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Pit Trap

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"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) or snakes.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Used to no effect (unless you count it working on Natsu, Gray, and Erza) by Lucy in Fairy Tail.
  • 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.
  • In an episode of Higurashi: When They Cry Kai, Satoko sets these. Rika falls down one, though Satoko was trying to trap Keiichi.
  • Hunter × Hunter: The Hunter exam had these set up, given the extreme challenge it poses.
  • The Touhou Project 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
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • 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.
  • In Oh, Suddenly Egyptian God, this is one of the pranks Set attempts to pull off on Horus. The latter manages to fall in, but is quickly rescued by Otter.
  • Team Rocket in the Pokémon anime use these so often that they're practically the Trope Codifiers. 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.
    • They did use one correctly in "Charmander, the Stray Pokémon", only for the plan to fall apart after being burned by Charmander.
  • Used and lampshade-hung in the anime of Ranma ½, in the episode that introduces Gosunkugi.managed to knock out the infamously powerful Yorihime.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters just loves this trope.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 
  • Barbie as Rapunzel: Two kingdoms are at war. King Wilhelm has his men create a pit trap with spikes on the bottom in King Fredrick's territory. Little Princess Katrina falls in, but she grabs the edge in time. Rapunzel shows up and grabs her hand, but when she almost loses her balance, Prince Stefan grabs her and pulls them both to safety.
  • The Lion King 1½: Timon and Pumbaa defeat the hyenas by luring them all into a large pit they dug while Simba is still fighting Scar.
  • The Rescuers Down Under: Cody ends up in one of these dug by Evil Poacher McLeach when he frees the mouse that served as the bait. At first, McLeach is quite surprised to have caught a boy instead of an animal and tries to blame his pet lizard Joanna for having dug the hole. However, when he realizes Cody knows where the eagle Marahute is, he reveals his true colors and kidnaps the boy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 ¡Three Amigos!. It took out three mooks.
  • In Disney's Swiss Family Robinson Francis suggests the family build a few of these with dangerous animals at the bottom to fend off the pirates. His father thinks the animals aspect might be too impractical, but then the boy manages to build one of these that successfully catches a tiger. The pits later get put to good use in the climax.
  • One forms a central part of the rather dark plot of Onibaba.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. Hidden under the sand, it takes out one of the War Rig's escort vehicles. Furiosa has to turn her Big Badass Rig sharply to avoid it.
  • In Dragon Ball Evolution, Yamcha the Desert Bandit traps unsuspecting travelers this way, then offers to throw down a rope in exchange for them surrendering their valuables. While the hole is too deep for Goku to jump out, Master Roshi does it with ease.
  • Jimmy falls in one while trying to rescue Tom in The Rawhide Terror.
  • In Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend, there is an old well under a Trap Door in the floor of Sanders' office. Sanders opens the trap door and lays a rug across it in an attempt to lure the thief to his death. Devlin falls through the rug but manages to catch the edge of the floor and haul himself out. In the subsequent fight, Sanders' henchman Walters falls down the well and dies.
  • In You Might Be the Killer, the camp counselors dig a pit, place wooden spikes at the bottom, and cover it with leaves in an attempt to lure the killer into a trap. It doesn't work.
  • In Tremors, the last two Graboids set one up to disable the bulldozer the humans are riding in, forcing the party to take refuge on a small rock pile and come up with a new plan.
  • At one point in King Kong vs. Godzilla, the JSDF attempt to kill Godzilla by making him fall into one of these, which is filled with poison gas and explosives. It doesn't work.

  • Used straight in The Most Dangerous Game.
  • In Danny, the Champion of the World, Danny's father falls into a pit trap, which has been dug in Hazell's Wood to catch poachers.
  • 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.
  • 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 Going Postal, those convicted criminals offered an Angel by Lord Vetinari are perfectly at liberty to refuse and can walk out of the room by that door over there.note .
    • Identifying Common Traps is a specific course module at the Assassins' Guild School. It is presumed that anyone who cannot identify a pit trap in time is Failed from the course. One way or the other.
  • 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.
  • In Hawksmaid, Matty is lured over a pit trap that drops her on to a limed net, which holds her fast.
  • The Temple of Doom guarding The Bands of Mourning have plenty of these in the booby-trapped hallway. The crew cheats by sending MeLaan the kandra to trigger all the traps. The only one lethal to her is the acid trap, which froze over years ago in the icy moutaintop temple.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Black Adder, Edmund falls into one, just after McAngus has casually said "Oh, mind the weasel pit".

