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Schmuck Bait
You know what they say: Build a better mousetrap...
You would have to be an idiot to go near schmuck bait. Things like the Big Red Button with the dire warning signs; the dark alley in Vampire Town; the conspicuously untouched treasure chest; or the roomful of frighteningly realistic statues.

Making schmuck bait irresistible is a good trick. Often it takes advantage of the inherent appeal of Forbidden Fruit. Or a Curious as a Monkey character will ensure it gets taken. Often in spite of warning cries from more Genre Savvy characters.

See also Genre Blindness, Too Dumb to Live, Idiot Ball, Distress Ball, What Does This Button Do?, Press X to Die, Reverse Psychology, Who Would Be Stupid Enough, The Window or the Stairs, Don't Touch It, You Idiot! and Tempting Fate. If taking the bait doesn't hurt you, it's a Fake Trap. If taking it does something good, it's Violation of Common Sense. If that something good is being able to progress, it's Stupidity Is the Only Option (Trap Is the Only Option for the non-video game version). If someone fell into a Schmuck Bait one day but understandably didn't noise about it, he may be subject to Oblivious Mockeries. Not to be mistaken for Snark Bait, nor for something that actually baits your schmuck.

Note that this term is used differently by screenwriters. It most commonly refers to Like You Would Really Do It, and can also simply refer to any sort of audience misdirection.

Additional related tropes; press CTRL+W or ALT+F4 to display. And for Mac users, press command+Q.

More information on this can be found here.


Example subpages


    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • One former GEICO ad campaign featured a cartoon guy who brought the full brunt of some Obvious Traps onto himself. But some of them look too good to resist!
  • To launch a new television network in Belgium, TNT placed a button in a quiet square with a label that read: "Push to add drama."
  • "How 'bout a nice Hawaiian PUNCH?!"

    Arts 
  • The Rape Tunnel, an art installation by Richard Whitehouse. Exactly What It Says on the Tin: If you enter this tunnel then the artist will attempt to rape you. It's a followup to his other piece, The Punch-You-in-the-Face Tunnel. They were both fabricated stories, and the actual Schmuck Bait was to see who would take the story seriously and how; in this regard, it was successful if not predictable in light of this entire page.
  • Also from the art world, there was a controversy some years ago about a Danish exhibition that featured ten blenders, each containing water and live goldfish, with an invitation to the viewer that they could press the button if they wanted to. At least seven fish were pureed.

    Music 
  • Duncan Shiek's "Barely Breathing" is about a guy who has fallen for a woman whom he knows... he knows... will end up being bad news and likely breaking his heart and ruining his life. He knows he'll get hurt if he stays with her, but he's "thinking it over anyway." Schmuck Bait on a cracker.
  • The Airborne Toxic Event's "Sometime After Midnight" ends with the lines "You just have to see her/You just have to see her/You just have to see her/You know that she'll break you in two", which is definitely close to schmuck bait.
  • The "dance remix" of Perfume's Polyrhythm leaves in the song's bridge.
  • Even mentioning aloud the title of an Ear Worm song in another person's presence may constitute this trope, as they may well start to hum or sing it, thus infecting the title-sayer with the Ear Worm.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Every single time The Rock asks somebody a question, he cuts them off before they can give him an answer.
    The Rock: How dare you little jabroni come on The Rock's show and not even have the class to introduce yourself? What is your name?
    Chris Jericho: I told you—
    The Rock: IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!
    • "It doesn't matter" is something of a Catch Phrase for The Rock, to go along with his many, many others.
  • Another repeated schtick: "Oh god, my opponent has thrown a chair at me! HA HA, I caught it you dumb *kicks chair into the face*"
  • A general rule of thumb: if the resident Heel is offering to shake your hand, don't.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In a scene from Spitting Image, a retarded Ronald Reagan (the President's brain is missing) has two identical buttons right next to his bed. One reads "Nurse", the other one reads "Nuke". Guess which one he hits when his brain goes missing.
  • One common event in Punch and Judy shows is for Punch, on being led to the gallows, to sucker the hangman into putting his own neck into the noose because Punch "doesn't know how".

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In Dino Attack RPG, the secret black operations Antarctica mission was explicitly said to be a secret mission because, if word ever got out that Mutant Dinos were invading Antarctica (not to mention that Shadow and Viper agreed to this mission behind Digger's back), the consequences would be dire. Unfortunately, Atton Rand was Wrong Genre Savvy and believed that PeabodySam wanted players to spread word about the mission, and so with the help of newly-created NPCs Cam O'Cozy and French Fries, he let Zenna spread the news that there were Mutant Dinos in Antarctica and realists were going behind the backs of idealists. Needless to say, dire consequences followed.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Jeff Foxworthy mentions such a scenario in one of his routines, where he and his family were standing in line at the movies and Jeff's mother forgot her hearing aid.
    Jeff's Mom: [shouting] DON'T LOOK NOW! BUT THE MAN BEHIND US IS CROSS-EYED AS A BAT!
    Jeff: [Face Palm] [to audience] One, you're embarrassed to death. And two, when someone says something like that... You gotta look.

    Urban Legends 
  • A lot of myths claimed that gel or rubber bracelets for teens are a sexual signal and the guy who can break one from a girl would get her compelled to have sex with him. Other myths claim if the guy can take the pull tab intact from a girl's can of beer or soft drink she will kiss him, and if he can remove the lid from the can she will have sex with him. Cue the poor guy try to break with bare hands the rubber which is designed specifically to not break easily... or remove with bare fingers the factory-crimped and rolled lid from an aluminum beer cannote .
  • Some japanese urban legends are based around the victims taking the bait. A common one is Kashima Reiko, in which that if you read the legend, she'll appear before you. The legend itself is about a girl who got cut in half and rips other people's legs off in anger, if they knew about her or the legend based on her.
  • Many urban legends/games centered around summoning ghosts or spirits, like Bloody Mary or the Midnight Game, claim that dire consequences follow anyone who plays the game and doesn't adhere to a very strict formula. Many will specifically warn readers against even trying it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Disgaea Infinite, one path allows you to possess a Geo Symbol. If you do this, you get destroyed, triggering one of the Bad Endings.
  • Corpse Party: In Chapter 2, you are warned not to read the Victim's Memoirs to their conclusion. You may think "Tch! In Chapter 1 I was warned not to read that newspaper, but I had to in order to reach Chapter 1's True End. Let's take a look." Enjoy having Yoshiki realize that he's killed Ayumi and resorted to cannibalism.
  • In Virtue's Last Reward, at one point in the story you are given the chance to play the AB game while your opponent is sedated in the infirmary and you have only one BP remaining. You should pick Ally, right? Wrong.


Highlight only in case of emergency: Not now, you idiot! In case of emergency!
Reverse Psychology BackfireSocial EngineeringSafety In Muggles
SatireOlder Than FeudalismTrojan Horse
The Schizophrenia ConspiracySelf-Demonstrating ArticleSCP Foundation
Scenery CensorImageSource/PhotographySchoolmarm

alternative title(s): Shmuck Bait; Obvious Trap
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