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Bucket Booby-Trap

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Josh: Why was your bucket over our door?
Megan: Why was your door under my bucket?

A simple Practical Joke where an object is placed over a door, with the intent that it or the contents will fall on the person who fully opens the door. Most frequently this is a pail of water or more noxious liquid, but chalkboard erasers and other messy objects can also be used. Often results in Covered in Gunge or Powder Gag. Occasionally used semi-seriously by filling the bucket with a deadly or dangerous substance.

This trope is subverted about as often as it works properly. Frequently, the intended victim will spot the trap, or come in by another way, or the bucket will stay balanced on the door, or an unintended victim will be the one to enter (often the original prankster).

This probably goes without saying, but Don't Try This at Home. Water's heavy, and the bucket won't be empty by the time it hits the victim's head.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A more complex form than is necessary is set up twice in a Fairy Tail omake. It never hits its intended target.
  • In GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Noda, when entering the classroom, very nearly gets caught by an eraser trap she set up with Tomokane's assistance... but it catches her as she leaves. Later, she tries to set it up again, but Tomokane surprises her and they both get hit with it.
  • In Good Luck Girl!, Momiji sets up an eraser above a door. Ichiko spots it and dodges, but to her horror, it turns out to actually be a brick disguised as an eraser, as Momiji was trying to kill her.
  • Satoko does this to Keiichi a few times in Higurashi: When They Cry. In one instance, Keiichi spots the bucket and moves it out of the way. However, this makes him walk straight into another trap Satoko set up; she intentionally made the first trap obvious for that purpose.
  • Jewelpet Sunshine: Ruby pranks the new teacher by having a blackboard eraser drop on him when he opens the door. The teacher happens to be a dolphin and it lands right on his blowhole, covering it with chalk, and making him look dead for a few seconds.
  • At the beginning of Naruto, it was done with blackboard erasers loaded with chalkdust. Kakashi fell for it.
  • The eraser variant happens in Negima! Magister Negi Magi. When Negi comments on how uncreative it is, he takes another step forward and immediately hits another (much more creative) trap that did include a bucket. It's an instance of playing with a trope, since he lets it happen to preserve The Masquerade.
  • The eraser variation is seen in Nichijou, with all the entrances boobytrapped or sealed.
  • Non Non Biyori: Natsumi and Renge try to prank their teacher by putting a chalkboard eraser on top of the door. Komari is caught in it instead, shown from three different angles in a Repeat Cut.
  • Attempted in the anime Prétear by Mayune. Just after she finishes putting up the trap (with some help from Tanaka the butler), Himeno, for whom the trap was intended, comes out of the room through the wrong side of the door, leading to Mayune becoming the victim of her own joke. Himeno doesn't even notice this.
  • Done in Urusei Yatsura to the new Mr. Hanawa: he steps on a floor-waxing pad, slides across the classroom and up a tilted platform, backflips and kicks a bucket out of a student's hands, sticks his landing, only to have the bucket fall on his head. The students are so impressed with the routine, they clap and compliment him.
  • Almost done in The World God Only Knows where Keima attempts to make an impression on Jun by doing this with an eraser. Elsie ends up tripping the trap instead.
  • In Chapter 164 of GTO: The Early Years, Atsushi walks into one and takes a chalkboard eraser to the face.
  • Someone tries to do this to Sakamoto in Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto. Of course, being Sakamoto, he catches it gracefully before it hits him.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 9, the goats play an April Fools' prank on Mr. Slowy by placing a bucket full of water on top of the door to their school to spill on him.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • In Bad Kids Go to Hell, Craig rigs a bowl of punch to the curtain mechanism on the stage so it will fall on Tricia when the curtains are opened.
  • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: When Scrooge, Matilda, and Hortense first approach Fort Duckburg, Scrooge warns the girls that there may be deadly traps ahead. He dramatically searches for danger... and then falls into a Bucket Booby-Trap, courtesy of the Junior Woodchucks. Hortense teases him about the seriousness of this trap.
  • In The Maze Agency #6, the killer balances a bowl of acid atop a door which splashes Gabe on his arm as he rushes through the door.
  • In issue #45 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), Evil!Twilight Sparkle is defeated this way. Although she has at that point become the most intelligent being in History, able to see through all of her enemies' schemes that aimed to have her drink the cure, she didn't see it coming because according to Pinkie Pie, she still lacks a sense of comedy.
  • Superman:
    • As seen in the above picture, in volume 1, issue #95, the Practical Joker does this to Superman by rigging the bucket over a wall, correctly predicting that Superman would burst through it, à la Kool-Aid Man.
    • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man had Steve Lombard trying to pull this gag on Clark Kent. However, Clark (a.k.a. You-Know-Who) uses his Super-Breath to prevent the bucket from falling. When Steve checks out the gag, he gets drenched.
    • Superman's foe the Prankster once rigged up a lethal variant involving a water tank holding several hundred gallons of water suspended above an aircraft hangar door. If his kidnap victim, Perry White, managed to escape, opening the door would release the tank.
    • In "Secret Identities", a high-school bully talks another girl into rigging a bucket filled with toilet waste over a toilet's door and dumping the contents on the head of new student Claire Connors. The incident convinces "Claire" that creating a secret identity was a mistake, so she drops her disguise on the spot and takes off.
  • In Titeuf, the kids attempt to do that in real life after seeing it in a cartoon and... a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs. Water is heavy, and the bucket doesn't fall empty. Cue a badly injured kid and two ashamed ones.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes did this several times. Take care when entering the room of a six-year-old who's just watched "Attack of the Coed Cannibals".
    Mom: [soaking wet] DID YOU WATCH A SCARY MOVIE?!
    Calvin: [hiding under his sheets] No. Don't come in. The rug is rigged too.
  • Foxtrot: Jason attempts to pull it off several times, but it never quite works. One strip in particular shows him setting it up, waiting, getting frustrated, and taking it down... only for his sister Paige to enter the room, knocking Jason, the chair he's standing on, and the bucket over.

