In fiction, especially cartoons, the humble mouse trap seems to be far more effective at catching unwanted hands reaching into unexpected places than it is actually catching wayward mice — in many cases, they will inevitably catch the fingers of the one who set it.
In real life, it can still be just as painful as it appears, depending on the size of the trap and strength of its spring.
Compare Bear Trap for something more horrific and (not always less) comedic.
- In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, a mouse trap is disguised as a stage for the mice to sit on, which would be used to kill them all.
- In the first film, Tony trips a trap with a stick to get the cheese.
- A mouse trap is part of Ratigan's elaborate Death Trap in The Great Mouse Detective. Basil and Dawson are tied to the trap, which should be enough, but the trigger is also connected to various weapons set to fire at them just to make sure. Basil triggers the trap early, creating a chain reaction that disables the whole thing.
- Flushed Away uses a mousetrap in one scene. Rather than actually bait and trap a mouse, it is used to propel a rat forward to the prey.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Jessica's "booby trap" (fittingly, a larger rat-trap—it injures one of Doom's weasel lackeys.)
- In The Curse Of The Were Rabbit, Grommit's put Wallace on a diet, and sets a mousetrap in Wallace's secret (he thinks) cheese cupboard.
- MouseHunt. Loads of them.
- In The Incredible Shrinking Man, the much-diminished protagonist gets stuck in a basement and has to raid a mousetrap for its cheese to avoid starving.
- The short film The Contraption, starring Richard "Riff Raff" O'Brien.
- During the frisking scene in The Mask, one of the many items pulled from the eponymous individual's pockets is a set mousetrap.
- Diamonds Are Forever: In the pre-titles set-piece, James Bond has what appears to be a razor-sharp mouse-trap inside his jacket pocket.
- In a scene from Muppets from Space showing the Muppets' morning routines, Rizzo is using a moustrap as a fitness machine.
- The first Jackass The Movie has Ehren McGhehey dressed as a mouse crawling through a floor-full of mouse traps setting off almost every one of them. The crew throws several at him including one attached to his groin.
- One of Robert McCloskey's Homer Price stories, "Michael Murphy's Musical Mousetrap", is about a man who's spent 20 years in the mountains designing and building a better mouse trap. It doesn't quite work as planned.
- In the Discworld novel Moving Pictures, there's an interlude involving a man who's devoted himself to building a better mouse trap.
- In Hogfather, the Death of Rats collects a mouse that fell prey to one of these.
- In The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, the Trap Disposal Squad's byword is "Be like the second mouse". The first mouse, in this parable, is the one that gets the trap rather than the cheese.
- One of the stories about Emil of Lönneberga by Astrid Lindgren has Emil's father Anton getting his toe stuck in a rat trap.
- On Three's Company, the trio had a mouse, and Jack switched beds with Janet until it got caught. (Since Chrissy was a farmer's daughter, she had no problem being in the same room with a mouse.) After some hilarity ensued, Jack ended up with the mouse trap on his foot.
- Hannah Montana: When a mouse invades the Stewart household, Jackson tries to catch it by covering the floor with mouse traps. However, he traps himself in a corner and tries to jump across the countertop to get out. He fails and falls, landing on and getting caught by multiple mouse traps.
- In the original BBC version of the Borrowers, Pod carefully grabs a bit of cheese from one; the trap still snaps but he avoids getting hurt by swerving away.
- One of the buzzers in Distraction was simply having to trigger a mousetrap (more accurately, a rat trap) with your hand. At least one contestant ended up with a broken finger.
- A cheese-centric episode of Good Eats opens with Alton Brown laying out hundreds of mouse traps in an attempt to catch one mouse. He thinks he spots a particularly rare type of cheese and goes for it; as the title card and theme song play, we hear him yelp in pain and dozens of snapping noises.
- One of the games on Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza involved two blindfolded and barefoot players and a stage covered with primed mousetraps. For added fun and Sociopathy, one of the other comics (usually Ryan) might start deliberately placing mousetraps or even throwing them at the participants.
- Stephen Colbert once primed a mousetrap and set it on his desk. Then he forgot about it later in the show. Unplanned hilarity ensued.
- In El Chavo del ocho, Professor Jirafales buys many of these and tells Chavo to hide them everywhere to catch a mouse in Doña Florinda's restaurant. El Chavo of course complies, but hides them in so many places that Doña Florinda and others accidentally find and activate them several times.
- In the music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's Michael Jackson parody "Fat", a mousetrap provides a percussive snap as Al goes for the cheese.
