Schmuck Bait / Live-Action TV

  • 1000 Ways to Die has several examples (for obvious reasons), one of which involves a deadbeat dad that picked up a jet fighter pilot seat for his new bachelor pad. There was a lever on it. He got curious, and discovered the hard way the ejector system was still live when it launched him through his ceiling, shattering his skull.
  • In Auction Kings, that baby-grand piano that Jon was sent to get. It turned out to be a piece of junk. Luckily, Jon came back with several other valuable pieces.
    • In general, when a piece looks like it could be valuable, but the condition hurts the price.
    • Paul himself admits that pianos sell terribly at Gallery 63, so he tends to avoid them unless they are unique.
  • The pilot episode of the Adam West Batman has the Riddler try to steal the Batmobile and hit the clearly-labeled "start" button, which launches a flurry of fireworks.
  • The Daily Show
    • After a "Mahna Mahna" Muppets bit...
    Jon Stewart: By the way, if you google "muppets" and "scat", that may not be what you get. Go ahead, I'll wait... Freaky pictures.
    • People actually did it. Even the correct link is Schmuck Bait.
    • A more recent one (from him) would be to google "santorum", because of discussing a lesser-known GOP candidate Rick Santorum. The kicker? The guest for that night, Keira Knightley actually googled it and felt that her innocence was taken away from her.
      • It helps to know that Santorum's name was Google-bombed by liberal radio host Dan Savage to connect it with a really gross phrase.
  • The term "Schmuck Bait-y" was used in the Mutant Enemy bullpen and by Joss Whedon in DVD commentaries to describe settings that were dark and gloomy and seemed dangerous. Handy term for places they were bound to send characters.
  • Lost's island is covered in Schmuck Bait. In the early days of the series, the characters were constantly traipsing into the jungle even though they knew the "monster" was out there. In the episode "Walkabout", Jack and Sawyer go into the plane's fuselage to investigate growling. David Fury, late of Mutant Enemy, referred to this as "Schmuck Bait" on the DVD commentary.
  • Dougal on Father Ted has had problems at least twice with do-not-push buttons, once (evidently) on a SeaLink ferry, and then in the cockpit of an airplane.
  • The Middleman warns Wendy there are three things she should never, ever bring up in conversation with Sensei Ping. The minute said sensei pisses her off...
  • In the opening episode of episode of Heroes season three, Hiro receives a posthumous video message from his father saying that he must not open the safe in the office. Any one who has watched Hiro for five minutes knows this was idiocy on his father's part. And it was... the fact that the very next thing the message says is "I told you not to open the safe!", while funny, makes it clear that his father actually intended to make him open the safe.
  • Derren Brown Trick of the Mind had an episode all about this trope. He argued that signs telling us not to do something will only encourage us to do it. In the program, he came to a class and told some young children, two at a time in the room, to not press the button on the box. They do, and some stuff flies out from it. He also paints a sign on a wall telling people not to look through the hole. They do, and Derren's there to look right back at them. The programme's climax is him telling a woman to not press a button otherwise it will kill the cat inside of the tank. She presses it, however the cat wasn't killed, the button just turned the lights off if anything (so there's no need to call the RSPCA, OK).
  • Doctor Who
    • At the start of the second Doctor episode "The Mind Robber", the Doctor tells both Jamie and Zoe they must stay inside the TARDIS. Guess what Zoe does the instant the other two are out of the control room? And what Jamie does when he comes back and finds her missing?
    • The Impossible Planet. Don't turn around. Of course he probably was doomed anyway.
    • Also the episode "Blink". Don't look away, don't run, and whatever you do, don't blink. Guess what that statement encourages you to do. And when you do do it, you'll end up decades in the past.
    • And "The Christmas Invasion":
      The Doctor: And how am I going to react when I see this: A great big threatening button. A great big threatening button which must not be pressed under any circumstance. Which leaves us with a great big stinking problem, cause I really don't know who I am and I don't know where to stop. So when I see a great big threatening button which should never ever ever be pressed, then I just want to do this! (presses it)
      • Subverted in that the Sycorax claimed that pressing the button would kill everyone they had under mind control, when in fact it released them. The Doctor was calling their bluff.
    • From "The Time of Angels": "Come and see this!"note 
    • In "Amy's Choice", Rory falls for some verbal schmuck bait offered by the Dream Lord:
      Dream Lord: If you die in the dream, you wake up in reality. Healthy recovery in next to no time. Ask me what happens if you die in reality.
      Rory: What happens?
      Dream Lord: You die, stupid. That's why it's called reality.