    Fan Works 
  • Defied in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series:
    Calvin: (to Socrates) No, you may not drop a bucket of water on her head and see what happens!
  • In Death Moon James puts a container of last week's soup over a door, hoping to prank his father with it. It lands on his mother instead.
  • In Faith Harry puts a bucket of muddy water and dead spiders over Ron's door as partial retaliation for Ron's playing equally nasty pranks and claiming that Harry's evil and in league with Voldemort.
  • In Harry Potter: My Life Is My Own Harry, Neville and Susan booby-trap a door with a balloon filled with a potion which makes Sirius smell like a wet dog for three days.
  • In Master Crimson David uses a shield charm to avoid a bucket of soapy water Sirius put over David's door, then magically balls up all the water and throws it at Sirius.
  • In Oh Hell No Harry has Dobby put a bucket of soapy water and a charmed scrub brush over the door to Snape's quarters. After Snape gets hit with the water, the brush starts scrubbing his hair.
  • In Overdue, Fines Incurring Harry puts a bucket of water balloons filled with color-changing potion over the kitchen door.
  • In Return to Prince Manor Harry, Ron and Draco put a bucket of purple paint over Ginny's door.
  • In Taking Control Remus and Tonks put a bucket of gold paint over Harry's bedroom door.
  • Played for horror in Unova Mansion. Chandelure's death involves the setup for the bucket prank...except instead of water, a blanket dipped in cooled Spirit Solutution (an illegal substance used for killing Ghost-type Pokémon) is dropped onto him, melting him.
  • The Vasto of White: At one point, Urahara gets bored and pulls the chalk eraser variant on Rukia. It gets her covered with chalk dust.
  • In When Angels Fly Gabriel uses a bag of pink feathers and a bucket of something unidentifiable in a trap for the Winchesters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Across to Singapore: Joel rigs up one of these to get his brother Mark, but it's his girlfriend Priscilla that comes in the room and gets soaked.
  • Carrie has the titular protagonist getting a bucket of pig blood dumped on her head after she is named prom queen. It does not end well.
  • In the French film C'est pas moi, c'est lui (It's not me, it's him), Pierre is a vaudeville ghostwriter, who ends up in Tunisia. He gets captured by a local tribe that hates the West, along with another Frenchman. They plan to escape during a slapstick comedy performance. This particular trope is Pierre's specialty, so he does it to his partner once and sets up to do it again. But one of the tribesmen doesn't want to give him valuable water, so he fills the bucket with mule piss. Now, the plan is for the partner to start the car, while Pierre is distracting the tribesmen. The car doesn't start, and the guy returns, only to have the bucket spill its contents on both of them.
  • Subverted in The Horror of Party Beach, when the victim turns out to be a bunch of slime monsters.
  • The Parent Trap has one of the twins played by Lindsey Lohan set up a bucket booby trap as part of a prank war with the other. An adult falls victim to it, and they both get in trouble.
  • The Railway Children: Peter sets up a bucket of water to fall on Ruth, the bad-tempered maid. When she is duly drenched, she slowly advances towards him, accompanied by scary music, before slapping him hard.
  • In Stage Fright (2014), Liz rigs up a bucket to pour red paint over Camilla and ruin opening night. It later ends up dumping on her instead.
  • This was a commonplace gag in many The Three Stooges shorts.
  • This is done to Richard Pryor in The Toy by the kid who buys him. Near the end of the movie he does it right back to the kid.

