkugi.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
    • In the Kyoto Arc the Big Bad sets one up that's filled with frogs in a temple that Negi's class visits. Makie and Ayaka fall into it.
    • Negi's father also used one full of onions and garlic to defeat Evangeline.
  • Used to no effect (unless you count it working on Natsu, Gray, and Erza) by Lucy in Fairy Tail.
  • In Excel Saga, Il Palazzo has a Pit Trap under the Trap Door in his underground headquarters. Excel falls into it almost every time she sees Il Palazzo, and is aware of its existence, so it's not really a trap.
  • The Touhou manga, Inaba of the Moon & Inaba of the Earth has this as Tewi's most common prank, with Reisen being the traps' most common victim. One of it actually managed to knock out the infamously powerful Yorihime.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters just loves this trope.

  • In Chang, the natives construct these to trap wildlife. When they catch a baby elephant, they fish it out and try to tame it so they can put it to work. When they catch a leopard, they shoot it.
  • Seen as a plot twist in the comedy film ˇThree Amigos!. It took out three mooks.
  • In Disney's Swiss Family Robinson Francis builds one of these and successfully catches a tiger.
  • One forms a central part of the rather dark plot of Onibaba.

  • Used straight in The Most Dangerous Game.
  • In the Kate Daniels book Magic Strikes, Kate arranges a blanket and pillow over a sunken cage to look like a makeshift bed. She then kicks a shapeshifter into the cage and slams it shut.
  • In the Discworld, Granny Weatherwax triggers one of these. She drops into a pit in which there is already a disgruntled bear. The bear's day, already disrupted, is completely spoilt by this, and it tries to get as far away from the enraged witch as it can. The Dwarf hunters who set the trap consider filling it in would be the ideal solution, but are soon disabused of this notion.
  • In Tom Sharpe's satirical farce Riotous Assembly, the insane BOSS secret policeman Liutnant Verkramp falls foul of one of these, when out on a mission against a white houseowner paranoid against the possibility the blacks are about to rise in revolt, who has taken extreme precautions in defending his property.

     Tabletop Games  

     Video Games  
  • Available as an item in Animal Crossing. Said item is also in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and is actually called the pitfall.
  • In The Legendof Zelda Phantom Hourglass, the 8th floor of the Temple of the Ocean King has a fake safe zone only distinguishable by the fact that all the other safe zones have animations, while this one is static. And by, you know, falling into it.
  • One level in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards has numerous pitfalls scattered across its first stretches. Some of them contain helpful items, but some contain nasty spikes. The trick is to trigger them and then jump very quickly.
  • NetHack has them. Some of them contain spikes. And if those spikes are poisoned, it's a potential instadeath if you're not poison resistant.
  • One of Pitfall's trademarks.
  • At one point in Infocom's Leather Goddesses Of Phobos, the player can construct one of these to stop a giant mobile Venus Flytrap.
  • The Metal Gear series is full of these. They are apparently programmed so that only Snake can trigger them. And the enemies can even walk over them when they're open.
  • Space Quest II has a partially concealed pit trap death early in the game, and an Acid Pool pit trap towards the end. Amusingly, if you use a command to look at the pit trap the narrator will call you paranoid.
  • Discussed in Persona 3. This is what Elizabeth thinks a manhole is intended to be.
    Elizabeth: A clever snare. It goes against the common notion that a pitfall must be hidden. Signs placed all around boldy proclaim "Do Not Enter." Humans frequently desire that which is forbidden to them.
  • Some Super Mario World hacks do this, especially with reverse P-switches (coins are safe to walk on).
  • These are present throughout the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series in the later dungeons. If the team's leader falls in one, they simply take a minimal amount of damage and move to the next floor. However, if anyone else on the team falls in one, they're removed from the party for the duration of the dungeon. This can be a large source of frustration if you're doing an Escort Mission or if you recruited a rare Pokemon.
  • Usable by the player in Monster Hunter. While it takes a while to set up, should a monster fall in, it'll be vulnerable in the time it takes for it to get out, allowing the player to heal, get in a few free hits, or tranquilize the monster if it's weak enough. In the 3rd generation games, Pitfall Traps do not work underwater, and are ineffective against Nibelsnarf.
  • Wily Stage 4 in Mega Man 2 has this. The first set only makes you go back, the second set is above Spikes of Doom. Hint: Use the Bubble Lead to see where the holes are.

     Western Animation  
  • Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner. In "Stop! Look! And Hasten!" Wile. E. Coyote tries to capture the Roadrunner with one of these, which he makes from a book titled "How To Build A Burmese Tiger Trap." What he captures instead is a Burmese tiger (Surprisibus surprisibus).
  • In another Looney Tunes example, Daffy makes a pit under his welcome mat leading to a tank full of crocodiles for the Delivery Stork. The stork (who is a little tipsy) sidesteps the mat, and an exasperated Daffy drags him back outside and falls into the pit himself.
  • At the end of The Lion King, Timon and Pumbaa actually defeat the hyenas by luring them all into a large pit they dug while Simba is still fighting Scar.
  • The CMC pull this in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
  • In the Superman cartoon "Showdown", a mob tricks Superman into a Pit Trap through a Trap Door made of reinforced steel. The mobster and his henchman then place a heavy desk over the Trap Door. This... mildly inconveniences Superman.
  • Percival McLeach actually does this to Cody at the very beginning of The Rescuers Down Under in order to force him to give up the eagle Marahute.
  • In the 1980s Thundercats, Lion-O first meets the Berbils when he falls into one of their concealed pit traps. note 
  • Total Drama Island. Duncan and Owen use a pit trap to steal the survival gear off Gwen and Heather in "Are We There, Yeti?".

     Real Life  
  • The notorious pit-traps used in the Vietnamese jungle against American troops. Often with a courtesy detail of poisoned punji spikes at the bottom.