    Other Sites 
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-1341 ("JUNGLE IN A JAR"). SCP-1341 is soil that causes jungle-like plants to grow from it that eventually produce ape-like creatures. During an experiment with SCP-1341, one of the researchers is killed by falling into a pit trap (lined with stakes) dug by the creatures.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventures uses them all the time in underground areas, often with Spikes of Doom on the bottom to impale victims.
  • HeroQuest has pit traps. After the trap has been revealed, a player can attempt to jump over a pit trap, by rolling a die: if they roll a skull they fall in, but if they roll a shield, they make it over.
  • Magic: The Gathering has this as an artifact and a spell. Both are used to kill any attacking creature that couldn't fly.
  • Rolemaster Arms Companion. Has a "spiked bottom" type similar to the Dungeons & Dragons example above.
  • Call of Cthulhu. In Worlds of Cthulhu magazine #3, the adventure "The Golden Scorpion" has some (with Spikes of Doom) in the underground temple area.
  • Warhammer 40,000. Catachan Jungle Fighters are said to use these. Makes sense, since they're basically an army of Ramboes, and their planet is basically a sentient jungle that actively hates all non-indigenous life.
  • Arduin RPG, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. Table 76: Random Traps - Floor has many of these, filled with a variety of contents: Spikes of Doom, monsters, pools of acid, a 1,000 foot drop (Splat!), mechanical grinders, molten lava, boiling mud, quicklime and dragon dung.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has the Trap Holenote  archetype of trap cards, which are supported by the Traptrix monster archetype.

    Video Games 
  • Available as an item in Animal Crossing. Said item is also in Super Smash Bros. and is actually called the pitfall.
  • The ones in Final Fantasy V can be spotted by a Geomancer.
  • In The Legend of 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 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 Pokémon 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.
  • This happens in The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time, if Agent 5 makes an offering to a Chak Mool statue while the Mayan calendar is set incorrectly.
  • Usable by the player in Monster Hunter. While it takes quite long to set up, any monster that plunges into the trap will be helpless for a lengthy period as it struggles to escape. This allows players to heal up, get in a few free hits, or tranquilize the monster if it's been weakened enough. It does have a few Logical Weaknesses, however, such as being unusable in certain environments, and is also ineffective against most monsters that can rapidly burrow into the ground.
  • 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.
  • Tribulation mode in Guild Wars 2's Super Adventure Box has, among its many screw-you's, lava pit traps. These tend to be very large and only some of them have visible markings on the ground where the terrain is actually solid.
  • Don't Escape: You can dig a trap hole which will disable 15 zombies. When improved with sharp sticks at the bottom, it will disable 20 zombies. If you're callous enough to toss your allies Jeremy and Father Bernard down there instead of setting up the stick trap, it will disable a net total of 30 zombies (15 from the pit and 25 from the zombies being more interested in eating them than you, but 10 more zombies will be attracted by you shooting them).

  • Unsurprisingly the castle from Girl Genius contains a large number of pit traps of various types, at least one of which is full of spikes.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The story includes an attempt to trap a group of Plague Zombie bears in a pit with spikes at the bottom. All it manages to do is wound them and make them easier to track.

    Western Animation 
  • In Castlevania (2017), The Judge of Lindhelm created a spike trap in the woods, using it to send whomever defied the village's rules by asking them to get an apple from the tree surrounded by the trap.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the Road Runner short "Stop! Look! And Hasten!", Wile. E. Coyote tries to capture the Road Runner 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 Stork Naked, 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.
    • A similar gag was used in From Hare To Heir, when Yosemite Sam cuts a hole in the floor above a moat and covers it with a rug, then tells Bugs to step out of his bathroom. When Bugs won't come out, Sam tries to push him out and he falls through instead. When Sam makes it back upstairs, he tries to charge at Bugs, only to fall down again.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "Baby, It's Cold Outside, Part 2", one of the traps on the way to King Charlatan's throne room is a hidden trapdoor that opens up to reveal a pit filled with sharp spikes of dry ice.
  • 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.
  • In the 1980s ThunderCats (1985), Lion-O first meets the Berbils when he falls into one of their concealed pit traps. note  Later, Safari Joe puts one just outside the Thundercat's front door, and Lion-O falls in. He wonders how in the world Safari Joe dug that hole without anyone noticing.
  • Total Drama. Duncan and Owen use a pit trap to steal the survival gear off Gwen and Heather in "Are We There, Yeti?"
  • Danger Mouse: The 'regulation pit traps' become a Running Gag in "Quark Games", with just about every character falling (or being knocked) into one at some point.
  • We Bare Bears: In "Nom-Nom", the titular koala does this to Ice Bear when he discovers his plot to use his brothers in a dangerous plan to make his Internet comeback.
  • King of the Hill: While navigating a forest filled with booby traps, Hank, Bill and Boomhauer all get Caught in a Snare. Or rather, Hank and Boomhauer do, while Bill's snare fails to budge him at all. He proclaims with glee, "I'M TOO FAT! I'M TOO FAT!" and unties himself to free the others... and immediately steps right into a pit trap.

    Real Life 
  • The notorious pit-traps used by Viet Cong troops in the jungle against American troops during The Vietnam War. Often with a courtesy detail of poisoned punji spikes at the bottom.


Video Example(s):


Burmese Tiger Pit

Wile. E. Coyote tries to capture the Road Runner 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.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / PitTrap

Media sources:

Main / PitTrap