  • As mentioned under "Film", Carrie contains the infamous pig-blood prank at the prom that sets off the title character's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Discworld
    • Carpe Jugulum features a holy water Bucket Booby Trap as well, this time used against vampires.
    • In Making Money, Lord Vetinari subverts this trope, being wise enough to expect this from the Fools' Guild. A similar thing happens when the City Watch visit the Guild in Men at Arms.
    • In Sourcery, a bucket of long dried-up whitewash is part of the not-exactly-a-Death Course created by a king with an odd sense of humour.
  • Goblins in the Castle: The morning after the goblins are freed, William and Karl make their way down to the laundry room to find Hulda, and also the Baron. When the Baron announces it's time to take a break and have breakfast, he opens a door... and a bucket of water promptly falls on his head.
  • Good Omens has Crowley do this with holy water, and use it to kill a Duke of Hell. Notably, the bucket of holy water is treated like a bomb by Crowley, as he's a demon too.
  • Regularly attempted in the Greyfriars stories, usually with the bucket containing a noxious mixture of ink, soot and gum. Rarely was the trap sprung by the intended victim: usually the form master Mr. Quelch ended up drenched, and always seemed to know who was responsible.
  • A Head Full of Ghosts : When Merry finds out Marjorie has been sneaking into her room at night, she rigs an orange can to fall from the door, hoping the clatter will wake her. It doesn't work.
  • In one of P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories, Bertie Wooster was trying to help a friend gain confidence by seeing a bag of flour fall on the head of his boss. Jeeves came up with a much better solution, but Bertie forgot to take the bag of flour down, and wound up covered in the stuff.
  • In Michael Jackson's autobiography, Moonwalk, he mentions that he and his brothers loved this prank and would set up buckets of water over the hotel room door all the time while on tour, trying to soak each other or anybody else who might come to see them. He says this even continued through the Jacksons' last tour, the Victory Tour in 1984, when Michael would have been twenty-six years old.
  • The Naughtiest Girl. The first book has Elizabeth play a non-bucket version of this prank. At one point, she places a wet sponge on the door to the music room, knowing Harry will shortly be entering the room to fetch some sheet music. The trap works, but she makes the mistake of hanging around to see the outcome. And Harry, needless to say, is not pleased.
  • In a Star Trek novel, this happens to Worf at Starfleet Academy. The prankster got to spend some time in the infirmary.
    • Said prankster was a descendant of the same prankster who bedeviled James Kirk, as mentioned in the Live Action TV section below. Must've been In the Blood.
  • A Twist of the Knife: A deadly serious one, in the backstory. Stephen Longhurst and his friend Wayne Howard, boys of 10 and 11 respectively, rigged up a bust of Cicero atop the door of their school's headmaster, Philip Alden. It fell on his head, cracked his skull, and killed him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Think of a show with a summer camp: this gag inevitably appears. It must be a rule, or something.
  • 30 Rock - at her high-school reunion, Liz is shocked to find she was the class bully and not the put-upon nerd she thought she was. She gives up trying to get everyone to like her when she sees they were planning to "Carrie" her on stage.
  • Subverted In "The Sitter" episode of Amazing Stories The boys try this on their sitter, but she is magical and it freezes in midair. When the boys go to investigate, the bucket falls on them.
  • Bernard gets around the problem of the bucket concussing the victim in the original Bernard's Watch. He uses his magical watch to freeze time, climbs a ladder with his bucket of water, turns the bucket upside down and lifts it off the water, leaving the water suspended in mid air, frozen in time above the head of a bully. One click of his watch to restore the flow of time, and not only is the bully drenched from above, but he is completely confused about where the water came from.
  • A bucket of flour was dumped over Tsukushi's head to go along with her traditional first episode Produce Pelting in the Korean version of Boys over Flowers.
  • An episode of Cheers had it as well. Diane, having gone into a paranoid frenzy about the others getting back at her for using them as a psychological test bed, is sent into Sam's office to lie down... at which point Carla springs the trap. However, Diane's actually touched, seeing this as proof the gang thinks of her as one of them.
  • Megan from Drake & Josh provides the page quote. In one episode, she and her mean celebrity friend decide to prank Drake and Josh with the bucket over the door. However, it backfires, and knocks the celebrity unconscious. The episode ends with Hilarious Outtakes with about five variations on Josh and Megan's exchange.
  • Fuller House : The kids mistakenly drop one on DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy, instead of Joey during an Escalating War of pranks.
  • Referenced in an episode of Greg the Bunny, when it's mentioned that Greg had a very bad reaction to a bucket prank. Greg points out that he got trapped under the bucket for several hours and almost suffocated.