- Pepino, The Italian Mouse has the owner of the house trying to catch the taunting mouse by tempting him through various means, and Pepino offers up a gift... which catches the owner's hand in the trap.
- Mousetraps are featured in several Garfield strip. In week-long arc, a mouse is caught in one, but he's happy about it, because he has a wife and eight kids: "This is the first peace and quiet I've had in years".
- Featured in more than one The Far Side. One typical example has a mouse couple coming home to their hole to find a set trap. The wife is saying something like "Who knows what it is or where it came from. Get rid of it. But save that cheese before you do."
- In the Joan Baez episode of The Muppet Show, the storyline involved the rats trying to take over the show. In the "Pigs in Space" sketch, Link says he set a trap in the refrigerator. Cue First Mate Piggy entering the bridge with the trap snapped on her snout.
- Louisiana Purchase references this in one verse of the (originally) Cut Song "I'd Love to Be Shot from a Cannon with You":
I'd love to be caught in a mousetrap with you;
We're hungry, and so there is one thing to do.
We soon hear a couple of mouses
Yell out, "They ate our cheese, the louses,"
When I'm caught in a mousetrap with you.
- Although only shown in his trading card (his toy is just his skull), Rotten Rat of The Trash Pack is a maggoty rat skeleton caught in a mouse trap, still desperately trying to grab for the cheese out of his reach.
- One section of Geist requires you to possess a mouse and traverse a veritable minefield of mouse traps. They may be in plain sight, but that cheese is surprisingly tempting.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3, you can use a mousetrap to catch animals alive. This is important as it allows you to catch the most rare creature in the game that will end up giving you some face paint that grants you unlimited ammo if you keep it to the end of the game.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, before Adell joins your team, she will try to underhandedly trick your party into giving up/missing/not getting to the spoils of missions. The protagonist and Cid decide to make it seem like they forgot a rare piece of a treasure to lure Adell into walking right on a "mousetrap".
- The actual status of is questionable, though. The trapie claims not to be able to move after falling for it.
- One of the chore minigames in Cook, Serve, Delicious involves setting up a rat trap.
- Oh so many Tom and Jerry shorts.
- The "Designs on Jerry" episode involved Tom building a room-filling Rube Goldberg Device which he intended to market as the "better mousetrap".
- In the first Pink Panther short, "The Pink Phink", a painter sees the Panther's tracks and thinks he's dealing with a large mouse. So he gets a giant mousetrap, but the Panther sneaks up from behind and trips him, causing the trap to snap on the seat of his pants. As he walks away with the trap behind him, a mouse runs up and takes the cheese on the trap.
- Inch High Private Eye goes into a mousehole and meets a mouse bigger than he is. He backs up and his trenchcoat trips a mousetrap; the mouse snickers at him.
- A Looney Tunes short featured a tank being tested to withstand various traps. It gets caught in a gigantic mousetrap.
- On The Penguins of Madagascar, Skipper tests the others by having them go through a minefield of mouse traps to get a fish. Rico simply walks straight through, oblivous to the traps snapping on his person.
- An Eye Catch for Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers shows Monterrey Jack getting some cheese from a trap, leaving behind the wire bent in the shape of his head.
- In the Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner cartoon "Chariots of Fur", Wile E. tries to catch the Roadrunner with a giant mousetrap. He catches a giant mouse instead, who then clobbers him.
- Bugs Bunny uses mousetraps on an ineffectual Indian in A Feather In His Hare.
Indian: Me try catch-um rabbit. Me no catch-um rabbit. Me catch-um me!
- Wile E. Coyote sets a few dozen of them on the road and hides in the embankment - the Road Runner zooms by and they fly up in his wake into the embankment and...
- Beavis And Butthead try to use a rat trap on a rat that ate their nachos, but it keeps closing on their body parts (including their ears).
- In The Simpsons episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much", Bart tells that the incident where Freddy Quimby beat up a waiter was actually a result of the waiter's own clumsiness. When the waiter tries to tell everybody that he's not clumsy, he slips and falls out the window into a truck full of mousetraps.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog:
- In "Grounder the Genius", Scratch and Grounder use a giant mousetrap to try to catch Sonic, using a doll of Tails as bait. After Sonic traps dolls of them in the trap, Scratch and Grounder reveal a giant Bear Trap underneath, which Sonic is quick enough to avoid, but they aren't when it falls on them.
- In "Tails In Charge", Tails witnesses Scratch and Grounder build a giant mousetrap in an attempt to catch him. They use a chili dog as bait, but Tails manages to trick them into thinking they caught him, thus trapping them in it.