    • "The Pandorica Opens". The Doctor seeks out a device that is an advanced prison designed to contain the universe's most powerful and intelligent being, a being feared by the Daleks, Cyberman, Judoon, Silurians, and countless other hostile alien races he's fought against. It's a prison for the Doctor.
    • In "The Five Doctors", it turns out that Rassilon, ancient founder of the Time Lords, knew a thing or two about Schmuck Bait. He'd spread stories about a potential path to immortality as a trap for the overly-ambitious. The fact that acquiring it required a visit to Gallifrey's Death Zone should've been a hint it was this trope, yet even the Master almost stepped right into it.
    • In Frontios, the Doctor lures the Gravis onto the TARDIS, and to reconstitute it, using this.
    • Let's face it, the entire Universe is Schmuck Bait when it comes to the Doctor.
  • Inversion in Candid Camera, when they put a bowl in a public place full of money with a sign that said "FREE MONEY". Nobody touched it, assuming it was Schmuck Bait. This show runs on the trope, such as getting people to put themselves through an airport baggage scanner in view of a hidden camera. Anyone who takes the Schmuck Bait is told to "smile, you're on Candid Camera!.
  • Another candid camera (though not that exact show) example: people were made to wait in a room alone for whatever reason, and in that room was a lifesized cardboard cut-out of an extremely attractive member of the opposite sex, with a sticker over their genitals. When people were waiting alone, they would look at it but never touch it, but when two people were waiting, one would invariably dare the other to lift the sticker. As soon as the sticker came off, a loud alarm would sound and the people would desperately try to put it back, which did nothing. Oh, and the cutouts' junk was still obscured.
  • The Twilight Zone
    • 1980's version, episode "Button, Button". A couple is given a box with a button on it. They're warned that if they push the button they'll receive $200,000, and a person they don't know will die. They finally push the button and receive the money. Then they're told that the box will be re-programmed and given to someone they don't know.
    • In the original version of the story, the wife pushes the button and the husband dies, causing the insurance money to pay the promised sum. When she complains to the button-giver, he responds, "Did you really think you knew your husband?"
    • The same premise is the plot behind the movie The Box; the reward has been increased to $1,000,000. Inflation.
  • On the old Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts, the main counselor Dr. Kahn's niece Ellen, a Bratty Half-Pint that bordered on Enfant Terrible, visited and caused problems for all the campers. They eventually figured out that she liked seeing them upset so they ignore her but tell her she will be punished if she pushes a button. It turns out the button activated a Rube Goldberg Device designed to give her a Humiliation Conga complete with Produce Pelting and a Bucket Booby-Trap leaving the nasty little girl Covered in Gunge.
  • Iron Chef and Iron Chef America both have the Ice Cream Machines. The Iron Chefs seemingly can't resist trying to make ice cream or other frozen dishes out of ingredients like trout and cod roe (I.C. French Hiriyuki Sakai seems particularly vulnerable to the machine's siren song). 9 times out of 10, this earns them scolding from the judging panel (if not outright Squick). Fish and Fish Roe ice cream is actually quite the treat in some parts of the world. The scolding is because the machines break half the time.
    • In The Food Network reality chef competition series Chopped, there is always a bottle of truffle oil in the pantry. The judges hate truffle oil, and severely chastise chefs who have the temerity to use the stuff in their dishes...
      • Kind of. Like with other flavoring oils (i.e. sesame oil) the problem tends to be the extreme overuse of the oil causing it to overpower the mystery ingredients.
    • In a different way, the biggest schmuck baits are puff pastry and bread pudding. Both are incredibly difficult things to accomplish in the short amount of time available and fail to complete 75% of the time.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "The Inquisitor", Lister pretends to think he's outsmarted the titular time-erasing simulant, and gives him his time gauntlet back. The Inquisitor falls for it, and ends up deleting himself from the entire space-time continuum.
  • In the Psych episode Mr. Yin Presents... a note next to a tap says "Draft us a couple cold ones and let's make a toast to you falling head over heels for me." Guess what happens when someone follows instructions left by a serial killer. Justified in this case, as Yin and Yang liked to set up elaborate "games" where the detectives had to solve puzzles and follow instructions left in riddles in order to find and rescue the victims before they were killed. This forced them to choose between taking the schmuck bait and leaving the victims to die.
  • The Supernatural episode "The End" has Future!Dean trying to shoot Lucifer with the Colt. In the DVD commentary, the writers and producers describe this as a meta example of "schmuck bait", taking great pleasure at the outraged fans complaining about how stupid it would be to shoot the devil in the face.
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "The Heist", soldiers raid a secret government armory, but the guard they capture begs them not to open a box. They open it, and unleash an alien that kills them all and continues to the outside world.