  • In the prank-filled episode "The Marry Prankster" of Happy Endings, Penny gets this twice. First he dumps slime on Penny in her apartment, and then when she comes to confront him about what she thinks is another prank (a fake proposal set-up that turns out to be real), she goes to use his phone, and she gets slimed again-which was meant for Dave.
  • In a rare turning of the tables, Frank Burns does this to Hawkeye in the M*A*S*H episode "Showtime", while Hawkeye himself rigs one of these for a visiting colonel in "April Fools".
  • The defunct French kids' show Les Mini-keums had the character Coco rig this while highlighting the rules for the prank actually working: There must be someone in the trapped room, the door must not be a sliding one, and you must use a bucket, not a plastic bowl. At the end of the short, he walks into the elevator... Only for a plastic bowl full of water to fall on him as he passes the sliding door.
  • In the pilot episode of Moonlighting, David Addison has an empty bucket perched over his office door, apparently on general principles. When receptionist Agnes DiPesto falls victim to the prank, David remarks, "Ms. DiPesto, you're looking a little pail."
  • Odd Squad: In "Now You Don't See Me", Odd Todd rigs a bucket booby trap to one of his clues so it dumps invisible ink over Otto, turning him invisible.
  • In Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Parker pulls this on his principal with a box full of popcorn in one episode, only to later save her from a similar trap using Jell-O. At the end of the episode, he finds Big Guy Kubiak munching away on the Jell-O, despite already having eaten several pizzas Parker had bribed him with for a previous favor. When asked about it, Kubiak simply says: "There's always room for Jell-O!"
  • Originally, the ending of the Red Dwarf episode "Dimension Jump" involved Rimmer trying to do this to Ace with a pile of kippers. The gag was to backfire, with the last shot being a freezeframe of the kippers falling over Rimmer... but then someone realized the gag made no sense, since the kippers would fall through Virtual Ghost Rimmer. The scene was cut, one of the few times Red Dwarf worked to avoid Fridge Logic.
  • This also happened to Hannah Spearritt of the group and show S Club 7, who received a bucket of green slime dumped on her head by her bandmates.
  • In an episode of Star Trek, Kirk remembered Finnegan, the Oirish Class Clown from his academy days. (Fight me, Jimmy!) It seems one of Finnegan's favorite pranks was the bucket over the door trick. One might wonder how that was supposed to work with the sliding doors seen everywhere on Star Trek — until the TNG episode "The First Duty" shows that Wesley's academy quarters (and, presumably, those of every other cadet) do indeed have regular hinged doors.
  • An episode of The Suite Life on Deck had Zack attempt to do this to Woody but it ended up hitting an Action Girl who was captain of the ship's boys wrestling team after which she delivered a Ass Kicks You until Zack in desperation said he wanted to go out with her.
  • Supernatural:
    • Played seriously in an episode where Kevin Tran uses this trope as a demon Booby Trap by filling them with holy water.
    • Then Played for Laughs when Kevin's mom uses a holy water trap on Kevin, just in case it was actually a demon coming through the door. Kevin is irritated that this keeps happening.
    • Used horrifically in an episode of season nine, when a bucket trap dumps holy oil on an angel, which the trap then follows up by lighting him on fire. Only the results are actually seen onscreen, which are gruesome enough.
  • In the That '70s Show episode "Prank Day" Eric tries to do this to Kelso, using a bucket filled with oatmeal. The bucket falls on Red instead.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Wanting to get the attention of the their leader "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, alliance members Shawn Stasiak and Stacy Keibler set one of these up for Kurt Angle. Knowing that he goes to catering to have a glass of milk before each match they put a bucket of sour rancid milk over the door before his match. Unfortunately for them, Angle was not the next person to come into the room, it was Austin's buxom wife Debra who received the gungy surprise shower. Stone Cold was not amused but the audience loved it.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock: In "Scared Silly", Doc has forgotten the key to the workshop. He asks Sprocket to go in through the doggy door and open the main door from inside so he won't have to ask Shimmelfinney for the extra key. When Sprocket gets inside, he sees a bucket above the door. He gives Doc the key and makes frantic noises warning him not to enter. When Doc doesn't understand, Sprocket goes back in the workshop, then throws himself against the door, trying to hold it shut. After a moment's struggle, Doc manages to push the door open, causing the bucket to dump confetti on him.
  • On Sesame Street, Harvey Kneeslapper sets a bucket of confetti, triggered by a rope, above a door, then waits for someone to walk through the door and pull the rope. His prank backfires when a girl peeks around the door (which isn't connected to a wall) and pulls the rope, dumping the confetti on Harvey.


    Video Games 
  • The "Tool Use" skill in Avernum is illustrated with a picture of an unfortunate individual about to spring a trap of this nature. The bucket is labeled "acid." (Avernum does not take itself particularly seriously.)
  • Future Wars begins with you as a window-washer playing a practical joke on your boss by filling a bucket with water and making it fall on his head when he opens a door.
  • This is the first line of defense towards Bedsmith's nightmare chunk in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. The second is not so benevolent.
  • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, Guybrush has to put a bucket of mud over the door to Largo LaGrande's room so he'll take his clothes to the cleaners, since he needs a scrap of Largo's clothes to make a Voodoo Doll.
  • Played straight in the Spy vs. Spy video game, where you could set up a bucket of something deadly (appears to be electrified water, complete with X-Ray Sparks) for your opponent...but if you forget which entrance it is in, you'd kill yourself.
  • Yandere Simulator: One can be set up with the school's washbasins, filled with either water, gasoline, or blood. All options will lead to the victim running off to shower and change clothes, which can be exploited in quite a few ways, such as isolating an intended murder victim, temporarily throwing a potential witness off their routine, stealing phones or jewelry from the shower's locker room, or in the case of gasoline, setting them up to burn with a candle.
    Visual Novels 
  • Used very much for harm in the prologue trial of Project: Eden's Garden. The killer was hoping to disarm Cara of her assault rifle. In order to do so, they filled a bucket in a janitor's closet with bleach and positioned it over the door. Once they lured Cara inside, the bleach ended up blinding her.