  • Pawn Stars
    • In one episode, someone attempts to sell an old fighter plane ejection seat they had sitting in their living room for years. Frighteningly, it was still functional — in all that time, no-one had ever pressed the "eject" button, which would have slammed them into the ceiling at a hundred miles an hour.
    • Another episode has someone selling an old rifle. When the owner cycles the bolt, a live shell falls out.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, episode "Wink of an Eye", the Alien of the Week tells Kirk not to touch a certain device. He touches it, and gets shocked. So what does he do? Puts both hands on it and keeps getting shocked. The reason is that the device in question is putting his crew into deep freeze to be preserved as potential breeding stock for the Alien. Kirk is willing to endure pain if he can only switch it off.
  • QI runs on this trope, since it is primarily about debunking commonly held beliefs. Panellists will be greeted with a siren and point deduction if they give the generally-known, obvious and WRONG answer to a question. Most panellists have come expect this and avoid obvious answers, unless it would be funny. Alan Davis is the preferred target for Schmuck Bait, receiving a siren for incorrectly answering a "How do you do?" with "Fine, thanks." and once for simply pressing his buzzer when prompted.
    • So the panellists know that obvious questions are schmuck bait. But the question setters know that the panellists know, so set schmuck bait questions that aren't. The panelists won't answer, so Stephen has to force the answer out of them, cajoling them until one says they will 'take the bullet for the team', and being surprised the obvious answer is the correct answer, leading to one of David Mitchell's rants. Of course when Stephen has to cajole the answer, and refuses to move on it must be because the answer IS right, so they know to give it. The production team know that the panellists know this. So the obvious answer IS wrong...
  • In an episode of The Pretender, Miss Parker and Mr. Lyle are investigating one of Jarod's "lairs" (a shipping container) when they see a Big Red Button with a sign saying "DANGER - DO NOT PUSH" in Jarod's handwriting. Parker tells Lyle not to push it, saying it's probably a trap. Lyle pushes it...and it IS a trap.
    • Inverted with the lever marked "Do not pull lever" that opens the side door.
  • One Season 3 episode of Babylon 5 features a form of Schmuck Bait trap. An automated alien ship happens upon the station and offers advanced technology for those who can solve a set of complex high-tech questions within 24 hours. Otherwise, it'll explode and take out the station. Even while frantic communiques are sent throughout the Earth Alliance for the answers, Captain Sheridan begins to suspect the ship for what it really was: a trap meant to take out civilizations too advanced for someone's good. Turns out he's right, and he prevents all the answers being transmitted until it's in the middle of flying away and well out of blast range.
  • At least one ingredient in Round One of every episode of Cupcake Wars is obvious Schmuck Bait. For example, the oysters, or the olives.
  • Community
    • After being told under no circumstance should they enter the space simulator by the Dean, it takes about five seconds after he left for Abed and Troy to find their way in.
    • From episode "Home Economics", Britta warns Pierce to not talk to Vaughn. Gets predictable results.
    • Abed sent Jeff a fake invitation to a club opening to ensure his calendar would be open for Troy and Abed's housewarming party.
    Jeff: [reading card] There’s no such thing as the “Single Malt Platinum Boobs and Billiards Club"?...I guess I never said it out loud.
  • The premise behind Bait Car, which illustrates amusing examples of would-be car thieves. (See Real Life entry for more details.)
    Thief: Hope this isn't one of those "Bait Cars"... (drives away, followed by police)
  • A stunt on the 90s Nick show What Would You Do? had kids alone in a room with a box that has a sign saying "Adults Only". It's actually a black-eye telescope.
  • "Schmuck bait" is a term that appears quite regularly in Buffy and Angel scripts.
    • In the Angel episode "Why We Fight", Spike mentions to Angel that he, Nostroyev, and the Prince of Lies were apparently captured by the Nazis when they attended a "free virgin blood party".
    • In "Smile Time" Angel enters a door marked only with the word DON'T. He gets turned into a puppet.
  • An episode of Sliders features an Earth who treats trial-by-jury as a game show. One of their methods of finding new "contestants?" Leave a money-filled wallet on the street and arrest whoever picks it up.
  • A segment of Police Videos shows an operation where fake flyers were mailed to suspects saying they won a free cruise if they came to the location on the flyer. The place looked like a party room for all the prize winners but when they tried to leave they would arrest them.
  • The Sweet Genius pantry contains a few prepared ingredients, such as pastry dough. Using any of them is likely to earn you a scolding for taking the easy path rather than making the pastry yourself.
  • In an episode of Hyperdrive, the Captain falls for a "Hero Trap", believing that an ancient society needs help, and will give him great rewards, despite his security officer Eldon repeatedly telling him what an obvious trap it is.
  • In Sharpe's Rifles, Sharpe gets Harris to make a sign reading "Keep Out" in French, and puts it at the entrance of a booby-trapped building. Sure enough, the next French cavalrymen to pass fall for it.
  • South Beach Tow's Christmas Episode begins with this as a Chekhov's Gun with anonymous box of Christmas cookies that Rob Jr. eats despite his sister's paranoia about where they came from. Cue bad gas and emergency bathroom run during a heated bilingual exchange with the owners of a car that despite being hitched up drags the entire tow truck to who-knows-where. Then, he returns to HQ sans truck where he's chewed out by his dad, loses out to Eddie who ALSO ate the cookies after Christine's warning, hogged the company bathroom, leaving Rob to nearly shit himself on the floor as his dad fires him after the anonymous baker, a former tow victim, calls to rub it in.
  • In Zeke & Luther, Zeke takes a bath in a hotel.Near the tub is a sign saying Don't stick fingers in the faucet.He does it and it remains stuck,forcing him to do a stunt with a faucet stuck to his toe.Better than the other idea,though (which was to saw his toe off.)
  • Let's Make a Deal is all about tricking people with bait in order to get them to foolishly give up what they could have won. It's all in good fun.
  • On Season 18 of The Amazing Race, the Austria Detour involved "Long Hard Walk" or "Quick and Easy Meal". "Long Hard Walk" involved carrying a large couch down a large stretch of the city while "Quick and Easy Meal" involved eating food on the Prater Ferris Wheel within a strict time limit (one full rotation of the wheel). The only problem with the latter detour was that they did not identify how much food you had to eat. It turned out to be an absolutely massive amount, and the three teams who initially attempted this could not finish and ended up doing the other side of the Detour, as it was not like you could eat any more the second time around.
  • In Kamen Rider Gaim episode 31, Micchy and Sid come upon one of the Overlords, who surrenders after a brief fight and promises to take them to the one who possesses the Forbidden Fruit. Just before they arrive, Micchy refuses to go any further, saying that it's a blatantly obvious trap. Sid, however, lets his Greed get the better of him and goes on ahead; this results in him encountering the Overlords' leader, who absolutely curb-stomps Sid and crushes him inside a stone cliff face.
  • In Once Upon a Time, "Save Henry." Regina, Snow White, and Emma are hunting down Peter Pan when they see Pandora's Box just sitting on the ground. Seeing as how the box is a Fate Worse Than Death for anyone inside it, and Rumplestiltskin is inside it, Regina immediately deduces it's a trap. Snow White doesn't listen, goes to the box, and sets off the trap.
  • The RCG closing logo in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia features a different backwards message each season. The first season's message was "You're stupid for playing this forward, you're stupid for playing this forward."
  • In an episode of 30 Rock, Jenna and Tracy are petsitting for Kenneth, and he gives them an ominous but vague warning "don't go into my room." When they do, they find that his room is getting bug-bombed, and they kill his pet bird by letting out the poisonous gas.
  • Warehouse 13 is full of really cool artifacts with mystic powers but dangerous side effects. Pete Lattimer is well aware of this, but still touches anything and everything where the downside isn't immediately apparent.
  • On Eureka, Fargo's GD personnel file contains the phrase "inappropriately pushed button" 37 times. Someone took advantage of this to try and kill Fargo, and nearly succeeded.
  • Some of the American episodes of The Chase had a Super Offer for the titular Chase round. It was normally double the top offer and always six-figures, but choosing this forced the contestant to play a perfect run of seven tough questions against the Chaser without a single wrong answer. Get a question wrong, and they're out of the game unless the Chaser gets a question wrong himself. Even if it was accomplished, they still have to win the Final Chase to take any of it home, or it goes away anyway.
  • Better Call Saul has a meta-aversion to this in the cliffhanger to "Fall," when Kim Wexler, overexhausted, zones out at the wheel and crashes her car. We then see Kim stagger out of the car, clearly heavily injured. According to show co-creator Peter Gould, they had to take steps to avoid schmuck bait.
    "We had an option that we considered — and if it had been a different TV show, we might have taken — which was to have the crash and then not show her getting out of the car. There’s a phrase that we used to use in the Breaking Bad writers’ room, and we use in the Better Call Saul writers’ room, and it’s something we try to avoid. We call it schmuck bait, but basically, it means leaving the audience to believe that something enormous has happened to get them to keep watching past the commercial or to the next episode, and then taking it off the table as soon as you get back. We really try to play fair with the audience."