  • This strip of the Webcomic Catena using a shed tarantula skin.
  • Cosmic Dash: The prank is attempted using Bucketbot, but when the door is open, Bucketbot successfully struggles to maintain his balance.
  • The prank doesn't go as expected in this Faux Pas strip: The metallic bucket hits someone on the head.
  • Mentioned seriously in Fuzzy Knights. "Keep an eye out for everything, including buckets of acid balanced on half-open doors!"
  • Occurs in Homestuck, courtesy of John to Rose. In this case the bucket does not contain water, but harmless candy packages.
  • Subverted beautifully in this strip of the Webcomic Questionable Content, since the prankster was too small to reach the top of the door.
  • Trans Girl Next Door: On April Fools' Day, Kylie puts a bucket over her friend's door to prank her. The friend lampshades how unoriginal it is, and Kylie responds, "Maybe I am the fool."

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the 3-2-1 Penguins! episode "Practical Hoax", Jason successfully uses this to prank Michelle, much to her chagrin.
  • In an episode of The Amazing World of Gumball (appropriately titled "The Prank"), Richard ends up trying this as part of a Escalating War with his sons. Unfortunately, Gumball and Darwin notice the bucket and manage to trick Richard into going out the door (and getting the bucket stuck on his head). Later, Gumball and Darwin see another bucket over a door, and, feeling guilty over how hard they've pranked their dad, are willing to "fall" for it... only for the bucket to be filled with hardened cement. Richard has no idea how that happened, given he filled it with wet cement.
  • Dennis the Menace: In "A Step Ahead", Alice and Henry hire Marty, a young babysitter, to look after Dennis while they go out for the evening. Dennis sets this trap for Marty, but unfortunately for him, Marty is well aware of this trap, due to having pulled it when he was Dennis' age.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: in "Squeeze the Day" Bloo and Mac are alone in the house and decide to put a bucket over the front door. Only the others would not be back for hours, and Bloo wants to see it now, so they try to do it to themselves, with disastrous results.
  • Garfield and Friends: Subverted in the U.S. Acres episode, "Goody Go Round"; Roy rigs his coop door with a bucket so that when Orson walks through the door, "the bucket will fall, and WHAMMO! Drenched porker." He also intends to follow up with super-hot tabasco-flavored gum, which will come back to bite him later, but for now, Orson opens the door, and the bucket doesn't fall, despite its precarious motion. Roy offers the gum; Orson accepts but doesn't chew it. After a discussion involving adding a link to the goody-go-round, Orson closes the door. The rule of comedic timing in full effect, the bucket falls while Roy ponders the failure of his two tricks, not soaking him until he's trying to remember what the second one was.
  • Done fairly horrifically in Monkey Dust. Noodles, a Bugs Bunny-esque cartoon rabbit, takes revenge on the scientists who perform experiments on him by propping an anvil on a door. Needless to say, the scientist doesn't spring back into shape two seconds later.
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, Dr. Cockroach rigs a levitating, self-refilling water bucket for this purpose, as Area Fifty-Something does not have traditional doors.
  • Occurs in The Simpsons, Homer intends to play this prank on the dean of Springfield University, however, somebody got there first, and Homer ends up with a bucket glued to his head.
  • Scruple sets one up for his master Gargamel in The Smurfs (1981) episode "The Most Popular Smurf".
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Just One Bite": Squidward discovers that the Krusty Krab's security system involves a bucket full of gasoline over the front door and a lit match. And then he learns that Mr. Krabs has a second bucket for the kitchen door. For obvious reasons, this is sometimes cut out; for example the United States has not seen this full scene in reruns since late 2001. The most the U.S. airing had shown is the first explosion but even later edits change the scene to Squidward looking through the front doors before the camera pans towards the Vault through the order window.


Video Example(s):


This isn't water, this is gas!

Squidward attempts to break into the Krusty Krab in the dead of night to sneak a Krabby Patty, and assumes the burglar alarm is nothing more than a bucket of water. He sniffs it, however, and realizes it's gas, which causes him to get caught in a fiery explosion... twice.

How well does it match the trope?

4.7 (27 votes)

Example of:

Main / GasolineDousing

Media sources: